By Rick Wolcott*
Local Pastor Steve Nelson prayed members into the first business session of this 50th Annual Conference session.
Conference Secretary the Rev. Cindy Patterson moved that letters of greeting be sent to Mrs. Edwin C. Boulton, Bishop Sally Dyck and Rev. Dr. Kenneth Ehrman, Bishop John and Elaine Hopkins, Bishop Jonathan and Beverly Keaton, Bishop Gregory and Cynthia Palmer, and Bishop Julius and Racelder Trimble. She also moved that she send a letter to the Rev. Evelyn May Weaver, holder of the Conference cane. Weaver was born April 27, 1922, was ordained a Deacon in 1975 and then an Elder in 1978. She served the Sandyville-Asbury and Crestline churches before retiring in 1986.
Annual Conference Program Committee Chair the Rev. Ivy Smith made a motion that the body approve the agenda as printed in the Pre-Conference Workbook and that any suggested adjustments to the agenda be reviewed and decided upon by the Agenda, Rules, and Administrative Process Committee (ARAP) as necessary during the Annual Conference session.
Lakeside Chautauqua President/CEO Kevin Sibbring welcomed clergy, laity and visitors to the shores of Lake Erie and the grounds of Lakeside Chautauqua, a community founded by Methodist pastors in 1873.
Conference Council on Youth Ministries Vice-President Raegan Feldner was granted a moment of privilege to read a statement from Youth Annual Conference, which was held June 7-9 in the same venue that is hosting East Ohio Annual Conference.
The statement concluded with, “we encourage the East Ohio Annual Conference to elect at least one youth and at least one young adult to the 2020 Jurisdictional and General Conferences, not as reserve delegates, but as full voting members of those delegations. Further, we encourage the East Ohio Annual Conference to commit to electing both youth and young adults, as full voting members, to all future Jurisdictional and General Conference delegations.”
Rev. Dr. Gary George, chair of the Agenda, Rules, and Administrative Process Committee, told the body during the ARAP report that following conversations and consultations with several Conference leaders, Bishop Malone in 2018 appointed and convened a group of 14 persons to study clergy compensation data, trends and implications pertaining to the clergy members of annual conference who are appointed full-time to the local church. The group has met three times and will be prepared to share its findings and any recommendations to the 2020 Annual Conference session.
George brought a motion to the body that would bring the East Ohio Conference rules into compliance with ¶34 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church 2016. This is necessary because of a Constitutional amendment approved by the 2016 General Conference, ratified by 2/3 aggregate vote of the lay and clergy members of all the Annual Conference sessions of The United Methodist Church and certified by the Council of Bishops in May 2018. The “meaning, application and effect” of the constitutional amendment requires Annual Conferences to elect by “majority” its lay and clergy delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
George moved an amendment by deletion to ¶7.B, deleting the phrase “on the first ten lay and clergy ballots for General Conference/Jurisdictional Conference” in ¶7.B.1 and the entire text of ¶7.B.2-11.
The body approved the motion.
Patterson then explained the voting rules and reminded the body that the East Ohio Conference delegation to General Conference 2020, to be held May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will be comprised of six clergy and six lay delegates; and the Conference delegation to Jurisdictional Conference, to be held July 15-18 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will have the same six clergy and lay delegates from General Conference plus the next six clergy and six lay who receive the most votes and five clergy and lay alternates. The first lay ballot and the first clergy ballot were cast. Clergy members vote for clergy delegates and lay members vote for lay delegates.
There were no laity or clergy elections on the respective first ballots for each. Results from the second clergy and second lay ballots will be announced during Tuesday morning’s business session.
Following the vote, Allen Laferty, chair of the East Ohio delegation to the Special Session of General Conference in 2019 reported on the work the delegates did leading up to, at, and following the conference.
The opening business session of Annual Conference 2019 concluded with Bishop Tracy S. Malone delivering her Episcopal Address.
During the closing Courtesies and Announcements, on behalf of the Council of Bishops, Malone presented certificates to the Rev. Karen Graham, Director of Multicultural Vitality Will Jones, and Joy Parker for the training they have received, the work that they are doing, and the partnerships they are forming in ecumenical and interfaith ministries.
*Rick Wolcott is director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.