South Georgia prepares for 2019 Annual Conference session



Nearly 1,000 South Georgia United Methodists will gather June 2-5 at The Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center to worship, fellowship, vote for delegates, and discuss the future of the South Georgia Conference.

Meeting under the theme, “Alive Together in the World,” the 2019 Annual Conference session will celebrate how South Georgia churches have connected with their communities in creative ways.

“We introduced ‘Alive Together in the World’ one year ago at the conclusion of Annual Conference 2018,” Bishop R. Lawson Bryan said. “When we meet again this June we will have much to celebrate as our churches have been connecting with their communities in creative ways. We will be noting the many ways we are Alive Together in the World.”

Many South Georgians will recognize the conference’s opening worship service preacher, Bishop Richard Looney. Bishop Looney, who will preach Sunday evening, served as South Georgia’s bishop for 12 years, from 1988 until 2000.

Dr. Gil Rendle, whose research focuses on how to have an effective witness for Christ in a changing culture, will lead the conference’s four teaching sessions. Dr. Rendle also worked as a consultant for The UMC’s Commission on a Way Forward and is author of “Quietly Courageous: Leading the Church in a Changing World.”

On Monday, June 3, the conference will recognize those retiring and, during the Memorial Service, celebrate the lives of South Georgia clergy and clergy spouses who have died during the past year. Rev. Cleo Gilchrist, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Brunswick, will preach. Eleven people will be ordained or commissioned Monday evening, and Bishop Bryan will be the preacher for the service of ordination and commissioning.

Additional times for worship and fellowship have been built into the schedule, and time will also be devoted to considering the outcome of General Conference and voting on several of the decisions made during the Feb. 23-26, 2019, called special session of the General Conference.

“I will also share specific steps we can take to be Alive Together in Christ over the coming conference year,” Bishop Bryan said.

Also during this year’s annual conference session, clergy and lay delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences will be elected. Those interested in becoming a delegate may find more information and fill out a form here. Those who have declared their interest in serving as members of the delegation may be viewed online here.

“The election of these delegates is important because they will represent us at General Conference next May and at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference the following July,” Bishop Bryan said. “This role involves months of preparation as well as a total of three weeks of time devoted to these conferences. May our laity and clergy choose delegates who represent the broad array of persons, talent, and commitment that characterize the South Georgia Conference at its best. 

During the 2019 Annual Conference session, South Georgia United Methodists will have the opportunity to partner with United Methodists in Russia through the opening worship service’s special offering, which has been designated to support Moscow United Methodist Seminary. Offerings will help provide the means for students to attend the seminary and will help the seminary continue to be instrumental in helping revive Methodism in Russia.

“Our special offering will support the training of generations of pastors who will preach the Gospel in Russia and surrounding countries,” Bishop R. Lawson Bryan said. “We are reminded of John Wesley’s statement, ‘The world is my parish.’ Thank you for giving to this special offering through which South Georgia can be part of helping others come to know Jesus as Savior and serve Him as Lord.”

Those who seek to become pastors in Russia, or anywhere in all of Eurasia, face huge uphill struggles. Answering the call of God to pastoral ministry often means stepping outside the cultural norm in a community that has been agnostic and often means a large decline in earnings and a sacrifice to attend seminary. South Georgia’s offerings will help provide the means for students to attend seminary and will help Moscow United Methodist Seminary continue to be instrumental in helping revive Methodism in Russia. Congregations are encouraged to send and present their offering during the opening worship service on June 2. Click here for additional and information and promotional materials.

“To me, annual conference is a giant annual family reunion for United Methodists,” Bishop Bryan said. “Those who have attended past conferences will come to Columbus anticipating the joy of this reunion. This year we will have a whole new group of delegates who are under 40 years old. Most will be attending for the first time. I am excited that they will get to experience what it means to be Alive Together in Christ with 1,000 of their brothers and sisters in Christ.”

For more detailed information and a daily agenda, visit