Analysis by Woody Woodrick
When 2006 began, Hurricane Katrina was just four months past, and many in
Some 16 months later, the storm continues to have a big impact on the state and the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church. Several of the top stories published in the Mississippi United Methodist Advocate during 2006 related to Katrina.
In January, friends and alumni of Gulfside Assembly in Waveland gathered at the site of the facility, which was wiped out by the storm. An estimated 150 people came to share memories and hopes for the future of the campground. Gulfside was often the only refuge for African-Americans traveling along the
One of the most pressing needs during the recovery from Katrina has been housing for the hundreds of volunteers coming from around the country to help. In June, a storage and housing building opened on the grounds of d’Iberville Heritage UMC. The building was a special project of United Methodists in Indiana, who contributed much of the funds and labor for the project. Modular buildings were placed at Gulfside and Ocean Springs, while additional permanent structures are being built at Vancleave and Nugent. Plans call for another building on the western end of the
In addition, Seashore Assembly in
Seashore Retirement Community in
Recovering from a hurricane is more than replacing buildings. With many UM churches damaged and members sometimes scattered across the nation, direction for rebuilding and recovering was needed.
While Katrina continues to make an impact on the conference, other events of note took place in 2006. Development of the A2 Indicators was a significant event in 2006. The A2 Indicators, based on Acts 2, is a tool to help churches evaluate their ministries, strengths and weaknesses. A2 assessments were shared during charge conferences and helped shift the annual meetings from simply a time to fill out forms to a process of self examination to see where churches are being effective and where they might improve. Results from the A2 Indicators are still being reported.
At Annual Conference in June Ward and Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Area formalized the Chabadza Covenant. “Chabadza” is a Shona word meaning to join someone already at work. The covenant calls for the two conferences to work together in various ways. The conference offering for Chabadza netted over $130,000. Groups from
Another highlight of Annual Conference was the recognition of 50 years of women having full clergy rights in the denomination. Ruth Wood, the first woman to be ordained an elder in
Health and wellness issues have been at the forefront of the conference during 2006. Two medical clinics, led in large part by United Methodist churches, opened in the fall. Craft House Ministries in
Twenty-two pastors were ordained in 2006, while two noteworthy retirements took place this year. The Rev. Keith Tonkel, pastor at
Also, Nell Grissom retired as executive director of Wesley House community center in
In 2005, Society of St. Andrew, a hunger-fighting group, opened a field office in
For 2006, Mississippi SoSA Director Bob Fritchey set a goal of saving and distributing 1 million pounds of fresh produce through his office. That goal was exceeded by 135,000 pounds by mid-October and the goal adjusted to 1.5 million pounds.
In September, the Conference Council on Youth Ministries launched “Pray Without Ceasing,” which calls on a different church to be in prayer for the conference every day for a year. Each of the 11 districts was assigned a month.
Congregations for Children, an ecumenical group which advocates for children, was revived during the year. Sponsored primarily by the United Methodist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches in