General Conference 2008: Cal-Nevada Conference Represented on 10 of 13 Legislative Committees Meeting in Fort Worth This Week

April 22, 2008

By Bruce Pettit

Conference Communications Commission


General Conference 2008, meeting April 23 to May 2 in Fort Worth, Texas, has expanded to 13 committees (from 11 in 2004). With only 10 delegates (five clergy and five lay), the California-Nevada Annual Conference is able to have representation on only 10 of them.  


California-Nevada will not be represented on the Committee for Financial Administration, the Judicial Administration (which hears petitions on procedures for trials and appeals), and Discipleship (which hears issues such as laity, youth ministry, and older adults ministry). All the assignments were made last August at the first California-Nevada General/Jurisdictional Conference Delegation meeting after discernment among all the members, including the first and second reserves.


Blanche Farnam, lay leader of the Nevada-Sierra District, has moved up into the fifth laity slot, replacing Chuck Myer who was elected last June but who cannot attend because of illness.  Myer says he hopes still to attend the Western Jurisdictional Conference in Portland, Oregon in July. Farnam will take Myer's place on the Independent Commissions Committee, which looks at such issues as United Methodist Men, Status of Women, and Religion and Race.


Church and Society – only one committee at previous General Conferences – will have two designations. So many issues were put to Church and Society in 2004 that it was felt necessary to divide that committee for 2008.


The Rev. Dale Weatherspoon was assigned to Church and Society 1, which will cover all social and political issues except sexuality.  


Randy Miller will represent California-Nevada on Church and Society 2 – covering the sexuality issues.


The Rev. Fel Cao is on the Committee on Conferences, which will hear issues around global restructuring, whether the U.S. should become a regional conference, and judicial killings in the Philippines.


Susan Hunn accepted, for her third General Conference, the Faith and Order Committee. It covers theological issues not in the United Methodist Constitution. 


The Rev. Renae Extrum-Fernandez will represent California-Nevada on the General Administration Committee. It hears Connectional Table issues and matters in the UM Constitution. 


Katherine Kim accepted the assignment on the Global Ministries Committee. It hears worldwide issues and matters related to United Methodist Women.  


The Rev. Ted Virts took the Local Church Committee. It generally considers matters of administration and property, but for this General Conference it has received 15 petitions on how to handle the issue of whether pastors of local churches may deny United Methodist membership to people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual.


The Rev. Odette Lockwood-Stewart, the California-Nevada delegation chair, was appointed to Ministry and Higher Education, which looks at ordained ministry and seminary education. This year it will hear petitions contending that the ordination process is too arduous and suggesting ways to fix that.


Rosa Washington-Olson will represent California-Nevada on the Superintendency Committee. In 2008, it is considering petitions on whether The United Methodist Church should reduce its number of bishops – perhaps by one in each of the five U.S. jurisdictions – to save money. Also up for consideration are whether bishops should return to local church service after eight years, whether they should be re-elected periodically instead of having life tenure, and whether clergy sessions of annual conferences should have a say in deciding a pool of elders from whom district superintendents are chosen.