This morning, delegates to the Western Jurisdictional Conference were led through a time of Holy Conferencing at their tables entitled “Moving Forward.” As they began Bishop Minerva Carcaño, who serves the Los Angeles Area, reminded all that the process was being live streamed suggesting as she did that they put their best selves forward as well.
Representing the lead delegates who planned this time were Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan, clergy delegate from the California-Nevada Conference, and Marie Kuch-Stanovsky, lay delegate from the Pacific Northwest Conference. They opened the time by introducing facilitator Nancy Tam Davis. Davis was elected in June as the new Lay Leader for the Pacific Northwest Conference. One goal she named for the time was the further discerning of what it truly “means to be inclusive and bold.”
Delegates and guests were invited into conversation with their table groups or nearby neighbors. Table seating at the Western Jurisdictional Conference is not by delegation allowing participants to hear the views of other United Methodists from across the region.
They began the time considering the question, “What are you hearing, seeing, and experiencing in your Annual Conference?” Conversations were quick to happen and grew louder as they moved through additional questions.
Davis invited people to report out on a question of jurisdictional identity, “where is God calling us today?” Several individuals reflected on the inclusive, prophetic reputation of the jurisdiction speaking of the need to create space for intentional listening to conservative voices.
Rev. Emily Allen, clergy delegate from the California-Nevada Conference, reported that her table discussed how one leads “in such a way that others can follow, but that others may not.” Jeremy Scott, clergy delegate from the Yellowstone Conference, said it this way: “The Western Jurisdiction often takes the opportunity to be prophetic; we have a number before us this time. We also have the opportunity to truly model what it means to build bridges with those who disagree.”
Others reflected on the need to reframe the reputation of the jurisdiction. “The Western Jurisdiction is the global church…We are the right place to be the experimenters.” Nestor Gerente spoke of the need to name our positive distinctive traits like missional giving and the percentage of vital congregations.
Moving toward the end of the process, participants were invited at their tables to consider another question: “what are the implications of us moving forward together?” They continued to consider the question with a more practical thrust. Delegates shared a variety of answers reflecting a diverse number of conversations and concerns. Small church ministries, strategic messaging, ministry collaboration across conference lines, and the need for creating “non-token” spaces for young people were among the items named.
As time concluded, Davis noted that “this conversation is not over. How we choose to follow God’s calling is not over.” Those present rose to the challenge Bishop Carcaño led off with in modeling how God’s people can talk openly with each other crossing thresholds they discover together along the way.
By Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications, PNW Conference