The Texas Annual Conference: A Future with Hope
By Shannon W. Martin
There were over 3,400 delegates and guests that attended the 50th session of the 2019 Texas Annual Conference at the Hilton Americans in downtown Houston. Bishop Scott J. Jones preached an inspirational Episcopal Address, challenging everyone to “remember your baptism and be thankful” and to find hope, even when times seem hard.
The theme to this year’s conference was A Future with Hope. To highlight the theme, the worship and communications team gathered stained glass photos from all over the conference, turning the hotel ballroom into a sanctuary with stunning, life-sized stained-glass LED panels that projected stained glass photographs from churches around the conference. Some of the glass was submitted by local congregations, but the majority of the glass was from the long tenured location of the Texas Annual Conference, FUMC Downtown.
“More than one person asked me if the LED panels of the stained glass was real. Transforming a hotel ballroom into sanctuary was both thought-provoking and spectacular for our team,” said Dr. Craig Gilbert who headed the worship team.
United Methodist Children’s Centers Announced
As a part of the “We Love All God’s Children” initiative to help the youngest minds and bodies grow and develop in a nurturing, Christ-centered environment, Bishop Jones announced seven new United Methodist Children’s Centers.
Focusing on changing the trajectory of children’s lives through early education, health and discipleship, the United Methodist Children’s Centers will reach out to underserved children from birth to 11 years old.
General Conference 2020 Delegation Elections
On Tuesday, clergy and laity delegates spent the day voting for their delegation to General Conference 2020. Dr. Tom Pace, Senior Pastor of St. Luke’ UMC, Houston was chosen to lead the clergy delegation, and Don House from A&M UMC, College Station, Texas was chosen to lead the laity delegation.
This year, clergy delegates voted for younger delegates, who represent a wide range of social and theological views. The laity delegation also includes one young person.
Tuesday night, 16 elders were ordained and 16 others were commissioned. All 32 were presented with beautiful hand-stitched stoles from Laos, where Bishop Scott J. Jones also serves as the resident Bishop. Jones recently returned from Laos, where he ordained his first group of elders.
Wednesday was a full morning of voting for Texas Conference delegates as they approved the following:
The Texas Annual Conference ended with a prayer from Christie Catrone.
“Oh, great God, give us rest. Thank you for this week. Thank you for this time together and for the work we have done and the work we have yet to do. I ask that you give us grace and peace as we continue to go out into the world to do your work. To love in your name and to serve others as you would have us serve them.”