By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—This summer, South Carolina United Methodists will gather for an Annual Conference that embraces mission, both locally and across the globe.
With the theme “A More Excellent Way: In Mission from Anywhere to Everywhere,” Annual Conference 2018 will celebrate local missions, such as Salkehatchie Summer Service and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and lift up the impact they have made worldwide and in South Carolina. Set for June 3-6 again in the Upstate at the TD Convention Center, Annual Conference will also embrace Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children, the denomination’s global health initiative that seeks to create better health opportunities for children. Local efforts, such as Hulapalooza, Imagine No Malaria work, the Million Book Effort and the Faith Activity Nutrition program, will be celebrated.
Annual Conference will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of The United Methodist Church, which formed from The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church on April 23, 1968.
The Tuesday service project is still unfolding, but the Rev. Ken Nelson, conference secretary, said it will likely involve creating health kits for disaster response.
“Friends, I am excited about our upcoming 2018 Annual Conference Session. Our theme, ‘In Mission from Anywhere to Everywhere,’ continues our faith journey in seeking a more excellent way to make disciples of Jesus Christ and transform our world,” said Bishop L. Jonathan Holston. “I am delighted to welcome Bishop Mildred B. Hines, the presiding prelate, South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Also, you are invited to share in an awesome time of celebrating the missional efforts of our annual conference as we seek a more excellent way in mission to our community and beyond. These missional highlights include celebrating the 40th anniversary of Salkehatchie, as well as participating in Hulapalooza efforts for global health. So come and share in this time of mission and ministry.”
“As we celebrate 50 years as The United Methodist Church, the 2018 South Carolina Annual Conference provides us with a unique opportunity to highlight some of ways in which local congregations across this state are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with people and communities locally and around the globe,” Nelson said. “We are indeed serving anywhere and everywhere. It is a legacy in which we can take great pride.”
Nelson said he expects this year’s Annual Conference to be smoother than last year’s.
“This is our second year in Greenville, so we’re trying to build on lessons learned last year,” Nelson said.
For example, instead of the confusion of two separate registration areas, Nelson said all registrations (lay and clergy) will be held on one floor.
A ticketed meal plan will again be offered, giving attendees the chance to purchase a plan that offers a set menu for one low price so people can avoid leaving the convention center to search for restaurants. People must register and pay for the meal plan online in advance. Explore the menus and register online at http://www.umcsc.org/home/2018-annual-conference/.
Also, Nelson said, Kidz Konference—a free onsite children’s version of Annual Conference for infants to rising sixth graders—will be available to host all children of the conference (clergy, laity and volunteers). The camp is more than daycare and features three full days of worship, Bible study, food and fun.
Resolutions due by March 15
The four-day event will include a host of business and legislation. Not only will the body have the opportunity to vote on the Annual Conference budget for 2019, but also a host of other reports and plans presented by various ministries and agencies—including possibly exploring a way forward plan from the Council of Bishops and the General Conference-authorized group, the Commission on a Way Forward (if the plan is ready and released by then).
Also, the body will vote on any South Carolina resolutions proposed. Thanks to a change last year in Annual Conference’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. Standing Rule 71 now specifies that resolutions and appeals submitted after the March 15 deadline will be referred to the appropriate body for consideration at next year’s conference. Many times, Nelson said, late resolutions have caused confusion and a rush to vote without the body having time to adequately consider the consequences.
“We spend so much time on the last day considering resolutions that we end Annual Conference on a less-than-positive note,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the change will allow people to have time to consider the resolutions.
Resolutions must be submitted no later than March 15 to the conference secretary, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to UMC Conference Secretary, 4908 Colonial Dr., Columbia, SC 29203.
Last year, the Rev. Michael Hood, chair of the Committee on Standing Rules, said the change should be helpful. Hood noted it should help resolutions to be better prepared; eliminate the burden of providing 1,000 copies to the body; and give delegates more time to consider how they will vote on the resolutions.
Nelson said the resolutions can be submitted by individuals or submitted via committee or agency of the Annual Conference, though if someone intends for a resolution to be approved first by the committee, he or she should be sure to get the resolution to that committee well before the March 15 deadline so the committee has time to review it.
As of the Advocate’s press time, Nelson said, no resolutions had been received.
Speakers include Holston, others
Holston will preside over the proceedings and preach opening worship June 3, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the UMC, and the sending forth June 6, but a number of special guest leaders will also be present. (Watch the Advocate for updates soon.)
Pre-conference trainings will be held in every district to help attendees better understand many of the business items to be addressed at Annual Conference. Check future editions for dates, times and locations for each district.
And as with last year and the two years prior, the Advocate and the conference will again offer the free Daily Advocate as an educational tool at the event to help people understand the various business, events and other happenings each day they are there.
By Jessica Brodie