2010 Session of Wyoming Conference Overview


 The 159th session of the Wyoming Annual Conference is about to open at the University of Scranton, in Scranton, PA. This will be the final gathering of the Conference, which began July of 1852, just a few miles away in Carbondale.

You can follow what is happening at the session in tweets provided by Matt Williams, Program Director at Sky Lake. You can locate the tweets at: http://twitter.com/WyomingAC

The 159th and final session of the Wyoming Annual Conference opened Friday, June 4, at the University of Scranton and Elm Park United Methodist Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Bishop Susan W. Hassinger called the gathering to order under the theme, “So Great a Cloud of Witnesses.”

Four women were introduced as candidates for Provisional Membership, two, Patricia Cardin and Linda Clemow on the Deacon Track and two, Maggie Moore and Nancy Stanley on the Elder Track. Bishop Hassinger asked Wesley’s historic questions of four candidates for the Order of Elders,  Jean Blackie, Martin P. Brooks, Nancy Hale,  John Martin. Commissioning and ordination will take place in either the Susquehanna Conference on June 12 or the Upper New York Conference on June 19.

Mark Marino presented the 2010 Harry Denman Evangelism Awards to:

  • Laity - David M Burge of the Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church in Old Forge has enriched the lives of many as a church school leader, confirmation class leader and in many other ways in his local church. In his work, he is known as the work preacher, touching the lives of coworkers and others he come in contact with. He is intentional about sharing God’s unconditional love.
  • Clergy - Susan Shields, Pastor of the Harpursville and Oquagua United Methodist Churches left a successful secular career to follow God’s call to ministry. She has helped many whether churched or unchurched in times of need. Her vision of the church is all inclusive and she campions the needs of the least and the lost.
  • Youth - Marissa Mach of the Nimmonsburg United Methodist Church attended 2008 Mission of Peace in South Africa. Her speaking about the experience has led others to engage in mission opportunities. She has taken part in two other mission trips. She is an active leader in her local church.

Blenda Smith and Jan Marsi presented a combined report from the Board of Laity and the Cabinet, entitled “What Do These Stones Mean?” In it, they noted comparisons to the journey the people of Israel made in the exodus and the journey the Wyoming Conference is making in our move into new conferences.

Beth Jones, Co-Convener of the Vision Team of the Susquehanna Conference and Tom Clemow representing the Upper New York Conference New Area Conference Team (New ACT) presented Closing Resolutions. These resolutions were presented for action without amendment. They deal with providing membership for clergy with voting rights and privileges in one or the other of the new annual conferences; voting rights and privileges for lay members in either of the new annual conferences; the distribution of assets of the Wyoming Conference into the new conferences; giving the Wyoming Conference Board of Trustees to care for continuing responsibilities in relation to the distribution and remaining business; and ratifying and affirming actions taken by the Vision Team and New ACT. All of the Closing Resolutions were approved.

During a service of Recognition, Remembrance and Holy Communion, Bishop Hassinger presented a chalice to Elm Park United Methodist Church in thanks for hosting many special services during annual conferences from 1972 to present. Her message recalled many of the songs sung through the life of the Wyoming Conference and encouraged members to continue to sing lustily in their new settings. A litany of remembrance highlighted many of the events and connections clergy and lay members have experienced over the years. A number of pastors, their spouses and lay members who have died during the past year were honored by being named and candles lighted in their honor.

A plaque commemorating the First United Methodist Church of Carbondale as an historic United Methodist site was presented by the Commission on Archives and History. The first session of the conference was held at Carbondale in 1852.

Sky Lake of Wyoming Conference Corporation held its final meeting. Changes in its by-laws were approved making the boad of directors the corporation.

The Kim Jefferson Award for significant and effective urban ministry was presented to Field of Grace United Methodist Church and its pastor, Marcelle Dotson. Field of Grace is a newly formed congregation in the city of Wilkes-Barre reaching out to people not served by other churches.

The Guy Leinthall Award for Social Justice Ministry was presented to Dr. Blenda Smith for her work in developing and offering educational opportunities in the area of white privilege and to Rev. Mark Terwilliger and the Beach Lake United Methodist Church for their work in the arena of environmental justice.

The Akers Award for Excellence in Rural Ministry was presented to Rev. Alice Pedone for her work as pastor of the five churches of the Equinunk Charge in northern Wayne County and her addition of Cowboy Church.

Linda Bryan announced the creation of a Mission Hub at the former Shoemaker Memorial United Methodist Church. She encouraged churches to become involved in supporting this new ministry that will be tied to Mission Central in Mechanicsburg.

United Methodist Homes and Wyoming Seminary presented resolutions needed to deal with changes in relationships and board representation with the conference as it comes to an end. The organizations will be forming new relationships with one or both of the new annual conferences being formed.

A slate of nominees to continue as the Wyoming Conference Board of Trustees and Wyoming Seminary Trustees was presented. All were elected.

The Scholarship Committee presented scholarships to eight students from local churches in the conference. Leah Buxton received the Linda Akers Scholarship Award. The George Summerson Scholarship Award was given to Kimberly Bosket.

Youth Council offered thanks to those who have served with the youth throughout the years.

A report was made on special offerings taken during our session. The Master’s Call Offering raised $2,311 to help provide funds for ministerial education. The Great 50 Days Offering brought in $22,120 for work in Haiti and Zimbabwe. While this is less than other years, conference churches have donated more than $194,000 to Haiti Earthquake Relief.

Graduates of the Local Pastors Licensing School at Sky Lake were recognized. Brian Lucas was recognized for completing Course of Study. The Blair Scholarship was awarded to Ron Baker, a student at Moravian Seminary. The Sister Spirit Award was given to Kristen Wall-Love, a student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

Discontinuance of the Port Crane United Methodist Church was approved. The merger of the Garrattsville United Methodist Church with the Morris United Methodist Church was recognized. Approval was given for the Litchfield and Little Meadows United Methodist Churches, both located in Pennsylvania to align with the Upper New York Conference rather than the Susquehanna Conference. Approval was also given for the Emory United Methodist Church in Hancock, New York to be part of the Susquehanna Annual Conference rather than the Upper New York Annual Conference. The actions come as a result of requests from each of these congregations.

Pastoral appointments for 2010-2011 were read, with pastors and lay members coming forward to receive letters of covenant for the new appointment. The first two involved the appointment of new District Superintendents, Beth Jones as Superintendent of the Scranton District and Jan Rowell as Superintendent of the Oneonta District.

The Episcopacy Committee offered thanks to Bishop Susan Hassinger and to Jane E. Schweikert, Administrative Assistant to Bishops Hassinger, Susan Morrison and William Boyd Grove, for their service to the conference and to the Albany Area. Each was given a memory album, a prayer quilt and a monetary gift to mission projects chosen by them. $1,500 will be given to the Sky Lake Campership program in honor of Jane and another $1,500 will be split between the Central Conference Pastoral Pension Initiative, the Friends of Zimbabwe and the Haiti Partnership in honor of Bishop Hassinger.

The closing worship included a litany incorporating the proposed Vision and Mission Statements of the Susquehanna and Upper New York Annual Conferences. Members and guests were asked to remember their baptisms.

Rev. Jan Marsi, a leader of the New Area Conference Team (New ACT) provided a witness from the Upper New York Conference looking back on the process that lead to seeking "what God would have us do to better serve our communities and God's world."

Rev. Beth Jones, Co-convener of the Vision Team offered a similar witness from the Susquehanna Conference. She said she was surprised at the excitement expressed by those first gathered as a Vision Team to lay aside past practices and create something new, to do church in new ways. She said that as the churches of the Wyoming Conference go into our new settings, we take with us the gifts of closeness, of sharing our walk with God, and of the courage to make tough decisions.

All gathered joined in a "Love Feast" to express our continuing love for each other, even as we follow different paths to the future.

Bishop Hassinger then charged us to move out along those paths, with those going to the Susquehanna Conference leaving the building by one set of doors and those going to the Upper New York Conference to leave by a different exit, but to come together again, outside as members of The United Methodist Connection for the benediction. In it, she reminded all that as beloved children of God, we should not fear for God has redeemed us.