History of the Louisiana Conference, The United Methodist Church
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The current Louisiana Conference was organized in 1971 with the combining of the former Conference A and Conference B. This was in response to the denominational merger that took place in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church. This denominational merger and the organization of the current Louisiana Conference combined the historic ministries of the Methodist Church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church, and the Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church.
The Louisiana Conference encompasses the state of Louisiana. There are 500 individual congregations throughout the state, with a combined membership of 121,000 persons. The churches are organized into 7 geographical districts, each led by a District Superintendent.
We have been served by excellent episcopal leadership in our 40 years as a Louisiana Conference. Each has brought their own special gifts of ministry to our work together:
1971 – 1972 Bishop Aubrey G. Walton
1972 – 1976 Bishop Finis Crutchfield
1977 – 1983 Bishop J. Kenneth Shamblin
1984 Bishop Paul Galloway
1985 – 1987 Bishop Walter L. Underwood
1987 – 1988 Bishop Ben Oliphint
1988 – 1996 Bishop William B. Oden
1996 – 2000 Bishop Dan Solomon
2000 – 2012 Bishop William W. Hutchinson
2012 – Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
The Louisiana Conference is a part of the connectional ministry of The United Methodist Church and as such has a history of participation in the outreach ministry of the United Methodist Church. Examples of this include:
- Providing leadership in the organization of and continuation of a church in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
- Assisting in providing resources for a food drop in Russia, shoes to Africa, collection on jeans for children and youth.
- An active Volunteer in Mission ministry that reaches into many countries, including Cuba, Cambodia, India, Haiti, Russia, Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Zimbabwe, and several other nations.
- Provided three bishops: W.T. Handy; Alfred Norris; J. Woodrow Hearn
- Responded actively in providing resourcing for HIV/AIDS, Africa University, and other denominational mission initiatives.
- Support of denominational institutions within the bounds of the Conference, including Dulac Community Center, MacDonell Methodist Center, and the UMCOR Depot.
- Continued financial support of the Connectional church.
The Louisiana has redefined itself throughout the years in order to respond to the current needs and opportunities for service. Among its past achievements are:
The establishment of a Center for Pastoral Excellence and a Academy for Spiritual Formation that have been models for others to consider
- A pattern for self-identification of local congregations directed toward church vitality.
- Continued support and expansion of the Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services.
- Continued support of Centenary College (owned by the Conference) and Dillard University (a part of the greater United Methodist Church).
- Continued support of 11 campus ministries throughout the state of Louisiana.
- The establishment of the Wesley Center, a Center for Spiritual Development and a gathering spot for Conference training and leadership.
The Conference has experienced disasters throughout its brief history:
- Hurricane Andrew in 1992
- Hurricanes Iris and Lilly in 2001
- Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005
- Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008
- Gulf Oil Spill in 2010
The Conference responded to all of these natural disasters with the help of God and the help of the Connectional Church through UMCOR and the gifts of both money and volunteers. The Conference has had to adjust to each of the results of these in turn, but the Conference has continued to respond to the opportunity for sharing God’s love and grace through faith in action.