2021 Annual Conference Session Report

7/13/2021

2021 Annual Conference Session Report
The Mississippi Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
 
Videos from the 2021 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference can be found here.

The 2021 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference convened at Christ United Methodist Church 6000 Old Canton Road Jackson, Mississippi, from Wednesday, June 23 to Friday, June 25. Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. officiated. The theme was “The Mission Continues.” The theme scripture was John 21: 15-22.

Due to the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference was all virtual and attendees joined by Zoom, Facebook Live and YouTube.

Wednesday
Wednesday’s session opened with a spirited devotion. “Are We Yet Alive” was the opening hymn followed by a litany from Rev. Joseph Ranager, senior chaplain for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and an opening prayer from Dr. Marcus Gaut.
Afterward, attendees were presented with a tutorial on the virtual voting process and were allowed to vote on practice ballots.
Wednesday concluded with the 2020 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference. Video can be found here.

Thursday
Thursday began with a video assembly of the Wells United Methodist Church Mass Choir singing “I’m Going to Sing When the Spirit Says Sing,” followed by opening prayer from Rev. Smith Lilley of First United Methodist Church in Tupelo.
“I Am Thine, O Lord” was the hymn of preparation before Bishop Swanson delivered a sermon titled Extravagant Love. Followed by a Love Feast that could be shared by those in attendance and people watching online.
After worship, the 2021 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference began. Video can be found here.

Friday
Friday began with the final business session followed by closing worship.
Dr. Raigan Miskelly and Rev. Trey Skaggs opened worship. Next came an opening song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” followed by a medley of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and “I’ll Fly Away.”
After a scripture and prayer, Bishop Swanson closed the 2021 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference with a sermon and benediction. Video can be found here.

Main Actions Enacted by the Conference

In addition to the regular business and reporting of the Mississippi Annual Conference, the conference adopted the budget for 2022 and voted on the following resolutions:

Petition 1: Call to Prayer
Encourages United Methodists to take time to pray for our Bishop, clergy, laity, families and the world beyond. The petition was placed on the consent calendar and approved by the body.

Petition 2: Housing/Rental Allowance for Retired and Disabled Ministers
Allows pension payment to be rental/housing allowance for retired and disabled licensed members of the Mississippi United Methodist Conference. The petition was placed on the Consent Calendar and approved by the body.

Petition 3: Human Sexuality
Declares the Bible is the final authority on what is holy and unholy and establishes the conditions in which all men and women can have harmonious relationships with God. Bishop Swanson ruled the petition out of order because it has already been dealt with and should not have been brought before the body.

Petition 4: Resolution for the Establishment of a General Conference Educational Task Force
 Petition 4 sought to create a committee of six lay and six clergy to study changes to the United Methodist Denomination, and how they may affect members.  The petition was referred back to the original creators, the Mississippi Conference Transition Team, for clarification and revision.

Petition 5: Financial Equity
The Chair of the Board of Ordained Ministries will establish a taskforce to examine the effects of the student debt on females and people of color. The Petitions and Resolutions Committee referred Petition 5 back to the Board of Ordained Ministries for further work.

Petition 6: Resolution for the Celebration of Female Clergy and the Remembrance of the Life of Rev. Ruth Wood
A resolution for the celebration of female clergy and the remembrance of the life of Rev. Ruth Wood. The petition passed with a vote of 551 Yes and 18 No.
 

Ordination and Retirees

Individuals answering the call to ministry were ordained during a service on June 11. These newly commissioned pastors will go forth answering their call from God in service to the Mississippi United Methodist Conference.
There were six elders ordained, two commissioning and two associate members. The average age of those ordained was fifty.

Disaffiliation
Twenty-three churches voted by a simple majority of their membership to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. Conference treasurer, director of finance and administration and benefits officer, David Stotts explained by video the requirements churches must go through to separate as it pertains to paragraph 2553 in The Book of Discipline. Video can be found here.
 
Church District Yes No
Pleasant Grove Brookhaven 582 54
Andrew Chapel East Jackson 584 48
Evergreen East Jackson 578 56
Homewood East Jackson 584 50
Shiloh East Jackson 564 69
Acona Greenwood 587 40
Black Hawk Greenwood 583 43
Enon Greenwood 586 39
Durant Greenwood 579 47
Seneasha Greenwood 586 39
McLain Hattiesburg 572 42
Andrew Chapel Meridian 567 47
Hopewell Meridian 570 44
Shady Grove New Albany 552 45
Marietta New Albany 555 42
Mt. Zion New Albany 553 42
Lowery New Albany 554 43
Camp Ground New Albany 541 56
Tanner Chapel Seashore 563 38
Caledonia Starkville 555 46
Flint Hill Starkville 556 43
Macedonia Tupelo 564 36
Andrew Chapel Tupelo 561 39

 Church Closings and Merger

Eleven churches voted to discontinue functioning as a congregation and entrust their property to the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church:
 
  • Bude United Methodist Church
  • Clarks Chapel United Methodist Church
  • Daleville United Methodist Church
  • Dekalb United Methodist Church
  • Ebenezer United Methodist Church
  • Green Grove United Methodist Church
  • Hermanville United Methodist Church
  • Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church
  • Thrailkill United Methodist Church
  • Union United Methodist Church
  • Weir United Methodist Church
The congregations of Louisville and Noxapater First United Methodist Church voted to merge in accordance with paragraph 2546 of The 2016 Book of Discipline.

Membership and Worship

Membership stands at 150,506 down 3% from 156,154 in 2019.
 
Average worship attendance stands at 39,562 down 27% from 54,650 in 2019.
 
Online worship attendance stands at 89,239 up 997% from 8,131 in 2019.
 
Church school attendance stands at 19,791 down 24% from 26,122 in 2019.
 
Professions or reaffirmations of faith 664 down 46% from 770 in 2019.
 
There were 29,359 adults and young adults in small groups for 2020 down 9,007 people in 2019.
 
There were 60,442 worshippers engaged in mission for 2020 down from 76,928 in 2019.
 

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