The 2019 South Carolina Annual Conference was held June 2-6 at the Greenville Convention Center in Greenville, South Carolina. Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston presided under the theme: “Seeking a More Excellent Way – A Future With Hope.”
About 2,000 delegates and other attendees convened as guests of the Greenville District, under the leadership of Superintendent Rev. Dr. George Howle, and Mauldin United Methodist Church and its pastor, the Rev. Webb Belangia, played host.
Among the messages delivered throughout the week:
“Hope is a four-letter word”
Bishop Holston opened the Annual Conference on Sunday, June 2, by declaring, “Hope is a four-letter word,” and encouraging delegates to center the week’s work on what God has planned for the United Methodist Church, not what we might want for it personally.
“Some of you may have come here to Annual Conference armed for battle, ready to give someone a piece of your mind,” he said during his Opening Worship sermon. “But you’ve got to drop the armament and pick up your prayer shawl and wrap it around you and start thinking about how God has already blessed you.
“Find ways to be in conversation. Seek places of unity, not disunity. Begin to focus on our mission and ministry together.”
Bishop Holston employed a memory device in laying out what he means by that hopeful future: “HOPE is a four-letter word because we are:
Hanging on to the promises of God,
Pursuing truth, and
“Sometimes getting to where you need to be, you’ve got to go through some stuff.”
“Dreamwork requires teamwork”
Bishop James King, who served in Kentucky and South Georgia before his retirement, brought a stirring message for the eight persons ordained (seven elders, one deacon) and the 11 persons commissioned (10 provisional elders, one provisional deacon) on Monday, June 3.
“Whatever God asks you to do, you’re going to need some people to help you,” Bishop King said during the Commissioning and Ordination Service. “So your dreamwork will require teamwork. There are people who are waiting for you to ask for help. And when you do, you’re going to unlock their purpose.”
In addition to those ordained and commissioned, Bishop Holston authorized 36 persons to serve as licensed local pastors.
- Ordained as elders: Meegian Alicia Gossard, Ann deRosset Kovan, Susan Biggert Maddox, Mark Douglas Mitchell, Angela Regina Ford Nelson, Henry Lee Ravenel Sr. and Laura Howard Whitt.
- Ordained as deacon: Meg Bryce Jiunnies
- Commissioned as provisional elders: Wanda Diane Altman-Shirah, Louis Randolph Ashley, Shannon Renee Bullion, Anthony De’Quan Caldwell, William Isaac Dusenbury, Scott Stephen Gilmer, Shirley Peterson Gordon, Nicholas Daniel Perez, Cynthia Anne Rumsey and Charles Lionel Wilbanks.
- Commissioned as provisional deacon: Susan Marie Pennock
- Licensed as local pastors: William Travis Abercrombie, Marion Douglas Aldridge, Kristina LaNette Baker, Jeffrey Jerome Belton, Mark Asbury Bowling, Sharon Britz, Cynthia Vertell Brown, Randall Lee Calcutt, Joshua Ryan Colvin, John Bunyan Crouch Jr., Levern Epps, Little Johnny Epps, Mary Fuller Everhart, Marianne Gonlag, Mamie Lee Hannah, Mary Benton Holladay, Robert Alan Horowitz, Janice Baker Hughey, Christopher Charles Key, Frances Brown King, Kevin Larry Liles, Donald Eldree Love, William Raymond Masciangelo, Jacob Leavy McLeod, Suzan Edwards Phillips, Martin Luther Quick, Amanda Geddings Richardson, Sara Lee Sanderson, Tommy Guery Sinclair, Glenda Marshell Spann-Hinnant, Sandra Denise Stubbs, Charles Eugene Teal, Laurie Michael Jamar Tomlin, David Vandal Washington III, Veverlyn Layvonne Watson-Smith and Sheldon Lee Withrow.
Remembering those we lost
Rev. White encouraged those who had lost family and friends over the past year to look forward to that day when we all will be gathered with our loved ones and those who are a part of God’s great family.
A bell tolled 57 times during the Service of Thanksgiving and Memory – once for each of the six active ministers, 26 retired ministers, and 25 spouses and surviving spouses who had died since the 2018 Annual Conference. Read the names of those honored during the Act of Remembrance here.
Passing the mantle
The Annual Service of Recognition and Celebration of Retiring Pastors on Tuesday, June 4, honored the ministry and mission of 30 retiring pastors and other ministers, capped off by the ceremonial “Passing of the Mantle” from the Rev. Genova McFadden, representing the retiring “Elijahs,” to the Rev. Meegian Gossard, representing the newly ordained “Elishas.”
- Retirees honored were: Charles Martin Adams, Boyd Mike Alexander Jr., Alexander Baker, Carleathea M. Benson, Donald Clifford Boshell, Greta Louise Bridges, George Douglas Chambers, William Thomas Dargan, Brenda Ward Durham, Wade Humphreys Everett, Robert Eugene Hoover, Paul Mac Kinnett, Peter Michael Lack, Frank Etheridge Lybrand, Samuel Earle Marcengill, Stephen McDaniel McCormick, Genova McFadden, Joyce Garner Murphy, Patricia Pepper Orr, Kathy Jean Powers, Keith Dunkle Ray II, Phillip Henry Reynolds, Lucinda Lyon Saylor, Bobby Shaw, James Bart Sistare, Virginia Brown Stafford, Ronald Dewey Towery, Grady Edward Usher, Paul David Wilmer and Reginald Darlington Wilson Jr.
Reconciliation and healing
As the capstone to a year of events designed to raise awareness of Native American issues both within and outside the United Methodist Church, Annual Conference delegates participated in a Service of Reconciliation and Healing on Tuesday, June 4. Worship included Native American music, a drum circle by the Keepers of the Word, and prayers and messages centered on healing and coming together as Christians and United Methodists, rather than focusing on cultural differences.
“When we have open minds and open hearts, we can come together as the body of Christ to be one,” said Tracy Pender, chairperson of the conference Native American Committee.
Echoing the message he shared during the conference’s two-day Native American Pilgrimage in May – the second phase of a Racial Reconciliation Initiative launched in 2015 – Bishop Holston said: “We seek to be in reconciliation with all people.”
In addition to spending time in worship and prayer with one another, delegates conducted plenty of business during the Annual Conference, including:
Petitions to General Conference
Three proposed petitions to the 2020 General Conference were submitted to the Annual Conference in response to actions taken during the 2019 General Conference in February. Bishop Holston ruled that all three were out of order, as they did not comply with Paragraph 507 of the Book of Discipline. He advised those who put forward the petitions that they could revise them and submit them directly to the General Conference, if they so choose.
New sexual ethics policy
Delegates approved a new sexual ethics policy for the Conference. The Sexual & Professional Misconduct Policy for Ministerial Leadership was written to bring the conference into alignment with Paragraph 605.9 of the Book of Discipline.
The policy says, in part: “The South Carolina Conference will not condone or tolerate instances of sexual or professional misconduct. We also will not condone or tolerate instances of sexual misconduct on the part of laity, including church members and visitors…The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for the prevention of sexual or professional misconduct and to establish guidelines for reporting and responding to incidences of sexual or professional misconduct, should they occur.”
Electing delegates to GC2020, SEJ2020
Annual Conference delegates elected 16 delegates to the 2020 General Conference and 16 delegates, plus two alternate delegates, to the 2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.
- GC2020 Clergy Delegates (in order of election): Ken Nelson, Robin Dease, Keith Hunter, Susan Leonard, Emily Sutton, Will Malambri, Tiffany Knowlin and Karen Jones.
- GC2020 Lay Delegates (in order of election): Jackie Jenkins, James Salley, Michael Cheatham, Herman Lightsey, Chris Lynch, Martha Fridy Thompson, Dave Braddon and Emily Evans.
- SEJ2020 Clergy Delegates (in order of election): Tim Rogers, Cathy Mitchell, Fran Elrod, Connie Barnes, Mary Teasley, Kathryn Hunter, Elizabeth Murray and Richard Reams. Alternate clergy delegates: Stephen Love and Sara White.
- SEJ2020 Lay Delegates (in order of election): Betty Void, David Salter, Valerie Brooks-Madden, Marlene Spencer, Jennifer Price, Tony Watson, Lou Jordan and Doug Coffeen. Alternate lay delegates: Marvin Horton and Vicki McCartha.
2020 Annual Conference budget
Delegates approved an overall 2020 Annual Conference budget of $16,828,850, which represents a decrease of 1.1 percent over the 2019 Annual Conference budget. The budget includes $4,363,408 for 2020 General Church and Jurisdictional apportionments, which represents an increase of 6.1 percent over the 2019 Annual Conference budget.
Rev. Walter Cantwell, a member of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, said many budget line items were strategically decreased without expected impact on ministries or missions of the Annual Conference.
Woven throughout the worship and business, delegates found time to participate in mission and giving and celebrated some of the wonderful work done by clergy and laity during the previous year.
Annual Conference delegates participated in two mission initiatives this year, in addition to the annual blood drive:
- Delegates donated nearly 3,000 lbs. of food to Harvest Hope Food Bank – enough to provide nearly 2,500 meals for families in need in our host community of Greenville.
- Delegates assembled and donated more than 200 “elder baskets” – clothes baskets filled with non-perishable items, which will be given to elderly Native Americans who are in need, many of whom live well below the poverty line.
- Attendees rolled up their sleeves and donated 20 units of blood during the annual American Red Cross Blood Drive. Red Cross officials estimate that has the potential to save 60 lives! If you missed this blood drive, make an appointment to give blood at your nearest American Red Cross location.
Those in attendance at Annual Conference dug deep and donated more than $27,000 during two offerings:
- United Methodist Women’s Legacy Fund – Donors gave $13,827.47 during Sunday’s Opening Worship Service to help UMW celebrate 150 years of ministry by supporting the fund established to carry forward the mission of service and advocacy with women, children and youth for the next 150 years. Donate to the UMW Legacy Fund here.
- UMCSC Seminary Students Scholarship – Donors gave $13,887.54 during Monday’s Service of Commissioning and Ordination to assist certified candidates for ordained ministry in the South Carolina Conference who are pursuing a program of study leading to a first professional degree from a United Methodist seminary or theological school.
Annual Conference Awards
Six Annual Conference Awards were presented to outstanding clergy and laity in the South Carolina Conference during the 2019 Annual Conference:
- One Matters Discipleship Award – Lifts up churches that have moved from “zeros” in professions of faith and baptisms to positive numbers in recent years due to their renewed focus on intentional discipleship. Recipients also receive $1,000 to continue their efforts. This year’s recipient, the first for the South Carolina Conference, is Aldersgate United Methodist Church in North Charleston, where the Rev. Erik Grayson is pastor. Read more here.
- Harry Denman Evangelism Award – Recognizes pastors and adult and youth laypersons who are effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ, whether through speaking, personal witnessing, inspiring the church to be involved in evangelism, etc. Sponsored by the Foundation for Evangelism. This year’s recipients are Addie Hendrix (youth), a member of Lexington United Methodist Church in Lexington; Dr. Dorothy McClam (lay), a member of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Lake City; and the Rev. Carleathea Benson (clergy), pastor of Mt. Beulah United Methodist Church in Lake City. Read more here.
- Barbara Boultinghouse Bridge Builder Award – Honors a person or organization in the South Carolina Conference who has built bridges of understanding by promoting equity and inclusiveness without regard to race, gender, age, handicap or economic condition. Sponsored by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. This year’s recipient is Beckee Garris, a member of Mount Prospect United Methodist Church in Richburg. Read more here.
- Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award – Given to one clergy and one layperson who exemplify extraordinary volunteer mission service beyond the local church within the South Carolina Conference. Sponsored by the Conference Board of Global Ministries. This year’s recipients are Mimbee Baker Ray, a member of Bethel Park United Methodist Church in Denmark; and the Rev. Nick Elliott, a retired elder attending Advent United Methodist Church in Simpsonville. Read more here.
- Joseph Benjamin Bethea Distinguished Service Award – Presented to one clergy and an adult and youth layperson who has shown a strong commitment to Christian social justice for at least five years (less for a youth). Sponsored by the Conference Committee on Religion and Race. This year’s recipient is Anderson Mack Jr., a member of New Webster United Methodist Church on Wadmalaw Island. Read more here.
- Bishop’s Five-Star Award – Provides an incentive for churches to embrace new ministries each year geared toward growth and outreach. The award from the Board of Evangelism enables small and large churches to receive recognition. Read the list of recipients here.
Bishop Holston closed the 2019 South Carolina Annual Conference by fixing the 2019-2020 ministerial appointments, which can be found here. Or click here to read an abbreviated list that includes only new appointments.
2020 Annual Conference
The 2020 South Carolina Annual Conference is scheduled for June 7-10 at the Florence Center in Florence, South Carolina.