Fellowship, worship, teaching moments and celebration were the hallmarks of the 2014 Kentucky Annual Conference session, held June 9–11 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Kentucky. Bishop Lindsey Davis presided over the annual conference session.
The theme of the 2014 Kentucky Annual Conference was “Reach the World, Equipping Servant Leaders.”
Bishop Davis and the cabinet issued a call for the churches of the conference to receive a special mission offering to benefit two ministries that are dear to the Kentucky Conference. The congregations heard the call and the Kentucky Conference collected over $112,000, which will be divided between the Red Bird Missionary Conference and Blessing Home, a ministry of the Life Center United Methodist Church, in partnership with the Thailand Methodist Mission. Blessing Home is a ministry through missionaries Mike and Sherri Morrissey, who are clergy members from the Kentucky Annual Conference.
During opening worship, Bishop Davis welcomed the members of the conference with a reminder of the importance of “being still before God and remembering God’s presence as we prepare to do the ministry for which we are called.” Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett delivered the sermon. Her text was taken from Jeremiah 17:8 and was titled “Plant Where You Can Bloom.” Twenty-two clergy and 12 spouses who passed away during the last year were remembered as part of the opening worship. Bishop Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn, along with district lay leaders and members of the cabinet, assisted Bishop Davis with serving communion.
Bishop Davis presided over the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett preached on the theme “In the Liminality is the Possibility.” Rev. Amanda Langlands from Faith Baptist Church provided ecumenical representation. The service was full of the symbols of ministry: the towel and basin, the paten and cup, the water of baptism and the cross of Christ who calls people into ordained ministry. Clergy and family members stood in support of those being commissioned and ordained. There was one associate member recognized, three persons were ordained as deacons, two were commissioned on the deacon track, nine were commissioned to be elders and 12 were ordained as elders. The average age for the ordinands was 40 years and the average age for those commissioned was 33 years.
The Mission Service was led by Dale Mowery and the Rev. Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, presented his first session. Rev. Hamilton spoke on the importance of being authentic as a leader, being a people person, following spiritual practices of humbleness and serving others. He spoke on the difference between being a manager and a leader and that leaders inspire and create change. “Leadership is what is desperately needed today in the United Methodist Church,” Rev. Hamilton stated. Reverend Hamilton also lead two teaching sessions on Wednesday.
During our time together, we also had over 700 United Methodists participate at more than 25 service sites throughout northern Kentucky during our Afternoon of Service. Projects ranged from visiting retirement homes to landscaping, delivering and serving food, and prayer walks throughout Covington.
In the business portion of conference, we heard reports from various ministry areas, including camping and retreat ministries, higher education ministry, and the Board of Ordained Ministry. Associate Director of Connectional Ministries Rev. Tami Coleman gave a report on the Connectional Café and workshop opportunities for our local churches. Also, military chaplains were introduced, as were our college presidents. The Francis Asbury award was presented to Ron Alvis and the Denman Evangelism Awards were presented to Greg Gallaher, clergy, and Asa Swan, laity. Campus ministers were recognized and came forward for a prayer by Bishop Davis. There was also a selfie contest, which added a spirit of lightheartedness and got the young people in attendance energized. A prayer of thanksgiving was said for the ministry of the four churches that were closed this year. The session also took a special vote to make Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett an honorary member of the Kentucky Conference. Conference also passed a resolution to decrease the number of districts from twelve to nine. The decrease in districts will be effective July 1, 2015.
The 2015 budget was voted on and approved at $7.9 million, decreasing the anticipated level of funding by $1.2 million.