Bishop Carter’s reflections on AC 2017

In reflecting on our gathering in Orlando, I give thanks for the laity and clergy of our Annual Conference. These are the images that remain with me, a few days later:

  • Tammy Pawloski’s call to our local churches to intervene in the lives of children at risk, and the testimony of her own adopted son.

  • Hundreds of people kneeling at the altar at the invitation of Bishop Pereira of the Methodist Church of Cuba.

  • Jorge Acevedo and Alice Williams embracing after their witness, which included a statement, a reading of scripture and a moving prayer.

  • The response and personal experiences of Corey Jones and Gary Marcelin to the resolutions about support of Black Lives Matter and Mass Incarceration.

  • Robert McMichael and Jarvis Wilson, extraordinary musicians and worship leaders, leading us in singing “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”

  • The insight of Elaine Heath that we need to take discipleship a lot more seriously.

  • The voice of Kevin Watson urging us to trust transformation and not just information, and to be vulnerable.

We were able to reduce our number of districts from nine to eight. This will allow us to channel resources toward the vital connectional ministries of our annual conference. We lifted up the vision of doubling the number of vital local churches. We noted that there are now 80 Fresh Expressions of church. We voted to close 17 local churches, while noting that 17 new churches are projected to be planted this year and next. We acted on a number of resolutions that express the church’s convictions about the intersection of church and society. We did not and do not have a consensus about these matters, but the conference expressed by majority vote its sense of where God is leading us. Thirteen men and women were ordained, 12 elders and one deacon. And we assigned clergy to serve in churches across the annual conference for the coming year.  

Our theme was “Revive us Again!” And my sense was that God did indeed revive us, renewing us for leadership in our local churches and communities. Annual Conference is always something of a reunion, and it was wonderful to see the faces of friends who are our leaders and influencers, and who will return home to make a difference!

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