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2007 Desert Southwest Annual Conference

June 6-10, 2007, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Desert Southwest Annual Conference convened at the Scottsdale Doubletree Resort under the leadership of Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño. The theme was "Come to the Cross." The concept of the cross-both as a sacrifice and a gift-was explored in great detail by conference Bible study leader, the Rev. Stephen D. Bryant, world editor of the Upper Room.

Worship services incorporated both the theme and the conference's strategic direction, which was passed in 2006 and is based on communion prayer. The titles of the services were: By Your Spirit Make Us, One With Christ, One With Each Other, One in Ministry, To All The World; Until Christ Comes in Final Victory; and And We Feast at Your Heavenly Banquet.

The conference mission project was "Backpack and a Buck," which collected $5,696
and 2,000 backpacks.

The conference celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the order of the deacon with a worship service, an informational DVD and video interviews with deacons from throughout the conference shown before and after sessions. Testimonies also were published in the conference's The Desert Connection leading up to annual conference.

Conference youth brought several resolutions, which were passed on to the 2008 General Conference. The resolutions included:

  • Resolution 21.00, wherein all have a right to worship;
  • Resolution 21.05, requiring boards and agencies to set meeting times when youth can attend;
  • Resolution 21.15, defining membership regardless of age, class, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation; and
  • Resolution 21.20, asking for equality in ordination

The Hispanic/Latino Ministries Committee presented Resolution 21.30, asking for the continuation of the National Hispanic Plan. It was passed on to General Conference.

Another resolution that would have tied the budget of the Desert Southwest Conference to membership failed.

Other resolutions were referred to conference boards and agencies for study and action. A full list of resolutions and the daily proceedings of the annual conference are available

Further preparations were made for 2008 General Conference by electing Devin Mauney, a young adult from Tucson, Ariz., as the lay representative and the head of the delegation. Mauney's alternate to General Conference and the conference delegate to the Western Jurisdictional Conference is Billie Fidlin of Peoria, Ariz. The clergy representative to General Conference is Sharon Ragland of Gilbert, Ariz., and her alternate and the delegate to the Western Jurisdictional Conference is the Rev. Gary Kennedy of Chandler, Ariz.

Lay reserves to the General and Western Jurisdictional Conference are: Jim Nibbelink of Tucson; Cranford Crawford of Las Vegas; and Beverly Secrist of Mesa, Ariz.

Clergy reserves to the General and the Western Jurisdictional Conference are: Jane Tews of Gilbert, Ariz.; Deanna Dee Azhikakath of Tucson; and Mary Bullis of Mesa.

Another conference highlight was the passing of the "Forward in Their Footsteps Campaign." The goal of this capital campaign is to raise money for an endowment to start new churches throughout the Desert Southwest Conference. A chair of health and sciences also will be endowed at Africa University and the chair will be named after Joel Huffman, longtime conference treasurer retiring this year. Huffman's 23-plus years of ministry was celebrated throughout the conference session.

Other proceedings important to the future of the conference were the celebration of three new church starts, the ordination of one elder and one deacon, and the commissioning of five new elders.

Reports indicated that the financial future of the Desert Southwest Conference looks positive. Conference members voted to increase the budget by 2.99 percent and celebrated the payment of 100 percent of their jurisdictional and general church apportionments. The annual conference also voted to pay 100 percent of its apportionment in 2007.

The conference also took six offerings including: Nothing But Nets, $1,420; Youth Service Fund, $2,649; Baez Camargo Seminary, $1,280; and the Bishop's Katrina Appeal, $3,260.

Membership for the Desert Southwest Conference stands at 42,448, down 1.3 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 28,324, down 3.2 percent. Church school attendance stands at 6,412, down 3.1 percent.

Stephen J. Hustedt