Annual Conference 2015 Squeezes Down to a Two-Day Format

AC2015 Agenda Task Force compresses the calendar but maintains the focus on worship, teaching and spiritual growth.

by Vance Morton*
The Central Texas Annual Conference Planning Team has elected to pilot a two-day format for the 2015 annual meeting of the conference instead of the traditional three-day session. Annual Conference 2015 will kick-off with the Opening Worship Celebration of Remembrance & Resurrection at 7 p.m., Sunday, June 7. The meeting of the Annual Conference will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, June 8, following separate clergy and laity sessions, which begin at 8 .a.m. The meeting is scheduled to conclude at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 9.
Reducing Annual Conference by a day is not a new concept for the planning team. Even with the focus of Annual Conference having shifted from being primarily a business meeting to more a time of worship, teaching and spiritual growth over the last few years, the time needed to adequately address the business of the conference made reducing the length of the meeting by a day problematic and risky. However, based in large part on feedback received via the yearly post-conference evaluation surveys, the AC2015 Agenda Task Force determined the time had come to attempt the shorter format.
“For the past two or three years, we’ve received more and more feedback supporting the merits of shortening annual conference by a day,” noted Dr. Georgia Adamson, assistant to the Bishop and executive director for the CTC Center for Leadership. “We have had to move some things around, combine some services and significantly reimagine how we handle the reports and other business conducted during the meeting. But we believe that what we’ve come up with will allow us to effectively conclude our business and maintain our strong focus on worship, learning and spiritual growth.”   
The AC2015 Agenda Task Force is made up of Dr. Adamson; Dr. John McKellar, co-senior pastor, White’s Chapel UMC; Dr. Todd Renner, co-senior pastor of White’s Chapel UMC; and Mr. Tom Harkrider, associate conference lay leader. While the task force will not finalize the AC2015 agenda until later this spring, you can access the tentative agenda here. (Please note that the agenda is still a work in progress and is subject to change until it appears in the Preliminary Report later this spring) Some of the more high-profile changes to the agenda from years past include:
  • observing the Service of Remembrance during the well-attended Opening Service on Sunday night;
  • eliminating the “free night” on Monday and using that time to celebrate the 2015 Commissioning and Ordination Service; and
  • reducing the number of and time allowed for live reports during the business meeting.
 ”We’ll not always be able to employ a compressed calendar, but we’ll continue do our best to exercise faithful stewardship of our Annual Conference time and resources.” declared Bishop Mike Lowry, episcopal leader for the Central Texas Conference UMC. “I believe the team did a marvelous job of responding to the daunting task of reducing Annual Conference by a full day, and I thank them for all their hard work in structuring a two-day agenda that continues to emphasize worship, teaching and spiritual growth.”
Please visit regularly beginning March 2 for registration links, hotel information, bios on the conference teacher Rudy Rasmus, news and much more as it becomes available regarding Annual Conference 2015.
*Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the CTC.