- Welcome & Ordering
Bishop Ward called the Annual Conference session to order and opened with prayer. Conference Secretary Jerry Bryan welcomed members of the conference to this gathering. He thanked the Communications Office for making this virtual gathering possible. Jerry announced his retirement from this position after 25 years as Conference Secretary.
An overview of the Lumi platform was given so members could get familiar with the voting procedure to be used during the conference.
Timothy Russell asked for a Bishop’s ruling on whether the standing rules of order for the 2021 Annual Conference had been properly approved since members were asked to approve them in advance without privilege to discuss, amend, or debate. Bishop Ward’s ruling was that the standing rules of order were properly approved.
Rev. George Speake, chair of the Rules Committee, asked for the ratification of all the business and reports approved at the 2020 Annual Conference. The Conference ratified these decisions.
Rev. Speake then explained the lay equalization plan that would be in place for the 2022 Annual Conference. (pgs. 11-13 of the Conference Workbook). Ken Ripley made a motion to amend the list in Step 4 on pg. 12 to include V. District Co-Lay Leaders and W. District Directors of Lay Ministry. The amendment passed and the Report on Lay Equalization was approved as amended.
- Election of Conference Officers
George Speake was re-elected as the Conference Statistician.
With the retirement of Jerry Bryan as Conference Secretary, the bishop announced an Associate Conference Secretary (not to be elected or compensated beyond normal business expenses) – Rev. Paul Woo-Il Lee. Jerry Bryan then made a nomination of Gray Southern to serve as the Conference Secretary. Southern was elected.
Eric Stevens was elected Conference Chancellor.
- Celebration of Mission & Ministry
Ernesto Barriguete, Director of Racial Equity & Justice Ministries, shared how the conference is engaging in racial justice and anti-racism strategies from the local church to the conference level.
- Christian Unity
Bishop Kenneth Monroe of the AMEZ Church of Eastern NC brought greetings.
Rev. Grayson Dye, chair of the Commission on Christian Unity & Interreligious Relations highlighted an ecumenical milestone within our conference between Christ Community UMC (Clayton), Greater Heights UMC (Clayton) and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) church who have discerned a call to enter a covenantal relationship. If approved by the congregations, the NC Conference, and the Central NC Conference of the AMEZ, Christ Community and Greater Heights UMCs would be classified under the Book of Discipline as a “union” church, meaning one church with a unified membership roll but related to two denominations. Conference members were asked to affirm the ongoing work of unity between Christ Community UMC, Greater Heights UMC, and the Central North Carolina Conference of the AMEZ church. The conference overwhelmingly affirmed this covenant.
- Celebration of Laity Ministries
The Bishop introduced the Laity Report by first giving thanks for the leadership and blessed memory of former conference lay leader, Gary Locklear.
Conference lay leader, John Hall, introduced reports from the Conference Youth, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Deaconesses & Home Missioners, and Lay Servant Ministries. Our three newest deaconesses were introduced – Sharon Brignon, Annette Greer, and Effie McGill.
- Conference Delegation Update
Belton Joyner and Christine Dodson gave an update on General Conference and the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ). The 2020 General Conference has now been postponed until Aug 29-Sept. 6, 2022 in Minneapolis, MN. The SEJ Conference will have a short virtual meeting July 21, 2021 to vote on the merger of the Memphis Conference and the Tennessee Conference. A regular business session of the SEJ Conference hopefully will take place in November, 2022.
Gray Southern, chair of the Conference Episcopacy Committee, introduced a video message from Bishop Leonard Fairley who will become our presiding bishop on Sept. 1, 2021.