2021 North Georgia Annual Conference

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, presiding

The 155th North Georgia Annual Conference was held online June 3-5.
 
With Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson presiding, leaders were elected, appointments were set, resolutions were passed, retirees were celebrated, reports were presented, a budget was adopted, Scripture was read, and prayers were said.
 
The clergy executive session was held on Thursday, June 3, and the annual conference met with a full one-day agenda on Friday, June 4. The clergy session and the business sessions utilized a secure meeting and voting platform.
 
The conference worshipped online and in-person the morning of Saturday, June 5, celebrating the ordination and commissioning of more than 50 North Georgia United Methodists called and equipped to serve God through ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. We celebrated 16 newly licensed local pastors. Saturday afternoon we gathered online and in person to call the names and remember the lives of more than 100 honored saints — clergy, clergy spouses, and laity who passed away between April 2019 and April 2021.
  
The theme “Love is Making Room,” was illustrated through large hand-painted banners. The banners were flanked by wooden hearts featuring photos from more than 700 North Georgia Conference churches showing love in action in the past year. 

Bishop Haupert-Johnson opened the session with a message of encouragement based on Acts 16:6-10. 

“We have a world that is hurting and hungry for a word of hope and a word of grace," she said, calling on North Georgia United Methodists to gather to study Scripture, to pray and to share Christ with others.
 
Reports and Actions of the Annual Conference

Conference Board of Trustees

The Conference Board of Trustees is charged with determining best stewardship practices for conference funds. In their report, the Conference Trustees outlined some of the ways good stewardship is in action in the North Georgia Conference.

The board celebrated that through the Park Eye Fund, 46 children and young adults have or will receive the gift of sight through treatments from the Emory Eye Center that they would not otherwise be able to afford. 

The annual conference voted to allow North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries to reallocate the Wesley Campership Fund to become part of the NGCRM Capital Endowment. This fund of nearly $3 million dollars will offer significant advancement of this necessary endowment. The North Georgia Conference continues its commitment to fully fund camperships for children who would otherwise not afford to attend camp.
 
The board of trustees presented a path to disaffiliation that was established by the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. This process and the subsequent disaffiliation agreement both follow Paragraph 2553 of the 2019 Book of Discipline.
 
Council on Finance and Administration

The Conference Council on Finance and Administration celebrated that North Georgia United Methodists paid 90 percent of apportionments in 2020. Over the past three years, the conference budget has been reduced significantly. The Council on Finance and Administration continues to take a conservative approach to the budget by reducing budget line items and utilizing reserve funds. The 2022 budget reflects an additional reduction of 5 percent over the 2021 budget. The reductions have allowed more resources to remain at the local church level. The annual conference approved recommendations of the Council on Finance and Administration and approved a budget of $17,099,834. 

The 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference also:

Opened and closed each session with prayers from lay members from across the annual conference.

Celebrated the progress made in just one year since the launch of the Barnes Evaluation and Administration Team and asking, “What might God be calling your church to do?” BEAT is designed to distribute funds from the sale of closed church property in an equitable, accountable manner to fund ministry initiatives across all eight districts.
  
Adopted Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits recurring recommendations and new recommendations. 

Approved recommendations from the Commission on Equitable Compensation.
 
Heard from outgoing lay leader Bill Martin and incoming lay leader Nate Abrams who highlighted laity living their faith and showing God's love to their communities over the past year. 
Approved the 2021-2022 nominations report.

Adopted a proposal to consolidate the work and ministries of the Board of Discipleship and Advocacy and the Board of Church Development. This consolidation is intended to deepen collaboration, communication, and coordination among these two boards that have similar, inter-related, and intersecting roles.

Approved necessary changes to the Standing Rules as presented in the Annual Conference Handbook.

Elected Conference Secretary Max Vincent, Conference Statistician Charles Broome, and Conference Chancellor Jim Thornton.
 
Paused to celebrate and give thanks for the servant leadership of Donn Ann Weber who served with excellence as Conference Secretary for the North Georgia Annual Conference for 26 years.
Closed with the Fixing of the Appointments.

In special pre-recorded services

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson commissioned five deaconesses for ministry in the North Georgia Conference.

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, along with representatives of Global Ministries, commissioned Global Ministries missionary Tricia Manns. She will serve as a mission advocate for Global Ministries in Atlanta.

Continued a beloved and meaningful tradition of retiring clergy passing the mantle to incoming clergy. 

Request for Ruling on a Question of Law

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson received a request for ruling on a Question of Law related to Discipline ¶2553 as it relates to a church that identifies itself as Traditional. Bishop Haupert-Johnson will respond within 30 days.
 
Resolutions

The North Georgia Annual Conference approved three resolutions. Read the resolutions in the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference Handbook.
 
Resolution Recognizing Our Role in Segregation and the Central Jurisdiction

Resolution Reducing Suicide Among At-Risk Native Americans

Resolution in Support of the Protocol of Grace and Reconciliation Through Separation 
                                     
Property Closure Resolutions

The conference approved the closure of eight churches. This is always a somber time for the conference and a time to lift up our faith in God's promise of resurrection. 
The churches are:

Faith Riverdale United Methodist Church, Central North District

Redemption Community Church (formerly St Matthew United Methodist Church), Central North District

Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church Lawrenceville, Central East District

Faith Creek United Methodist Church, South West District

Grantville First United Methodist Church, South West District

White Oak United Methodist Church, South East District

Rocky Head United Methodist Church, Central North District

Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church Dallas, Central West District

Membership and Statistics

We celebrated the licensing, commissioning, and ordination of:
3 provisional deacons
21 provisional elders
5 full connection deacons
22 full connection elders
1 transfer of order from deacon to elder
16 newly licensed local pastors

The North Georgia Conference heard from representatives of the 2020 and 2021 classes of retirees by video, offering greetings and thoughtful recommendations of books, poetry, and music throughout the Conference session. “Truly, they have transformed the world,” Bishop Haupert-Johnson said. “Well done and thank you!”

Number of clergy retired in 2021: 47

Additionally,

Membership stands at 339,259, down 7,581 from the previous year.
 
Online worship skyrocketed from a weekly average of 31,934 in 2019 to 127,996 in 2020.

The number of people served in 2020 by community ministries or outreach is 2,099,570. Many of these people were served by ministries that were quickly established or adapted to meet unique and acute needs that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The next North Georgia Annual Conference is set for June 2-4, 2022. 

Find more on the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference at www.ngumc.org/AC2021

— Sybil Davidson, conference communicator

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