blogposts

What is the State of Your Soul?

3/6/2013
In this week's blog post on the "Vital Signs and Wonders (VSW)" site, the Rev. Greg Bergquist, Conference Superintendent for Leadership Vitality, reflects on the purpose of the Wesleyan small group – asking "What is the state of your soul?" "I believe in small groups. But, understanding the importance of small group ministry in our faith communities is so much more than counting the number of small groups in a congregation, or how many unique persons are attending a small group,” he writes.   "I...

Repairing the Breach - Bom Jesus

2/7/2013
Warner H. Brown, Jr. Resident Bishop Friday, February 8, 2013   Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:   Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent beginning a 40-day period of prayer and fasting leading us to the Resurrection. According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke; Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry.   As you reflect and pray during this Lenten season I ask you to lift up a very special mission project. It is called "Building...

Professions of Faith

2/6/2013
"I do not remember when I first said yes to God, but I know when I publicly professed my faith. It was Confirmation Sunday," writes the Rev. Kristie Olah, El Camino Real district superintendent, in this week's blog posting on the Vital Signs and Wonders blog site. "We Christians are inspired by each other's faith. Hearing and counting a profession of faith confirms for our churches that we are more than a club; we are more than a calendar full of programs and events," she continues. Read the ...

Adaptive Leadership

2/1/2013
Warner H. Brown, Jr. Resident Bishop   Friday, February 1, 2013   Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:   I recently attended the denomination's 2013 Quadrennial Training Event for Teams of Conference Leaders in Nashville. The event attracted more than 1,000 United Methodists from annual conferences across the United States and focused on learning and practicing skills for adaptive leadership and stories of adaptive learning. In addition to myself, there were 18 of your California-Nevada Annual ...

Vital Worship: My Thoughts, My Heresy, My Truth

1/30/2013
The Rev. Steven Creel, pastor of Visalia United Methodist Church, reflects on his experiences over the years in this week's blog post, "Vital Worship: My Thoughts, My Heresy, My Truth" on the "Vital Signs and Wonders" (VSW) site. Read the Rev. Creel's post in its entirety here (or go to www.cnumc.org, and click on the "Vital Signs and Wonders" button under "Quick Links" on the right side of the home page). What "signs and wonders" are you seeing around your church? Visit VSW and join the ...

Actively Celebrating the Life of Dr. King

1/18/2013
Warner H. Brown, Jr. Resident Bishop January 18, 2013 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: We have recently celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace and this Monday we will celebrate a great man of faith, a modern day prophet who challenged the status quo to work towards a non-violent society. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a harmonious society in which all men and women were created equally. I have also been reflecting on the fact that we are moving towards making Dr. ...

Advent 2012: A Joyful Season

12/10/2012
  Warner H. Brown, Jr. Resident Bishop December 10, 2012 Dear Colleagues: Blessings to you this Advent season and may you enjoy a joyful celebration of the upcoming Christmastide!   As you're engaged in ministry during this Advent season, I am traveling on behalf of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church to preside at the Philippines Central Conference Session from December 6–18, 2012. At this meeting, bishops will be elected to serve in the Philippines for the next four years....

Fiji: Day Four

9/25/2012
Tuesday, Sept. 26 Today is a work day. Now that I have seen samples of Fiji and the work of the Fiji Methodist church here from various angles, I now can begin to ponder the details of how we might proceed with our work together. Viri and I visit the Navuso Farm again, for more discussions with the staff. In the afternoon, the church officials are convened at the church center in Suva, and I am asked to present my findings and recommendations. The Bilateral Agreement between the ...

Fiji: Day Three

9/24/2012
Monday, Sept. 25 Today, we visited the island village Qoma, located off the east coast of the main island, Viti Levu. The day started with devotions and Communion services at the Methodist Center in Suva, where Rev. Tevita joined Viri and me before Nemani drove us up the coast. As we traveled, I noted there were Methodist schools and churches everywhere.   Finally, at one large school, we pulled in and drove past all the dormitories and the rugby fields right down to the beach, where we were ...

Fiji: Day Two

9/22/2012
Saturday, Sept. 23 Today, the agenda is to visit the interior of the country, the village of Navuniyaro. As we make our way into the hills, the spectacular trees and plants and rivers and villages are a continuous collage of postcard images – complete with all the other sensory experiences, with the birdcalls and heavy smells of millions of flowers. People wave as we pass, and we pause for puppies and children and farmers, and to buy bananas. In the way that children at home sell lemonade in the...

Fiji: Day One

9/21/2012
Friday, Sept 22*   I was welcomed to Fiji at the Nausori airport by my good friend Virisila Batiratu, and whisked away to meet with the waiting church officials of the Methodist Church in Fiji. We are meeting at the training center and farm in the village of Navuso, and on the way there, I observed that the lush green countryside is even more beautiful than when I looked down on it from the air a few minutes before.   After a quick stop at the market to buy my required gift of kava roots, we ...

Making Space for Grace

9/21/2012
When I spoke to you in my Communion Service message at this year's Annual Conference Session, I talked about the excuses we make to ourselves to justify our attitudes and behavior. We have a way of rationalizing under the guise that "we have a right." What we're really saying is that we "have a right" to be less than who Christ calls us to be. We have a human understanding of what is "right" and "proper," and "just" and "fair," but human standards are not always aligned with God's standards. God...

Reflections after Day One in Angola: Morning of July 10, 2012

7/10/2012
Joel Bulaya and I completed our first meetings Monday, to help us understand the plans of the Angola Methodist church for the Malaria net distribution here later (this fall). The clinic where the distribution is planned will need repairs before the distribution can take place. Making these repairs is our main goal for this trip here. I am sitting now in the library of the Methodist University in Luanda, where the Conference office is located, but Joel and I leave within the hour to travel to ...

Reflections on Day Two in Angola: Evening of July 10, 2012

7/10/2012
Today we made it out to the Bom Jesus clinic. It was not until afternoon, because our host was caught in traffic to come get us and then we had to thread our way back out of the city. As we got farther out from downtown, the new highway was helpful. Construction is everywhere. They are very serious about catching up after the war years.    The clinic is on a hilltop at the edge of the savanna studded with large fat trees overlooking the valley of the Kwanza River. The river is blue in the ...

Watch Bishop Brown's "State of the Conference" Address

7/3/2012
What's on Bishop Brown's mind? Through the video series, "Conversations with the Bishop," we're allowed to find out!   In this episode we offer the Bishop's State of the Conference Address, delivered to the 2012 Annual Conference Session.   Watch the "Bishop's State of the Conference Address" in its entirety here.   Or click on "REEL Witness – Video Library," the last link under "Areas of Interest" on the right side of the Conference website Home Page at www.cnumc.org. "Conversations with the ...

Welcome to 164th Annual Conference Session

4/5/2012
April 5, 2012     Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,   I look forward to greeting you as we gather together in Sacramento, June 20-23, to celebrate the 164th Session of our California-Nevada Annual Conference. This year our theme will be Be See DO what matters to God – GO! We will worship together under the leadership of The Rev. Dr. Lisa Allen, assistant professor of worship and music at Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Our guest speakers are the Reverends Rudy and...

2012 Bishop's Award Guidelines

2/16/2012
Warner H. Brown, Jr. Resident Bishop February 16, 2012   Dear Colleagues in Christ,   I am writing in celebration of the work and service of lay people within the California-Nevada Annual Conference.   One of the very special moments at Annual Conference is announcing the recipient of the Bishop’s Award. Each year I will seek to present this award to a layperson that has demonstrated outstanding service both in their local church and beyond the local church. Service beyond the local church may...

Advent: A Time of Beginning

12/20/2011
Advent: A Time of Beginning At this time of year we are busily closing out our affairs for the year and anticipating the joyful festivities of Christmas.   But in the Christian tradition, the Advent season is a time of beginning. It begins with hope as we anticipate the coming of the Savior, incarnate in our lives and in our world. It is a time of joy as we recognize the blessings that surround us and the promise of the New Year that is about to unfold.   For some of us, those blessings may ...

An Attitude of Gratitude

11/22/2011
An Attitude of Gratitude In this season of thankfulness, I have so many reasons to have an attitude of gratitude. First, I want to thank all of you who have congratulated me for my election as President-designate of the Council of Bishops. I will begin this responsibility during General Conference.   Let me clarify what this responsibility means. I want to assure you that these additional duties will not distract me from the major work we are doing together in Cal-Nevada.   As ...

A Letter from the Council of Bishops

11/15/2011
Nov. 15, 2011   Dear Colleagues,   During this time of preparation for the 2012 General Conference, various issues of importance to us will draw our attention. As we share our hopes, our aspirations and our expectations for the Church and ourselves, I pray that we will do so in a spirit of Christian conferencing.   At our last meeting, the Council of Bishops issued this letter to the Church regarding one issue that has often resulted in hurt and division. I share that letter with you now. It ...

Rest and Renewal

7/20/2011
Rest and Renewal I've heard people say, "I'll see you when I see you" when taking leave of each other. What I've heard myself say with reasonable frequency is, "You don't see me – I'm not here," when stopping by the office to pick up materials to work on during a supposed day off.   Some cultures understand the need for rest better than ours here in the United States, and incorporate naptime into the structure of their workdays. Here, we seem to regard a need for rest as a weakness: "I can sleep...

Fanning the Flame

6/9/2011
Fanning the Flame Google "Pentecost," and one of the first definitions you'll see will be this one: "Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit." Think about that, Friends. The birth of the Christian Church. The power of the Holy Spirit. For the 50 days leading up to Pentecost this year, this Annual Conference has been experiencing something very much like rebirth, as we have engaged in a season of prayer and reflection through ...

Ishinomaki

5/17/2011
Mother Nature is alive and well in Japan. Last night around midnight she rumbled a lullaby in a slow rhythmic fashion and then shook us awake at about 6 a.m., gently urging us to get up.   Wow, what a day yesterday was! We returned to our project in Ishinomaki after an hour and a half’s ride from Sendai, passing several military convoys on the way. In the residential areas the self-defense forces have set up water points with public baths and have scattered portable toilets throughout the ...

A Small World Discovered in Japan

5/14/2011
Feeling at home today as I remember a few first names of people who also greet me by name.    We even had a little California style “roller” this morning (aftershock).    The team is also discovering personal friends and connections here to people and places all over the world: a local man whose mother lived in Santa Rosa, California, near Norm’s house; a friend I met in Haiti; and a man who lived near Rev. Motoe’s church in Sacramento.

Celebrating the Sabbath

5/14/2011
It’s the Sabbath…. So we took a rest on the blog.   We went to church with one of our UMC missionary staff, Jonathan from Florida, who gave the sermon in Japanese at the Nasu-shiobara Church, a very small church with about 12 attending. He spoke about where we store our riches and how the emphasis on material goods has changed much since the earthquake. It is an opportunity for many to feel God’s love and joy.   Afterward, we joined the Asian Rural Institute’s participants and staff for a lively...

New Friends at ARI, Japan

5/13/2011
Finally we are getting used to the time zone and we woke up around 6 a.m. for our work! The schedule of Asian Rural Institute is well organized and they start their day at 6:30 a.m. with a group exercise (radio taiso). They had a brief meeting to assign volunteers and staff to the morning shift before breakfast and our team transplanted egg-plant sprouts in the green house. During the meeting one of the staff explained to us about the Fukushima nuclear Power Plant’s meltdown. We thought about ...

"So That We May Live Together" (Japan)

5/12/2011
Found out the rain we’ve been having is due to Typhoon #1, the official name here in Japan for the first typhoon of the season. Today we gathered from our various lodging places and met up at Shibuya Station in Tokyo for the official start of the physical side of this trip - that is, the volunteer work. It was a good warm up just lugging our bags up and down elevators, escalators, and o to trains. But thankful the energy conservation measures have eased a bit and we didn’t have to face too many ...

Japan Assessment Team Arrives Safely in Tokyo

5/10/2011
Greetings from Tokyo, Japan! We are the Assessment team from the United Methodist Church, USA (also working with United Methodist Committee on Relief – UMCOR). Last night, we have arrived safely after eleven hours flight from San Francisco.  Today marks two months since the big Earthquake. We are here in Japan to share love of God and lay foundations for future Volunteers in Mission teams (more information on this website http://calnevumc.org/news/detail/2688). We will be meeting church ...

Hinche, Haiti March 27-April 7, 2011

4/19/2011
I and the rest of my team have been back in the States for over a week now.  For the most part I've readjusted, but when I look at photographs from our trip, I feel like I'm looking at another home.  We only had internet access when we were at the Guest House, so I kept a journal instead of updating a blog.  For all the frustrations, I'm ready to go back.  There is so much to gain emotionally and spiritually in Haiti, and there's so much left to do.   UMVIM Haiti Trip, 2011 Sunday March 27, 2011...

Easter: Time to Join the Movement of God's Mission

4/18/2011
Some staff members were sitting around a table last week discussing program matters. The meeting reached a point in which the business they were there to take care of had been attended to, but they continued to talk. Organically, the talk shifted and they began to pour out their hearts about the desire they have for a renewal of vitality within The United Methodist Church and this Conference. One of them said, rather wistfully, that she wished there were a formula we could call upon, similar to ...

ACS 2011_Bishop's Welcome

3/18/2011
March 18, 2011 Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,   I look forward to greeting you as we gather together in Sacramento, California June 15-18 to celebrate the 163rd Session of our California-Nevada Annual Conference. This year our theme will be "Be, See, Do: Joining the Movement of God's Mission," as we engage in a time of rich and meaningful holy conferencing. We will worship together under the leadership of Jorge Lockwood and be inspired by our guest speaker, Reverend Adam Hamilton, who ...

The Morning After the Great Quake in Japan

3/11/2011
March 11, 2011 Once again we are reminded of the natural forces that are part of our planet. Our hearts are full for the losses of so many in Japan from the earthquakes themselves and the tsunami. What devastation we are witnessing: in buildings toppled, land covered with debris, ships tossed around like toys. The human losses are too many to count. Our shock quickly inspires prayer as our hearts reach out to brothers and sisters across the waters.   Today after-quakes continue to occur in Japan...

Lent Is 'a Very Good Place to Be'

3/10/2011
I was told this story by a staff member. During Lent a few years ago a friend of hers, a faithful Roman Catholic, opened a conversation about Lent and expressed such jubilation that the staff member has never completely forgotten it. What has remained with her especially is the friend's concluding words, spoken with a contented smile: "Yes, Lent is a very good place to be."   The staff member had not thought of Lent in those terms – as a place of being, a center for existence, a destination. But...

Alise

2/24/2011
(Originally published in Side-By-Side newsletter, Summer 2010 edition.) When I first arrived at Friendship Park nine years ago, Alise growled and yelled at strangers when they came through the gate. She sat with her friends near the front of the park. It was a rough bunch of scary looking characters, lots of prison tattoos, obviously folks who camped out, who trusted very few outside their circle and kept their guard up. Alise, a white woman in her thirties at that time, had crazy blond ...

The Great 50 Days – A Mission of God's Movement in the World: Day One

2/18/2011
For the next 50 days you are invited to immerse yourself in the story of the church becoming a movement of grace transforming the world. What you are about to read is very dangerous, even subversive. It is the story of the power of Christ's resurrection set loose in the world through the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is a story that is: Dangerous to systems that perpetuate crushing poverty and poor health; Subversive to a world bent on violence and war; Deadly to the forces that keep people ...

ACS 2011_Bishop's Award Guidelines

2/7/2011
  Dear Colleagues in Christ,   I am writing in celebration of the work and service of lay people within the California-Nevada Annual Conference.   One of the very special moments at Annual Conference is announcing the recipient of the Bishop's Award. Each year I will seek to present this award to a layperson that has demonstrated outstanding service both in their local church and beyond the local church. Service beyond the local church may be in the annual conference, the general church, the ...

Fiji Team Leader Blog: August 2010

8/14/2010
August 14, 2010 Greetings in Christ's Wonderful Name from Navuniyaro Village, Lutu, Naitasiri in the Fiji Islands. Virisila, Don, David and Nancy have all arrived well in Fiji on Saturday (14/08/10) as scheduled. They rested in Suva for the night, had Mass in the morning for Nancy and traveled to their project site at 8.30 a. m. Had welcome service at 11 a.m. and offered their traditional 'kava' presentation in the afternoon. Today they have started on their project for the Church Stairs ...

Easter Week In Istanbul

4/17/2010
Spending Easter week in Istanbul with my sister was an experience beyond our expectations. In spite of having visited several middle-eastern cities over the past two years, I was taken by surprise at how different Istanbul is.   It is a unique city straddling the Bosphorous Strait. An amazing mixture of east and west, where you can find European style cafes lining the streets as well as an exotic spice bazaar and splendid mosques. In spite of the grandest mosques I have ever seen, e.g the Blue ...

Easter Season in Palestine Recalls Joy, Suffering of Jesus' Last Week

4/1/2010
The approaching Easter celebration and the services leading up to it have created an atmosphere of reflection and anticipation here. On Palm Sunday children brought beautiful handheld arrangements made of woven palms and bright flowers to church, where they were blessed. Today the Archbishop of the Syrian Church came to Bethlehem where he performed a service which included the washing of feet of twelve men from the congregation. The Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church from Jerusalem will ...

Mothers' Day in Palestine

3/22/2010
Today is Mothers' Day in Palestine and fortunately I was invited to teacher Hanah's home for a fabulous lunch. Three kinds of barbecued meat were accompanied by tabouleh salad, filled pasties, a fresh salad, another kind of flat dough topped with a meat mixture, and various vegetables. It was a traditional Palestinian meal. For dessert we had a Black Forest cake, which just made a perfect ending to this afternoon. It was a privilege to spend the afternoon with this family. There were several ...

Returning to Our Calling

3/11/2010
Dear Sisters and Brothers, I greet you in this season of Lent looking forward to the celebration of God's astounding act of resurrection in Jesus Christ.   Over the past year and a half I have been listening closely as I have travelled across the Conference. I have heard stories of faith and faithfulness in our churches and extension ministries. I have heard, as well, the pain and worry of economic troubles and the loss of heart that plagues many in our midst.   These are difficult times. The ...

One Great Hour of Sharing

3/10/2010
We deeply appreciate the outstanding work that the United Methodist Committee on Relief is doing in Chile, Haiti, and other areas with recent disasters. This coming Sunday you have an opportunity to help UMCOR do its job. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering, which is normally held the Sunday before Palm Sunday, is the reason we are able to promise that 100 percent of every gift goes to the disaster response being supported. Please be generous, as you give people an opportunity to share in ...

Passion in Jesus Christ, Compassion for All

2/25/2010
  "Passion in Jesus Christ, Compassion for All" is our Conference vision here in the California-Nevada region of The United Methodist Church. What that means is that we endeavor to be a people who open our hearts to the world and welcome our brothers and sisters, wherever they're from – and who open our minds to cross the boundaries that divide us, just as the doors of our churches are open to all. But church is not just a building; it is a place of connection. Church is here, in this site, this...

Putting a Human Face on Human Relations Day

1/12/2010
This Sunday, January 17, we celebrate Human Relations Day – the first of six Special Sundays in The United Methodist Church, when special offerings are taken for specific purposes. Human Relations Day was established by the 1972 General Conference to promote support for the Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service, and Police-Community Relations programs. Traditionally observed on the Sunday before the observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday (though a local ...

Thanksgiving - A Celebration of Collaboration

11/17/2009
We think of Thanksgiving, first and foremost, as a time for giving thanks to God - and as Christians that indeed should be our first impulse. But historically, Thanksgiving had a secondary significance that often is overlooked, and that is the need for community that it exemplified. Oh, sure, we recognize that Thanksgiving (more than any other holiday, perhaps) is a time for reunion and celebration together as family and friends. But what we think of as the first Thanksgiving, in 1621, was more ...

Trio of Disasters Calls for Our Response

10/2/2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,  I come before you again to ask your prayers and support. This time it is for members of our community who have been dealt a terrible blow. This week, as you no doubt are aware, a trio of natural disasters wreaked havoc on the homelands of many of our Conference members.   On Sunday, Typhoon Ketsana struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines. At least 246 people perished and nearly half a million others were displaced when flash floods and landslides ...

A Season of Change: Working Into a New Way of Being

9/10/2009
Summer is dying and fall is upon us – a time when, in the way that God ordained, nature cycles into its time of rest. It is a very different time for the church – a time, instead, of great activity as charge/church conferences and open houses are held, a new season of children's and youth ministry is launched, and as we move toward all the activities surrounding Advent and Christmas. In the church, fall is a time of rebirth.    This year it is especially so, as we look at how we can live ...

A Call to Prayer

8/24/2009
"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ," wrote the Apostle Paul to the churches of Galatia. (Galatians 6:2, NAS) It is with heavy heart that I ask you to join me in taking up the burden of our Tongan brothers and sisters, who mourn the loss of so many lives on August 6 when the ferry Princess Ashika sank while en route to the northern islands of Va'vau. Sunday August 23 was a National Day of Prayer for the Tongan community in North America.   As many of you know, the ...

What If We Rethink Church?

4/17/2009
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I want you to join me on a mental journey. To a different reality: to where church . . . is not a building, but a concept. To where church is not just a place we go, but something we do. To where church is no longer a noun . . . and open is not an adjective, but a verb.   I want you to Rethink Church. Not in terms of what it is, but of what it could be.   Eight years ago, The United Methodist Church began telling the world that "our hearts, our minds, our ...

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