2010 Desert Southwest Annual Conference
Desert Southwest Annual Conference
June 24-27, 2010, Glendale, Ariz.
As United Methodists from around Arizona, California and Nevada gathered in Glendale, Arizona, for the 26th session of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference June 24-27, the quadrennial focus of "Extravagant Hospitality...God's Abundant Grace" took center stage once again. However, this is not just a theme for Annual Conference; it is also a focus for the Desert Southwest Conference and the entire Western Jurisdiction throughout the quadrennium. Some of the ongoing work was shared at the Laity Session and later during the laity report to the full Annual Conference.
The primary focus of the Laity Session was on a partnership between the Board of Laity and the Communication Commission designed to bring real tools for making disciples to local churches through training opportunities. Appropriately, the first round of training opportunities will focus on welcoming training, and the resources to make these training opportunities successful were ready in time for Annual Conference.
In April, dozens of desert southwest conference volunteers were equipped at and certified as Communications Ministry Welcoming Trainers through United Methodist Communications. As a result of a successful recommendation to the body of Annual Conference that all Desert Southwest Churches make use of welcoming training, great use will be made of these trainers in the coming year. Plans for similar training opportunities around the Rethink Church Movement and Web Ministry were also revealed.
In support of the Rethink Church movement, the Communications Commission yielded their agenda time to Neelley Hicks from United Methodist Communications. Hicks shared the basics of the Rethink Church movement with the conference and encouraged members to continue to embrace the movement. The conference was also congratulated on its high participation rate in find-a-church. The Desert Southwest Conference has a participation rate over 70 percent while most conferences are in the mid-30s.
Equipping leaders through training opportunities was also an important part of the 26th session of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference. For the first time in the history of the Desert Southwest Conference a full day of annual conference, Saturday June 26, was dedicated to a time of learning.
The featured speaker was Clif Christopher, author of "It's Not Your Parents' Offering Plate,". Christopher shared that today's church is in competition with the secular nonprofits for the giving dollars of church members and that most churches are not prepared to compete. He further explained that givers are looking for stories of the good that has been done and communications should be targeted to particular audiences. More can be learned in "It's Not Your Parents' Offering Plate" and Christopher's new book "Whose Offering Plate Is It?"
In support of the movement into full communion between The United Methodist Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod was invited to take part in the time of learning with Clif Christopher. The ELCA was also invited to stay for the service of ordination on Saturday evening in which Bishop Stephen S. Talmage, Bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, gave the sermon. The service of ordination saw two people commissioned: Elizabeth Rambikur and Eve Williams and it saw five people ordained as elders: Valerie Fairchild, Jennifer lee Hageman, Robert Holliday, Saul Montiel and Robert G. Rynders.
Another important evening in the life of the Annual Conference was the Celebration of Ministry banquet held on Friday night. This year the banquet returned to being a formal affair that honored more than just those retiring from ministry. Conference awards were handed out at the banquet, and outgoing cabinet members were also honored.
This year there was only one addressed at annual conference. It was Resolution 21.00, a resolution on "persons with special needs." The result of this resolution passing is that the Conference Board of Church and Society petition the 2012 General Conference to replace the phrase "Persons with Disabilities" with the phrase "persons with special needs" in their writings and documents. A further result is that congregations of the Desert Southwest Conference have been asked to make accommodations for persons with special needs so that they can participate in the life and ministry of their church.
While there was only one resolution directly addressed at this session of the Desert Southwest Conference there were six petitions to the 2012 session of General Conference that were shared this year. Those petitions will be voted on at the 2011 session of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference, and more information on these resolutions can be obtained by e-mailing the Conference Secretary at email@example.com.
The Conference Committee on Youth Ministry also brought a reminder to the twenty sixth session of Annual Conference about a resolution that passed last year called the Oasis Resolution. This resolution called on all churches of the Desert Southwest Conference to have a plan in place to assist homeless youth if the need arises. It is a resolution that lives out the theme of Extravagant Hospitality.
Membership stands at 38,961, down 2.8 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 26,555, down 0.7 percent. Church school attendance stands at 5,585, down 11.5 percent.
Stephen J. Hustedt
Director of Communications