Bishop Fairley opened the Friday morning plenary session with a moment of silence and a time of prayer in the wake of another shooting in our country, this time at St. Stephen‘s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.
Celebrating the Connection
The Bishop then came before the Annual Conference to share his deep love of The United Methodist Church. He spoke of the importance and significance of being a connectional church by sharing his own experience of growing up with few resources except the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
As a boy, the Bishop longed to know and be a part of a living connection where that love connects churches and people. He shared a video about the cultivation of a river bridge, woven from the roots of a living tree, that is strong enough to survive the raging waters of monsoon season in Meghalaya, India. The Bishop invited us to imagine The United Methodist Church as a similarly strong, woven-together living connection.
What this living connection looks like here in the North Carolina Conference was illustrated through a #BeUMC video featuring the witness of NCC clergy and laity who shared what they love about the denomination.
Bishop Fairley concluded by sharing his own conviction that this connection will continue to be both missional and evangelistic, seeking justice and sharing the Gospel so all would know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Disaster Response Special Offering
A special offering was collected to support Tornado Relief in Kentucky and Tennessee. Connectional Ministries director Steve Taylor gave glory to God for our Disaster Ministries, led by Al Miller, which have helped thousands of eastern NC families after hurricanes and have extended into western NC and Kentucky after the devastation of tornadoes and to Louisiana after the devastation of hurricanes.
Congregations were encouraged to participate in Emergency Response Trainings and Neighbor-to-Neighbor Training as we continue to support and equip the members of our churches to participate in this important ministry.
Christine Dodson presented the nominations slate for district and conference committees, with additions and corrections. After another addition from the floor, the report was approved by the voting body. We give thanks for the faithful service and leadership of the many clergy and laity who support the work of our districts and annual conference.
Methodist Home for Children
Rev. Bruce Stanley brought greetings from the Methodist Home for Children (MHC), which serves an average of 1,600 young people and families per year. Stanley, who serves as MHC Executive Director, introduced Sammy Hudson, a camp director in eastern North Carolina who seeks to share the love of Jesus with young people.
Hudson told his own story of encountering a young man who came to his camp after suffering significant, horrific abuse. His family was asked to take in this child as foster parents and quickly found that they were overwhelmed and ill-equipped to provide the care needed in this situation. The Methodist Home for Children stepped in to provide support and training for Hudson and his family.
Stories like Sammy’s are made possible by our Conference’s support of the Methodist Home for Children. There is a growing need for foster families, and Stanley asked that all our churches pray and consider encouraging families who might consider being equipped as foster families.
Of course, financial support is also greatly appreciated. He challenged all congregations to participate in the 1K for 1 Kid campaign which focuses on the need to raise at least $1,000 per child in donations to supplement grants and other funding for MHC’s work.