AC23 Recap: Thursday, June 8

June 08, 2023

Here’s what happened at Annual Conference on Thursday, June 8, 2023. See the gallery at right for more photos:

Opening Worship

The session began with a blessing of the space and land acknowledgement ceremony led by members of the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries. (See photos in the galleries at right). 

The worship service was created by the Reconciling Ministries Network and led by Pastor Jordan Harris of Connexion in Somerville, MA.

He asked members: What are two things that you are hoping to get out of this year’s annual conference? Members were then invited to share those with folks nearby and write them down to review them on Saturday when the session has ended. 

Watch the opening worship

Episcopal Address

Bishop Peggy A. Johnson delivered her first Episcopal Address in New England Thursday morning focusing on the conference theme of "drawing the circle wider still." Bishop Johnson called on all our churches to do the challenging work of drawing our circles wider. Read the full story here.

Watch the Episcopal Address



Received for the Justice in Our Time Fund (to fight racism)

Monitoring Report

Commission on the Status and Role of Women (COSROW) co-chairs Rev. Lourey Savick and Rev. Virg Fryer offered the monitoring report. See that here


Page numbers indicate where the item can be found in the Pre-Conference Materials (including addenda)

Adopted the organizing motions
RS-23-209 (page 79) — Approved
Disaffiliations to be taken as a single motion
Thursday morning, the body approved a temporary rule change that pertains only to the resolutions on church disaffiliations. The body approved a substitute motion for RS-23-221 that calls for all the disaffiliation resolutions to be taken as one motion. This replaced the original resolution (also RS-23-221) that had set time limits on the debate of each disaffiliation (taken separately). 

The text of the original appears on page 94 of the Pre-Conference Materials. The substitute motion, also RS-23-221, can be found by clicking the link.

The following churches brought resolutions to disaffiliate from The UMC:
Ballardvale United Federated, Andover, MA 
Brownsville (VT) Community UMC
Bryantville UMC, Pembroke, MA
Christ UMC, Lawrence, MA 
Cressey Road UMC, Gorham, ME
CT Central Korean UMC, East Hampton, CT 
Exeter (NH) UMC 
Faith Community Church, Plymouth, MA
Lyndonville (VT) UMC 
North Woolwich UMC, Woolwich, ME 
Nueva Vida UMC, Chelsea, MA
South Middleboro UMC, Middleboro, MA
Vida Abundante, Providence, RI 
Wesley UMC, Wareham, MA

During the post-dinner session, members continued the work on the resolution around disaffiliations. The resolutions brought by the 14 churches were voted on in one motion, which was overwhelmingly approved by the body. The Appointive Cabinet offered a prayer following the vote.

Bishop Johnson reminded the body that the disaffiliations were not complete until each of the church's met the obligations outlined in the agreements. They have until Dec. 31, 2023 to do that. The church members and clergy as still part of the annual conference until that happens. The bishop read the churches' names and offered a prayer. 

RS-23-220 Resolution Proposed by Chilmark Community Church — page 92 — rejected 
The motion required a 2/3 vote because it involved a change in conference policy. 

RS-23-236 Closure of the UMC portion of South Royalton (VT) UMC page 584 — approved
RS-23-210 Unaddressed Resolutions — page 80 — approved

Watch the afternoon plenary

Watch the evening plenary


Bishop Peggy Johnson took a moment to recognize and thank Rev. Ashely Johnson, who served as Director of Connectional Ministries from July 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2022. Johnson is not able to attend on Saturday, when the incoming Cabinet members, new DCM will be recognized. 

Acting Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services Clare J. Chapman, spoke about some of the changes in the conference's administrative structure. The seven part-time district administrative assistant positions will become four full-time positions with the title Regional Administrator.

Three of the current District HAs will take the following positions:
Phyllis Riviere — Granite and Green Mountain districts
Lori Umberhind — Katahdin and Many Waters districts
Allyson Printz — Commonwealth East and West districts 

The fourth position, covering the Seacoast District and providing support to the Director of Connectional Ministries, has not yet been filled. 

Memorial Service

Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin, an elder from the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference and Native American leader in the denomination, was guest preacher for the Memorial Service.  

In her sermon titled "The Empty Place" on Matthew 11:25-30 (First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation Of The New Testament), Rev. Lakota Eastin spoke about the death of her son from liver cancer at 17 and the "empty place" it left at their dinner table and in their hearts. 

"One thing that empty place teaches us is the wonder and beauty of human love," Rev. Lakota Eastin said. "The wrenching pain teaches us how deep and powerful love is. One night, in tears, I said to my husband, isn’t it beautiful? That Creator made us so that we could love this much? And what is human love but a reflection of Creator’s love. We who are made in that image, when we love so deeply, when we grieve so deeply, we taste and demonstrate the Love of Creator for us."

Rev. Lakota Eastin also told the story of her stole, which features some 45,000 glass beads. It was made by a woman on the Shoshone-Arapaho Reservation. The woman had also lost a son — he was killed by police — and said beading the stole "had relieved her of all her grief and anger."

"If only we could live our lives as this woman beaded this stole," she said. "Shining, light, light, light, when all the forces of the earth are trying to pull us down."
Read the full sermon

Watch the Memorial Service


Foundation report

Rev. Ted Crass, president of the United Methodist Foundation of New England, gave an overview of the work of the foundation, including the newly formed The Foundation’s Wesley Development Groups (WDG), which helps churches make the most of their buildings and the Justice in Our Time Fund that supports racial justice work. 

Watch the Foundation's report

See slides from the presentation (PDF)