Conference Superintendent for Congregational Vitality Is Hired
Following a nationwide search, Bener Agtarap has been named the new Conference Superintendent for Congregational Vitality for the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
Agtarap will join the staff July 1, 2012. Originally from Manila, Philippines, he is an ordained elder in the Wisconsin Annual Conference and since 2009 has served as a new church strategist for Path 1 and New Church Starts Division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).
"We are excited for what the future holds as Bener brings his gifts and experience to the work of congregational revitalization and new church starts in California-Nevada," said Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. in making the announcement. "From a field of excellent candidates, Bener emerged as the one best qualified to lead us forward. He has extensive experience in leading local congregation revitalization, as well as in new church development – and has a strong background in both leadership development and stewardship development. Besides his work at the general agency level, Bener has 'practiced what he preached,' starting a new church at age 22 as a layperson. As a local pastor and then a district superintendent in the Philippines, he began and supported five new church starts and led the creation of a new district with 38 churches and 18 new mission extensions.
"We are grateful that Bener will be joining our team as we move forward into a future of transformative discipleship here in California-Nevada," the bishop said.
Agtarap is married to Clarita Reinante Agtarap. They live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and have three children – Kiyah, a junior in high school; Katriel, a freshman in college; and Sola, a college senior.
The Superintendent for Congregational Vitality position was created to "build relationships, processes, and strategies to enable the Conference to meet its 2020 goals" for congregational vitality and creation of new faith communities. They are:
· All congregations have a clear, simple vision and strategy for making disciples in their unique context, who reach their mission fields;
· Conference culture encourages innovative ways of multiplying disciple-making movements to create new places for new people;
· One-third of congregations start something new that reaches new people, through context-driven models of new faith communities and/or new expressions of ministry;
· There is a new multicultural congregation that consistently engages at least 1,000 active participants each week;
· There are at least five existing congregations with no fewer than 1,000 active participants each week; and
· There are at least 20 faith communities with no fewer than 500 active participants each week.
The superintendent is charged with creating and implementing systems and creating capacities for existing church redevelopment and new church starts; finding the best leaders for new faith communities or partner congregations, and identifying new ministry opportunities (in consultation with the bishop, district superintendents, Board of Congregational Development, Board of Ordained Ministry, and circuit leaders); equipping leaders and congregations for effectiveness; building a network of clergy and lay with special gifts (to aid in the development of faith communities to meet goals); and developing financial resources.
The position was advertised nationally, through both United Methodist channels and outside networks. Thirty-three applications were received and six persons – diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity, and representing nearly all United Methodist jurisdictions – were interviewed before the search team made its decision.
Conference Superintendent for Mission Collaboration Linda Caldwell, a member of the search team, says a major factor in attracting so many excellent candidates for the position was the fact that the Conference has a good Strategic Plan, with Conference leadership solidly behind it. She adds that candidates asked a number of significant questions, to which the team was able to respond readily, having laid the groundwork of developing the Strategic Plan.
Agtarap currently is the Conference's consultant with Path 1 and will continue in that role until the existing covenant expires in June. After he joins the Cal-Nevada staff, a determination will be made as to what form the Conference's future partnership with Path 1 will take.
UMs Participate in Global Event on Migration, Development, and Human Rights
NEW YORK, NY—A delegation of 18 Methodists, hosted by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), is attending the People's Global Action on Migration, Development, and Human Rights (PGA) in Geneva, Switzerland, as part of the mission agency's focus on global migration and poverty. The global event began Nov. 28 and ends Dec. 2, 2011.
The PGA is a grassroots event organized by Migrant Rights International that brings together migrant organizations from around the world. It is held in tandem with the inter-governmental Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) – the only private, inter-governmental forum on migration – and an event called Civil Society Days, which is an invitation-only event involving faith, labor, development, and migrant organizations.
The General Board of Global Ministries, including United Methodist Women, has organized a delegation to PGA that is highly representative of areas in which The United Methodist Church and its mission partners are challenged by migration issues. It includes persons from the church's conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines, as well as the United States. The delegation illustrates an ongoing commitment to the linked issues of global migration and poverty.
Ministry with the Poor is one of four current Focus Areas of the denomination, and a model project on Global Migration is part of that emphasis at Global Ministries. Global migration also is an increasing concern of the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration, an official inter-agency entity.
The backdrop for participation in the meetings in Geneva includes a 2008 resolution of the United Methodist General Conference, the church's legislature, on "Global Migration and the Quest for Justice," (#6028, Book of Resolutions 2008). This document understands the recent upsurge in migration around the world as resulting largely from the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, with people pushed to relocate by poverty, underdevelopment, climate change, and war. At the same time, wealthy nations eagerly recruit migrant workers to fill gaps in their employment needs and to lower costs, although the rights of the new workers are severely limited. Migrants encounter the barriers of racism, harsh enforcement policies, and criminalization of their very presence.
Global Ministries' delegation to Geneva is seeking to understand the migration realities faced by United Methodists and Methodists in diverse regions of the world. The group has joined with secular organizations from six continents in exploring migrant experiences and migration policy, with the following goals:
- to strengthen networks to promote global, regional, and national policies that put migrant human rights at the center of concern; and
- to consider how sustainable development could make it possible for the poor to choose to stay where they are, rather than being forced to migrate in search of livelihoods.
Methodist delegates are considering how this global advocacy experience can strengthen their ministries with 1) migrant-sending congregations, 2) migrant-receiving congregations, and 3) migrant congregations.
The delegation organized by Global Ministries includes members of the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration, agency staff, United Methodist missionaries, students, and a director of United Methodist Women.
United Methodist Involvement in Migration
Migration is a long-standing United Methodist and Global Ministries concern. There were UMW representatives at the 2006 UN High Level Dialogue and, since 2009, at the GFMD and Civil Society Days. Global Ministries organized an international delegation to the People's Global Action in Mexico City in 2010.
Global Ministries supports and works closely with immigrants and refugees through churches, ecumenical partners, and community-based organizations in the US and around the world. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has engaged the United Methodist churches in supporting resettlement of refugees in the US for more than 60 years. In addition, UMCOR's Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) program partners with local US congregations to provide free immigration legal services, while engaging congregations and community members in advocacy efforts to secure human and civil rights for immigrants. Various church and Global Ministries offices and ethnic ministry plans support, strengthen, and expand local organizations that provide services to migrants. These initiatives also create and nurture international, national, regional, and local partnerships and networks between local congregations and grassroots organizing groups.
United Methodist Policy
Global Migration is a natural expression of the United Methodist priority on ministry with the poor. The 2008 General Conference resolution, "Global Migration and the Quest for Justice," calls on the church to:
- Engage in strong, coordinated advocacy on migration issues and on behalf of actions that overcome poverty, war, and other causes leading to the displacement and marginalization of people;
- Advocate for "just and equitable trade and development policies that support human rights and counteract the root causes of migration such as war and militarization, environment spoilage, and corporate greed";
- Engage with other Christian and religious organizations in North-South dialogues, study of international economic policies, and joint action; and
- Educate church members and communities on the causes and realities of migration, including international treaty commitments, the issues of economic and environmental justice, and the obstacles to a just, peaceable world created by anti-immigrant racism and xenophobia.
COMMENTARY: The Price of Repentance
By Anita Phillips*
The 2012 General Conference will be a turning point for The United Methodist Church. I'm not referring to budget discussions or organizational changes, but to the planned "Act of Repentance to Indigenous Peoples" that will test the fragile relationship between the denomination and Native peoples.
As a Native American United Methodist, I view the Act of Repentance as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it will be a time when delegates to the top decision-making body of the denomination will stop and listen and, I pray, engage seriously in the reflection and self-examination that repentance requires.
On the other hand, we have a long history with Euro-American brothers and sisters – since first contact – that leaves me and other Native Americans with little trust that true repentance will take place.
The idea of repentance is one of the cornerstones of the church. When Jesus Christ began to share in the Gospel, his words were "hear the good news and repent." This was essential for those who followed Jesus. Repentance is the first step toward reconciliation, a step that concerns me and many Native Americans. It is a great challenge of faith for us to trust acts of repentance from any institution of this country – be it the government or the Church.
I have mixed emotions about whether the Church is ready for the Act or Repentance and if this is the right time. As I have traveled and spoken around the country on behalf of the National Native American Comprehensive Plan since the 2008 General Conference, I have met people who don't understand the connection to our ancestors and the past. "Why can't you get over it?" they ask. "That was then and this is now," they argue.
The history we have experienced is at the very core of our being as Native people. We live our history every day of our lives. I don't think that is true for the dominant society. They certainly benefit from this collective history. They may claim their history, but for the most part it doesn't have a lot to do with how they live and walk day-to-day.
If it does not result in change throughout the denomination, there is a real chance that the 2012 Act of Repentance could backfire. This single act could contribute to historical trauma of Native people, not unlike massacres and broken treaties of the past. This is a very serious matter. I pray that delegates and church leaders understand the repercussions of their actions – one way or another.
I am encouraged by Acts of Repentance services that have taken place in some Annual Conferences. I pray that these seeds of repentance will take root and produce the fruits of dialogue and reconciliation.
Between the 2012 and 2016 General Conferences my Native brothers and sisters and I will be watching with prayerful hearts. Will we see fruits from the Acts of Repentance? Will we see change? I hope so. I hope inaction will not prompt us to ask if the United Methodist Church is where God is calling our Native people to be.
I implore delegates and leaders of this Church to take the Act of Repentance seriously. I pray that they will seek opportunities for dialogue and understanding with Native people all along on this journey. Become our champions, become our voice.
I can't imagine my life without The United Methodist Church. The Holy Spirit called me into this Church. I have stayed in good times and not-so-good times. I will continue to pray, like the doubter in Scripture: "Lord I believe, help my unbelief." I choose to go forward with hope and with great desire to see repentance and reconciliation take place across this denomination. I pray you do as well.
*Phillips is Keetoowah Cherokee and executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of The United Methodist Church.
About the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Affairs
GCCUIC is the part of The United Methodist Church that engages with and talks to other Christian denominations, to work toward unity and peace. The Commission seeks to strengthen interreligious relationships, which enable community building. The Commission has been mandated by the 2008 General Conference to fulfill the "Healing Relationships with Indigenous Persons" resolution. More information about the 2012 Act of Repentance, including a resource list, may be found at www.gccuic-umc.org.
GBHEM Awards Loans and Scholarships to 40 Cal-Nev Students
GBHEM's Office of Loans and Scholarships will be awarding more than 2,600 students a total of $5.3 million in award money for 2011 – including nearly $75,000 distributed among 40 students in the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
Pastors received certificates for their congregants to acknowledge these recipients on Student Day, November 27, 2011.
Overall, of those awarded, nearly 2,300 were under the age of 35, and more than 500 are enrolled in seminary pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree.
Download report of Cal-Nevada's GBHEM Loan and Scholarship recipients here.
Sacramento-Area Youth Event Has Successful Launch
By Hulita Destiny Fakalata
Y.A. at Tongan United Methodist Fellowship, Sacramento
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
On November 19, youth and young adults from Sacramento area churches gathered together at Sacramento Japanese United Methodist Church for a common purpose: community and the word of God. Four churches were represented: Emmanuel UMC, First UMC, Japanese UMC, and the Tongan United Methodist Fellowship.
When I arrived, I saw youth and young adults mixing and mingling (amongst food, of course!) and getting to know each other. I joined in on the fun and began asking the normal questions: "What's your name?" (even though we all had nametags: Ha, ha!), "What church are you from?" and "Are you going to school?" I immediately noticed how comfortable we were with each other. We made each other laugh and smile within minutes of meeting each other. We were a very diverse group (Asians, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and European Americans) but we knew we were all Christians, and so we were comfortable sharing our faith and our personal lives with each other.
Adam Vargyas from the Sierra Service Project came, shared a presentation about SSP, and told us about some of the volunteer opportunities that we can do together for SSP Weekend Projects: for example, working at the United Methodist Church in Oak Park that needs many repairs. He informed us about the different work sites that SSP has over the summer, and explained how to get involved with the program. His presentation got the youth excited about working together as one body with our newfound friends.
The food that was provided for us was filling, delicious, and wonderful – and was immediately followed by a fulfilling and wonderful worship service at 1 p.m. Gayle Kurasaki, youth leader at the Sacramento Japanese UMC, led the worship with some friends from the other participating churches. We played games, sang songs, and read Scriptures (we had to pop balloons to get them). Gayle also led the sermon, and boy was it a treat! She gave us a full serving of faith and hope through her words – telling us about the faith that God has in us, no matter how small we might be.
This event was very nice and much needed. I look forward to attending the next event.
The group is planning on meeting every month for worship services and fun activities. In December the group is going bowling. If you would like to join the group (everyone is welcome!), please contact Gayle Kurasaki at email@example.com.
[The author is shown in left foreground, in photo above.]
Final CLayM@Home Class for This Conference Year Begins New Year's Day
The final CLayM@Home class for this Conference year will begin on January 1. This DVD-based training class includes two mandatory retreats – Feb 18-19 and April 28-29.
The cost is $299 for each of the two sessions of DVD classes (does not include the cost of lodging at the retreat site).
Applications are being accepted now. The district superintendents have requested that all five reference forms accompany the application when it is sent to them.
Give Gifts of Hope This Christmas
As you are looking for the perfect Christmas presents this year, think about giving gifts that will make a difference and be treasured long after the holiday passes.
Choose a project from the Global Ministries gift catalog as an alternative to a traditional gift. Help vulnerable populations and support vital United Methodist mission projects all around the world, while honoring someone special in your life. And remember, with a gift through The Advance, 100% of your donation reaches its intended mission and ministry.
Give a meaningful gift to a loved one and bring the hope of Christ to the world.
Here are just a few examples of gifts you can give that will honor someone and change lives:
And there are many more ways you can help. Once you've made your donation, tell the honoree about your gift by using Advance Alternative Giving cards that you can print from the webpage.
This year give the special people in your life gifts of hope that will make a difference long after Christmas is over.
Did you miss any of the 10-Fold Events?
When you visit 10-Fold.org, you also have the opportunity to support one or more projects with a gift through The Advance, The United Methodist Church's program for voluntary, second-mile giving. And you can be assured that 100 percent of your gift goes to the mission or ministry that you intend, because systems already are in place to cover all administrative fees.
Every day, United Methodist members and partners are spreading God's good work, and you can be part of these efforts with a gift to the project of your choice.
Your support is greatly appreciated and will make a difference.
Order 'Bread for the World' Christmas Cards Today
Packs of 10 cards and envelopes are just $15, which includes shipping.
Sending Bread for the World cards to your friends and family is a great way to show you care for them and for hungry people. Proceeds from the cards support the Bread for the World Institute's work to end hunger.
This year, a special card without a Scripture passage is available, that can be used for general season's greetings.
Make sure to order your cards before Dec. 15 to ensure they are delivered before Christmas.
Bread for the World thanks you for your continued support and hopes you may experience the joy and peace of Christ this Christmas season.
SOSA Offers Advent Study, Alternative Gift Card Program
Society of St. Andrew (SoSA), the national gleaning ministry, has two Advent programs for you and your church.
Passing the Peace
This booklet is an Advent devotions and giving program to help keep us focused on Jesus' coming while we provide a meaningful gift to feed hungry children and adults here in the United States.
During the season of Advent, the Society of St. Andrew devotional booklet asks participants to reflect prayerfully on the Scriptures and devotions, and also to join in the ministry of feeding America's hungry by making a financial donation. Last year, donations made through SoSA's Advent devotional program provided more than 1.2 million servings of food to the hungry. All booklets are provided free of charge.
Alternative Gift Christmas Card
While you and your family celebrate the joyous Christmas season, many Americans will experience first-hand the reality of hunger and poverty in our land of abundance. America still is the richest nation on earth, but 40 million of its citizens suffer in poverty. This Christmas, you can give them hope by the simple act of honoring your loved ones with a gift donation to feed the hungry.
Each $12 donation to the Society of St. Andrew provides about 600 servings of fresh, nutritious food to America's hungry families. It's such a sincere and loving way to feed the hungry and honor special people in your life. And when you do, each person you so honor will receive our exclusive Christmas Gift Donation Card announcing your generous gift in their name.
UM Communications Recognized for Creative Excellence
Malaria Documentary Wins Highest Awards in International Competition
"To be recognized for the quality of our work is rewarding," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "But more importantly, the awards turn the spotlight on two very important issues that are the focus of these documentaries – malaria and immigration. We hope to send the message that we need to care more and do more."
The international awards competition recognizes outstanding creative achievement by marketing and communications professionals. The Platinum Award is presented to those judged to be among the most outstanding among the more than 6,000 entries in the 2011 competition. A Killer in the Dark garnered two top honors for Video/Nonprofit and Script/Nonprofit.
The documentary, which appeared on many NBC affiliates earlier this year, was created to increase awareness and action against malaria, a disease that kills a child in Africa every 45 seconds. Hosted by actress Pauley Perrette, the documentary chronicles the daily struggle against malaria that people in Africa face every day. It also highlights the community-based efforts underway to fight malaria through Imagine No Malaria, an initiative of The United Methodist Church that aims to eliminate death and suffering from malaria by 2015.
United Methodist Communications also received a Gold Award for Dreamer, a video project produced by United Methodist Productions and the General Board of Church and Society. It features the story of Mercedes Gonzales, a DREAM act-eligible student who was arrested for being in the U.S. without documentation.
MarCom is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected competitions in the creative industry. Winners were selected from more than 200 categories in the following forms of media and communication efforts: marketing, publications, marketing/promotion, public service/pro bono, creativity and electronic/interactive. Approximately 18 percent of entries won the Platinum Award, the organization's top honor.
Cal-Nev Communications Launches Mobile App for Conference Website
There's now a mobile phone app that makes the California-Nevada Annual Conference website smart-phone friendly! Your iPhone or Droid should update to the new mobile site automatically, the next time you visit the website at www.cnumc.org using your phone.
The mobile phone app has three tabs at the top: "Home," which returns you to the Home Page from interior pages, "Find churches," and "Find people."
In addition to a search window that allows you to search for a church by name, city, or zip code, "Find churches" also shows churches that are within 25 miles of your location (if you allow tracking of your physical location). "Find people" is a clergy search function only (since we do not make public names of laity), and brings up the person's email address as a live link.
On the Home Page are four photo features with links to their associated stories. Scrolling down reveals links to recently added News stories, upcoming Events, and recently added Classifieds, Death Notices, and Appointments (in that order). In each section, there is a "show more" link.
The app is an adaptation of the website skimmer, which allows you to browse topical content on your computer. Just add /skimmer after the Conference website URL in your web browser (making the URL http://www.cnumc.org/skimmer), to see the most recently added items in the News, Events, Classifieds, Death Notices, and Appointments categories, at a glance.
To register for any of these events, go to cnumc.org/register.
- NEW - Basic Lay Speaking Classes, San Jose, Alum Rock UMC (Dec. 3 & 10)
- VIM Team Leader Training, Japanese UMC, Sacramento (Dec. 10)
- "Basic Training with Q &A" for Church Administrative Leaders, Modesto UMC (Jan. 7)
- VIM Team Leader Training, Alum Rock UMC, San Jose (Jan. 7)
- Basic ERT (Early Response Training) Class, Pinole UMC (Jan. 28, 2012)
- VIM Team Leader Training, Burlingame UMC, (Feb. 11)
- Introduction to Church Disaster Planning Class, San Ramon Valley UMC, Alamo (Feb. 18)
- Bridges District (East), Lay Speaker Courses for 2012
- Bridges District (West), Lay Speaking Class for 2012
- (For more information and/or to register for the Bridges District Lay Speaking Classes, click here.)
Get in touch
CA-NV Annual Conference
1276 Halyard Drive
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Director of Communications
Submit news items by 5 p.m. on Tuesday of desired week of publication to Cate Monaghan at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may use this form: