On this, the final morning of the West Ohio Annual Conference, the week’s attendees came together to enjoy Christian fellowship, hear a final powerful message from Bishop Palmer, a third teaching from Biblical Scholar Elaine Robinson, finish some business and bring this year’s session to its conclusion.
Abounding chords and bold choruses immersed those gathered at Hoover Auditorium in reverberant praise and worship as the music team from Grove City United Methodist Church proclaimed God’s awesome love and mercy once again.
In his message, Bishop Palmer refined the meaning of the key word from the theme “Taken,” as conference members came to a deeper understanding of being God’s Beloved. As we are taken, we have been chosen by the heart and hands of God. This action is past and has already been completed, though it is continually acted out in the midst of other narratives attempting to direct the story of our lives. And there is a sense of urgency, as Christ offers, “Take and eat.” Without Him, waiting to be worthy or following another narrative would leave us starving, and the bread would be left on the table. Bishop Palmer showed that there is a world in need of his nourishing truth, this life-giving story. “What will you take, as in carry, into the world?” he asked. Paraphrasing St. Augustine, who taught that we are Christ’s body to be taken to all of God’s beloved, he concluded, “You are the bread on the table, now be what you already are!”
The morning service concluded as all were invited to the table to take communion together. An offering was taken and presented to Rev. George Cooper onstage.
United Methodist Publishing House report.by Rev. Dr. Tom Tumblin who serves with Bishop Palmer on the Publishing House board. The United Methodist Publishing House, which includes the work of Cokesbury, Abingdon Press, and the Common English Bible, is a publisher and distributor to Christian clergy and laity, with primary responsibilities for the publishing and distribution for The United Methodist Church. Changes over the last few months include the Cokesbury Call Center and Cokesbury.com which is regularly being upgraded and becoming much more competitive and interactive and full of resources for churches. UM Publishing house makes annual donations to clergy pensions.
The Black College Fund report was presented by Gabby Johnson, an intern and ambassador from the Fund and from Bennett College, an historically Black liberal arts college for women affiliated with The United Methodist Church and supported by the Black College Fund. West Ohio gave 100% of their apportionment to the Black College Fund in 2012.
Each quadrennial a new slate of officers and members from local churches of conference boards, teams and committees is nominated and voted upon. This second year of the quadrennial brought a short slate of additions to a few teams where vacancies had taken place over the year. The Nominations Report was presented by Rev. Kathleen Brown, outgoing chair of the Nominations Committee and a vote was taken successfully on approving the slate of membership additions and revisions.
Rev. Dee Stickley-Miner and Rev. Leroy Chambliss presented the Monitoring Report from the Inclusive Body of Christ Lead Team. The Monitoring Report is a check up on how West Ohio is doing in becoming contextually relevant and reaching more people, younger people, and more diverse people in our churches. Toward this goal, future plans of the Inclusive Body of Christ Lead Team is to create resources for increasing diversity throughout conference.
Lou Ann Mussman affirmed in her report that the Journal minutes have been received, reviewed and accepted, which then resulted in a conference vote to approve her report. New West Ohio Conference Secretary, Rev. Amy Aspey, reported the attendance statistics for this annual conference sessions which were - 1132 lay members, 960 clergy, 264 spouses, 292 visitors in attendance. Next year's annual conference dates are June 8-12, 2014.
The report from Rev.Rebecca Tollefson, Ohio Council of Churches, affirmed that West Ohio is part of the ecumenical community known as Ohio Council of Churches. Their purpose is to make visible the unity of Christ's church, provide a Christian voice on public issues, and engage in christian service. The Ohio Council of Churches and its members are the family of God in Ohio.
A few additional statistics were offered by Bishop Palmer on the 5K Run/Walk and the missional offerings.
- 5K Run/Walk had 420 participants with the following first place winners:
- Men's Run: First place to Logan Perry with a time of 18:23
- Women's Run: First place to Keri Schmidt with a time of 25:23
- Men's Walk: First place to Robert Downs with a time of 41:46
- Women's Walk: First place to Elaine Parulis-Wright with a time of 43:25.
- Offerings taken during the week:
- Clergy Development $6,551.68
- Kits & Shipping $2474.59
- Imagine No Malaria $100,211.52
Bishop Palmer offered a special thanks to Rev. Dr. Randy Stearns, assistant to the Bishop, and his assistant, Tim McCoy, for their leadership of the production of the Annual Conference Session, and to all of the volunteer, contract, and staff members of the myriad of production teams that make this event possible.
After the final business of the session, Dr. Elaine Robinson presented her third Bishop’s Bible Study on “Taken: Becoming the beloved community of Christ.” Robinson made a clear and crucial connection between personal and social holiness, that being taken with God is to be taken into community with believers, and to love others. To be holy as God is holy is to be love as God is love. Making disciples for the transformation of the world comes through radical relationships.
District Superintendents joined with Bishop Palmer on the stage as they announced the fixing of appointments and distribution of the Apostolic Letters in all districts. As the session adjourned, those who received new appointments encircled the audience, and all joined together voicing the Wesley Covenant Prayer, saying, “I am no longer my own, but thine.” Amen.