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Regional conferences gear up to reach out


7:00 A.M. EST April 6, 2011

In the West Michigan Conference, Miracle Saturday is June 4, when 12 “disciples” from every church will engage in ministry with the poor.  A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of the West Michigan Conference.
In the West Michigan Conference, Miracle Saturday
is June 4, when 12 “disciples” from every church will engage in ministry with the poor. A UMNS web-only
photo courtesy of the West Michigan Conference.

Annual conference time is approaching, and United Methodist representatives are getting ready to debate issues — and to reconnect with friends and colleagues. But in most conferences, the action goes far beyond the meeting room.

Sure, in this pre-General Conference year, it will be a time to elect delegates to the denomination’s top lawmaking assembly in 2012, ordain new clergy and remember colleagues who have died during the past year. Several conferences will hear from megachurch clergy leaders like the Revs. Adam Hamilton, Rudy Rasmus and Mike Slaughter.

But amid the “traditional” activities on annual (regional) conference agendas, United Methodists plan to reach out in ministry with the poor, strive for healthier lifestyles and much more.

In the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Bishop Peggy Johnson is excited that young adult laywoman Jennifer Berry-McNulty will present the opening sermon. “Twelve people … did a trial sermon in front of a team of conference folks, and one was selected,” Johnson said.

The Peninsula-Delaware Conference, also led by Johnson, will do a weeklong mission immersion during the sessions. Volunteer-in-mission teams from across the conference will rehabilitate local homes in the area near the meeting site.

The Louisiana Conference selected May 14 (on the same weekend as the Rethink Church “Change the World” event) as “A Day of Caring.” Local churches in the conference will participate in ministry with the poor. The results of A Day of Caring, along with other emphases on ministry with the poor, will be the central focus for the annual conference.

Looking inwardly, outwardly

On the final day of the West Michigan Conference sessions, 12 “disciples” from every church will be invited to attend “Miracle Saturday.” Up to 5,000 people will experience a day of worship, fellowship and connection as participants seek God’s call to engage in ministry with the poor. The day will feature two special guests — Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, and Rasmus, co-pastor of St. John’s Downtown United Methodist Church in Houston.

Laywoman Jennifer Berry-McNulty will be the young-adult preacher at the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference. A web-only photo courtesy of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.
Laywoman Jennifer Berry-McNulty will be the young-adult preacher at the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference. A web-only photo courtesy of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

Offerings received during the Memphis Conference sessions will support a covenant with the Eastern Mexico Conference of The Methodist Church of Mexico. Bishop Raul Garcia de Ochoa of the Eastern Conference will preach, and he and Bishop Richard J. Wills Jr. will sign the covenant. Youth will work on mission projects and attend a concert by the Christian band, Building 429.

Northeast of Memphis, Tennessee Conference representatives will concentrate on the fourth of Bishop Robert C. Schnase's five practices for fruitful congregations, Risk-Taking Mission & Service. “We’ve been really hammering our conference on actually putting this into practice,” said communicator Kevin Sparkman. Special offerings will benefit the Tennessee Storm Relief and Recovery Ministry and the Haitian Mission Project.

But local church representatives will be encouraged to look inwardly as well as outwardly.

The Oregon-Idaho Conference will focus on building healthy, vital congregations. Communications Director Greg Nelson said the conference is working “to put in place a shift of perspective and paradigm that really recognizes that the local church is where disciple-making happens. This means eliminating much of what annual conference has been for years and making room for quality leadership development while we have 600 of our conference leaders together.”

Empowered for future ministry

For the second year, the South Georgia Conference will sponsor “A Healthier Me: Mind, Body & Soul,” a time set aside for an intentional moment to refresh and renew. Clergy and laity will be encouraged to focus on some aspect of creating a “healthier me.” Options include physical activities such as a 5K run/walk, a five-mile walk, a body prayer and an aerobic class. Workshops will zero in on maintaining Sabbath living, eating healthy and interactive prayer.

Youth from the Kentucky Conference collect canned foods donated by members during last year’s afternoon of service held in Covington. They pushed grocery carts filled with food to a local food pantry. A UMNS photo courtesy of the Kentucky Conference.
Youth from the Kentucky Conference collect canned
foods donated by members during last year’s afternoon of
service held in Covington. They pushed grocery carts filled
with food to a local food pantry. A UMNS photo courtesy of
the Kentucky Conference. View in Photo Gallery

In the United States, the first annual conference to convene will be Red Bird Missionary, meeting April 29-30. Two Western Jurisdiction conferences, Desert Southwest and Pacific Northwest, share the distinction of being the last to meet on June 23-26. The most popular date for U.S. annual conferences is June 8-11, with 13 conferences convening at that time.

In Africa, Europe and Asia, four annual conferences met in March, and two will convene in April. Most will gather in May, June and July. The Serbia/Macedonia Provisional Conference has the latest session on Sept. 22-25.

In the United States, no mergers are on the agenda, although next year, representatives will vote on a possible merger of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone annual conferences.

“Annual conference,” concluded Bishop Johnson, “is a time for holy conferencing, where the worship and praise of God is first and foremost.

“Then we embody that spirit of unity in the things we do: the votes we take, the love we share, the gifts we bring, the passages of ministry we celebrate and the people we empower for future ministry.”

*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5489 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

2011 Annual Conferences

North Central Jurisdiction
Dakotas — June 8-11 — Watertown, S.D.
Detroit — May 19-22 — Adrian, Mich.
East Ohio — June 13-16 — Lakeside, Ohio
Illinois Great Rivers — June 1-4 — Peoria, Ill.
Indiana — June 8-11 — Muncie, Ind.
Iowa — June 4-7 — Des Moines, Iowa
Minnesota — June 1-3 — Saint Cloud, Minn.
Northern Illinois — June 8-11 — Saint Charles, Ill.
West Michigan — June 1-4 — Grand Rapids, Mich.
West Ohio — June 6-9 — Lakeside, Ohio
Wisconsin — June 12-15 — Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Northeastern Jurisdiction
Baltimore-Washington — May 25-27 — Baltimore
Eastern Pennsylvania — May 19-21 — Oaks, Pa.
Greater New Jersey — June 1-4 — King of Prussia, Pa.
New England — June 8-11 — Wenham, Mass.
New York — June 8-11 — Hempstead, N.Y.
Peninsula-Delaware — June 9-11 — Princess Anne, Md.
Susquehanna — June 8-11 — Grantham, Pa.
Upper New York — June 8-11 — Rochester, N.Y.
West Virginia — June 8-11 — Buckhannon, W. Va.
Western Pennsylvania — June 9-12 — Grove City, Pa.

South Central Jurisdiction
Arkansas — June 5-8 — Hot Springs, Ark.
Central Texas — June 5-8 — Waco, Texas
Kansas East — June 8-11 — Leawood, Kan.
Kansas West — May 25-27 — Hutchinson, Kan.
Louisiana — June 5-8 — Shreveport, La.
Missouri — June 3-6 — Springfield, Mo.
Nebraska — June 1-4 — Lincoln, Neb.
New Mexico — June 1-4 — Glorieta, N.M.
North Texas — June 5-7 — Plano, Texas
Northwest Texas — June 9-12 — Abilene, Texas
Oklahoma — May 29 - June 1 — Oklahoma City, Okla.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary — June 9-12 — Antlers, Okla.
Rio Grande — June 16-18 — San Antonio
Southwest Texas — June 8-11 — Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas — May 29 - June 1 — Houston

Southeastern Jurisdiction
Alabama-West Florida — June 5-8 — Montgomery, Ala.
Florida — June 1-4 — Tampa, Fla.
Holston — June 12-15 — Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Kentucky — June 8-11 — Covington, Ky.
Memphis — June 5-8 — Paducah, Ky.
Mississippi — June 10-12 — Jackson, Miss.
North Alabama — June 2-4 — Madison, Ala.
North Carolina — June 15-18 — Raleigh, N.C.
North Georgia — June 14-17 — Athens, Ga.
Red Bird Missionary — April 29-30 — Beverly, Ky.
South Carolina — June 8-12 — Florence, S.C.
South Georgia — June 5-9 — Tifton, Ga.
Tennessee — June 12-15 — Brentwood, Tenn.
Virginia — June 15-19 — Roanoke, Va.
Western North Carolina — June 8-11 — Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Western Jurisdiction
Alaska — June 3-5 — Homer, Alaska
California-Nevada — June 15-18 — West Sacramento, Calif.
California-Pacific — June 16-19 — Redlands, Calif.
Desert Southwest — June 23-26 — Glendale, Ariz.
Oregon-Idaho — June 16-19 — Salem, Ore.
Pacific Northwest — June 23-26 — Pasco, Wash.
Rocky Mountain — June 16-19 — Denver
Yellowstone — June 8-11 — Billings, Mont.

Annual Conferences in Africa, Europe and Asia
Austria Provisional — May 19-22 — Linz, Austria
Bicol Philippines Provisional — May 17-19 — Naga City, Philippines
Bulacan Philippines – no information available
Bulgaria Provisional — April 8-10 — location not yet determined
Central Congo – no information available
Central Luzon Philippines – no information available
Central Russia — June 23-25 — Samara, Russia
Côte d’Ivoire – no information available
Czech and Slovak Republics — May 27-29 — Mikulov, Czech Republic
Denmark — May 19-22 — Strandby, Denmark
East Africa – no information available
East Congo – no information available
East Germany — May 26-29 — Erzgebirge, Germany
East Mindanao Philippines — May 12-15 — Davao del Sur, Philippines
East Zimbabwe – no information available
Eastern Angola – no information available
Eastern Russia and Central Asia Provisional — June 30 - July 2 — Yekaterinburg, Russia
Estonia — June 21-22 — Tallinn, Estonia
Finland—Finnish-speaking Provisional — March 6-7 — Valkeakoski, Finland
Finland—Swedish-speaking Provisional — date not provided — Kokkola, Finland
Gwaten Nigeria — date not provided — Jalingo, Taraba State, Nigeria
Hungary Provisional — May 13-16 — Kaposvar, Hungary
Kasai Provisional – no information available
Kivu Provisional – no information available
Liberia – no information available
Lukoshi — July 24-27 — Dilolo, Katanga
Malawi Provisional – no information available
Middle Philippines – no information available
Mindanao Philippines — May 17-19 — Kidapawan City, Philippines
Mozambique North — July 12 — Beira, Sofala, Mozambique
Mozambique South — July 12 — Maputo, Mozambique
North Central Philippines – no information available
North Germany — June 22-26 — Walsrode (Niedersachsen), Germany
North Katanga – no information available
Northeast Luzon Philippines – no information available
Northeast Philippines – no information available
Northern Philippines – no information available
North-West Katanga — July 17-20 — Musumb, Katanga
Northwest Mindanao Philippines — April 7-10 — Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines
Northwest Philippines – no information available
Northwest Russia Provisional — May 20-22 — Saint Petersburg, Russia
Norway — June 16-19 — Sellebakk, Norway
Oriental & Equator (Congo) – no information available
Palawan Philippines – no information available
Pampango Philippines – no information available
Pangasinan Philippines – no information available
Pero Nigeria — date not provided — Jalingo, Taraba State, Nigeria
Philippines – no information available
Philippines-Cavite – no information available
Philippines East – no information available
Poland — June 3-5 — Warsaw, Poland
Quezon City Philippines – no information available
Serbia/Macedonia Provisional — Sept. 22-25 — Kisac, Serbia
Sierra Leone — March 2-7 — location not provided
South Africa Provisional – no information available
South Congo — July 3-6 — Kasenga, Katanga Province
South Germany — May 18-22 — Oehringen (Baden-Wuerttemberg), Germany
Southern Nigeria — date not provided — Jalingo, Taraba State, Nigeria
Southern Russia Provisional — June 16-18 — Voronezh, Russia
Southern Tagalog Provisional – no information available
South-West Katanga — July 10-13 — Likas, Katanga
Southwest Philippines Provisional – no information available
Sweden — date not provided — Stockholm
Switzerland-France — June 16-19 — Winterthur + Zurich, Switzerland
Tanganyika – no information available
Tanzania – no information available
Tarlac Philippines – no information available
Ukraine and Moldova Provisional — May 26-28 — Kiev, Ukraine
Visayas Philippines — March 31 - April 3 — Labangon, Cebu City, Philippines
West Congo – no information available
West Middle Philippines – no information available
West Zimbabwe – no information available
Western Angola — March 9 — Luanda, Angola
Zambia Provisional – no information available

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