The Texas Annual Conference: A Future with Hope
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 headedthe 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:
- Delegates voted yes to approve a slate of Methodist Hospital Board of Directors.
- In the Strategic Mapping motion, delegates voted to approve combining five center directors and the Assistant to the Bishop. The body also voted to keep all elected leaders in their post for an extra year.
- Delegates voted no to a resolution to remove the “incompatibility clause,” restrictions on “same sex” marriage and/or “conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” by ordained or licensed clergy, restrictions on the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals,” and other restrictions “ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality,” so that the power of God for salvation will be expressed to its fullest for all people.
- Delegates voted yes to approve a resolution on two historical sites.
- Delegates failed to suspend the rules to consider the last resolution, in addendum I.
“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.”