The Episcopal address by our Bishop John Schol was inspired by James 1:2-4. It gives advice on how to deal with strife – pray and study the scriptures. Strife, stress, and hardships are events in our lives that can be handled by perseverance and endurance. Endurance builds character, character creates hope, hope leads to joy. The GNJUMAC has many reasons to celebrate and be joyful!
The Mission offering from the churches and the 1500 members who contributed at Conference totaled $40,500. Our missions are still A Future with Hope (Sandy Recovery: 12,000 volunteers finished 256 homes) and Nets to Prevent Malaria. Our MPUMC contributions share for Nets will save 10 people from contracting malaria. At conference 30,000 meals were packed for the Homeless. Our Shared Ministry Apportionment will be lowered each year for the next 5 years. 88% of the GNJAC churches paid 100% of their share in 2016. MPUMC is one of those!
Small groups are flourishing with 25,500 people participating while 21,155 participated in some kind of mission project. 45,00 people worshipped and $15 million was given to our conference missions.
Our Camping Ministry is being fostered in 2017 with Camp Aldersgate being repaired and reopened. There is $400,000 allotted for all camping ministries. The Methodist Homes has been re-named United Methodist Community.
The building of new churches and the renovation of existing churches has been re-thought. They will be multi-purpose buildings with a sanctuary for worship, educational facilities, living space and commercial space. One such church is being built in Atlantic City on available property. It will be 7 stories high! Five churches were either merged or closed and there are 27 new faith communities.
Seminary students are being included in appointments, to join clergy to help keep churches vital and for them to gain experience.
The vote on the General Conference constitutional changes regarding justice and equality for race and gender was taken. The results will not be made public until every conference in the U.S.A. and Africa has voted. In order to change the UMC constitution a two-thirds majority of all conferences are needed.
Once again we heard very inspiring speakers and plenty of terrific singing. The music director has created a CD. All the profits will go to A Future with Hope. I purchased one and would be happy to share it.
Once again thank you for allowing me to represent you for over 20 years. In 2018 a new representative will be needed as I am retiring.