AC2015: Come and See

We Came and Heard exciting guest speakers focusing on “out of the box” ministry!

We Came and Worshiped as we gathered to celebrate, ordain, commission and remember!

We Came and Passed a Good Time at our Louisiana Tailgate Party!

We Came and Saw and enjoyed fellowship with our partners in ministry–clergy and lay–who share the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Sunday, June 7 through Wednesday, June 10, more than 1,000 United Methodists from throughout Louisiana gathered in the Gold Dome at Centenary College in Shreveport for their annual gathering. The scriptural focus for AC2015 is John 1:39-51, where Jesus invites His disciples to believe in Him—and to “come and see.”

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, in her Episcopal Address delivered Sunday evening, encouraged Louisiana's United Methodists to "be all in." "You can't be lukewarm," said Bishop Harvey, who also encouraged clergy and laity to be "more efficient and effective with what you DO have."

Compelling vision takes deep, hard work, she emphasized. "Stop, be still, quiet yourself. Be slow and deliberate." 

"This is not your mama and daddy's church," she added. "We must lead with greater boldness than ever before."

Bishop Harvey said that the church's "delivery mechanism has to change" in order to reach more people. "If we're not responding to the ends of the earth, I believe our vitality will be in question," she added.

The bishop delivered her address at the annual Communion Service, during which an offering was received for United Methodist Committee on Relief's 75th anniversary. The total collected to date stands at more than $50,000. Also, the bread for the service was provided from loaves brought by congregations throughout the Louisiana Conference to this week's event. Unused loaves were sent out in the Shreveport community to help feed the hungry and homeless.

Louisiana's United Methodist churches also celebrated United Methodist Committee on Relief's 75th anniversary by filling a truck from UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, La. with health and school kits!  

Prior to the Communion Service on June 7, conference members gathered for a Louisiana tailgate party outside the Gold Dome from 5-7 p.m. to visit colleagues and start new friendships while enjoying treats provided by local food trucks. 

Monday morning, both the Laity Breakfast and Laity Session were held at Broadmoor United Methodist Church in Shreveport while the Clergy Session was held in Brown Chapel on Centenary's campus. During the Laity Breakfast, Dean Harvey served as keynote speaker and the Daughenbaugh Matheny Scholars were recognized.

After the sessions, all conference members convened in the Gold Dome for a Celebration of Life, as we remembered those clergy and clergy spouses who entered Life Eternal during the past year. Rev. Marie Williams, pastor of Blackwater UMC in Baker, served as speaker for the service. Rev. Williams has served as an elder in the Louisiana Conference since 1973.

Stacy Hood, Grace Community UMC’s Director of Worship Related Ministries, served as worship leader for the Celebration of Life and throughout the Annual Conference. In her own special style, Stacy “wove” our worship as we “came and saw” what AC2015 had to offer the 500 local churches that make up the Louisiana Annual Conference.

The tenth anniversary of Louisiana’s encounter with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was remembered during AC2015 several times. Most memorable was a presentation of video shot immediately after the storms hit accompanied by the singing of a commemorative song by Stacy Hood during Tuesday night's Wesley Awards. The Louisiana Annual Conference celebrates the incredible partnership that our conference had with UMCOR during our successful recovery efforts from these two devastating storms.

The 45th Session of the Louisiana Annual Conference convened Monday, June 8 in the Gold Dome. At the end of the business session, Dr. Elaine Heath, McCreless Professor of Evangelism for Perkins School of Theology, served as guest speaker.

On Monday evening, clergy were ordained and commissioned during the Celebration of Ministry held at First UMC, Shreveport at 7:30 p.m. In addition to ordaining elders and deacons and receiving them into full connection with the conference, as well as commissioning provisional elders and deacons, the service included the licensing of local pastors. Bishop Harvey served as preacher for the service, and Adam Philley, director of Music Ministries for Asbury UMC in Bossier, led the choir. An offering of more than $6,200 was received that evening for a tour of the Holy Land for new clergy ordinands.

Four persons were ordained elder and one person ordained deacon and received into full connection with the conference on Monday evening during the Celebration of Ministry Service (formerly Ordination and Commissioning Service) held at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport. The ordinands are Chad David Brooks, Thomas Alan Johnson, Sonya Renee Lars and Bradley Wilson Swire, all new elders; and Linda Katherine Broderick, new deacon.

Those commissioned as provisional elders during the service included Kelly Beacham Berne, Linard Craig Davis, Peter Grant Gaughan, Jay Churchill Hogewood, Shawn Thomas Hornsby, Jessica Ann Lowe, Laura Elaine Nusbaum, Kermit Curtis Roberson, Allison Naifeh Sauls, Ronald James Southall, Fredrick Harrell Sweetwyne and Alice Kendig Young.

During the Celebration of Ministry, Leah Stevens Gaughan, Jason Lee Harris, Michelle Perret Harris, Cynthia DeMen Kaupp, Bethany Laura Lawson, Rebecca Lynn Poor, Laurie H. Raborn, Fernando Manuel Rivera, Denise Letrell Smith, John Elbert Tellis, Sr. and Thomas Mark Williams were recognized as new local pastors.

During Monday’s afternoon session of Annual Conference, five people were recognized for completing the License to Preach School. They are Shirley Spurlock Collins, Earl William Cumming, Christopher Alan Hyde, Rebecca Lynn Poor and James Alden Wilkins

Those completing the 20 classes for the Course of Study School are Mary Amanda Carpenter, Edward Lee Cooper, Sandra Robbins DeFatta, Robert Earl Johnson, Sr. and Stephanie Thomas Kidd. 

Chyrelena Lynn Peyton, Bettie Jo Rhodes and Bryan Garret Sibley were recognized as the newest Certified Lay Ministers in our conference. 

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey served as preacher for the Celebration of Ministry.

View videotaped messages from our five ordinands here

On Tuesday morning, Rev. Eric Huffman served as the second guest speaker for AC2015. Rev. Huffman is the lead pastor of The Story Houston, a new congregation being planted through St. Luke’s UMC in Houston (

Also on Tuesday morning, the Clergy Retiree Class of 2015 were recognized as a group in the Gold Dome. View videotaped messages from retirees here.

In addition, the Restructure Task Force presented its final report to the members of the annual conference. The report was passed.

This task force group has been working diligently on this proposed alternative structure for our work as a conference. Those persons with any questions or concerns about the Restructure Proposal should contact Rev. John Cannon at  Link to the  proposal here.

Rev. Justin Coleman, chief ministry officer of the United Methodist Publishing House in Nashville, addressed the gathering on Tuesday afternoon. His responsibilities at the Publishing House include culture, innovation, ideation, training and alignment.

Local churches were recognized for excellence in ministry during the 2015 Wesley Awards, held in the Gold Dome. Winners were chosen for implementing creative ministries that embody our Conference Core Values and Preferred Vision. The winners are listed here.

Lifetime Achievement Awards were give to the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home and to United Methodist Committee on Relief. The Harry Denman Awards and the Bishop and Kay Hutchinson Endowment Scholarships were also presented.

Before departing, conference members witnessed and participated in the Fixing of Appointments, the Passing of the Mantle, heard an inspiring Response from Young Adults, and shared in communion during the Service of Celebration and Hope: Going Forth to See, Hear, Believe the Good News.