TIFTON, GA (WALB) - Church leaders celebrated their 150th year of coming together in South Georgia.
Volunteers played cards at the South Georgia United Methodist Annual Conference as they waited for more than 1,000 people to walk through the doors of the UGA Tifton Conference Center. Clergy and church lay leaders from throughout south Georgia were coming to plan for the future.
"One of the pitfalls of being a minister of a church is that you can become a lone ranger. Well, that's very hard to be in the United Methodist Church because we are connected," said Conference Secretary Jay Harris.
Church delegates couldn't have agreed more. They come to the event each year to worship, ordain ministers, talk about trends in the church and reflect on the past.
Stephanie Smith, an associate pastor from Statesboro, said the conference is about more than just church business though.
"Sunday is a work day for a lot of us," explained Smith. "So, we come together in this time of worship and conversation, but we also go and sit at tables throughout Tifton and fellowship together with one another."
The mass of connecting and collaborating delegates also packed a significant economic punch.
Tifton Tourism Coordinator Tyron Spearman said that he expects hotel rooms and restaurants to get flooded with new customers, but Spearman wanted to show his guests the true spirit of the city.
"We try to teach them the motto: T.I.F.T.O.N., Tifton is friendly, terrific and overly nice. T.I.F.T.O.N."
As the four day conference begun, attendees were already stopping around town and making new friends.
The conference will run through Saturday. The public is invited to come to a free concert Friday night at 7 p.m.