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2011 California-Pacific Annual Conference

California-Pacific Annual Conference

The California-Pacific Annual Conference met June 16-19 at the campus of the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, under the leadership of Bishop Mary Ann Swenson. The theme was "Ministry with the Poor, Creating Communities of Justice and Compassion", continuing the conference's emphasis on each of the four areas of focus identified by the General Conference 2008.

This was the 27th annual conference session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which was created out of the Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference. This session marks the 160th session since the organization of the The Pacific Conference in 1851, the oldest of the merging annual conferences.

The Rev. Darryl Fairchild, guest speaker and community organizer for Lift Greater Dayton, along with his wife Rev. Karen Armentrout, minister at Elden UMC in Ohio, shared experiences with delegates on ways to create vital congregational communities and ministries.

In keeping with the conference theme, stories of ministry with the poor were shared during conference sessions. Learning Circles focused on various ways to engage issues related to poverty and how involvement in ministry with the poor can help to revitalize a congregation.

For Youth Day at annual conference the youth sponsored a "Shantytown Overnight.", the youth built makeshift shelters out of cardboard boxes and spent the night at the lawn at Redlands University as a way of empathizing with the reality of poverty housing.

"I think this experience made us realize how fortunate we are to have a room and bed to sleep at night," said Daniel McGlocklin, a youth from San Bernardino St. Paul's UMC. "It opened our eyes to issue of homelessness and that we need to make a difference."

On Thursday night, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson reminded the conference members that change requires hard work."Change will be seen in the breadth and depth of what we are about to do."Bishop Swenson further added, "They are people who said that they wanted to change but did not want to do the hard work needed. After the resurrection the disciples expected certain changes, but Jesus said wait. The change will be within you."

The Conference voted to pass a new structure of the Five Essentials Ministry Plan in which 38 existing conference boards, committees and agencies will come together around the ministry of navigation, resource, leadership, new ministries, and justice and compassion.

"The passage of the plan is a significant re-focusing of our collective efforts on the needs of our local congregations and the challenges they face in the 21st Century," remarked Rev. Terry Van Hook, a member of the Conference Leadership Team. "The Essential Ministry teams will first and foremost work to help local congregations "make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."

The conference also approved the adoption of the Mission Areas Charter. This charter will reduce the number of superintendents from eight to five districts and each district into geographic units called Mission Areas for the purposes of growth, relevance and vitality.

The Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Ministries with Hispanics in the Cal-Pac Annual Conference was also approved. This plan will provide guidance to the conference in the area of starting new congregations, transforming existing congregations (revitalization), relocating churches and merging congregations in order to be more effective in mission and ministry in the conference.

"The passage of this plan will provide an opportunity to assess the present realities and assess future actions in this great missional challenge," said Ana-Haydee Urda, chair of the Conference Hispanic Committee. "It will also allow us to work together and not independently."

Conference members adopted a 2012 apportionment budget of $12,060,826, representing a 3.3 percent decrease from 2011.

During the 18th annual conference missionary luncheon, the conference was presented a plaque from the Advance for the highest amount of designated giving and highest amount of missionary support in 2010 in the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. Aiea United Methodist Church in Hawaii was honored as 2010 Outstanding Missionary Church and First United Methodist Church of Alhambra, CA was honored as the 2010 Highest Per Member Giving Church.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference include Ken Ellis; Leanne Nakanishi; Mele Maka; and JoAnn Yoon Fukumoto

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference include Tom Choi; Molly Vetter; Cedrick Bridgeforth; and Patricia Farris.

Lay Delegates elected to Jurisdiction Conference include Norma Kehrberg; Marjorie Suchocki; Monalisa S. Tu'itahi; Ana-Haydee Urda; Ralph H. Logan; Carolyn Ingram; Krista McVey; and Mark Stephenson.

Clergy delegates elected to Jurisdiction Conference include Frank Wulf; Mary Elizabeth Moore; Bau Dang; Charlene Zuill; Myron Wingfield; Piula E. Ala'ilima; Tonya Harris; and Cynthia Abrams.

Clergy reserves elected to Jurisdiction Conference include Catie Coots and Paige Eaves.

Laity reserves elected to Jurisdiction Conference include Lauolefiso "Fiso" Ali'ifua and Krystle Wheeler.

Delegation leaders are the Rev. Tom Choi and Ken Ellis.

Special offerings received $20,371.05.

During the ordination service, eight were elected to provisional membership and commissioning in the elder track, one was elected as deacon in full connection and nine were elected as elders in full connection.Guest preacher Darryl Fairchild challenged the ordinands to be courageous in their ministry.Rev. Lepeti Taufa, a retired cleric of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, Chair of the Bible Society of the Pacific and royal chaplain to the King of Tonga also participated in the ordination service.

In the last worship service, 19 retiring ministers were recognized and five clergy infants and children were baptized. Rev. Mark Ulrickson,Santa Ana District Superintendent, preached on "The Adventure Book," reminding the attendees that all of them are in a state of transition. He asked the conference members if they are ready for a new adventure as they face new changes in the conference.

Conference members could sense the spirit of change permeating throughout the conference. "Change is in the air," said Skip Keating, lay leader of the Pasadena District. "However, this coming change will help us to be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." He added, " I am very encouraged by what happened at this Annual Conference.

Membership stands at 80,026 down 869 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands 47,575 down from 1,169 the previous year.

Leah Helen Gallardo Switzer
Cal-Pac Media Center Director