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Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

It is my privilege to announce my intention to appoint the Rev. Javier Olivares, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Mesa, as the new District Superintendent of the West District, effective July 1, 2021. Rev. Olivares currently serves as the senior pastor at Grace United Methodist in Mesa, AZ since July 1, 2020.

District Superintendent Rev. N. Susan Brims shared that at Grace UMC, Rev. Olivares has been committed to building bridges in a strong and collaborative way. Recognizing that as a Hispanic pastor coming into a congregation with a mostly Euro-American leadership, Javier engaged his leadership team in a conversation about cross cultural ministry immediately upon his arrival at the church. It was a grace-filled way for everyone to become acquainted and it laid a foundation for appreciating differences in cultural dynamics in ministry.

Rev. Olivares has supported the congregation’s spiritual growth not only with the leading of Sunday worship but also with the addition of a mid-week devotional, where he combines his love of worship and music as he plays his guitar and sings to and with his flock, keeping people centered in their faith during a difficult time. To help the church deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Rev. Olivares also walked with the church in the creation of an effective Comprehensive Re-opening Plan, which was greatly appreciated by all.

In addition to his responsibilities as senior pastor at Grace, Mesa, Rev. Olivares serves as the chairperson of our Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CORR), advocating for ways the Desert Southwest Conference can increase its awareness of and prevention of racial injustice. One of the programmatic emphases of CORR has been learning about the unique challenges and opportunities presented by cultural competency, which builds on understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of people’s cultures. Another emerging focus involves building support for congregations and clergy involved in Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural appointments. Rev. Olivares will bring these and other gifts to the Appointive and Extended Cabinet tables and will also undertake supervision of some of the Conference Teams and Committees as he joins the Connectional Ministry Team (CMT).

As has been our practice, Rev. Olivares will spend the next few months continuing his pastoral leadership at Grace UMC Mesa and becoming acquainted with his new role by meeting with the cabinets and the CMT. Let us include in our prayers Rev. Javier Olivares, his spouse, Rev. Alma Aguirre-Olivares, and his family, as well as the congregation of Grace UMC, Mesa, as well as their colleagues and friends who surround them with love and encouragement in this time of transition.

In Christ,
Bishop Bob

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