227th conference session convenes
BY MELISSA LAUBER
In ancient and native cultures, the call to community, the invitation, is often delivered with a drum. This morning, the Rev. Dred Scott, pastor of St. Matthews UMC in Dundalk, will send out that invitation to United Methodists from Washington, Maryland, West Virginia, Bermuda, Zimbabwe, South Korea and Russia to connect as one – a church called to make disciples and transform the world.
Approximately 1,500 people (including 513 lay members and 554 clergy members) are expected to answer this call, gathering for the next three days at the 227th annual session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference at the Waterfront Marriott Hotel in Baltimore.
Included in the highlights of this May 26-28 session will be the election of General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates, the ordination of seven Elders and the commissioning of 16 provisional members, celebrating a year of healthy and faithful stewardship, continuing to combat homelessness in our region, and assisting those in Haiti and Japan who are rebuilding their lives after devastating earthquakes.
This year, Bishop John Schol’s State of the Church address will be creatively merged with reports from the finance and ministry areas of the annual conference, telling a story of how “Disciples Connect as One through Radical Hospitality.” Conference members are also expected to explore the denomination’s new Call to Action plan, designed to increase the vitality of local churches. Taking advantage of an electronic voting mechanism, conference members are slated to vote during three balloting sessions for delegates.
Members will elect seven clergy and seven lay people to represent the BWC at General Conference, which will be held in Tampa, Fla., April 24-May 4, 2012.
They will also elect seven clergy and seven lay delegates, along with four clergy and four lay alternates, to attend the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, scheduled for July 18-20, 2012, in Charleston, W.Va.
Statements from those nominated to be delegates are in the Conference Booklet, beginning on page 25.
On Friday at 7 p.m., a service of ordination will be held at Lovely Lane UMC, “the Mother Church of Methodism,” at 2200 Calvert St. in Baltimore. Bishop John Schol will preach. Because of limited space in this historic sanctuary, a reception for the new ordinands and provisional members will be held at the hotel later that evening.
Other special highlights of the conference session include a presentation by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and director of the Children’s Defense Fund, on Friday afternoon; and a service of remembrance on Friday at 11 a.m., at which the Rev. Emora Brannan of Grace UMC in Baltimore, will preach.
The Rev. Alfreda Wiggins of John Wesley UMC in Baltimore will preach at the opening worship at 10:30 today.
Mark Miller and his band will return to the Baltimore-Washington Conference as the music director, leading the conference worship, beginning at 10:30 a.m. today. Miller currently serves on the faculties at both Drew University and at Yale University where he teaches sacred music and worship. (A CD of some of Miller’s music is available at http://shop.markamillermusic.com.)
Members will vote on 12 resolutions at this session, dealing with the church’s stance on homosexuality and same-gender marriage; continuing Peace with Justice Sunday, strengthening the church’s ministry with the disabled, divestment in the Middle East, usury, immigration, a church afterschool program for children, and supporting a website that deals with faith and science.
This year, 59 exhibitors, including Cokesbury bookstore, will offer displays in the Harborside Ballroom beginning at 2 p.m. today.