What to Expect at Annual Conference

This week, United Methodists from across Kentucky will gather at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center. It’s annual conference season and the Kentucky Annual Conference will begin in earnest Monday morning.

For three days, clergy and lay will enter into a time of “holy conferencing” regarding the issues impacting the church in Kentucky. This year’s conference will be reduced by one day, which will impact what will take place at conference. For instance, many of the awards presentations typically held at conference will not take place because of timing.

As we prepare for this important time, there are several things to keep an eye on. What follows is a preview on what might be some of the key issues that will be addressed at annual conference.

Health care and pension changes

One of the key resolutions will be a change in the conference’s health care and pension packages. This goes along with the focus on pension at the recently-concluded General Conference. It is a difficult discussion anytime changes are made to an individual’s benefit package. Many of the proposed changes are needed, but my hope is that the discussion will be a time to seek clarity instead of confusion.

Conference budget discussion

Each year, one of the most interesting discussions surrounds the conference budget. In a time of economic difficulties, the conference has done an exceptional job of keeping the budget at $9 million. Discussion will likely center on how that money will be spent and if additional cuts to the budget are needed.

Where are we going to meet?

Also up for discussions is a resolution to move annual conference to Bowling Green beginning in 2015. I don’t expect this to be a major discussion, but I said that before and have been wrong. In 2010, the Virginia Annual Conference came to a slow crawl because of a discussion to extend a contract with the Norfolk Scope in Norfolk, Va. The discussion focused on tourism dollars and was far from the true intent of annual conference. Again, I don’t expect this vote to be a major point of discussion.

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