2017 New Mexico Annual Conference
The 142nd Session of the New Mexico Annual Conference was held at the Las Cruces Convention Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico from May 31-June 2 with Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe presiding. The theme for this year’s meeting was “New Places for New People” as the conference continued its emphasis on six main areas of focus.
Throughout the gathering, the theme of “New Places for New People” was reflected in new worship opportunities, including a “Worship in the Wilderness” hike and a jazz vespers service. There were multiple service, mission, and outreach opportunities on throughout the city of Las Cruces on May 31, culminating in a lively fiesta on the downtown Las Cruces plaza with food trucks and multiple praise bands.
The guest speaker/preacher for this year’s session was the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, who offered a workshop on “A Grace-Full Life,” provided teaching sessions on “Faithfulness to God” and “Fruitfulness for God”, and preached at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning. In addition, Acevedo shared some of the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and participated in a very helpful Q&A session on the commission’s work.
Provost Randall W. Partin offered the State of the Conference address, asking the question, “When we sing ‘And Are We Yet Alive,’ who is this ‘we’ that we sing about? Are ‘we’ really a ‘we-we’ or are we just a ‘they-we’ or a ‘he-we’ or ‘she-we’? What does it mean to be a conference where we come together as ‘we’?”
During the Business sessions of the Annual Conference, members:
- Re-instated the Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry
- Voted on Constitutional Amendments
- Adopted a spending plan for 2018 that is 3.75 percent lower than the 2017 spending plan, as the conference lives into the second year of the new “tithe” model of apportionments and Shared Ministries
- Affirmed their intent to send the 2016 General Conference delegation to the special, called General Conference in 2019
- Discontinued two congregations and lifted up new ministries in Odessa and El Paso, Texas
- Celebrated 12 new certified lay ministers
- Adopted a Commitment to Creation Care (submitted by the Conference United Methodist Women), wherein each local church is encouraged to conduct an energy audit, form a local Green Team to monitor environmental stewardship, and commit to becoming Styrofoam®-free.
- Two elders in full connection were ordained and one person was commissioned as a provisional deacon (average age was 49). Seven pastors entered into retired relation with the conference.
- Membership decreased 1,210 to 31,194 from 2015 to 2016.
- Professions of faith stood at 429, 54 fewer than the previous year.
- Average weekly worship attendance decreased by 480 to 11,734.
- The number of worshippers engaged in mission increased to 6,539.
- Baptisms decreased from 369 to 303.
—Alli J. Newsom, New Mexico Conference communications director