Here’s what happened at Annual Conference on Thursday, June 9, 2022: See more photos in the gallery at right. Thanks to Galen Schad and Rev. Wanda Santos-Perez for their photos.
The 2022 Annual Conference session opened with rousing worship led by Marcia McFee and Mark Miller that had the assembled body on their feet.
Election of Conference Secretary
Along with the organizing motions, members approved the election of a new Conference Secretary Preeti Pabreja.
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar also took this time to thank long-time secretary, Rev. John Blackadar, calling him “better than Google” when it comes to Annual Conference questions.
Guest Preacher/Study Leader
The bishop welcomed Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, one of New England’s own, as this year’s Bible study leader and guest preacher. Bishop Easterling leads the Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula Delaware conferences.
Bishop Easterling gave the sermon during this year’s Memorial Service (see below).
Preceding the Address, members saw a video titled “State of The UMC,” produced by the Cabinet and Joint Delegation, which included some material from the recent Pentecost Message.
Episcopal candidate nominees
New England elected two candidates to be nominees for episcopal office in the Northeastern Jurisdiction: Rev. Dr. Thomas Blackstone and Rev. Rene Perez. The Conference could elect up to three candidates; only these two garnered the necessary number of votes.
Bishop Cliff Ives and Bishop Easterling and Bishop Ives each anointed one of the candidates and Bishop Ives offered a prayer for them.
2023 Conference Budget
Members approved a slightly amended budget for 2023. An additional $600 was added to the Archives and History Commission’s budget to account for an increase in the cost of archiving inactive church records.
Total expenses: $7,068,371
Total spending limit: $6,069,700
Rev. Nancy Bischoff, vice chair of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, presented the budget.
“CCFA is particularly pleased to be presenting a budget that reflects a 10 percent decrease in Connectional Mission Shares billable to local churches totaling $100,000,” she said. “The 2023 budget continues a steady decrease in overall expenses since 2020 that now totals more than $1 million.”
Rev. Bischoff also announced that CCFA plans to review “several long-standing Conference rules related to Mission Shares” to consider how they are applied and whether they are still relevant. CCFA expects to bring a report to the 2023 Annual Conference session.
The annual Memorial Service remembers clergy and spouses who have passed away during the last year.
The service also honors those churches closing this year and those churches that have disaffiliated from the New England Conference since the 2019 General Conference:
Howland (ME) UMC
Stonington (ME) UMC
Charlotte (VT) UMC
Christ Church United Methodist, Southwick, MA
Chebeague Island (ME) UMC
Hope.Gate.Way, Portland, ME
Tuttlle Road UMC, Cumberland, ME
Brackett Memorial UMC, Peakes Island, ME
Presentations and conversation around the “New England Declaration” (led by the Vision Forward Team, the Joint Delegation, and the Open Spirit Task Force) pertaining to: RS-22-228 DECLARING OUR COMMITMENT TO LOVE, LIBERATION, FREEDOM, AND FULL INCLUSION (“THE NEW ENGLAND DECLARATION”) RS-22-229 RENEWING OUR VISION AS THE NEW ENGLAND CONFERENCE Find the text here
State of the Conference report
Green Mountain District Superintendent Rev. Jill Colley Robinson, who serves as Dean of the Cabinet, gave the annual State of the Conference report. Watch
"Our Creator God is beckoning us onward now and for this critical decade to come! We press on!," Rev. Colley Robinson said.
"New England United Methodists, the pandemic (now endemic) has been a time of losses that we are still experiencing, processing, enduring, learning from, and learning to live with. One of the ways we process our experience of such a time as this is to recognize and lift up the otherwise hidden blessings, gifts, and discoveries that have arisen from what we have been through while in no way diminishing the effects of the losses. ..."
These are a few examples:
New England United Methodists, as you will hear in our statistical report, we are much like the country. … Our overall membership has dropped, especially in light of three disaffiliations last year, and yet there was a significant increase in professions of faith last year. Our participation in small groups has declined during the pandemic, but our baptisms and confirmations are slowly on the rise again.
AND … New England United Methodists, we are online! Our churches are connected to people from across the country and around the globe, worshipping and studying scripture and praying together.
New England United Methodists, we struggle to resume and begin new ministries with children, youth, and young adults —not a new struggle but an even greater one after the last two years.
AND … New England United Methodists, we are engaging in ministries with children, youth and young adults in new ways.
New England United Methodists, the pandemic has brought with it financial challenges in many of our local churches.
AND … New England United Methodists, every single one of our seven districts increased in our percentage of giving to mission shares from 2020 to 2021. This is unheard of in anyone’s recent memory. Read the full State of the Conference report
Celebration of Mission Shares
Bishop Devadhar said that the GBGM General Secretary told him, “We want to be there in person because of the mission New England Conference is doing.”
Dr. Dana Lyles, director, Multiethnic Ministries for General Board of Global Ministries brought greetings. Watch
The body approved the closure of four churches (these were honored in the Memorial Service): RS-201 CLOSURE OF HOWLAND UMC, HOWLAND, ME RS-202 CLOSURE OF STONINGTON UMC, STONINGTON, ME RS-203 CLOSURE OF CHARLOTTE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, CHARLOTTE, VT RS-223 CLOSURE OF CHRIST CHURCH UNITED METHODIST, SOUTHWICK, MA
Mission of Peace
Tim Riddle, who journeyed on a Mission of Peace, shared his thoughts about these journeys of shalom and recommended this video of other MOPers sharing their stories. The Annual Conference received an offering of $2,779 for Mission of Peace. You can give online at any time during the session at www.neumc.org/ac-giving Watch Statistician’s Report
Conference Statistician Joy Mueller gave her annual report on looking at New England by the numbers and shared some of the amazing ministry stories those numbers reveal. Watch See a PDF of her presentation
COSROW’s 50th anniversary
Rev. Sandra Bonnette-Kim and Rev. Laurey Savick, offered a report on the Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women's efforts to combat sexism and
sexual harassment. COSROW is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Watch
Conference Board of Discipleship
Heather Joesselyn, chair, presented a report from Conference Board of Discipleship. The board has asked United Methodists in New England to complete a short anonymous survey to help them guide their work. The survey will be open until 17, 2022. Find the survey Watch