Annual Conference is held for three days every June. The members of Annual Conference are made up of half clergy and half laity. Annual Conference gatherings in Methodism have happened since 1784. These annual gatherings were primarily clergy gatherings in the early days. They served as opportunities for fellowship and spiritual growth. Eventually, Annual Conference became a time when new clergy were ordained, when bishops assigned pastors to their churches, and when the business of the church was conducted. This is still how the Annual Conference functions.
Our final day of Annual Conference this year began with devotions and Bible study. We then completed the election of four additional lay persons to serve as provisional reserve delegates on our General Conference Delegation. In total, five lay persons and two clergy were elected as provisional reserve delegates to fill gaps on our General Conference delegation.
Among other business on the last day, we heard the Bishop’s Cabinet address and a presentation from our General Conference delegation. The General Conference, which has been postponed twice due to the pandemic, will meet April 23-May 4, 2024 in North Carolina. I will continue as one of our clergy delegates on the Delegation.
The members of the Annual Conference passed the 2024 budget, which will total approximately 6 million dollars for the work of the church locally, nationally and globally.
One of the last things to happen at Annual Conference is that the Bishop does what is called, “Fixing the Appointments.” Clergy are appointed to United Methodist churches one year at a time and Annual Conference is the time when the Bishop announces those clergy who are staying in their appointment or moving to a new appointment. In days gone by, pastors would not know where they would be assigned for the coming year and churches would not know they were losing their pastor, until the final hour of Annual Conference. Fortunately, it does not work that way anymore. Now, the bishop and district superintendents consult with churches and pastors several months before they are moved.
I am happy to report that I, along with Pastor Claire have been reappointed to Sun Prairie UMC for another year. It is a blessing to share in ministry with you as your Lead Pastor.