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2012 New Mexico Annual Conference

New Mexico Annual Conference
June 6-June 9, 2012, Clovis, N.M.

The New Mexico Annual Conference took time in its 137th session to honor and celebrate the service of Bishop Max Whitfield and wife, Valerie.

Bishop Whitfield has served the New Mexico Episcopal Area for 12 years. He will retire this year and begin serving as Bishop in Residence at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology in September.

A dinner was held in his honor featuring messages from present and past colleagues as well as gift presentations from various committees, boards and staff.

"Thank you for your leadership Bishop and thank you Val for your courageous witness and support," said the Rev. James Larger, former district superintendent.

In honor of the Whitfields' work in the Congo, specifically at the Mulungwishi Seminary, the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conferences established The Bishop D. Max and Valerie Whitfield Seminary Scholarship Fund. The goal is to raise more than $100,000 to endow a permanent scholarship that would last for generations.

The theme of the 2012 Annual Conference was "Real Church for a Real World: The Church has Left the Building."

Conference teacher Doug Anderson shared the differences between preference-driven and purpose-centered churches. He explained that preference-driven churches made decisions based on preference of a small group of people who have the power to get their way. Purpose-centered churches make most decisions based on careful, prayerful, thoughtful, assessment and discernment of the best way given that decision to give out the common mission. Preference-driven churches focus in, whereas purpose-centered churches focus out.

Anderson shared how to raise people up to be disciples of Jesus Christ in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

People must be brought up from an elementary level of discipleship through the middles school, high school, college and graduate levels.

Members approved a resolution to welcome those churches from the Rio Grande Annual (regional) Conference to the New Mexico Conference should the Rio Grande Conference be dissolved. Other resolutions passed included one allowing for changes in the episcopacy residence should it be needed and another approving a new formula for figuring salaries of district superintendents and the director of mission and administration.

The Revs. Greg Henneman and John Wesley Nash were ordained as elders in full connection. Henneman is serving as associate pastor of contemporary worship and outreach at Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque and founded Community of Hope worship service. Nash is serving the churches in Melrose and House, N.M.

Membership stands at 35,264 down from 36,664 the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 14,740, down 345. Church school attendance stands at 5,849, down slightly from 2010.

- Karla Abernethy-Thetford, area director of communications