A View of 2018 Annual Conference Of the New England Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
Secretary, Rev. John Blackadar
Guest Speaker and Bible Teacher, Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Hill, Marsh Chapel and Boston University
Guest Musician and Composer, Dr. Mark Miller and band
Guests from the South Korean Conference
For a full description of the Conference, please refer to the web address – UMC. Org
2018 New England Annual Conference
St. John’s Attendees – Sue Frost, Pastor; Elizabeth Small, Lay Member to Annual Conference; Jana Marie Whitten, Deaconess; Mary Tremblay, Alternate Lay Member; Wanda Winnicki, Equalization Member; and Brenda Borchers, Bishop’s Office
Many aspects of our church were discussed. I will be reporting on those that I believe to be of most interest and immediate relevance to St. John’s at the current time.
Vital Conversations – Ephesians 4:11-13
Pastors’ care, continuing education, and vacation time, to be overseen by SPRC – caring for all aspects of our pastors’ health and showing we value them, providing pulpit coverage and paying for continuing education expenses (not part of vacation time), and up to four (4) weeks of vacation (including our current pastor)
Salaries, benefits, and insurances – to include facilities and personal insurance
Connectionalism – world-wide and implications for upcoming votes
Simplifying our church organization and structure to allow for more streamlined administration; and therefore, allowing for more direct ministry.
People issues were discussed at length; including marginalized sections of society, e.g. minorities, women’s issues, homosexuals, transgender, handicapped folks
Celebration of the lives of pastors who have passed in the last year
Celebrating all those who are currently working and contributing to Methodism‘s ongoing mission
Intercessory prayer for missionaries and others working in the field
Church Models – Commission of the Way Forward – the three (3) models for possible change within our church structure. This is still in the hands of a panel of bishops. Their suggestions/recommendations will be taken to a Special Conference to be held on February 23-26, 2019.
There were 35 area reports presented and 25 proposed actions. Please visit the UMC url for further information. The 2019 Annual Conference will be held in Manchester on June 13-15.
The conference room was filled with hundreds of people – young, old, different genders, different types of beliefs and styles of worship, rich, poor, politically divergent, quiet, loud, subtle, and strident; but the consensus was for the betterment of Methodism and expanding/enabling God’s work. Whether in groups or non-on-one, I found all attempting to listen, share, and rein-in differences toward reaching our common goals. It was amazing to look around the auditorium and see earnest discussion, true listening, and seeking understanding. I saw tears, laughter, prayer, hugs, shaking heads, nodding heads. In the hallways, the same interactions continued.
Some conclusions were reached. Some votes completed – some I enjoyed, others I did not. Bishop Devadhar maintained an even-handed control in the room and Rev. Blackadar was ever ready to supply information, ground rules, and guidelines.
The humane impact led, I believe, to a feeling of equal justice – both in the room and moving forward with the major decisions to be made…..both to the Book of Discipline and for our world-wide Church.
My final comment – the music was terrific!!