Alive Moments highlight ways Conference is Alive Together in the World
During the 2019 Annual Conference session, attendees heard five “Alive Together in the World” moments from Connectional Ministries. These “Alive Moments” highlighted the various ways South Georgia United Methodists are reaching out throughout the Conference and beyond.
During the Monday, June 3 business session, Allison Lindsey, associate director of Connectional Ministries, interviewed Rev. Jay Hanson, Director of Congregational Ministries; Anne Bosarge, multi-campus director of The Chapel Ministries; and Jared Middleton, pastor of Buckhorn United Methodist Church. Their conversation focused on how the conference is developing leaders and also celebrated growth in worship attendance. Bosarge shared the experience of the Certified Lay Ministry Training and new opportunities for laity to be equipped and empowered to serve in the local churches while also developing leadership skills. Revs. Hanson and Middleton discussed the pilot program of Increased Impact, an opportunity for coaches, clergy, and laity to be engaged in new ways of thinking about ministry in their local churches. Rev. Middleton also shared about the impact his involvement with Increased Impact has had on the Buckhorn UMC congregation.
They also recognized and congratulated those churches that have experienced a 10 percent or more increase in worship attendance and introduced the Conference’s newest church launch, The Porch Community Church in Valdosta.
A second “Alive” moment was presented Monday afternoon, with Rev. Patricia Burns, chair of the Multicultural Task Force, and Rev. Brett Maddocks, chair of the Undocumented Neighbors Task Force, sharing about the resources their teams have produced for use by local churches. (Click here for resources)
On Tuesday, the Conference heard two more “Alive Together in the World” moments, this time highlighting the work of the Conference’s disaster response teams.
During the morning’s business session, Revs. Shannon and Aimee Baxter and Ed Haggerty shared how the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has, in South Georgia, lived up to its motto of being “the last to leave.” In 2016 when Hurricane Matthew hit, South Georgia/UMCOR were the only ones engaged in long term recovery in Chatham County, which started with Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye doing case management. Rev. Aimee Baxter picked up when Rev. Harwell-Dye moved and now - three years later - Hurricane Matthew recovery is finally winding down. Rev. Aimee Baxter shared stories of clients that she and Rev. Harwell-Dye have built relationships with and walked alongside. Rev. Shannon Baxter shared about how partnerships with other faith-based organizations and agencies are crucial in the midst of recovery work. Ed Haggerty began representing South Georgia/UMCOR with Albany Relief & Recovery following the January 2017 Albany tornadoes. They were just about to close down a year later when Hurricane Michael hit in October 2018. Because they were an established group who had built capacity through these partnerships, they were able to pick back up right where they left off and continue serving the community.
Later that afternoon, the Conference heard about the power of the connection and the work of the Conference’s disaster response teams in Southwest Georgia. Rev. Scott Stanfill, pastor of Colquitt United Methodist Church, and Rev. Nate Lehman, pastor of Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville, shared how their experiences during Albany’s 2017 tornadoes helped them to immediately begin to assist their communities of Colquitt and Donaldsonville. Allison Lindsey highlighted the connection’s generous response to the recent disasters, sharing grants received and giving from generous donors. Although Colquitt UMC has not yet been able to worship in their sanctuary, they have not stopped being the church. They have not missed a Sunday, Wednesday night, or food bank ministry opportunity. Friendship UMC creatively placed 1,200 school kits in Seminole County schools after students returned. A Conference mission trip to Sager Brown planned for September 29 - October 4, 2019, is open to register.
The final “Alive” moment, focused on the global church, was presented during Wednesday morning’s business session. The 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women was highlighted and Rev. Nora Colmenares, Senior Manager: Global Ministries, gave a presentation on the work of Global Ministries. The Conference’s new Annual Conference theme was also unveiled, “Alive Together in Witness.” It is through our witness that we are Alive Together In The World!
“These moments were so inspiring for me to plan and share during Annual Conference. There are so many ways our local churches and our members are truly ‘Alive Together In The World,’” Lindsey said. “The challenging part is that there is so much more that could be highlighted! I encourage clergy and laity to stay connected through The Advocate and The Link to keep up with all the great things happening across South Georgia!”