The 2012 North Georgia Annual Conference wrapped up its work Thursday and left Athens with renewed optimism for the future. The three days of conferencing were blessed by favorable weather, helpful volunteers, and a jam-packed agenda that managed to keep close to its planned schedule.
Diners in the packed ballroom at the Laity Lunch were challenged by Hank Huckaby, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, to remain faithful in passing along the blessing they have received to the next generation.
Huckaby, a long-time member of Athens First UMC who has served in numerous leadership roles, used Paul’s second letter to Timothy as the foundation of his remarks.“I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”2Tim 1:3-5.
“You then, my son,be strongin the grace that is in Christ Jesus.And the things you have heard me sayin the presence of many witnessesentrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”2Tim 2:1-2
Huckaby emphasized the importance for God’s people to never cease the pursuit of knowledge and the critical role the church can play in the education of youth.
“The people like you and me are the carriers of the faith,” he said, pointing out the academic rigor practiced by the Wesley family and John Wesley’s commitment to education. Huckaby, who attended college at Young Harris, Georgia State and the University of Georgia,elaborated on all the opportunities for higher education in the state.
“I am optimistic about the future of our North Georgia Conference,” he said. “The church can bring an invaluable dimension to the education of our young people.”
Twenty years of New Church Development
With the goal of creating new places for new people, North Georgia’s office of new church development has been planting churches for 20 years. The fruits of these labors include 87 new churches that now have 26,000 members and an average of 17,409 on any given Sunday.
Working through collaborative efforts with strategic growth teams, districts and the cabinet, New Church Development’s upcoming plans include:
-starting a new Korean Mission this fall with Sugar Hill UMC
-partnering with Cascade UMC to create a new congregation in an existing church
-working with City on a Hill UMC to birth the first “grandchild” church
-planting a new church in the greater Conyers/Covington area
“Tuesday Eddie Fox implied that the world is watching and listening. Too often all they have heard is rhetoric,” said Director of Action Ministries John Moeller. “Action speaks louder than words. At Action Ministries, we want to awaken the action hero in each of you!”
This year, Action Ministries will:
distribute 1.2 million pounds of food
provide a home for 70 families in 20 counties
support more than 200 homeless people with disabilities
support 650 people with GED classes, financial literacy and after-school program for homeless children
feed 100,000 meals to children this summer
host an Action Dash 5K in Rome, Gainesville, Athens, Augusta, and Atlanta. “Sign up to walk, run, form a church team, form a youth team, to bring your friends, your family, your grandma, your dog, your stroller,” said Moeller.
Office of Connectional Ministries
Connectional Ministries’ videos featured the technology ministry of Impact UMC, the artistic expression of Stations of the Cross at Covington UMC and Martha Brown UMC’s ministry grilling hot dogs and burgers on the front steps for the community after church every Sunday and Epworth UMC in Atlanta’s blues/storytelling gathering on Sunday evenings.
Upcoming Connectional Ministries training highlighted:
Great Starts: Five workshops to help pastors in new appointments and staff to get off on the right foot and help strengthen your local church. Register at www.ngumc.org/greatstarts
Offering Grace: When Life Offers Loss is a workshop for churches served by a local pastor, set for 3 p.m. Sept. 23 at Gainesville First, with Dr. Tom Long discussing funerals.
Youth Ministry Institute (YMI) begins in January 2013. This excellent year-long training opportunity is for both paid and volunteer youth ministers. The 2013 class will meet for one retreat weekend and two Saturdays to better accommodate a variety of youth ministers.
Connectional Ministries initiatives highlighted:
Strategic Roundtables (START)
A unique pilot program in its first year, START is providing 50 clergy with excellent resources and opportunities to learn from fruitful North Georgia clergy with years of experience. A new START class will be recruited this fall.
Cross-Racial and Cross-Cultural Ministry
This initiative is here to equip pastors, laity and congregations in cross racial and cross cultural settings by providing training, resourcing and advocacy. Visit www.ngumc.org/crcc for upcoming events and resources.
Small Membership Initiative
GEM (Growing Effective Ministries) is an opportunity for lay and clergy with worship at 150 people or less. Four meetings have been held over the past year, and more are planned.
This year North Georgia had the opportunity to hear from someone who knew Harry Denman personally. “I met him as a young pastor,” said Dr. Eddie Fox. “The greatest lay evangelist of the 20th century. He headed evangelism for the Methodist church for 39 years. When you see that name today, you’re walking in the steps of someone who walked with Jesus.”
2012 Denman Evangelism Award winners:
Youth – Center Valley UMC Kayla Ingle
Lay – Dallas and Teilynn Ivey University Heights UMC
Clergy – Rev. Dr. John Beyers, senior pastor of Conyers UMC
Camping and Retreat Ministries
Camp Glisson has served young people for more than 60 years and now is working to serve a more diverse variety of young people by offering satellite summer camps around our conference and announced a $4.9 million campaign to replace the dining hall so that it can service the next 60 years of campers. For more information, visit www.glisson.org
Ken Weber, CEO of Wesley Woods Senior Living, thanked North Georgia for support of the Mother’s Day Offering. He also announced a new capital campaign launching this year to refurbish buildings.
“Our residents don’t just sit in chairs, said Weber, “they are engaged in their communities and the world. All our retirement communities are raising money for Imagine No Malaria.”
The Conference communications office invites you to subscribe to some or all of the conference and district e-newsletters at www.ngumc.org/site/stayconnected and visit the website at www.ngumc.org. Advocate editor Glenn Hannigan challenged churches to subscribe to the print edition of the North Georgia Advocate for themselves, church leaders and even new members. Subscribe by calling 877.465.1695. Share news from your church by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A budget of $24,036,338 was approved by the conference. Steve Wood, vice chair of Conference Committee on Finance and Administration, explained the budget, which represents a slight decrease for the fourth year in a row.
Housing and Homeless Council
Since 1990, the Homeless Offering has been distributed to ministries across the conference that serve homeless and poor. The agency has given $3.9 million in grants.
Application deadlines are March 1 and Sept 1. An applicant workshop will be held July 18. Find information at www.nghhc.org.
GA/FL UM Credit Union
Winner of the Credit Union scholarship is Rebecca Hannigan, member of Ebenezer UMC in Roswell, who will attend the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. In addition, the Georgia Florida UM Federal Credit Union made a $1,000 donation to the Central Conference Pension Initiative.
Board of Laity
The multi-part Board of Laity Report included:
Members of the Lay Revitalization Ministry are available to work with local churches to develop new programs to attract visitors and to help grow and revitalize churches.
Leadership UMC is a year-long faith development and education program for laity. It provides an opportunity to refine skills, share ideas, pray and learn about the United Methodist Church. This year’s class was the largest in the history of the program with 48 graduates.
The Conference Board of Laity thanked Jane Finley for her service as lay leader for the past four years
Other Reports and Important Information …
Conference passed a resolution in support of repealing the Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011
Cary Loesing brought the report of the United Methodist Men, who are involved in evangelism, spiritual, prayer advocacy, disaster response, prison ministry, and more.
Black College Fund Intern Deontez Wimbley, a freshman from Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC addressed the conference on behalf of the Black College Fund.
Conference voted to request that the SEJ episcopal committee return Bishop Mike Watson and his wife Margaret.
Prior to 2016, each church must have parsonage inspected by a licensed home inspector in order to assist in any deficiency.
Wesley Community Center programs aim to bring God’s abundance to senior citizens through Project Extend, Bethlehem Senior Center, and Project SOAR (Serving Our Aging Resoponsibly).
United Methodist Women president Deloris Carhee brought news of how the UMW is turning faith, hope and love into action.
85 pints of blood were given at the Red Cross Blood Drive.
Resolution was passed designating Epworth UMC of Epworth, Ga. as a historic site.
Next year’s Annual Conference is set for June 11-13, 2013 at the Athens Classic Center