2,000 to gather June 5-8 for mission, business of UMCSC
By Jessica Brodie
FLORENCE—It’s time to celebrate. That’s the word from organizers of this year’s Annual Conference, set for June 5-8 at the Florence Civic Center and focusing on celebrating and developing new ways we can let God use us to further His Kingdom on earth.
With the theme “A More Excellent Way: Making Space for God to Work,” the event aims to lift up the strong ministry of The United Methodist Church in South Carolina during what many say was an extremely difficult year of challenges and new dialogue.
“There’s a lot to be grateful for if you think about everything that’s happened since Annual Conference last June,” said Conference Secretary the Rev. Ken Nelson. “The state was in an uproar—everything from the (Emanuel 9) tragedy in Charleston, the floods, the Confederate flag removal, the whole human sexuality question. All of that happened since last year, and local communities have been deeply affected.”
Amid the coming presidential elections and everything else facing the world today, Nelson said now is the time for the church to have a critical voice—starting with the celebration that is Annual Conference.
“The pace of change happens so quickly that it’s hard for people to know how to respond,” Nelson said. “It uncenters the soul. People feel a lot of anxiety, and the church has to be an anchor.”
Nelson and others in charge of Annual Conference hope to secure that anchor through a four-day slate of business, prayer, dialogue and worship.
Busy week of work
Annual Conference kicks off Sunday, June 5, with an opening worship led by South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston.
Dr. Luther Smith, professor emeritus of Candler School of Theology, will lead Bible study each morning of the gathering, and the Local Church Mission Fair will again be offered at lunchtime on Monday. The body will also get the chance to hear from the South Carolina delegation to General Conference about their time at the denomination’s quadrennial legislative gathering in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20 (see related article, Page 1). On Monday night, former South Carolina Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey will return to the state to preach the ordination service.
Tuesday will feature both a celebration of all South Carolina has done to help Imagine No Malaria (see related article here) and a full day of disaster response trainings for Early Response Teams, for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and for childhood trauma in the aftermath of disaster (more information here).
On Tuesday afternoon, outgoing Charleston District Superintendent Rev. Patricia Parrish will preach the memorial service, and the day will end with a free Imagine No Malaria celebration concert featuring popular contemporary Christian band The Digital Age.
Work will wrap up Wednesday with passage of the budget and the fixing of clergy appointments by Bishop Holston. Annual Conference will consider passage of a $16.84 million budget for 2017, which is .3 percent (or $46,945) more than the 2016 budget.
Offerings throughout Annual Conference will support the conference’s South Carolina Disaster Relief Recovery Fund (Sunday), The J. Lawrence and Margaret F. McCleskey Scholarship Fund of the South Carolina United Methodist Foundation (Monday) and Imagine No Malaria (Tuesday).
Only one resolution is before the body: advocating a change to state social studies education standards regarding how South Carolina Native American history is taught. More resolutions can be presented to the body by bringing 2,000 copies of the resolution to Annual Conference and submitting it to the Committee on Resolutions and Appeals by Monday afternoon, June 6, for consideration.
Annual Conference will also consider for approval a sizable rate increase for healthcare next year for the conference thanks to a spike in prescription drug costs and a host of health issues that led to a high healthcare loss ratio in South Carolina.
Other happenings and resources
The Daily Advocate—a four-page publication produced by the Advocate in partnership with the conference to help people understand the issues before them each day at Annual Conference—will again be distributed for free to all conference attendees.
Like last year, there will be live streaming of the event.
Annual Conference members will again use electronic balloting to cast their votes.
Childcare will be offered for children ages 3 and up through Highland Park UMC, Florence.
Pre-conference trainings were held in each district May 1, 15 and 22.
AC2016 in brief:
- Theme, “Making Space for God to Work”
- Tuesday night Imagine No Malaria celebration concert featuring The Digital Age
- Tuesday daylong disaster response trainings for ERT, UMVIM, childhood trauma
- Dr. Luther Smith, professor emeritus of Candler School of Theology, to lead Bible study
- Preaching from South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston, former South Carolina Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey and outgoing Charleston District Superintendent the Rev. Patricia Parrish
- Offerings to support UMCSC’s South Carolina Disaster Relief Recovery Fund (Sunday), Seminary Students Scholarship Fund (Monday) and Imagine No Malaria (Tuesday)
- Four-day slate of business to include passage of $16.84M budget
- Local Church Mission Fair on Monday (June 6)
- Asbury Hills golf tournament the day before conference begins (June 4)
- Body to consider resolution advocating a change to state social studies education standards regarding how South Carolina Native American history is taught
- Live streaming
- Daily Advocate again to be distributed
- View all pre-conference materials and information at www.umcsc.org/ac2016