Michigan Annual Conference Report 2024

The 2024 Michigan Annual Conference theme was “Fearless: Embracing a New Future.” The mood was light given that General Conference made changes to the Social Principles and Book of Discipline to become more inclusive.

The 2024 Michigan Annual Conference theme was “Fearless: Embracing a New Future.” The mood was light given that General Conference made changes to the Social Principles and Book of Discipline to become more inclusive. Affirming of nuances of the large body of United Methodists throughout the world, we will still need to vote to pass the Regionalization Plan by amending the constitution. With all of this change, we were encouraged to be Fearless as we look toward our new future – Bishop Bard reminded us that we are “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed (1 John 3:2).” and “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Over the past year, a few more churches closed their doors. We celebrated their history while understanding the pain of closure. We then heard from others who have transformed how they reach out into the Community, including the new Eastwood Campus of Sycamore Creek Church here in Lansing, which has become a true community space where art, food and the church all converge at Stage One to build relationships. We talked about ideas for engaging more with our own communities and growing the Church overall.

The overall conference highlighted the very bright future of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli of Foundry UMC in Washington, D.C. spoke on our calling as United Methodists to fearlessly go out into the world as witness of God’s love to build a more equitable world, just as Jesus sent his disciples saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. (John 20:21)” Her message was very encouraging!

We celebrated accomplishments from the past year including how a few Laity who received resources and training grants put those to work – including attending an EcoSchool and returning to form and Environmental Justice Task Force and starting a Healing through Art Therapy and the Word of God ministry. It was exciting to see all the new, fearless ways that the Church is continuing to do good work as we Embrace a New Future! A delegation from Liberia flew in to say Thank You to the Michigan Conference for our commitment to Liberia. They shared stories of education, hope, and the many wells that bring water to communities in Liberia that have all been accomplished with our help. They also affirmed that they have been United Methodists, are United Methodists and will be United Methodists!

We were also witness to the Commissioning and Ordinations of new clergy, deacons and elders. Included among them is newly commissioned, provisional deacon, Sonrisa Marie Cortes, who will be joining us in July as our full time MSU Wesley Director.

We participated in passing many legislative resolutions and voting down some. We passed financial items, including the Conference Budget for 2025 which has been cut by 8.4%. It is important to note that UUMC continues to pay our Ministry Shares in full. The plenary also passed the 2025 Equitable Compensation Schedule, the 2025 Past Service Rate, and Housing/Rental Allowance for Retired or Clergy on Disability, along with the Policy for the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults. Further legislation passed includes Creating an Exploratory Campus Ministry Fund Task Force, a Commitment to the People of Haiti, A Call for Peace with Justice in the Middle East and Witnessing and Voting for Civility, Compassion and Democracy in 2024. A rousing debate over a Call for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine did not pass, and we did not consider the legislation calling for Condemning Apartheid in Palestine and Israel which did not pass out of the Legislative Committee.

Lay Leader Jay Makowski along with Laura DeGuire and Kris Mellon were proud to represent University United Methodist Church as your Laity Representatives at Annual Conference, along with Pastor Melanie Carey. Please feel free to reach out to any one of us if you have any questions.

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