June 22, 2017

Dear friends:
Thank you for attending the 2017 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference!  We hope you enjoyed the experience.

The Annual Conference session is a major event and it wouldn’t have been possible to have a successful event without the support of those who help work ahead of time and after the conference.  It truly is a community event, everything from the Program and Arrangements Committee planning to the actual implementation. Thank you, both staff and volunteers, for helping to make the conference possible.

We received a lot of positive feedback from both clergy and laity that attended the conference. People said it was an all-around excellent conference experience, with many especially feeling that the music and dancing from the opening worship to the Missions dinner to the closing worship and ordination service added a special spiritual touch.

Rob White, chair of the Program & Arrangements Committee, says, “I felt this was a particularly inspirational annual conference. Worship was well organized, inclusive, and uplifting. The spirit of welcome from participants toward Bishop Karen and Robin was a joyful experience. Our business sessions were to the point.The leadership of a particularly engaging bishop was one of the highlights of our four days together. I feel that the Western Jurisdiction made a truly inspired choice in the election of Bishop Oliveto. Her assignment to our annual conference is the perfect choice.”

Here are some highlights and post-conference follow-up:

Theme Presentation

Photo of Bishop Karen Oliveto preaching

In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink ...”

Following Jesus’ footsteps, we asked a thematic question throughout the Conference, “Who is hungry or thirsty among us – physically and spiritually? What does it mean to extend God’s love?”

We heard the Episcopal Address, the Laity Address and the keynote presentation shared by Alexia Salvatierra around this theme. 

Telling the Story was one of the ways that we are sharing the annual conference theme of "Living into Beloved Community" with a missional focus on food and water. Each of the four ministry areas of the conference  the laity, cabinet, finance and mission and ministry area teams  told the story of how they are living out the vision of a Beloved Community. Read more

Ministry Immersion

Photo of volunteers at Food Bank of the Rockies

The Ministry Immersion where six hundred people participated was a way in which we lived out the theme.

On Friday afternoon the attendees at Annual Conference participated in an afternoon of service and advocacy across the Denver area. After some initial logistical challenges, the projects got underway.

As part of this afternoon activity, two seminars were held with nearly 200 in attendance. One described the growing world of local food and how new approaches are resulting in greater food security and the other focused on advocacy and how individuals and churches can get involved in food and water security issues.

Other groups went to work in Urban Farms and Food Banks. A total of 615 hours of labor was provided at Food Banks and Urban Gardens. The value of this labor is over $15,000. In addition, at Food Banks, our volunteers packed 7000 pounds of food and packaged nearly 5000 meals.

One group made 175 sack lunches and worked with AfterHours Denver to serve them to those in need in downtown Denver. Another project involved cutting blue jeans and sewing them into food bags for elementary school students in Denver.  This team of 40 completed 16 bags and cut blue jeans into 50 ready to sew kits and 50 partial kits. Other teams worked in a Xeriscape garden and toured a Denver Water Treatment facility.

Community Café

Attendees joined one of four Community Cafés to engage in education and conversation about food and water insecurity and justice. In individual sessions, participants learned about food waste and redistribution, addressing hunger through food ministries and the unique needs of different populations, realities around access to clean water for indigenous people, or sustainability and justice issues relating to food and water. In each café participants shared what is happening in their local communities and talked about ways to positively engage more people in our beloved communities.

Mission Shaped Future

The work of the Mountain Sky Area Mission Shaped Future team has progressed since both Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone conferences endorsed this process at their 2016 annual conference sessions. We have been in a season of organizing ourselves for the large task at hand. It is more important for the work to be done well, not quickly. Our full update is available on the Mountain Sky Area website at and includes an updated timeline and descriptions of our working teams.

Young People

Photo of RMC young people

The young people of the RMC were more visible and took a much more active role in the 2017 annual conference session. Thirty-one youth gathered at Hope UMC for the annual pre-conference event to learn about the legislative process and to reflect on how decisions made at conference could impact Young People's Ministries. At conference itself, we had more than 50 youth and young adults serving as lay equalization members. 

These young people provided leadership in worship through song, dance, and the sharing of scripture. They also shared their hopes and concerns for the future of the UMC through Christian conferencing and legislative committees, most visibly through the presentation and adoption of AC11. This petition, which passed overwhelmingly in legislative committee, was reported on before the entire plenary body and it called upon the people of the Rocky Mountain Conference to embrace our differences as a strength and to embrace unity rather than uniformity.

Overall, the young people of the RMC were glad to be given the chance to take an active role in shaping the future of our conference and broader denomination, and they are already planning ways to make their presence felt in Ogden, Utah during the 2018 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Session.

Sanctuary Churches

Alexia Salvatierra laid a foundation for the importance of a sanctuary movement based on Matthew 25. She said we are called to protect and defend the vulnerable in the name of Jesus.

At the closing plenary, Craig Paschal, pastor of Mancos United Methodist Church, shared the story of his church being a sanctuary for an immigrant named Rosa. Pastor Paschal said that a woman member challenged the congregation, “Can we call ourselves a church if we don’t love our neighbors?  Can we pick and choose whom we stand together with?” Paschal said, “In response to her challenge, our church community said, “No, we can’t!””

At the heel of the closing of the annual conference, Park Hill United Methodist Church declared yesterday that they are now a sanctuary church. The Spirit is moving among us.


Members of the Rocky Mountain Conference continued to exhibit abundant generosity in their response to the Annual Conference Offerings.

  • Hunger Free Colorado: $2,462.49
  • Clergy Covenant Fund: $3,784.85
  • Bridge of Love for World Hunger and Poverty Advance #982920: $6,762.35
  • Crossroads Urban Center: $3,629.01 - Crossroads Urban Center
  • Rod Anderson Lay Scholarship Fund: $1,044.99

Total amount given at Annual Conference is $17,683.69.

Post-Conference Follow-Up

Nominations: Chair of Nominations Committee Burry Bessee thanks everyone who was willing to share their willingness to serve on Conference committees. The full report will be published in the journal, but individual committees will receive notification through their chairs of who is now serving on their committees.

Travel Vouchers: Travel reimbursement is paid to clergy and laity traveling a minimum of 175 miles. Please contact Event Coordinator Shelley Rabern for a travel voucher via email at

Evaluations: The Rocky Mountain Conference wants to hear your feedback about the 2017 Annual Conference Session, and the easiest way for us to do that is through the online event evaluation. Please click here to open the 2017 survey and respond as thoroughly as possible. Once we have collected all of your responses, we will use the information gathered to make improvements on next year’s Annual Conference Session.

Plenary sessions, the Episcopal Address, and Christian Conferencing notes: We are currently transcribing plenaries, the Episcopal Address, special presentations, and Christian Conferencing notes. They will be up on the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference website in the coming weeks.

Communications: All photos from the 2017 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference Session will be available on the Photo Albums page online. Video clips of worship services will also be available on the Videos page online later this week.

Please see the Annual Conference website for more information.


I hope to see all of you in Ogden, Utah in June 2018 for the 50th Rocky Mountain Annual Conference session and a Joint Annual Conference with the Yellowstone Conference. (Watch the invitation video)

Anticipating the next year’s annual conference, I close this letter remembering what Craig Paschal said, “What if Jesus meant what he said? What if he truly meant he loved the neighbors. And what does it mean to truly love our neighbors?”

Grace and Peace,

Youngsook Charlene Kang
Director of Mission and Ministry

The Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church
6110 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111-4803
303-733-3736 |