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2010 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference

Rocky Mountain Annual Conference
June 17-20, 2010, Denver

"Rethink Red" and "Rockies Purple" T-shirts were appearing on attendees to the Rocky Mountain Conference, as they gathered in Denver for the 2010 Annual Conference session. The T-shirts were in preparation for "United Methodist Day" at the Rockies baseball game following the ordination service on the last day. Over 700 attended to see the Rockies. Although the Rockies lost 6 to 1 to the Brewers, a great time was had by all!

The opening session reviewed accomplishments of the conference and churches, giving background to the work of the conference session. A budget of $5,350,000 was presented along with a detailed accounting of where tithes, pledges, and donations go. The Episcopal Address reviewed the challenges that Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky had issued at the last session. Members were invited to tally what they had accomplished in regard to regular worship; growth in faith and prayer, including participation in groups such as covenant or study groups; generous giving; intentional conversation with a young person about faith; ministry with the poor and participating in one another's church events. She reported that 2009 ended on a stronger financial footing than had been hoped.

Four churches had celebrated 150 years: Trinity Denver, Golden First, Central City St. James, Boulder First. Stanovsky also recognized that the church in Tonga predated Methodism in Colorado by 25 years. Younger clergy in particular are alive with experiments of ministry, worship and service. There are increasing numbers of cross-conference appointments between Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain. Wyoming, currently split between the two conferences, will now be served by one district superintendent. There is a new urban cooperative parish in the Denver Metro district, a new Hispanic-American pastor, new fellowships around the conference and new church buildings.

The lives of 18 clergy and clergy spouses who had died were celebrated and honored. Bishop Melvin Talbert preached the memorial sermon, recalling Stanovsky's election as a 19-year-old youth to lead the Pacific Northwest delegation to General Conference. He celebrated three persons who helped make him who he is: a Sunday School teacher, a man in his boyhood church, and his sharecropper father, illustrating how important community is in developing and maintaining people of faith.

Twelve local pastors were licensed for full or part-time ministry, six were commissioned towards eventual ordination as elders, and two towards ordination as deacons. Two elders (average age 53) were ordained along with three deacons.

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the Church of the Resurrection near Kansas City, inspired and challenged the conference in presentations on vital and vibrant churches, ones that have outstanding leadership, meaningful worship and inspiring sermons and are "turned inside out"--focused outward.

Petitions were adopted calling for a February Valentine's emphasis on Global HIV/AIDS, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, inclusiveness in local church leadership and an affirmation of differences in expression of the mystery of human sexuality.

In response to a Jurisdictional call to aid Haiti, members contributed $596,000 and sent over 26,500 replacement health kits to the two UMCOR depots. Conference members collected 2,075 kits at the session, which were then driven to Salt Lake City.

Stirring, inspirational and meditative music came from solo clergy, a praise band of clergy, flute, handbell, and piano. A young man of 11 was recognized for bringing in several families to his church, and the two UMCOR staffers lost in the Haiti earthquake were remembered. Thanks was given for Conference clergy member Jim Gulley, who was with them.

The number of constituents was up 826 and preparatory members up 234. Membership stands at 66,125, down 591 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 31,103, up 605. Church school attendance stands at 10,078, up 97.

-- Ben Roe, for the Rocky Mountain Conference