2022 Susquehanna Annual Conference

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Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball presided over the 13th session of the Susquehanna Annual Conference held at the Hershey Lodge from June 1st to June 3rd, 2022.  This year’s theme, “Behold: I am Doing a NEW Thing,” is based on the words from Isaiah 43:19, 20b NLT, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. ... Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. “

Did the coronavirus affect how the conference met?

There were fewer vendor/ display tables.  Participants were encouraged to wear masks. 
Fewer visitor seats were available in the main plenary space. 

Guest speakers and memorable points or quotes by speakers:

Opening Celebration:

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball shared these memorable quotes during the Opening Celebration Service:

  • “…this Bishop, who will remind you over, and over, and over again, ‘take the word can’t out of your vocabulary’”

  • “Yes, we need a new beginning. It is time to reset. And it’s time to recognize that this world indeed needs the transforming power of Jesus Christ. This world needs Jesus Christ, and it’s struggling! It’s struggling to see Christ and to receive him.”

  • “The time is now, church. The world needs an infusion of hope.”

  • “We cannot, oh Susquehanna Conference, we cannot be like this church in Revelation that has lost its first love.”

  • “Folks, spiritual transformation and renewal arise from the present.”

  • ”What God does today will also require a step of faith, believing that with Christ we can.”

  • “Faith is not activated by looking back, it’s released by participating in what God is doing now.”

  • “We can allow God, through us, to do new things … .”

Laity Report:

“We have no greater mission than to win souls for Christ,” Joyce Davis, Conference Lay Leader said, and reminded those gathered that God calls laity for this mission, in the same way God calls clergy.

Davis also said, “We all know that change can be hard. But God is telling us, we are not alone in the midst of this uncertainty. Change will ignite and rekindle passion, spark a revival and deepen our faith.”

Leadership Report:
The Susquehanna Conference Cabinet quoted John A. Shedd, who said, “A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships were made for,” and called on the conference to brave the currents of the flowing river as it remembered the words of the prophet Isaiah: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty you will not drown.”

Celebration of Life & Resurrection (Memorial Service):

Rev. Dr. Giovanni Arroyo shared these memorable quotes during the Celebration of Life & Resurrection Service:

  • “Our Creator is claiming us as a precious and honored community. God reminds us that no matter the moment we are facing, no matter how difficult it might be to utter the name of Jesus, no matter what trials we may be facing — the Word reminds us that God is with us.”

     

  • God will be with us in the toughest circumstances. “When you go through the rivers, when you feel the fire. Even when death knocks on our door. Even when we feel that the world has collapsed over us. Even when we feel that it is difficult to take a deep breath God is with us.”

     

  • We are witnesses, the ones who tell the story of Christ’s grace and God’s love “You and I are charged to proclaim it to a world and a church that is broken. We are to look for the signs and wonders of God in our midst, even when it seems that God is silent or when the chaos around us is distracting us from ministry and mission.”

  • “Isaiah reminds us that we are witnesses. We are called to choose to live a life as a witness. We are called to be the kind of witness, who has experienced a transformation of who God is in their life and who wants to share that with someone else.”

Ordination Service:

  • “Building bridges, that’s what Jesus came to do. That’s what Jesus calls us to do. Jesus is a bridge builder, a connector, a repairer, a restorer of the way. Jesus turned a dividing fence between Jews and gentiles into a uniting bridge. Jesus himself is a bridge and through his death he has reconciled us to each other and to God. Life-giving bridges. Followers of Christ are led to reconcile things and people that are broken. This is the message from Isaiah. Ancient ruins shall be rebuilt.” — Bishop Steiner Ball

     

  • Bishop Steiner Ball encouraged the congregation to “Build relationships with people who are not like you – bridge the gaps that build fear. Listen deeply, be curious, share stories about what the Scriptures tell us will be true.”

Main actions enacted by the conference:

Resolutions

1. Mental Health - Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, special offering, recognizing Suicide Prevention Month, and recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week.    PASSED

2. Disability Awareness Sunday - Recognizing Disability Awareness Sunday and special offering.  PASSED

3. Grateful Departures - encourage grace-filled process, using existing Book of Discipline provisions for churches and clergy who wish to transfer to another denomination.  PASSED

4. Unity in Diversity and the Gift of Difference.  DID NOT PASS

5. Supporting the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families.  DID NOT PASS

  • Approval of District and Conference Advance Specials
  • Approval of Board of Pensions report and recommendations
  • Approval of Commission on Equitable Compensation report and recommendations
  • Approval of Council on Finance and Administration report and recommendations
  • Approval of Nominations report
  • Approval of wind up and termination of Seedling Financial Ministry

Resolutions or action related to the coronavirus:

None

Resolutions or actions related to the postponed 2020 General Conference, now set for 2024:

None

Did any churches disaffiliate or leave the conference? Four: Bethel Catawissa, Lime Ridge, Pine Run, Zion Penn’s Creek

Number of churches that closed because no longer sustainable: Seven: Simpson Temple, Uniondale, Roaring Branch, Watsontown, Faith, Bennett-Derr, Shamokin Dam

Any special annual conference set: NO

Endorsement of episcopal candidate: NO

Did your clergy session approve any openly gay candidates for ministry? NO

Names of delegates for General Conference and designation of lay or clergy:

Clergy Delegates

Rev. Matthew E. Lake

Rev. Janice F. Hughes

Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver

Rev. Dr. Kathleen E. Kind

Rev. Jason R. Mackey

Rev. Dr. Kenneth M. Loyer

 

Laity Delegates

Christina McDermott

Craig Brennecke

Kaytlynn Hughes

William Leight

Dr. Milton Loyer

Spencer Ross

 

Alternate Clergy Delegates

Rev. Mark F. Reisinger

Rev. Dr. Gary D. Weaver

Alternate Laity Delegates

Dr. Kim Garris (LeGore)

Raymond Hamill

Did the conference have to elect replacement delegates due to the delay? NO

Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership, and average age:

Eight in total, three commissioned, five ordained.

Commissioned: Average age – 31 years old.

Ordained: Average age – 38.2 years old.

Number of clergy retired: 21

Worship attendance stands at 30,059, down from 34,646 in 2020.

Church school attendance stands at 10,228, down from 12,353 in 2020.

Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2021: totals 711, up from 586 in 2020.

Adults and young adults in small groups for 2021: 19,007, down from 23,147 in 2020.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2021: 20,205, down from 20,960 in 2020.


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