The mood was set for a day of worship and service as Martha Christian blessed us with a musical prelude of praise as the conference crowd began to assemble. Jorge Acevedo, the lead pastor at Grace Church (a multi-site, United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida), followed with the first of his three teaching sessions. Jorge taught about the correlation between personal finances and stewardship. He shared his belief that most people would like to be generous and that generosity leads to a life of abundance. However, he also stated that “financial mismanagement is the thief that is robbing Americans of their ability to live abundantly.” In very practical terms, he addressed the conflict that arises from the coexistence of these realities.
After Rev. Acevedo’s morning session, the conference continued by moving directly into the only plenary session of the day. Rev. David Garvin presented a report from the Journal Committee and the Higher Education Team. Tuesday’s voting saw a total of four laity and one clergy elected to represent the Kentucky Conference at General Conference. The one clergy elected was Bill Arnold. The four laity elected were Lew Nicholls, Linda Underwood King, Jan Brown-Thompson and Brenda Glover. The Higher Ed team included a proposal that would make all funding for the Wesley Foundations grant-based. After much floor debate, the proposal passed by a show of hands.
During the Memorial Service, sixteen clergy and seven spouses who passed away during the last conference year were honored. Family and friends were invited to stand as each deceased person’s name was read. Bishop Al Gwinn delivered the sermon, reminding those in attendance to “never lose sight of the destination.” He reminded us that, as we live our lives, we each have an impact that will be felt long after we are gone.
This year marked the sixth consecutive year that the conference has taken an afternoon to give back to the people of our host community. Over 500 blue-clad volunteers fanned out to serve in various capacities throughout the city. Those who chose to give of their time and talents provided a plethora of services, including landscaping, packaging 20,000 meals and assembling over 2,200 health kits.
In the late session, Jorge Acevedo continued his teachings on stewardship and its importance in the life of those who follow Jesus.