It is good to be back home! But what an amazingly wonderful Annual Conference! Yes, I’m that guy who appreciates our yearly tradition of nearly 3000 United Methodist laity, clergy, and guests who make our annual migration to Athens Georgia. For me, it is always a homecoming of sorts “to go” to annual conference. No, I don’t enjoy sitting all day – but I do enjoy meeting all my clergy and laity friends that I only get to see at Annual Conference. And most importantly for my soul – I get to watch others kneel in the very place I knelt, and have the weighty hand of a Bishop laid upon them and hear those words once again, “Take thou authority to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ...” Then to rise and have a red stole (technically for the first time) placed around your neck as a symbol of being yoked to Christ in a new way forever. It renews me. It restores me. And it stokes the fires burning bright in my heart each and every time. It is good to be back with you – sent once again by the Holy Spirit to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth!
Summary of the 149th North Georgia Annual Conference
FUMC of Union County stands firmly in the United Methodist connection. Yes, we are a local church. But we are also one church in roughly 100 who make up the Gainesville District. And the Gainesville District is one District of 12 Districts that make up the North Georgia Conference – comprised of all the United Methodist Churches in the upper half of the state of Georgia. We are an Episcopal area – meaning we have a Bishop appointed to us to lead us for four years at a time. Our Bishop is Rev. Mike Watson. Bishop Watson lead us through four days of holy conferencing – part business, part worship, part fellowship – entirely Methodist. Here are what I think the highlights are of the week (but go to the North Georgia Web site www.NGUMC.org for a more detailed summary if you are interested.)
- - We used wireless electronic voting devices with success – no more voice votes or stand and be counted stuff.
- - We discovered Methodists have a hard time pushing buttons on hand held electronic gizmos...(grin)
- - The Youth delegates to Annual Conference were present, lively, and full of new life – once again with reserved honorary seating all together directly in front of the Bishop during all the sessions. If you wish to be a Youth delegate to Annual Conference, you write an essay saying why you want to come and if selected – you go and spend the week with all the other youth delegates – special activities centered out of Athens FUMC are organized for the Youth delegates.
- - We elected our delegation of equal number of clergy and laity to represent the NG Conference at General Conference next year (where the Book of Discipline is potentially revised – our Denominational book of law and structure)
- - We elected our delegation of equal number of clergy and laity to represent the NG Conference at Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference next year (where among other things Bishops are created and appointed to oversee Conferences)
- - We received all the church offerings for Imagine No Malaria and it totaled $231,491. Added to the $444,629 raised in our conference already brings our North Georgia Conference contribution June YTD to $675,000. Or put another way, we just saved 67,500 lives in Africa. Woo! Hoo!
- - We sadly completed the closure of four churches – churches that had begun on the following years 1869, 1853, 1920, 1900. We also approved the merger of two sets of two churches (like what Bray UMC and Blairsville UMC did 25 years ago) – the Director of Church Development (Rev. Dr. Phil Schroeder) lifted up FUMC of Union County as an example of what works in his report.
- - We watched God ordain 4 Deacons and 20 Elders.
- - We applauded the retirement of 3 Deacons, 19 Elders, and 4 local pastors – representing over 700 years of combined pastoral service that walked off the stage into retirement.
- - We celebrated the closing the final chapter of Simpsonwood – it was sold for $16 MM (that is Million). The funds were dispersed as follows: $9.3 MM to pay off our debt and contract obligations at Simpsonwood, $4 MM went to pay for the unfunded liability for the pre 1982 pastor pension program, $2.2 MM went to Wesley Woods (part of Ms. Simpson’s request in the original deed – watch for something new to happen at Wesley Mountain Village here in Blairsville as a result!), and $0.5 MM in fees, commissions, and taxes. As a result, we celebrated being totally out of debt as a conference for the first time in a very long time!
- - We approved a $22 MM ministry plan for calendar year 2016 – it represents a 4.4% reduction from last years budget and the 7th straight year of budget reductions for the Conference.
- - The Affordable Care Act is requiring a change in pastoral family health insurance – new system going into place this year.
- - Global Ministries commissioned two new full time missionaries – via our Bishop - to West Africa
- - We worshipped God many times and stood in unity with our sister church Mother of Emmanuel AME in Charleston SC.
FUMC 25th Anniversary Celebration
You will get a lot more details next week as we roll out the larger plan. But here is what we want everyone to have to talk about in their Sunday School classes this Sunday. We are having a grand party on July 4rth (Saturday evening.) Beginning at 6:30 pm, there will be food and drinks and desserts and entertainment and SAR and DAR and muskets and cannon and indoor music and outdoor music and children’s games and watermelon seed spitting and fireworks – and that is just the start. On Sunday, July 5, we will have only two services – both in the Sanctuary – both identical – both with community band – both a celebration of our 25th Anniversary, both with special guests, both a celebration of Patriotic Sunday and the birth of our nation.
There will be a meal in the MAC at the end of the 11 am service. There will be no 8:30 service in the Sanctuary. There will be no 9:45 Contemporary service (the band will have played the outdoor concert the evening before and we need the MAC for the meal.) Some of your Sunday School classes may need to talk about what you want to do for Sunday, July 5. Given this “one time” configuration, we ask that you have that conversation this Sunday so your class knows what your plan is for July 5. Please come on July 5 – bring some friends – we have a story to tell – it’s HIS story – and it is a great story. Come feel the depth of our roots in God.
The congregation is asked to bring only desserts for the meal on July 5. Everything else will be provided for the meal of smoked ham, baked beans, potato salad and cole slaw. All we need is “desserts.” The meal is free – just like our country! There will be a slideshow in the MAC of “our picture history” shown during the meal made up of pictures you have shared with us.
Can you Help Prepare God’s House for Company?
We hope to have a significant number of people on the premises July 4 and July 5 as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. I know the weather is hot right now but I doubt it will stay in the 90’s. If you can give a few hours of yourself anytime between now and July 4 to help “spruce up the outside” – it sure would be greatly appreciated. The weeds have grown tall in a few places. The parking lots could use some TLC with weed control (especially on the MAC side.) Anything everyone can do to help prepare God’s House for the company to come would be greatly appreciated.
Youth and UMM Team Up
Thank you to Camden and his Youth group and Buck and the UMM for teaming up to spruce up the playground on the hill to get ready for guests to come. We are doing a pressure washing, leaf & weed ridding, plank replacing, staining party up there today and tomorrow. Great on site mission project – good work! Thank you Trustees for funding the elbow grease!
CEC (FUMC Preschool)Fundraiser
WAFFLE HOUSE COUPON BOOK: A $20.00+ VALUE FOR $5.00 TO THE FIRST 200 PEOPLE! HURRY! GET YOURS BEFORE THEY ARE ALL GONE!!! See or call Martha Cone or Mary Ruth Cook to get yours today. 706 835 7448. They can often be seen at the MAC desk and the Narthex after the worship services on Sunday.
Orphanage Emmanuel, Honduras Mission Trip: September 5-12 - Team up to 9 members so far – room for more!
Red Bird Mission Trip – One week trip to Kentucky – Team up to 24 members so far – room for more!
2015 FUMC Fall Festival
- Our sister church – Mother of Emmanuel AME in Charleston SC and that entire community
- Pat Warden – in the recent passing of H.R. Warden (private family service on Thursday morning)
- Billy Hendrick’s – Rose’s father passed away.
- Metcalf Family – Valerie
- Jimmy Tallent - in the recent passing of his mother
- Shelley Lewis – recovering from procedure
- Cindy Neely – pathology report showed presence of cancer in part of what was recently removed – more tests
- B.L. Anderson (our custodian) – cancer inside his ear requiring surgery – to be scheduled
- Hazel Douglas – bells palsey
- Liz Patton – waiting results of MRI
- Marti Shaffer – broken wrist from fall
- Andrea Robbins – Ro Robbin’s daughter – general health
- Larry and Connie Rosenberry – Larry’s Mother in Pennsylvania had a stroke.
- Janice Walters Taylor – husband Rob will have additional prostate surgery in July
- Ceil Jordan – recovering now at home
- Barbara Marshall – will have open heart surgery on July 8th at Piedmont to repair a heart valve
- Carol & Bob Head – general health
- JoAnn Mayhew – stroke recovery at home
- Manon Thompson – slow but steady recover from hip fracture. Easing back into the routine of life.
- Gene and Artie Hodgson’s Son (Glenn) – responding to Chemo
- Penny Hebble – stroke recovery in North Carolina
- Jane Driskell – at home with Parkinson’s
- Kathy Heyer – waiting test results on liver work-up at Emory
- Shirley Cobb/Bob Head/Eva Breedlove/Carol Warren – chronic back/pain issues
- Bill & Barbara Gleasure’s daughter-in-law (Harley Gleasure) – undergoing chemo
- Kathy Zimmerman – sister Alice struggling with cancer in Indiana
- Kitty Jones – taking break from Chemo treatments and traveling to Seattle and Utah
- Bob Barnes – lung function
- Joyce Kible, John Moon, Kitty Jones, Kim Tatman and several others (in various stages of testing and treatment)
A Note from Your Rejoicing Finance Team
Giving for June is as follows:
June 7 – $19,632
June 14 – $34,261
June 21 – $16,349
Thank you for your generous witness in the world!