2013 Southwest Conference Annual Meeting
April 12 - 13, 2013
Church of the Palms United Church in Sun City, Arizona
Desert Garden United Church of Christ in Sun City West, Arizona
A wonderful time was had by all at the Southwest Conference Annual Meeting on April 12 and 13 in Sun City, Arizona.
We were at Church of the Palms on Friday and enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones. Friday night’s ordination and installation of (now) Rev. Judy Green-Davis was a highlight - especially the procession of clergy and laying on of hands. Links to videos of the service are below.
On Saturday, we were at United Church of Sun City. The day started with a mini-CROP Walk, which raised $5775! Thank you, churches! Church of the Good Shepherd in Albuquerque raised the most money from a local church. Thank you Rev. Bill Ingraham, who was the winner of most money collected by an individual. The Youth Worship Service was a highlight on Saturday with preaching by Holly MillerShank and a script written by John Dorhauer and performed by conference youth, complete with Beatles music.
The one Resolution brought to the Meeting this year was passed and instructs the SWC to begin a study of the practice of holding Ecclesiastical Councils. The results of this study will be presented to the delegates next year. To read the resolution, select the link below.
Some other statistics you may find interesting:
There were over 200 Delegates and visitors representing 42 churches.
7 for 7 churches this year:
Sun Lakes UCC, Rincon, Church of the Good Shepherd (Alb), Yuma UCC, Casas Adobes, and Desert Palm
Well over half of the SWC Churches were 5 for 5 this year! Yea!!!
Highest OCWM contributor in 2012: The Good Shepherd in Sahuarita, AZ, $29,300
Highest per capita paid to OCWM in 2012: South Mountain Community Church, $146 per member.
New Open and Affirming Churches since last Annual Meeting:
First Congregational UCC of Prescott
Silver City UCC
Contributions to Youth Ministry: $2400 and counting
A special thank you to retiring Moderator, Jane Cheek. Her tiara surely represented her sparkling personality throughout this past year. And welcome to Cary Meister, our incoming Moderator.
Resolution Approved by Delegates to the 2013 Annual Meeting
Resolution to Study the Authorization for Ministry Process in the SWC, UCC
Moved: That the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ be asked to engage in a study to determine if ecclesiastical councils still meet the needs of our conference. If a change is deemed helpful then the executive board or other appropriate body be asked to present appropriate Constitutional and/or Bylaw Changes to the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Conference, for instance, empowering the Committee on Church and Ministry (Section A or B or both) to act on behalf of the Associations to approve Candidates for Authorization for Ministry Pending Call; this action may then be ratified by the Conference Executive Board.
The current process for authorization for Ordination or Commissioning Pending Call requires the convening of an Ecclesiastical Council for each candidate. These gatherings of delegates have a requirement for a quorum which has, in recent years, become more and more difficult to obtain. At a recent Ecclesiastical Council, for instance, one vote had to be "phoned in" in order to achieve a quorum of congregations in the Southern Association.
In many conferences/ associations/ conferences acting as Associations, the Ecclesiastical Council has been replaced by the careful action of a Committee or Department of Church and Ministry, acting on behalf of the Association/ Conference. Representatives from churches, friends of the candidate, etc. are invited to participate in the questioning of the candidate, but because the Committee on Church and Ministry makes the recommendation (usually ratified by a Conference/ Association's Executive Committee or Board), the action is not held up by lack of a quorum of church representatives.
Given that in recent years more candidates are seeking Authorization for Ministry (Ordination as well as a significant increase in those seeking Commissioning as our church welcomes a broader variety of ministries) the number of Ecclesiastical Councils has increased to a point that there is a greater likelihood of a candidate failing to achieve a quorum.
A further advantage of moving to this alternative system relates to the Appeal process in the event of a Fitness Review. When an authorized minister's fitness for ministry is called into question, it is the responsibility of the Committee on Church and Ministry to carry out a process known as a Fitness Review. Once that review is completed, if an Authorized Minister believes the process was not carried out according to the officially approved process, the minister may appeal. The appeal is heard by the Authorizing Body. Under our current procedures, that Authorizing Body would be an Ecclesiastical Council. If the Conference's Executive Board ratifies the action of the Committee on Church and Ministry in authorizing candidates for ministry, then the body hearing the appeal would be the Executive Board. The process of Appeal is complex and requires mandatory training before the appeal can be heard; thus it can be an onerous process for an Ecclesiastical Council to undertake. Further, as the actions in an appeal can and have led to attempted litigation, a more appropriate venue for such an appeal may be the Executive Board with the legal protections that it affords.
For these reasons, we, the members of The Good Shepherd UCC gathered at its Annual Meeting appeal to the Southwest Conference to undertake a study to examine the possibility of appropriate changes to our Constitution and Bylaws.