Annual Conference Summary 2012

Ray Buckley

Ray Buckley was the featured preacher for Opening Worship.  Photo by Suzy Keenan.

Click here to read and print: July 2012 NEWSpirit

Printable version of the 2012 Annual Conference Summary (pdf file)

By Suzy Keenan*
Nearly 1,000 members of The Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference met May 17-19, 2011 at the Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, PA, with the theme, “Leadership: Making a Way for All.”
Annual Conference began with both Laity Session and Clergy Sessions meeting on the morning of May 17.
Conference clergy:

Opening Worship on the afternoon of May 17 celebrated our Native American connection.  Ray Buckley, noted Native American storyteller/author and United Methodist leader, preached.   Photos by Suzy Keenan:
Buckley told, “One of the strongest memories I have is of my father saying, ‘I am going to pray do you want to come with me?’  Dad went up on the side of the mountain; he took off all of his clothing.  He stood in middle of the Pendleton give-away blanket, and laid out red bundles.  He stood in presence of God and just talked to God.  He unwrapped red bundles with pictures of my mom and me and our family and held them up to God.  Another bundle held an eagle feather – a sign of being native in non-native world.  There he was 6’5” tall, standing in front of God praying.  His prayer was personal, and he stayed in presence of god.  Then he wrapped up the bundles and gave them back to God.”  Ray took out a hollow bone that had been given to him by his father, and said, “I stand before God as he knows me – inside and out.  Because I have been a child of God, I become a hollow bone so you can let the winds of God blow through my life.”  After the service, Buckley presented that bone as a gift to Bishop Peggy Johnson.

Photos by Rev. Jim Mundell:

Photos by Sabrina Daluisio:

The conference welcomed Gary Harke, executive director of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, who brought a message, “But we are one in Christ.”  Steve Drachler, of United Methodist Advocacy in Pennsylvania, reminded the Body of the Biblical mandate to do justice and to take care of the poor.  UM Advocacy is leading an effort to defeat allowing “Pay Day Loans” in Pennsylvania.  Ruth Daugherty, who served on the UM Publishing House Board, introduced the new Local Cokesbury Sales Representative, Steven Toombs; he shared new resources from Cokesbury.  Chris Franklin from Stop Hunger Now spoke about their vision of “a world without hunger,” and a goal to package over 35,000 meals over the course of Annual Conference.  
Rev. Jim Todd and Dr. Mary White presented a report on General Conference, and presented the delegation’s episcopal nominee, the Rev. Dr. Christopher Jacob Kurien.  Rev. Todd reported that the last act of General Conference was to recognize Ruth Daugherty on her 11thGeneral Conference as an elected delegate.  Mr. Lester Calhoun was recognized for his service of 44 years as an equalizing Lay Delegate.  Rev. David Davis introduced Revs. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi and Kabaka Ndala Alphonsine, missionaries to Tanzania through the General Board of Global Ministries.  Bishop Peggy Johnson introduced three persons who were commissioned as missionaries during General Conference: Lilian Cotto, Sharon Hatchman, and Barbara Skarbowski.  “We had our buttons popping with pride to have three commissioned at the GBGM service,” she said.  “No other conference had three missionaries commissioned at the service!” 
In a vote, Dr. Kurien was approved as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s episcopal candidate.  
Rev. Eric Law, of the Kaleidoscope Institute, led two teaching sessions. Rev. Law spoke on what competent leadership is in a diverse changing world.  He spoke of “Holy Currencies”: Gracious leadership, relationship, truth, wellness, money, and time and place.  All continuously move to create sustainable ministry in the “Cycle of Blessings.”   Videos of both teaching sessions will be available free of charge online in the Conference's video gallery: 
In a Service of Recognition, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference honored twenty-three retiring clergy:  Connie Asquith, Lorelei Bach, Donald Boyd, William Chrin, Marjorie Ann Harris, DeLois Johnson, David A. Knotts, Stanley J. Krall, William J. Kuntze, Carol V. Lawfer, John H. Lynch, Margaret L. Marshman, Terry A. Mills, Jimmy Montgonery, William Parrish, Philip Ivoney Ponce, Frank H. Sanders, Robert B. Shrom, Paul L. Shumate, Amy C. Smith, Thomas Steger, Donald Sweimler, and John T. Wright.  The retirees placed a handmade prayer shawl over the shoulders of each ordinand, and then prayed with them.  
The Rev. Dr. Christopher Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries, led the Celebration of Ministries.  Suzy Keenan, director of Communications, announced that the conference now has a mobile app for both iPhone and Android phones and tablets created by OCV (  Irving Cotto introduced church planters. 


Suzette James, members of the Congregational Development Team, presented the Harry Denman Evangelism Award to Rev. Mercedes Case, pastor of New London UMC, and to Kenneth Ivory, layperson from Montgomery Square UMC. 
Rev. Yvette Davis presented the Kim Jefferson Award for Effective Urban Ministry to Grace Community Resource and Empowerment Center, Inc., with Rev. John Lewis accepting the award. 
Volunteers in Mission included more than 1,000 people involved in local and global mission projects this year.   Asbury Ministry at Drexel University presented a slide show of their student activities.   Camp directors shared news from the four conference camps and the up-coming camping season.  
Rev. Bron Yocum reported that a 40th Anniversary celebration of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women is planned for September 29 at Berwyn UMC, with Bishops Violet Fischer and Susan Hassinger. 
On the evening of Friday, May 18, the Service of Ordination included the preaching of Bishop Peggy Johnson.  She advised those to be ordained: “How to handle word of God: read it every day and every night as if your life and ministry depend on it.  Ask to God to be with you as you read the word.  You are blessed to have so many Bibles – you can iPod it, iPad it, and CD it.”  She spoke a request for Bibles when going to the Dominican Republic:  “Bibles with pictures!  You would have thought we had brought gold!”  She added, “May your Bibles be worn and tattered with notes in the margin!”
Five persons were commissioned for work of an Elder:  Susan E. Daniels, Monica B. Guepet, Barbara S. Lee, Hun Ju Lee, Lydia E. Muñoz.  Two persons were ordained Deacon: Benjamin D. Caldwell and Maryanne B. Ditter.  Six persons were ordained Elders:  Victoria L. Allen, Amy E. Banka, Hannah Adair Bonner, Johnson E. Dodla, Candy Labar, Michael S. Remel.  The Elders Orders of one were recognized: Misty L. Fuller.
On the morning of Saturday, May 19, the Memorial Service honored deceased bishops, clergy, and spouses.  Bishop Alfred Johnson, a son of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference preached.  He said, “It is a real serious joy to be welcomed back home!”  He remembered departed loved ones, “They taught us contentment is not about whether we live or die, but that we will live again.  They are now cheering us on, helping us to get it right.  We need someone praying for us, sitting in balcony cheering us on.  Just like the annual conference theme of making a way for all, they want to make a way for all.”  The conference joined in singing, “When we all get to heaven.”  
The Rev. Jim Todd presented the Superintendents’ Report, saying, “District Superintendents are devoted to caring and supporting churches, not closing them.”  Superintendents read the names of nine closing churches were read; persons stood in tribute to their ministry.  Celebrations included that Wescosville: Bethany is the largest church in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, that the largest Anglo church in Northeastern Jurisdiction is Lancaster: First, and that the largest Hispanic church in Northeastern Jurisdiction is La Iglesia Nuevo Nacimiento. 
Rev. Todd announced the conference’s Call to Action goals:   
In 2010, 43,781 was the average worship attendance; goal for 2015: 56,853 persons in worship.
In 2010, 2,157 joined on profession of faith; goal for 2015: 5,333.
In 2010 there were 4,055 groups of spiritual formation; goal for 2015: 5,508.
In 2010, 3,222 people were involved in Missions; by 2015: goal of 15,204 in Missions.
In 2010, missions giving was just under $9.7 million; goal for 2012: $ 11.6 million given to ministries outside the local church.
The cabinet’s humorous skit on "making a new disciple" introduced Rev. Dr. Irving Cotto as new superintendent for the Northeast District.  Rev. Bronwyn Yocum was recognized for her past four years of service on the Cabinet.
Dr. Mary White, Conference Lay Leader, presented the Laity Report.  Dr. White explained the new Wellness and Healing Ministry led by Kathy Gilligan, RN. The School of Christian Missions will be held in Hershey, July 27-29, at the Lancaster Bible College. The Laity Academy will be held at West Lawn UMC August 3-5.  The conference now has almost 1500 Christ Servant Ministers, a program led by Mr. George Hollich.  A committee is being formed on Children’s Ministry, to be led by Janet French from Wayne UMC.  “If we want effective leadership, it is up to you and up to me,” Dr. White said.  “We need to ask ourselves the question, ‘What can I do?’   It is up to the laity, working with pastors and district superintendents, to make a difference in the Church.”
Rev. David Ryan, Congo Partnership team, introduced from Adolphe Yamba Yamba from DR Congo, who related the economic, medical, and educational needs.  
The United Methodist Men distributed 50,000 pounds of potatoes in 50 lb. bags to delegates to take back to their churches or community food banks.  Delegates packaged 35,600 dehydrated, high protein, and highly nutritious meals to be distributed to schools and orphanages in Haiti by Stop Hunger Now, exceeding the goal by 600 meals.
Youth (Click here for the Youth Ministry Video) created a “Penny War” between the districts and raised more than $1200 for the Youth Service Fund.  They also collected “Blessing Bags” of supplies for the Allentown Rescue Mission.


A live video stream of the entire annual conference was available on the Internet, watched by over 1300 persons, seen from both the Conference website and its Facebook homepage.  News and photos were posted throughout the conference on both Facebook and Twitter (@epaumc).   Interpretation in American Sign Language, assistive listening devices, and on-screen transcription of the spoken word were offered for Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.  A big-screen reader made written materials available to persons with visual disabilities.  Prior to the opening of the conference, the Eastern Pennsylvania Renewal Fellowship led a prayer walk around the conference rooms.  The Order of St. Luke held morning communion in the Prayer Room.
Offerings received during Annual Conference will go to these important ministries:
Opening Worship: $10, 673 for Imagine No Malaria and for scholarships for undergraduate students.
Service of Ordination: $ toward scholarships for seminary students.
Rev. Tracy Duncan served as worship leader.   Doug Ellis, scouting ministry coordinator for the United Methodist Men organized the efforts of 50 scouts and five scout leaders from Pack 397 from Lansdale: Christ and Troop 141 from Hatfield, to build the cross.   Each scout wrote on their piece what “duty to God” and “a scout is reverent” means to them.  
Fall Session will be held on Saturday Nov. 10, 2012, at Hempfield UMC at 9:00 am, to approve a budget for 2013.
Carol Black, Equalizing Delegate, and chair of the Nominations Committee presented the amendment to the Rules of Order to increase the time a person can serve on the Board of Ordained Ministry from two to three quadrennium.   The amendment was approved.  
Carol Black also presented the Nominations Report, which was revised and approved.
Resolution 2012-01 Relating to Amendment of the By-laws of United Methodist Metro Ministries, Inc.   Mr. Bill Thompson offered a substitute resolution, which was approved by vote.  Lenora Thompson presented a two-part amendment to the approved substitute resolution 1) that makers of original resolution should be included in the decision making body, and 2) that the report should be brought back at the November Fall Session of Annual Conference: amendment approved.  The amended substitute resolution will be printed and then brought back for vote.
Resolution 2012-01S from Metro Ministries:  Strike all “Whereas” clauses but the first one.  Be it resolved: “all makers of the original motion are part of the study team. We request that the Bishop convene the first meeting of the study team within 90 calendar days of the close of Annual Conference Session.” Conference Legal council must be added as ex officio to the study team.   Substitute resolution is not changing the by-laws. It is asking for a study, nothing more.  Additional amendment: “Be it resolved, the report shall address how Metro can be expanded across all EPA urban areas or explain why it should be limited to Philadelphia and Chester.”   
Legal explanation provided by our Chancellor: By its articles of incorporation, Metro is limited to doing ministry in Philadelphia and Chester. However, he believes that the study would be more broad.  But the money from Bustleton was Conference money, so it can be used in all urban areas of the Conference.  Vote on resolution 2012-01S as amended: it passes. 
Resolution 2012-02: Conference Advance Specials.  Challenge Camps Scholarship and Program is $4,000.  Shalom Zone Partnership of Lancaster is added in the amount of $10,000. Addition was approved by the Body.  Approved as amended.  
Resolution 2012-03: Regarding the Escalating Increase in Alcohol Availability.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-04: Relating to the Importance of Education in the Success of Our Society.   Substitute resolution approved.
Resolution 2012-05 – Relating to Salary/Benefits Recommendation for 2013.  Correction of numbers: Elders: 38,300; Transitional deacons: 36,350 ; Associate Members: 35,500 ; FT Local Pastors: 33,650; Plus a change: Mandated 1% increase only for the first 20 years of FT appointment.   Approved amendment: change lines 24 to 26 “defined as full-time service under appointment” to “defined as service under appointment” – everything else is deleted; Amendment passes.   As amended, it is approved.
Resolution 2012-06: Related to Gambling.  Approved. 
Resolution 2012-07: Relating to Rental/Housing Allowances for Retired or Disabled Clergypersons.  Line 3 correction: not General Board but rather E. PA Conference Board.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-08:   Pertaining to the Adoption Agreement to the Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP) for the Year 2012.   Approved as amended.
Resolution 2012-09: Relating to the Discontinuance of New Philadelphia United Methodist Church, NW.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-10: Relating to a Comprehensive Urban Strategy.  This would look at all of the urban centers in the Eastern PA Conference. A revised Urban Strategy will be reported in the fall.  More comprehensive than Resolution 2012-01S.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-11: Related to Restoring Civil and Factual Election Campaigns.  Approved. 
Resolution 2012-12 Regarding Anti-Racism Work in The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Approved. 
Resolution 21012-13: Relating to the Discontinuance of Sharon Hill Christian Center, SE.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-14: Relating to the Discontinuance of South Media: Packard Memorial UMC, SE .  Approved.
Resolution 2012-15: Relating to the Discontinuance of Wallingford: Old Union UMC, SE.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-16: Relating to the Discontinuance of Portland UMC, NE .  Approved.
Resolution 2012-17: Relating to the Discontinuance of  St. Andrews UMC of Havertown, Central.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-18: Relating to the Discontinuance of Gladwyne UMC, Central .  Approved.
Resolution 2012-19: Relating to the Discontinuance of St. Luke’s Snyder Avenue UMC Charter, Central.  Approved.
Resolution 2012-20: Relating to the Discontinuance of Simpson Memorial UMC, East.  Rev. Jim McIntire proposed the following amendment: change “as they deem  appropriate” to “in accordance with the Book of Discipline and Conference policy.” It was seconded from the Body and then approved by Dr. Tatem.  Approved as amended.
Resolution 2012-21: Pre-82 Funding Obligation: Members of the Board of Pensions and CCFA at the podium addressed the need to pay $14 million toward pre-82 pension over the next 8 years.  To help cover this debt, the Board of Pensions, Trustees, and Conference Committee on Finance and Administration has proposed a Capital Campaign to raise $3 million. Amendments: on page 38 Line 69 “Second Tier calls for a voluntary campaign…” “Voluntary” added.  Also added a fourth bullet point: “The strategy will be presented at the Fall Session for approval.”  Approved as amended.
2011 Annual Conference Summary Membership/Attendance  
Membership stands at 115,798 down 2452 from 2010.  
Worship Attendance stands at 42,727 down 1453 from 2010.  
Sunday School attendance stands at 14,433 down 4771 from 2010.  
Thank you to our volunteer reporter, Chris McLaughlin, and volunteer photographers: Rev. Jim Mundell, Ms. Sabrina Daluisio, Mr. John Shannon, and Rev. Mark Dricker.
*Suzy Keenan is director of Communications for The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church.