2022 North Georgia United Methodist Church Annual Conference Report

For the first time since 2019, clergy and laity gathered in person in Athens, GA, for the 2022 North Georgia United Methodist Church Annual Conference.  We all took our places at the table to begin the work of the church at Annual Conference.  The theme for this year is A PLACE FOR YOU AT THE TABLE.  Your Lay Delegates began the Conference with the Laity Luncheon where we heard from the Director of Camp Glisson, Russell Davis, who challenged us to be adaptable.

Session One began with an inspirational message from Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson based on John 21:6-14, the story of the disciples who, after the crucifixion, went fishing all night and caught nothing.  From the shore, Jesus instructed them to throw their nets on the other side and then they hauled in a huge catch and the nets did not tear.  In times of crisis (like a pandemic) Jesus may be telling us to change direction. As Christians, we must make a place at the table for everyone where they feel included and safe.

Over the course of the Conference, five areas of Focus were presented with examples of churches in action for each one.
 
Focus Area #1 is Community Engagement.  Examples from churches across our conference are offering ESL classes, counseling services, entrepreneurial help, and tornado response.

Focus Area #2 is Scriptural Literacy and Imagination.  Education is the greatest tool for life and literacy is a game changer, the gateway to the scriptures.

Focus Area #3 is Faith Opportunities and Communities.  Fresh expressions of ministry take worship to the streets and out of the building (The NET in Gwinnett Co.), merge congregations (like Sugarloaf UMC and The Fountain) and offer a variety of worship experiences.

Focus Area #4 is Racial Justice and Healing.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We aim to resist in such a way that when we are victorious, those who have opposed us will be able to celebrate with us.”

Focus Area #5 is Health and Well-being.  Mental health issues have become the newest pandemic.  We need healthy pastors, congregations and communities to lead to transformation.  We all must take a break when we feel overwhelmed.

The Conference also heard from Josh Davis, the Director of Proskuneo, who spoke about the need to be culturally inclusive in our worship.

The business of the church was handled throughout the conference.  Reports were given by the chairmen of the Standing Rules Committee and the Committee on Nominations.  The Board of Pensions and Health Benefits reported that our clergy compensations are below the denominations’ compensations as a whole and also below our jurisdictional neighbors’. The proposed changes to minimum clergy compensation for 2023 are found in the handbook.

The report from Finance & Administration stated that 91% of apportionments were received this year.  Duluth First UMC paid 100% of our apportionments, as usual. $1,092,000 was allocated to the Boy Scout Abuse Survivors’ Fund.  The 2023 budget has reduced line items by 4% and decreased the budget from last year.

The Barnes Administration/Evaluation Team oversees the Barnes Fund which has a current balance of $32 million.  Much of this amount comes from closed church properties and provides for grant funding.  All churches have an equal opportunity to apply for grants.

The Board of Trustees, which oversees the properties owned by the Conference, reported that 64 properties were sold.

The conference approved a request to reallocate $1 million back to the Camp Retreat Ministries’ operating budget to combat the financial strain caused by the pandemic shortages.

The conference approved two resolutions in support of federal recognition in the form of Restorative Justice for the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee and other state of Georgia-recognized Native American tribes.

The conference voted NOT to change the wording in the North Georgia Conference Disaffiliation Agreement.

71 North Georgia churches were approved for disaffiliation.

7 churches were presented for closure, but none in the Central East District. 

Details of all Resolutions and reports may be found in the 2022 Annual Conference Handbook available online at the North GA Conference website - ngumc.org.

The S.E. Jurisdictional Conference has been rescheduled for November 2nd – 4th, 2022 in Lake Junaluska.

The General Conference has been rescheduled to 2024.  Dr. Byron Thomas was elected to lead the North GA delegation for the General Conference and to be our candidate for episcopacy (bishop).

It was announced that a new Conference Center will be built in College Park, adjacent to the College Park UMC. This will replace the current location in downtown Atlanta.

A beautiful Service of Remembrance was held to honor those clergy, clergy wives, and conference staff who have passed away this year.  The Rev. Charles Barnes who served Duluth First UMC from 1980 to 1984 was remembered.

The final service of the 2022 Annual Conference was the Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination.  Among the candidates was our former Youth Director, Jake Webster, who was ordained as an Elder in Full Connection.

The 2023 Annual Conference will convene in Athens on May 31st to June 3rd, 2023.

The full report of Annual Conference 2022 is available from the church office upon request.

This report is respectfully submitted by your Lay Delegates.

Jim & Terrie Adkins
Sherry Ferguson
Elizabeth Marcus