Day Three Annual Conference Update: Depart to Serve


Sessions Five and Six: Depart to Serve


Please share your feedback on Annual Conference 2017 in this post-conference survey. 

Housing and Homeless Council
Housing and Homeless Council President Laura Rappold thanked churches for their generous support of the Homeless Offering. Because of that generosity, the Council was able to award $121,000 to ministries to the homeless and very poor in each of our 12 districts this spring. She also invited members to an upcoming conference designed for churches called to ministry with those struggling with poverty in local communities. Find information and registration at

Action MInistries
Kelley Henderson, president, shared that last year Action Ministries served 93,000 unique individuals, working to help stop the cycle of poverty. Action Ministries is working to double its number partners in the next three years.

There are several opportunities to connect with Action Ministries including a new Action Ministries Leadership Academy beginning in 2018. Action Ministries is co-sponsoring the With Conference along with the Homeless Council.

Bishop Sue welcomed Henderson to his new role as a member of the North Georgia Conference extended cabinet.

Congregational Development
The Office of Congregational Development took us on a ride in the Fresh Express Bus to learn a little about new ways to reach new people. The bus riders answered a few questions about Fresh Expressions:

  • A church of any size can start a Fresh Expression
  • You’ve gotta go where the people are.
  • A Fresh Expressions isn’t a substitute for church, it is church.  

Bishop Sue spoke about her passion for Fresh Expressions. She traveled to England to learn about Fresh Expressions in the communities where the movement began. She compelled the members to look outside the walls of the church. “There are people who need to know Jesus Christ. We have to go to them if they aren’t coming to us,” she said.

Register for the next Fresh Expressions Spark Day on Sept. 30 at the Conference website .

Congregational Development also highlighted resources such as:

  • NExT Creative Worship Design in November.
  • Mission Insight Training
  • Mystery Worship
The report ended with a video on Vital Mergers. Take a look at Vital Merger Bootcamp led by a few masters! WATCH VIDEO

Aldersgate Homes/Collinswood
New Aldersgate Homes and Collinswood board president Gue’ Hudson honored the legacy of Marian Wilder and Becky Bocian, both retiring this year from long-time roles as board chair and director. She also introduced new president Anne Hansen.

Collinswood on Lake Oconee is a beautiful setting and universally accessible. Visit Sept 23 for a day of fishing.

Conference Finance and Administration
Sean Taylor, chair of the Conference Finance and Administration committee, introduced the report. Taylor, a lay person, works with a large number of non-profits and he shared that the North Georgia Conference has one of the best run finance and administration offices he’s ever encountered in his professional career.

The Annual Conference voted on and passed the 2018 budget recommended by CF&A. The budget represents an increase in percent of funds going to ministry and less to operational cost. The 2018 budget decreased from 2017, despite a 4% increase in our General Church apportionment. The total budget for 2018 is $22,020,804.

Carol Cook introduced the District Administrative Review Team, a committee charged with examining the function of district offices. The committee will bring a report to the 2018 Annual Conference.

United Methodist Children's Home 
The United Methodist Children’s Home report began with a phone call between the state and UMCH. There are two children, sweet siblings, who they’d like to keep together. Unfortunately, there are no foster families available. 

“30 times a week the United Methodist Children’s Home says no to children like these,” said president Hal Jones. “Children who aren’t acting. 13,000 kids are in state custody.”

He explained that while the numbers are staggering and the need is great we can meet that need if we answer the call together. Volunteer to be a foster parent or volunteer to support foster parents. Someone from your church needs to be invited to be a part of this ministry. The Children’s Home is praying for more workers. Text UMCH to 313131 to learn more.

“I know God is calling many of you to be part of this ministry and the churches you serve,” said Jones. “If you’re feeling that call. Say yes to the call. We can help them as a connectional church. Please say yes to the call.”

Wesley Woods
Terry Barcroft of Wesley Woods showed us what making a difference to older adults looks like in a video interview with volunteers. She challenged everyone to take ministry outside the church and to look to ways to serve older adults through our connection. The call is lived out through Wesley Woods across the conference.

Murphy-Harpst is an emotional, spiritual and physical safe haven for Georgia’s most severely abused children. For them, Murphy-Harpst provides care, healing, and helps them reach childhood milestones – firsts we take for granted. Murphy Harpst is literally saving lives of the most vulnerable children.

President Scott Merritt encouraged churches to prayerfully consider partnership with Murphy-Harpst in serving these young people. “Our work is your work with these children,” he said.

Churches of Excellence in Outreach
Eleven churches were honored as Churches of Excellence in Outreach. The criteria for the Church of Excellence in Mission award gives churches a Blueprint for an effective mission program, explained Rev. Zack Martin. The guidelines can be found at

Receiving Church of Excellence in Outreach Award are:
  • Carrollton First UMC
  • Collins Memorial UMC
  • Cornerstone UMC
  • Douglasville FUMC  
  • East Cobb UMC   
  • Hoosier Memorial UMC     
  • Kelley Chapel UMC         
  • Northside UMC         
  • Oak Grove UMC
  • University Heights UMC
  • Vinings UMC
Denman Evangelism Award 
The Harry Denman Evangelism Award honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. The Conference Evangelism Committee presented the awards to:
  • Rev. Dr. Bob Beckwith, director of the Wesley Foundation of the University of Georgia
  • Laity – Dave McCoy, a member of McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs
  • Youth – Simone Barbee, a member of St. James UMC in Alpharetta
Global Ministries Commissioning of a Missionary
The North Georgia Conference was honored to commission Global Ministries Missionary Tazionepi Nyarota. Along with members of Global Ministries Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson commissioned her to service on behalf of The United Methodist Church.
Tazionepi Nyarota, we rejoice that you have chosen to devote this time in your life to Christian Mission, said Bishop Sue

Bridges Update
Our Conference Bridges to Mission are based on a 50/50 relationship between North Georgia and our Bridges partners in ministry from around the world. Rev. Herzen Andone, Conference Director of Connectional Ministries, gave an update on three Bridges partnerships.

The Bridge to El Salvador has been active every year since its launched. Two teams from the LaGrange District and one from College travel to El Salvador each year and are building relationships with the Evangelical Methodist Church in El Salvador. 

The LaGrange District had also joined with Simpsonwood United Methodist Church in providing funding for the purchase of two lots near the Methodist School for the purpose of constructing a high school so that young people in the area can be educated in a faith-based, safe environment.  The education they receive will have life changing impact in generations to come.
Our primary mission partner in Kenya is ZOE.  ZOE ( employs a distinctive approach to orphan empowerment in places of greatest financial poverty.  This program was designed by a group of Rwandan social workers, and has sustainable, measurable effects.  ZOE currently has over 30,000 orphans and vulnerable children enrolled in the three-year empowerment program across seven countries:  Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Liberia, India, and Guatemala. 

Several churches in our conference are involved with ZOE and without exception, they are inspired by the passion of ZOE’s leadership to develop orphans who are not dependent on the government or on long-term charity.

Finally,  our Bridges partner in the Philippines continues to offer us a variety of ways to experience mission in both urban and rural settings that remind us that mission is evangelism.

For example, nearly three years ago a team from North Georgia comprised of laity and clergy, men and women, diverse in age, stood in an empty field with sisters and brothers from Manila and broke ground on a daughter church plant in Angat, a rural community 4 hours from Manila. A year later, the church baptized 90 new followers of Jesus in a nearby river. The following year, the church baptized 80 new followers of Christ; and just a few months ago the church baptized nearly 40 new followers of Christ. That same daughter church has now given birth to two faith communities among the rural poor.

Andone brought a heartfelt message of gratitude to North Georgia from our fellow United Methodists in the Philippines.

“Because of the E.R. Park Medical Mission fund here in North Georgia, we were able to assist United Methodist-affiliated Mary Johnson Hospital with the purchase of a brand new autoclave - the machine they need to sterilize medical instruments - to replace the one they had that was over 70 years old!,” said Andone. “Today, they are able to serve more patients - many who have little or no means to pay for medical service - with a greater level of confidence and care.”

The First Bridge: Our Communities 
Scott Parrish, our Conference Mission Specialist, spoke about our local community mission – The First Bridge. By looking outside the walls of our church and serving with our neighbors, we can apply some of the same best practices such as true partnerships to our presence in our neighborhoods.

The Siedschlag Award
The Southeastern Jurisdiction Siedschlag Award is given annual to one individual who serves as an extraordinary mission interpreter and has a strong commitment to mission work in the SEJ.

“It is truly an honor to present the Siedschlag Award to Mike Yoder,” said Terry Raymond, Conference Global Ministries representative. Mike Yoder is active in his local church and his community, but perhaps his greatest impact is his involvement in UMCOR and the Conference Disaster Response work.

Camp and Retreat Ministries
 “In a world desperate for Principled Christian Leaders, where do they come from?” asked Russell Davis of North Georgia Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries.

Camp and Retreat Ministries knows how to have fun and their passion is forming faith in the process. For ninety-three years, that process has developed thousands of principled Christian Leaders for the transformation of the world. Many of our conference leaders, both lay and clergy have been shaped by, and had their call nurtured, at Glisson.

In 2010 the annual conference asked Camp and Retreat Ministries to support the evangelistic and faith formative efforts of local congregations by doubling the reach of summer camp ministries to serve 5,000 by the year 2020.

Here is the progress report from Davis:
  • We served 2,470 summer campers in 2010 at Glisson and in the early precursor of Grow Day Camps. In 2016 we served 3,961 campers, a 60% increase.
  • In 2016, Glisson served more than 3,000 campers for the first time in its 93 years, and Grow Day Camps continues to push toward serving 1,000 campers.
  • This summer camp will be offered at 30 sites across our annual conference and in every district.
  • One of those sites this summer will be the next strategic step on the journey to reaching our 2020 goal. Having experimented the past eight years with taking Glisson’s core values on the road (literally!) in a new format with Grow Day Camps, Camp is taking yet another innovative risk in ministry. Shoreline Camps, a waterfront-based resident camp program will be held on properties rented from other non-profits. Two weeks of a pilot for Shoreline will happen at West Point Lake the weeks of July 9 and July 16 this summer.
Property Resolutions
Chancellor Tom Cook brought forward Property Resolutions concerning closed and merged churches. Afterward, Bishop Sue prayed for these churches. “We ask for comfort for those who grieve and help us to do much good with their legacy,” she prayed.

She went on to celebrate the baptisms, the weddings, the ministries, and the joys and lifted up those individual formed and shaped by the churches. She reminded the conference that these closed churches live on in their gift to birthing new churches.

“We mourn their loss but celebrate that God has many more churches to birth and many more lives to be shaped so we look forward excitedly and expectantly,” said Bishop Sue. “The church is more than buildings and properties – it’s the ongoing witness of the saints.”

Fixing of the Appointments
District by district, bishop Sue joined District Superintendents in praying for the churches in their district, their churches, their clergy and their laity. Each incoming superintendent kneeled in prayer.
Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on us as we depart to serve.

Notes from Thursday
  • After corrections, the Nominations report was approved. A final nominations report will be posted on
  • Proposed Standing Rules changes presented on Tuesday were adopted.
  • Move Day is Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  • Georgia Pastors School will be held at Epworth By The Sea in St. Simons July 17-20. It’s a gathering place for the whole clergy family
  • Offering total as of mid-day June 15 is $95,149.26 for the North Georgia Ministerial Education Fund.

Show Your Work: Service of Sending Forth
Impact Church, led by Rev. Olu Brown, planned the final worship experience and communion service for Annual Conference. The team gathered on stage beforehand to talk about the process. Planning for the service started last year and the goal was to bring Impact worship to the North Georgia Conference. The goal at Impact is to do church differently.

Candi Cylar explained that at every Impact worship experience, the team’s focus is to keep God and Christ at the center and for people to feel engaged just like they would in their lives outside the church.

“As we begin planning, we dream together,” she said. “We get excited about how we can connect what we see in the world to the church. In planning this service, we first came together to dream.”

From that they considered a different approach to an experience they tried last year in the church with a dramatization called clown communion.

“We were looking to express communion in a different way,” she said. “You will hear spoken word along with movement and dance.”

After they dream, the team begins planning. Rev. Terri Lemons shared that communion takes an additional team at Annual Conference because of the number of participants. She recruited 93 communion servers that represented the diversity of our Conference.

Rev. Joya Abrams, associate pastor at Impact, shared a charge Rev. Olu Brown gave her when she came on staff. “As a church, how do we take these mysteries God has shown to us and make them accessible to people who, for instance, may have never heard of communion.” she said. “What you’ll experience today is that we’ll bring in things familiar and twist them just a bit to communicate this amazing grace we experience at the table. So that when people come to the table, they know this grace is for them.”

Victor Smith takes the great ideas and makes them come to life on screens and online.

Brown explained that at Impact they refer to worship as an experience rather than a “service.” We want it to be engaging and for worship to inspire people to make a commitment to Jesus Christ.

“If they’ve already made a commitment to Jesus Christ, we want them to leave with a deeper commitment,” he said.

Closing Worship: We Lift Up Our Praise, Lord

As the North Georgia Conference gathered for closing worship, the Impact Worship band began the service with music and words of praise. Speakers read scripture and prayed. Liturgical dancers performed.

Communion liturgy was woven throughout the service and came from liturgists in three locations around the room.

Rev. Olu Brown preached on Paul’s words to Timothy, compelling the congregation to “Show Your Work.”

“Paul often talks about work,” said Brown. "Paul is encouraging Timothy to show his work. He says, let your work be something you live through your life. Make an effort to present yourself as a tried and true worker who interprets the message of truth correctly.”

Brown called on North Georgia United Methodists to do the work of Jesus Christ so souls can be saved.

“The work ahead is not easy,” he said. “God says you are a tried and true worker. Not for the banking community, not for the education community, not for the entertainment community – for the work of Jesus Christ.”

Brown shared a song he listens to when he feels like giving up.  

“I go to a song by Travis Green called “You Made a Way,” he said. “We’re standing here only because God made a way.”

He offered encouragement to never be ashamed to show our work.

“We’ve been called,” he said. “God is calling us to have courage right now. “