Making Disciples; Transforming the World: Together
The 48th session of the Louisiana Annual Conference was held June 6-9, 2018 in Shreveport/Bossier, Louisiana.
"You plan and plan for these moments," said Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. "And logistically, it went so extraordinarily well. And while you can’t plan for the movement of the Spirit or what I call the 'Surprises of the Spirit', the spirit was moving! I am so thankful for Rev. Lane Cotton Winn and the Design Team. Rev. R. DeAndre Johnson was such a calming spirit and all the while, he helped us usher in the Holy Spirit into our midst and into our lives."
The theme for 2018 was, ‘Making Disciples, Transforming the World,’ which is the Annual Conference mission and the mission of the larger, global United Methodist Church. For the next few years - both in 2018, 2019 and 2020, there will be sub-themes that focus on our work and those are: “Together”, “In Love” and “Day after Day”.
All of this is grounded in the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20 with the sub-theme “Together” highlighted in Act 2:42-47, “In Love” coming from Romans 13:8-10, and “Day after Day,” is taken from The Message translation of the Great Commission, Matthew 28:20, that God will be with us “day after day after day.”
Bishop Harvey reminded delegates of the significance, “People did everything together. I always call that sort of the ‘cigar box’ kind of mission, where everybody put everything they owned into a box, and people took as they needed. This is what it means to be in community. So that will be our focus this year, ‘Making disciples, transforming the world - together."
This year's worship services and business sessions followed the same rhythm as the 2017 Annual Conference, concluding on a Saturday morning inside First United Methodist Church of Shreveport with the Celebration of Ministry Service.
Annual Conference began in earnest Thursday at 10:30 am with the Episcopal Address and Holy Communion.
Following the Episcopal Address and Holy Communion, Bishop Harvey provided an update from the Commission on a Way Forward, including the work that is currently before the delegates as they get set for the special called session in February of 2019 in St. Louis, MO.
Bishop Harvey shared the following video from the Council of Bishops regarding the One Church Plan.
At that same time, Bishop Harvey reminded delegates and everyone present that the United Methodist Church is celebrating a 50th anniversary of uniting.
On April 23, 1968, The United Methodist Church was created when Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas.
In the ceremony that marked this union, a sermon was delivered that could be delivered today in 2018. Below is a video, produced by the Louisiana Conference, that uses words from that sermon with images of Louisiana pastors and lay leaders living out the call, 50 years later.
Following the first business session, the Annual Conference welcomed Rev. Dr. Maria Dixon Hall, the Senior Advisor to the Provost and Associate Professor of Organizational Communication, Director of Communication Studies, and adjunct associate professor of Homiletics at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas,
Dr. Hall had previously spoken at both the clergy and lay sessions, as well as the Black Methodist for Church Renewal Dinner.
"Maria Dixon Hall did not disappoint," says Bishop Harvey. "With her unique sense of humor, she made us see something in ourselves that we often don’t like to see. She made us vulnerable. She made us feel."
Video from both of her sessions can be found below.
The business sessions resumed Friday and included the re-vote on Amendment 1, which needed to be re-voted on following an error from the global church. More on that can be found here.
The Louisiana Conference passed the amendment last year and while passage is expected this year, results from the tally will not be known until May of 2019.
Another significant event at Annual Conference was the designation of Camphor United Methodist Church as a historic site.
This came on the recommendation of the Conference Commission on Archives and History and by an action of the Louisiana Annual Conference.
Together, we celebrate that Camphor United Methodist Church is now an official United Methodist historical site.
Bishop Harvey also took time to invite everyone to consider the next trip to the Holy Land, which is scheduled for January 21-30, 2020.
These tours are conducted by Educational Opportunities.
For over 40 years, Educational Opportunities Tours have led over 400,000 Christians to the land of the Bible. Individual lives, churches, and ministries have been changed through the unique experience of walking in the land of Jesus and the Bible.
Pilgrims explore Biblical sites - the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nazareth, Capernaum and more - and also experience contemporary life in this important center of faith.
More details will be coming but now is a great time to start planning a trip inside your church to join Bishop Harvey and other Louisiana United Methodists.
Friday evening, a service of remembering was held inside Asbury United Methodist Church. Rev. Jo Ann and Ed Cooper, a clergy couple serving Pineville United Methodist Church, presided over the service.
"The Coopers brought chills as I sensed an overwhelming presence of God during the Memorial Service," recalls Bishop Harvey. "Then the lanterns made their way down the aisle, representing the light that each of the saints had brought to the world! Wow! Just WOW!"
For a list of those who were remembered and honored for their work and service to the Louisiana Conference, please click here.
Jay Hogewood (recognition of orders in the United Methodist Church)
One of the final moments in the service is the Passing of the Mantle - the Light of Christ. This service is traditionally a retired elder passing the unique calling and privilege of those who shepherd God's people to nurture, train and equip new leaders for the sake of God's mission in the world.
This year's service featured retiring elder, Rev. Susan Marie Ferguson and newly ordained elder, Rev. Ronald James Southall, who said, "We receive this mantle of light and with gratitude pray that the fire of the Holy Spirit would rekindle the gift of God within us through the laying on of hands, so that we might go forth in power, love and self-discipline."
Bishop Harvey challenges all Louisiana delegates and clergy to remember our time in Shreveport, "I hope that we can continue to move from Babel to Pentecost. I pray that we might work to listen to one another, better understand one another. I also hope that we hold one another accountable when we make our way back to our tribes. These in-between times are crucial in the life of our churches and the United Methodist Church. We will have to be keenly aware of how we choose to be. Can we choose to live in the Spirit of Pentecost?"
Daughenbaugh Matheny and Hutchinson Scholarships
In 1950, the Howard L. Daughenbaugh Memorial Scholarship was established by the Board of Laity of the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church to aid young people enrolled full time at Centenary College in the pursuit of careers in Christian education and service.
In 1982, the Thomas H. Matheny Scholarship increased educational opportunities for United Methodists in the conference. Both funds were named to honor outstanding Conference Lay Leaders. In 1987, these two funds were combined to help prepare tomorrow’s United Methodist Church leaders seeking to attend Centenary College or Dillard University.
The Harry Denman Evangelism Award program honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism – expressed in Word (what), Sign (why), and Deed (how) – brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
Evangelism happens in many contexts and many settings; impacts and engages all generations; and requires relationship among a variety of persons.
What distinguishes a Harry Denman Evangelism Award recipient is the commitment to consistently introduce others to the Good News of Jesus Christ in all ministry settings. Their ministry is exceptional for the number of new Christ Followers who credit encounters with this person as critical in helping to start or reignite their faith journey.
Each year Annual Conferences and the Foundation for Evangelism recognize one youth, one clergy, and one lay person in each conference.
This year, the following were recognized:
Laity: Bud Lee, FUMC, New Iberia
Youth: Angela Ramsey, Brushwood UMC
Clergy: Pat Day, First United Methodist Church, Shreveport