By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—Just over a month remains until 2,000 South Carolina United Methodists gather for Annual Conference, ready to elect delegates to General Conference, consider three major denominational petitions, pass a budget for ministry efforts in this state and more.
But while much time will be devoted to the business matters up for consideration, Conference Secretary the Rev. Ken Nelson is praying people will focus most on the two UMCSC mission initiatives: to provide food and household items for Native American elderly and other people in poverty.
“Above all, we’re focusing on ways we can be engaging in mission and making disciples,” Nelson said, lifting up the theme of this year’s event, which is A Future with Hope: Seeking a More Excellent Way. “That’s where the action is really happening—in the life of the local congregation.”
Here’s the latest on what you need to know about this summer’s Annual Conference, set for June 2-6 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.
Lay and clergy delegate nominees
This year, Annual Conference members will elect 16 delegates to the UMC’s 2020 General Conference and an additional 16 delegates to the 2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, plus alternates.
Half of the delegates will be clergy and half will be laity, each elected from a pool of eligible people who have expressed a desire to be considered as a delegate.
There are 35 lay nominees, each selected through their district or approved group, and currently 84 clergy who have articulated a desire to be a nominee. (See names and full bios, here.)
Voting will be electronic and done the same way as four years ago, when delegates were elected for the 2016 General and Jurisdictional conferences. It will begin the first day of business, Monday, June 3, and conclude by the final day, June 6. Those elected will need to secure 50 percent plus one of all valid ballots cast.
Nelson said in an effort to make the voting process more efficient, only those clergy who have expressed an interest in being a delegate are on the nominee list. He said all eligible clergy were sent a letter requesting they notify the conference secretary’s office of their desire to serve.
“If they didn’t submit their form to be a clergy nominee, they’re not ineligible—they’ll just need to be a write-in nominee during Annual Conference in accordance with Standing Rule 28,” Nelson said.
There are far fewer clergy on the nominee list than in years past because of the change in process, which should help make voting less cumbersome, Nelson said. There are also fewer laity on the nominee list than in years past.
One key name absent from the list of lay nominees is Conference Lay Leader Barbara Ware, who said she was not surprised to see the smaller number of laity offering their name for nomination
“These are uncertain times in the life of the UMC, and I imagine some folks are a bit hesitant to offer their name up,” Ware said. “General Conference is two weeks long and requires a good bit of reading and attention. It is a sacrifice both mentally and personally.”
Asked why she did not submit her name for nomination, Ware said, “I felt like it was time for me to step aside. I have been to 3 General Conferences, and I will rotate off as Conference Lay Leader next June 2020. At that time, I feel the new Conference Lay Leader and the new lay leadership team should be the ones to be involved in these matters.”
Three petitions up for consideration, no resolutions
Nelson said there are no resolutions up for consideration at this year’s Annual Conference.
This is a striking difference from past conferences, as at least for the past decade, the body has considered several resolutions on social issues and other matters.
However, there are three proposed petitions to General Conference in pre-conference materials:
1) Petition to Change Language in the Book of Discipline: Signed by 81 South Carolina clergy and lay delegates, this petitions the 2020 General Conference to remove the sentence found in Para. 161G of the 2016 Book of Discipline that states, “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching.” It notes that the incompatibility language contradicts Para. 162 of the Discipline and that, while there is Christian teaching that concludes incompatibility, there is also Christian teaching that makes the opposite conclusion that the practice of homosexuality is not incompatible.
2) Petition to Create Separate Books of Discipline: This petitions the 2020 General Conference to enact appropriate legislation to create a separate Book of Discipline for Central Conferences where homosexuality is criminalized so that the United States Annual Conferences can move forward with language changes in The Book of Discipline to include, ordain and marry persons regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in order that the issue of homosexual full inclusion in the United States Annual Conferences can be resolved on some other basis than simply complying with the existing civil laws of other nations. Signed by 69 South Carolina clergy and lay delegates, it notes that civil governments in many African nations and perhaps other nations in the Central Conferences have laws that criminalize homosexuality, but homosexuality is not a crime in the United States.
3) Petition to Repeal and Replace the Traditional Plan: This petition addresses the narrowly approved Traditional Plan, which was passed at the special Called Session of General Conference 2019. It petitions for the full repeal of the Traditional Plan, for a return to the language in the 2016 Discipline or other way forward under the leadership of the Spirit and the example of Jesus Christ, and for the 2020 General Conference to recommit itself to the work of reconciliation and peacemaking so the UMC can move forward as one body. Sixty South Carolina clergy and lay delegates signed the petition.
Read the petitions in full at www.umcsc.org/ac2019.
Pre-Annual Conference trainings
Pre-conference trainings will be held in advance of Annual Conference as follows:
- Anderson District: May 19, 4 p.m., St. John’s UMC, Anderson
- Charleston District: May 5, 3 p.m., Sandhill UMC, Ridgeville
- Columbia District: May 19, 3 p.m., Ashland UMC, Columbia
- Florence District: May 5, 3 p.m., Manning UMC, Manning
- Greenville District: May 19, 3 p.m., Francis Asbury UMC, Greenville
- Greenwood District: May 5, 3 p.m., Panola UMC, Greenwood
- Hartsville District: May 5, 3 p.m., Wesley UMC, Hartsville
- Orangeburg District: April 28, 4 p.m., St. Andrews UMC, Orangeburg
- Marion District: May 19, 4 p.m., Marion High School, Marion
- Rock Hill District: April 28, 3 p.m., Grace Community UMC, Fort Mill
- Spartanburg District: May 5, 3 p.m., Silver Hill Memorial UMC, Spartanburg
- Walterboro District: May 5, 3 p.m., Sandhill UMC, Ridgeville
Full information on Annual Conference 2019 is available at www.umcsc.org/ac2019, including the schedule, speakers, petitions, lay nominee biographies, meal plans, childcare, and more.
AC2019 at a glance
- Annual Conference is June 2-6 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.
- Meal plans again offered; deadline to sign up is May 17.
- Three petitions will be considered.
- No resolutions this year.
- Two mission initiatives: Native American elder baskets and a food drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank of Greenville.
- South Carolina will elect 16 delegates to the UMC’s 2020 General Conference and 16 delegates to the 2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, plus alternates.
- Half of the delegates will be clergy and half will be laity, each elected from a pool of eligible people who have expressed a desire to be considered as a delegate.
- There are 35 lay nominees and 84 clergy nominees (plus any additional clergy write-ins).
- South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston will preach opening worship.
- Mississippi Resident Bishop James Swanson will preach ordination.
- South Carolina Director of Congregational Development the Rev. Sara White will preach the memorial service.
- 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.
- Lay Servant Ministries June 4 luncheon speaker will be the Rev. Ken Nelson, conference secretary.
- South Carolina UMC Kids Conference—onsite childcare for babies to rising sixth graders—will again be offered free to the children of Annual Conference volunteers and delegates. Preregistration is required.
- The Advocate will again produce the free Daily Advocate given out at Annual Conference to help attendees understand the various business, events and other happenings each day they are there.
- Go to www.umcsc.org/ac2019 for more information.
Lay Nominees (For consideration as delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference 2020)
Full bios on www.umcsc.org/ac2019
- 1) Theodore Andrus (Landrum UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 2) Robert Bethea (Wesley UMC, Florence District)
- 3) David Braddon (Bethany UMC, Charleston District)
- 4) Valerie Brooks-Madden (Bethlehem UMC, Greenville District)
- 5) Michael Cheatham (Faith UMC, Greenville District)
- 6) Doug Coffeen (Macedonia UMC, Marion District)
- 7) Baron DeKalb (Covenant UMC, Greenville District)
- 8) Edward Enlow (Montgomery Memorial UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 9) Emily Evans (First UMC, Marion District)
- 10) Jan Fleming (Bethel UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 11) Scott Fleming (Bethel UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 12) David Graham (Loris First UMC, Marion District)
- 13) Marvin J. Horton (Good Samaritan UMC, Rock Hill District)
- 14) Jeanette Jackson (Central UMC, Florence District)
- 15) L.Wayne Jackson (Central UMC, Florence District)
- 16) Jacquelyn Jenkins (St. Mark UMC, Walterboro District)
- 17) Lou Jordan (Central UMC, Florence District)
- 18) Herman Lightsey (Ashland UMC, Columbia District)
- 19) Joe Locke (Bethel UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 20) Chris Lynch (Trinity UMC, Anderson District)
- 21) Vicki McCartha (Inman UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 22) Kenneth Moore (Advent UMC, Greenville District)
- 23) Shirley Jean Pressley (Friendship UMC, Florence District)
- 24) Jennifer Price (Highland Park UMC, Florence District)
- 25) Lorine E. Price (Friendship UMC, Florence District)
- 26) Wilbur Reames (St. Luke UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 27) Rebecca Rochester (Duncan Acres UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 28) William Rochester (Duncan Acres UMC, Spartanburg District)
- 29) James Salley (Edisto Fork UMC, Orangeburg District)
- 30) David Salter (Warrenville UMC, Greenwood District)
- 31) Larry Sanders (Church of the Palms, Walterboro District)
- 32) Marlene Spencer (St. James UMC, Rock Hill District)
- 33) Martha Thompson (Mount Horeb UMC, Columbia District)
- 34) Betty Void (Wesley UMC, Columbia District)
- 35) Tony Watson (Edgefield UMC, Greenwood District)
Clergy Nominees (For consideration as delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference 2020)
- 1) Gene Aiken
- 2) Jim Arant
- 3) Mel Arant
- 4) Connie Barnes
- 5) Ben Barnett
- 6) Ralph Bowling III
- 7) Doris Bright
- 8) Steven Brown
- 9) Laura Canine
- 10) Derrick Cattenhead
- 11) Ross Chellis
- 12) Clayton Childers
- 13) Wally Culp
- 14) Kevin Dalton
- 15) Robin Dease
- 16) Jerry Dicks
- 17) Roger Dodds
- 18) Fran Elrod
- 19) Ernest Etheredge
- 20) Angie Etheredge-Erwin
- 21) Terry Fleming
- 22) Jody Flowers
- 23) Russell Freeman
- 24) James Friday
- 25) Brandon Fulmer
- 26) Jerry Gadsden
- 27) Telley Gadson
- 28) Meegian Gossard
- 29) Christopher Greene
- 30) Rett Haselden
- 31) Scarlett Hester
- 32) Jon Hoin
- 33) Kitty Holtzclaw
- 34) Michael Hood
- 35) Darren Hook
- 36) Amiri Hooker
- 37) Kathryn Hunter
- 38) Keith Hunter
- 39) Narcie Jeter
- 40) Karen Jones
- 41) Jeff Kersey
- 42) Steven King
- 43) Ann Kovan
- 44) Marvin Lare
- 45) Brandon Lazarus
- 46) Susan Leonard
- 47) Chris Lollis
- 48) Stephen Love
- 49) Susan Maddox
- 50) Will Malambri
- 51) Tim McClendon
- 52) Mack McDowell
- 53) Barry McFadden
- 54) David McManus
- 55) Elizabeth Murray
- 56) Angela Nelson
- 57) Ken Nelson
- 58) Tom Norrell
- 59) Weston Pendergrass
- 60) Richard Reams
- 61) Sara Relaford
- 62) Tim Rogers
- 63) Tony Rowell
- 64) Mike Smith
- 65) Randy Smith
- 66) Thomas Smith
- 67) Tyler Strange
- 68) Kim Strong
- 69) Emily Sutton
- 70) Kelli Taylor
- 71) Mary Teasley
- 72) Redonia Thomas
- 73) Chris Thompson
- 74) Phil Thrailkill
- 75) Ken Timmerman
- 76) Michael Turner
- 77) Tom Wall
- 78) Morris Waymer
- 79) Sara White
- 80) Eddie Williams
- 81) LaShelia Wyatt
- 82) Matt Yon
- 83) Neil Yongue
- 84) Mandy Young