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2008 California-Nevada Annual Conference

June 17-21, Sacramento, Calif.

The California-Nevada Annual Conference circumnavigated wildfires and a major interstate repair project to gather at the SacramentoConvention Center under the theme "Extending Christ's Invitation for a Joyous Life."

The conference's episcopacy committee created "An Artful Presence" in celebration of the ministry of Bishop Beverly J. Shamana, herself an artist, who retires as an active bishop on Aug. 31. In offering her last State of the Conference address, the bishop lifted up celebrations and challenges for the conference.

"We are the body of God's spirit," Shamana reminded members as she opened the 160th session. Giant paintings depicting joy in worship graced the hall, while each day a new "artist in residence" conducted workshops and led experiments in creativity. The bishop's own art was on display, along with works by her mother and sisters. There was music, dance and drama, and the session's business was punctuated by brief readings of "Poeticus Interruptus."

The conference endorsed two episcopal nominees: the Revs. Thomas E. "Ted" Virts and Renae Extrum-Fernandez.

The conference adopted a resolution requiring that every local church complete an assessment of its own vitality by its 2008 church conference, and that every clergy member conduct an assessment of his/her own effectiveness by Dec. 15, 2008.

A Committee on Hmong Ministry was formed and a Philippines Solidarity Group was commissioned.

The conference adopted a resolution in support of marriage equality in California. After lengthy debate, members also adopted a resolution in support of retired United Methodist elders who have offered to conduct same-gender marriage ceremonies and Holy Unions in response to the May 15 California Supreme Court ruling extending "right to marry" protection to same-gender couples. An elder called for a Rule of Law on that vote, and Bishop Shamana will respond in writing within 30 days, as stipulated in the Book of Discipline.

Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, gave the keynote address. The Right Rev. Chester Lovelle Talton, D.D., Suffragan Bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese of The Episcopal Church, preached the Service of Commissioning and Ordination and joined Bishop Shamana in ordaining six elders and commissioning 10 probationary elders and deacons.

Membership stands at 83,031, down 1,443 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 39,214, down 680. Church school attendance stands at 9,274, down 439.

Cate Monaghan