Summary Report from the
2020 Kentucky Annual Conference
The 2020 Annual Conference, broadcast virtually because of COVID-19, began on Sunday, December 6th with a public laity session followed by a closed clergy session. John Denham, the Kentucky Annual Conference’s Lay Leader, was shown live from his home in Maysville while most of the presentations, reports and sacred music were prerecorded. That included a fourminute introduction from Bishop Leonard Fairley who focused on the challenges of furthering the Kingdom during a worldwide pandemic. About a dozen people presented short reports or testimony, including the lay leaders from the Conference’s nine districts. Lay and clergy members of Annual Conference watched on a special webinar platform on Sunday, and again during Tuesday’s business meeting. The process allowed remote voting and interaction using an integrated web-based application. Reportedly, about 225 people were watching Sunday’s laity session on the webinar platform, and about 80 more on a Facebook Live feed for interested members of the UMC community.
On Tuesday, December 8th, the main Annual Conference began at 9 AM, with sessions continuing shortly after 4 PM. There were about 630 people logged on to the virtual sessions in the morning, and just under that by late afternoon. The service of Commissioning and Ordination, which would normally have been done during the Annual Conference, was deferred until the 2021 Conference. The hope is to hold this in Owensboro, June 7-9, if the pandemic subsides allowing a regular gathering. The Annual Conference sessions handle a number of administrative functions and votes necessary for the good operation of the Conference, its many committees and missions. One of the important roles of the Annual Conference is to review and approve the Conference’s budget for the coming year. Recognizing that with the pandemic impacting many member churches which have been largely doing virtual services and events, with potential giving expected to be less than normal, the Conference’s Committee on Finance and Administration (CFA) prepared a budget that anticipated $740,755 in overall lower revenues. Expenditures were adjusted to be in balance, and the net approved Conference budget for 2021 was $6,100,000; down from $6,840.755 in 2020. This included a 1% reduction in the Mission Covenant from 11% to 10%. Conference Staff and Salary Expenses were decreased by $438,873 to $2,051,832. Ministries were increased $140,290, or about 8%, to $1,954,985. The final budget was approved on a vote of 547 to 7.
Recognizing that 2020 has been a rather turbulent year, punctuated here in Kentucky with the protests and unrest surrounding the Breonna Taylor shooting and protests, there was a resolution presented and endorsed to take a stand against racism while supporting community healing. There was also a proposal pulled from the Consent Calendar for separate discussion that was focused on Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (referred to as SBC21). It discussed development of a Strategic Plan, hiring of a Director, and other potential resources toward developing leaders and empowerment of the Black Church in the Kentucky Annual Conference. There was a proposal to develop some training for church leadership on racism prevention, but because of the potential unknown costs and a tight budget, this matter was referred on a 439 to 80 vote to the Ministerial Services Office and the conferences Council on Finance & Administration for further development with a finalized proposal anticipated for report out at the 2021 Conference.
Three churches in the South Central District around Columbia, Kentucky, filed for disaffiliation with the United Methodist Church. These churches met the requirements outlined in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, and this was ratified by the Annual Conference in a 584 to 31 vote. There were also four churches closing in the Conference, and the merger of two churches in the Greenville area, given Annual Conference approval.
There was a lengthy discussion about the fate of the Kavanaugh Conference and Retreat Center property in Crestwood. There are about 38 acres which sit behind the Conference Office, with a collection of camp or retreat buildings and a small lake. While this was once a vibrant location for youth camps and church retreats, the pandemic essentially accelerated what has been a steady decline in use and financial support. This past year they moved the Scout troop which had been meeting in one of the camp buildings to the main Conference Center; and then the pandemic would not allow regular camp programs to operate, so the camp was officially closed May 1, 2020. Nathan Calvert, who previously served as a youth minister at St. John’s UMC in Goshen before serving as the Center’s Director, was recognized for his leadership. At this point, revenues and donations are not supporting the associated expenses and potential maintenance costs, which lead the Annual Conference leadership team to ask for authority to research and pursue the potential sale of the property. There were 629 delegates who voted on this resolution, with 548 voting yes and 66 voting no. This does not have impact on Aldersgate Camp, Loucon Training and Retreat Center, or the Ruggles Camp and Retreat Center. Sale of the Kavanaugh Conference and Retreat Center also has no effect on the Kentucky Conference Administrative Building, located at 7400 Floydsburg Road, which backs up to the Retreat Center.
Finally, there was indication that in 2021 about $50,000 is going to be made available for microgrants in three areas: Stewardship; Leadership Development; and Innovation. It is my understanding from information received at the District Meeting that these will be up to $2,000 each, and the window to apply will be January to March, 2021. More information is expected in the near future.
Dick Bartlett Mt. Tabor UMC’s Lay Delegate to the Kentucky Annual Conference
December 10, 2020