By Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr.
Erin M. Hawkins, General Secretary for the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), will be the keynote speaker for the 2017 Annual Conference Session to be held June 21 to 24 at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame.
This year's annual conference theme is "Testify to Love: Your Story Matters." Hawkins says, "Jesus used stories to bring people together, to create a deeper understanding around the bond of our common humanity. Indeed, we are all connected and our unifying story is powerful…The things that make each of us unique are equally powerful. Let us use this time to bring our unique gifts and graces around the table to heal division and discord…Let us see ourselves in each other, as we work for peace, justice, healing and wholeness in our communities and in our church." She works to share lessons in creating holy relationships with God by, "holding in tension our capacity for greatness that calls us, as Christians, to persevere in the struggle toward becoming our better selves.”
Hawkins was named the chief executive of the General Commission on Religion and Race, an agency of The United Methodist Church with offices in Washington, D.C., in 2007 after serving as an associate general secretary since 2001. She earned her master's degree in Organizational Development from American University in Washington, D.C. and a master's degree in Public Policy from Indiana University. She is well suited to lead the Commission whose purpose is “to challenge, lead, and equip the people of The United Methodist Church to become interculturally competent, to ensure institutional equity and to facilitate vital conversations about religion, race and culture.”
Resident Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño says, “I am so looking forward to being with our clergy and lay members at the 2017 Annual Conference Session of our California-Nevada Conference. It will be my first and I know that God will be there ahead of us ready to bless us. One of the blessings that I am sure we will receive, will be the presence and witness of Erin Hawkins, a powerful and visionary leader of our global Church." She added, "I am praying for our annual session and invite everyone to join me in praying for a faithful and blessed session."
The annual conference is the basic body in The United Methodist Church and sessions of the annual conference have historically been a time for the people called Methodists to gather, give account to God of the work they have done and their stewardship of the resources God has given them since they last met. It has also been a holy time to discern God’s will for their future, a time when persons called to ordained ministry are commissioned and ordained, and both clergy and lay personnel and financial resources are deployed for ministry. Above all, annual conference sessions have been connectional gatherings where the gathered have experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit and have been revived for God’s holy work.
The Annual Conference session will consider legislation, recognize retiring clergy, celebrate a Memorial service to honor clergy and clergy spouses that have passed during the previous year, and fix the appointments of pastors to the various charges.
Annual conferences are geographically defined and each year, across the denomination, the clergy members of the conference meet with at least an equal number of lay members in their annual conference session for worship, fellowship, and to conduct the business of the conference, which may last three to five days. The area bishop presides over these meetings. This will be the 169th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference and the fourth year the annual conference will meet in Burlingame. The 2018 session is slated to meet in Modesto.
*Hygh is director of communications for the California-Nevada Conference comprised of 370 churches and 78,000 United Methodists in Northern California and Northern Nevada.