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2016 Desert Southwest Annual Conference


The Desert Southwest Annual Conference took place at the Glendale Renaissance Hotel, 9495 W Coyotes Blvd, Glendale, AZ 85305 on June 16-19, 2016. The officiating bishop was Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata.

Guest speakers during this conference were:

  • A Day of Learning with Jim Griffith: Rev. Jim Griffith is the founder of Griffith Coaching, a network of ministry specialists who assess, train, and coach church leaders and their churches. Jim began his ministry by starting five new churches for the purpose of reaching new people. Leveraging that experience, he focuses on training and coaching churches of all ages in their efforts to reach the mission field around them. He works in 48 UMC Annual Conferences and is the author of “Ten Most Common Mistakes New Starts Make” and “The Changeover Zone.” A graduate of the University of Florida and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Jim lives in Orlando, Florida, and is married to Kim Griffith, a United Methodist minister. 
  • Church & Society luncheon with Pam Simon: Pam Simon served as Community Outreach Coordinator for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from the time the congresswoman first took office in 2007. Before working in the congressional office Pam taught middle school and high school for over 20 years in both Washington State and Arizona. On January 8, 2011, at a Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson, Pam was shot in the arm and chest. She is very grateful to have survived. During her recovery she was sustained by the love and support of her family, friends and her faith community. She is an active member of St Francis United Methodist Church in Tucson. Since retiring she has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, working with Moms Demand Action, the Everytown Survivor Network, and other groups to promote common sense gun legislation at the local, state, and national level. In 2014 Pam was recognized at the White House with the Champion of Change award for her work to prevent gun violence.

Main actions enacted:

  • Lori Lineberry was elected as the new Conference Lay Leader.
  • The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank was selected as the Desert Southwest Annual Conference-Endorsed episcopal candidate.

Resolutions adopted:

  1. Resolution for Full Inclusivity available for download at

What did your annual conference do to reinforce the Four Areas of Focus, and what commitments has the conference made for the coming year:

  1. Engaging in Ministry with the Poor
  • Young people aging out of the foster care system have very few resources and few support systems. While there are organizations that are helping, one area where there is no support is move-in costs like filling the pantry with groceries for the first time. The churches of the Desert Southwest Conference asked their communities to give grocery store gift cards and recipes to fill pantries in their local communities. The churches also prayed for the young people aging out of foster care and the facilities that are supporting them in their journey to become self-sufficient. The offering from the Thursday Memorial Service was in support of Trinity Opportunity Alliance, a program founded at North Scottsdale United Methodist Church where congregation members provide business connections to professional employment opportunities for Arizonan youth who are preparing to or have “aged out” of the Arizona foster care system at age eighteen.
  1. Improving Global Health
    • The Desert Southwest Annual Conference celebrated the achievement of the conference-wide $2 million goal in support of Imagine No Malaria to save 200,000 lives. The introduction of Abundant Health, the next step in global health, was also a part of this celebration.
  2. Developing Principled Christian Leaders
    • The offering from the Sunday Sending Forth service was in support of Nevadans for the Common Good ( a coalition of institutions in the Las Vegas area working to achieve change on concrete issues as part of a common call to justice.
    • The offering from the Saturday Commissioning and Ordination service was in support of Claremont School of Theology (
  3. Creating New and Renewed Congregations
    • The conference agenda included a day of learning with Jim Griffith about how to reach new people. In addition to this day of learning, free workshops in each of the four districts was announced.

Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership, and average age:

Three people were ordained. Their average age is 52.

Janessa Chastain
Sandra Kimbel
Jody Topping

Five people were commissioned. Their average age is 42.

Paul Cho
Misty Howick
Carl Peterson
Timote Piukala
Khalif Smith

One person was received in Associate Membership. He is 67.

Steve Ziegler

Number of people retired: 9

Membership stands at 32,129 down 4.5 percent from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 22,241 down 5.4 percent.

Church school attendance stands at 3,967 down 5.6 percent.

Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2015 were 966 down from 2014 by 22.3 percent.

Adults and young adults in small groups for 2015 were 11,559 down from 2014 by 5.8 percent.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2015 were 11,456 up from 2014 by 1.9 percent.

-- Christina Dillabough, director of communications, Desert Southwest Conference