The New Mexico Annual Conference took place in Las Cruces, New Mexico on June 14-16. The last time we met in-person as a conference was 2019. Our new bishop, Robert Schnase, presided.
The theme of our conference was “Fall afresh on me.” The worship experiences featured the concepts of melt me, mold me, fill me and use me. Jan Archey, a master potter, introduced the working of clay as a tactile, visual way to experience the ideas.
During the Bishop’s message, Bishop Schnase shared this: “As one pastor said to me, we are still here, and there’s a reason we are here. ... We have great conference leadership, great churches, great pastoral and lay leadership and we serve a great area, a great conference, and I couldn’t agree more.”
The Rev. Blossom Matthews was one of our featured speakers/teachers. Her presentation was titled: “Fresh Moves of God.” She talked about the Choluteca Bridge and how despite a terrible storm, the bridge survived but with the flooding, the river moved. It became a bridge to nowhere. “We are strong, resolute, faithful... but where did the people go? Where did the culture go? ...Fresh Expressions is about taking the church that Jesus loves to the people Jesus loves. If we want to engage our mission field, we have to move.”
The Revs. Scott Sharp and Blair Thompson-White of the Texas Methodist Foundation spoke about the Five Adaptive Muscles of the Post-Pandemic Church. Speaking of one of the “muscles” — Expanding Imagination, Scott said, “In Spanish, they don’t have a word for border. They say ‘frontera.’ It’s something you push, and push and push. What happens when we think differently about the borders of our ministry as fronteras?’”
Bishop Schnase presented a plaque to ordinand, the Rev. Young Hoon Kang, which commemorated the lineage between John Wesley, to himself and finally, to Young. The bishop said, “The list of names that brings us to your ordination represents the history of United Methodism — its continuity, its brokenness, its fullness and its sin. The lineage of bishops that runs through me to you includes the bishop who ordained me, Ernest Dixon whose ancestors were enslaved peoples. And, the lineage that runs through me also includes James Osgood Andrew — the slave-owning bishop, whose ownership of slaves led to the division of the UMC in 1844...”
“There are 9-10 people between you and John Wesley...how many between you and Jesus Christ? Between the time when Jesus spoke to Peter, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church,’ there are only 80-85 generations.”
About ordination: “Carry it gently...exercise it boldly.”
One Matters Award Recipients: Aztec United Methodist Church — Albuquerque District; Grace United Methodist Church United Methodist Church — Alamogordo–Clovis District; Trinity-First United Methodist Church — El Paso District.
We passed the Creation Care Resolution, which stated that each church would plant and maintain one tree and encourage their members to plant trees.
We introduced a Call to Action to call upon the congressional delegation from the State of New Mexico and our local representatives in our state legislature to support and act upon responsible firearm legislation both at the national level and within our state. The presenters requested member signatures several times during the conference.
Special Interest: The conference disaffiliation policy was introduced through the pre-conference briefing and the trustees report. Further, a disaffiliation policy walk-through was scheduled to allow our trustees chair, the Rev. Josh Kouri, to describe the process in detail and answer any questions. The Rev. Dustin McEwen presented a petition signed by more than 160 individuals to the trustees chair to request continued discussion regarding the conference disaffiliation policy.
Discontinuances/Transfers: Hamlin Memorial/Texico-Farwell transferred to Northwest Texas Conference. Discontinuances: Monte Sinai/Clark Memorial, Truth or Consequences, Lordsburg and Shiprock.
Retirees: Six pastors retired. Since we could not meet in 2020 and 2021, the 18 retirees from those years were also invited to attend a retiree luncheon. Several attended and were invited to speak.
Memorial: Carolyn Tunnell Scrimshire, James Norton Scrimshire, Raymond T. Keene, Ann Bell, Richard Eugene Bright, Billie Ray Sharp.
Ordination/Commissioning: One ordained elder, two provisional elders, one transfer from elder to deacon, one commissioned deaconess, and eight licensed local pastors.
Number of clergy retired: 6
Membership stands at 23,368, down 2,088 from the previous year.
Worship attendance stands at 6,317, down 725.
Church school attendance stands at 2,510, down 716.
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2021 were 219, up 103 from 2020.
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2021 were at 4,281, down from 631 from 2020.
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2021 were 3,871, down 1,016 from 2020.
—Alli J. Newsom, communications director
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