WJ 2012: "Who, What, Where"
July 18, 2012
By Christina Dillabough
Desert Southwest Annual Conference
It isn't just the beauty of San Diego that has called us to the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center for the 2012 Western Jurisdictional Conference (July 18-21). True, our jurisdiction is not electing a bishop this time around – but we have much to accomplish.
The theme of the conference, "Extending Extravagant Hospitality," is a natural for the Western Jurisdiction. Our vision is to be "A home for all God's people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation." As a multicultural and inclusive jurisdiction, we seek to be engaged in the life of our communities – with confident, effective lay and clergy leadership who are engaged in the task of forming disciples who will live out the good news of Jesus as global citizens.
Jurisdictional Conferences make it possible for neighboring Annual Conferences to come together as a larger body to pool our resources and focus on issues that are specific to our region, and we will be taking advantage of that. The proposed agenda for the Western Jurisdictional Conference of 2012 includes a learning opportunity, "Border Experience: See, Touch, Understand" – a tour of the US-Mexico Border to let delegates and visitors experience and learn more about border enforcement, immigration, and border ministries. Plenary Sessions will include focus on Western Jurisdiction-specific issues dealing with immigration, healing relationships with indigenous people, and permeable boundaries.
One of the highlights of this particular conference likely will be the retirement celebration and dinner, at which Bishop Mary Ann Swenson (from the host California-Pacific Annual Conference) will be honored for her years of ministry and service in the Western Jurisdiction. And as is customary, the conference will include an episcopal address, worship, prayer, various reports, and other business.
It is true that typically, the main job of the Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops. Since there are no vacancies in the Western Jurisdiction, this year we will not have to go through the long process of making nominations and voting. However, the Jurisdictional Committee on Episcopacy (which is comprised of the first elected lay and clergy delegate to General Conference from each Annual conference) still will meet, to review the performance of the bishops and either reassign them to their current conference or move them to a different conference within the jurisdiction. Afterward the Jurisdictional Conference may affirm or reject the assignments. (Bishops will begin their next assignment on September 1, 2012.)
Jurisdictional Conferences have several other purposes, too, including selecting new members of general boards and agencies and coordinating programs of the general agencies within the jurisdiction; enabling Young People's networking; the election of two division members and the election of delegates to the Global Young People's Convocation; and to make rules and regulations for the administration of the Church's work within the jurisdiction.