Welcome to Annual Conference 2019

Welcome to Annual Conference 2019

May 17, 2019

The 2019 session of the Iowa Annual Conference is set to begin in less than three weeks.  The 176th yearly gathering of Iowa United Methodists will be a time to worship together; commit to a common ministry with the poor; be inspired by teaching sessions and workshops; celebrate decades of ministry by dedicated clergy; remember those who have gone on into God’s eternal kin-dom during the past year; ordain and commission a new generation of clergy leadership; recognize and encourage lay leadership; elect delegates of the 2020 General Conference of The United Methodist Church and the North Central Jurisdictional Conference; and transact the necessary business of the Annual Conference.  (Click here to see Bishop Laurie’s welcome)
 
This year’s theme is “Creating Difference Makers: In Ministry with the Poor.”  Faith communities are invited to participate by collecting gift cards for restaurants, local convenience stores and gas stations, and grocery stores.  Half of the gathered cards will remain “at home” with the church to distribute to persons in need in their local communities or through food pantries, hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, fire and police departments, or through other local partners.  The other half of the collected cards will be brought to the Annual Conference session.  Prior to the Saturday lunch break the lay and clergy present at the Annual Conference will be invited to hold their cards high as the cards are dedicated to a shared ministry.  During the course of the June 7-11 gathering, the members of the conference will be invited to give the cards to their hotel housekeepers, servers at restaurants, and persons in need that they meet.  (Click here to see the MWTP video)
 
“As people of faith, God desires for us to always be looking for new ways to reach out with Christ’s love and be in ministry with the poor and marginalized,” said Bishop Laurie.  This gift card collection, consecration, and distribution is the beginning of a year-long mission focus in which the 767 United Methodist existing and emerging faith communities will be encouraged to continue to live out Jesus’ commission to care for and live with persons living in challenging circumstances.
 
Keynote and Teaching Sessions
 
Rev. Rob Cook and Rev. Eric Mulanda are the keynote speakers.  They serve at Mt. Hope UMC, a “global faith community” in Lansing, Michigan.  The people of Mt. Hope come from more than 14 nations who “are transforming our corner of the world by following the teaching of Jesus and helping each other live a life that reflects his values.”  Pastor Rob is from Michigan and Pastor Eric is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Together they engage the world through a ministry that values love for all, family, service, community and relevance.  (Click here to see the Mt. Hope story)
 
Eight workshops will be offered on Saturday afternoon, beginning at 4:00 pm.  They include presentations about the multiethnic church experience; mental health coalition building; an overview of mental health and mental illness; the gift of conflict; creating a new community of faith in your community; freeing the spirit in your community, especially in communities that are struggling economically and spiritually; and setting the course for retirement readiness.
 
Preachers for the Conference
 
Bishop Laurie will open the annual conference session with her Episcopal Address, which is entitled, “Remember, You Are Poor” and is based on Mark 10:17-31 and 2 Corinthians 8:9.  She will also be the preacher for the Service of Ordering of Ministry.  Her message for the Sunday morning celebration is entitled “The Disruption of Joy” and is based on selections from Philippians 2, Psalm 31, and James 1.
 
Rev. Carol Myers, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Iowa Falls, will offer the sermon for the Retirement Service, set for Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm.  Rev. Kiboko Kiboko, superintendent of the East Central District, will offer the sermon for the Memorial Service on Sunday afternoon, at 4:00 pm.  Rev. Paul Smith, Superintendent of the South Central District and Dean of the Appointive Cabinet, will bring the message for the Appointment/Covenant and Sending service on Tuesday morning, at 9:00 am.
 
Lay Leader’s Address
 
Margaret Borgen is the Lay Leader of the Iowa Annual Conference.  She is supported by the Board of Laity, which is comprised of the lay leaders of each of the eight districts and other representatives.  Margaret will present the Laity Address on Sunday afternoon at 3:10 pm
 
Clergy and Laity Sessions
 
The 2019 Annual Conference Session will begin on Friday evening, June 7, at 7:00 pm, with the Clergy Session and Laity Session.  As they gather in Ballroom A of the Community Choice Credit Union/Veterans Auditorium portion of the Iowa Events Center, clergy will recognize retirements, receive reports from the Board of Ministry, take the required votes on clergy candidates, and deal with matters directed by the Book of Discipline.
 
The Laity Session will convene in halls B and C of the Iowa Events Center, the site of the plenary sessions of the Annual Conference.  According to Margaret Borgen, Bishop Laurie will speak to the assembled laity; the Mabaan Choir of the South Sudanese Congregation will sing, and Rev. Aaron Limmo will share the history and journey of the congregation; Rev. Bill Poland will describe the work focused on new faith communities; and several recognitions, including new School for Lay Ministry graduates, new certified lay speakers and CLMs.  Music will be provided by Phil Carver.  The Laity Session will also feature mini-workshops.
 
General and Jurisdictional Conference delegate elections
 
The next General Conference of The United Methodist Church will be held in May 2020 in Minneapolis.  The Iowa Conference will have six clergy and six lay delegates.  The North Central Jurisdictional Conference will take place in July 2020 in Ft. Wayne, IN.  In addition to the 12 delegates elected for the General Conference, Iowa will have an additional six lay and six clergy delegates.  And in addition to those 24, alternate four lay and four clergy delegates will also be elected, which is the reason for the four-day conference in 2019.  Time has been allocated in the agenda for 12 electronic ballots to elect these 32 persons.  (Photos and statements from each of the nominees can be found here)
 
Special Celebrations and Presentations
 
Eight special celebrations and presentations will be part of this year’s conference.  Methodist Missions marks its 200th anniversary.  United Methodist Women are celebrating 150 years.  Heifer Project International will present its 75th Ark Anniversary Award to the conference.  Two congregations will receive One Matters awards from Discipleship Ministries.  Video presentations from the Black College Fund and General Council on Finance and Administration for 100% support of the general apportionments will also be offered.  Church and Society will present the new Social Principles.  The United Methodist Publishing House (Iowa clergy Rev. Brian K. Milford is president of UMPH) will highlight the scope of its service to the denomination.
 
Diakonos
 
There is a cohort of youth constantly scurrying around the seating area of the conference session. Scurrying, with a purpose.  More than pages, the Diakonos are “servants, ministers, and messengers.”  In fact, diakonos is the word from which “deacon” is derived.  Rev. Steve Braudt and his group of mentors join with the nearly three dozen high schoolers to serve the nearly 1600 who gather for the annual conference.  And one of the highlights of the annual conference every year is their presentation, something that reminds all of us to be serious about not taking ourselves too seriously!
 
Special coverage website for AC2019 and daily updates
 
There is a special coverage website to help you to keep up with everything related to the 2019 Annual Conference session. Go to www.ac2019.iaumc.org for the special website where you can see the livestream of the conference session, beginning at 8:45 each morning and concluding with adjournment at approximately 8:30 pm.  As an added bonus, the Laity Session will be streamed on Friday, June 7, with the livestream opening up a few minutes before the Session is called to order at 7:00 pm.  The special coverage website will also have links to all the posted videos, photos, podcasts, resources, Iowa Conference news, and a Twitter feed. 
 
You can also sign up to receive daily updates from AC2019 right on the homepage the special coverage website.  Daily updates will offer a concise summary of each day’s news, agenda, sights, and sounds including the actions and decisions of the 176th session.
 
Everything you need to know
 
There’s a lot to keep track of during the four days of the 2019 Annual Conference.  In addition to celebrations, presentations, and legislative time, there are mealtime events and meetings after each evening’s adjournment at 8:30 pm.  Everything you need to know is included in an A-Z listing.  From daycare information to college reports to mission engagement by “fill the truck” to health screening to displays to seating charts…it’s all there.  And to know what’s happening next each day, there’s an included link to the agenda

Sched

You can also find the agenda and complete information about the workshops via a mobile app.  Sched is available for iPhones and iOS mobile devices and Android phones and tablets. Follow this link to the web version: https://iowaannualconferencesession2019.sched.com. To download on a mobile device, search "Sched" in the App Store or Google Play Store and search "Iowa Annual Conference 2019".
 
Offerings
 
Six offerings will be presented or received this year. 
  • During the Clergy Session, a collection will take place for the sustentation fund that is available to support clergy in special circumstances.  The confidential assistance is coordinated through the district superintendents.
  • A fundraising project has been underway across the eight districts to support the completion of the kitchen in the Ubuntu Center of Africa University, which is a place of hospitality for visitors to the University.  (Click here to see the informational video)  This offering will be received during the Opening Worship service.
  • Flooding has had a severe impact on both sides of Iowa within the last three months.  An offering to support disaster response within Iowa will be received during the Retirement Ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
  • Mt. Hope United Methodist Church is the multicultural international ministry in Lansing, MI, where Pastors Rob Cook and Eric Mulanda serve.  The offering will be collected during the Service of Ordering of Ministry on Sunday morning.
  • During the Memorial Service, on Sunday afternoon, an offering will be received to support the work of the Mental Health Taskforce.
  • The Diakonos come to minister to and serve the annual conference session at their own expense.  An offering to help to support them will be received as an order of the day on Monday morning, following their 9:45 am presentation.

Why we gather
 
Each annual conference session has the responsibility to transact certain organizational business.  It also worships.  Yet, even more than that, the annual conference is an opportunity to strengthen and embrace the community.  Originally a time for “questions and answers with the Rev. Mr. John Wesley,” the annual conference is a time to be able to offer a resounding “Yes!” to the question asked in Charles Wesley’s hymn verse, “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face” and remember those who have gone on to become the saints of the church.  Circuit riders came from far corners each year to celebrate what they together believed and to embrace the differences that were a hallmark of the strength of the early Methodist societies.
 
Why do we gather? “We are called to inspire, equip, and connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Laurie said. “Thanks be to God for the privilege of being disciples of Jesus Christ who make a difference in every corner of our world.”