Diversity and Global Praise, key memories at Annual Conference Session

June 26, 2007

By Chuck Myer, editor Connection

“Celebrating our Diversity and Unity in Christ” was the theme of the 159th Session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference held in Sacramento, June 19-24, 2007. A bold new program to develop transformational clergy leaders was unveiled, with goals of increasing discipleship, addressing the needs of pastors, identifying issues to turn churches around, and setting goals for health and leadership.

In legislative sections, 43 items were discussed and perfected, and most were eventually passed on a consent calendar during efficient plenary sessions. A motion to amend the budget, to increase the amount for retired clergy health care premiums from $100,000 to $300,000, failed. The $12.3 million budget was ultimately passed.

Celebrations included those honoring the 10th anniversary of ordination of deacons and the 100th anniversary of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. United Methodists who volunteered in the more than 50 UMVIM teams from Cal-Nevada in the past year were also honored.

Lively and diverse musical selections were provided throughout the week by the General Board of Global Ministries Global Praise Team under the direction of ST Kimbrough. Kimbrough, a world-renowned baritone, also sang the part of the Victim in the powerful new cantata, “The Good Samaritan: Through the Eyes of the Victim,” composed by Mary K. Jackson with text by Charles Wesley. The production incorporated visuals and choral numbers presented at the culminating communion service on Sunday.

The Rev. Odette Lockwood-Stewart, pastor of Epworth UMC, Berkeley, received the 2007 Francis Asbury Award during a plenary session. She will serve as head of the California-Nevada delegation to the 2008 General Conference to be held April 23-May 2, 2008, in Fort Worth, Texas.  Those elected as General Conference delegates also serve as Jurisdictional Conference delegates. To be elected, a person must be named on a majority of valid ballots cast.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Randall Miller, San Francisco, CA; Susan Hunn, Placerville, CA; Rosa Washington-Olson, Davis, CA; Chuck Myer, Rancho Cordova, CA; and Katherine Kim, Morgan Hill, CA. Clergy delegates: Odette Lockwood-Stewart, Berkeley, CA; Renae Extrum-Fernandez, Walnut Creek, CA; Ted Virts, Sacramento, CA; Dale Weatherspoon, Redwood City, CA; and Felicisimo Cao, Sunnyvale, CA.

Lay delegates elected to Jurisdictional Conference: Blanche Farnum, Portola, CA; Karin Hilton, Berkeley, CA; Betty Suzuki, Sacramento, CA; Michael Herzog, Napa, CA; and Laddie Perez-Galang, Hayward, CA. Clergy Jurisdictional delegates: Vickie Healy, Fresno, CA; Ben Silva-Netto, Chico, CA; Karen Oliveto, San Francisco, CA; Siosifa Hingano, Sanger, CA; and Dave Bennett, Stockton, CA. Reserve lay delegates include: Katherine Parker, Rob Dunning, Connie Hunter, Bruce Pettit and Laura Tower. Clergy reserves include Michael Yoshii, Kham Dy Yang, Kristen Sachen, Kelvin Sauls and Elizabeth Brick.

Sixteen elders were granted retirement, and presented with intricately carved walking sticks from Tonga. Bishop Shamana announced her intention to retire on September 1, 2008. A memorial service was held in the newly combined plenary/worship space to honor the lives of 33 pastors, spouses and partners. Bishop Warner Brown of the Denver area served as conference preacher at the commissioning of one person towards deacon’s orders and 11 towards elder’s orders; the reception of two associate members and the ordination of eight new elders.

Half of the Annual Conference Offering was designated. For the Conference’s growing partnership with the West Angola Conference, whose leader, Bishop Gaspar Domingos, was present at the Conference, leading in worship services in his native tongue, Portuguese. The offering was shared equally to support a ministry of solidarity for the 835+ victims of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

A conference-led fact finding mission team to the Philippines premiered a video resource at annual conference, available to help churches understand the issues facing United Methodists and other denominations reportedly being targeted by the Philippine government for murder and disappearance.  A trailer of the video, “Live to Tell” was provided to each church. Learn more by linking to the Philippines Fact-Finding Mission Team.

Churches also received copies of a Conference video highlighting the theme, “Celebrating Diversity and Unity in Christ.” The video, produced by the Conference Communications office profiled several churches and ministries that illustrate how Diversity has become an integral part of ministry in the life of Cal-Nevada.

Bishop’s Awards were presented to Fern and Gerry Green of Nevada City UMC, Martha Griffin of Smith Valley UMC in Nevada, and Georgie Summers of Trinity UMC, Chico. The sixth annual Bishop Melvin Talbert Racial Justice Award was presented to Rev. John Oda of Pine UMC, San Francisco. Rev. Douglass Fitch received the MFSA’s Leontine Kelly Peace and Justice Award.

A special “Mission Faire” was held in Capitol Park, affording conferees the chance to visit dozens of mission exhibit booths in a relaxed, picnic atmosphere. Rev. Marva Mitchell of Bethany UMC in New Orleans, and formerly from California, spoke of the continued difficulties caused by Hurricane Katrina. Rev. Mitchell hosted the Conference cabinet team during their January UMVIM trip to Louisiana. She spoke of the joy and pain of being homeless for 22 months and only recently being able to return to her home. She thanked the California-Nevada Conference for sending over 50 volunteer repair teams.

Cory Parish, Executive Secretary of the Conference Claimants’ Endowment Board, presented a check for $1.4 million to the Annual Conference for pensions and benefits. Grady Knowles, Executive Secretary of the Board of Pensions, was recognized for 25 years of service.

Statistician Scott Allred said that growth, baptisms and Sunday attendance have continued to drop in most of the 358 churches in the conference. Membership stands at 84,504, down 1421 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 39,894, down 851. Church school attendance stands at 44,986, up 335


General Conference Information: http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2336161/k.1E1C/General_Conference_2008.htm


Instructions for submitting petitions to General Conference

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Communications Director Jeneane Jones contributed to this report