By Rick Wolcott*
“I pray that you be filled with the Spirit, that you be on fire for God, and that you remember the opportunity and the potential that is before you.”
With that charge from the Rev. Kimberly Arbaugh in the benediction of Tuesday morning’s worship service, the body began its work.
The first action was a vote that approved the Leadership Committee report.
Many ministries that are living into the East Ohio Conference vision have been spotlighted during Annual Conference 2018. Following Monday’s emphasis on being, making, and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, Tuesday focused on being agents of God’s transformation in our communities and throughout the world.
Kimberlee Medicine Horn received a standing ovation from many of the Annual Conference members following her moving account of what she witnessed at Standing Rock.
“I have learned it is difficult for many non-native people to know how to treat what the Creator has given to us with respect,” she said. “I forgive the wounded hearts who acted out of fear and ignorance because you are fellow human beings and because I know the love of God. It is only through the transformative love of God that forgiveness can happen.”
“Our lives have been transformed through stories and relationships,” said the Rev. Kathy Dickriede, coordinator of East Ohio Conference United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) before introducing those gathered in Hoover Auditorium to stories of:
- churches that partner with schools,
- congregations that are building relationships in their communities,
- Connecting Neighbors that are bringing together churches, businesses and government agencies, and
- ministries that are addressing poverty, hunger and addiction.
Bishop Tracy S. Malone accepted awards from Global Ministries for the Conference’s generous support of United States and International Disaster Response. The Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM) also received an award Tuesday afternoon, being recognized by Rise Against Hunger for its efforts in packaging 250,000 meals for use at home and around the world.
Being bold and courageous leaders in reaching new people, younger people, and a more diverse people will be showcased on Wednesday.
Annual Conference members kept their voting cards at the ready throughout Tuesday’s business sessions.
“Our two main goals within the Board of Benefits as it pertains to health care are make sure it is sustainable and affordable. We keep an eye to the future, vigilant to challenges that inevitably will come and we work to be faithful with resources God has provided,” the Rev. Bill Liming, chair of the Board, said during the presentation of the report, which was approved by the body.
The EOC corporate meeting included reports of several accomplishments of the Board of Trustees in the past year, and a celebration of the ministry of these churches that officially close on June 30: Brewster UMC (Tuscarawas District), Cove UMC (North Coast District), Dexter City UMC (Southern Hills District), First Hispanic UMC (North Coast District), North Royalton UMC (North Coast District), Smyrna UMC (Three Rivers District), Sycamore UMC (Ohio Valley District), and West Mecca UMC (Western Reserve District).
Stephanie Bradford, chair of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) reported that following the Commission’s report to Annual Conference 2017, which addressed the issue of equitable clergy salary compensation, a covenant task force has been formed to begin a salary conversation. The task force is comprised of several different, multi-faceted groups.
Commission on Equitable Compensation Chair the Rev. Dan Bilkert then presented that Commission’s report, and introduced an amendment seeking to suspend the use of the 1992 formula used to calculate minimum clergy salaries when calculating 2019 salaries in order to prevent a reduction in minimum salaries that year. The amendment also recommended a 2% increase in all minimum salary categories. Annual Conference members voted to approve both the amendment and the Commission’s report. The Commission will work in cooperation and partnership with Bishop Malone, the Council on Finance and Administration, and the Conference Board of Benefits in the coming year to find a way forward.
Personnel Committee Chair Rock VanFossen introduced a motion that the East Ohio Conference approve the creation of a new part-time Administrative Coordinator position to support the Board of Ministry. Annual Conference members voted and approved creation of the position.
During the Board of Ministry presentation, the following persons were introduced to the body: those attending the Candidacy Summit; 2018 Young Clergy Initiative interns and their partnering pastors; seminary students receiving scholarships; provisional members; candidates; and local pastors. Clergy celebrating ministry anniversaries and clergy in extension ministry were also recognized.
The $24,705.50 collected Tuesday during the Annual Conference offering will be used to support suicide prevention among young people, Africa University, and the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund.
Four of the 10 submitted resolutions were introduced and discussed during Tuesday’s business sessions.
Resolution 2018-02 calling for the Conference to actively seek racial reconciliation was approved.
Resolution 2018-03 calling for the Conference to call on all United Methodist boards and agencies to conduct a critical review of any investments that contribute to the suffering and abuse of Palestinian children was not supported.
Resolution 2018-04 calling on the government of the United States to adhere to the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act by withholding military assistance from the State of Israel due to its practices of arrest and detention of Palestinian children was not supported.
Resolution 2018-06 calling for the Conference to consider investing in Wespath’s Social Values Choice Suite of Funds was not supported.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference.