Towards the end of June, the United Methodist Church here in the Western Conference gathered at Lake Junaluska for our Annual Conference. If you have never been, it is amazing to see that many United Methodist gathered together in Holy Conferencing (not always great to have to listen to all the presentations and the like as they can get rather dry&but the worship is amazing with that many voices singing together). This year, Sandy Painter-Kurt went and represented Commonwealth UMC... below is her report.

Grace, Pastor Steve

Annual Conference 2018 - Report

Annual conference 2018 was a place for prayer, relationships and church business. As our annual conference representative, I wanted to give you a quick update on what transpired at our annual conference. As usual the budget was approved, clergy were ordained or retired, and there were lots of reports. Unfortunately, 9 churches were officially closed. There were three amendments/proposals we approved. The first amendment was just a clerical change in a previously approved amendment. One paragraph on the equality of women was accidently left out so it was voted to be reinserted in the amendment. The second proposal changed the distribution of funds from when a church closes. It used to be that 75% of the funds from the sale of the property went to the district and 25% went to the conference. The amounts have been flipped so now 75% of the funds go to the conference and 25% stay in the district. The last proposal was the Just Policy for Local Church Employees and it basically said that no one could be fired or refused employment based solely on their sexual orientation.

My favorite parts of annual conference were seeing all the cool things we do as a united church body. Things like UMAR, UMW, Crossnore School and childrens home and mission trips are exciting things we wouldnt be able to do if we werent a united group. The highlight for me was the reconciling ministries worship service that celebrated being a welcoming church for all of Gods children. In this line of unity and inclusion, it is most important to let you know about the council of Bishops that have worked very hard on the The Commission on the Way Forward. Bishops from all over the world have gotten together to come up with a way the United Methodist Church can stay united and work together even while we have differences in issues such as the ordination of gay or lesbian pastors and same sex marriage. I cannot begin to do the issue justice so I would ask that you go on-line and type in AC2018. It will take you to the section of the Western North Carolina Conferences web page that has the conference. Listen to the talk from Bishop Ken Carter. He does an amazing job of explaining everything. This is a difficult but exciting time for the United Methodist Church. Please pray that we will continue to do the work of God as one body.

Grace and Peace of our Lord, Sandy Painter-Kurt