Called Charge Conference for Nelson Woods
Called Charge Conference
Tuesday, November 13, 6:30pm, Room 205
By: Rev'd Dr. Johnny Jeffords
A Charge Conference has been called to vote on the sale of Nelson Woods Retreat Center.
For those new to Methodist polity, or those needing a refresher, a Charge Conference is the body of elected officials of the church. While this body is effectively the Church Council, when we call it a charge conference, it has to do with required processes and procedures of the church when it relates to doing certain things.
St. John’s doesn’t own its buildings, its assets. No local United Methodist Church does. They belong to The United Methodist Church as a denomination. We are stewards of those assets on behalf of the whole. To sell one such asset requires the permission of the denomination’s representative to proceed. In this case, it is our District Superintendent, who for us is Rev’d Dr. Deborah Smith.
And now some history of where we are.
In 2015, the Trustees and the Church Council agreed to place Nelson Woods on the market for sale. A condition of the sale was and still is that part of the proceeds of the sale will create a permanent memorial for Frances Nelson on the grounds of St. John’s at 1207 Peabody. It is not exaggeration to say that St. John’s exists as it does now because of her profound benevolence many years ago.
The Trustees, the body charged with stewardship of resources, negotiated with a realtor. It was listed in 2016. Initially, we utilized a realtor in the local Millington area. The unique nature of the property made it a challenge for the local realtor. So, we enlisted the services of a realtor who specializes in unique properties. In 2017, by action of a called charge conference, the house, barn and adjacent acreage was sold.
The retreat center and acreage remained on the market. Over time there have been several interested parties but nothing that came to fruition. In 2017, The Trustees began to entertain offers from a group called Camp Conquest. Over time, a series of offers and counter offers finally yielded an agreement between Camp Conquest and the Trustees of St. John’s.
And who is Camp Conquest? From their website, www.campconquest.com :
Camp Conquest is a Christ-centered, week-long, overnight camp that encourages children and adults with special needs, chronic illnesses, and disabilities to try things they never imagined possible. As they conquer activities like a 3 story lake slide, a 30’ rope swing, zipping down a zip line, being covered in paint, riding a horse for the first time, canoeing on the lake, or climbing a 3 story rock climbing wall, campers build confidence that will shape how they view the rest of their lives. It becomes more than a week of camp – it becomes a life changing experience!
The vision of Camp Conquest, to develop the property into a place where people with a variety of physical and mental challenges can experience what it is to overcome what they didn’t think they could, is inspiring to be sure.
As for the called Charge Conference this Tuesday night. Bob McPherson, the Chair of our Trustees, will present a motion from the Trustees to the Charge Conference to approve the sale of the property. He will share the terms of the sale. As a called Charge Conference, this will be the only agenda item, whether to approve the motion from the Trustees to make a sale.
Typically, a Charge Conference is presided by the District Superintendent. When the DS is unavailable, the Book of Discipline allows the DS to authorize an Elder in the Church to preside in their absence. That is the case here. Rev’d Dr. Smith has authorized our Rev’d Dr. Jeffords to preside.
All elected officials of the church are urged to be present to cast their vote.
All members are welcomed to be present and may speak on the motion.