Every year, the clergy gather in executive session to celebrate those who are retiring, welcome new Elders and Deacons in Full Connection, and Provisional Elders and Deacons. There are also prayers for those who are on leave from ministry.
The Clergy Executive Session began with song followed by a short report from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, who shared highlights from the last four years of ministry for the Annual Conference.
It has been a busy four years! The conference has intentionally engaged with those who serve in the military, their families, those who are veterans, and their families. A new ministry was begun in conjunction with the Western North Carolina Annual Conference to reach out to children. Congregations for Children [C4C] equips and empowers local congregations to be in ministry with the local schools, especially those which have high numbers of children in poverty.
Bishop Ward shared a unique opportunity for churches because the 15th anniversary of the attacks on September 11 falls on a Sunday in 2016. In order to equip clergy to preach and teach around this difficult moment of remembrance, they are invited to a gathering, “Let Us Remember,” to talk about preaching in the midst of difficulty. The event is on on August 11 at St. Luke’s UMC in Sanford. Bishop Will Willimon will be the guest teacher and will help give pastors words of hope and encouragement in the midst of tragedy.
The gathering time ended with clergy giving a standing ovation to the retiring clergy, the men and women who represent a rich history of mission and ministry around the North Carolina Annual Conference.