2014 Annual Conference Report

The fifth session of the Upper New York Annual Conference was held from May 29 to May 31.  There were more than 1500 attendees.  Barbara Saltarella and Rosemary Elliott represented Williamsville UMC.  Denise Barham was in charge of a display table for the Buffalo United Methodist Course of Study School.  The first morning there were separate meetings for Laity and Pastors.  Conference is a mixture of devotions and business or plenary sessions that alternate throughout the days.  Bishop Mark Webb gave a most inspiring sermon during the opening worship.  Also on the first day was the Memorial service in which all pastors and spouses who died during the year are remembered.  This is always a beautiful service.

All proposed actions in the business parts of the sessions were approved.  This includes items like the budget, pastor’s salaries, and a controversial proposal on how to handle retirees insurance.  There were a large number of reports, most of which were in the conference booklet.

Of interest to Williamsville the following people who had been pastors here retired.  They included Paul Womack, Pat Lesch, now Olmstead, and John Weatherwax.  Retirees were celebrated on Friday evening.  Nick Perry was ordained.  Ordinands were introduced on Friday evening and answered Wesley’s questions.  Ordination took place Saturday afternoon.

One of the outstanding events was the packaging of over 75,000 meals for the organization “Stop Hunger Now”.  Friday lunch time about 200 attendees met and were instructed how to proceed.  Each meal was in a bag filled by placing it under a funnel and adding vitamins, then soy flour, then dried vegetables such as peppers, and finally rice.  These meals were designed to have complete nutrition, each bag had cooking instructions and held enough to 6 people.  Runners then took the boxes of bags to the next station, where each bag was weighed and rice either added or removed to get the correct weight range.  Each bag was then sealed with a heat sealer, and more runners took them to a wall of boxes.  Each box held 100 bags.  When 5,000 was reached a gong rang out and everyone cheered.  In 2 hours we were able to fill 51,000 bags.  During dinner that day about 100 people completed the task, filling over 76,000 bags.