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Young Hispanic/Latina to Represent Western Jurisdiction at GC

By Aileen Jimenez*
May 7th, 2016

Every four years the United Methodist Church (UMC) holds a very important event known as the General Conference. This is the legislative body of the UMC that revises church laws and adopt certain policies and stances regarding moral, social, and public issues affecting the people of the church. Members from all around the world will meet for the two-week conference May 10-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.

Maria Rosa Rios (Rosie) was selected as a delegate of the Western Jurisdiction. She is the only Hispanic/Latino delegate voicing for that region’s population. Rosie is from the Cal-Pac Annual Conference and is an active young adult at all levels ranging from her local church to national level events.

At her local church, Rios is the co-founder of an after school program called My Familia. She is the Young Adult Chair for her Conference Council, part of the immigration task force, the leadership EMT, a mentor for the No Están Solos, which is a therapeutic campaign for unaccompanied migrant children; she is a voting delegate to the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly in the Philippines.

Simultaneously, Rios is currently a student at the University of California in Los Angeles where she is studying Sociology with a minor in Labor & Workplace Studies.

Although this is her first time attending General Conference, Rios is the head of the delegation for her jurisdiction. “Big responsibility,” said Rios. “Not only for the jurisdiction or the conference, but for the Latinos, young adults, and students.”

Each jurisdiction - composed of several states and UMC conferences - will send delegates to represent and voice the people of that region. The Western Jurisdiction of the UMC covers the Alaska, California-Nevada, California-Pacific, Desert Southwest, Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, and Yellowstone conferences.

Some of the most discussed topics at General Conference will be human sexuality, abortion, religious freedom, disabilities, sustainable and responsible investments, racism/xenophobia, immigration, creation care/environment and finances.

Her parents are ministers at Baldwin Park UMC in Los Angeles. Rios says that as a pastor’s kid she has an idea of what the church looks like but knows that there is a lot more to learn about the denomination.

Rios’ advice to young people interested in becoming involved in the church and their communities is to “stay authentic and close to your goals, to who you are, and remember where you come from,” she said.  The California Pacific Conference has a program for active young adults who have attended jurisdictional events, such as Spanglish and LaHYPE, to attend General Conference as observers and volunteers while being mentored.

Blanca Olivera from the Pacific North Western Conference is one of the young adults attending General Conference through this program.

“I’m really excited,” said Olivera. “This is my first time going to general conference. I’m excited to learn and find out more aspects of the UMC. We are young and we need to learn from [more experienced members of the church].”

Rios says that she is excited to meet people at General Conference who are just as passionate as she to change the world.

“[I hope] we all come together and work on making changes that will benefit everyone,” said Rios. “Not only a selected few at this General Conference.” 

 

* Aileen Jimenez is communicator for NPHLM and UMCOM. You can contact her by ajimenez@umcom.org.

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