By Jerry Wolgemuth, Director of Communications
“Jesus reminds us that the world will know us as His disciples, not by taking certain biblical, theological, and doctrinal positions, but by our love for one another,” proclaimed Bishop Jeremiah J. Park in his keynote address that opened the Fifth Session of the Susquehanna Conference. The annual gathering of 1,500 persons for celebration, holy conferencing, and worship was held at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, June 12-14, 2014. The theme, “Raising Up Transformational Leaders,” was the second under a quadrennial theme: “Alive in Christ, Together.”
Setting the tone for the event, Bishop Park related the story of Mordecai’s plea for Esther’s decision on behalf of God’s time by paraphrasing Esther 4:4b, “Esther, this is God’s time for you to act for the sake of the future of God’s people. This is the time and you are the one.”
The bishop motioned to those gathered, “The transformational leaders are already here. They are within this room and within the churches of the Susquehanna Conference. We do not have to wait until some people arrive or until God provides someone else, for God has already provided. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I are the ones God has called and sent to make a difference ... for such a time as this.”
A significant presentation around ministry with young adults focused on their realities and the unique challenge of our response as a church to engage them in the life of the church.
The combined leadership report focused upon the continuing effort to re-align all conference work around the work of leader development, resourcing local churches in their disciple-making mission, and celebrating our connectional life together. The alignment efforts have produced significant results through the conference’s intentional efforts. Especially celebrated were the Matthew 28, Pastoral Leadership Development, and Equipping God’s people initiatives, as well as Connectional Ministries’ E-Tours and resourcing efforts.
Mission Central reported continued expansion with the addition of the 29th Mission Central HUB. Since January 2014 Mission Central has connected 810,443 people with nearly four million dollars worth of resources.
The Ordination sermon was given by Bishop Joseph Yeakel. Pastor Yvette Davis was the Saturday morning Bible study speaker.
The Conference celebrated the ministries of twenty-five retiring clergy and the lives of thirty-eight clergy or spouses who passed to their eternal reward during the year. The sermon for the Service of Remembrance and Celebration of Life was delivered by Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver, Dean of the Cabinet, who said, “They showed us the way home to God, and they want us to continue their work and move ahead. Even though we can’t see them, they are cheering us on.”
Legislative action included:
Resolution 1: Mental Awareness - Resolved that the Annual Conference should celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, a special offering Sunday to benefit education efforts, recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, hold a day of prayer to celebrate Mental Awareness Week. The Annual Conference adopted the resolution
Resolution 2: Establishment of a “Home, A Place for Everyone.” Withdrawn, because Just Peace is partnering with the Annual Conference to provide resources for local churches to reach out to help veterans and their families in their communities.
Resolution 3: A Change in the Guidelines for the Chairperson of Administrative Council - Resolved that the “Book of Discipline” be amended to limit the length of service as chairperson on the Administrative Board. The resolution was not adopted because it was out of order.
Resolution 4: Proposing Changes to The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church: Resolved to call upon the General Conference to remove current wording from the Social Principles, Paragraph 160 (I)(F) - Science and Technology related to the descriptions of evolution not in conflict with theology. The resolution was not adopted.
Four persons were commissioned as provisional elders, two were commissioned as deacons, and seven persons were ordained as elders.
Special offering totals to date were: Bishop’s Partners in Mission, $26,087.07; Stop Hunger Now, $20,901.69; Mission Central, $17,356.93; Youth Service Fund, $6,171.19.