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2010 Rio Grande Annual Conference

Rio Grande Annual Conference
June 10-12, 2010, San Antonio, Texas

Now in its 157th year of ministry, the Rio Grande Annual Conference met at University United Methodist Church - San Antonio, June 10-12. Under the theme of "Creating and Harvesting Something New" - approximately 240 delegates received various reports on the state of the conference's vitality, initiatives, and opportunities to create a culture of growth.

The lives and ministries of Noe Montes, Jose R. Velasquez, Jose Galindo, Carmen Mendiola, Antonio G. Silva, Vicente Franco, Josefina B. Garces, and Bishop Ray Owen were memorialized and honored. Rev. Owen K. Ross of Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church - Dallas was the guest preacher.

Bishop Jim Dorff shared his annual discourse reiterating a call for the creation of a culture of growth in the San Antonio Episcopal Area. A report was given by the Bishop's Commission on Area Cooperative Ministries. The commission composed of leaders from both area conferences - Rio Grande and Southwest - were charged to "examine commonalities, share concerns, search for solutions, and converse on how to most efficiently utilize the resources God has entrusted to us."

Key insights shared were:

  • Discussions on reaching the Episcopal Area's demographic context

  • Developing and deploying lay and clergy leadership

  • Cross-conference appointments of pastors

  • Sharing conference staff and resources

  • Pondering if merging both annual conferences is in the near future

Bishop Dorff further exhorted that during this next year, ensuring clergy and lay leadership effectiveness will be a high priority.

The Common Table's reported various programmatic developments:

  • Establishment of the Lay Missionary Planting Network [LMPN] - will train lay people to start new churches in the lower Rio Grande valley of Texas.

  • Creation of the New Church Development Task Team - charged with the tasks and development system of new church starts. This team will oversee the development and implementation of LMPN streams in the conference and support a new church start in East El Paso in partnership with the New Mexico Conference.

  • A mission trip to Colombia in March 2011 supporting the relationship between the Rio Grande Conference and the Methodist Church of Colombia.

  • Plans for developing a sustainability plan to support a full-time conference strategist for the leadership development pipeline for children, youth, and young adults.

People commissioned were Ella Leal Luna, Evgenia Gurina, Nohemi V. Ramirez, and William C. Davis. Armando Alvarado Jr. and Maximino V. Perez Jr. were ordained as Elders in Full Connection. Lililana Padilla was received as Elder in Full Connection, with her Orders previously recognized in 2008. Raul Dominguez was received with Orders as Elder recognized, transferring from the Methodist Church of Mexico.

Retiring clergy honored - serving a total of 169 years in ministry - were: Samuel Cenisceros, Michael Dobbs, Delia Estrada, Daniel Garcia, Eutimio Gonzales Jr. and Juan Salas.

The conference welcomed Elmer Armijo appointed to serve as superintendent of the Northwest District and Roberto L. Gomez to serve as superintendent of the Southern District.

Business / legislative items treated were:

  • Delegates unanimously affirmed a resolution and Call To Action on immigration reform calling for the 111th Congress of the United States to enact comprehensive, humane, and equitable immigration reform based of the principles from the United Methodist Church Bishops statement and the development and implementation of a Rio Grande Conference Task Force on Immigration related to the Rapid Response Team of the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church.

  • Delegates approved a resolution affirming the ministry of Bishop Ray Owen who died this year and served the San Antonio Episcopal Area from 1992 to 2000.

  • Delegates approved a total budget of $1,554,198 of which $783,552 is apportioned to the local churches, a decreased apportioned amount of $32,306 from the previous year.

  • Delegates affirmed the establishment of an Episcopal appointed economic task group to assess the financial outlook and sustainability of the conference.

  • The annual conference elected to return to University United Methodist Church - San Antonio for the 2011 annual conference, June 16-18.

Conference membership stands at 13,988 down 38 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 4,647, down 52. Church school attendance stands at 2,994, down 12.

-Abel Vega, Jr., Director of Connectional Ministries