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2013 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference

Denver, Colo.
June 13-16, 2013

The 45th session of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference took place at the Denver Marriott Tech Center in Denver, Colo., June 13-16. Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky was the officiating bishop. This year's Annual Conference again took place as wildfires burned along the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

The 2013 gathering launched the new quadrennial "Tree of Life" theme. Bishop Stanovsky's Episcopal Address was key in this theme by introducing five "Faithfuls" and five "Fruitfuls." The Telling the Story presentation later reiterated the theme by presenting the past year's activities in terms of "Faithful" activities and "Fruitful" activities for each area: Lay Leadership, Cabinet, Mission & Ministry, and Finance.

After each session, the room broke out into action groups. Questions were posted on one set of screens and the live Twitter feed was posted on the other set of screens, encouraging people to tweet their answers to the questions using the hashtag #RMAC13 rather than just discuss the questions as small groups.

A memorial service was held on Thursday evening, representing 23 deceased clergy, clergy spouses, and staff. As each name was read, a vial of water was poured into a large basin. Each person's years of service and accomplishments were noted. After all the names were read, the children in attendance were called up to gather around the stage. Bishop Stanovsky then baptized the daughter of two church elders using the water in the large basin from the memorial service. It was very touching. After the baptism, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson gave a wonderful sermon.

For the first time, an all-conference mission banquet was held on Friday evening. Imagine No Malaria was the theme of the banquet and the Rev. Gary Henderson, executive director of the Global Health Initiative of The United Methodist Church, gave the presentation. Over $40,000 was raised in that evening's offering.

A passing the mantle service was held on Saturday morning. Sixteen retirees were honored and have cumulatively served the Conference for 477 years.

The event's keynote speaker was Brian McLaren. He addressed the group on Saturday morning and then again on Saturday afternoon. At the end of his afternoon presentation, he asked the youth and young adults to take the microphones for thirty minutes. They were allowed to give their opinions on how things are going with the church and any ideas they had without anybody interrupting them.

Ordination was celebrated on Saturday evening offsite at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

All of the petitions in the legislative committees passed. Two of the petitions were brought to the floor on Sunday. One of them would have required clergy to learn conversational Spanish or another new language. It was edited on the floor to instead urge, not require, clergy and lay leadership to learn conversational Spanish or another new language. With these edits made, the petition passed.

The other petition that was brought to the floor asked for the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference to divest any stock holdings from several companies who have involvement in the Israeli occupation and that a task force be created to research any other companies that may be contributing. This petition was referred to the Committee on Finance and Administration for study.

All proposed constitutional amendments from the 2012 General Conference were affirmed.

Other business that occurred on Sunday included approving the Conference budget, closing several churches, presenting the offering totals, and reading the appointments.

Membership in 2012 was 63,318, down from 64,698 in 2011; average worship attendance was 30,257 down from 30,689 in 2011 and average church school attendance (Sunday morning statistics only) 8,719 down from 9,195 in 2011.

- Myranda Hoffman, communications specialist, Rocky Mountain Annual Conference