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2013 California-Pacific Annual Conference

California-Pacific Annual Conference
June 13-15, University of Redlands, Calif.

The theme of the 29th session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference was woven throughout the meeting with children, youth, clergy and lay persons leading in worship.The conference and its antecedents have met at Redlands for nearly 60 years, but this was the first time for the newly presiding resident bishop, Minerva G. Carcaño. Shortly she gaveled the session to order, members of the Episcopacy Committee and district councils inundated her with welcoming gifts, which she noted was not on the agenda. "I have just taken up power to preside, and already there has been a coup!" she exclaimed. Later that day, she offered her episcopal address, celebrating the ministries she has discovered in the conference, as well as challenges for the future. View the address at www.cal-pac.org/calpac2013episcopaladdress.

Sharing the dais with Carcaño was retired Bishop Elias Galvan, elected to the episcopacy in 1984 from this conference, who served as "pastor in residence." Bishop Eduardo Carrillo of the Northwest Conference of the Methodist Church of Mexico, and retired Bishop Charles Jordan, bishop in residence at Claremont School of Theology, were also present and participants in worship.

In addition, youth and young adults from across the conference were invited to assist Bishop Carcaño lead the plenary sessions to facilitate their participation and mentor them intentionally. The recipients of this year's Lay Persons of the Year were also invited to sit with the bishop on the dais during plenaries to recognize their outstanding service to the church and the world.They included Steve Hable, layman of the year and lay leader of Foothills United Methodist Church, La Mesa, Calif.; Deborah Wise, laywoman of the year and lay leader of Guam United Methodist Church; and Lynnye Smith, lay young adult of the year, who is leader of the Wilshire United Methodist Church English Youth 4 Jesus Ministry.

The orders of deacons and elders gathered before the formal session to reflect on the vows of baptism, with four different people in various stages of commissioning and ordination speaking to the traditional baptismal questions. Infant baptisms were celebrated during session worship, including James Paul Camphouse and John Timothy Camphouse, twin sons of the Rev. Anna Camphouse and the Rev. David Camphouse, and Marx William Gutierrez, son of the Rev. Jennifer and Marx Gutierrez. Carcaño noted that in prayer immediately after baptizing the children, "I felt God's Holy Spirit speaking to me saying, 'Nurture these children, and I will raise them up to lead you.' I believe it was a word for the conference, and I shared it with the body."

The Rev. Jim Standiford, retiring as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church, San Diego, preached at the first evening's memorial-communion service. Bishop Murray Finck, Pacifica Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, brought greetings to the closing service of commissioning and ordination, where Carcaño drew upon Jesus's words to Peter in Matthew's Gospel, "You are the rock upon which I shall build my church." Twenty-nine retirees were celebrated with a joyful banquet dinner, led by laity who gave witness to the way retiring clergy have touched their lives.After this banquet, a spirited Youth Extravaganza was held, celebrating youth and young adult ministries, announcing scholarships and joining in youth-led worship. View all worship and plenary sessions online at www.acmediateam.org/archive.html

Highlights for the conference community included Dr. Phillip Clayton, dean of Claremont School of Theology, introducing their new president, the Rev. Jeffrey Kuan. Kuan has taught biblical studies for more than two decades and served on the faculty of the Pacific School of Religion and as the dean at Drew University Theological School. Clayton named the "new Claremont School of Theology's" grounding in three elements: to be "Methodist and Wesleyan in identity, ecumenical in calling and interreligious in dialogue for the 21st century world."

Children's conference taught young participants what it means to have Jesus as our firm foundation. Children named how they experience Jesus in their lives and brought forth their witness written on building blocks, creating the worship space of the session.

Members were deeply moved when retired members, the Rev. Inman Moore and the Rev. Ed and Martina McRae, were invited to share their story on the 50th anniversary of coming to California, tagged as part of what came be known as the "Mississippi Mafia." Both were young pastors in Mississippi when they signed a letter of protest against racial discrimination and were subsequently driven out of the state. Bishop Gerald Kennedy welcomed eight members of the "Mafia" who went on to give visionary leadership in their new home. Both pastors thanked their wives for standing behind them and offering support as they stood up to injustice; Galvan prayed for their ministry.

In other business, the cabinet led in the presentation and discussion of the formal realignment of seven southern California districts into four - North, South, East and West. The conference also has a Hawaii District, which includes the Hawaiian Islands, Guam and Saipan. The Conference Navigation Team led a process of beginning to discern a new vision for a new era of leadership and mission in the Los Angeles Episcopal Area. The conference adopted fresh goals for Imagine No Malaria and approved Constitutional amendments. Members also passed resolutions on the following subjects: Immigration Reform,Biblical Obedience, Revocation of Philippine Presidential Exec Order 546, Creation of a Task Force to End Child Poverty,Demand to Release Jonas Burgos in the Philippines, Observance of Disability Sunday in the California-Pacific Conference, Filipino Contribution to Labor Movement in California and Mass Incarceration.With 35 percent support of the voting body, a ruling of law was requested on the resolution on Biblical Obedience.

The conference concluded the difficult work of closing several United Methodist churches, with a prayer of thanks for more than 300 combined years of witness in the name of Christ. These includedToluca Lake,Light of the Canyon (Anaheim Hills) and St. Paul's, Vermont Square and Tolutatsi Pacific Islanders(all in Los Angeles.)

During the annual mission luncheon, members celebrated receiving an award from the General Board of Global Ministries, which read, "The Advance recognizes and expresses gratitude to California-Pacific Conference for the highest total amount of designated giving and highest total amount of missionary support in the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church."

Conference members continued their generosity, offering gifts to the following special offerings during the session: Africa University, $3,798.96; Imagine No Malaria, $3,984.44; Youth Service Fund, $4,008.56; Southern California Ecumenical Council, $2,009.14; and Ministerial Education Fund, $2,704.82.

Four deacons and six elders were commissioned or received into associate membership; two deacons and five elders were ordained. Those commissioned and ordained ranged in age from 26 to 68 and averaged 45 years old.

Statistics:

  • Membership, 75,202, down 2,471 or 3.2 percent from the previous year
  • Worship attendance, 47,079, up seven
  • Church school attendance, 11,289, down 340 or 2.9 percent from the prior year.

--The Rev. Gary M. Keene, gkeene@cal-pac.org, 626-590-9056