Led by Rev. Bruce Baxter, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the clergy session is just that, a session of clergy only conducting the business of being clergy. Prospective ordinands are introduced and approved, clergy retiring, going on leave or leaving the ministry altogether are announced, and new and closing congregations are named.
In this conference year four satellite congregations have been started with one preparing to launch; two congregations have merged, with four other congregations creating two cooperative parishes. Three new congregations have been discontinued. New congregations are discontinued after three years if they are unable to grow enough to support themselves, without conference funds. This year 18 congregations have closed across the Conference and the clergy celebrated the many years of service, mission and worship.
Thousands of people were baptized, married and buried from these congregations; thousands of disciples created.
Rev. Mark Dumas, chair of the Order of Elder introduced the candidates for commissioning, 12 for Elder and one for Deacon.
He also introduced those to be ordained this weekend: two Deacon candidates and eight Elder candidates. They were all approved and welcomed by the clergy. This year 21 clergy died, as well as one lay person who served the local church. Bishop Schnase acknowledged that while these people may be unknown to many and some were very well known, we all celebrate their dedication to the life of the Church. This year one Deacon, 16 Elders, two associate members, one deaconess minister, and one provisional member will retire.
Also reported is the date and place for the 2016 Annual Conference: June 3-6 in Springfield.
Rev. Bruce Baxter introduced a survey being taken by the Missouri United Methodist Foundation, in conjunction with the Lily Foundation. All clergy are encouraged to complete the survey which will help secure a $1 million grant for the Foundation. The grant will help fund the creation of programs aimed at congregational investment, student loans and other financial planning programs.