By Jessica Brodie
Thousands of South Carolina lay and clergy will gather virtually June 5-6 for an abbreviated 51st session of Annual Conference.
This year’s session also convenes on the 50th anniversary of the last sessions of the 1866 and 1785 conferences and of the convening of the new South Carolina Annual Conference, which occurred June 5, 1972.
With the 2022 theme of “Seeking A More Excellent Way: Trusting, Believing, Knowing God is with Us,” South Carolina’s Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston will preside over a gathering that begins Sunday at 2 p.m. with the virtual clergy session, then continues at 7 p.m. with the Commissioning, Ordination and Retirement Recognition Service.
Holston, joined by ordination preacher Bishop Gary E. Mueller, resident bishop of the Arkansas Conference, will commission or ordain 18 men and women as full or provisional elders or deacons. Three additional people, who were ordained in another conference or tradition, will have their orders recognized and will be received as full members of this annual conference.
The next morning, after training on the online voting platform at 9 a.m. and presentation of all Annual Conference video reports at 10 a.m., Holston will call the session to order.
“We will convene this summer filled with hope, remembering who God has called us to be and what God wants for us,” Holston said.
Key this year in pre-conference reports includes consideration of Council on Finance and Administration’s $15.6 million budget for 2023 (it is 2.1 percent less than 2022’s $15.9 million budget); review of health benefits and pensions; and a proposed 6 percent cost of living increase for pastors from the Committee on Equitable Compensation “to ensure pastors can pay their bills after the large amount oof inflation we saw in 2021.”
(Read these and all reports in full at www.umcsc.org/ac2022 )
The business of Annual Conference is expected to take up most of the day, with time on the agenda for the Committee on Standing Rules, the Consent Calendar, any additional nominations for the Committee on Nominations, first reading of the budget by CF&A, and reports from Conference Connectional Ministries, the Commission on Equitable Compensation, the Cabinet and Conference Lay Leadership.
Slated for approximately 3:40 p.m. is adoption of the Consent Calendar, elections via the Committee on Nominations and voting on the budget as presented again by the Council on Finance and Administration.
Resolutions on church closing and charge line changes will follow, then after a break will be Holston’s official sending Forth and Fixing of the Appointments, with a service preached by him as well.
Monday night will conclude with a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, preached by Dr. Robin Dease, to honor the 53 clergy and spouses who passed away since Annual Conference 2021.
The Advocate will be covering the session and include full reporting in the next (July) edition, which comes out early to provide rapid news post-conference.
The event will be livestreamed for all to view at www.umcsc.org . Only those needed for the official business of Annual Conference will gather in person at the host site, the Florence Center, in Florence.