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2009 California-Pacific Annual Conference

California-Pacific Annual
June 17-20, 2009, Redlands, Calif.

More than 1,700 laity and clergy from across Southern California, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan gathered at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., for the 2009 California-Pacific Annual Conference. This year's theme continued the conference's vision "To Be the Cup Overflowing," with this year reflecting leadership, the first of the denominational Four Areas of Focus.

During the service of ordination and sending, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson recalled Jesus' words that disciples are to be "the salt of the earth," and encouraged those to be ordained and commissioned to be sure their ministry includes doing work "that makes you sweaty-and therefore truly salty. Take a shovel in your hands, pick up a hammer&ellipsis;and work up a sweat on a mission project overseas or in your own neighborhood&ellipsis; Be truly salty, and you will stay in touch with "those whom we are called to serve."

This was the 25th annual conference session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which was created out of the Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference. This session marks the 158th session since the organization of The Pacific Conference in 1851, the oldest of the merging annual conferences.

The Rev. Randy Maddox from the Divinity School at Duke University led Bible study focusing on leadership. He focused on leadership as it relates to his specialty of Wesleyan theology. He asked both clergy and laity, "When you're in leadership, toward what are we leading?" Maddox said the church is called to a holistic salvation that draws wisdom from our Wesleyan traditions.

The conference continued a pattern of welcoming a lay person to preach during the annual session. Ruth Pitts-Litman, a lay member of Palm Springs United Methodist Church, was selected through an audition process. Pitts-Litman, who recently lost her husband, preached from Acts 1:8 titling her sermon, "Let the Spirit Find You." She challenged those gathered to study Christ's teaching and practice them.

Members adopted a 2010 apportionment budget of $12,897,982 representing a .06 percent decrease from 2009. The budget reflected other action by the conference to begin having retired clergy members share in the cost of their health insurance for the first time.

More than 250 youth participated in the annual Youth Day.

During the service of commissioning, ordination, and sending forth, Swenson welcomed Rabbi Mark Diamond, the executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. In that position, he directs a multi-denominational organization of 290 rabbis, and serves on the management team of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. He told those gathered for ordination that leaders dream dreams and interpret duties.

During the 16th annual conference missionary luncheon, the conference was presented a plaque from The Advance for the highest designated giving and highest total amount of missionary support in 2008 in the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

In other business, conference members:

  • Voted on the 32 Constitutional Amendments but the results were not publicized;
  • Collected offerings: Grace Children's Hospital in Haiti $4,630; Central Conference Pension $3,200; and Visiting Doctors' Hospital Program in Vietnam $4,335; and, $1,900 for youth programs;
  • Raised $2,000 for 36 UMCOR buckets; and
  • Accepted health and sewing kits for the UMCOR West Depot.

During the conference session:

  • Bishop Swenson ordained 10 elders in full connection; commissioned 9 as probationary elders, ordained one deacon in full connection, and commissioned one as a probationary deacon;
  • Celebrated the retirement of 15 active clergy; and,
  • Members rejoiced when Bishop Swenson baptized two infants.

Membership stands at 82,405, down 2,411 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 48,881, down 2,275. Church school attendance stands at 12,726, down 68.

-Larry Hygh