By Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr.
After a prayerful and discerning process, the California-Nevada Conference Commission on the Annual Conference Session has chosen "Testify to Love: Your Story Matters" as the theme for the 2017 Annual Conference Session. Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño met for the first time with the group that consists of more than 20 persons, both clergy and laity, from across the annual conference. After much sharing, Bishop Carcaño invited the Commission to discern a theme for the 2017 session.
Bishop Carcaño says, "Meeting with the Commission made me aware of both the Commission member's deep commitment to assuring that we have an excellent annual conference session in 2017, and the pain that persons have carried with them from previous sessions." She added, "Above all, I was moved by the hearts of our Commission members. I truly believe our Commission hopes to create a space where all are heard and experience the love of Christ. I am praying with them for such an annual conference session."
The Rev. Robert "Bob" Chicou, who chairs the Commission, says, "As we went around the table exploring ideas, God's presence was evident to me. Many gifts were evident as people shared. Those who are creative shared, those who are analytical shared, everyone reflected God's grace and God's presence."
He added, "As the open sharing continued and possibilities were perfected, everyone was moved and touched by the possibilities of this year's them, 'Testify to Love: Your Story Matters."
JoAnne Neish, at-large member of the Commission, says, "If I am truly going to follow the ways of Jesus, I need to listen more to my community, my church, and my friends who may think and believe differently than me, and make sure I hear their story." She adds, "Especially in light of our recent election, I've discovered that there is a population I need to understand, hear, and love. Testifying to love, for me, is to tell the story of Christ inside and out."
The Annual Conference Session will meet from June 21 to 24 at the Hyatt in Burlingame. This will be the 169th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference and the fourth and final year the annual conference will meet in Burlingame. The 2018 session is slated to meet in Modesto.
Neish says, "This theme is inclusive of all who want to follow the ways of Jesus, and it keeps us on a path of being open, to agree, to disagree, in relationships with one another." Chicou adds, "In Wesley's theology, he encourages us to look for common ground (not differences) so we can continue to journey together. We will all continue to grow as we journey together in spite of our differences by God's love."