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2017 California-Pacific Conference

 

Songs of praise and celebration ushered in the Spirit of God and enlivened the hearts of some 1,200 United Methodists gathered at the University of Redlands for the 33rd Annual Session of the California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The theme was “From Here to There,” (#heretothere) based on Matthew 10:5-11, with the purpose of providing an opportunity for the conference to reflect upon who we were as well as to respond to the challenge to become different than what we might currently be.

This was Bishop Grant J. Hagiya’s first conference session since returning to the California-Pacific Conference as episcopal leader. Those gathered joyously welcomed him with a lei from the Hawaii District and a standing ovation. And, Bishop Hagiya did not wait long to guide the “body” into a new format of conferencing this year which emphasized learning and reflection on ministry leadership through “Messaging Moments,” of TED-like talks.

Speakers and shared media were oriented around the “four priorities of transformation” of: Transforming Vital Congregations, Transforming Christian Leaders, Transforming Lives, and Transforming the World.  Moreover, it was clearly articulated that the presumption of the “four priorities” was that the conference exists to resource the local churches for growth and that the local churches will be tangibly expected to grow in number.

As highlighted below, much work was done throughout the conference:

  • Special Offerings – Those gathered gave generously to the following special causes:
    Claremont School of Theology – $6,361.62
    Strength for the Journey (Retreat for those living w/ HIV/AIDS) – $3,453.87
    Congo Women Arise – $4,217.24
  • Discussion on the Commission on the Way Forward –Hagiya shared a “sugar packet” presentation which was a resource used by the Commission on the Way Forward, of which Hagiya is a member, that explored categories of perspectives on the current impasse on the characterization of homosexuality in the Book of Discipline.  It led into a spirited and emotional discussion with those gathered on the polity involved, the impact on those inside and outside the LGBT community, as well as the implications for the church’s future.
  • Finances – The Council on Finance and Administration reported that Conference net spending did not exceed net revenue for the fifth consecutive year and that the number of churches with apportionment giving at 100 percent increased to 213.  An Apportionment Budget for Conference Ministries of $12,450,000 was approved which is a 3.84 percent decrease from 2017.
  • Legislation – The great majority of legislation was passed through the legislative sections and by consent calendar.
    – 7 recommendations for action passed
    – 17 resolutions passed
    – 3 recommendations for rules changes passed
  • Declaratory decision – A motion for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council was seconded and passed which requested a determination on the legality of the sentence of the sentence in the of the sentence in the 2016 Book of Discipline ❡161.G, “and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” because it violates the First and Second Restrictive Rules ❡17-18.
  • Board of Ordained Ministry – A statement on the highest standards of faithful and holy living as a possibility for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities was developed and presented by the Board of Ordained Ministry.
  • In Memoriam – Guest preaching at this service was the Rev. Mary Elizabeth Moore, dean of Boston School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary. The service remembered 19 clergy, 19 clergy spouses, two bishops and four bishops’ spouses.
  • Thirteen clergy retired, representing a total of 372.5 years of service.
  • Commissioning and Ordination – Guest preaching at this service was Dallas Area Bishop Michael McKee. Two elders and two deacons were ordained. Twelve elders and two deacons were commissioned and one missionary for United Methodist Global Ministries was commissioned.

Conference statistics:

  • Membership stands at 69,282, down 3 percent from the previous year.
  • Worship attendance stands at 41,978, down 3 percent from 2015.
  • Church school attendance stands at 9,497, down 7 percent.
  • There were 1,640 professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2016, down 5 percent from 2015.
  • Adults and young adults in small groups for 2016 were at 22,931, down 7.5 percent from 2015.
  • Worshippers engaged in mission for 2016 were 15,160, up 7 percent from 2015.

— James Kang, California-Pacific Conference director of communicatio