I See a New Church

Cal-Pac Annual Conference, Redlands, June 12-15, 2019
Recap by Alan Hay
 

FUMC-CV Delegates: Pastor Brian Parcel, RaeLynn Fuson, Rexanna Swanson, Shawn Montgomery, Alan Hay Other voting clergy:  Jan Kishpaugh, Chuck Kishpaugh, Mary Allman-Boyle Visited part time:  Eric Swanson, Pam Hay, Anneke Doty (ordination service), Mary Barton (ordination service), Kaitlyn Spence (ordination service) June 12: 

  • Dialogue C04, “So… this is awkward…Engaging the Community While Our Church is Still in Turmoil” led by Rev Denyse Barnes and Rev Dan Lewis
  • Discussed affirming v inclusive – inclusive can imply only tolerate, we need to Affirm
  • Terms – great section, Denyse will circulate soon
    • Queer is often not accepted by over 50’s but preferred by younger generations
    • Inviting In is a gentler way of describing Coming Out
    • Discussed gender items / terms
    • Two-spirit – trans, intersex
    • Homosexual – usually only used now in church settings!
    • On forms instead of asking for “sex”, ask for “gender”
  • Great video shown, will circulate when available
  • Should churches have UMM and UMW? – if well administered and allow all to participate at some events / meetings then ok

June 13: 

  • Opening worship including:
  • Bishop Grant J. Hagiya preached a sermon about his vision of a new church. During the sermon, Bishop Hagiya offered a personal prayer of confession and led the gathering in a corporate prayer of confession, followed by a time for personal confession and words of assurance. He invited every member of the congregation to go back to their local church to craft, discuss, and vision about what a new church would look like and report back at their charge conference
  • Broke into Plenary Sessions, comments here for session #7 attended by Alan Hay
    • Included a motion by members of the Korean Caucus requesting that the Bishops follow totally the Discipline as updated at Special Conference – un-approved by 86%
    • Ended with a discussion on how we are communicating “The Way Forward” and recent Conference events within our own churches – this information is being collated and will be shared

  June 14:

  • Opening worship (summary from daily journal):
    • The LGBTQ Task Force planned and led morning worship, which opened with “Let it Rise,” “My God,” and “Holy Spirit” offered by the band. Rev. J. Daniel Lewis and Rev. Denyse Barnes extended a welcome. The Task Force was created after Bishop Grant J. Hagiya asked LGBTQIA+ clergy to meet with him and invited them to fulfill a request from the 2016 conference session to organize a LGBTQIA+ task force. The Task Force defined their purpose as “to further ministry, advocacy, and representation to the LGBTQIA+ community.” Rev. Lewis and Rev. Barnes reported that the Task Force exists to support and challenge the Cal-Pac conference to create full affirmation and safe space. “The Hidden Faithful” is the term they used to refer to those who are serving in the closet because it is unsafe to do otherwise. The Task Force reported that CalPac does not yet represent the full diversity needed to complete the work ahead.
    • Lewis and Rev. Barnes spoke on behalf of LGBTQIA+ clergy and lay partners in ministry, saying, “We are not something new to Christianity nor the UMC, we have been serving Christ’s church and have been standing next to you for decades, generations. We have served at great cost to our personal, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and we now stand before you as our authentic selves. We stand before you so that you may know and that you may hopefully understand that nothing has changed except your new awareness of our truth.” The congregation gave the Task Force a standing ovation during this emotional moment.
    • Adam Marshall-Lopez led the call to worship and the congregation sang “All are Welcome.” Jason Takagi led a prayer of invitation and invited the congregation to pass the peace. Phillip Valdes led a litany of affirmation. The congregation sang “Hymn of Promise.” Andrew Esposo offered a guided meditation prayer which concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. Pastor Vilma Cruz read Isaiah 43:1-5 in Spanish, while the English version appeared on the screen. The congregation sang the refrain of “Shepherd Me, O God.”
    • Pastor Christopher Riles offered a homily that spoke to his vision of a new church, based on Isaiah 43:1, which starts with a “but.” Captivity came before the “but,” and that includes full inclusion of all of God’s precious people. Captivity and pain and persecution have come before, but now, says the Lord, I see a new church.
    • Nestor Gerente read Isaiah 43:6-10a in Tagalog, while the English version appeared on the screen. The congregation sang the refrain of “Shepherd Me, O God.” Rev. Mark Sturgess offered a homily that spoke to the importance of the new church being built on a renewed theological, biblical foundation, which sees each individual person as made in the image of God. Using the Tower of Babel as a metaphor, he said, “We have a desire to gather people together and impose unity on God’s given diversity. When humanity gives birth to an -ism we put an image of ourselves on top and all those lower on the tower as lesser. Colonialism puts white males at the top. Homophobia puts reproductive sex at the top. Every once in a while, God comes down, laughs, and throws the whole thing to the ground. That is where our universal God walks – behind the particularity of each and every human soul.” The new church involves seeing the image of God in others, and allowing God to move in the life of each person.
    • Rick Cook read Isaiah 43:18-21 in English and the refrain was sung. The congregation sang the refrain from “Shepherd Me, O God.”
    • Denyse Barnes offered a homily that spoke to the importance of using labels for people and for churches that are life-giving and describe our commitment to the Gospel. Rev. Barnes challenged the congregation to be known by the ways that we live according to mishpat, a Hebrew word used in Scripture to refer to God’s actions of justice and mercy, which are embodied in the life of Jesus Christ.
  • Business Sessions included voting in of delegates, lay and clergy, to 2020 General Conference (3 each) and to Jurisdictional Conference (8 additional plus 3 alternates)

  June 15:

  • Conversations – split up, Rexanna Swanson and Alan Hay went to #5, discussing what New Methodism would look like
    • Led by Cedrick Bridgeporth (pastorcedrick@gmail.com)
    • Send comments to Cedrick
    • 5 questions: What drew you to this conversation / what new things are essential moving forward / what things do you want to ensure don’t get lost / what do you think the next steps should be?
    • Discussed these together and in very small groups / shared responses
    • Great discussion with comments such as “connectional”, “loving”, “truly inclusive of all”, “structure needs defining”, “throw it all out”, “small groups essential”, “music important” …. Comments across all groups will be shared when available.
  • Confirmation and Ordination Service
    • Rev Melissa Spence was ordained as a Deacon, congratulations Melissa!
  • Business session included an information session led by Rev Denyse Barnes talking about
  • LGBTQAI+ task force, what it has done, what comes next
    • Biggest item was relative to Listening Posts, conversations that will take place around the Conference, September through December this year – Denyse asked for volunteers and we (after discussion with Pastor Brian) FUMC-CV volunteered by e-mail to Denyse – denyse@hollywoodumc.org
    • Denyse promised to send out minutes, notes, links etc of items discussed at Conference, very soon.

More detailed information can be found on the Conference Secretary’s web page: