Return from Annual Conference – July 2019

Return from Annual Conference 
Pastor’s Ponderings – July 2019
The California Pacific Annual Conference met last week. Attendance was high as we dove into the challenges we face! It was a lot of work! The weather was better than it usually is this time of year but still hot. The days of conference start early and finish late. Barbara Mitchell, Gary Lamb and Pastor Frank were committed and absolutely represented you with panache. I want to give you a little highlight reel of what unfolded in Redlands.
As you may know, our General Conference (a gathering of delegates from across the world) gathered last year and approved something called the Traditional Plan which enhanced requirements and punishments for denying the full participation of LGBTQIA persons in the life of our United Methodist Church. Our regional leadership is generally in agreement that the Traditional Plan is unfaithful to God’s commandment to love God and love neighbor as yourself. Although we have different understandings of gender and sexuality, we believe all people are welcome and beloved in God’s kingdom and any participation should not be evaluated based on who you love or how you identify your gender. NO DECISION was made but the members of the conference made it clear that we will not evaluate leadership, including candidates for ministry, based on sexuality or gender.
Beyond the conversation about sexuality, we also did a lot of regular work including voting on delegates to the next General Conference to be held in 2020 in Minneapolis, MN. Three Laity and three Clergy delegates from our Conference were elected. There will be a Jurisdictional Conference where new Bishops to our Western region will be elected, so eight additional Laity and eight additional Clergy delegates were elected. Jurisdictional Conference could elect as many as three new bishops with three of our current bishops planning to retire. This work of electing delegates took much of our time on Friday. We passed a new Conference budget that represented a reduction of $1.3 million dollars. The Bishop has been steadfast in urging a reduction in budget across our region for the last three years. We approved recommendations to discontinue eight churches in our annual conference including Big Bear Lake UMC. While these recommendations were approved, there was grief for the action. And we voted to affirm all but two resolutions on our consent calendar including a resolution in support of reproductive health care, rights and justice (Res 19-08). We also read the names of and affirmed 210 candidates who are called to be local pastors, and other ordained or set apart leaders for ministry.
We worshiped, sang and ate together. Opening worship was led by the LGBTQIA task force with three clergy sharing poignant of the morning. We held a special worship to honor those retiring from ministry, and a special worship for those who’ve passed away this last year. Rev. Don Diegleman was honored at the memorial service. Barbara and I were invited to plant seeds in remembrance of Don’s life. There was a service to remember your baptismal covenant and a service to ordain and commission new clergy. We shared communion everyday (with gluten free bread).
All of this and more can be looked up on Although it was exhausting and at times frustrating, I’m grateful for the ministry of our church. The relationships of our region create a network for the ministry we do in Vista. The work of our Cable Outreach Grant and our conversations about expanding our facility and everything else we do is because of our connectional church. We support one another in prayer and wisdom and vision, even when we don’t always agree about the Bible or faith. We remain committed to living our lives with Jesus as our model, brother and guide.
Thanks be to God for those who offer leadership, financial support and prayer to our church! Together we are the Kingdom of God reaching out into a broken world. Amen!
Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann Shaw

2 Responses to “Return from Annual Conference – July 2019”

  1. Gary D Lamb says:

    Very well said LeighAnn! Continuing to keep our Church in prayer.

  2. Loretta says:

    Thank you for the detail of what took place this year. Sounds like long days filled with many issues and dedications. Thank you all for serving in your capacity as representatives of our church.

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