The 2015 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference session will be held June 11-14, with a day of preparation June 10, at Grove City College. The session brings together about 1800 clergy and lay representatives of each church or charge to connect through worship, fellowship and study and to conduct official business. This year’s theme is leadership.
During the session, voting members will elect 12 delegates to the United Methodist Church’s 2016 General Conference, where United Methodists from around the world gather and set policy for the denomination for the next four years. The General Conference will meet in Portland, Oregon from May 10-20, 2016. Six additional laity and six more clergy will be elected to join the delegation for the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, scheduled for July 11- 15 in Lancaster, PA, where a new bishop will be elected.
All active clergy are required to attend the entire Annual Conference session. At least one elected lay member from each church or charge also attends and has a vote. Families, friends and other congregation members are encouraged to attend any or all of the conference activities. A highlight of the session is the Sunday morning ordination of new clergy.
A Lay Academy, open to all, will offer classes where laity can find out how to launch a ministry with the poor, how to reach others in their community, or how to develop leaders in the church. Sessions will be held Wednesday evening, June 10 and Thursday morning, June 11. See the list of classes.
Along with Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, speakers during the conference will include Bishop Jonathan L. Holston of South Carolina and study leaders Dr. Kevin M. Watson, assistant professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Students at Candler School of Theology and Dr. Scott Johnson, lay leader of the Upper New York Conference and Dean of University College and assistant vice president at Buffalo State University.
Conference members will package meals for Stop Hunger Now during breaks in the conference proceedings.
Church representatives also will bring UMCOR kits, which will be collected by volunteers from the Eastbrook Mission Barn, and used shoes, which will be recycled by Funds2org, with proceeds benefiting the Erie UM Alliance’s homeless ministries and All God’s Children ministries to persons with disabilities. Clear plastic bags to collect shoes were distributed at district conferences.
In addition, each church has been asked to send an offering for Imagine NO Malaria, which is nearing its $75 million fundraising goal to support efforts to end deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa by 2016. Bishop Bickerton has served as leader for the effort and has urged our Western PA congregations, pioneers in the effort, to give a final push to meet the goal as the campaign ends.
Look for news, photos, and details on annual conference events, as well as a live video stream (beginning at 1 p.m., Thursday), at wpaumc.org/AC2015.