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2015 California-Nevada Conference

Addressing more than 1,000 attendees, San Francisco Episcopal Area Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., told the 167th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference: “God can create a people, a powerful people, out of the most unlikely candidates… He looked around the world and found this ragtag bunch that he shaped into a people…  We are standing as the church for the healing of our society."

This is the second year the annual conference met in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco, after many consecutive years meeting in Sacramento.

In keeping with this year’s theme, “Engaging Faith in the Public Square,” the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra was the featured speaker. Salvatierra is the author, with Peter Heltzel, of “Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World” (Intervarsity Press), and the founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork.  She is a Lutheran pastor with more than 35 years of experience in community ministry, including church-based service and community development programs, congregational and community organizing, and legislative advocacy.

Her Friday keynote was “Doing Justice While Loving Mercy,” and Saturday keynote, “Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves.” She asked those gathered, “What does it mean for us as local churches to do justice? How does the world break your heart?” Salvatierra says the church does not have a compassion problem, but sometimes a vision problem. “We will never be a body alive until we are fully connected.”

Aeri Lee, worship leader, pianist and conductor, led the annual conference in worship. Lee has served as music director, and adjunct faculty in Christian worship at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, and currently serves as the worship coordinator at Oakland, California’s Chinese Community United Methodist Church. Since 2003, the Korean-born artist has been a member of the Global Praise Working Group at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries and has led numerous workshops on Global Praise Music.

Bishop Bobby R. Best, presiding prelate of the Ninth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church served as the preacher for the Service of Ordination. He preached from the theme, “Activating Idle Faith.” Bishop Best challenged the ordinands, and those gathered, to lend their support and voice to eliminate police brutality, poverty and racism. He said, “Prayer is critical and crucial, but it ought not to be the only thing we do… . We have to do something after we pray… . We have to do some things after we finish saying what we believe... God expects us to be an arm of extension for him for his grace and his glory.”

Bishop Brown welcomed the Rev. Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, associate general secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, who participated throughout the session.

The annual conference celebrated the chartering of three new United Methodist churches: Cambodian Bayside United Methodist Church, Alameda, California; First Taulanga-U Tongan United Methodist Church of Sacramento, California; and Reno First Tongan United Methodist Church, Reno, Nevada. Five congregations were designated as mission congregations: East Salinas Family Center, Salinas, California; Mision Metodista Hispana, Soledad, California; San Jose Tongan Fellowship, Sunnyvale, California; Hmong Fellowship, Marysville, California; Korean Fellowship, Clovis, California.

Two years ago, the annual conference session launched a conference-wide Imagine No Malaria initiative to raise $2 million over a two-year period to conclude at the end of 2015. The conference celebrated raising $1.75 million towards the $2 million goal. Last September, Bishop Brown along with the four district superintendents, launched the $100K District Challenge in which each district attempted to raise $100,000 by the annual conference session toward the goal. More than $377,000 was raised resulting in two district superintendents taking pies to the face on the stage, and two district superintendents shaving their heads.  

In other action, some of the legislation the conference passed included:

The conference passed a budget of $6,168,408 budget for mission and ministry for 2016, a 3 percent increase from 2015, and renewed its commitment to moving towards paying 100 percent of general church apportionments.

In what has become a tradition for Bishop Brown’s episcopacy, he washed the feet of the newly commissioned ordinands. Three elders in full connection were ordained, and two provisional deacons and 12 provisional elders were commissioned on Friday evening. Five licensed local pastors were received as well.

Twenty-three clergy and spouses who died in the past year were remembered during a memorial service.

Ten clergy retired, representing more than 245 years of service.

General Conference Delegates:

Lay — Emily Allen, Burt Yin, Randall Miller

Clergy — Jeffrey Kuan, Greg Bergquist, Karen Oliveto

Jurisdictional Conferences Delegates:

Lay — Gayle Shearman, Wesley Hingano, Emily Bennett, Emma Kerr-Carpenter, Rob Dunning, Mari Kawaguchi, Ruby Bago

Clergy — Siosifa Hingano, Odette Lockwood-Stewart, Dale Weatherspoon, Felicisimo Cao, Elizabeth Brick, Bener Agtarap, Schuyler Rhodes

Reserves:

Lay — Katherine Kim, James Eychaner, Kyna McNaught, Nina Klepac, Beverly Pool

Clergy — Kathy LaPoint-Collup, Myrna Bernadel-Hughey, Motoe Yamada-Foor, Jola Bortner, Jeong Park

Statistics:

Membership stands at 74,228, down 538 from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 31,099, down 429.

Church school attendance stands at 6,754, up 633.

Professions of faith stand at 1,236, down 151.

Baptisms stand at 724, down 92.

Attendance in Christian Formation groups stands at 30,851, up 1,532.

— Larry R. Hygh Jr., director of communications, California-Nevada Annual Conference