Report to the UM News Service—AC2018

Report to the UM News Service—AC2018

June 15, 2018

2018 Annual Conference Report Worksheet
Name of conference: 2018 Iowa Annual Conference — Creating Difference Makers in New Communities of Faith
Location of conference gathering: Iowa Events Center, Hy-Vee Hall, Des Moines, IA
Dates of conference gathering: June 8-11, 2017
Officiating bishop: Bishop Laurie Haller
Guest speakers and memorable points or quotes by speakers:
Bishop Laurie Haller opened the 2018 Annual Conference Session with an Episcopal Address that challenged the Conference to wade into uncharted territory with hope instead of fear and to also find a way to remain united in the midst diversity in the church.

Bishop Laurie took Conference Session attendees back to April 1805 with the account of how Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery set out into territory no white person had ever entered. 

Things were looking good at first, according to a letter from Lewis to President Thomas Jefferson, she explained. The letter detailed how their party was in good health, and spirits, invested in the journey and anxious to get going, Lewis noted there was harmony among them, saying, “With such men I have everything to hope, and little to fear.”
When they encountered Lemhi Pass, en-route to the Continental Divide, on the present-day border of Montana and Idaho, they expected to see a vast plain to the west, with a large river flowing to the Pacific, but instead what they encountered were more mountains.

“There is no map and canoeing through or over the mountains isn’t an option. How will the Corps of Discovery adapt?” Bishop Laurie asked. “In many ways, you and I at the same point today, aren’t we? Our country and the world are changing so fast that it’s virtually impossible to keep up.” 

“And guess what?” the bishop continued. “The United Methodist Church faces the same dilemma. How are you and I going to adapt to the changing religious landscape of our world?”

“On top of that, we’re struggling to figure out how we can live with each other over different views around human sexuality,” she said. “The Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops have been leading us, but there is no map. At the same time, I am convinced that we have everything to hope and little to fear.”
Kinnick Driscoll gave the benediction at the close of the AC2018 Episcopal Address. Kinnick—Kid Pastor at Broadway United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs—told Bishop Laurie, "I will pray my very best prayer!"

"Dear God, thank you for leading us down the road here.
Thank you for our worship day and night.
Thank you for making this a holy conferencing, not a kind of arguing conferencing.
Help us to recognize you more and to show courage when making decisions about the church.
Thank you for this day together at Annual Conference.
Show us the path forward to future Annual Conferences.
Help us to trust you and stop worrying like David and to help like Jesus.
And to win by always being fair.
Help us to be your great followers.
God, please watch over our pastors that are moving and keep them comfortable and safe.
Thank you for being here with us at Annual Conference.
And please fill this room with faith, hope and courage.

A teaching session was given to the Conference by Rev. Christian Coon. Coon is the co-founder of Urban Village Church in Chicago and author of Failing Boldly: How Falling Down in Ministry Can Be the Start of Rising Up. He told attendees of the plenary teaching session that ministry successes might not always be obvious at first and can come in unexpected ways.

Coon, who hails from Iowa, opened with a brief anecdotal recap of his upbringing in the state, to help illustrate that even though his context is the city, much of what he planned to share is applicable, whether it be in a city, a county seat, or a farming community.

The current time makes church even harder, he said, with much said these days about church decline.

“It’s tempting to want to go and hide and do all we can to just keep things as they are,” said Coon. “But, friends, we are in a time where now more than ever, we are called to do all we can to create difference makers in new communities of faith.”

“And when you create,” he added, “there’s no other way around it, you will fail. And that is OK. In fact, it’s more than OK.”
Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) offered the Ecumenical Greeting for the Ordering of Ministry service.

Bishop Burk said it was increasingly clear to him that whether among Methodists, the ELCA or other faith traditions, we have a common goal, and it is to let the world know about Jesus.

God’s grace is sufficient the bishop said, and it is by that grace that “we are one in this together.”

Bishop Laurie employed the image of God as the potter throughout her sermon for the Ordering of Ministry Service, with an actual potter on the dais throwing a pot as she spoke.
The potter, Brooke Jetmunde of Ankeny and Polk City UMC, says she finds the most success when she lets the clay guide her, explained the bishop. Jetmunde had fallen in love with taking an ordinary lump of clay and shaping it into something beautiful, she said and has created lots of pottery over the years, often pieces that are functional.

If we remember amid life’s laments that God's steadfast love and mercies never end, we can still have hope. This was the message brought by Bishop Bruce Ough to the Memorial Service at the 2018 Annual Conference Session.

“We praise God for graciously receiving each of our beloved colleagues, friends and family members into His presence and into the glorious company of the saints of light,” said Bishop Ough, “I welcome the families and friends of these we mourn and extend my deepest sympathy. May God grant us grace, that in pain we might find comfort; in sorrow, hope; in death, resurrection.”
Main actions enacted by the conference:
  • A vote was taken Saturday morning to suspend the rules for voting on a corrected ballot concerning a Constitutional Amendment from the 2016 General Conference. The results of the vote were not shared with the Annual Conference Session, as these are being tabulated nationwide, and thus will be sent in to the General Conference. 
  • A Rule of Order on the Procedure for Handling General Conference Petitions was defeated; resulting in no General Conference petitions being considered at the 2018 Annual Conference Session. 
Action Items and Resolutions adopted by the conference:
52 action items were adopted to the consent calendar.

Action Item #131 was approved amending the Iowa Conference Rules of Order to be in compliance with the new Constitutional Amendment regarding the election of clergy and laity to General and Jurisdictional Conference. The Iowa Conference added nominations to the floor of Annual Conference to be in compliance.

Attendees of the Iowa Annual Conference Session passed the Proposed 2019 Iowa Annual Conference Budget in an 827-39 vote Monday. The 2019 budget has a decrease of $505,925, for a total of $14,288,286. Conference Treasurer Maggie Biggs had updated the Annual Conference Session on Budget specifics Saturday.
Sixteen people were ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership.
  • Course of Study Graduates: 6
  • Commissioned as Elder: 6
  • Ordained as Elder: 5
  • Average age of those Ordained as Elder: 45
38 clergy persons retired.
Membership stands at 158,049, down .4% from 2016.
Worship attendance stands at an average of 47,080 weekly, down 1% from 2016. 
Church school attendance stands at 15,867, up 2% from 2016.
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2017 was 2,077, up 6% from 2016. 
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2017 was 3,360, down 7% from 2016. 
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2017 was 27,104, down .3% from 2016.