Annual Conference 2011 - Monday

MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011

CLERGY SESSION
The Clergy Session of the 2011 Annual Conference was held at Brown Chapel, Centenary College, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Rev. Mickey Cloud offered an organ prelude, and Bishop William Hutchinson called the Clergy Session to order.
Worship began with the singing of “Many Gifts, One Spirit.” Rev. Susie Thomas offered the opening prayer, and Rev. Barbary Murray presented the offertory entitled “It Took a Miracle,” and the clergy gave gifts to benefit the pension program in the Central Conferences of The United Methodist Church. Rev. Caroline Wilkinson read Ephesians 4:1-16, and Rev. Danny Gleason offered a sermon entitled “One Body? Our Body? The Body!”
Part II of the report
“Pertaining to Ordained Ministers and Local Pastors,” of the Disciplinary Questions 17 through 56, was presented by various members of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Corrections, deletions, and additions were made to the pre-printed report and noted by Rev. John Edd Harper for printing in the Conference Journal. Bishop Hutchinson conducted elections and votes as necessary. Rev. Harper recorded election results.
The Clergy Session also considered the following parts of the Disciplinary Questions: Part III, “Certification in Specialization and Certified Lay Ministry” (questions 60-65); Part IV, “Diaconal Ministers” (questions 66-75 of the 1992 Book of Discipline); and Part V, “Appointments and Concluding Business” (questions 76-84). Bishop Hutchinson conducted votes as necessary, and Rev. John Edd Harper recorded the results.
Rev. Danny Gleason moved that the entire report be approved by the Clergy Session. The vote was recorded by Rev. John Edd Harper, and it was approved.
Rev. Charlie Langford presented the Harry Denman Evangelism Award to Rev. Chris Andrews.
Reports were presented on behalf of the Order of Elders, Order of Deacons, and the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members.
Rev. Jack O’Dell moved that the Clergy Session approve the following policy: when a clergy person is under review in the administrative or judicial process (1) that meetings are held at a neutral location, (2) that the person be informed in advance as to the agenda of the meeting, and (3) that the person under review be allowed and encouraged to have a third-party representative at said meetings. The motion was seconded. Rev. O’Dell agreed that the matter may be referred to the Board of Ordained Ministry for review and/or adoption into its policies and that the Board of Ordained Ministry will report on their actions at Annual Conference. The motion to refer this matter to the Board of Ordained Ministry carried with some opposition.
Following the business of the session, the clergy of the Conference prayed together a covenant prayer from John Wesley’s 1780 Covenant Service and sang Charles Wesley’s “A Charge to Keep I Have.”
 
 LAITY SESSION
The session was opened with music led by George and Judy Gross.
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger, Conference Lay Leader, opened the session with a prayer, welcomed everyone and noted our theme this year is “Ministry with the Poor.” The scripture is from Galatians 2:10, “They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor.”
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger introduced Bishop William Hutchinson, who welcomed and addressed the Laity. In his address he talked about the laity and their importance in the church. He stated four drivers for a vital congregation and discussed these drivers.
These drivers are:
Effective pastoral leadership
Multiple small groups and groups for children and youth
A mix of traditional and contemporary worship
A high percentage of spiritually engaged laity who assume leadership roles
The Bishop also gave information on a Laity Retreat planned for March 16th and 17th, 2012 at the Wesley Center. Bishop Hutchinson and a well known facilitator will be presenters. All Laity are encouraged to attend.
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger introduced Board member, Pete Aguila, who then introduced members of the El Mesias United Methodist Church in New Orleans. The Hispanic Choir sang as the Board of Laity proceeded in.
Mrs. Glennell Cottrill, Treasurer, presented the annual treasurer’s report for the Board of Laity for the year 2010.
For the conference year ended December 31, 2010 the Bob Lay Memorial received contributions from the various districts totaling $69,244. Our goal for the year was $75,000. The ending balances for the Bob Lay Memorial totaled $241,250; of this amount $82,893 was deposited for the building of Faith Crossing UMC, $24,916 was on deposit for the building of The Well UMC, and $133,412 was available, by resolution of the Annual Conference, for loans to churches for redevelopment or growth needs. During the year, we disbursed $70,812 to The Well United Methodist Church to assist with their first building. As of May 1st, we had a $48,712 balance payable to The Well, which has now been disbursed. We had set the goal of $150,000 for each of the three new churches; however, we were only able to raise $119,524 for The Well and $82,893 for Faith Crossing. The Well UMC was chartered on Easter Sunday, 2011. Our current call is for New Song on Old Perkins Road in Baton Rouge. All funds collected during the remainder of 2011 and 2012 will be designated for New Song.
Since the beginning of the current year thru May 1st, the Bob Lay Memorial has received $23,671 from the districts. Since May 1st, we have received $5,745 for New Song UMC. Our goal for the current year is also $75,000. The need for funds for new church starts is tremendous. The laity were asked to please pray and contribute to this worthy undertaking. Glennell thanked those who have been working on this and encouraged them to talk to their district 1000 Club chairperson about plans to raise these funds.
For the conference year ended December 31, 2010 the Daughenbaugh Matheny Scholarship Fund received contributions from the various districts totaling $31,629. We disbursed scholarships totaling $33,750 to Louisiana United Methodist students attending Centenary College and Dillard University. A professional video promoting the scholarship was produced at a cost of $4,253. The ending balance for the Daughenbaugh Matheny Scholarship Fund totaled $50,462.03.
Since the beginning of the current year as of May 1st, the Scholarship Fund has received $8,108 from the various districts. Since May 1st, we have received an additional $10,152 for the scholarships. We need to raise at least $35,000 each year to maintain this fund and support our students. Please be aware that a college education is expensive and we are committed to helping our Louisiana United Methodist students at our two Louisiana United Methodist colleges.
Mr. Buzzy Anding explained the voting procedures for the election on Tuesday of delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference in 2012. He stated that the Clergy will elect five clergy and the laity will elect five laity to attend General Conference. He then noted that the clergy will elect five clergy and laity will elect five laity to attend Jurisdictional Conference along with two laity reserve delegates. 
Mr. Anding then explained the new electronic voting system that will be used to tally the votes this year.
Dr. Kreutziger called the eighteen candidates running for General and Jurisdictional Conferences to the front to be introduced to the Laity. She then asked for any nominees from the floor who want to be considered for nomination as a delegate. One person was recognized and added to the list of nominees, the added name was Olivia Pruett.
Mrs. Joyce Robinson introduced the Program Session of the program.
Mr. Tim Hebert reported on Certified Lay Ministers and Lay Speaking Ministries. Tim stated that everyone is called to be in ministry. He then went through the steps involved to become a Certified Lay Minister noting that you must first become a Certified Lay Speaker in order to become a Certified Lay Minister. Tim stated there will be courses every year in every District to become a Certified Lay Minister.
Those recognized as certified lay ministers are Steven Bellard, Henry Camburn, Alton Franks, Vickie Huckeba and Donna Whittington.
Mr. Hebert then reported on the process of becoming a Lay Speaking Minister.
Mr. Walter Weiss reported on the 1000 Club and noted they did not reach their goal for this year. He noted that Steve Stephens has been very instrumental in distribution of flyers to advocate the 1000 Club. Walter encouraged everyone to promote more giving in their churches as this is a laity initiative.
Mrs. Edna Hickman, UMW president and Pete Aguila, BOL representative, presented information on Domestic Violence. They stated that domestic violence is a social issue and not just an issue for women. Edna reported that three women and one man are murdered every day by their intimate partner. Domestic violence is a serious problem in every city with 95% of the victims being women. The victims come from every walk of life. We as United Methodist must speak up and speak out on domestic violence. The LA Coalition Against Domestic Violence has been very helpful in guidance and training to our conference. The UMW will have a number of workshops in districts on domestic violence.
Mrs. Carolyn Dove reported on the Daughenbaugh-Matheny Scholarship Fund. She reported a DVD was produced in 2010 to go into local churches. Carolyn stated since the inception of this scholarship fund in 1950, 336 young people have received this scholarship. Parts of the DVD were shown with interviews of some of those who have received the scholarship. Last year each person who received the scholarship received $1,500. There will be 25 scholarships given this year, but to be able to give each recipient $1,500 again this year, there is a need for $4,000 to be donated to the fund. Carolyn asked that donations be made during this conference to bring in the money needed.
Mrs. Joyce Robinson announced there are still tickets to be sold to the Laity breakfast on Tuesday morning. Joyce encouraged laity to contact their District Lay Leader to purchase tickets if they have not done so.
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger requested that all laity who brought the questions that were sent before the conference be ready to pass those forward to be collected by the youth. She noted that the information will be gathered together and that they would use what the laity tell us in our future meetings and plans and most importantly, be disseminated in several ways. The most important way will be in the Laity Retreat that will be held next March. 
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger then began the Laity Worship Service with a prayer. There was a short service with the Conference Board of Laity participating in the service with readings and prayers. Music during the service was led by Mrs. Judy Gross and Mr. George Gross.
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger introduced Rev. Leo Lee who gave the Benediction in English and Korean.
 
MORNING SESSION
JUNE 6, 2011
Gathering music was led by Dr. Marcia McFee, Director of worship for 2012 General Conference.
Bishop William W. Hutchinson gaveled into session the forty-first session of the Louisiana Annual Conference. He declared it open and convened. 
David Trickett, Iliff School of Theology President, led the opening prayer and brought greetings. He thanked the Conference for their support of the 13 United Methodist-related schools of theology.
Dr. David Rowe, President of Centenary College, brought greetings and welcomed the Conference back to Centenary College. He issued a formal invitation to the Conference to return next year and every other year as long as the Conference would like. He thanked the Conference for responding to his call last year of exploring what it means to be a church-related college and a college-related church. 
Dr. Don Avery and Dr. Marcia Avery, the host district superintendent and spouse, gave greetings to the Conference. They presented Bishop Hutchinson with a collage memento of all the churches that participated in the ramp blitz for the Day of Caring.
Roll call was taken by Rev. Larry Miller. He then submitted the following motion to the Conference for approval:
 
 
 
“I nominate Mrs. Belinda Denicola, Rev. Bernadine Johnson, Mrs. Joyce Robinson, and Rev. Darryl Tate as Assistant Secretaries of the Annual Conference Session. I further nominate Mrs. Joyce Robinson and Rev. Darryl Tate as Head Tellers. I also direct the attention of the Conference to six matters:
All materials for conference members are to be approved by and distributed through the Conference Secretary. These materials are to be given to Mrs. Joyce Robinson and are to be marked with the recommended time of distribution.
Forms for writing amendments and motions that are presented to the Conference should be picked up at the Secretary’s desk and the completed forms should be returned to the Secretary’s desk.
Similar forms are available for persons requesting courtesy letters to be sent from the Conference. Forms for special guests to be presented to the Conference are also available from the Secretary’s desk.
Any changes or corrections that need to be made regarding Pre-Conference Reports should be completed and given to Mrs. Belinda Denicola.
Special sound equipment for the hearing impaired is available at the A-V desk through Mr. Claiborne Sharp for plenary sessions.
 
Please be aware of petitions that will be placed on the tables for review. They are scheduled to be voted on Wednesday morning. Please save these petition handouts and bring them back the next day for the vote.
Prayer concerns or announcements to be raised to the Conference membership should be given to the Conference Secretary. Mr. Fred Loy, Chair of the Committee on Courtesies, or a member of the committee will report these at the close of each business session.
I move that any reports not presented, but before the Annual Conference as a part of the Pre-Conference Report be received by the Annual Conference and published in the 2011 Louisiana Annual Conference Journal.” 
The motion was adopted by the Conference. 
Dr. Ralph Ford presented the following motion to the Conference for approval: 
“I move that beginning Monday at 10:30 a.m., June 6, 2011, the main floor of the Physical Education Center of Centenary College be designated as the Bar of the Conference.
I move that after the first ballots for delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, only those individuals receiving five or more votes should have their names read to the Annual Conference. I also move that the Conference elect two reserve clergy delegates and two reserve lay delegates to the Jurisdictional Conference and that both clergy and laity have their expenses paid by the Annual Conference and that such funds be made available by the Conference Council on Finance and Administration.
I also move that Tuesday 2:30 p.m. be set as the order of the day for the election of clergy and lay delegates to general and jurisdictional conference, and that Wednesday’s order of the day be set at 10:30 a.m.for the passing of the mantle for retirees’ recognition. I further move that the printed program be the agenda for the Annual Conference Session and that the Bishop be empowered to make changes in the agenda necessary to complete the business of the Conference. I finally move that the printed material that is to be distributed to the Annual Conference session be cleared through the Secretary prior to distribution.”
The motion was adopted by the Conference.
Betty Backstrom introduced the theme of the 2011 Annual Conference as “Ministry with the Poor.” She stated that more than 210 United Methodist churches participated in “A Day of Caring” on May 14, 2011 which brought awareness to poverty that exists in our communities and gave a chance to be an active part of the solution. She also stated that the Louisiana Conference had the largest number of local churches participating, more than any other Conference nationwide and any other Conference worldwide. She thanked the committee members for all of their help.
Mr. George “Buzzy” Anding reported on the Conference Committee on Episcopacy. He referenced page 146 of the Pre-Conference Journal. He then asked Mr. Fred Loy to escort Mrs. Kay Hutchinson to the stage. Mrs. Hutchinson was presented with a necklace as an expression of love and appreciation for the Episcopal Couples Ministry and Friendship. Mrs. Hutchinson addressed the Conference with gratitude. 
Corsages were presented to Cathy Moore, Patti Perkins, Rhonda Whitley, and Belinda Denicola. Gene Finnell and the members of the Conference Committee were also thanked for their faithful service. 
BISHOP HUTCHINSON PRESENTED HIS EPISCOPAL ADDRESS
(see video at the bottom of this page)
“God Alone is Changeless”
“There’s been a change in the River
There’ll be a change in the sea
And from now on there’ll be a change in me…., and thee…., and we…..”
When I was a kid our class at school did a musical play called “Mississippi Melody.” I had the distinct joy of being cast as Huck Finn. There were several songs in the play, but the only one I remember went like this:
 
“Mississippi, roll on past my door. Mississippi, stay on your own floor
When you’re glad you bring delight to me; when you’re mad you are an awful sight to see!
Once I left you, won’t do that no more. I want to live and die
By that Mississippi River shore!”
(I’ve wanted to sing that to you for the last eleven years! I just couldn’t find the proper time to do it!)
The people of Louisiana are indeed a unique people – culturally, geographically, and historically. Until relatively recent years we were separated by rivers and bayous which allowed us to develop several distinct cultural identities. As the bridges and roads began to get built and access to other areas of the state became more of a possibility, we were challenged with what it means to move out of our own individual life-styles and into a corporate life-style that included all of us. The dominant theological approach in northern Louisiana has been influenced by the Baptists and Pentecostals. The southern tier of parishes has been shaped theologically by Roman Catholicism: French Roman Catholicism at that, which has its own unique flavor (no food puns intended!). And in the midst of that mix the Methodists came on horseback, by boat, and any other means necessary to traverse our beautiful land and waters to reach souls for Christ and introduce them to Wesleyan theology, which compliments all the rest in many ways, and challenges them to the core in many other ways.
When the Louisiana Purchase was consummated in 1803, this heretofore forbidden territory to Protestants was opened and Methodist Circuit Riders made their way from the state of Mississippi into the virgin territory. Vying for the distinction of the oldest Methodist church west of the Mississippi is Eden United Methodist Church, just outside Jena, and also Louisiana Memorial United Methodist Church in Opelousas. I suspect there was little contact between these two infant bodies because of all the natural barriers to communication and that is what has led to the confusion as to which one was established first. Methodist Churches for those of African descent were established later, with one of the oldest being Asbury in Natchitoches.
We have been a people marked by natural disaster: floods, hurricanes, tornados, fires. We’ve also experienced human induced disasters such as the Gulf Oil Spill of 2010. There was the 1927 flood of the Mississippi, the 1937 flood, the 1973 flood, and now the 2011 flood. Hurricanes have been numerous and could fill a book of names of choice: Audrey, Betsy, Camille, Andrew, Lilly, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, you add your favorite.
All of these have been defining moments of turning, especially Katrina and Rita, and gave us permission to open doors to new ways of doing things, pushing us to new models, revealing to us the resilience of our people who have inherently known “what to do” in every case, even while our cry was “We don’t know what to do!” The changes afforded were not just the works of nature, but were the work of the Holy Spirit which used these crisis moments to give us strength not only to continue but to explore new territory. We have reconfigured the face of the church and even redirected the mission of the church in New Orleans and in southwest Louisiana as a result of Katrina and Rita.
Because we have experienced the ability to do the hard work of redirecting our lives, as well as being on the receiving end of the pushback that always accompanies creativity and newness, it has emboldened us not to back away from bold new directions in subsequent years. It has become obvious that bold new decisions, hard decisions, can be made for the wellbeing of the local churches and the annual conference and while these may be unpopular at the moment, the annual conference has demonstrated a trusting spirit that continues to give leadership the freedom to innovate for the strengthening of our ability to address our mission field. 
While we have been in the midst of reinventing ourselves as the result of disasters, the General Church has been in the process of questioning themselves as to our decline, our sustainability, and our future. These questions led the Council of Bishops to the proposals that are now being referred to as “The Call to Action.” This is a proposed action that comes out of the realization that there is a church in crisis that is larger than any one annual conference. Both clergy and laity are positioned and ready to move in decisive and definitive ways to address the crisis.
The Extended Cabinet, given financial support and encouragement from the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana and under the consultation and facilitation of Dr. Gil Rendle, has been working steadily and intentionally to bring a new day to Louisiana United Methodism that will assist us in being a more effective movement for the cause of Christ. We began our redirection with looking at clergy profiles and service records, and looking at local church histories and performances over a ten year period. Now we are ready to move to ways to bring the laity on board in more complete and effective partnership. Our conference is more than ready to receive the benefits of the laity’s wisdom and passion for the wellbeing of the mission of the church. We’re very clear, laity. We are not asking you to be followers, but complete partners in a new ministry.
So, crisis has been a power driver and this has led us to be a comeback people. I am telling this bold story to you because this story allows us to be very bold going into tomorrow. Katrina and Rita in particular hijacked our normal lifestyle, but our way of doing church has been set free through that crisis and that has been a blessing and a very positive thing.
THE WORK OF THE EXTENDED CABINET
In the fall of 2010, the Extended Cabinet made a visit to every district in the Conference to introduce to you the work we had done to that point. The work included identification of the main question that was being asked consistently across the Conference, “What is your mission field?” Charge Conferences, Ministry Plans, January Review Forms all contained that question. You have done wonderful work in beginning to identify the answer to that for each of your own particular situations. It is still a critical and foundational question that must be addressed.
In addition to the mission field question, there was a new request based on some very intense work around four prototypes of churches – 1. “On the Move”, 2.) “Faithful and Strong”, 3.) “Rekindling the Vision”, and 4.) “Passing the Mantle.” Every pastor, every lay-leader, every church was asked to go back to their faith community and do the necessary discussion/evaluation that would help them come to a decision as to how to “self-identify” themselves as a faith community. You did very well in responding to that request. Here are the results:
                   67 – On the Move
                149 – Faithful and Strong
                162 – Rekindling the Vision
                 20 – Passing the Mantle
There was a fifth category as well. Those who chose not to respond to the request to do this faith-community work. Those duly constituted churches that made no response at all numbered 105.
Thank you to the 398 churches who took this request seriously. You are providing the Annual Conference with great information to move us to the next steps. You also will be the beneficiaries of the positive things that are afforded to those who clearly know who they are! 
Speaking of bold steps, as I was a minute ago, I say a profound “Thank You” to those 20 churches who made the boldest identification, and the most difficult – the Passing the Mantle churches. We are working now on getting professional guidance on how to best help you as you determine how you can pass the mantle in a creative and strategic fashion that will continue to help build the Kingdom of God.
It is very disappointing that 105 churches chose not to respond to this requested information. What that says to me is that you don’t take your present or your future seriously and you don’t take your connectedness to your sister churches seriously either. I speak to you specifically now, but I want all to hear. If you did not respond to this request:
You are now behind 398 of your sister churches and fellow clergy and fellow lay leaders. Either you didn’t take the request seriously, thought it was unimportant, or you didn’t have clergy or lay leadership with adequate skills to do this work. 
Pastors of these 105 churches –
There will be no Ministry Plan meeting with your District Superintendent this year. The reason for that is that you will not be able to participate in planning your ministry as to how to deal with the next steps in making your church or your ministry vital without this information. The District Superintendent won’t waste her/his time, or your time, until you are prepared to be part of the moving body of the Annual Conference.
More than likely there will be no Charge Conference as you have come to know it for you. You will be required to do the necessary paperwork and turn it in, but the District Superintendent will most likely not be taking the time to come to you because, again, you aren’t prepared for next steps.
There may need to be some special meetings with the “no-responders” to deal with your delinquent work, but those will be scheduled on an as-deemed appropriate basis.
If you have questions about any of this, I encourage you to talk with your District Superintendent who can help you know what you need to do to get in the main-stream of the Conference work and mission.
I asked for some additional information regarding these 105 churches. Even though you chose not to participate in the requested work of the Annual Conference, you did produce:
A total of 124 Professions of Faith collectively
An apportionment payout of 95.17%
A total of 9126 members in 2010, which is only 24 less than 2009
A total of 3784 average worship attendance, which is a decline of 82 from 2009
21 churches had a Confirmation Class in 2009, but only 12 had a confirmation class in 2010, with a total of 75 participants overall.
I am encouraged that these statistics, with the exception of the precipitous drop of Confirmation Classes, held so well in these 105 churches! My great concern is that this will not remain the case if you continue to choose to separate yourselves from the mainstream work of the Conference.
For the 398 who are ready to progress, the main question for you in 2011-2012 will be, “How are you focusing on the Mission/mission field?”
We will be coming to you again this fall with a further update on our work, just as we promised you we would do. At this point in time we are not totally certain of that format, or of those dates, but we will have both to you in the immediate future so you can plan. All, including those 105 “No-Responders”, are welcome to be there. These, again, will not be mandated meetings. But, if you are interested in being an active and informed part of the Louisiana Annual Conference, you will be present.
So, how did all this 2010 work affect the Annual Conference in 2010? 
More churches know their mission field now than they did at the start of 2010.
For the first time in several years we had a gain in Membership in the Annual Conference!! In 2010 we showed a gain in membership of 257, compared to a loss of 1590 in 2009.That’s great news!
There was an apportionment payout of 98.5%.
We had 95 more professions of faith in 2010!
We had 62 more enrolled in Confirmation Preparation Classes.
And when all was said and done, our churches paid out a total of $13,456,330 MORE than in 2009.  
It’s been a great year for God’s Kingdom. 
And in the area of Appointment–making, our new metrics helped significantly. Let me just say that we made appointments this year without the compensation figures on the board in front of us. We didn’t focus on how much a clergy person was being paid, and we did not focus on the salary being paid by the church. We began with the metrics we have laid out for both the church and the pastor, and we worked to match the two by those metrics without money being a deciding factor. When we went back and put the money beside our work, it was amazing how well it all worked out. 
We were able to make the appointments this time with hard data in front of us and did not rely on our uneducated estimates and our subjective internal feelings and faulty memories as the main driving factors. As a result I believe we have made the best set of appointments yet. They were determined by what the church said was their mission and mission field, and this should strengthen the mission and ministry of the church so they can truly “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS
Let’s move now to the consideration of some of the financial issues facing the denomination and, consequently, all of us. Let’s start with this video prepared for a spring meeting hosted by the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits and the General Commission on Finance and Administration, and attended by six persons from our Annual Conference specifically invited for their dealing with and expertise in financial matters, plus the bishop:                (Show Video)
To get a feel for the impact of the message of this video I want you to indulge me in a little visual display. Would those of you under 35 years of age please stand?
Between 36-45
Between 46-55
Between 56-65
Over 65
You see how we in Louisiana reflect the statistics that drove the concern of this video.
I’ve also learned in recent days that statisticians now say that it takes a church of 125 in average attendance to sustain a full-time clergy person. Let me state that again. It takes a church of 125 in average attendance to sustain a full-time clergy person. Let me give you some disturbing statistics for Louisiana:
We have 502 churches. Of those 502 here is the breakdown of average attendance statistics for 2010:
86 with more than 100 in average attendance
416 under 100 average attendance
Of that 416 under 100, about half of those are under 50 in attendance
These attendance statistics have major implications for where we go in the future. They have to do with how many full-time clergy we can support. (It is shocking to know that in the last 2 ½ years we have lost some 30 full-time appointments in Louisiana!) They have major connotations as to how many people the Board of Ordained Ministry can admit into the Annual Conference. They have major connotations on how we recruit and encourage young men and women to go into ordained ministry. They have to do with church vitality, which I will say more about in a moment. They have to do with whether a small number of people can really be a church, or should they be treated more as a Sunday School class, or a small group, or as a mission outreach post but not necessarily a “preaching point?”
Let me go back to the six person team who went to Ft. Worth. When that gathering was completed, the team determined they would like to dialogue further in order to help strengthen the position of the Louisiana Annual Conference. Again, with the help of the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana, this team of people has met twice more, with Dr. Gil Rendle joining and leading us at the last meeting. We worked on what this group’s major contribution might be to the well-being of our Conference. 
As a result of the last meeting, I have made the decision to gather a team consisting of eleven persons plus the bishop that has no authority to make decisions, but that will be asked to give advice to our structures as to whether the proposals in front of us are financially sustainable or not, or are they even strategically wise from a church vitality standpoint. This team will be called the “Strategic Vitality Task Force” and will be meeting throughout the Conference year to review and strategize with our structured committees as to how the ministries we have deemed important can be initiated, sustained and supported fully. The “death tsunami” mentioned in the video threatens the sustainability of what we already have, which includes all our “historical favorites”. If we want to be a church that is nimble enough to meet the new duties demanded by a new day, then we’re going to have to deal with our money resources just like the federal government, the state governments, the city governments, etc. are doing every day. 
THE GLOBAL CHURCH AND THE CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES
There has been much said over the past year about “The Call to Action.” This is the initiative begun by the Council of Bishops and that has now taken on major proportions as we approach General Conference 2012. This past April 6 some 120 United Methodists gathered across Louisiana to participate in a web-cast seminar and discussion group on this proposal. 
The main thrust of the “Call to Action” is to develop vital congregations across the denomination. This is very similar to our own local work of trying to renew our churches to be vital in our work in Louisiana. There are four main drivers identified that propel a vital congregation. They are:
Effective pastoral leadership including aspects of management, vision and inspiration.
Multiple small groups and programs for children and youth.
A mix of traditional and contemporary worship services.
High percentages of spiritually engaged laity who assume leadership roles.
As General Conference approaches we will hear more about these drivers and how we can incorporate them into our denominational renewal and, most of all, the renewal of a major force for the Kingdom of God. United Methodism has all the tools necessary to become a great movement of God’s people again. All we have to do is respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit to take us there.
THE THREE TASK FORCES THAT ARE TO REPORT AT THIS SESSION
When we left Annual Conference in 2010 we had given three task forces some work to do with a request they bring their findings back to this session. Those were a task force to study Church Extension, one to study Multicultural Ministries, and one to study Conference Camping and the Wesley Center. These task forces were duly constituted and have faithfully done their work. As you have read your pre-conference journal you have seen what their proposals will be. Let me give you a quick preview and a couple of comments:
The Task Force on Church Extension and Revitalization
This task force is coming to the Annual Conference with a proposal that would bring major change to the direction and priorities of the Conference. These changes, if adopted will have major impact on the budget of the Conference. The proposal is indeed exciting! It will be fascinating to see how this body handles this report!
Multicultural Ministries Task Force
This task force will ask for an extension of time for their work. They wish to have the 2011-2012 Conference year to do a series of listening posts throughout the state and then bring a “robust recommendation” to the 2012 Annual Conference session.
Camping Ministry/Wesley Center Task Force
This task force was constituted along with the other two and is bringing a recommendation that includes better communication between camps. There also was consideration of creating a new conference position, “Conference Camping Coordinator”. They see the need and necessity for an availability of the programs being offered and in effect offer no change for consideration.
This task force probably had the hardest work because they were dealing with longer history. But the day will come, starting at least with the “death tsunami” when we will be forced to reconsider whether this present arrangement can be continued.
All three of these reports will be before you for debate and action.
CONTINUING CONCERNS
There are a few continuing concerns I lift before you once again. Until we have solutions for these, I will be bringing them to your attention.
Conference Reserves
We continue to face the future on a “pay as you go” basis. In essence we have no reserves substantial enough to bail us out of a problem should it arise. The only place we would be able to get funding for an emergency beyond our normal budget would be:
Apportion a larger amount to the churches
Depend upon the general church to send funds to rescue us, which is a very unlikely solution given the difficulties of the general church!
Sell properties, such as the camps I just mentioned and other institutional properties
We simply must determine a way to increase the Conference reserves as we move into the future.
Africa University Pledge
Another year has come and gone and we still haven’t approached how we are going to raise the $1,000,000 pledged to Africa University by the 2005 Annual Conference Session. I had a meeting just this past month with representatives from Africa University who are ready to help us with the raising of this money. They are ready for us to underwrite the addition to the Campus Student Union which they desperately need. 
Perhaps the Strategic Vitality Task Force can help us find ways to address this. I am concerned that these funds were pledged during my tenure as bishop and it looks as if I might be retiring before they are secured. I certainly do not desire to leave a $1,000,000 debt to the next Episcopal administration.
I have tried to keep you apprised of the decisions being made by the general church that will directly affect us financially. That has been particularly true with regard to clergy benefits. Let me just approach the two most costly:
Pensions
The very mention of that word sends shivers through the spines of the clergy. But you need to know what may be proposed. There is a proposal that pension payments will be lessened so that local churches can continue to afford a pastor. Let me put this as concisely as I can:
Currently the CRSP Defined Benefit is 1.25% of the Denominational Average Compensation per year of service. The proposal is to reduce that benefit to 1% of the Denominational Average Compensation and make even that available only to those serving ½ time or above. Currently this retirement benefit is available to those serving ¼ time and above. Here’s what that would mean practically: Today, the Denominational Average Compensation for pension purposes is $61,716. Under our current plan a full time pastor with 40 years of service would receive $30,858 per year for retirement. Under the proposed plan, this same pastor would receive “$24,686 in annual retirement, for a reduction of $6,172 per year. 
In addition to the Defined Benefit plan, there is the CRSP Defined Contribution Plan. Currently this is set at 3% of the Denominational Average Compensation. It is paid entirely by the local church or the extension ministry to which a pastor is appointed. In the new proposal, the amount of contribution would stay at 3% ONLY if the clergy person contributes 1% of their plan compensation themselves. In other words, this will be a sharing of cost between the individual pastor and the church. That will be new.
 
Several other proposals are being considered that will limit the duration of the treatment of some disabilities, will increase the amount of time one must serve before being eligible for death benefits, and will institute a flat death benefit in place of one that increases with the rise in the Denominational Average Compensation. These proposals are an effort to make all benefits affordable and sustainable into the future.
Clergy salaries and benefits are causing increasing difficulty in sustaining full-time appointments. As I mentioned earlier, in the past 2 1/2 years we have lost some 30 full time appointments in Louisiana, and that is greatly attributable to unsustainable costs related to a full time pastor. 
Let me quickly state, “Pastors earn every cent they are paid.” There is no question about that. Many are actually on the poverty level bubble as far as the amount of their Winn-Dixie money at that! My heart goes out and my hat comes off to you who are working at the minimum levels! But all of us see the dilemma. We cannot continue to have shrinking churches and escalating salaries and have viable congregations with full time pastoral leadership. We don’t want to balance the shrinking budgets on the backs of clergy benefits, but we also do not want clergy benefits to make a church unable to survive.
Health Insurance
Health Insurance is another battle we are continually facing as far as sustainability of what we currently provide. There is no prediction regarding health insurance other than increasing costs. Right now we seem to be stable in our income vs. our outflow. But that has not always been the case, and without a continued rise in the amount billed for health insurance, we will not be able to even sustain what we have at the current levels.
Let me bring the 2011 Episcopal Address to a close with some exciting thoughts for the future:
Laity Retreat
There will be a laity retreat next spring in which Dr. Gil Rendle will be sharing with the laity all the many exciting things he has been sharing with the Extended Cabinet, the Strategic Vitality Task Force, The Bi-Annual Clergy gathering “Tending our Lives”, and with the general church in various settings. The dates for that retreat are March 16-17, 2012. I would love to see the Wesley Center absolutely packed to overflowing with laity from across the Conference who are saying, “We’re ready for the new day.”
The beginning of a year of Ministry with the Poor. 
The theme of our Conference is “Ministry with the Poor.” We are in for an exciting time as we hear from Jorge Acevedo, our teacher/preacher for this Conference. We have already experienced a very successful “Day of Caring” that reached out across Louisiana with a ministry of care and concern. We will be receiving your commitments for ministry and money for the coming year as our offering on Tuesday night. It should be a year unlike any other in our recent history when we intentionally work alongside and “with” the poor to make our state and world a better place.
New recruiting and training for our leaders of today and tomorrow. 
The new “Awakening” event, a weekend of discernment for 16-18 year olds is one of the most exciting new academies on our calendar. The first one this past January had some 30 youth from across our Conference in attendance. Look out Louisiana when these outstanding young people enter the ranks of our clergy and our lay leadership! They won’t take “yesterday’s news” as their mantra. They will blaze their own trails in response to God’s call.
And there is the new LEAP program (Leadership Excellence Advancement Program) being offered by the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana for pastors who have already served 5 years as an ordained clergyperson, and who have at least 15 more years to serve. Under the guidance of Reverend Janice Virtue, a leadership consultant and educator, this program promises to give our clergy in these specific service ranges new energy, expertise, and commitment to growing a more vital church in Louisiana. Our first class will be announced on August 15, 2011 and will begin their two year course in learning on September 26, 2011. Clergy, you have until June 15 to get your applications in! This will be a “first class” course in Leadership and I urge you to take advantage of it.
Our Disaster Recovery Ministry that has occupied almost all of our energy and attention since 2005 is indeed coming to an end. That is barring any new disasters that might visit us! We will be part of a final Hoorah! On Wednesday of this week! What a journey it has been!
And here’s just one for the road: Think what we could do if we had a fund that was designated to help pay for the placement of newly graduated clergy in some very specific “teaching churches” where they would be mentored by effective Senior Pastors and by leading lay women and men who know what it means to be a vital and alive church. If we could take our graduating seminarians and place them in some prepared learning settings such as our most vital and creative churches, think what that practical experience would do for them and for the churches they would serve into the future! Oh, it would indeed be a great gift to Christ’s Holy Church!
When someone with that vision steps up to the plate and says, “I’d like to help get that fund started”, it will be a blessed new day for Louisiana United Methodism. I’d love to speak with you if you or someone you know has that nudging call from God to step forward.
Finally, let me speak just a word about the delegate elections that we will have for the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Louisiana has been a model Conference in the make-up of the delegations you send to these very important policy-setting conferences. Our delegations have been inclusive of gender, of age, of racial identity, of theological position, and sociological background. When you see our delegation, you see a representative face of Louisiana United Methodism. As we prepare ourselves to vote once again, I ask that you prayerfully consider the makeup of the delegation. I pray you will continue to make it inclusive and representative, as well as competent, committed, and consecrated to the task before them. This is no place for a popularity contest, but it is the place where the dedicated servants of God can be selected to go and do the draining, difficult, and demanding work of ten non-stop days in Tampa, Florida after they have spent the better part of a year reading volumes, meeting in preparation, listening to the desires of colleagues, and praying fervently for Almighty God’s direction.
The legislation that comes before this General Conference will have major impact on the future of the United Methodist Church and of our strength for the work of Christ’s Kingdom. And the election of a new Episcopal leader for Louisiana, which will happen at the Jurisdictional Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will be crucial to the ongoing work of the Annual Conference. I don’t want to dwell on this point. You know what I am asking you to do. Please let the Holy Spirit inform and guide your actions as you seek for those who can best represent our Conference in this important work.
And that brings to a close this version of the Episcopal Address! It’s been a special joy sharing it this year. You are a superb Annual Conference and you do exceptional work! We have leaders, both lay and clergy, who are second to none! I am absolutely humbled and thrilled to be given the privilege to serve with you in Christ’s ministry. Thank you once again, for incorporating Kay and me into your lives and for making us part of your faith journey. We are indeed blessed beyond all measure.
I close with this prayer of Teresa of Avila:
“Let nothing upset you, let nothing frighten you, everything is changing; God alone is changeless. Patience attains the goal. Who has God lacks nothing; God alone fills all our needs.”
Amen and Amen
AFTERNOON SESSION
JUNE 6, 2011
 
Gathering music was led by Dr. Marcia McFee. 
Mr. Weldon Bares shared a “Ministry with the Poor” moment about the Day of Caring. 
Board of Ordained Ministry Report #1
Report #1 of the Board of Ordained Ministry was given by Rev. Danny Gleason. He referenced pages 129-139 of the Pre-Conference Report. He thanked those who work with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. He explained that the Board consists of three divisions: the Division of Elders, the Division of Deacons, and the Division of Associate members and Local Pastors. 
Rev. Gary Willis, Dean of the License to Preach School, presented the most recent graduates of the License to Preach School: Virginia Leigh Adkins*, Perry Dupree Anderson*, Renee Andree Deaton, Lisa Carole Fitzpatrick, Alton Elige Franks, Jr., Robbin Dale Haley*, James Paul Laird*, Wade Mitchell Landeche, William Ray Morris*, Steven Michael Murphy, Mary Clelie Stone*, Samuel Dana Thrash, and Jerry Glenn Wood. Those receiving their first appointment are designated with an asterisk (*). He also issued a challenge to recruit African American local pastors and nurture them in the Conference’s congregations so they may be prepared for ministry.
The ten persons who will be receiving their first appointment were recognized: Virginia Leigh Adkins, Perry Dupree Anderson, Robbin Dale Haley, James Paul Laird, William Ray Morris, Mary Clelie Stone, Margaret Boddie Clark, Jason Lee Harris, Nathaniel Robert Langford, and Ronald James Southall. 
The Course of Study School was briefly explained. Local pastors who have completed Course of Study were: Steven Wayne Bush, Russell Sparkman Clunan, Yvonne Piper Dayries, Charles Edward Hill and Christmas Carol Sturm Wilbur. 
The Professional Certification was explained as being the United Methodist Church’s recognition that a person has fulfilled the requirements to serve with excellence in an area of specialized ministry.
Paraprofessional certification is also available to those who do not have an undergraduate degree. Those receiving professional certification were: Cathalyn Hildebrand Brewton and Dawn Buchanan Young. Heidi Anne Weber received the first paraprofessional certification in the Conference. Areas now available for certification are: Camp Retreat, Children's Ministry, Christian Education, Evangelism, Ministry with the Poor, Music Ministry, Older Adult Ministry, Spiritual Formation, and Youth Ministry. All who have certification in one of these areas were asked to stand and be recognized. 
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger presented information regarding Certified Lay Ministry and recognized the new certified lay ministers: Steven Shane Bellard, Henry Lawson Camburn, Jr., Alton Elige Franks, Jr., Vickie Dee Greer Huckeba, and Donna Dumas Whittington. She also mentioned that Rickey Watson was recognized last year. 
The following were presented to be commissioned as provisional elders: Charles Lee Christensen, Edith Louise DeVilbiss, John Garrison Hankins, Andrew David Sutton, and Kathy Snare Wafer.
Two persons were recognized to be ordained deacon in full connection with the Conference: Valerie Olson Robideaux and Carol Ann Civils. 
Eddie Carpenter and Steven Wade Fowler were presented as having elders orders recognized from another Christian denomination and being accepted as members in full connection with the Conference.
Lane Cotton Winn and Gloria Lynne Youngblood were recognized for designations as elder in full connection. 
Rev. Juan Huertas stated that there are 12 people that are new candidates for license or ordained ministry. He also explained the new Awakening Event which began in January that brought together 35 young people ages 16 to 20 who were considering and discerning a call to ministry. 
Rev. Danny Gleason thanked the Conference for the MEF funds that are a part of the apportionments. He also thanked the Louisiana Methodist Foundation for their support in continuing to match the seminary loan.
Rev. Kathy Snare Wafer shared a personal witness about the financial support she received to begin her seminary career. 
Rev. Danny Gleason made an announcement about an event happening on September 8, 9, and 10, 2011, on sacred trust boundary issues for clergy and spiritual leaders. He also thanked Rev. John Edd Harper for his service behind the scenes with the Board of Ordained Ministry. He also encouraged the Conference to grow their churches in every way, shape, form, or fashion. 
Bishop Hutchinson made several announcements. 
A moment of remembrance was requested for Joanne White, who passed away. 
Kim Bender gave a Ministry with the Poor moment regarding the Day of Caring at Summer Grove United Methodist Church in Shreveport.
Dr. Tim Neustifter presented Bishop Hutchinson with a challenge coin from the United States Air Force and an American flag from a refueling mission as a gift. 
Bishop Hutchinson asked that anyone who had ever served in the Armed Forces stand to be recognized.
CFA Report #1
Mr. Henry Stamper, Chair of the Council on Finance and Administration, presented the CFA report #1. The report is found on pages 1-3 of the Pre-Conference Report. Mr. Stamper highlighted a few areas of the report. First, he brought attention to the recommended offerings and special days of the calendar year for 2011 through 2012. He mentioned under Special Sundays with Offerings, the Methodist Children's Home Christmas Offering on December 18, 2011, and the Mother’s Day Offering for the Children’s Home on May 13, 2012. This is one offering for all three homes. The Methodist Children's Home in Ruston will line those funds up and send them out to the three homes across the state.
Mr. Stamper also made note of Item 13 on page 3 of the Pre-Conference Report regarding Terry Cook of Noel UMC who received certification for the first time from GCFA in UM Church Business Administration and Dianne Wilkinson of Benton UMC who has been recertified. The Pre-Conference Report also states that Dianne Wilkinson is also the national president for the UM Church Business Administrators Association. Mr. Stamper also recognized Brian Shoup whose name is not in the Pre-Conference Report. Mr. Shoup received the certification in 2009 but was not recognized at the time. 
Mr. Stamper brought the Conference’s attention to items that will be considered in report 2 on Wednesday. He noted on page 4 of the Pre-Conference Report that the overall budget is increasing by .36%. He also read aloud item 9 on page 7 regarding Conference Benevolences Reserve. He noted item 14 on page 9 which is a new item to be considered. Mr. Stamper read the item aloud which is regarding the transfer of the total of undesignated conference receipts from gas leases and royalties and two estate gifts. 
 
CFA Report #1 was approved.
Equitable Compensation Report
Rev. Tom Howe presented a report from the Commission on Equitable Compensation found on pages 139-141 of the Pre-Conference Report. He noted a change on page 139 of the year from 2011 to 2012 because the rates become effective in the next year and not in the current year. He presented the figures which are based on the new formula that was adopted at last year’s Annual Conference. The report was approved. 
Conference Ministry Team Report
Betty Blackman, Chair of the Conference Ministry Team, gave the Conference Ministry Team report. The specific report of the Conference Ministry Team is on pages 50-51of the Pre-Conference Report, and the entire report is pages 50-124. She asked all of the members of the Conference Ministry Team and any task force related to the Conference Ministry Team to stand for recognition of their hard work. She referenced page 51 for the three task force reports regarding Multicultural Ministries, Church Extension, and Conference Camping and the Wesley Center. She also said that there is a resolution on a handout entitled “Bread or Stones” at each table that got inadvertently left out of the Pre-Conference Journal.
Dr. Dawn Young gave a report on the Camping Ministry and the Wesley Center. She referenced pages 51-53 of the Pre-Conference Journal. 
Rev. Juan Huertas, Chair of the Multicultural Ministry, gave a report on the Multicultural Ministries Task Force. He referenced pages 53-54 of the Pre-Conference Report. 
Rev. Donnie Wilkinson, Chairperson for the Church Extension and Revitalization, gave a report on this task force. He referenced pages 55-58 of the Pre-Conference Report. 
Rev. John Deschner gave a report on the resolution, “Bread or Stones.”
The report on pages 50-124 was approved unanimously with the exception of the three task force reports and the “Bread or Stones” resolution which will be voted on Tuesday.
Rev. Fred Wideman presented two petitions to be voted on Wednesday. Both petitions were referred to the Board of Global Ministries and the Board responded to both with non-concurrence.
Board of Pensions Report
Kenny Beauvais, Chair of the Board of Pensions, began the report of the Board of Pensions by calling Dan O’Neill, managing director of the Central Conference Pension Initiative, to give a report on this Initiative. 
Mr. Beauvais then noted some corrections. He referenced page 25 of the Pre-Conference Report. He noted a correction on report III section V on page 41. The words “unappointed Louisiana Conference clergy member” should be added before “retirees and their spouses” on line 4 of subsection C. At the end of paragraph C, a new sentence should be added: “Retired clergy under appointment shall have their expenses paid by the church they are serving.” The second correction is in report III section V subsection F on 41. Please add “unappointed Louisiana Conference clergy member” on the second line before “retirees and surviving spouses.” 
Mr. Beauvais presented the Board’s recommendation that the PSR for 2012 will be $646 per year of Pre-1982 service. He then presented the new proposed CRSPDB billing formula of 12% of plan comp (capped at $8,000). Kenny then pointed out the pensions resolution on page 27 and shared some of the health insurance changes (dependents under age 26 now eligible for coverage and wellness limit of $400 per year was removed). He pointed out the health care benefits resolution on page 38 and that those churches with arrearages at the end of 2011 for health insurance or pension billings will have those arrearages printed in the 2012 Journal. Kenny then referred to the handout on 2011 years of service change requests to be included in Report III, Section II. Kenny referred also to the Wellness Initiative and the pedometers being distributed. The entire report was passed unanimously.
Recognition of Retirees #1
Bishop Hutchinson stated that the Recognition of Retirees would be divided into three presentations. Rev. Darryl Tate recognized these retirees during this session: William Andress, Robert Burgess, Gene Faurie, and Barbara Murray. Mrs. Kay Hutchinson pinned the retiree pins on the retirees during these services.
Mr. Fred Loy made courtesy announcements on behalf of the Courtesy Committee. 
Dr. Don Cottrill made closing announcements. 
MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011
EVENING SESSION
 
SERVICE OF ORDINATION AND COMMISSIONING
Gathering music was performed by the Chancel Choir of Shreveport First UMC, violinist Elizabeth Beck, and organist E. Ray Peebles under the direction of Dr. Will Andress. Song leader for this service was Dr. Marcia McFee. The pianist was Nan Dozier, cross bearer was Rev. Dianne Wooden and candle bearers were Rev. Cheri Godwin and Rev. Brian Mercer.
The processional hymn was “God of Grace and God of Glory” and Bishop William W. Hutchinson opened with a greeting and prayer. The Recognition of Common Ministry and Reaffirmation of Baptism were led by Bishop Hutchinson, followed by the Presentation of Candidates. The Old Testament scripture lesson was Isaiah 1:12-17 and the New Testament scripture lesson was John 4:1-30. Bishop Hutchinson delivered the sermon, “Come See a Man”.
The invitation to the offering was made by Rev. Leslie Stephens and the offertory anthem was “Be Not Afraid”. The offering this evening will help with the cost of providing our ordinands with a tour to the Holy Land. The General Examination of Candidates for Provisional Deacon, Provisional Elders, Deacons and Elders was led by Bishop Hutchinson with Father C. Dana Krutz, Executive Director of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, in attendance. The hymn of Commitment, Call and Renewal was “Are Ye Able.” The Recessional hymn was “We’ve A Story to Tell to the Nations” and the postlude “Toccata” from Symphony #5 concluded the service.
 
Africa University Pledge
 
Another year has come and gone and we still haven’t approached how we are going to raise the $1,000,000 pledged to Africa University by the 2005 Annual Conference Session. I had a meeting just this past month with representatives from Africa University who are ready to help us with the raising of this money. They are ready for us to underwrite the addition to the Campus Student Union which they desperately need.
Perhaps the Strategic Vitality Task Force can help us find ways to address this. I am concerned that these funds were pledged during my tenure as bishop and it looks as if I might be retiring before they are secured. I certainly do not desire to leave a $1,000,000 debt to the next Episcopal administration.
I have tried to keep you apprised of the decisions being made by the general church that will directly affect us financially. That has been particularly true with regard to clergy benefits. Let me just approach the two most costly:
 
Pensions
 
The very mention of that word sends shivers through the spines of the clergy. But you need to know what may be proposed. There is a proposal that pension payments will be lessened so that local churches can continue to afford a pastor. Let me put this as concisely as I can:
Currently the CRSP Defined Benefit is 1.25% of the Denominational Average Compensation per year of service. The proposal is to reduce that benefit to 1% of the Denominational Average Compensation and make even that available only to those serving ½ time or above. Currently this retirement benefit is available to those serving ¼ time and above. Here’s what that would mean practically: Today, the Denominational Average Compensation for pension purposes is $61,716. Under our current plan a full time pastor with 40 years of service would receive $30,858 per year for retirement. Under the proposed plan, this same pastor would receive “$24,686 in annual retirement, for a reduction of $6,172 per year.
In addition to the Defined Benefit plan, there is the CRSP Defined Contribution Plan. Currently this is set at 3% of the Denominational Average Compensation. It is paid entirely by the local church or the extension ministry to which a pastor is appointed. In the new proposal, the amount of contribution would stay at 3% ONLY if the clergy person contributes 1% of their plan compensation themselves. In other words, this will be a sharing of cost between the individual pastor and the church. That will be new.
Several other proposals are being considered that will limit the duration of the treatment of some disabilities, will increase the amount of time one must serve before being eligible for death benefits, and will institute a flat death benefit in place of one that increases with the rise in the Denominational Average Compensation. These proposals are an effort to make all benefits affordable and sustainable into the future.
Clergy salaries and benefits are causing increasing difficulty in sustaining full-time appointments. As I mentioned earlier, in the past 2 1/2 years we have lost some 30 full time appointments in Louisiana, and that is greatly attributable to unsustainable costs related to a full time pastor.
Let me quickly state, “Pastors earn every cent they are paid.” There is no question about that. Many are actually on the poverty level bubble as far as the amount of their Winn-Dixie money at that! My heart goes out and my hat comes off to you who are working at the minimum levels! But all of us see the dilemma. We cannot continue to have shrinking churches and escalating salaries and have viable congregations with full time pastoral leadership. We don’t want to balance the shrinking budgets on the backs of clergy benefits, but we also do not want clergy benefits to make a church unable to survive.
 
      Health Insurance
 
Health Insurance is another battle we are continually facing as far as sustainability of what we currently provide. There is no prediction regarding health insurance other than increasing costs. Right now we seem to be stable in our income vs. our outflow. But that has not always been the case, and without a continued rise in the amount billed for health insurance, we will not be able to even sustain what we have at the current levels.
Let me bring the 2011 Episcopal Address to a close with some exciting thoughts for the future:
 
Laity Retreat
 
There will be a laity retreat next spring in which Dr. Gil Rendle will be sharing with the laity all the many exciting things he has been sharing with the Extended Cabinet, the Strategic Vitality Task Force, The Bi-Annual Clergy gathering “Tending our Lives”, and with the general church in various settings. The dates for that retreat are March 16-17, 2012. I would love to see the Wesley Center absolutely packed to overflowing with laity from across the Conference who are saying, “We’re ready for the new day.”
The beginning of a year of Ministry with the Poor.
The theme of our Conference is “Ministry with the Poor.” We are in for an exciting time as we hear from Jorge Acevedo, our teacher/preacher for this Conference. We have already experienced a very successful “Day of Caring” that reached out across Louisiana with a ministry of care and concern. We will be receiving your commitments for ministry and money for the coming year as our offering on Tuesday night. It should be a year unlike any other in our recent history when we intentionally work alongside and “with” the poor to make our state and world a better place.
New recruiting and training for our leaders of today and tomorrow.
The new “Awakening” event, a weekend of discernment for 16-18 year olds is one of the most exciting new academies on our calendar. The first one this past January had some 30 youth from across our Conference in attendance. Look out Louisiana when these outstanding young people enter the ranks of our clergy and our lay leadership! They won’t take “yesterday’s news” as their mantra. They will blaze their own trails in response to God’s call.
And there is the new LEAP program (Leadership Excellence Advancement Program) being offered by the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana for pastors who have already served 5 years as an ordained clergyperson, and who have at least 15 more years to serve. Under the guidance of Reverend Janice Virtue, a leadership consultant and educator, this program promises to give our clergy in these specific service ranges new energy, expertise, and commitment to growing a more vital church in Louisiana. Our first class will be announced on August 15, 2011 and will begin their two year course in learning on September 26, 2011. Clergy, you have until June 15 to get your applications in! This will be a “first class” course in Leadership and I urge you to take advantage of it.
Our Disaster Recovery Ministry that has occupied almost all of our energy and attention since 2005 is indeed coming to an end. That is barring any new disasters that might visit us! We will be part of a final Hoorah! On Wednesday of this week! What a journey it has been!
And here’s just one for the road: Think what we could do if we had a fund that was designated to help pay for the placement of newly graduated clergy in some very specific “teaching churches” where they would be mentored by effective Senior Pastors and by leading lay women and men who know what it means to be a vital and alive church. If we could take our graduating seminarians and place them in some prepared learning settings such as our most vital and creative churches, think what that practical experience would do for them and for the churches they would serve into the future! Oh, it would indeed be a great gift to Christ’s Holy Church!
When someone with that vision steps up to the plate and says, “I’d like to help get that fund started”, it will be a blessed new day for Louisiana United Methodism. I’d love to speak with you if you or someone you know has that nudging call from God to step forward.
Finally, let me speak just a word about the delegate elections that we will have for the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Louisiana has been a model Conference in the make-up of the delegations you send to these very important policy-setting conferences. Our delegations have been inclusive of gender, of age, of racial identity, of theological position, and sociological background. When you see our delegation, you see a representative face of Louisiana United Methodism. As we prepare ourselves to vote once again, I ask that you prayerfully consider the makeup of the delegation. I pray you will continue to make it inclusive and representative, as well as competent, committed, and consecrated to the task before them. This is no place for a popularity contest, but it is the place where the dedicated servants of God can be selected to go and do the draining, difficult, and demanding work of ten non-stop days in Tampa, Florida after they have spent the better part of a year reading volumes, meeting in preparation, listening to the desires of colleagues, and praying fervently for Almighty God’s direction.
The legislation that comes before this General Conference will have major impact on the future of the United Methodist Church and of our strength for the work of Christ’s Kingdom. And the election of a new Episcopal leader for Louisiana, which will happen at the Jurisdictional Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will be crucial to the ongoing work of the Annual Conference. I don’t want to dwell on this point. You know what I am asking you to do. Please let the Holy Spirit inform and guide your actions as you seek for those who can best represent our Conference in this important work.
And that brings to a close this version of the Episcopal Address! It’s been a special joy sharing it this year. You are a superb Annual Conference and you do exceptional work! We have leaders, both lay and clergy, who are second to none! I am absolutely humbled and thrilled to be given the privilege to serve with you in Christ’s ministry. Thank you once again, for incorporating Kay and me into your lives and for making us part of your faith journey. We are indeed blessed beyond all measure.
I close with this prayer of Teresa of Avila:
“Let nothing upset you, let nothing frighten you, everything is changing; God alone is changeless. Patience attains the goal. Who has God lacks nothing; God alone fills all our needs.”
Amen and Amen
 
AFTERNOON SESSION
JUNE 6, 2011
 
Gathering music was led by Dr. Marcia McFee.
Mr. Weldon Bares shared a “Ministry with the Poor” moment about the Day of Caring.
 
Board of Ordained Ministry Report #1
 
Report #1 of the Board of Ordained Ministry was given by Rev. Danny Gleason. He referenced pages 129-139 of the Pre-Conference Report. He thanked those who work with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. He explained that the Board consists of three divisions: the Division of Elders, the Division of Deacons, and the Division of Associate members and Local Pastors.
Rev. Gary Willis, Dean of the License to Preach School, presented the most recent graduates of the License to Preach School: Virginia Leigh Adkins*, Perry Dupree Anderson*, Renee Andree Deaton, Lisa Carole Fitzpatrick, Alton Elige Franks, Jr., Robbin Dale Haley*, James Paul Laird*, Wade Mitchell Landeche, William Ray Morris*, Steven Michael Murphy, Mary Clelie Stone*, Samuel Dana Thrash, and Jerry Glenn Wood. Those receiving their first appointment are designated with an asterisk (*). He also issued a challenge to recruit African American local pastors and nurture them in the Conference’s congregations so they may be prepared for ministry.
The ten persons who will be receiving their first appointment were recognized: Virginia Leigh Adkins, Perry Dupree Anderson, Robbin Dale Haley, James Paul Laird, William Ray Morris, Mary Clelie Stone, Margaret Boddie Clark, Jason Lee Harris, Nathaniel Robert Langford, and Ronald James Southall.
The Course of Study School was briefly explained. Local pastors who have completed Course of Study were: Steven Wayne Bush, Russell Sparkman Clunan, Yvonne Piper Dayries, Charles Edward Hill and Christmas Carol Sturm Wilbur.
The Professional Certification was explained as being the United Methodist Church’s recognition that a person has fulfilled the requirements to serve with excellence in an area of specialized ministry.
Paraprofessional certification is also available to those who do not have an undergraduate degree. Those receiving professional certification were: Cathalyn Hildebrand Brewton and Dawn Buchanan Young. Heidi Anne Weber received the first paraprofessional certification in the Conference. Areas now available for certification are: Camp Retreat, Children's Ministry, Christian Education, Evangelism, Ministry with the Poor, Music Ministry, Older Adult Ministry, Spiritual Formation, and Youth Ministry. All who have certification in one of these areas were asked to stand and be recognized.
Dr. Sarah Kreutziger presented information regarding Certified Lay Ministry and recognized the new certified lay ministers: Steven Shane Bellard, Henry Lawson Camburn, Jr., Alton Elige Franks, Jr., Vickie Dee Greer Huckeba, and Donna Dumas Whittington. She also mentioned that Rickey Watson was recognized last year.
The following were presented to be commissioned as provisional elders: Charles Lee Christensen, Edith Louise DeVilbiss, John Garrison Hankins, Andrew David Sutton, and Kathy Snare Wafer.
Two persons were recognized to be ordained deacon in full connection with the Conference: Valerie Olson Robideaux and Carol Ann Civils.
Eddie Carpenter and Steven Wade Fowler were presented as having elders orders recognized from another Christian denomination and being accepted as members in full connection with the Conference.
Lane Cotton Winn and Gloria Lynne Youngblood were recognized for designations as elder in full connection.
Rev. Juan Huertas stated that there are 12 people that are new candidates for license or ordained ministry. He also explained the new Awakening Event which began in January that brought together 35 young people ages 16 to 20 who were considering and discerning a call to ministry.
Rev. Danny Gleason thanked the Conference for the MEF funds that are a part of the apportionments. He also thanked the Louisiana Methodist Foundation for their support in continuing to match the seminary loan.
Rev. Kathy Snare Wafer shared a personal witness about the financial support she received to begin her seminary career.
Rev. Danny Gleason made an announcement about an event happening on September 8, 9, and 10, 2011, on sacred trust boundary issues for clergy and spiritual leaders. He also thanked Rev. John Edd Harper for his service behind the scenes with the Board of Ordained Ministry. He also encouraged the Conference to grow their churches in every way, shape, form, or fashion.
Bishop Hutchinson made several announcements.
A moment of remembrance was requested for Joanne White, who passed away.
Kim Bender gave a Ministry with the Poor moment regarding the Day of Caring at Summer Grove United Methodist Church in Shreveport.
Dr. Tim Neustifter presented Bishop Hutchinson with a challenge coin from the United States Air Force and an American flag from a refueling mission as a gift.
Bishop Hutchinson asked that anyone who had ever served in the Armed Forces stand to be recognized.
 
CFA Report #1
 
Mr. Henry Stamper, Chair of the Council on Finance and Administration, presented the CFA report #1. The report is found on pages 1-3 of the Pre-Conference Report. Mr. Stamper highlighted a few areas of the report. First, he brought attention to the recommended offerings and special days of the calendar year for 2011 through 2012. He mentioned under Special Sundays with Offerings, the Methodist Children's Home Christmas Offering on December 18, 2011, and the Mother’s Day Offering for the Children’s Home on May 13, 2012. This is one offering for all three homes. The Methodist Children's Home in Ruston will line those funds up and send them out to the three homes across the state.
Mr. Stamper also made note of Item 13 on page 3 of the Pre-Conference Report regarding Terry Cook of Noel UMC who received certification for the first time from GCFA in UM Church Business Administration and Dianne Wilkinson of Benton UMC who has been recertified. The Pre-Conference Report also states that Dianne Wilkinson is also the national president for the UM Church Business Administrators Association. Mr. Stamper also recognized Brian Shoup whose name is not in the Pre-Conference Report. Mr. Shoup received the certification in 2009 but was not recognized at the time.
Mr. Stamper brought the Conference’s attention to items that will be considered in report 2 on Wednesday. He noted on page 4 of the Pre-Conference Report that the overall budget is increasing by .36%. He also read aloud item 9 on page 7 regarding Conference Benevolences Reserve. He noted item 14 on page 9 which is a new item to be considered. Mr. Stamper read the item aloud which is regarding the transfer of the total of undesignated conference receipts from gas leases and royalties and two estate gifts.
CFA Report #1 was approved.
 
Equitable Compensation Report
 
Rev. Tom Howe presented a report from the Commission on Equitable Compensation found on pages 139-141 of the Pre-Conference Report. He noted a change on page 139 of the year from 2011 to 2012 because the rates become effective in the next year and not in the current year. He presented the figures which are based on the new formula that was adopted at last year’s Annual Conference. The report was approved.
 
Conference Ministry Team Report
 
Betty Blackman, Chair of the Conference Ministry Team, gave the Conference Ministry Team report. The specific report of the Conference Ministry Team is on pages 50-51of the Pre-Conference Report, and the entire report is pages 50-124. She asked all of the members of the Conference Ministry Team and any task force related to the Conference Ministry Team to stand for recognition of their hard work. She referenced page 51 for the three task force reports regarding Multicultural Ministries, Church Extension, and Conference Camping and the Wesley Center. She also said that there is a resolution on a handout entitled “Bread or Stones” at each table that got inadvertently left out of the Pre-Conference Journal.
Dr. Dawn Young gave a report on the Camping Ministry and the Wesley Center. She referenced pages 51-53 of the Pre-Conference Journal.
Rev. Juan Huertas, Chair of the Multicultural Ministry, gave a report on the Multicultural Ministries Task Force. He referenced pages 53-54 of the Pre-Conference Report.
Rev. Donnie Wilkinson, Chairperson for the Church Extension and Revitalization, gave a report on this task force. He referenced pages 55-58 of the Pre-Conference Report.
Rev. John Deschner gave a report on the resolution, “Bread or Stones.”
The report on pages 50-124 was approved unanimously with the exception of the three task force reports and the “Bread or Stones” resolution which will be voted on Tuesday.
Rev. Fred Wideman presented two petitions to be voted on Wednesday. Both petitions were referred to the Board of Global Ministries and the Board responded to both with non-concurrence.
 
Board of Pensions Report
 
Kenny Beauvais, Chair of the Board of Pensions, began the report of the Board of Pensions by calling Dan O’Neill, managing director of the Central Conference Pension Initiative, to give a report on this Initiative.
Mr. Beauvais then noted some corrections. He referenced page 25 of the Pre-Conference Report. He noted a correction on report III section V on page 41. The words “unappointed Louisiana Conference clergy member” should be added before “retirees and their spouses” on line 4 of subsection C. At the end of paragraph C, a new sentence should be added: “Retired clergy under appointment shall have their expenses paid by the church they are serving.” The second correction is in report III section V subsection F on 41. Please add “unappointed Louisiana Conference clergy member” on the second line before “retirees and surviving spouses.”
Mr. Beauvais presented the Board’s recommendation that the PSR for 2012 will be $646 per year of Pre-1982 service. He then presented the new proposed CRSPDB billing formula of 12% of plan comp (capped at $8,000). Kenny then pointed out the pensions resolution on page 27 and shared some of the health insurance changes (dependents under age 26 now eligible for coverage and wellness limit of $400 per year was removed). He pointed out the health care benefits resolution on page 38 and that those churches with arrearages at the end of 2011 for health insurance or pension billings will have those arrearages printed in the 2012 Journal. Kenny then referred to the handout on 2011 years of service change requests to be included in Report III, Section II. Kenny referred also to the Wellness Initiative and the pedometers being distributed. The entire report was passed unanimously.
 
Recognition of Retirees #1
 
Bishop Hutchinson stated that the Recognition of Retirees would be divided into three presentations. Rev. Darryl Tate recognized these retirees during this session: William Andress, Robert Burgess, Gene Faurie, and Barbara Murray. Mrs. Kay Hutchinson pinned the retiree pins on the retirees during these services.
Mr. Fred Loy made courtesy announcements on behalf of the Courtesy Committee.
Dr. Don Cottrill made closing announcements.
 
MONDAY, JUNE 6, 2011
EVENING SESSION
SERVICE OF ORDINATION AND COMMISSIONING
 
Gathering music was performed by the Chancel Choir of Shreveport First UMC, violinist Elizabeth Beck, and organist E. Ray Peebles under the direction of Dr. Will Andress. Song leader for this service was Dr. Marcia McFee. The pianist was Nan Dozier, cross bearer was Rev. Dianne Wooden and candle bearers were Rev. Cheri Godwin and Rev. Brian Mercer.
The processional hymn was “God of Grace and God of Glory” and Bishop William W. Hutchinson opened with a greeting and prayer. The Recognition of Common Ministry and Reaffirmation of Baptism were led by Bishop Hutchinson, followed by the Presentation of Candidates. The Old Testament scripture lesson was Isaiah 1:12-17 and the New Testament scripture lesson was John 4:1-30. Bishop Hutchinson delivered the sermon, “Come See a Man”.
 
The invitation to the offering was made by Rev. Leslie Stephens and the offertory anthem was “Be Not Afraid”. The offering this evening will help with the cost of providing our ordinands with a tour to the Holy Land. The General Examination of Candidates for Provisional Deacon, Provisional Elders, Deacons and Elders was led by Bishop Hutchinson with Father C. Dana Krutz, Executive Director of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, in attendance. The hymn of Commitment, Call and Renewal was “Are Ye Able.” The Recessional hymn was “We’ve A Story to Tell to the Nations” and the postlude “Toccata” from Symphony #5 concluded the service.