2015 Annual Conference Business Sessions

Leadership DevelopmentWednesday, June 17 - Business

Laity Address

Greg Rentsch, Conference Lay Leader, began his report by asking “What is the mission of your local church? Does everyone in the church agree on this mission? Is everyone working in a concerted, focused effort to achieve this mission? “

Rentsch shared results from a survey of the lay leaders of the conference.  They were asked about their faith journey, how they became a Christian, how they became a Methodist, and what the conference can do better and about their role as a lay leader.  74% of the lay leaders were encouraged to take the position by their pastor and 86% accepted the position because they felt called by God to serve as the lay leader.

He encouraged the conference to become mentors and encouragers as Barnabas and Timothy were.  Share your faith with others just as we use social media to share details of our lives.

Commission on Equitable Compensation

Jim Cooper, Equitable Compensation gave this report. He explained the process of how churches apply for minimum salary support for the appointed pastor. Cooper reported the amount being spent on salary support has been declining and this year there are no churches receiving funding for salary support.  This allows the conference to continue realigning funding for vital ministry.

Cooper highlighted the formula used to establish compensation and stated the average cash compensation stayed almost the same. 

Clergy may apply for sustentation aid of up to $2,500 per year.  District offices have those application forms.

Resolution 2015-03  

A Call to Respond to the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict
This resolution asks that all United Methodists make a prayerful effort to educate themselves on the issue of a peace that is just for all sides, and that local churches be encouraged to participate in the observance of the World Week for Peace in Palestine, and that the East Ohio Conference encourage local churches to boycott products made by Israeli or American companies operating in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. Resolution was not adopted

Submitted by the EOC Church and Society Committee, Rev. Nathan Howe, chair

Leadership Development Session

Jim Ozier, North Texas Annual Conference, is the Director of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation for the North Texas Conference.  For nearly 18 years, prior to his current assignment, Ozier was senior pastor of the 4,000-member Trietsch Memorial UMC in Flower Mound.  Although United Methodism has been in decline, Trietsch more than tripled in size, attendance, and stewardship under his leadership. In addition to planting a church in Corinth, Texas, more than 1,500 worshippers attend one of Trietsch’s weekend worship services in a 1,400-seat sanctuary that features state-of-the-art technology, powerful interviews, and a choice of worship styles ranging from traditional to contemporary.

Ozier began his ministry working for noted missionary E. Stanley Jones, and he served his first church while still in high school in Illinois.  He has also served in the inner-city of Dallas, helping to build one of the most respected and successful inner-city mission ministries in the country, serving Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese refugees.

Ozier opened his presentation with the story of Simon, the fearful fisherman.  “then Jesus said to Simon, don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch people.”  So if you are a little fearful about being a church on the go; about personally becoming a disciple fishing for new people…you are not alone.”

Like fishing, Christians must push out into deep water!  (Jesus stepping into your boat). Nets are the churches discipleship system and use those nets to fish for people.

Citing Mark 1:17, “Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.   Jesus’s number one expectation is to fish for people.

Media Committee

Elizabeth Feldman opened this report.  She introduced the Media Center Coordinator, Susan Arnold. A group presented a skit emphasizing the resources that are available.  The Media Center has a wide range of materials from no preparation needed to in-depth curriculum.  Arnold referenced the on-line catalog and t-shirts were displayed with a QR code for use with smartphones.  Materials may be ordered online, via phone or at the Media Center.

Ministry with Young People

Kaye Wolfinger began her report by sharing information from the recently released Pew Research Center. 

The major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has "dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014.

“These are grim facts, not to be taken lightly. So, church what are we going to do?”  Wolfinger asked.
At the conference level, youth will be offered Lay Servant training so that they can be certified. This will help set a standard for leadership development.  A Youth Leader’s Network was held in March with 40 youth leaders.  There will be three one day retreats in 2015- 16.

Stewart Tract spoke about the Heart and Roll, an event held with the support of Hope UMC, Garfield Memorial UMC and other community churches.  More than 300 volunteers along with support from more than 100 organizations allow guests who ranged in age from 16 to 80 years of age to dance the night away.  The event will be held at a larger venue next year and organizers are expecting 300-400 guest and a need for 700 volunteers.

Tom Douce, Higher Education & Campus Ministry who spoke about the dissolving of the funding for Ohio Campus Ministry in 2014.  The committee is in a two year process of evaluations with the hope of developing closer relationships with campus ministry by providing more affective funds and prayer support.

The committee awarded six Merit Scholarships and selected Maggie Jackson to receive the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s 2015 Francis Asbury Award.

Ministries & Mission Funding

Bob Myers reported that the General World Service shared ministry apportionment for 2016 is $1,386.145 which is a reduction of close to $10,000.  The recommended funding for conference boards and agencies is $1,996.010 which is the same as the 2015 funding. The recommended 2016 district funding is $433,000.  The grand total of the World Service and Conference Benevolence/Ministries and Missions budget is $3,815.155.

Myers than called for approval of the 2016 budget.

Petition to General Conference 2016-01    
Global Book of Discipline and Social Principles

This petition states that it is not in our best interest as a denomination to attempt to have the General Conference establish Social Principles unchangeable global statements of church position. Petition not supported

Submitted by First United Methodist Church of Oberlin, Ohio, Rev. Andy Call

Petition to General Conference 2016-02    
Effectively Recruiting and Retaining Young Clergy of Color

This petition asks that The United Methodist Church in all of its United States annual conferences will actively recruit and retain clergy of color, with particular efforts to recruit and retain young clergy of color, using empirically supported culturally relevant employment practices for African American, Native American, Latina/o, and Asian American/Pacific Islander clergy. Petition not supported

Submitted by Martha E. Banks, Woodland UMC, Akron, OH

Board of Camps and Retreat Ministries Report

Beth Wilterdink introduced this report while sharing her life-long involvement with East Ohio Conference camps. Videos of campers and their testimonies were shown.

Janet Zimmerman explained the new governance model being used. This model believes in hiring the right people and then trusting them to do the work.  Zimmerman reported a deficit last year because of lower enrollment and higher expenses.  The budget has been tightened for 2015 along with more marketing to support camps.

Gary Jones shared the five-fold focus for camping ministry.

  • Transformation- Giving young people the space to consider the most important issues of life and to discover God’s love.
  • Nature- campers explore nature and test their limits in a healthy environment
  • Community- campers have an opportunity to truly be themselves
  • Friendships- friendships forged through shared experience can last a lifetime
  • Mentors- caring adults, counselors and mentors help campers think through decisions and experiences to prepare them for their future

Ruth Roth recounted her attendance at Reach Out, Youth Musicale and many retreats as a teen.  As a youth leader and pastor, she led groups on retreats and encouraged children and youth to attend summer camp.  She then stated, “Because, I believe in the power of camps to transform lives and churches.”

Roth noted that Lakeside Institute is celebrating 100 years of ministry and was recently selected by the Center of Faith and Service based at McCormick Theological Seminary, as one of the 2015 Camps that Change the World.

3Cs - Churchess, Clinics and Classrooms

Kathy Dickriede reported that two United Methodist Volunteers In Mission teams traveled to Zimbabwe, and one just returned from Russia.  All trips to West Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia had to be postponed due to the Ebola outbreak.

The conference responded to the outbreak by packing medical supplies which were shipped by container to medical treatment centers in West Africa. The rice bucket challenge helped to raise more than $50,000.

Missionaries have been sent to Zimbabwe to the Emsizini School, volunteers have built relationships and money raised for new classrooms and fruit trees have been planted.

Partnerships enabled the digging of six water wells and congregations paid school fees for students in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Bikes were given by local churches, along with sports equipment and a new van. A sewing ministry led to the creation of a cottage industry in Harrisburg, Liberia.

During the courtesies and announcements John Hanna from the Walters & Hanna Insurance agency presented a check for $10,000 for the 3Cs mission work.

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