Methodist conference gets underway in Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Methodist conference gets underway in Albany

June 2, 2003

Albany --  United Methodist Church clergy and members from all across South Georgia started their Annual Conference meeting Monday morning in Albany.

For the first time, the 1,400 member Conference elected a black minister to represent it at next year's International General Conference.

 Reverend James Swanson, the Superintendent of the Savannah District of the United Methodist Church, was elected the South Georgia Conference Delegate. He will represent the Conference at the General Conference in Pittsburgh in April 2004. The General Conference is where the top leadership of the United Methodist set the direction for their church's future.

Reverend Swanson said "It says our conference has come a long way. And the acceptance of men and women of color, who have so much to offer to Christ and to his church."

Swanson will be the first Black clergy rep for the South Georgia Conference. Bishop Michael Watson said racial harmony is something the Church is striving for. Bishop Watson said "In United Methodism race and gender are not the kind of issues that we struggle with like we used to. But it is still something we focus on, and we want to call attention to."

 Reverend Swanson said "What I would like to see is basically what Martin King talked about, and that is we are judged by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin."

657 churches with a membership of 141,000 are represented at the South Georgia United Methodist Conference. The 1,400delegates will be in Albany for five days, with an expected economic impact of close to a million dollars on the local economy.

 The United Methodist Church is celebrating the 300th Anniversary of John Wesley's birth. Wesley, who started one of the first churches in the Georgia colony, is considered the father of Methodism.

posted at 4:31PM by jimw@walb.com