2016 California-Nevada Annual Conference
June 22-25, 2016, Burlingame, California
Addressing more than 1,000 attendees, San Francisco Episcopal Area Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., told the 168th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference: "Live in hope, live in the possibilities…Love is the power that gives us life and connects us with the God who loves us despite ourselves."
This is the third year the annual conference met at the Hyatt in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco. The conference continued with last year’s theme, “Engaging Faith in the Public Square." Focusing on the theme, the opening processional began with American rock band The Doobie Brothers’ song "Takin' It To The Streets."
The Rev. Dr. David Vasquez-Levy, president of the Pacific School of Religion, served as the preacher for the opening worship and communion service. Vasquez-Levy preached from the theme "Coming Home," based on 2 Kings 5:1-14, and Luke 17:11-19. Vasquez-Levy told those gathered, "Our churches no longer look the way they once did and we grieve the loss of that orientation…we no longer find our way home these days by fixed points." He added, "It is the call of the church to tend to this mobile flock, to see ways to orient ourselves not only by fixed points, but by tying ourselves to the one who calls us into relationship."
The Rev. Dr. Lisa Allen-McLaurin, assistant professor of worship and music at Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, led the annual conference in worship. She is an elder in the North Georgia Annual Conference. Prior to joining the faculty at ITC in 2005, where she teaches courses on Christian music and worship, Allen-McLaurin was an associate pastor of worship and evangelism at a local United Methodist church.
One of the focuses for this year's session was an act of repentance for the horrific acts against Native Americans. Bishop Brown said, "Certainly we must state the obvious, as we declare it now, together, that we repent that much harm was done to native peoples in the midst of arrogant and erroneous claims of superiority, and we repent of what is much worse, the false claim that this historical destruction was done in God's name in Jesus Christ." Prior to the Friday afternoon service of repentance, the conference received presentations about the Bloody Island Massacre and the Stewart Indian School.
The conference paused to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ordination of clergywomen in The United Methodist Church and 20th anniversary of the ordination of Deacons.
Bishop Brown welcomed the Rev. Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, associate general secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, who participated throughout the session. He also welcomed retired United Methodist Bishops Roy Sano and Alfred Johnson.
The annual conference celebrated the chartering of two new United Methodist churches in California: Peace United Methodist Church, a Vietnamese congregation in San Jose, and Fresno Korean United Methodist Church in Fresno.
In other action, some of the legislation the conference passed included:
- An aspirational resolution called "Living into a Season of Grace" calling for the Book of Discipline not to be followed as it relates to items concerning LGBTQIA persons and ceasing judicial processes in matters related to prohibitions against LGBTQIA persons;
- Resolution to join both the national Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and the California chapter.
- Resolutions on reducing gun violence and the control of gun violence;
- Endorsed the Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide United Methodist Church in San Francisco, as the conference's Episcopal nominee to the Western Jurisdiction Conference.
The conference passed a budget of $6,294,144 for mission and ministry for 2017, a two percent increase from 2016, and renewed its commitment to moving toward paying 100 percent of general church apportionments.
Conference offerings were taken for the following:
- United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM) projects at the conference's four Native American ministries, $10,328.94;
- Necessitous Fund (Pensions), $3,959.10;
- Ministerial Education Fund (MEF), $2,350.75; and,
- a special offering for the Erskine Fire, $4,229.00.
In what has become a tradition for Bishop Brown’s episcopacy, he washed the feet of the newly commissioned ordinands. Eight elders in full connection were ordained, two deacons ordained, and seven provisional elders were commissioned on Friday evening. Eleven licensed local pastors were received as well as one deaconess commissioned.
Twenty-six clergy and spouses who died in the past year were remembered during a memorial service.
Nineteen clergy retired, representing more than 371 years of service.
The conference also celebrated the graduation of four classes from the Conference Lay Minister (CLayM) training program that trains lay persons for effective and expanded service in the local church and community. This was the first year two graduating classes were in Vietnamese and Cambodian languages.
Membership stands at 73,283, down 945 from the previous year.
Worship attendance stands at 29,928, down 1,206.
Church school attendance stands at 6,433, down 306.
Professions of faith stand at 1,332, up 96.
Baptisms stand at 751, up 27.
Attendance in Christian Formation groups stands at 29,890, down 360.
*Dr. Larry R. Hygh Jr., director of communications, California-Nevada Annual Conference