(June 17, 2014)

United Methodist Conference a "great success"

SHREVEPORT, LA — More than 1,000 Methodist delegates from across the state made the pilgrimage to Centenary College this June 8-11 for the 2014 United Methodist Church of Louisiana Annual Conference. Centenary students involved in the Christian Leadership Center and staff volunteers from the Advancement and Admission Division of the College all pitched in for the event.

Austin Rinehart '13 delivers a homily during the Celebration of Life service. Rinehart is currently a student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

"A homecoming of sorts for the United Methodist Church, this year's annual conference was a great success," said Maegan Daigle, Assistant Director of Christian Leadership. "It was wonderful to see the familiar faces within the UMC, particular our Centenary alumni, and we were so appreciative of our staff and volunteers' hard work and exceptional hospitality. Annual Conference is always a special time on our campus and this year was really outstanding!"

Valerie Robideaux, Director of Professional Discernment and Centenary Chaplain, helped organize the annual event. This year's Conference theme was "Woven Together: Changing the World," which featured a double helix logo that spoke to the DNA of the United Methodist movement, and the idea that people are woven by God into this DNA.

"I want us to be a people who are not only woven together but act like they are woven together, love that they are woven together even with all of our quirkiness, our uniqueness and all that we hold in common and in tension," said Bishop Cynthia Harvey during her Episcopal Address.

The Bishop's complete address can be read here.

Conference members convened in the Gold Dome for a Celebration of Life ceremony to remember clergy and clergy spouses who passed away in the past year. Austin Rinehart '13 was one of three speakers to give a homily during the service.

Monday evening the Ordination and Commissioning Service was held at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport and two Centenary alumni were ordained as elders and received into full connection with the conference:

Rev. Drew Sutton'03, ordained an Elder
Rev. Rachel McConnell-Switzer '10, commissioned as an Elder

Conference members elected delegates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Four Centenary alumni were appointed to positions:

Amanda Price '14, elected as a lay delegate for the 2016 South Central Jurisdictional Conference
Olivia Pruett '06, elected as a lay delegate for the 2016 South Central Jurisdictional Conference
Stacy Hood '95, elected as a lay delegate for the 2016 South Central Jurisdictional Conference
Rev. Katie McKay Simpson '04, elected as a clergy alternate delegate for Jurisdictional or General Conference

Awards and scholarship winners were recognized throughout the Conference including Price who was honored with the 2014 Laity Harry Denman Award for outstanding service in evangelism.

A new program during this year's Conference was an Oscar-themed awards ceremony, "The Wesleys." United Methodist churches from throughout the Louisiana Conference were recognized for implementing creative ministries that embody the Conference Core Values and Preferred Vision and winners received "gold plated" John Wesley bobble-head statuettes. A list of Wesley Award recipients can be found here.

Awards and scholarship winners were recognized throughout the Conference. A list of awards and scholars can be found here.

The 2015 Louisiana Annual Conference is slated for June 7-10 at Centenary.