California-Nevada Annual Conference report

June 29, 2007

June 19-24, 2007, Sacramento, California

(UMNS) "Celebrating our Diversity and Unity in Christ" was the theme of the 159th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference. 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 sessions, 43 items were discussed and perfected, and most were passed on a consent calendar during plenary sessions. A $12.3 million budget was passed. A motion failed that would have amended the budget to increase the amount for retired clergy health care premiums from $100,000 to $300,000.

Lively and diverse musical selections were provided throughout the week by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries' Global Praise Team under the direction of ST Kimbrough. A world-renowned baritone, Kimbrough 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, presented at the culminating communion service on Sunday.

The Rev. Odette Lockwood-Stewart, who received the 2007 Francis Asbury Award during a plenary session, will serve as head of the California-Nevada delegation to the 2008 General Conference. Five clergy and five lay delegates were elected.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are: Randall Miller of San Francisco; Susan Hunn of Placerville; Rosa Washington-Olson of Davis; Chuck Myer of Rancho Cordova; and Katherine Kim of Morgan Hill.

Clergy delegates elected are: Odette Lockwood-Stewart of Berkeley; Renae Extrum-Fernandez of Walnut Creek; Ted Virts of Sacramento; Dale Weatherspoon of Redwood City; and Felicisimo Cao of Sunnyvale.

Lay delegates elected to the Western Jurisdictional Conference are: Blanche Farnum of Portola; Karin Hilton of Berkeley; Betty Suzuki of Sacramento; Michael Herzog of Napa; and Laddie Perez-Galang of Hayward.

Clergy delegates elected to the Western Jurisdictional Conference are: Vickie Healy of Fresno; Ben Silva-Netto of Chico; Karen Oliveto of San Francisco; Siosifa Hingano of Sanger; and Dave Bennett of Stockton.

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 Sept. 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 toward deacons' orders and 11 toward elders' orders; the reception of two associate members and the ordination of eight new elders.

Half of the annual conference offering was designated to a ministry of solidarity for the more than 835 victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. The offering was shared equally with the conference's growing partnership with the West Angola Annual Conference, where Bishop Gaspar Domingos was present at the conference, leading in worship services in his native tongue.

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

A special "Mission Fair" was held in Capitol Park, affording conferees the chance to visit dozens of mission exhibit booths in a relaxed picnic atmosphere. The Rev. Marva Mitchell of Bethany United Methodist Church in New Orleans spoke of the continued difficulties caused by Hurricane Katrina, and thanked the California-Nevada Conference for sending more than 50 volunteer repair teams.

Cory Parish, executive secretary of the Conference Claimants' Endowment Board, presented a $1.4 million check to the annual conference for pensions and benefits. Grady Knowles, executive secretary of the Board of Pension, was recognized for 25 years of service.

Statistician Scott Allred reported 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 1,421 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 39,894, down 851. Church school attendance stands at 44,986, up 335.

-Chuck Myer