Letter from District to Congregations

From: Larry Hygh
Date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 8:47 AM
Subject: [CAL-PAC-UPDATE] 2008 Annual Conference Summary Report
To: CAL-PAC-UPDATE@umcgroupemail.org

California-Pacific Annual Conference
By Larry R. Hygh, Jr.*

More than 1,800 laity and clergy from across Southern California, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan gathered June 18 to 22 at
the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., for the 2008 California-Pacific Annual Conference. This year’s theme was
“To Be The Cup Overflowing With Joy!” Bishop Mary Ann Swenson opened worship proclaiming, “Joy comes as a gift
that cannot be manufactured!”

This was the 24th Annual Conference Session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference, which was created out of the
Pacific and Southwest Annual Conference. This session marks the 157th session since the organization of The Pacific
Conference in 1851, the oldest of the merging Annual Conferences.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Annual Conference led Bible study. Bishop Ward examined the Book of
Ruth and said, “We’re all midwives to one another as we give birth and bring new life to the world!” She also examined
the “Parable of the Sower” and asked the question, “How do we live between the planting and the harvest?”
Conference members gathered in Wesley Circles following the morning Bible studies for discussion and prayer.

The Conference continued a new pattern of welcoming a lay person to preach during the Annual Session. Lewis “Bob”
Crownover, a lay member of First United Methodist Church Redondo Beach, was selected through an audition process,
and spoke during a special service of baptism about his faith journey, which included coming back from homelessness.

In legislative action, the Conference responded in several ways to recent actions of the California Supreme Court. In
early May, the Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a broadly worded decision that would
invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. The 4-3 ruling declared that the state
Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples.

The conference passed three resolutions surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage in California.

One of the resolutions focused on a pastoral response to the legality of same gender marriage in California. It read in
part, “while we recognize that we are governed by the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, we support
those pastors who conscientiously respond to the needs of their parishes by celebrating same gender marriages, and we
envision compassion and understanding in any resulting disciplinary actions.” (See “Pastoral Response” below for full
text of resolution)

The second resolution entitled “Affirmation of Marriage Equality in California” calls on the California-Pacific Annual
Conference to celebrate the Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality. It reads in part, “Be it further resolved
that the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church support same-gender couples who enter
into the marriage covenant and encourage both congregations and pastors to welcome, embrace, and provide spiritual
nurture and pastoral care for these families.” (See “Affirmation of Marriage” below for full text of resolution)

A third resolution was in response to an initiative on the California state ballot this coming November. The “California
Marriage Protection Act” would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union "between a man and a
woman" and undo the ruling which found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was unconstitutional.

The Conference resolution entitled “Protecting Marriage Equality In California,” was passed in opposition to the state
initiative. It read in part, “we call upon the laity and clergy of our churches in the California-Pacific Annual Conference to
answer the call of General Conference by providing a witness against heterosexism and any discrimination based on
sexual orientation, and in so doing, to be actively involved in protecting the civil rights of all Californians as they pertain
to the right to civil marriage, working through correspondence with elected officials, through public venues such as
newspapers, periodicals, radio and television, and the venues offered by the internet, and through other opportunities
as they arise.” (See “Marriage Equality” below for full text of resolution)

Prior to closing worship, the Rev. Mark Ulrickson, Santa Ana District Superintendent and Dean of the Cabinet, read a
statement from the Cabinet in response to inquiries regarding same gender marriages. Ulrickson said, “Neither our
actions nor the actions of the State of California change the present Discipline of the United Methodist Church.” He
further stated, “Despite our diverse individual perspectives, we are obligated to process complaints arising from
breaches of these provisions in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.” He further stated, “As we seek to remain in
compassionate solidarity with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, this may be a time to promote ecumenical
partnerships and a variety of engaging ministries.” (See “Cabinet Response” below for full text of statement)

Members adopted a 2009 budget of $12,906,072 representing an increase of .77 percent increase.

More than 225 youth participated in the annual Youth Day and raised funds for 1,000 bed nets for the “Nothing But
Nets” campaign.

In other business, conference members:

- Collected offerings: Domestic Disaster Response $4,200; Nothing But Nets $9,500; Global Disaster Response
$3,300; Conference Youth Endowment Fund $3,400; and Bishop’s Designation for Children $3,000;
- Raised $905 in the annual clergy basketball game for charity to benefit Nothing But Nets; and
- Adopted a resolution encouraging all churches in the Conference to calculate their carbon footprint on a
biennial basis and become carbon neutral by the year 2020.

During the conference session:

- Bishop Swenson ordained seven elders in full connection; received one candidate into full connection;
commissioned four as probationary elders, and commissioned one as a probationary deacon;
- Celebrated the retirement of 25 active clergy representing more than 656 years of active ministry; and
- Endorsed the Rev. Dr. Grant Hagiya, Executive Director, of the Conference’s new Center of Leadership
Excellence, for the Episcopacy.

Membership stands at 84,812 down 2,265 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 51,227, up 411 from
the previous year. Church school attendance stands at 12,814, down 613 from the previous year.

*Hygh is director of communications for the denomination’s California-Pacific Annual Conference which includes 380
churches with a combined membership of 85,000 in Southern California, Hawaii, Guam, and Saipan.

PASTORAL RESPONSE

Pastoral Response to Legality of Same-Gender Marriage in California

Whereas many people who we know and love in our parishes are celebrating with overflowing joy the recent California
Supreme Court decision to recognize their place in society and their right to be married, and

Whereas beloved same-gender couples in our parishes are coming to us with their desire to celebrate their love and
commitment, and to have those affirmed not only by the state but by their faith community as well, and

Whereas the legality of same-sex marriage in California, the needs of our parishes, and the demands of love require a
pastoral response from the clergy and congregations of the California-Pacific Annual Conference,

Therefore, be it resolved that we recognize the pastoral need and prophetic authority of our clergy and congregations to
offer the ministry of marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples.

Be it further resolved, while we recognize that we are governed by the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist
Church, we support those pastors who conscientiously respond to the needs of their parishes by celebrating same-
gender marriages, and we envision compassion and understanding in any resulting disciplinary actions.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Protecting Marriage Equality in California [Opposition to “California Marriage Protection Act”]

Whereas the Book of Discipline 2004 states in ¶162(h) that: “Certain basic human rights and civil liberties are due all
persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for homosexual persons,” and “We insist that all
persons, regardless of age, gender, martial status, or sexual orientation, are entitled to have their human and civil rights
ensured,” and

Whereas the 2008 session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, held in Fort Worth, Texas, has
adopted the resolution titled Opposition to Homophobia and Heterosexism, calling on: “The United Methodist Church
strengthen its advocacy of the eradication of sexism by opposing all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender,
gender identity, sexual practice or sexual orientation,” and

Whereas the Supreme Court of the State of California ruled in the case of In re: Marriage Cases (2008), when it struck
down a state ban on same-sex marriage, has found the right to marry to be civil right of all citizens, and that “the
essence of the right to marry is freedom to join in marriage with the person of one’s choice,” and that “An individual’s
sexual orientation – like a person’s race or gender – does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or
withhold legal rights.”

Whereas a so called “California Marriage Protection Amendment” will appear on the November 4, 2008 General Election
ballot, seeking to overturn the California Supreme Court decision, and

Whereas this amendment would be a profound misuse of our state constitution for the purpose of restricting the civil
rights of one group of citizens, such an amendment would be in direct contradiction of the principles and spirit of the
United Methodist Church:

Therefore, be it resolved that the 2008 Session of the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist
Church Opposes the California Marriage Protection Amendment, and calls upon United Methodists in favor of the defeat
of this act to work with all their might for its defeat, and

Be it further resolved that we call upon the laity and clergy of our churches in the California-Pacific Annual Conference to
answer the call of General Conference by providing a witness against heterosexism and any discrimination based on
sexual orientation, and in so doing, to be actively involved in protecting the civil rights of all Californians as they pertain
to the right to civil marriage, working through correspondence with elected officials, through public venues such as
newspapers, periodicals, radio and television, and the venues offered by the internet, and through other opportunities
as they rise.

AFFIRMATION OF MARRIAGE

Affirmation of Marriage Equality in California

Background
On May 15, 2008, The California Supreme Court issued its decision holding that marriage is a basic civil right of personal
autonomy and liberty to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation. The week the
California Pacific Annual Conference 2008 will be in session, history will be made in California as legal marriage becomes
available to gay and lesbian couples. Gay and lesbian couples in many of our churches will be married in the weeks and
months to come.

Whereas California has led the marriage equality movement, beginning 60 years ago, by striking down laws prohibiting
marriage between interracial couples (Perez v. Sharp, 1948);

Whereas on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued its decision holding that marriage is a basic civil right of
personal autonomy and liberty to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation; and

Whereas as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, the State of California will begin to license and recognize same-
gender marriages on June 16, 2008;

Whereas the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church states that “certain basic human rights and civil liberties
are due all persons. We are committed to supporting those rights and liberties for homosexual persons.” (¶162.H)

Whereas: The United Methodist Church understands family “to be the basic human community through which persons
are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity.” (¶161.A)

Whereas the California Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church has had a long history of ministry
with, by and for lesbians and gay men through which the Holy Spirit has taught us the sacred worth of all persons and
our ministries have been shaped accordingly;

Therefore be it resolved that the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church celebrates the
Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality;

Be it further resolved that the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist church support same-
gender couples who enter into the marriage covenant and encourage both congregations and pastors to welcome,
embrace and provide spiritual nurture and pastoral care for these families.

CABINET RESPONSE

A Statement Offered by the Bishop and Cabinet
In response to inquiries regarding same gender marriages
Shared with the Cal-Pac Annual Conference meeting in session in Redlands, CA
Sunday, June 22, 2008

With the change in California law regarding same gender marriages, pastors and congregations have been asking how
they can respond. Our Holy Conferencing and action on resolutions at this Annual Conference have sought common
ground in this regard. Neither our actions nor the actions of the state of California change the present Discipline of the
United Methodist Church. The 2008 General Conference did add clarification that the prohibition against holy unions
(Ph 341.6) applies even when same gender marriage is legal. This provision becomes effective in 2009.

The Episcopal office and its extension through the District Superintendents fulfill two roles, pastoral and supervisory
(presidential). In the pastoral role we want to affirm that your Bishop and cabinet are available for counsel,
encouragement, support, and reflection. In the supervisory or presidential role, we are officers of the church and
responsible for upholding the order of the Discipline. Despite our diverse individual perspectives, we are obligated to
process complaints arising from breaches of these provisions in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

In considering pastoral care, rituals and celebrations, pastors and congregations will need to understand the rules, risks
and the scope of consequences as well as recognizing the continuum of possible ministries which can be offered.

As we seek to remain in compassionate solidarity with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, this may be a time to
promote ecumenical partnerships and a variety of engaging ministries.

Ultimately, the Annual Conference, cabinet and UMC, can not make the decision regarding your course. We can not
eliminate risks or consequences or determine your heart or behavior. These decisions reside in the space between you
and the call of God. As a cabinet, we will be in prayer for our pastors and congregations as we all seek to listen to the
guidance of the Holy Spirit in responding to the heart of Christ as we extend compassion and hospitality to those seeking
the sacral agencies of the church.

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The People of the United Methodist Church

Larry R. Hygh, Jr.
Director of Communications
www.LarryHygh.com
California-Pacific Conference
www.cal-pac.org
The United Methodist Church
110 South Euclid Ave.
P.O. Box 6006
Pasadena, CA 91102-6006
e-mail: lhygh@cal-pac.org

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