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Please check back here for news, stories and updates on this year's Annual Conference.

West Ohio Annual Conference Summary
June 7-11, 2009, Lakeside, Ohio

The 40th session of the West Ohio Annual Conference, presided over by Bishop Bruce R. Ough, emphasized the development of principled Christian leaders for the church and the world under the banner of “Love in Action:  Developing Leaders.”  I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.  Jeremiah 3:15

The approximately 3000 members and guests attending the conference at Lakeside, Ohio, received a powerful reminder from Bishop Ough that “as a Love First Conference, the Four Areas of Focus are ways we can faithfully and fruitfully put our love for God and love for neighbor into action within the 21st century context.”  Each of West Ohio’s annual conference sessions throughout Bishop Ough’s third quadrennium in West Ohio will focus on one of the Four Areas of Focus. 

Ough’s Episcopal Address, “Is the United Methodist Church Like the Big Three?” challenged the people of West Ohio to believe that there has never been a better or more critical time to be the Church. “This is an urgent time.”  stated Ough.  “The human needs are urgent.  The economic realities are urgent. The institutional questions are urgent.  Let us not waste or squander this urgency….Let us transform our economic urgency into a Reign of God urgency.  Let us seize this moment to embrace, with new urgency, Christ’s call to make and equip disciples for the transformation of the world.  Let us be the Church!”

The most dramatic and visible evidence of inspiring love came when the “Love First” Miracle offering of over 10,000 school kits was laid at the altar by the churches of West Ohio for distribution in the U.S. and around the world.  In addition, cash donations and pledges of nearly $225,000 were collected for leadership development ministries globally.

Rev. Junius Dotson, senior pastor of Saint Mark UMC, the largest African-American church in the state of Kansas, led two worship services, and the Hope for Africa Children's Choir performed during several worship services.  In keeping with the developing leaders theme, the teaching team of Rev. Mike Slaughter and Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey, from Ginghamsburg UMC, a West Ohio missional church focused on the development of leaders, each contributed powerful teaching presentations to the conference audience. 

Throughout the week both spontaneous challenges and planned events invited participation and offered excitement.  Highlights included a Youth vs. Cabinet Water Balloon Volleyball game, a “Rock the Dock” concert and dance, an Internet Café where members could “plug in”, and live-streaming for those unable to attend the conference but interested in participating.  Interspersed throughout the agenda were a series of Ministry Moments, lifting up leadership-focused churches and ministries supported by and partnered with the West Ohio Conference.  A Ministry Fair offered exhibits by churches and other ministries excelling at developing leaders.

In other conference business members voted on the Constitutional Amendments from the 2008 General Conference, and members approved West Ohio resolutions that:

  • Called upon individuals, clergy, congregations, general agencies, Ohio & U.S. legislative bodies, and the United Nations to make a commitment to live healthier lives & and work toward health care for all;
  • Called upon members of West Ohio congregations to pray and actively engage in opposing the gambling interests that are again attempting to bring casinos and slots to Ohio;
  • Established a committee to investigate companies within West Ohio’s investment portfolio that support the occupation of Palestinian territories and recommend divestment from these companies

Bishop Ough ordained twenty elders and four deacons.  He commissioned sixteen probationary and two associate members, and honored twenty-eight pastors in their retirement.  

West Ohio using "Live Streaming" for watching conference at home

The 40th West Ohio Annual Conference will be "live streamed" via the conference website this year, for the first time ever.  West Ohio Communications has embedded live video of all conference activities and events on the conference website.  Viewers at home can follow along with the members sitting in Hoover Auditorium.  Of special interest to many viewers at home will be the Episcopal Address, the guest speakers presentations, and the Celebration Service, where family members unable to attend the ordination of their loved ones, can watch from home or office.

Love First Offering Illustrates West Ohio Generosity

The people of West Ohio generously offered resources to those in need during this year's Love First Offering.  In a moving demonstration of love and generosity, the offerings taken during the worships services had representatives from West Ohio congregations coming forward to the stage and delivering not only thousands of school kits to the altar, but also thousands of dollars in cash contributions.  At last count, over 10,500 school kits were collected and will be transported to UMCOR distribution centers to be delivered to children in the U.S. and globally.  With a value of $15 each, that's over $150,000.  In addition, more than $210,000 was collected in donations, earmarked for leadership training in West Ohio as well as our four mission partnerships in SE Asia, North Katanga, Mexico and Russia.  Video

Rock the Dock and Water Balloon Volleyball

From The Beatles to the limbo, the young and old gathered around the pavilion at Lakeside on Tuesday evening in order to celebrate being together, do some dancing, and to raise money and interest in the Bishop's Love First Offering. The youth challenged Bishop Ough and the Cabinet to a "dance off" and while the debate is still on about who won the dance competition, a good time was had by all.  The dance competition was a part of the continuing, but friendly, feud between the Bishop, the Cabinet and the youth that started last year during a water balloon volleyball game won by the youth. During the rematch this year, the youth were once again able to best the Bishop and Cabinet and now hold a 2-0 record.

Ginghamsburg UMC Offers a Dynamic Duo to Teach and Lead Worship

This year during annual conference, conference members and clergy members were treated to Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey teaching on Tuesday and Rev. Michael Slaughter teaching on Wednesday. Both pastors taught on how the United Methodist Church can better reach out to the community both locally and globally. Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church is the fastest growing church in the West Ohio Conference as well as one of the largest in the country, and has been a leader in innovation and ideas within the United Methodist Church. Both Kibbey and Slaughter have written many books that are currently available at the Cokesbury Bookstore at Lakeside and online at the Ginghamsburg e-store. The Worship Team from Ginghamsburg also led both morning worship services.  View the video excerpts Sue Nilson Kibbey, Mike Slaughter.

Africa Children Choir Raises Voices of Praise

The children of the Hope for Africa Children Choir were able to inspire and awe the attendees and guest of the West Ohio Annual Conference.  Their singing and dancing was a treat for all conference goers. Each time they performed throughout the week, the children left to thunderous applause and standing ovations from the audience. The Hope for Africa Children Choir is one way the church is combating many of the socio-economic issues that currently plague Africa.  Monday Video, Wednesday Video

Conference Youth Using Voice

Currently at Annual Conference, members of the Youth Taskforce are taking an active role in the discussion over different issues.  During meal breaks and evenings, many youth gather together in order to discuss strategies and debate the topics of the amendments and issues of Annual Conference.  This is a direct result of the West Ohio Conference taking deliberate steps to empower the youth of the Conference in order to allow them to help shape the policy of the West Ohio Conference and by extension, the entire United Methodist Church.

West Ohio Conference is "tweeting"

This year, the West Ohio Conference is on Twitter! From "retweeting" tweets from Conference members, to leading discussions over the boards of Twitter, the West Ohio Conference has become an active presence on Twitter.  To follow the updates of the West Ohio Conference on Twitter, go to To follow the discussion of West Ohio Conference on Twitter, search for the phrase, "#wocumc." This is one of many of the Social Networking Initiatives that the West Ohio Communications is taking.  To follow the conference on Facebook, go to West Ohio Conference.

Bishop Offers Inspiring Sermon During Service

Passages and transitions were celebrated at the Wednesday afternoon Celebration of Life & Ministry Service.  Some were remembered for their past service to the church, others were celebrated into a life of retirement from ministry as a vocation.  Family and friends gathered to watch the pageantry of ordination of their loved ones into full connection after a long journey of study and service.  Yet, despite which of these reasons you might have attended the Celebration Service, all attendees will remember the semon by Bishop Ough in which he meditated on the how can people be confident in their next step in difficult times. Drawing inspiration from the Israelites leaving Egypt with Moses and a film clip from the motion picture, Ray, Bishop Ough message had the audience cheering together in a unifying voice celebrating the victory of Jesus Christ in the future. Along with the Bishop’s semon, the children from the Hope for Africa Children’s Choir came to sing for the attendees. The children left smiling to a standing ovation. The service was concluded with commissionings and ordinations.

Next Generations Leadership Holds Luncheon for Multiple Generations

Members from the Next Generations Leadership Lead Team invited members from multiple aspects of Next Generations Leadership to a luncheon and meet and greet. Among the attendees were the members of the Next Gen Taskforce, Next Generations Leadership Interns, and the Next Generation Leadership Taskforce. Director of Camps and Next Generations Leadership, Jill Moore, led a discussion in which she sought to know how the Office of Next Generations Leadership could better help empower the youth within the West Ohio Conference. Currently, the West Ohio Conference is restarting the Conference Council on Youth Ministry under the new name, Next Gen Taskforce. Along with the Youth Taskforce members, there are also 13 Next Generations Leadership Interns serving across West Ohio Conference. Shortly after the luncheon, seven of the interns were presented to the West Ohio Annual Conference by the Office of Ordained Ministry.

Communications Takes Media Connection to Next Level

West Ohio Communications has added several new media features this year to help attendees stay connected with each other and with people back home.  Internet access was available to all in Hoover Auditorium and in the new "Internet Cafe" located in the Fountain Inn.  Due to high usage, the internet connection capacity in Hoover actually maxed out a couple of times, and the system had to be upgraded mid-week.  Live Streaming was available free to anyone who visited the conference website.  Viewers at home could watch all conference happenings including the Celebration of Life & Ministry Service.  The Internet Cafe offered a place to plug in your laptop, check your email, send updates back home, and connect with other techies.  Events in Hoover were livestreamed all day so that visitors to the Internet Cafe wouldn't miss anything.  Ministry Moments videos, produced by West Ohio Communications and shown during the week at Lakeside, are available online to view.  Video highlights and excerpts of the days events are also on the video gallery as well. In addition, photo galleries using photos from our many volunteer photographers have been added to the website. 


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