The theme for this year’s session was “Know the Hope, Show the Hope.”
The conference began with an orientation session for delegates to become familiar with the Zoom platform and for the voting. There were three trial votes before the session started.
At 8:50 a.m., the conference secretary set the bar of the conference and called the roll. Two votes were taken, the first to approve having the annual conference session virtually and the second to approve voting via Zoom. Bishop Fairley, resident bishop of the Louisville Area, explained the reason to have annual conference virtually was due to COVID-19. Both votes were unanimous.
The session opened at 9:00 a.m. with the Memorial Service, where clergy, mission institution employees and volunteers, and conference laity who died this past year, were remembered. Bishop Fairley preached the message from John 11:32-35 and Luke 19:41. Conference lay leader, Cindy Stamper, read the names of those who had passed in the last year as they were displayed via PowerPoint on the Zoom link.
With the call to order at 9:55 a.m. Bishop Fairley opened our time together by sending us into the laity and clergy sessions. The laity session ended early with an extended break. The clergy session ended a short time later.
Bishop Fairley called us into the business session starting at 10:58 a.m. Conference secretary, the Rev. Robert Amundsen, then asked to extend all voting rights and privileges to all clergy members. It was affirmed by the conference. The Conference treasurer, Travis Slusher, shared the treasurer’s report and presented the budget. The treasurer’s report was affirmed and the budget was passed by unanimous vote.
The Rev. Jim Savage, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, presented the board’s report. It was affirmed. There were two action items to be voted on to freeze for 2021, the housing allowance and exclusions for retired clergy, and the minimum base compensation for clergy. Both items passed unanimously.
Following the report of the conference lay leader, Bishop Fairley asked participants to remember former North Carolina Annual Conference lay leader, Gary Locklear, who passed away from COVID-19 a couple days before.
Conference superintendent, the Rev. Karen Stigall, was asked to present the report of the nominations committee. The committee is requesting a freeze on offices for the next year. If there were any vacancies, they would be filled ad interim. This was approved.
Following the superintendent’s report, the Rev. Stigall presented the work of the operational team created after last annual conference. The report was affirmed by the conference and then discussion followed about three action items.
The action items were:
1. Renaming of the Red Bird Missionary Conference to the Central Appalachian Missionary Conference.
2. Moving the location of the current conference offices from Red Bird Mission to the Joy Center Outreach.
3. Moving the working structure of the conference to a simplified accountable structure, based on the One Board Model.
All three items passed following brief discussions on each. Bishop Fairley asked the Rev. Amundsen to pray for the work that was just done and for the future of the conference.
Bishop Fairley recognized nine conference churches for 5 Star Giving, 12 Churches for Special Sunday Giving, and all the Churches and Outreach Centers for their 100% apportionment giving.
Rev. Stigall was then asked to present the Denman Evangelism awards. This year’s Harry Denman Award for Evangelism recipients were Lora Short and Heather Bardin (laity), who in ministry with their spouses serve and witness to the people of the counties they live in. The clergy recipient was the Rev. David Bardin of the Owsley County Charge.
Bishop Fairley then set the appointments as read by Rev. Stigall.
Bishop Fairley opened the floor to receive invitations to host the 2021 Annual Conference. Red Bird Mission offered to host next year’s annual conference in part with their 100th anniversary celebration. The invitation was accepted to have the 53rd Session of Annual Conference at Red Bird Mission next year in May.
— The Rev. Robert Amundsen, conference secretary