The West Virginia Annual Conference met in hybrid format, utilizing both online and in-person methods. Those meeting in person gathered in the chapel on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College and those online participated through electronic means thanks to the ministry of GNTV. Our Conference theme emphasized “Building Bridges.”
“With God’s help we have traversed distances we never imagined — we have formed new ministries that fill emerging needs; we have adapted meeting styles, planted digital communities, and learned new skills. The body of Christ can feel stretched by these adaptations, and yet we are blessed by all that is possible. God has certainly bridged one way of being disciples, to new and life-giving ways. Thank you for being a witness life-giving in a hurting world.” — Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball
Livestreamed opening worship included greetings from CONAM (The Commission on Native American Ministries) and Dr. Joel Thierstein, president of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The Rev. Dr. Joe Kenaston and Bishop Steiner Ball offered messages of Thanksgiving and Hope, celebrations of the ONE Matters and Denman award winners, and a challenging Laity Address by conference lay leader Kristi Wilkerson.
Both the laity and clergy sessions were held online. Lay leaders from each district shared greetings with 200 laity from across the conference. In their session, clergy welcomed 22 newly certified candidates, while celebrating the ministry contributions of 22 retiring colleagues.
During an online Service of Memorial and Lament, the Rev. Mark Conner preached a message of hope, sharing, “This is a special moment when God bridges the past and the future into our present.”
The Saturday Business Session was held in hybrid form with people both in person at Wesley Chapel and participating online, with technology managed by GNTV and the conference communications team, allowing both voice and vote. Among other decisions during the full-day business session, the Conference:
• Approved moving to Wespath for health insurance (HealthFlex)
• Supported a conference ministry restructuring plan
• Passed a conference budget for 2022 which is 5% lower than the budget for 2021
On Sunday, June 6, during a Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination, three were ordained elder, two were commissioned, and 20 were recognized as successfully completing Pastoral Ministry Licensing School.
In a very challenging year, we celebrate the pastors and the congregations who worked together to do the mission and ministry of Christ in new ways. Worship was creatively and consistently accomplished throughout this pandemic year in every area of the conference. Worship attendance stands at 23,248 in person and 72,288 online. We also celebrated the advancement of our Congregational Vitality work, especially bringing online a new online learning system, Portico.
—The Rev. Deborah Coble, director of communications, West Virginia Conference
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