Grand Traverse District Leadership Council
Traverse City: Central UMC
District Committee on Clergy/Laity Support & Development
Traverse City: Christ UMC
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|Annual Conference Wrap-Up: GRAND RAPIDS (WMC) - The West Michigan Annual Conference met at Calvin College in Grand Rapids May 29-June 1. The focus--Inspire--was tangible in the very air that was breathed by all present. The modeling of servant leadership by Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, a recurring theme of cooperation between the state's two annual conferences, and legislative action one clergy member called, "changing the wind," all contributed to an overall sense of rekindled hope.|
Two new aspects of Conference increased participation by the laity. Conference Lay Leader Anne Soles expressed excitement over the Lay Training that took place on Wednesday afternoon. "Our aim," she said, "was to help as many people as possible feel comfortable walking to the microphone."
Another new development that built on this year's focus on principled leadership was Mentoring for Young People. Youth and mentors met before Conference, partnered during Conference, and will come together through the next year for leadership development. Many young voices were heard during debate and report.
Though action items were fewer than some years past, healthy discussion took place around a number of matters of church life and social action.
Bishop Kiesey was empowered to name an Area Task Force to raise $1.5 million for Imagine No Malaria. To date $500,000 has been contributed, roughly 50-50 between West Michigan and Detroit. Bishop Deb celebrated the action as a person who has overcome another disease--polio--once thought to be unbeatable.
Conference empowered the Trustees to move forward with an investment in a new Area Ministry Center. The vote was overwhelming, as was the similar action taken by the Detroit Annual Conference on May 17. Bishop's Assistant Bill Dobbs explained that the plan does not "represent new money but the redirecting of money." Property close to DeWitt is being considered that would provide double the space of the current Area Office, a site within 100 miles of 80% of Michigan's population.
A plan was adopted for the creation of a Cooperative Ministry Committee related to the Conference Leadership Team. Rev. Laurie Haller noted, "Cooperative Ministry is the future of The United Methodist Church."
After disciplined, heartfelt discussion the Conference approved this statement: "The West Michigan Conference encourages all congregations to welcome into their congregational community gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and couples, welcoming them into full participation. We encourage pastors to provide pastoral care to all individuals and couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. We encourage our churches to make this openness known in as many ways as possible." When asked what "full participation" means, John Ross Thompson explained it means encouragement to serve on church committees, teach Sunday School..." In a comment on Facebook, Barry Petrucci noted: "More and more people, led by youth for whom this is largely a non-issue, are stepping out to change the wind...to shift the conversation from 'issue' to story, from 'law' to risky grace."
World AIDS Day (December 1) was added to Conference Special Offerings to be taken starting in 2013.
A standing count vote (334 yes to 275 no) continued the conference stance that supports the right and need for workers to organize and form unions; further to write legislators to repeal Michigan's Right to Work law.
An item asking for balanced use of inclusive language in Conference worship was approved by standing vote 321 yes/278 no.
An item encouraging the Michigan legislature to declare churches as "gun free zones" was adopted.
All four Constitutional Amendments coming from General Conference were affirmed by the West Michigan Annual Conference.
For more information visit www.westmichiganconference.org
|THANK YOU!: Thank you for attending the welcomes for Bishop Deb at Charlevoix, Leland and Manistee Churches. My rough estimate is 47 churches and 2 ministries were present. Because of your work to make ministry boards and power point presentations, she was able to get a good idea of who we are...in 24 hours! Thank you, too, to the churches who hosted the events! It made for two great days of eating and learning more about who we are in ministry, together! What fun it was to sneak into her tour, "The Rock," in Kingsley, a ministry to youth and to breakfast at TC Central, Friday morning with the homeless (and others who are hungry). |
Thank you for your faithfulness to ministry shares last year, as a conference we were able to pay our ministry shares in FULL!!! And this year we are already ahead of ourselves! We are doing better than we did last year to support the ministries and missions of the Conference. Together, we are changing the world, one dollar, one child, one ministry at a time! (To get the full Conference Financial newsletter go to: http://wmc.umconline.org/access/church.php
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