The United Methodist Church is organized into groups from the local church (Charge Conference) to worldwide (General Conference). A regional group of churches forms a District and, in eastern North Carolina, 8 Districts form the North Carolina Annual Conference. A Bishop is assigned to each annual conference and we are very fortunate to have leadership from a great bishop, Hope Morgan Ward. There are two annual conferences in North Carolina with the Western North Carolina Conference being the second. Conferences from several states form the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the UMC which has just met and elected five new bishops. The Jurisdictions from the US and all around the world form the General Conference which meets every four years with the latest meeting in May 2016.
The Annual Conference members include all clergy members (Elders and Deacons). In addition there are lay members from each church and many at large lay member so that the total number of laity is equal to the clergy members. For more information see the website www.nccumc.org.
Report of Happenings @ 2016 Annual Conference
“What do you have that you have not received?” ( I Corinthians 4:7) This question is still running through my mind after the powerful sermon by Bishop Gregory Palmer at annual conference June 16-18. The theme was “Strength to Strength-GIVE” and he challenged us to a life of gratitude saying: We don’t have a money problem. We’ve got a gratitude deficit. Annual Conference has many other aspects as well-great singing, visiting with old and new friends, and special celebrations.
A very compelling time was the session on Project Agape helping refugees in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Many Christians have left Syria to return to their ancestral home there. There are few services in Nagaorno-Karabakh since it is a disputed area and is not served by most international relief organizations. North Carolina United Methodists have provided humanitarian aid for 20 years with Christmas Boxes for children, Welcome Home Kits for families, a cattle project, similar to Heifer Project, and a home building program, similar to Habitat. There are several ways in which Duke Memorial can become more involved with this mission.
Other moving celebrations included a memorial service for clergy and spouses who died during the last year, recognition of the 20th anniversary of the Order of Deacons, and celebration of the 60th anniversary of full clergy rights for women, led by our former pastor, Ruth Harper Stevens.
Business was also done-adopting a budget, insurance and pension plan reports and others. On Saturday morning at the Fixing of the Appointments, Roger and I had the pleasure of welcoming our Pastor Heather back for another year. All was accomplished under the excellent leadership of our bishop, Hope Morgan Ward. You can find much more information at the Conference web site: www.nccumc.org.