Clergy and lay members to conference met in separate sessions this morning in preparation for the work of Annual Conference. In the clergy session, clergy voted to welcome 7 candidates for probationary membership and 10 candidates for full membership in the Annual Conference. These candidates were later commissioned or ordained in the evening worship service. Clergy also celebrated that 43 people completed License for Pastoral Ministry School.
The Laity Session prepared delegates for this Annual Conference and also offered encouragement to the attending lay leaders. Conference Lay Leader, Lew Nicholls, delivered the laity address, "Empowering the Laity to Make Disciples: Reclaiming the Wesleyan DNA Footprint." Nicholls gave an overview of the previous year and laid out a vision for the upcoming year. He then shared the good news that for the past two years the KY conference has shown growth. He noted that in order for growth to continue we need a full mix of generations, stating that "regardless of the generation, we are all made to worship God."
Several groups gathered for fellowship in smaller groups over lunch, including those about to be ordained, the spouses of clergy, those interested in learning more about New Church Development and friends of Candler Seminary and Union College.
Be Still, and know that I am God… Annual Conference officially began with the Opening Worship and Service of Remembrance, with retired Bishop Al Gwinn preaching. Bishop Davis welcomed the congregation with the 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.
17 clergy and 17 spouses were remembered with thanksgiving by the Conference, and worship ended with Holy Communion.
The Conference organized itself for its work during the afternoon session, establishing the Consent Calendar (the list of reports unanimously approved), electing tellers, and presenting the first readings of the Budget and Nominations reports.
The 2013 Summer Isaiah Project Interns were introduced. Sixty-six interns have been involved with the Isaiah Project thus far, with 10 interning throughout the Kentucky conference this summer and 2 additional interns working through Duke Seminary.
Thriving Faith Communities: How is Your Church Thriving in Your Community?
Today’s stories included:
·The Change for Change offering was highlighted, with Prestonsburg District sharing their success in involving churches creatively in this project.
·Impact Shelby: Centenary UMC shared stories of service projects.
·Campus Ministers were introduced and congregations were urged to support them and their ministries and students.
·Michael Coppersmith was awarded the Bishop’s Award for Ecumenism.
·Hands that Serve, Hearts That Care: Members of the Pleasureville UMC shared the impact of the Blessings in a Backpack ministry in their community.
·Red Bird Missionary Conference thriving ministry stories were shared and delegates were invited to partner with the RBMC in ministry financially, through work teams, and by prayer.
Lewis Keys sang of God’s faithfulness as a reminder of the longstanding role of God’s grace in the form of the Black College Fund for many students who would not otherwise be able to go to college.
Service of Commissioning & Ordination
Bishop Davis presided over the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. Bishop Paul Leeland preached, with Bishop Al Gwinn in attendance and Rev. Jerry Cappel, an Episcopal priest, provided ecumenical representation. The service was full of the symbols of ministry: the towel & basin, the paten & 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. 7 individuals were commissioned; one as provisional deacon and 6 as provisional elders. 10 provisional members were ordained; one as deacon and 9 as elders.