Grace and peace to you as we begin to prepare for the California-Nevada Annual Conference session June 15-18, 2023 at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Sacramento, CA. Once again, we will come together for holy conferencing, to set and implement our vision, and celebrate our ministry.
This past year has continued to be filled with uncertainty about episcopal leadership. The continued suspension of Resident Bishop Minerva Carcaño has been troubling for many as it approaches nearly a year. Presumably, I will preside as the interim bishop at a second annual conference session. Also, our beloved United Methodist Church is experiencing uncertainty as some congregations across the country seek to disaffiliate, creating anxiety about our strength and agency as a denomination. Our nation is wracked with the effects of political polarization which even seeps into our congregations in ways that make it hard to love our neighbor as ourselves. The war in Ukraine has upset global peace and economics. Covid continues to exist, in spite of a pandemic-weary people. Yet we are called to be people of faith, hope and love through it all!
The Commission on the Annual Conference Session discerned, in light of the challenges listed above, a theme taken from Isaiah 43:19, “Witnesses of a New Thing!” May our worship, our decision making, our legislating and budgeting, all bear witness to a new thing that deepens our faith and the impact of our ministry.
Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter, who presented last year via zoom, will be with us in-person this year as our keynote speaker. You will receive more information about her, and her presentations, in the weeks ahead. In this time of uncertainty, her timely message and practices will be beneficial for all of us.
We will begin with laity and clergy sessions early Thursday afternoon. There will be on-site legislative sections this year, rather than virtually. Our Opening Worship Service, where we will celebrate communion and memorialize those who have passed over the last year, will be held at Sacramento, First UMC on Thursday evening, June 15. We will have the opportunity to hear from this year’s retiring class of clergy during our morning devotional times and to honor their service. We will celebrate with those marking significant ministry milestones in our Ordering of Ministry service on the evening of June 17th. Bishop Warner Brown will be with us again this year for the duration of our time, and has graciously agreed to preach for our morning worship on Sunday, June 18 and to preside over that day’s session. (My ecumenical responsibilities require that I leave following the Ordering of Ministry Service on Saturday evening.)
With the ending of COVID related emergency orders, the Commission on the Annual Conference Session has decided to set aside the vaccine mandate we have employed for the last two Annual Conference Sessions. But, as I mentioned, Covid is still with us and so there will be an expectation that we will mask during the sessions when we are together. Protecting the health and safety of others through our own masking is one way to show our love for our neighbor.
Please continue to check the ACS 2023 webpage for new and updated information about this year’s gathering, over the coming weeks. I look forward to seeing you all at the SAFE Convention Center in three short months! Blessings and peace to you all!
Click here to access the Annual Conference 2023 web page.
Click here to register for Annual Conference 2023.