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2014 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference

June 19-22, 2014 in Pueblo, Colorado

Name of conference: Rocky Mountain                    

Dates of conference gathering: June 19-22, 2014

Location of conference gathering: Pueblo, Colorado

Officiating bishop: Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky

Guest speakers:

  • Ray Buckley, Director for the Center of Native Spirituality and Christian Study, Tlingit Lakota, Alaska
  • Dr. Henrietta Mann, President of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College in Oklahoma
  • Gary L. Roberts, Emeritus Professor of History, Abraham Baldwin College, Tifton, Georgia
  • Albert Hernandez, Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty at Iliff School of Theology
  • The Rev. Chebon Kernell, Executive Secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries Justice and Discipleship, General Board of Global Ministries

Memorable points or quotes by speakers:

From the Episcopal Address, by Bishop Elaine Stanovsky:

  • “We will accomplish nothing by dividing our Church, other than relieving the tension of living in community with one another.”
  • “If we recognize each other as genuine servants of God in Jesus Christ, how can we even consider schism? It is a borrowing from secular culture for us to insist that we can only tolerate one opinion. Faith teaches us that more than one opinion can co-exist. What do you suppose Jesus meant when he said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms?” Or, in another translation, “My Father’s house has room to spare.” Might he have meant that there is room for differing perspectives?”
  • “William Faulkner said, ‘The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.’ What he’s getting at is that the past shapes and forms the present. We can’t know who we are if we don’t know where we came from and how we got here. This is fundamental to living lives of faith. Life is a journey and this particular moment and place only have meaning if we know the path that brought us here, and the end toward which we are moving. The significance of my life — and yours — is all about what we make of the past and what we do in our lives, during our days on earth, to shape the future for ourselves and others.”
  • “We are heirs of a wounded and wounding past and we can’t be whole and healthy and healing if we don’t know our own past.”
  • “We can’t know who we are; we can’t understand the world we live in and the social relationships we are part of; we can’t contribute to fullness of life of the people we live with as neighbors and strangers, if we don’t know this history. So, come with me, humbly, to walk this path. To listen. To learn. Walk gently on the land.”
  • “The past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past. But the past does not own us, either. Ours is to receive the past, and find a way forward that offers hope, healing, and blessing.”
  • “In an embrace, the host is a guest and the guest is a host. Without reciprocity there is no embrace.” 

Ray Buckley, Director for the Center of Native Spirituality and Christian Study:

  • “All that is sacred is the hoop that binds us all together. Which knot can we do without?”

Main actions enacted and resolutions adopted by the conference:

  • Some 650 members and guests of the annual conference went on a pilgrimage to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site on Friday, June 20. The journey was part of an overall conference emphasis on seeking healing, especially in relationships with descendants of the survivor tribes of the massacre. Related articles:
  • Following the pilgrimage, legislation from the floor of the plenary was adopted:
    • “That the Rocky Mountain Conference request that the State of Colorado Sand Creek Commemoration Commission invite the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to the Colorado State Capitol for the Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, observance of the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre. The capitol building marks the finish line of the annual Sand Creek Healing Run, which begins at the massacre site.”
  • Fifth Annual Valentine’s Resolution on Global HIV and AIDS was approved:
    • Endorsing the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund as a “mission of the month” for February, 2015;
    • Urging congregations on Feb. 8 or 15, 2015, to take a special collection to support the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (Advance No. 982345), in combination with a special presentation in each church that notes how personal and social injustice is perpetuated by stigma and discrimination against persons infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, demonstrating how Christian love overcomes hate and how Christian hope heals;
    • Directing the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Global AIDS Fund Committee to specifically use a portion of the offering to help (a) AIDS orphans in Meru, Kenya, and (b) support a rural Women and Children’s Center in Namakkal, India; 
    • Planning several “Have a Heart” Training Days for clergy and laity so they can be prepared to educate others about HIV and AIDS and the church’s global response
  • AC11, Hydraulic Fracturing, was approved with 58% of the vote:
    • Therefore, be it resolved that the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference encourages United Methodists and congregations to engage in conversations about hydraulic fracking with their local communities and governments to bring a faith based perspective to the conversation. The Church and Society Conference Committee shall provide unbiased resources for those engaging in these conversations with their local governments. Wider partnerships with the General Board of Church and Society and with other United Methodist Conferences engaged in “fracking” issues are also encouraged. 

Clergy statistics (number and average age for each group):

Provisional deacon:    1 (age not given)

Ordained deacon: 5 (avg age 50)                   

Provisional elder:   4 (avg age 33 but age not given for 2)

Ordained elder: 7 (avg age 45)                                     

Received into associate membership: 0                                                     

Licensed local pastors: 48 (total, not new)                                  

Retired: 25                                                     

Remembered at memorial service (may also include laity) : 17 laity, 9 clergy                            

Conference statistics:

Membership stands at 61,095, down 2,213 from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 29,399, down 841.

Sunday church school attendance stands at 7,649, down 1,070.

Professions of faith stand at 1,451, down 204.

Baptisms stand at 945.

Total participation (children, youth, adults) in all Christian formation small groups or ministries stands at 36,732, down 950.

Number of persons engaged in mission stands at 15,780.

— Submitted by the Rev. Kerry Greenhill, interim communications specialist in the Rocky Mountain Conference