"Morning worship with a half hour of singing, including a conga line (apparently a tradition for the last day) and a final message from our bishop. On to learning sessions."
- Sue Loeffler
First – Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there and to all the men who are helping to raise the children in our church in a positive way.
My hope was to post this last night, however Saturday was quite a day at Annual Conference and I did not get back to the hotel till after 10:00 pm. It was an intense day of electing delegates to General Conference next May, action items about apportionments and much, much more.
We managed to elect all the required delegates for General Conference required for both the Laity and Clergy yesterday. In my opinion all the delegates are excellent representatives of Wisconsin and will work for change in our denomination at the General Conference. This is extremely important in light of some other events of yesterday, which I will share shortly.
As a conference we renewed our connections and covenants with several Health and Welfare ministries across the state. An example is Christian Community Homes in Hudson and Osceola WI. This ministry provides high quality skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living for seniors in the far western part of the state. I have served on the board for CCH and have always been impressed with their commitment to provide dignity and care to everyone.
I know everyone is excited to hear from Jonah, but even with a couple reminders I have not received anything from him yet. However, in his defense, he has been very busy at conference. Last night he and the other youth delegates spoke at youth panel about generation Z and the Church. It was very well done. He even spoke on the floor of the plenary session in favor of an action item rejecting the results of the 2019 General Conference – the action item passed, by the way.
Something else happened yesterday that I struggle to share. Despite the repeated statements by the Bishop and others the Annual Conference was a safe place where all people were loved, it was revealed that it was not. LBGTQI+ people and people of color at the conference, who have had their voices officially and unofficially silenced in the UMC and the Wisconsin Conference made their voices heard yesterday when they revealed that they had been the victims of homophobic and racial slurs and language at the conference.
In fact, two of my openly gay pastor friends were confronted and cornered against a wall and were told to leave the conference by another clergy member of the conference. These revelations sparked an impassioned hour of voices from the conference floor crying out for justice, crying out for us to be the body of Christ. My heart was broken by these stories, but was also set on fire by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Finally, with the voices of the oppressed and marginalized crying out, Bishop Jung and other Conference staff said this harm to LBGTQI+ people and people of color must stop and not be a part of our conference anymore.
We have another full day of business to come – I am excited to see what God has in store.
"I brought the Ingathering donations that were collected and the kits that were put together by United Methodist Women of Church of the Pines at their last General Meeting. The donations included 30 women’s and kid’s kits, 44 infant onesies, and 8 infant sleepers. As you can see the kits have been placed in the truck and will now be transported for use by people in need. Thanks, UMCOP members, for supporting this important project."
- Sue Loeffler
The first day of Annual Conference is over and the second is about to begin. Yesterday we spent time in worship and began the business of the Conference. There was long debate over a proposed change to the Conference policy about paying apportionments. The proposal is to allow each local congregation to designate their apportionments to either the Annual Conference or to the General Church. We will continue to work on this proposal today. We will also begin the day today with a time for vital conversation about the General Conference decision.
One key highlight from clergy session Friday night was Pastor Gary Cole’s retirement. It was a joy to honor his ministry and to celebrate his retirement.
- Pastor Mark
"In a wonderful display of hospitality, the mayor of Green Bay, Eric Genrich, greeted and welcomed us to Green Bay. It truly made me, and all of us, feel welcome and valued. It was an example of the power of hospitality, and how much our greeting of guest means to the guests."
- Pastor Mark
Here is the Live Stream of the Annual Conference. Click below.
"People are beginning to gather for opening worship at the 2019 Wisconsin Annual Conference. This is a
view from my table. There's a lot of excitement in the room!"
- Pastor Mark