Annual Conference 2019: A Future with Hope

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—South Carolina United Methodists are gearing up for this summer’s Annual Conference—finalizing plans, embracing new mission initiatives, preparing for delegate voting and finessing legislation.

This year’s theme is “A Future with Hope: Seeking a More Excellent Way.” The event will be June 2-6, again at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.

This year’s conference is a day longer than normal as this is also the year clergy and laity will vote on which delegates will represent South Carolina at the 2020 General and Jurisdictional conferences.

“Friends, I am excited about our upcoming 2019 Annual Conference Session. Our theme, ‘A Future with Hope,’ continues our faith journey in seeking a more excellent way to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform our world,” said South Carolina’s Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston.

“Let us gather together to celebrate the ways in which we have been seeking and fulfilling God’s purpose for our church. So come and share in this time of mission and ministry.”

Mission initiatives

This year, South Carolina United Methodists will help two annual conference mission initiatives: Native American elder baskets and a food drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank of Greenville.

Native American elder baskets: Each charge in the South Carolina Conference is asked to create one elder basket and bring it to Annual Conference. Elder baskets are plastic clothes baskets filled with nonperishable items and given to elderly Native Americans in need, many of whom live well below the poverty line. The baskets can be dropped off in the marked location in Exhibit Hall at the convention center. Charges are also invited to buy gift cards for discount stores, such as Walmart or Dollar General, so the conference’s Native American Committee can buy additional supplies as needed.

Harvest Hope food drive: Annual Conference attendees are asked to bring nonperishable food items with them and place them in Harvest Hope boxes that will be situated all around the convention center during the event. Pastors, delegates and other leaders are encouraged to conduct food drives at their local churches, and bring those donations to Annual Conference. Harvest Hope Food Bank is a critical line of support for more than 500 partner agencies, which take feeding missions directly to those who live in the most economically fragile communities. These partner agencies include faith-based organizations, family shelters and after-school programs that offer food pantries, soup kitchens and more.

See below for specifics.

Resolutions to be considered

Not only will the body have the opportunity to vote on South Carolina’s Annual Conference budget for 2020, but also a host of other reports and plans presented by various ministries and agencies.

Delegates will vote on any South Carolina resolutions proposed. (More information in next month’s edition.)

Because of a change at Annual Conference 2017’s standing rules, late resolutions are no longer allowed to be submitted on the conference floor, though this (or any) standing rule can be suspended with a two-thirds vote at Annual Conference. Resolutions and appeals submitted after the March 15 deadline will be referred to the appropriate body for consideration at next year’s conference. The Rev. Ken Nelson said late resolutions used to cause confusion and a rush to vote without the body having time to adequately consider them, necessitating the change.

Delegates to General and Jurisdictional conferences

As is done every four years, this June Annual Conference members will elect delegates for the 2020 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional conferences.

General Conference is the global UMC’s quadrennial legislative gathering, set for May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, where United Methodist representatives from all over the world examine, discuss, pray, debate and eventually determine a host of key legislative issues that will become church law for the next four years.

Jurisdictional Conference, set for July 15-18, 2020, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, is held every four years primarily to elect bishops, but also has various other tasks, such as making rules and regulations for the administration of the church’s work within the jurisdiction (including budgeting); establishing and electing people to jurisdictional boards; determining annual conference boundaries; appointing a committee on appeals; and promoting interests of the church. The Southeastern Jurisdiction comprises 15 annual conferences in the southeast.

This June, Annual Conference will elect 16 delegates (eight clergy and eight laity) plus alternates to General Conference, and 16 additional delegates (eight clergy and eight laity) plus alternates, who will go to Jurisdictional Conference with the General Conference delegates.

More information on delegates will be in next month’s edition.

Voting will be electronic. South Carolina’s delegates to General Conference will join a total of 862 delegates from around the world.


Bishop Holston will preach opening worship. Ordination will be preached by Mississippi Resident Bishop James Swanson. The memorial service will be preached by the Rev. Sara White, South Carolina’s director of congregational development. Bible study will be led by husband-and-wife team Dr. Greg Jones, dean and theologian at Duke Divinity School, and the Rev. Susan Jones, ministry associate at Church Transformation Ministries.

Also, a variety of speakers will keynote lunches and dinners hosted by various groups, caucuses and ministries. Most of this information is coming soon, though Lay Servant Ministries has announced its June 4 luncheon speaker will be the Rev. Ken Nelson, annual conference secretary, on “Kingdom Building: Laity and Clergy Working Together.”

Childcare again offered free

Childcare for babies to rising sixth graders will again be offered free to the children of Volunteers and Delegates of Annual Conference. Called the South Carolina UMC Kids Conference, it will be offered onsite at the convention center thanks to the Greenville District of the UMC. While their parents handle the business of the church, children will watch Scripture come alive through song, stories, games and activities. This year’s theme will be “Traveling Stories,” with an emphasis on Abraham, Jesus and Paul.

Registration is required (register at Volunteers 18 or older are also requested (must have had Safe Sanctuary Training and a background check done prior to the summer). To volunteer, call Ruth Hughes at 864-380-8706.

Meal plan

A ticketed, cost-saving meal plan will again be offered, giving attendees the chance to purchase their meals onsite. There are three options for the meal plan. Option 1 covers the entire conference (Sunday dinner, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday lunch and dinner, Thursday lunch) for $132. Option 2 allows people to purchase meals by day (Sunday dinner and Thursday lunch, Monday lunch and dinner, Tuesday lunch and dinner, Wednesday lunch and dinner) for $39/day. Option 3 allows people to purchase meals individually by day ($19/lunch meal and $25/dinner meal. Explore the menus and register by May 17 at

Daily Advocate

As with last year and the three years prior, the Advocate and the South Carolina Conference will again offer the free Daily Advocate as an educational tool at the event to help attendees understand the various business, events and other happenings each day they are there.

More information on all things about Annual Conference can be found at

What do I put in elder baskets or Harvest Hope boxes?

Nonperishable food and other items are needed for the conference’s two mission initiatives, Native American elder baskets and a food drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank of Greenville. However, each mission has listed its most-needed items, as follows:

Elder baskets items requested:

  • Cans of soup
  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Dried beans
  • Laundry soap
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • A small gift to lift the spirits of the elderly, such as a bag of peppermint candy, or butterscotch
  • More information: the Rev. Cheryl Toothe at [email protected]

Harvest Hope “most-needed” items

  • Canned goods (pop-top cans are preferred: meat, vegetables, fruit, tomato sauce, beans, soup, evaporated milk)
  • Dry goods (peanut butter, instant potatoes, cereal, oatmeal, pasta, grits, coffee, crackers, granola bars)
  • Personal/other items (baby formula, diapers, baby wipes, soap, shampoo, feminine products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, trash bags, paper towels)
  • More information: Chris Lynch at [email protected]

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