By Jessica Connor
FLORENCE—United Methodist laity and clergy across the state are making final plans for Annual Conference 2013, a multipronged event featuring mission, business, prayer and fellowship — all in the name of the Savior.
The 2,000 delegates from across South Carolina head to Florence June 9-12 for the denomination s yearly meeting, ultimately deciding the business of the UMC throughout South Carolina, including determining the statewide budget and voting on a host of resolutions before the body.
This year s theme is A More Excellent Way: A Story of Serving, Giving and Living and is the first Annual Conference conducted by new S.C. Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston.
The event will also feature a decision on pensions for part-time pastors and resolutions on a host of issues, including minimally adequate education, Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, prohibiting guns at church-sponsored activities, global maternal and child health, and local churches as GED test centers.
But this year s event goes beyond traditional business, bringing a different twist: the chance to engage in a true mission opportunity. On Tuesday, June 11, the conference will host the S.C. Hunger Project, featuring three opportunities to help put a dent in hunger:
- Stop Hunger Now Meal Packing: in three shifts Tuesday, adult, teenagers and children will pack meals for the hunger relief organization;
- Annual Conference Food Drive: attendees will bring canned goods and other non-perishables to the Florence Civic Center, which will be delivered by Society of Saint Andrew to food pantries across the state; and
- Local Hunger Events: back home that day, churches will host local hunger ministry events in tandem with the efforts happening in Florence; photos will be shown on the floor of conference.
While the conference has been able to raise all the money needed for the Stop Hunger Now packing ($72,000), it needs people to actually do the work on-site. Volunteers are badly needed for the Tuesday Stop Hunger Now packing, said Conference Communications Director Matt Brodie.
We need people to be God s hands, Brodie said, encouraging people to pre-register at www.umcsc.org (click on the Stop Hunger Now logo on the right of the page).
About 1,000 people are needed for packing shifts, but as of the Advocate s press time, only about 250 had signed up to help. Organizers said it is important to note that while teens traveling to Florence with youth groups are needed for the afternoon youth packing, they will not be able to register at the door without a parent, so teens are especially encouraged to pre-register.
That night, the body will celebrate with a special youth-oriented worship service designed to engage all attendees with mission and hunger relief. Called A 4:12 Story, the worship will be led by University of South Carolina quarterback Dylan Thompson, Wofford College graduate and recent Rhodes Scholar Rachel Woodlee, and Christian worship leader/music artist Brett Younker.
Any money raised beyond the $72,000 will be equally distributed to hunger needs in all 12 districts of the conference.
In addition to volunteers, the conference needs people to bring canned goods and other nonperishables to the civic center.
And we also need folks to pray for God s spirit to guide us in all we do, said the Rev. Kathy James, director of Connectional Ministries for the conference.
For more information about Annual Conference, including resolutions and other business, see articles throughout this edition or click here .