Report Desert Southwest Conference 2017
The conference was pretty lively with 320 lay members and 226 clergy. The conference ordained/commissioned 11 pastors on Saturday evening. This included our own Efrain Zavala. 10 Persons retired from the conference. We had 121 churches and 10 fellowships making up our diverse group.
Bishop Hoshibata opened sessions with prayer. The THEME: “THAT WE MAY BE”. The bishop’s Episcopal address focused on God’s compelling vision “What God wants us to be,” Our VISION: A courageous church: 1/ Loving like Jesus, 2/ Acting for Justice and 3/ United in Hope (though we may differ at times, we act together in faith and trust to become beacons of that hope to all the world.
Our VALUES: Living into the visiOn of being a courageous church, we believe the following values are necessary for growth and vitality. 1) TRUST: confidently relying on one another and God. 2) COMPASSION: we see the image of God in all creation, expressing the depth of love Jesus shared with the world. 3) RELATIONSHIP: we build grace -filled relationships with our neighbors – becoming involved, serving with, and creating new ministry partnerships-acknowledgingwe exist for more than just ourselves. 4) AUTHENTICITY: we live into our identity as followers ofJesus while upholding the diverse expression of God’s calling in each ministry setting. We are honest and real.5) BOLDNESS: we take risks to follow where Christ leads us. There is strength in Gods word. 5) COLLABORATION: we share learning together and beyond ourselves, relying on one another’s’ strength, abilities resources & courage. Sharing to understand and grow.
This year the conference had the symbol of “GREEN LEAF” reminding us that we are planting seeds to bear fruit for God’s gathering. Each day we had at least one Holy Huddle. An opportunity for the groups at each table to offer their insight to the questions brought forth. The Convergence team brought all the information together from each of the groups to help us realize that everything has meaning and purpose and underlying opportunity. The Holy Huddles challenged us to think about where we are as a church, some of the barriers we face, financial constraints,where we want to grow and be a courageous church. There were many challenging questions and real opportunities for expression and reflection. As you can imagine these took a considerable amount of time. Therefore, we will post all of the Holy Huddle questions and the responses from the groups on a table in the Narthex for your viewing.
Resolutions We voted on: l)To ClarifY Head Delegate Process, 2) Fix Dates of General and Jurisdictional Conference Elections, #) Resolutions to the Holy Land Travel. – This was urging those who travel to arrange an overnight stay in Bethlehem. And 4) Last year the conference passed a Resolution for Full Inclusivity as a Path to the Growth and Vitality of the Church. In an effort to live into our identity as a Reconciling Conference and in support of our Bishop’s commitment to lead our Conference to be open to all of God’s children, the Desert Southwest Annual Conference reaffirmed their commitment to be a fully inclusive church. Therefore, last year it was said that the Book of Discipline is just a· book of rules and that we should look at this situation with a new set of lenses that does not take a legal view of the situation. Therefore, pledging to go to that courageous place, being obedient not to a Discipline of words, but to our common discipline oflove and grace. Advocacy and implementation of full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. THIS year the Resolution was to Measure the effectiveness oflast years resolution. Whereas, not everyone in the Desert SW Conference agrees with ignoring the Book of Discipline. As the Book of Discipline is the way our denomination is governed many members felt the process to change the language through General Conference action needs to be followed. The measure of effectiveness of this strategy for growth by assessing the change in worship attendance between December 31,2015 (before the resolution passed) and December 3, 2017. In preparation for the 2018 Annual Conference session, where a statistician can prepare a report focusing on the growth or lack thereof in worship attendance. If these strategies for growth are not proving effective the 2018 Annual Conference session may rescind the 2016 resolution. This year’s re solution was defeated by an exceptionally large margin. Approximately 500-6. The status of the 2016 resolution stands.
In closing I would ask you to remember Hebrews: 11:1. What is Faith? It is the confident assurances that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
Lay Member, DSWAC