"Testify to Love. Your Story Matters"
Conference Ordains First Fijian Elder in the UMC and Welcomes the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma and the Queen of Tonga
*By Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr.
Addressing more than 1,000 attendees, San Francisco Episcopal Area Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño told the 169th session of the California-Nevada Annual Conference: "Recommit every single day to be fully the Lord's… We want every single person to experience the love of God."
She challenged the clergy gathered to not be afraid. "Don’t be afraid to say to that congregation you are serving that has long been preparing for death, 'Church, don’t be afraid, for we serve a Risen Lord, who is able to bless us with newness of life.' Don’t be afraid, brothers and sisters, to preach what the Holy Spirit is placing upon your heart, not what will entertain or necessarily make everyone comfortable, but what the Holy Spirit is calling you to proclaim. Don’t be afraid to confront your own limitations and sin, for only in facing our limitations and sin before our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer will we be made whole and that much more useful for God’s holy purposes."
She encouraged the laity to take one more step in their ministry. "As you serve others, share your testimony of the love of God with them. Share with them the good news of the saving grace of Christ Jesus and invite them to church. If those you are sharing a witness with already have a church or a community of faith, then encourage them to fully participate in their church or community of faith, and you go and do the same."
Bishop Carcaño called upon those gathered to continue to work on the following priorities in the coming annual conference year:
- Ministering to all people, but giving special emphasis to ministry among the marginalized – the poor, the immigrant, and young people who are having their lives cut short in the school to prison pipeline;
- Work in circuits to renew established congregations and continue planting new places for new people; and
- Aligning ministries with the four areas of focus of The United Methodist Church.
This is the fourth, and final year, the annual conference met at the Hyatt in Burlingame, California, near San Francisco. The conference theme was "Testify to Love. Your Story Matters."
Erin M. Hawkins, General Secretary for the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), was the keynote speaker reflecting on the conference's theme during three plenary sessions. Hawkins told those gathered, "We imprison each other with our stories about who you are, and what you should believe…and in the process we imprison ourselves... You imprison yourself and others when you think that there is only one story that defines you… We have the power to write, and rewrite our stories."
Dr. James H. Salley, Associate Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Advancement for Africa University, was the preacher for the opening worship and the offering benefited Africa University as the school celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Salley said, "Africa University is transformation nullin action…an exciting model of what we can accomplish together when we are true to our Wesleyan DNA and our mission to manullke disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Bishop Carcaño welcomed the Rev. Tevita Nawadra Banivanua, president of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, who participated throughout the session. She also welcomed retired United Methodist Bishops Warner H. Brown, Jr., and Roy I. Sano, who participated in the Ordination Service.
A welcome celebration was held for Bishop Carcaño and her spouse Thomas L. Spaniolo.
In other action, some of the legislation the conference passed included:
- The creation of a fifth district for the annual conference;
- Deciding to elect a new delegation for the special called General Conference in 2019, with the election occurring at the 2018 annual conference session;
- Resolutions on public education and transgender justice;
- Resolution on welcoming the migrant; and a
- Resolution in support of the election of Bishop Karen Oliveto.
The conference passed a budget of $6,450,000 for mission and ministry for 2018, a 2.5 percent increase from 2017, and renewed its commitment to moving towards paying 100 percent of general church apportionments.
Conference offerings were taken for the following:
- Africa University $126,490.54;
- Necessitous Fund Offering $6,064.12; and
- Ministerial Education Fund $4,476.00.
Bishop Carcaño was the preacher for the ordination service inviting all to surrender to Christ. She continued in a tradition of washing the feet of the newly ordained. Nine elders in full connection were ordained, two deacons ordained, six provisional elders, and one provisional deacon were commissioned on Friday evening. One person was recognized and received as an associate member.
Bishop Carcaño welcomed her majesty Queen Nanasipau'u Tuku'aho of Tonga to the Ordination service.
The conference ordained the first Fijian elder in the denomination, Tikiko Namata Lesuma.
Chelsea Temple Constant
Laumanu Foloke Ika
Tikiko Namata Lesuma
‘Ofa Frederica Uepi
Matthew Alexander Pearson
Donna Jeanne Farrell
Devid Dong Seong Ko
Mei Na Ko
Recognized as an Associate Member:
Thirty clergy and spouses who died in the past year and one certified lay minister were remembered during a memorial service. The Rev. Greg Bergquist, associate general secretary for the Division of Ordained Ministry at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), was the preacher for the Memorial Service. Preaching from John 20:1-16a with the sermon title, "Call Me By My True Name," Bergquist said, "Easter happens in the midst of all of life, even in those moments when feel the greatest sorrow, greatest pain, and greatest grief."
Harry John Dutt
John M. Foster
Sandra Annette Hammett
Rejean Erca Idzerda
Dwight Lamar Kintner
Richard Owen McKinsey
Dr. Ralph M. Pedersen, Jr.
Romain August Swedenburg
Philip F. Whitmer
Harry Everett Wilcock
Paul R. Woudenberg
Ada Alida Schalkers Anker
Betty Louise Harmon Chinn
“Don” Charles D. DeCamp
Margaret Elaine Combs-Schilling
Mary Frances Keller
Mary L. Hull Lewis
Helen Dorothy McMichael
Jean Elizabeth Hale Peters
Margaret Mary Pettigrew
John “Jack” Spilman
Donna Veralyn Tarr
Wilma Seath Weber
Marion Lavona Wendler
Lloyd W. Ash
Eighteen clergy retired, representing more than 512 years of service.
Alice Ann Glenn
Membership stands at 72,266, down 1,017 from the previous year.
Worship attendance stands at 28,907, down 1,021.
Church school attendance stands at 5,970, down 463.
Professions, or reaffirmations of faith, for 2016 is 1,322, down 114 from 2015.
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2016 is 20,067, up 771.
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2016 is 23,913, up 793.
Leslie Carmichael and Bob Lee
Pat and Tak Yamamoto
Bishop Melvin G. Talbert Award:
Rev. Jennifer Goto
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. Award:
Revs. Greg Bergquist and Samuel Yun
Francis Asbury Award:
Rev. Jane Schlager
One Matters Award from the General Board of Discipleship:
Videos and Other Presentations:
Campus Ministry and Fijian Camp
Lake County Disaster Response
Annual Conference Wrap Up Video
Next year's annual conference session will be held in Modesto, California at the Convention Center.
*Hygh is director of communications for the California-Nevada Annual Conference which is comprised of 370 congregations in Northern California and Northern Nevada.