- Monday, June 13
- Tuesday, June 14
- Wednesday, June 15
- Thursday, June 16
Monday, June 13
Laverne Jenkins, chair, reminded the gathering that all motions and resolutions need to be in written form and submitted on forms provided by the conference secretary.
A change in procedure for asking for prayers will be instituted this year in order to comply with privacy issues. Details of medical events included in prayers will not be shared. Instead, clergy and lay representing each of the districts will gather daily to lift prayers.
Matters of Privilege
Conference Secretary Cindy Patterson moved that letters of greeting be sent from the conference to Mrs. Edwin Boulton, Bishop Judith Craig, Bishop Sally Dyck, Bishop Jonathan Keaton, Bishop Gregory Palmer and Bishop Joseph Yeakel.
She also asked that a letter of greeting be sent to the holder of the conference cane, Claude Roe, born Feb. 26, 1916. Rev. Roe entered the conference in 1944 and retired after serving as the executive director of Copeland Oaks from 1972 to 1986.
This report was brought by Chair Jim Skinner. The year 2016 brought a number of tasks to the committee.
A series of celebrations were planned to honor Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins as he retires.
The committee is also planning a series of welcoming events for the new bishop. The events will be held in four regional locations during September through November. Those locations are Newcomerstown, Salem, Willoughby Hills and Ashland.
Agenda, Rules and Administrative Process (ARAP) Committee
Chair Gary George explained that the work of the committee is to evaluate and review conference processes and rules including vetting the conference rules against the current version of The Book of Discipline.
A number of proposed changes were highlighted and presented to the house.
The conference journal will be available digitally on the conference website and will be completed by November 1.
An amendment was added: ‘Printed or other digital forms of the journal will be available on request to the conference office.’ Motion carried as amended.
Rule 1.V was referred for clarification.
The remainder of the report was supported.
General Conference 2016 Report
Delegation Chair Jessica Vargo reviewed actions taken at General Conference held May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. She shared that 12 elected delegates and several reserves attended from the East Ohio Conference. More than 1,100 petitions were worked on in legislative committees and most were dealt with in plenary sessions.
A budget of $604 million for the next quadrennium was passed which is slightly higher than the budget for the current quadrennium.
A new hymnal was given the go ahead which will be the first new hymnal since 1989. General Conference again did not approve any legislation to divest from illegal settlements on occupied lands or to add fossil fuels to the investment screen. The conference approved a recommendation from the bishop to establish a commission to study human sexuality-related church regulations with the possibility of a special General Conference before 2020.
Gary George, Susan E. Brown and Armando Arellano are nominated as episcopal candidates and the conference will cast ballots of endorsement on Tuesday.
State of the Conference
Steve Court, director of Connectional Ministries opened this report by stating the mission of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church is to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which discipleship formation occurs.
The vision of the conference is to increase the number of vital congregations. This is done by increasing the number of vital congregations reaching people. Vitality includes the ability to consistently and over time to reach new people for Christ.
The strategy (action plan) of the conference is to develop principled leadership and to align resources around the mission and vision statements.
Karen Oehl, dean of the cabinet shared the role of the cabinet in the mission and vision. The cabinet has a unique viewpoint and can strategize around district and local church activities. Each cabinet member selected 3 churches from their districts to follow strategically from fall to spring.
The question was asked; “Where is this church in its life cycle?” It is like a human life cycle, going from birth to death. As a church passes maturity it loses vision and starts to be about maintaining program and structure. When there is new vision-and not just from the pastor but the whole congregation, life can recycle.
Conference Treasurer/Statistician Jessica Vargo reported that 2015 brought in a 83.21% pay-in rate apportioned shared ministry funds which is slightly down both in terms of percentage and dollars from 2014.
A few more churches paid 100%, 68% compared to 66% in 2014. The general church apportionments were paid in full with the help of the shared ministry challenge goal and reserves.
The emergency reserve ended the year at the recommended level. After receiving help from the emergency reserve fund, the health care reserve ended the year at $3.1 million.
The 2017 conference budget will again be at the same level it has been for 12 years. Some shifting of budget dollars among the five funds due to new strategies will be seen. Benefit costs are expected to increase in 2017.
The year-end statistics reflect a continuing downward trend. Professions of faith have dropped 5.7% from 2014, and baptisms have dropped 9.5%. More than 55% of our churches did not have one profession of faith last year. Membership and worship attendance have dropped 2% and 2.9%, respectively. These drops are very similar to decreases seen between 2014 and 2013 and steeper than the denomination average.
Tuesday, June 14
AM Business Session
This committee recruits, trains, nurtures, supports and evaluate leaders in this annual conference. They also make recommendations regarding structural changes and nominating persons for leadership.
Some structural changes are reflected in the naming of commission, boards, agencies and committees. The changes are intended to reduce the number of positions required but keep meaningful connections.
This committee is responsible for integrating the mission and vision of the annual conference into the process for hiring of annual conference staff. Chair Jane Ruggles shared the committee’s recommendation that the directors for Young People’s Ministry and Multi-Culture Vitality move from part-time to full-time status with related administrative support.
The search process will begin after conference for the director of Racial-Ethnic Ministry. Kaye Wolfinger will become the full-time staff member for Youth and Young People’s Ministry.
Annual Conference Offering
This year’s offering will be divided into 1/3 to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund, 1/3 to the Youth Service Fund and 1/3 to the Young Clergy Initiative.
East Ohio United Methodist Foundation
Director Brian Sheetz highlighted areas of assistance for local churches.
Sheetz stated that among Protestant congregations, only 40% have a stewardship campaign on a regular basis. The foundation can assess a church’s needs and assist with moving forward.
The foundation manages the endowment funds of almost 200 local churches and other ministries. Endowments can play a critical role in the long term financial health of a congregation. Review of policies, investments and practices can help maximize endowment funding for your ministry.
The foundation assists with funding for mission projects such as neighborhood outreach, feeding ministries and literally hundreds of other projects. Grants are also available to assist with college expenses.
Episcopal / Cabinet Address
This address opened with guitar accompaniment. A wardrobe box was brought onto the stage and Karen Oehl and Steve Bailey discussed moving and change which involve improvisation, risks and use of imagination.
Sondra Snode and Brad Call dealt with a heavy box that spilled out 753 files, representing the churches of the conference. All churches are different, but the things that unite them are greater than the things that separate them.
They discussed the formation of Compass Groups which are designed to foster covenant relations. Many conference youth became Basic Lay Servants and completed spiritual gifts inventories. Seventy East Ohio laity have participated in exploring a call to ministry.
Gail Angel and Ed Peterson discussed the 73 churches in the Canal District collaborating in new and innovative ways. Southern Hills Districts 90 churches also are engaged in mission work. They conclude that there may be many outposts but one church with each charge being a mission outpost of the church.
Benita Rollins and Doug Lewis shared a skit highlighting changes in outreach ministries such as holding office hours at local coffee shops. There is a new emphasis in ministering to the whole person: body, mind and spirit.
Courtesies & Announcements
Linda Crowell, representing the Publishing House introduced Barbara Lomasney who is the new Cokesbury representative.
Black College Fund
Armando Arellano, chair of Religion & Race, introduced James Cogman, who spoke of the unique educational opportunities available at the eleven historically Black Colleges funded by The United Methodist Church. These colleges have an enrollment of 16,000 students. He thanked the East Ohio Conference for their on-going support.
Rachel Miller spoke to the conference on behalf of the United Methodist Financial Credit Union which has served the conference since 1939. She highlighted services available such as home mortgages, car and recreational vehicle loans, Visa accounts and church and parsonage loans.
Resolution 2016-01: Preparing Clergy to Address Domestic Violence
This resolution encourages all East Ohio churches to designate a day during the month of October to present an activity that will bring awareness to the congregation about domestic violence. The resolution will support inclusion of domestic violence training during district leadership events and conference-wide teaching including reserved space at the annual ministry fair.
Resolution supported as amended.
Submitted by: East Ohio Clergywomen’s Association
Resolution 2016-02: Promoting Appointment and Salary Equity for Clergywomen and Clergymen
This resolution asks that the East Ohio Annual Conference urge that every effort be made to eliminate sex-role stereotypes in activity and portrayal in all aspects of voluntary and compensatory participation including service as clergy.
Submitted by: East Ohio Clergywomen’s Association
Chair Dan Bilkert explained the process of how churches apply for minimum salary support for clergy. At this time there are no churches receiving this funding.
This committee will also invest $75,834 for Key Leadership Support. This support is for situations where vital ministry is taking place but finances are not there to cover the cost. These churches are supported until they reach a point where they are self-sustaining.
Key Missional Support is provided to ministries with community presence such as The Urban Mission in Steubenville.
Sustentation aid of up to $2,500 per year is also available when clergy find themselves in a financial crisis.
2016 Episcopal Endorsement
The results of the episcopal balloting was announced. A total of 1,166 votes were cast with 584 needed for conference endorsement. Gary George- 890, Armando Arelleano- 255, Susan Brown- 241.
Gary George thanked the conference for their support.
Board of Ordained Ministry
Chair Nancy Hull shared that the primary task of the board is to enlist clergy. Persons are called to ministry from the local church: a church that teaches, and forms and prays, and mentors persons for ministry.
Irene Beville and Gordon Myers, registrars, introduced those elected to provisional membership; Jacqueline Paige Boyer, Seth E. Filburn, Jeffery R. Harrison, Elizabeth M. Ortiz and Paul R. Turner.
Laura Lynne Hottle, Karol J. Lewis and Amy E. Price were elected to full conference membership as deacons in full connection.
Elected to full membership as elders are: Kimberly D. Arbaugh, Jonathan D. George, Lisa L. Kropinak, T. Christopher Liberati, Matthew W. Merriman, Timothy M. Monteith and Rebecca L. Weamer.
Bishop John Hopkins read the historic examination for admission into full connection and ordination as elders.
Jane Fleischer announced scholarship recipients for 2016. Those scholarships are funds from the James S. and Ruth Thomas Scholarship, the Keifer Memorial Seminary Scholarship, the Deming/Stout Theological Education Fund and the Cromwell Memorial Scholarship. Recipients are: Jennifer Berlyoung-deacon track, Canal District, United Seminary and Rhonda Johnston – elder track, Canal District, Ashland Seminary.
Bob Stull explained that all pastors coming in to the conference as candidates for ministry and who will be receiving appointments must complete the local pastor licensing school. Stull asked the conference to welcome those who have completed licensing school. He also thanked Betsy Schenk for her years of service as dean of the school. He introduced Robin Dillon who is the in-coming dean.
Bev Wrobel serves as the chair of the Order of Deacons. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Order. Deacons are typically called to a focused area of ministry that connects the church to the community and the community to the church. Deacons serve in a variety of settings like hospitals, hospice, schools, colleges or businesses.
Pam Monteith shared the variety of pathways to ministry. They include: ordained ministry – deacon or elder, licensed local pastor, deaconess, missionary, certified lay servant and certification in Christian formation, youth ministry, music, business administration, older adult ministries and more.
Nancy Hull who is retiring introduced Cara Stultz Costello who will be serving as the chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry.
Fixing of Appointments
Steve Bailey thanked the Board of Ordained Ministry for their work in leading the Clergy In Bounds training. He offered a brief explanation of the cabinet covenant and the commitment to provide strategic leadership and to increase the number of healthy, vital congregations.
Gail Angel noted the 60th anniversary of the ordination of women in The United Methodist Church.
Greg Rentsch, conference lay leader, offered a prayer for those who are changing appointments or receiving new appointments.
A time of prayer was spent for churches receiving new pastoral appointments.
Bishop John Hopkins than stated “The appointment of ordained and licensed clergy to local churches and extension ministry is now fixed for the conference year beginning July 1.”
Wednesday, June 15
Pastoral Care & Counseling Commission
Howard Humphress greeted the conference and noted that the commission is celebrating 50 years of ministry to clergy and their families. He thanked Sandy Lutz for her leadership through a number of transitions. A video was shared.
Church & Society
Chair Nathan Howe addressed the conference with an explanation of the mission of the committee: ‘to teach the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church following the example of Jesus Christ, and to inspire United Methodists to advocate for the realization of God’s vision of abundant life for all.’
The committee oversees the Peace with Justice Grant program, which provides seed money for educational and advocacy programs. There are two scholarship programs awarded annually. The recipients are Rachel Palmer, Kent UMC (Canal District) and Diara Washington, Aldersgate UMC. (North Coast District.)
The Teen Total Abstinence Scholarship is also awarded annually to high school students. The 2016 recipients are Kalina Spencer, Church of the Saviour (North Coast District) and Macy Hawk from Minerva UMC (Tuscarawas District).
There are educational opportunities for local congregations through a bureau of speakers who are available to speak regarding areas of social concerns.
Disaster Response Coordinator Bill Sutherin highlighted the work of the response teams.
Teams offer assistance in Ohio and throughout the nation when called. In Columbiana County near Salem a foundation wall was rebuilt for a disabled man after flooding and assisted Mt. Moriah AME in Maple Heights. The sanctuary and classrooms at Hope UMC (North Coast District) were used by the AME church until repairs were completed. Don and Karen Upson coordinated flood recovery efforts in the South Carolina Conference.
A conference Disaster Spiritual and Emotional Care Team training was offered in August. Eleven people have completed all requirements to be a member of the team.
Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns
Chair Karen Graham shared that the name of the commission has been changed to Council of Bishops Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships. The vision remains to live more fully into Christian unity and deepen interreligious relationships.
The Van Bogard Dunn ecumenical awards are scholarships for clergy or laity to attend ecumenical or interreligious training event. There are two $200.00 scholarships each year.
Graham suggested ways to develop ecumenical relationships through shared programming, pulpit exchanges, Vacation Bible School, youth programs, holiday events and local community outreach.
Jerry Krueger, chair of The Mission Awareness Team shared the task of the group which is to promote the Advance. These global projects are selected for emphasis on a three year rotating basis.
The group sorts through information and applications for mission projects then evaluates and awards undesignated mission funds to those projects. $93, 000 has been awarded to those ministries.
Krueger thanked the conference for their generosity in filling the Midwest Mission Distribution Center truck.
United Methodist Volunteers In Mission
Chair Tammy Kuntz thanked the volunteers for continuing to be a resource for anyone seeking to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus locally, nationally and internationally.
In 2015 103 mission teams made up of 1,125 persons who traveled to projects in six different countries and 83 domestic mission sites.
54 scholarships for mission travel to support people from thirteen churches traveling to four locations.
The UMVIM team serves as a resource for team leaders and encourages networking projects such as Mission Discovery, RXConnextion, TeachUM and Disaster Response.
Teams in Liberia, Zimbabwe and Russia were highlighted by Kathy Dickriede.
At Camphor Mission ukuleles from Brecksville UMC were shared with students and staff. Gustavus Federated UMC sent arts and crafts supplies for daily activities with the children of the mission. Water wells continue to be placed in churches and villages around the mission area.
Through a partnership with the World Bank, Global Health, UMCOR, The Liberia Annual Conference and the Detroit Annual Conference, a student’s medical education is being funded. Upon his graduation from medical school, Robert N. Sieh Jr. will serve as a medical doctor at the Camphor Mission Station clinic and nearby John Dean Town UMC clinic.
A team traveled to Harrisburg, Liberia for the Farmer to Farmer ministry. They assisted with children’s activities, a groundbreaking of a new agricultural school. A container of items donated by East Ohio Conference churches was unloaded and distributed.
A team replaced old flooring in a library with new ceramic tile, furniture was cleaned and books restocked at a school at Ganta United Methodist Mission. This school serves middle and high school students.
Jim Szakacs, director of Nehemiah Mission, shared his experience of traveling to Liberia. Upon his return, The Ganta Initiative which is funded by tithing 10% of group tuition income and fund-raising speaking engagements. Local churches have assisted with funding and an anonymous donor gave $10,000 to help complete the construction of a family guest house at the Ganta Hospital. Funding has also been provided for equipment, roofing repairs, student scholarships, salary support and other projects.
Dickriede shared updates on the work in Sierra Leone at the Manjama Clinic. Community assessment surveys are being done in partnership with Global Health and other international groups. Efforts are continuing to establish community based health care in the area. Infrastructure improvements include a new generator house, incinerator pit and a tower for water supply.
A team recently traveled to Russia with a focus on working at the boarding school in Oboyan. Donations covered the purchase of new desks, sewing machines, classroom equipment, fencing and gates. Plans are underway to form a relationship with the Eurasia Conference.
The Emsizini Secondary School Mission in Zimbabwe has a new science building. A partnership with Geneva UMC will raise funds for a new classroom block.
An offering for the on-going work of 3Cs was collected.
Health & Welfare
Chair Lenore Robinson highlighted agencies that the conference supports.
Copeland Oaks is home to 700 residents and is an all-inclusive community for active adults age 55 and older. Services include: urgent, short and long term care; rehabilitation care and assisted living; on site medical care and memory care units. Funds received from the conference are used exclusively by the Life Care Fund to help residents who need financial assistance for medical care or to remain in the community.
Flat Rock Homes Care Center & Community Services provide care to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and persons with critical needs. Services include: an intermediate care center, community services to support independent living, adult day support and an education center. Funds from the conference are used to help cover the significant gap in funding needed to meet the unreimbursed medical needs.
Ohio Guidestone provides treatment services to address mental and behavioral health condition, support services that help build family relationships and life skills and services that provide education and prevention programs. Funds provided by the conference contribute to the 10% un-funded budget, including pastoral care.
Otterbein Retirement Living Community provides wellness programs, independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation and therapy services, memory care support, life enrichment services and transitional and respite care. Funding provided by the conference provides help for people to remain in their homes and live with dignity.
Wesleyan Senior Living provides acute rehabilitation care for post-hospital stays, memory care assisted living, and is the only center recognized as a certified center for successful aging in Ohio. Funding from the conference provides benevolent care.
The Family Garden Initiative helps urban communities by providing gardens that yield freshly-grown produce. Partial funding was provided to purchase burlap tubes filled with organic compost along with plants, watering can, a gardening book and a recipe book.
Robinson shared results of this year’s 5K Run/1 Mile Walk. A total of $6,044.23 was collected. $90.00 was pledged. The district with the largest percentage of churches participating was Western Reserve and the district that raised the most money was Canal District with a total of $1, 073.52. 149 runners/walkers participated in the event.
Leadership Development Session
Greg Rentsch led this session with the assistance of Steve Court and Kelly Brown. The session explored moving from membership to discipleship.
The presentation included a series of questions.
The first was What Is Your Mission?
The conference mission is to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Disciple making happens primarily at the local churches and in relationship with others. The purpose of the Board of Laity is to prepare and encourage all people in a life of Christian discipleship.
The board focuses on fostering an awareness of the role of laity in achieving the mission of the Church, promoting increasing Vital Congregations specifically around effective lay leadership and effectively communicating with the conference. Vital congregations have inviting and inspiring worship, engaged disciples in mission and outreach, empowered and equipped lay leadership, equipped and inspired clergy, small group ministries and strong children and youth ministry.
Are we more focused on membership growth or the growth of disciples?
Phil Maynard states that “membership says, it’s about me and discipleship says it’s about God and others.” The church’s role should be to provide opportunities and relationships to foster spiritual growth not just keep members satisfied.
Kelly Brown shared that prayer and seeking God’s will and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us can facilitate growth. Participating not only in corporate worship but also devotional time, a life of hospitality leading to relationships with people within and beyond the church; a life of generosity includes presenting tithes and offerings as an act of worship, not duty but joy and a life of service means supporting the church with time and energy.
Jim Winkler and Doug Arbaugh explained the strategy team that has been launched in the Ohio Valley District. This is a collaboration at several levels including Compass Groups, the Healthy Church Initiative, working with the Board of Laity to develop a lay leader network and developing district wide training events over a two year period.
Where are you on your discipleship path?
Discipleship is a journey which has many stages. Through partnering with Congregational Vitality, the Board of Laity will be offering a discipleship survey. This will be a tool for churches and individuals to use to assess where they are on their spiritual journey.
This year’s challenge is to develop a personal discipling plan. Enter into a covenant group with others and engage with others. Pour Christ’s love into others.
Evaluate what you are doing at the church and district and how it helps achieve the mission. Align all resources- people, financial, capital-to achieve the mission.
Thursday, June 16
Conference trustees oversee conference owned properties, camps facilities, the Area Center, ten district parsonages and properties of closed churches transferred to the conference.
Trustees also administer the camping and retreat endowment fund known as C.A.R.E. Those funds as of May 31 are valued at $2,512.578.
There is a loan with a current balance of $108,356 for the Aldersgate Camp director’s house.
Names of churches that are discontinuing this conference year were read. They are: Delphi UMC (Firelands District), Mingo First UMC (Ohio Valley District), Brownsville UMC (Southern Hills District), Harmony UMC (Mid-Ohio District), Oceola UMC (Mid-Ohio District) and Oehlhoff UMC (North Coast District). A litany was shared thanking those churches for the legacy of the communities of faith who fed the hungry, supported missionaries and shared examples of love in their communities.
Religion & Race Commission
Chair Armando Arellano presented the CORR awards to persons who promote equal racial integration and ethnic minority inclusiveness in the life, mission and ministry of the conference. The recipients are Kenneth Chalker, Doris Brown and Phil and Beverly Holland.
The registered attendance for the 2016 Annual Conference was reported as 1,529 with 736 clergy and 793 laity.
The annual conference offering taken on Tuesday, which is divided 1/3 to the Bishop’s Discretionary, 1/3 to the Youth Service Fund and 1/3 to clergy recruitment was reported as $14,792.29.
The Wednesday 3Cs offering was reported as $23,533.32.
Bishop Hopkins led prayer for the North Central Jurisdictional Conference delegates.
The Vacation Bible School children came onto the stage and shared songs they had learned this week.
Bishop Hopkins shared his reflections as he ends his time with The East Ohio Conference.
Conference Secretary Cindy Patterson conducted concluding business of the conference.
Communications Director Rick Wolcott introduced the 2016 Re-Cap Video which will be available on line at www.eocumc.com