The 47th session of the West Virginia Annual Conference met June 11-14 at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va.
“Everyday Christian people are key to the renewal of the church,” said Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, in her opening worship sermon. “You are the good soil.”
Bishop Wallace-Padgett serves the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church. Her sermon was a fitting way to emphasize the theme of Annual Conference which was “Develop…”
Cultivating good soil takes time, as does developing the spiritual gifts and disciple-making skills necessary to add 2400 new professions of faith by the end of 2016.
The Bishop’s Cabinet report cast a vision of a conference renewed through making disciples, and provided several suggestions for how this could be achieved. They asked that all churches host confirmation classes and new member classes in the Fall. They also asked the conference to deepen relationships so that those on church constituency rolls have the opportunity to become disciples of Christ.
Another way in which we can grow in professions of faith is by striving to be “balcony people,” – those who help others. “Balcony people see the best in others,” said Wallace-Padgett in her second sermon, preached during this year’s memorial service. “To whom are you a balcony person?”
West Virginia Area Bishop, Sandra Steiner Ball, asked the conference if they wanted to make disciples during her Saturday morning address, which included the question set to the tune,”Do you want to build a snowman,” from the Disney animated film, “Frozen.”
The words to “Do you Want to Make Disciples,” were written by conference lay leader, Rich Shaffer.
Conference also welcomed the gifts of Native American storytelling and music from boe harris and Ragghi Rain-Calentine. The United Methodist Church is engaged in a formal Act of Repentance Service for the Healing of Relationships with Indigenous Persons; the West Virginia Conference will hold that worship service during next year’s Conference session.
Calentine and harris were hosted by West Virginia Commission on Native American Ministries Chairperson, Dr. Ellie High.
The Conference concluded a year-long emphasis on the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Conference gave approval to the Board of Trustees to pursue limited and controlled timber harvest at Spring Heights, the conference’s camping and outdoor ministry in Roane County.
The Conference adopted a budget of $12,159,191 for 2016, an increase of $132,952 or 1.10% from the 2015 budget.
A petition to amend the preamble to the United Methodist Social Principles was supported.
The Conference elected the following General and Jurisdictional delegates:
(General and Jurisdictional)
Mary Ellen Finegan
At the end of 2014, membership stood at 97,363, down 1,328 from 2013. Worship attendance stands at 40,563, down 1,257. Church school attendance stands at 18,715 down 740. Small group participation increased by more than 14%; up 136 to 1089 in 2014. Conference gave $3,284,875 in 2014 to UM and non UM missional causes; up more than $44,000 from 2013.
25 clergy entered the retired relationship with the annual conference. Five people were commissioned for the work of an elder; four elders and one deacon were ordained. The conference welcomed 3 transfers from other conferences.
More on the 2015 session of the West Virginia Annual Conference can be found at wvumc.org/conference
– prepared by Laura Harbert Allen, Director of Communications