Countdown to Conference Part II: What’s New for 2014?

Date Posted: 3/27/2014

From technology to technique…Here’s a look at some modifications and tweaks designed to improve your 2014 Annual Conference experience and provide an array of ministry resources to support vibrant congregations across the conference.

The top four changes to expect at 2014 Annual Conference are spotlighted below:

#1 Perhaps the 2014 Annual Conference newsflash that will garner the biggest cheer is the availability of WIFI. “Smartphones, personal computers, tablets and all devices should have access to the internet this year,” announces Communication Director Paula Arnold, “which will greatly facilitate delegates and attendees in conversing with each other and their home communities throughout their stay.”

#2 Conference Communications will be creating daily videos that summarize the worship highlights and meeting headline news of each day. “We will create these highlight videos and post them each evening so that those who are not able to be with us will understand what went on that day – including a peek into the children and youth activities,” adds Paula. “This will be done instead of live-streaming the entire conference, which not only saves the conference thousands of dollars, but also saves a great deal of time for those wanting to know what went on, without having to watch hours of meetings to find out.”

#3 Congregations seeking to be more outwardly focused in serving their unique mission field will have resources on display and ministry representatives to talk with. As Missional Excellence Center Director Rev. Diane McGehee explains, “The theme of this year’s Annual Conference is vibrant congregations.  A vibrant congregation is a missional congregation, engaged in meeting the needs of the members of its local community and beyond.  In an effort to help congregations effectively meet those needs , the Center for Missional Excellence will have  tables with resources for addressing issues such as hunger, homelessness, mental illness, the needs of foster care and children needing adoption, mentoring in schools, families impacted by the prison system, human trafficking and more.  A complete list of the featured tables and resources will be provided on the Conference Annual Conference 2014 webpage.  We encourage delegates to browse these tables and talk to the representatives to determine what resources will be most useful for their congregation in caring for the members of their local communities in the love of Christ.”
 
#4 As a result of last year’s decisions regarding procedures of the Annual Conference, there will be new steps to follow at this year’s District meetings and Annual Conference business sessions. According to B. T. Williamson, Assistant to the Bishop, the Core Leadership Team reviewed the Resolution Process last spring and brought recommendations to Annual Conference that the timing for submittals be changed to allow for a better process of consideration. Additionally, the discussion process was also modified and approved by the delegates - for the same purpose. The revised process approved at the 2013 Annual Conference is designed with these elements:

Pre-conference

  • Delegate meetings provide the forum to discuss all resolutions/proposals that are included in the Pre-conference Journal.
  • Delegates are expected to discuss these important issues in a spirit of Holy Conversation.  This means all sides will be presented and listened to in a spirit of Christian love and respect. Persons making presentations will not be interrogated or cross-examined. Persons present will not participate in applause or partisan or disparaging sounds (boos/hurrahs) and no personal attacks will be allowed.
  • The sponsoring entity and related conference center will provide speakers that address the pro/con views of the proposal being discussed.
  • Following an organized and considerate discussion, the facilitator will take a non-binding vote to determine concurrence or non-concurrence of the resolution/proposal, and the results will be reported to the Annual Conference.
“At our district meetings beginning in April, we will be devoting about five minutes to hear both sides of each proposal, followed by about 15-20 minutes of discussion and a non-binding voting,” explains Rev. Williamson.
Annual Conference
  • Resolutions and proposals that are included in the Pre-conference Journal will then be listed on the Annual Conference agenda, providing the provisions of the pre-conference requirements have been met.
  • When the resolutions/proposals come to the floor of Annual Conference, one predetermined speaker for each side of the issue will be allowed a maximum of 5 minutes to speak their key points.  An additional 6 minutes of alternating comments of a minute each will be allowed. Prior to a vote, there will be a minute of silent prayer.
“We expect record crowds to enjoy a special time of ‘family reunion’, revitalizing worship and significant discussions as we continue to live into the vision of building vibrant congregations, which the Texas Annual Conference is known for,” adds B.T.

Additional Event Information for Annual Conference 2014