AC2024: On The Leading Edge of Ministry

By Dan O’Mara

Lay and clergy members of the 2024 South Carolina Annual Conference will gather June 9-12 in Greenville—the first time in eight years the Annual Conference has met following a General Conference session.

More than 2,100 members from across the state—half laity and half clergy—will descend on the Greenville Convention Center to conduct business at the 53rd Session of the Annual Conference under the theme “Seeking a More Excellent Way: On The Leading Edge of Ministry.”

The Greenville District, with the Rev. Jim Dennis as superintendent, and St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Greenville, with the Rev. Kurt McPherson as pastor, will serve as hosts for AC2024.

“While Annual Conference is a time to conduct the business of the church, it is also a time to celebrate what God is doing in the lives of people and congregations,” said the Rev. Ken Nelson, the superintendent of the Orangeburg District who, as conference secretary, oversees the planning and implementation of Annual Conference.

“Our theme, ‘A More Excellent Way: On the Leading Edge of Ministry,’ reminds us that God is still actively working in the world and inviting us into new adventures of faith. Being on the leading edge of ministry is an exhilarating place to be. It means constantly pushing boundaries, trying new approaches, and being open to innovative ideas in order to reach and impact more people for God’s kingdom. It requires a deep passion for serving others and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone.”

Highlights of the gathering include:

• Clergy Session: Scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 9, this session will be conducted in person for the first time since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced clergy to meet online beginning in 2020. Among other formal business, clergy members vote each year on whether to accept ordinands into membership of the Annual Conference, a decision that must take place before the Service for Commissioning, Ordination and Retirement;

• Service for Commissioning, Ordination and Retirement Recognition: This service is scheduled for the opening of Annual Conference at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 9. As with last year, the conference determined holding this service on a weekend night rather than during the week will make attendance easier for family and friends of retirees, ordinands and those being commissioned. Bishop Frank J. Beard, resident bishop of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, will deliver the sermon;

• Opening Worship: This worship is scheduled for 9 a.m. on the first full day of Annual Conference, Monday, June 10. Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference, will deliver the sermon;

• Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving: This service is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 11. Dr. Sandra Stevens Poirel, superintendent of the Charleston District, will deliver the sermon during the memorial service, which honors clergy and spouses who have died over the previous year; and

• Election of conference officers who hold quadrennial positions (see below).

All lay and clergy members must register online by May 27 at Name badges will be mailed to members once they register. Upon arrival at the Greenville Convention Center, those who register online will be able to simply check in and pick up their conference packet and badge-holder.

Meals will be offered at the convention center for those who wish. When conference attendees register, they will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for meals onsite. These optional meals will be available for dinner Sunday and lunch Monday through Wednesday. Some groups and agencies have scheduled special gatherings that will include meals. If your group usually meets during one of the above meal times, you should check before ordering your meals.

All documentation members will need—along with key video reports—will be available at before the Annual Conference convenes to provide as much opportunity for preparation as possible.

For the first time since 2016, Annual Conference members will elect conference officers who hold quadrennial positions:

• The conference chancellor, upon nomination by the bishop;

• The conference parliamentarian, upon nomination by the bishop;

• The conference secretary, upon nomination by the bishop and the Cabinet, or upon nomination from the floor;

• Assistant conference secretaries as required, upon nomination by the conference secretary;

• The conference treasurer-statistician, upon nomination of the Council on Finance and Administration;

• The conference lay leader, upon nomination by a committee composed of leaders of lay ministries from across the conference;

• The conference historian, upon nomination by the Conference Commission on Archives and History; and

• The conference archivist, upon nomination by the Conference Commission on Archives and History.

Persons elected to each of these positions will begin their service Jan. 1, 2025, which is the beginning of the next quadrennium. This allows for a time of transition from incumbent office-holders to their newly elected successors.

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