Without a doubt, those gathered for General Conference 2016 have experienced many things.
Some have experienced the difficulty of adapting to using tablet devices instead of placards in following parliamentary procedure. Others have experienced joy in reuniting with close friends and colleagues throughout the Connection. Yet others have experienced hospitalization from a fall or experienced the need to rest from catching the common cold making its rounds.
But, what all who are gathered here at General Conference 2016 have been experiencing, whether they are aware of it or not, is the California-Pacific Conference “in the house!”
By now, many have been in multiple plenary sessions and legislative sections with persons of our delegation, experiencing the passion and integrity with which they live out their convictions. The delegation has been working closely with the rest of the Western Jurisdiction and fatigue from their hard work has not faded their aspirations. Included in their responsibilities is faithfully maintaining a blog.
Those who kept an eye on the stage this week saw Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race, who invited all who were gathered into authentic engagement and intercultural competency, as well as Rev. Patricia Farris (Santa Monica First UMC) and Rosie Rios (Baldwin Park UMC) who led all into an orientation on Christian Conferencing.
On screen during the report of the General Commission on Finance and Administration was the California-Pacific Conference listed as one of 26 annual conferences that have given 100% of their General Church Apportionment. That is 26 out of 131 annual conferences throughout The United Methodist Church.
Or, those who took a look at the printed material here would have seen Cokesbury’s list of 19 “first women” in celebration of 60 years of the ordination of women. In addition to “Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, 2004 Latina Bishop,” there is also listed the first Chinese-American, Korean-American, and Tongan women ordained clergy, all of whom were ordained in the California-Pacific Conference. They are Rev. Mamie Ming Yan Ko, Rev. Colleen Kyung Seen Chun, and Rev. Linita Uluave Moa, respectively.
Inside the exhibition hall, Rev. Judy Chung, Associate General Secretary for Missionary Services with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), was with missionaries of the Generation Transformation program at the GBGM booth. And, at the Friends of Mission meal, Rev. Chung informed those gathered that 29 new missionaries will be commissioned later at General Conference who come from 11 countries and who will be deployed to 16 countries.
Outside, delegates might have met the immigration rally and march where Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño was speaking in support of comprehensive immigration reform, just as it was reported that the Obama Administration was gearing up for more deportations. And, many were in attendance at the vigil for those who have died from HIV/Aids, including Rev. Steve Poteete-Marshall (Crescenta Valley UMC) who leads the Cal-Pac HIV/Aids Task Force, and many were also present at the gathering in support of the indigenous lumad of the Philippines, including Joyous Prim (Grace UMC) who leads the Cal-Pac Philippines Task Force.
On their way into the Portland Convention Center, delegates may have seen Rev. Frank Schaefer (Isla Vista Student Ministry) joining a campout in support of the LGBTQi and those walking out of one plenary session might have passed by Rev. Janet McKeithen (Church in Ocean Park) and Rev. Melinda Dodge (Los Altos UMC) as well as members of the Los Altos UMC youth group standing in silent protest.
Upstairs along the walkway, some delegates saw a group of Hispanic/Latino young people from throughout the Western Jurisdiction sharing their vocational aspirations, including ordained ministry, and discussing General Conference matters with Rev. Joel Hortiales (Associate Director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries), Emma Vega (Cal-Pac’s Spanglish and numerous programs), and Rev. Allison Mark (Young Clergy Initiative Coordinator).
Downstairs along the walkway, delegates visited the God in the Graffiti display with Pastor Vilma Cruz-Baez (La Plaza UMC) and street artists all the way from Los Angeles. The God in the Graffiti initiative was made possible thanks to a GCORR grant.
Throughout the Convention Center, it is members of our Cal-Pac United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, led by Judy Lewis (Ontario First UMC) who also leads the Cal-Pac Disaster Response Task Force, who have joined the many volunteers guiding people so that no one gets lost. And, it is the California-Pacific Conference that will host the Western Jurisdiction Disaster Response Academy in 2017.
Speaking of, what a wonderful honor for the Western Jurisdiction as the preachers for both the opening and closing worship services was Bishop Warner Brown (California-Nevada Conference) and will be Bishop Elaine Stanovsky (Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Conferences), respectively.
The list of the California-Pacific Conference being in the house goes on.
The list is a testament to our vision in the California-Pacific Conference to inspire the world as passionate followers of Jesus Christ so all may experience God’s life-giving love.
So, whatever might take place this coming week in plenary sessions or legislative sections, inside or outside the Portland Convention Center, in conversation with others or in self-meditation, on screen or in print, let them all continue to serve as a reminder of how Cal-Pac is in the house at General Conference 2016!
By James J. Kang
Director of Communications