Summary of the Special Session of the 2023 West Ohio Annual Conference
The West Ohio Annual Conference Special Session convened Saturday, October 28, at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. Bishop Gregory V. Palmer presided over the conference with nearly 800 clergy and lay members in attendance.
The day began with a powerful worship service with the combined effort from the Annual Conference and Ginghamsburg Worship Teams. “The power of worship and prayer infused the day,” said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer.
Rev. Dr. Tim Bias, Olentangy River District Superintendent, presented the sermon based on Hebrew 12 reminding participants that they are encouraged by a great cloud of witnesses.
“When you leave this place, you will be entering the mission field where people need hope,” Bias said. “Don’t give up, keep going!”
- 96 churches requested disaffiliation from The United Methodist Church. This was supported by the conference members.
- Connectional Table Chairperson, Tom Hofmann provided an update on the Strategic Plan for the West Ohio Conference. The three Strategic Focus Areas for the next three years are:
- Strengthen the ministry pipeline
- Develop an approach to engage younger populations
- Revise, prioritize and align conferences resources to focus on helping churches be missional (i.e., discipleship, evangelism, meeting the needs of the Community- Mission Station concept)
Recommendation #1 – Budget: AFFIRMED
• The 2024 budget prioritized connections, clergy and church support and discipleship
• $10 million reduction is apportionments since 2018
• $12.1 million apportioned in 2024, same as in 2023 for remaining churches
• 2024 – 2026 budgets are transitional: Post disaffiliations, aligning matters before the Annual Conference in the next three years include:
- Aligning our resources with Strategic Plan, new episcopal leadership and priorities in our post-disaffiliation environment
- The probability of episcopal leadership sharing with East Ohio Conference effective September 1.
- Strategic use of funds from closed churches to support new churches and emerging ministries and invest in the same purpose via endowment.
- 2025 budget will be prepared in the first quarter of 2024 for consideration by the 2024 Annual Conference in May.
Recommendation #2 - Disposition of West Ohio Camps and Retreat Ministry Property: AFFIRMED
- The Camps and Retreats Task force, formed by the Transformative Discipleship Team in consultation with Bishop Palmer, recommended the sale of Camp Widewater and Camp Otterbein.
- Proceeds from the sale of those properties are restricted for current and future camping and retreat ministries for children, youth and young adult ministries.
- The Transformative Discipleship Team will present a plan for the children, youth and young adult ministries strategy and plan at the 2024 West Ohio Annual Conference.
“We were empowered to make some challenging decisions,” said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer. We brought glory to God by the patient, honest, and respectful way we engaged one another. In spite of the challenges, we have come through, our future is open because God is ABLE,” said Bishop Gregory V. Palmer.
ELECTION OF DELEGATES
Due to a number of factors, it became necessary to elect additional delegates to complete the slate for the upcoming 2024 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Clergy (previously elected)
Laity Delegates (previously elected)
Clergy Delegates to Jurisdictional Conference (previously elected)
Clergy Alternates to Jurisdictional Conference (elected at Special Session)
Laity Delegates Jurisdictional Conference (elected at Special Session)
Laity Alternate Delegates
At the conclusion of the day, Bishop Palmer offered this prayer to the members of the conference and encourages all West Ohio United Methodists to pray this prayer through the coming months.
“Gracious God, we humbly acknowledge that you are the source of our life. We confess we are often tempted to try being your church without your love, without your power. Forgive us. Grant to us, grace-full God to put all our hope and confidence in you. For you are Able. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
The 2024 West Ohio Conference will be held May 29 – June 1, 2024, at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio with the theme “God is Able” based on Ephesians 3:20-21.
Written by Kay Panovec, Director of Communications