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2011 Annual Gathering Report from the Conference Minister

by Rev. Felix C. Villanueva, Conference Minister

     I can hardly believe it has been a year since you called me to be your Conference Minister.  And yet, at the same time, it often seems I have been here longer.  Last year I invited you to join me in dreaming a new dream.  You have accepted that invitation and, as a result, I am pleased to announce that our Conference is stronger than ever!

      During the past year some of you have engaged in a revitalization process led by your Vitality Team and Gary Roberts.  Together with the Center for Progressive Renewal, they have been able to join you in your journey of growth and revitalization.  Those of you seeking new pastoral leadership have welcomed our assistance in your Search and Call process and have accepted our encouragement to think outside the box when looking for a new Interim or Settled Pastor.  You have listened to the voice of the Spirit – and your congregations are delivering exciting ministry.

      Also, this past year we were blessed with the addition of the Rev. Dr. Carlos Correa as Associate Conference Minister for Border and Latino Ministries, the result of a collaborative effort between your Conference Team and the office of Justice and Witness Ministries in Cleveland.  As a result, the Romero Center for Border Ministries now falls under the purview of this Conference.  All this was achieved without major impact on our finances.  In addition, Dr. Correa has been joined by the Rev. Dr. David Alicea, pastor at Paradise Hills, UCC in San Diego, in the development of a strategic plan for our Latino churches.

      Another exciting development has been the expansion of our Samoan Ministries Table.  We are blessed to have the Rev. Elder Superintendent Tiatia, the Rev. Dr. Elder Emeritus Mailo and the Rev. Tanuvasa leading our efforts to bring our Samoan Congregations together and to help to fully integrate them into our ministry.

      I will not steal Gary’s thunder.  Having said that, I am really excited about the new affinity groups being formed in our Conference.  Along those lines, I would like to mention Russ Smethers and the work he is doing in Las Vegas.  Russ is our volunteer leader and the brain behind the UCC Parish, an effort to find commonalities among our churches in that city.  I am pleased to report that this is a vibrant new ministry, one which we hope to duplicate in other areas. Russ is also in the discernment process to become a Commissioned Minister.

      If you don’t receive the SCNC E-News and read  Connecting Voices, the Conference’s e-magazine, I encourage you to discover them!  Keith Clark, Mary Mikkelson, Susan Jakubowski-Weiner, Russ Smethers, Michael Barrett, Robinmarie McClement and Art Cribbs are doing an outstanding job in keeping us informed and helping you tell your story.

      On the regional and national levels we have been developing new partnerships with other Conferences and our National staff to address ministry needs.  We are currently having conversations regarding youth and adult ministries and working towards the development of a Regional Samoan Ministries Coordinator position.  We have also strengthened our connections with Don Dewey and Susan Gonzales-Dewey, the Disciples of Christ Regional Ministers and are now having conversations about expanding our mutual ministry.

      Our Conference is being looked at as the leader in cultural diversity for the UCC. That’s an area we need to continue to celebrate and develop even further.  We are stronger when we recognize each other as equal, regardless of cultural background or sexual preference.

      I also lift up to you our incredible Conference staff.  These wonderful individuals are the lifeblood of our team.  First, Virginia Arroyo, who is the “corporate memory” of this Conference.  Her knowledge, love and dedication to her work make all our jobs easier.  Neal Washburn, our Youth and Young Adults leader, sees his work as a call.  He gives us so much more than he gets paid for, a testimony to his commitment to our young people.  Gary Roberts, who is seeking ways to expand his service to this Conference, is another valuable member of our team.  Then there is Keith Clark, our multi-faceted team member.  All three are in the process of becoming Commissioned Ministers.  This year we have added two new members to our team – Carlos Correa, whom I mentioned earlier, and Stella Perez, who has quickly become an indispensable part of the team.  Stella, who was brought in to assist Keith with the financial aspects of our Conference, has quickly expanded that role, assisting in other areas of responsibility.  I invite you to show your appreciation to them as they give all of their beings to support your respective ministries.

      Finally, I want to highlight the fact that we are still facing many challenges.  Our financial resources are not what they have been in the past.  As a community of faith we are called to support our common ministries.  As our staff responsibilities increase and as we work to meet your ministerial needs, we will need your support, not only financially, but also your gifts, ideas and talents.  Remember, you are the Conference!

Other Reports:

Report of the Conference Minister

Report of the Board Chair

Repoort of the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries

Report of the Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

Report of the Associate for Church Development & Renewal

Report of the Youth & Young Adults Ministries Coordinator

Report of the Financial Development Team

Report of the Pilgrim Pines Camp Executive Director

Report of the President of the Pacific School of Religion

Report of the Coordinator of Parish Ministries

Report of Peppermint Ridge

Report of Retirement Housing Foundation


One Response to “2011 Annual Gathering Report from the Conference Minister”
  1. Gary Roberts says:

    Felix, thank you for your leadership this year. it has been a privledge and a pleasure to be part of your team this year, and I look forward to working in new ways as this team evolvesnext year and in the future.

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