Aldersgate UMC - Roswell and the Cave
For years, we called it "The Tomb."  Then, about 3 years ago near Christmas, a little girl about 4 was walking the garden with her grandparents.  For whatever reason, I happened to go outside and met the folks.  As we were chatting about nothing in particular, the child pointed to the tomb and asked "What's that?"   Before I could answer, the grandfather responded that the structure was the place where Jesus was born.  The Tomb took on a whole new meaning for me.  I do remember from my Claremont School of Theology classes that the stable where Jesus was born may have been in a cave.  I told all my congregation about the conversation and we call the structure just that - The Cave - now as both the place where Jesus was born and where he lay for three days from Crucifixion to Resurrection. The Tomb and the two fountains - front of the church on the south and back of the church on the north - are about 15 to 20 years old. Submitted by James Bignell, Pastor at Aldersgate UMC-Roswell
Aldersgate UMC at Easter

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SATURDAY morning, June 4
New Mexico Annual Conference
FIRST UMC, Roswell, NM
9:30 A.M. gather in room 111 for robing and line-up instructions:
+ ALL CLERGY (Elders, Deacons, Local Pastors)
+ please wear a robe or preferred vestment
+ Ordained Elders or Deacons wear a RED stole
+ please process even if you will not be wearing a vestment
+ Board of Ordained Ministry please gather in room 110
10:00 A.M. - Procession begins
General Conference Wrap Up!
by Joey Butler
     Believe it or not, General Conference 2016 spent more than twice as much time debating a Rule of Order than the hot topic of human sexuality. After almost three days of considering an alternative method for discussing legislation, The United Methodist Church's top legislative body referred its most difficult subject - sexuality - to a study commission and moved on to other matters.
     A move to adjourn at 6:30 every night meant no late-night sessions and hopefully healthier, less stressed attendees. During 10 days in Portland, delegates passed an increased budget, celebrated a number of church milestones and voted to create a new version of the hymnal.

GC2016 Reflections from Bishop Bledsoe

I will leave GC with renewed hope for the future of the church. We may not have accomplished all that we needed to get done, but I can definitely say we certainly open ourselves up to the presence of The risen CHRIST through prayer. This conference was surrounded and lifted up by prayer. I want to thank all the members and friends of the New Mexico conference who were obedient to the call to pray. I also saw first hand the commitment and engagement of those who were delegates and guests. All served with distinction, humility, respect and integrity. May God continue to bless and guide our work in the future.  

Reflections from Rev. Eddie Rivera

GC2016 Rev. Eddie Rivera - English
GC2016 Rev. Eddie Rivera - English
GC2016 Rev. Eddie Rivera - Espanol
GC2016 Rev. Eddie Rivera - Espanol

GC2016 Reflections from Rev. Randall Partin

Best moment by far is laughing with fellow volunteers. Worst moment is telling a committee chair the wrong thing about process and having that grind things to a halt (but I'm thankful for the grace that was in that--I'm reminded that we're all amateurs and General Conference).
My hope for our Church is always built up by the many incredible, sincere, strong believers that I get to meet from all over the world. That hope, however, is severely tempered by our struggles to work through the weighty issues that we have before us with our structures, our rules, and procedures--structures and rules and procedures that I bear some responsibility to know and help implement but clearly struggle with myself! I'm thankful that our Body is made up of the wonderful people and not our challenging structures, rules, or procedures.

GC2016 Reflections from Sid Strebeck
Lay GC Delegate and Conference Lay Leader

General Conference was a great learning and growing experience for me, with the frustrations and accomplishments that come with any legislative body! The "Good News" is the general feeling that we, as a denomination, are leaving General Conference less focused on partisan politics, and MORE focused on our Methodist Doctrine of: "Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World!" The future is bright! I thank you all for your diligent prayers, they were definitely heard and felt! 

GC2016 Reflections fromRev. Jane Vaughan 
D.S. of the Clovis District
The learning curve was straight up for me! The worship was wonderful and most of the sermons were challenging and uplifting. I understand so much more about the issues that divide us in my bones! There were days when my heart was in my throat seeing this church struggle so much. These are tough times when we have turned our eyes and hearts to other things beside making disciples. I am ever more resolved to come home and make the main thing the main thing again!
GC2016 Reflections from Susan Brumbaugh
Coordinator of the GC Calendar

As always, there are highs and lows at General Conference. I think one of the loveliest moments for me was back stage, when a Bishop from Africa took my hand, said "I love you! You do a good job and you need to keep doing it! I love you!" and gave me a giant hug. I've gotten support and affirmation from so many people for the work I've done here and made many new friends. What has been challenging is all the
new and unique ways delegates have 
come up with to create delays and confusion. The funny thing about my role at General Conference (as the Coordinator of the Calendar) is that it's actually difficult for me to tell anyone what we did at General Conference, because I don't focus on what the vote was but just on whether a vote was taken and it's no longer something I need to try to schedule! I can tell you that the answer to the question, "Did we accomplish anything?" is "YES!" The General Conference voted on hundreds of things (just don't ask me to tell you what they were without looking at my spreadsheet). 

   GC2016 Reflections from Rev. Scott Sharp

There's a good reason that Jesus is gathered anywhere that two or more or gathered in his name: they need him to be there! It doesn't take long to read through the Biblical narrative or to look through a little church history to find people disagreeing on matters of faith, direction and the movement of the Holy Spirit. I look at that as a good thing because decisions made in community have at least some guarantee that no one person is in charge and no one idea is held up as God's only communique. Decision making based on discernment and holy conferencing will always be messier than some oligarch proclaiming from on high what God has said.
     We United Methodists have brought the art of conferencing to a level previously unseen in terms of our work to discern. I mean this in the most complimentary way. In fact, I would argue that we have taken that great "methodology"of interpretation that we have inherited from our Anglican and Wesleyan roots and applied it to our decision making processes. In other words, we look at issues through the lenses of scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. In doing this we grapple with complicated issues, we face uncertainties, we made decisions, and we struggle with one another because of the very faith that draws us together. Is this messy? Or course it is and it should be.
     As you can probably guess I was quite inspired by General Conference. The work we did was significant and there were a number of important issues that were passed (some that I agreed with and others that I didn't) that will have long lasting impact on our church in terms of theology and in mission. We worshipped in ways that gave voice to the global nature of our church and the various styles of music that we love and hold sacred. We ate together and chewed on issues together. We talked. We prayed. We laughed. We cried. That's what communities do.
     Finally, we took a long look in the mirror. For a very long time our denomination has wrestled with the issue of where people who are not heterosexual fit in the life of the church. Depending on who you talk to you will get a different description of that long enduring conversation. What I saw happen at this General Conference was a group of people saying we realize that we are about to lose one another from face to face communication and shared ministry. The General Conference's decision to affirm the work of the bishops indicates to me that most of the General Conference wants The United Methodist Church to stay together, to find a way where people on different sides of one issue can maintain integrity, and for us to do the work of the global church that we have been doing. Again, this is messy work because so many people are entrenched when it comes to one issue but that is nothing new in the church either. I am prayerful that our way forward is together.
     It was a real honor to serve the church at General Conference and I was blessed to be there. I love The United Methodist Church and I pray everyday for its present and future.
With thanks, Scott



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