2008 Desert Southwest Annual Conference
June 11-15, 2008, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The Desert Southwest Annual Conference convened at the Scottsdale Doubletree Resort under the leadership of Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño. The theme for the 2008 Annual Conference was "A Future with Hope, Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World." The theme carried forward the theme of General Conference, "A Future with Hope," and the annual conference study was an exploration of the 2008 General Conference led by the Desert Southwest Conference General Conference delegation.
The worship services explored hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus and led the conference through spiritual and emotional pain, death and resurrection into a hope-filled world. The early services exposed the pain of the world to the conference, while the later services explored the beauty of the future with Jesus Christ.
The worship services also incorporated elements of the Conference Strategic Direction that was adopted two years ago and amended this year. The strategic direction calls the conference to create a culture of social holiness, of creating new communities of faith and of leadership development. The titles of the worship services were: A Service of Remembrance and Call to Social Holiness; New Faith Communities; A Culture of Leadership; A Culture of Leadership- Retirement and Ordination Service; and A Future with Hope.
The conference mission project was called "Happy Feet," and thousands of socks were donated to local charities by local churches as a part of the project. Thousands of dollars were also collected for international mission projects.
The conference recognized the 100-year anniversary of the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and also addressed the multimillion-dollar retiree healthcare liability in the conference. A multifaceted approach was taken in addressing the liability, including increasing the local church contribution, adding additional conference funds and placing retirees on a sliding scale of benefits.
The youth of the Desert Southwest Conference brought an important resolution before the annual conference session, asking every local church to have a Safe Sanctuaries policy instituted by 2009. The Safe Sanctuaries Resolution, number 21.15, passed with little discussion and great enthusiasm.
Other resolutions included:
- Resolution 21.00- Asking that the conference journal only be made available in a paperless format. This resolution was defeated.
- Resolution 21.05- Asking that all resolutions be presented to the annual conference in a timely manner. This resolution was ruled out of order.
- Resolution 21.10- Asking for the creation of a Campus Ministry and Young Adult Taskforce. This resolution passed.
- Resolution 21.20- Asking that the Pacific Home Funds be placed into the Forward in Their Footsteps Campaign Endowment. This resolution failed.
A full list of resolutions and the daily proceeding/actions of the annual conference are available at the www.desertsouthwestconference.orgWeb site.
Preparations were made for the Western Jurisdictional Conference with the endorsement of the Rev. Sharon E. Ragland as the Desert Southwest Conference's episcopal candidate. Ragland is the Central East District superintendent, and her skills are in training and empowering pastors and lay people in leadership and administration. She was also the first elected clergy delegate to the 2008 General Conference.
Other occurrences that were important to the future of the conference were the celebration of two new church starts, the ordination of three elders and the commissioning of one deacon
Members of the Desert Southwest Conference voted to increase the budget by 2.49 percent, which would include funds for the creation of a printed communication piece. The conference celebrated payment of 100 percent of its jurisdictional and general church apportionments, and it voted to pay up to 100 percent of its apportionment in 2008 with the interest from the Pacific Homes Fund.
The annual conference collected four offerings, with beneficiaries including Northwestern Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico, Immigration/Border Initiatives, JustaCenter, Youth Service Fund and Central Conference Pension Initiative. The totals of these offerings are not final because money continues to be collected.
Membership for the Desert Southwest Conference stands at 41,414, down 1,034 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 27,553, down 771. Church school attendance is not finalized.
--Stephen J. Hustedt