The real kickstart to the 2012 TN Annual Conference wasn’t the fire alarm, nor the thunderstorm that brushed through Brentwood this afternoon, no – not even Bishop Chamness throwing down the ceremonial gavel (read more about that in a future news update!). This year’s Annual Conference began with the 3:00 pm Laity Briefing Session.
Upon Lay Speaking Ministries Chair Tim Moss’ opening prayer, Conference Treasurer Jim Allen gave a brief report and introduction about General Conference. In summary, Mr. Allen reminded those in attendance at Brentwood UMC that among many decisions made at the general church’s quadrennial meeting, these were some of the more noteworthy items to report:
– the ending of the elder’s mandatory/guaranteed full-time appointment
– beginning in 2013, Bishops can now appoint an elder to a less-than full-time appointment
– pensions may be no longer guaranteed for less-than full-time appointments starting in 2014
– pension plans have been adjusted for clergy (reduction in benefits for clergy from 23-25%, non-clergy around 18%)
– United Methodist Women will now be a separate general agency
– major structural changes for the general church was overturned and deemed unconstitutional by the Judicial Council
– set-aside or “full-time” Bishop for Council of Bishops amendment did not pass
– motion for divestment in stock of three major corporations involved with the occupation of Palestine did not pass
Betty Jo Forkner presented on the General Conference’s motion to change Lay Speaking Ministries to “Lay Servant Ministries” beginning Jan. 1, 2013. She noted that the general church has struggled for years that the term has been somewhat misunderstood and the petitions finally passed at the 2012 General Conference. However, the passing of Amendment 266.6 provides for a specific Lay Speaker focus of study to be a part of the Lay Servant Ministries.
Other noted changes are:
– all lay speaking training will now be open to any and all laity
– Conference Directors of Lay Speaking Ministries will now be required to be a Certified Lay Servant
After the close of General Conference, the TN Conference lay leaders met to discuss these changes on May 29, 2012. Forkner assures that all lay speakers in the Conference will receive a letter after Annual Conference with more details. Contact your District directors for more information in the mean time.
Conference Chair Tim Moss was recognized at the end of the session for his years of service to the Conference in this position. He added that, although the position was a struggle at times, he was very thankful for the opportunity.