The 2016 Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference, meeting June 9-12 at Grove City College, features the teaching of Rev. Adam Hamilton and a celebration of Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton's ministry in Western Pennsylvania. After 12 years in the area, the Bishop will be reassigned and begin serving in a new area of the Northeast beginning September 1.
The theme for the Conference, which brought together about 800 clergy and an equal number of lay members, is The Road to Discipleship: New Places, New People, New Opportunities. The focus is on ministry beyond the walls of the church and ways to both move forward in Discipleship and invite others to join in the walk.
“The Road to Discipleship involves each one of us as committed servants of Jesus Christ. It also involves those who have yet to respond to the calling to follow Jesus on the road of Christ-like holiness,” said Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton. “My prayer is that during this session we will center on deepening our commitment, as well as finding the courage to invite others to join us on the journey.”
Hamilton is founding pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Launched in 1990 by a handful of people with a dream to reach the unchurched. under Hamilton's leadership it grew to become a four-site congregation of more than 20,000. Worship attendance is more than 10,000.
Hamilton has a passion for helping Christians grow in their faith, understanding of the Bible, and Christian living. Among his 14 books is Leading Beyond the Walls, subtitled Developing Congregations with a Heart for the Unchurched. His other books and several small group studies address topics as diverse as forgiveness, simple living, love and marriage, morality, politics, God’s will, and world religions. The latest book is Half Truths: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves and Other Things the Bible Doesn’t Say.
Hamilton is teaching during two afternoon sessions, Friday, June 10, and at 10 a.m., Saturday. He’ll also sign books at the Cokesbury display at 5 p.m. on Friday.
On Wednesday, June 8, Dr. Phil Maynard, director of Excellence in Ministry Coaching, led a two-session workshop for clergy and laity entitled From Membership to Discipleship. Maynard holds four graduate degrees focused on growing mature disciples and spent his 25 years of pastoral ministry growing healthy churches. Participants in the workshop should gain a greater understanding of what it means for church members to mature in faith as disciples of Jesus Christ, and leave with an action plan to develop, or further develop, a discipleship process and pathway in their local church.
Bishop Bickerton preached at the opening worship service and will preach at the Sunday morning ordination service. A celebration of his ministry has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
Conference members celebrated the ministry of 25 retiring clergy members, the commissioning of 23 new provisional clergy members, the largest group in several years, and the ordination of new elders.
Retired Bishop George W. Bashore will preach at the Saturday afternoon memorial service for Conference members who have died during the past year.
Day of Preparation activities on June 8 included a prayer walk and healing service.
Keep up what's happening on a live stream of plenary sessions at wpaumc.org/AC2016. The agenda, daily proceedings, photos and other information also are available through links on the page.