AC Day 3: Three clergy, one lay member elected to General/Jurisdictional delegation

June 06, 2023
By Alan Wild
OWENSBORO, Ky. – Three clergy members and one lay member were elected  Tuesday, June 6, to the General/Jurisdictional Conference delegation during the third day of the 2023 Annual Conference.

The Rev. Dr. John Hatton was elected on the second clergy ballot, the Rev. David Garvin was elected on the fourth ballot, and the Rev. Dr. Jay Smith was elected on the seventh ballot.

For the laity, Larry Miller was elected on the fourth ballot, joining Tess Welch, Sarah McGinnis and Lesley Williams, who were elected Monday.
The slates of both lay and clergy members are now complete.  

Earlier, the Rev. Darren Brandon, conference secretary, said an internet connection problem led to a clerical error during Monday’s clergy vote, which caused three names to inadvertently be left off the ballot results. That ballot was declared invalid.

The elections are provisional, pending clarifications from The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council concerning how to fill openings left by disaffiliations and withdrawals.

The elections, which were interspersed throughout the day, took place on the third day of the 2023 Annual Conference at the Owensboro Convention Center. Annual Conference will conclude Wednesday, following the Memorial Service and the Reading of Appointments.

Retirement service
During Tuesday’s morning session, 32 clergy were recognized and honored as retiring from the Kentucky Annual Conference. They are:
James Adams, Gary Allen Baker, Ted Beam, Mark Anthony Benton, Ken Berggren, Hunn Choi, Robert Clements, Donny Crowson, Ronnie Dooley, Tom Grieb, David Grout, Roy Harlow, Bruce Hiner, Robert Howell, Kenneth Hundley, James Kingry, Chuck Ladd, Lisa Holloway May, Eliseo A. Mejia, Christopher Morgan, Steven Pescosolido, Silas D. Ripato, Brian Small, Philip Daniel Smith, Karen Stigall, Larry Stoess, J. David Terry, Doug Thacker, James Thobaben, Tim Thompson, David Turner, and Marcia Woodyard.

Mission offering
This year’s mission offering will support the UMC Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative, which is creating resources to support clergy of color and providing financial flexibility to Rev. Dr. Tina Patterson, the new director of Connectional and African American Ministries.

The offering was highlighted during the Mission Celebration, the final item on Tuesday’s agenda. Patterson, currently the superintendent in the Bluegrass District, will assume her new position on July 1. (A question & answer featuring Patterson talking about her new dual role can be found here.)

Bishop Leonard Fairley thanked Patterson for the passion she is bringing to the new position.
The preliminary missional offering total will be announced during Wednesday’s session.

Young adult ministries
Part of the morning business session covered ministries that  focus on young people and young adults:
  • Camp & Retreat Ministries: The Rev. Sarah-Kate Cox, incoming chair of the Camping & Retreat Team (C&R), said Sunday was an exciting time as both Loucon and Aldersgate camps started their summer camp season. She talked at length about her experience as a child at camp and how life-changing it was.
“We are the evidence of a fruitful transformation ministry that God is doing in Kentucky through Loucon and Aldersgate,” she said.

She said the past few years have been challenging but added the C&R teams are committed to doing adaptive work so that more people of all ages can have a transformational experience. She urged people to get involved with camp to continue to stay involved, including encouragement, prayer, work teams, volunteer counselors. She also encouraged people to share their camp stories to continue the legacy and fruitful ministry at both camps.
  • Youth & Young Adult Delegation: Fairley also recognized the youth and young adults attending and voting at Annual Conference. The Rev. Renee Jennings is overseeing the roughly 30-person group.
  • Isaiah Ministry interns:  The Rev. Kevin Burney, director of Ministerial Services, provided an update on the Isaiah Project. Two people are serving 10-week Isaiah internships this summer. The program is designed to help college-age people to discern whether they might want to pursue a path in ministry.
  • Campus ministries: The Rev. D. Merricks, chair of the Higher Education Team, recognized the campus ministers.
Merricks, pastor of Wilmore UMC, related the story of “the outpouring,” a spontaneous revival that broke out at Asbury University in February. He had a chance to sit in on part of it and mentioned the sense of peace and how God is moving every day.

Similar encounters are taking place on our college campuses in the Wesley Foundation ministries, he said, urging people to provide even a modest donation to a nearby campus ministry.

Nominations report
Brandon, the Annual Conference secretary, presented first reading of the nominations report and also mentioned that a QR code – something new this year – is available to access the report. Teams will continue to fill openings; also, district reports will be approved at district conferences later in the year, he said.

Resolution approved
A resolution reaffirming the doctrinal standard of The United Methodist Church was approved overwhelmingly by hand vote. Responding to a question before the vote,

John Denham, co-lay leader of the conference, said the intent is to encourage the conference to do a better job of explaining UMC beliefs.

A second resolution, on creating a task force on evangelism, will be considered at Wednesday’s business session.

Flood-relief report
The Rev. Jim Savage, disaster response coordinator in southeastern Kentucky, provided a brief update on flood-relief efforts in southeastern Kentucky. Case managers are on the ground helping survivors of last summer’s floods, he said. He urged people to bring tools to the display area to donate for the “tool trailer” in the parking lot.
“I just want you all to know that you have changed a lot of lives. And that’s our business, transforming lives. But it doesn’t always happen inside the church. Some of these people will never set foot in a church at all,” Savage said, adding that volunteer teams are still needed in the recovery process.
Lives are being changed, and “I guarantee it will change your life as well,” he added.

Following the presentation, a video was shown highlighting the recent mission trip to eastern Kentucky by Fairley and the conference’s Appointive Cabinet.

Board of Pensions
The Rev. David Garvin, conference treasurer, provided an update on health insurance for both active and retired employees. In 2024, the partnership with Wespath’s HealthFlex will continue, he said. HealthFlex has helped stabilize insurance costs since the partnership began in 2020.

Garvin said they anticipate 2024 health insurance rates will increase at greater than the 3% rate of recent years. Changes will be coming to the health plans, some of them IRS-related, he said. Specific information will be forthcoming by early fall.

He also said that Wespath will introduce legislation at General Conference in 2024 for a retirement plan called Compass, which would take place starting in 2026. Benefits in the current plan would not be impacted, he said.

The Rev. Keith Switzer, chair of the Board of Pensions, recognized 50- and 25-year clergy members. Honored for 50 years of service were: Wayne Garvey, John Oswalt, Charles Doug Phillips, Ervin Mason, and Henry Wilson. Honored for 25 years were: Jack Larwa, Jim Robinson and Brad Smart.

Ecumenism Award
The Rev. Jack Brewer received the Ecumenism Award. He has been president of the Franklin County Ministerial Association and is stepping down from that role after 20 years, said the Rev. Lisa May, who presented the award.

Conference email update
The Rev. Craig Taylor, chair of the Communications Operational Team, and Cathy Bruce, associate director of Connectional Ministries for communications, provided a brief report, which included an update on the clergy email initiative.

Bruce said the activation rate of the new email accounts – which end with a .net suffix – is about 80%, which she called “wonderful.” But she urged people to increase their usage rate, reminding them that it is the only formal way the conference is electronically communicating with them now.

Children’s Homes
The Rev. Julie Hager Love, executive director of the Kentucky United Methodist Homes for Children, told members that disaffiliations could cost the homes $350,000 in donations and urged people to do what they can to help offset those losses. She also requested prayers for the ministry.

Episcopal Committee
The Rev. Tami Coleman, chair of the Episcopal Committee, formally let the Annual Conference know that Fairley was reappointed last fall at Jurisdictional Conference to serve in Kentucky. He and his wife, Dawn, were recognized and honored. The well-wishes included a prayer and blessing for them as the continue to lead the conference.

The day concluded with a time of fellowship (and food trucks) along the riverfront next to the Convention Center. The Fairleys were there to receive well-wishes from Annual Conference members.