2009 New Mexico Annual Conference
New Mexico Annual Conference
June 3-6, 2009, Odessa, Texas
"We must arise and shine and rethink church...We are called to make complex and difficult decisions to be faithful, dynamic disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to being relevant, passionate and life changing churches."
That is the message Bishop Max Whitfield conveyed to members of the 134th New Mexico Annual Conference during his state of the church address.
The world today is complex and the old ways of being the church no longer work, Whitfield said. "We could not live in a more exciting time. But it is a challenging time," he said.
The United Methodist Church has embarked on a campaign to change the way the denomination and others think of church. Rethink Church is an effort to change the way Christians think of church. What if church was a verb? What if church is something we do, not somewhere we go? "The building is not the church," Whitfield said. "Rethink what it means to be a church."
Rethinking, changing will take time, he said. It will take commitment and difficult decisions. It will require opening doors to new relationships and new ministry possibilities. It will take consistent movement, development of a clear mission and vision and a close look at the effectiveness of all ministries.
"I'm convinced all of you, lay and clergy, have come to your position of leadership for such a times as this," Whitfield said. "We must rethink church."
During opening worship, a special reading and lighting service drew attention to the center subject of this year's theme. Arise, Shine! comes from the book of Isaiah 60:1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."
Conference preacher Bishop Charles Crutchfield of Arkansas reminded members that "sometimes for the church to rise and shine it has to be converted again." He shared how Peter was re-created yet again in Acts 10 to see God's desire. The bishop noted how people often get caught up in the desires of the world, not the desires of God.
"Have you ever seen anger on the floor of annual conference," he said. "Suppose we converted the anger of annual conference to a spirit for evangelism...What if I had spent more time with (my daughter) than watching Monday night football? What if we focused less on the inconsequential things and more on what is really important?"
Crutchfield ended his first sermon of the conference with a challenge. "Now is an opportunity for people of faith to declare what is really important in life. Sometimes the converted need to be converted again."
Crutchfield serves as bishop to the Arkansas Conference of The United Methodist Church. He was ordained elder in 1971 in the New Mexico Conference and served the Conference from 1969 until his election to the episcopacy by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference in 2004.
"Bishop Whitfield and I just kind of traded places. He came from Arkansas to New Mexico and I went from New Mexico to Arkansas," he said.
Donations totaling $21,223 was collected for distribution to five mission projects.
Members voted on 32 constitutional amendments as presented by the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Ballots will be added to those casts by United Methodists around the world.
The New Mexico Conference rejoiced as several people stepped forward in answering their call to ministry. Randall Partin and Marilyn Jean Williams were ordained as elders and Yong-Sub Sim was recognized as a full connection elder. Stephanie Marie Whitman was commissioned for the work of a deacon and Gregory Scott Henneman and George Augustus Miller, Jr. were commissioned as provisional elders. Janice Kahl and Maria Elena Romero were recognized as licensed local pastors.
The conference committed to 11 new church starts by 2012 and approved a $3.7 million budget for 2010.
New Mexico Conference membership stands at 37,720, down 727 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 15,810, down 715. Church school attendance stands at 6,090 down 29.