2020 Kentucky Annual Conference

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The 2020 Kentucky Annual Conference – conducted virtually because of COVID-19 – began Sunday, Dec. 6, with a public laity session followed by a closed clergy session. Both sessions used the Zoom webinar platform to conduct their business.

The virtual Annual Conference broadcast originated from the conference headquarters in Crestwood. This year’s theme was “Know the Hope. Show the Hope.”

John Denham, the Kentucky Annual Conference’s lay leader, moderated the laity session, which consisted of about a dozen lay people and clergy presenting short reports and testimonies. Presenters included the lay leaders from the conference’s nine districts.

Most of the presentations, reports and sacred music that normally would be presented at the podium were prerecorded, including a four-minute greeting from Bishop Leonard Fairley, who focused on the challenges of furthering the Kingdom during a worldwide pandemic.

As the laity session was concluding, the clergy session was beginning. Clergy from throughout the conference conducted their business remotely, including bestowing full clergy rights upon seven elders and one deacon.

The Ordination and Commissioning service slated to be held in person on Monday, Dec. 7, was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions mandated by local government. Those that were ordained and commissioned at this year’s clergy session will be celebrated alongside those being ordained and commissioned during the 2021 Annual Conference.

Twelve people were commissioned and ordained. Their average age was 40 years, 9 months.

The business session of Annual Conference held Tuesday, Dec. 8, began with an opening worship service. All business was conducted remotely and all worship elements were prerecorded.

In his message, Bishop Fairley reminded us of the promise offered in 1 Peter 1:13: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”

“The coming of Christ into the world was and is the culmination to which all events are moving,” Fairley said during the 25-minute message, broadcast across the conference to clergy and lay members watching remotely. His message was titled “Hope That Does Not Disappoint.”

He listed signs of hope available to see for those watching, including the Methodist Children’s Homes, Grace Kids, Dinner Churches and Fresh Expressions springing up across the conference, Winter Blitz, and emergency flood buckets, among others. He cited the hope Paul found in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male nor female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

The Bishop cautioned that we might miss today’s hope if we aren’t careful. “What if God’s new things, our hope for the future, was already present, but in our desire to control and manipulate its birth, we’ve missed its joy?”

After opening with worship, the business session began.

Anti-racism debate

The Rev. Dr. D. Anthony Everett presented two motions related to race relations. The first – calling for the Conference to reject racism, white supremacy, police brutality and racial profiling – was overwhelmingly approved during the morning session.

 The second motion, which called for anti-racism training for clergy and lay members, was approved 474-274 after a lengthy debate that started during the morning session and was resumed after lunch. It was initially delayed so conference financial staff and teams could consider the financial ramifications of providing such training.

The offices of Connectional Ministries and Ministerial Services will work with CFA to determine the implementation of the training and will report back to the body of the 2021 Annual Conference scheduled for June 2021.

Although not directly related to the debate on anti-racism training, the Rev. Dr. Kathy Goodwin, chair of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, presented a verbal report decrying and condemning racism and called for the conference to combat it in all its forms. Members voted 439-20 to approve SBC21’s report, which had earlier been pulled from the Consent Calendar to be considered separately.

Kavanaugh sale

The Conference voted 548-66 to allow the trustees to proceed with the sale of the Kavanaugh Conference and Retreat Center, which is in Crestwood adjacent to the conference office. Kavanaugh operations were suspended in the late spring because of long-standing financial challenges.

CFA report

Outgoing CFA Chair Pam Moran presented the conference budget of $6.1 million, an 11% decrease from the previous year.

Besides the leaner budget, the major changes are that the new apportionment schedule will drop to 10% from 11%. Conference staff pay is frozen and a hiring freeze is in place. The budget does allow ministry areas to increase by 8%, however.

Conference Treasurer the Rev. David Garvin and Bishop Fairley expressed thanks for continuing commitment by churches in meeting their missional covenants, even in the face of the pandemic and related financial hurdles.


Seventeen clergy were recognized as they retire from active ministry in the Kentucky Annual Conference.

Retirees are: Freida Alexander, Jeff Carter, Steve Drury, Paul C. Frederick, Greg Gallaher, Mark Gibbons, Rebecca Heid, Ken Hughes, Mike Lehman, Karen Kidd Lovett, Weyman McGuire, Martina Ockerman, Wayne Sayre, Claudia Sexton, Judy Stallons, Nancy Tinnell and Ira Glenn Todd.


Clergy and spouses who passed away during the Conference year were honored.

Clergy members: Michael Martin Adkins, Annie L. Allen, Roy Earl Clark, Colin E. Curtis Sr., Thomas E. Dicken, Jerry Bradford Hatchett, Arthur David Honican Jr., Harold Wayne Hunter, Kenneth Earl McKinney, Joey “Doc” Murphy, Davis ‘Elwood” Norton, William (Bill) Edward Oaks, John Wesley Poteet, Albert C. Savage Jr., Stanley W. Shaw, B. Harry Spurrier Jr., Charles Garvey Turkington and Gale Thomas Wetzel.

Spouses: Georgia Gladys Stanley Adams, Mary Doris Cox Bennett, Betty Dixon, Brenda Sue Harris Glover, Barbara Anne Chisholm Gwinn, Patricia Eads Herren, Patsy Ann “Pat” Berry Janes, Betty Jarboe, Carolyn A. Lafferty, Virginia Lawrence, Gaye Landis Harris Mansfield, Aleene Ray Salmon Miller, Adele W. Myers, Annie Ruth Norris, Dorothy Lee Rountree, Eunice Gloria Allen Russell, Brenda Ragan Sexton, Lettie Lacy Sweazy, Martha Marie Lambert Taylor and Shirley White Thurmond.

Mission Offering

The Mission Offering for 2020 will support seven mission agencies that have traditionally been supported by the conference: Hillcrest Bruce, Ida Spence, The Foundry, Nathaniel Mission, Portland Promise, Wesley House and Lighthouse. Ten percent of the offering will go to support the work of the United Methodist Church in Serbia.


  • • Trustees report: With little debate, members voted to approve the trustees report contained in the Pre-Conference book.
  • • Nomination changes: Delegates approved a limited slate of updates to Conference teams pending General and Jurisdictional Conference sessions in 2021. Most teams are keeping their current lineups because of the unusual timing brought on by the pandemic.
  • • Disaffiliation: The Conference approved 584-31 a motion to allow three churches to disaffiliate from the denomination: Jones Chapel, Picketts Chapel and Tarter’s Chapel, all in the South Central District. The disaffiliation takes effect immediately.
  • • Closings and mergers: Members voted to approve the closing of four churches: Millstone (South East District), Mt. Carmel Trimble County (Northern Kentucky District), Betsy Layne (Kentucky East District) and Maceo (Owensboro District); and the merger of Greenville and Powderly (Pennyrile District).
  • • Ecumenism award: The Rev. Lisa May, chair of the Conference’s Advocacy Team, presented the Bishop’s Award for Ecumenism to the Rev. Joshua Pack of Irvington UMC for spearheading a community worship service in January involving multiple churches in that community.

Our statistics for the Conference are as follows:

  • • Membership for 2019 stands at 148,084, down 1,436 from 2018.
  • • Worship attendance stands at 45,340, down 1,486.
  • • Church school attendance stands at 20,909, down 63.
  • • Professions of faith or reaffirmations of faith for 2019 are 1,415, down 161 from 2018.
  • • Adults and young adults in small groups for 2019 stand at 28,997, down 819 from 2018.
  • • Worshippers engaged in mission for 2019 are 20,672, up 272 from 2018.

– Submitted by Cathy Bruce, associate director of Connectional Ministries for Communications

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