The Western North Carolina Conference met June 23-25, 2017 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
Presiding over the conference was Bishop Paul L. Leeland, resident bishop of the Charlotte Area.
The theme for the conference was: Go and Baptize the World (Matthew 28:16-20).
Guest preachers during the Annual Conference included Bishop Leonard Fairley of the Kentucky Conference, and Bishop Lawson Bryan of the South Georgia Conference.
Major actions of the Annual Conference included:
- Voted on all five constitutional amendments on the first day of Annual Conference and the results were sent to General Conference officials.
- The approval of a proposal from the Board of Trustees to move the conference center from its current location to a site in Huntersville, North Carolina, adjacent to the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina.
- Passage of the 2018 Budget of $16,209,006 dollars for conference expenses and General Church Funds. An additional $1.85 million dollars will be apportioned through the districts for missional engagement, church vitality and benevolence grants. This was a 1.19% reduction from 2017.
- Russ Pierce, Executive Director for Mission Engagement and Director of The Advance, with the Board of Global Ministries, recognized the Western North Carolina Conference for its leadership in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The conference is first in giving to US-based projects to the Advance giving over $488,000 dollars. The conference is also first in the jurisdiction for giving to UMCOR with $820,000 dollars, and that is second in the entire denomination.
Petitions that were approved by the Annual Conference included:
- The conference passed a petition that recognizes the 50th anniversary of the historic mergers with the Evangelical United Brethren and the Central Jurisdictions in 1968 and that the Archives and History Commission along with the Justice and Reconciliation Team will work together to implement celebrations at the 2018 Annual Conference.
- The conference passed the Western North Carolina Arrearage Policy submitted by the Commission on Equitable Compensation as required by the 2016 Book of Discipline.
- The conference passed a petition concerning Senate Bill 594 in the N.C. State Senate that would decrease the number of social service departments from 100 counties to 30 regional offices. The body voted to “strongly oppose North Carolina Senate Bill 594, urge its defeat in the legislature, and recommend to the Governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper that he veto this law, if approved, so that every county Department of Social Services and infrastructures connected therein throughout North Carolina can promptly and effectively provide the help and care to those who need it the most.”
Twenty persons were ordained into full connection (3 deacons, 17 elders) and 16 provisional members were commissioned.
There were 54 retirees at this session of Annual Conference.
Membership stands at 282,618
Worship attendance stands at 104,557
Church school attendance stands at 42,191
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2016- 3054
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2016- 71,820
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2016- 75,457
A full collection of reports and media from the Western North Carolina can be found at ac2017.org.
Submitted by Michael Rich, director of communications