The 55th session of the West Ohio Annual Conference was held May 28-June 1 on the campus of Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. Bishop Gregory V. Palmer presided over the conference under the theme, “God is Able,” drawing inspiration from Ephesians 3:20-21.

Addressing the 1100 members of the conference, Bishop Palmer said, “When the flunk is on you, God is able. When you think you’ve hit it out of the park, God is able. When you are ready to hang it up, remember God is able.”

Worship included powerful preaching from Bishop Palmer, Rev. Jessica Stonecypher, a Deacon and vocational agriculture instructor and Rev. Ken Woode, a member of this year’s retirement class.  The 100-member Annual Conference Choir, the Ginghamsburg Praise Band, a string quartet, the Milton Ruffin Gospel Chorale and the Brass Band of Columbus brought people to their feet in praise and thanksgiving.


  • Ordained 5 elders Marcella Velandia Ciccotelli, who serves the Ottawa Trinity and Riley Creek Churches. Melissa Anne Hart, currently serving Shalom UMC in Carroll. Kristen Lawson, who serves North Broadway UMC, Columbus. Audrey D. McClain, who serves Richland Correctional Institute, Mansfield and Serena Joy Wolfe, who serves Atlanta and Williamsport Churches.
  • Ordained 2 deacons: Sarah Lynn Beach, who is serving Westwood UMC, Cincinnati Alycia Gaye Boyer Orcena, who is serving at Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Delaware.
  • 31 pastors retired. Collectively, they represent 871 years of ministry.
  • Bishop Gregory Palmer’s retirement and celebrating Mrs. Cynthia Palmer’s ministry with clergy spouses The conference members celebrated the Palmers’ ministry in the church with music and testimonials from West Ohioans, colleagues, family and friends. With 24 years as an episcopal leader, he is the longest-serving, active United Methodist bishop in the United States. 
  • The Bishop Gregory and Mrs. Cynthia Palmer Africa University Scholarship was established through the generous contributions of West Ohioans. Nearly $30,000 was collected.


Recommendation #1- Changes to structure, procedure and rules -  ADOPTED

Recommendation to amend the conference rules affecting our structure and procedures and to be more concise.

Recommendation #2 – Budget – ADOPTED

The adopted budget apportions $12,049,000 to its 600 churches, a slight reduction for these churches from 2024.  While considerably reduced from pre-disaffiliation levels, budgets for local church grants, emerging generation ministries and lay and clergy leadership development are maintained or increased, reflecting our continuing priorities.  Existing resources and program fees will supplement the apportionment budget.  The conference also adopted moving to a single apportionment fund from three in 2024. Apportionment receipts will be distributed proportionally to the conference, district and all general church funds.

Recommendation #3 – Board of Pension and Health Benefits – ADOPTED Eligibility for participation in the Health Benefits and Pension plans were adopted as presented. New for 2025, retired clergy and their spouses will be eligible for retiree health not earlier than age 62 if subject to their years of service in the local church.

Recommendation #4 – Commission on Equitable Compensation - ADOPTED

The Commission presented guidelines for minimum salaries for 2025.  Minimum salaries reflect a 3% increase over 2024. The Commission on Equitable Compensation balanced the capacity of churches and the needs of clergy in arriving at this amount.

 Recommendation #5 – Regionalization - ADOPTED

The makers of this recommendation encourage West Ohio Annual Conference boards, committees, ministry teams and the General Conference delegation to provide a variety of educational opportunities throughout the conference, over the next calendar year, ensuring that we are fully informed and prepared to vote on the constitutional amendments at the 2025 annual conference. Bishop Palmer assured the annual conference that the Council of Bishops and other official bodies will support this effort.

Recommendation #6 - Responding to Palestinian Christians – ADOPTED

The Committee for Responding to Palestinian Christians

recommends steps to respond to Kairos Palestine for the United Methodist Church to oppose the Israeli government’s occupation in the Holy Land. Steps include engaging in bible study on the history of the region and sending a delegation of conference members to the Holy Land. The delegation will be prepared to report on its findings at the 2025 annual conference.


  • After suspending the rules, the West Ohio Annual Conference supported the approval of United States Senate Bill 3910, the “Yes in God’s Backyard Act” (YIGBY) regarding affordable housing.
  • West Ohio’s General Conference delegation reported on several matters addressed at the recently completed General Conference including regionalization, removal of restrictive language, and the adoption of new social principles.

Bishop Palmer will complete his 12th year in West Ohio on August 31. Although moving into retirement from episcopal leadership, he will serve as the Executive Secretary to the Council of Bishops effective September 1.

“Our lives are forever transformed by your love, your ministry, your mercy, your forgiveness and your grace,” Bishop Palmer said.

A bishop will be assigned to West Ohio at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in July. That bishop will serve both the East and West Ohio Conferences, a shared episcopal area with 2 annual conferences.

The West Ohio Conference will return to Capital University for the 56th session of the annual conference set for May 28 – 31, 2025.

Kay Panovec, Amy Graham and Bill Brownson contributed to this story. Photo credit: Kenzie Kuhn