By Rick Wolcott*
Rev. Dawan Buie opened the business session in prayer.
“This may not be business as usual but unusual business for your grace and mercy God because we need you in the world today. We ask that your grace will come and enliven us and strengthen us so that we might be bold and courageous to bear fruit that lasts,” he said.
Annual Conference Program Committee Chair the Rev. Ivy Smith made a motion that the body approve the agenda as printed in the Pre-Conference Workbook and that any suggested adjustments to the agenda be reviewed and decided upon by the Agenda, Rules, and Administrative Process Committee (ARAP) as necessary during the Annual Conference session.
Conference Secretary the Rev. Cindy Patterson moved that she send a letter of greeting to the Rev. John Paul Benson who, as the oldest-living clergy member, is the new holder of the Conference cane. Benson was born October 28, 1922. He was ordained an Elder in 1952 and retired in 1986.
Episcopacy Committee Chair the Rev. Joe Burkhardt praised the work of Bishop Tracy S. Malone.
“As a result of listening, learning, and engaging clergy and churches across East Ohio, the bishop has been intentional in casting and sharing a vision for how we can faithfully and strategically join together in fulfilling our mission: Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World,” he said.
In her Episcopal Address, Malone said, “I am honored to be your bishop and continue to praise God for what God is accomplishing through our shared ministry … the ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Malone concluded her address by showing a video outlining the ministry vision of the East Ohio Conference. Following the video lay and clergy members explained Outcomes Gathering and highlighted EOC ministries that are living into our vision: being, making, and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ.
The keynote presenter was Stephanie Caro of Ministry Architects, who has more than 30 years of experience working with children, youth, and adults in all aspects of church ministry. Over the past year, she worked with five East Ohio Conference churches through the Small Church Cohort, a joint effort of Young People’s Ministries and Spiritual Formation.
Caro uses passion, humor and statistics – such as 90% of churches have fewer than 300 members – to help churches assess, vision, and formulate their ministry game plan.
“Have you heard about this thing they call the internet?” she asked. “Young people don’t actually have to come to the church to be deeply involved in what you’re doing. So what if we (Baby Boomers) stepped aside, didn’t leave, but we let them do it their crazy wackadoodle way – and it worked? It would be amazing!”
Many more EOC ministries living into the vision will also be highlighted Tuesday afternoon (being God’s agents of transformation in the world) and Wednesday afternoon (being bold and courageous leaders in reaching new people, younger people, and a more diverse people).
Other presentations during Monday’s opening business session included a video greeting from West Ohio Conference Bishop Greg Palmer, whose Annual Conference was held at Lakeside the week prior to East Ohio’s. Lakeside Chautauqua President/CEO Kevin Sibbring offered his own greetings, welcomed the Conference back to the shore of Lake Erie, and then invited the Rev. Dr. Ned Dewire and Dakota Harkins to share information about the history of the Chautauqua community.
Conference Archives and History Committee chair the Rev. Don Trigg made two separate motions – each of which was approved by the body. The first was that the Annual Conference support efforts aimed at having the Lakeside Chautauqua cluster named an historic site of the East Ohio annual conference. The second was that the East Ohio Conference recommend to the General Commission on Archives and History that the Lakeside Chautauqua cluster historic site be nominated as a heritage landmark of The United Methodist Church.
Conference members also approved changes to ¶2.I.2.c that “Any amendments to the resolution shall be governed by this same provision also be limited to two speeches in favor and two speeches in opposition of two minutes each,” and “A two thirds affirmative vote shall be necessary for adoption of the resolution as well as any amendments to the resolution.”
During Monday’s business session, two of the 10 resolutions submitted prior to Annual Conference came before the body.
Resolution 2018-08 called for encouraging Conference members to read, study, and discuss the Social Principles as contemporary personal and communal aspirations for God’s kingdom to reign on earth as in heaven. The motion was approved.
A motion was made by the submitters of Resolution 2018-09 to withdraw it. The motion to withdraw was approved.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference.