Leadership Team Chair
2017 Lay Delegate to Annual Conference
Greetings Church Family,
My name is Janice Christley. I am one of your Lay Delegates to Annual Conference this year. I just got home from conference and want to tell you about it.
First, let me tell you a little about the organization of the United Methodist Church before I tell you about conference.
United Methodist Churches are “connectional” churches. That means Angleton FUMC is connected to every other United Methodist Church all over the world. We are not only united by faith in Jesus Christ, we are also connected through organization and church government.
- In the United States, Local Churches like Angleton FUMC are grouped together in a District. Districts are grouped into a Conference called an “Annual Conference” because pastors and lay delegates from every church in the Annual Conference meet together once a year. Each conference is headed by a bishop. Bishop Scott Jones became the bishop of our conference, the Texas Annual Conference, on September 1, 2016, and will serve for eight years.
- Groups of Annual Conferences are combined into a Jurisdiction. Finally, the Jurisdictions combine with the Central Conferences from all around the world to form the General Conference of the United Methodist Church. Angleton FUMC is in the South District of the Texas Annual Conference of the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.
- Each church elects one lay delegate for each appointed clergy (pastor). Each district also elects a lay delegate for each appointed clergy that isn’t appointed to a local church. Since our church has two appointed clergy, we elect two lay delegates. Sherry Clark and I serve as the lay delegates for Angleton FUMC and Andy Bouse serves as a lay delegate for the South District.
Conference meetings consist of worship services, business meetings and reports from various organizations in the Texas Annual Conference.
This year’s meeting of the Texas Annual Conference was held at The Woodlands UMC. Their facility is incredible. We were treated to the music of combined choirs and orchestra, a choir from Wiley College, a clergy (preachers) choir and a praise band. Some services were traditional; others were contemporary. The preaching was inspiring.
We heard Bishop Jones at the opening service Sunday night and at the Service of Commissioning and Ordination. His teaching was Bible based and he has a vision for the ministry of our churches to be mission minded. I was so tired Wednesday morning I almost left before the final service. I am so glad I didn’t.
Bishop Jones’ Leadership
Bishop Jones led the combined reports and business sessions. Following are some highlights,
1. We viewed individual videos of retiring pastors. Each shared his/her call to ministry, some highlights of his/her ministry and advice for the church.
2. During a report on the use of technology, the speaker told us how to tell people where we were and post “Our New Bishop Rocks!” on Facebook. I did it. It worked! I got 7 likes. He gave us other easy ways to communicate with social media.
I know those of you who are my age and older may not think this is such a big deal. But, if we could reach young adults and youth this way, and they would come to church, wouldn’t that be great?
3. Dr. Maria Dixon Hall of SMU gave the best “Cultural Intelligence” talk I have ever heard. They are beginning a new program at SMU to help their students graduate with the ability to bridge cultural and communication divides with people who are different from them so they can work together in the workplace, church, community and world. There are 4 goals in their program.
They want students to understand the culture of and communicate well with
- African Americans
- Hispanics and Latinos
- Asian and Eastern Peoples
- White People
4. Bishop Jones’ wife told us about our new bishop. Her impromptu talks were cute, funny and embarrassing to him. He is a man who can laugh at himself.
At the end she asked him, “How long have we been married?” He replied, “Not long enough.”
5. Bishop Jones is also serious about the business of the church. He held us accountable to discuss the pros and cons of amendments to The Book of Discipline with respect and proper decorum. Five amendments were put before the conference. After a time for people to speak either for or against each amendment, delegates completed a ballot that contained all five amendments. Those ballots will be tallied by the conference.
Amendments must be passed by a tally of all votes of all delegates all over the world. When all of the annual conferences throughout the world have met and all votes have been tallied we will be informed as to which, if any, of the amendments were adopted.
6. Being a connectional church means we have more resources for ministry together than we could have as just one church.
- The Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, where our children and youth attend summer camp, is one example of this. Rev. Matt Idom, the director, told us about receiving his call to ministry at church camp and how the camp today is partnering with other organizations in our conference to support young people who feel they are called into the ministry while at camp.
He ended with a letter from a girl who wanted to come to camp, but couldn’t afford it. Her church is not sending students to camp this year, so she asked for a scholarship for her and her sister. His parting words were, “What do you want me to tell her?”
I wonder how much money he collected. I know people around me gave money to make it possible.
- Golden Care is another ministry that we might want to collaborate with to minister to people in our community. Houston Methodist Hospital and the Texas Annual Conference are working together to provide healthcare for people not only while they are in the hospital, but after they go home.
7. Pastors are appointed to a church for one year terms. The appointments are made by the Bishop and are determined in the months before the Annual Conference meeting. New appointments are announced as they are made and re-appointments are officially confirmed as the last order of business of the Annual Conference. Pastor John and Pastor Bonnie have been re-appointed as our pastors for another year.
We are blessed that Annual Conference is held in the Houston area. I encourage you to go for part or all of it next year.
In Christ’s Love,