The Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church
Over 150 years of Methodism in Arizona and Southern Nevada
Excerpts from the 2021 Historical Journal of the Desert Southwest Conference (DSC)
The Desert Southwest Conference was formed in 1984 and encompasses the geographical areas of Arizona, southern Nevada, and the river cities along the California/Arizona border. Methodists’ roots in Arizona and southern Nevada run deep, with the oldest churches established in 1870.
The first session of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference was held June 14-16, 1985, in Flagstaff. The first missional priority was new church starts. By July 1991, 23 new churches started with a combined membership of over 2,000. The DSC has more than 23,000 members and 125 churches and fellowships across four districts.
Across the denomination, liberals and conservatives have debated same-sex rights since 1972 and the approval of Book of Discipline paragraph ¶161G, entitled Human Sexuality. This section has been amended several times since then. It has caused much debate, tension, and demonstrations around the world. In the DSC, the subject has been discussed and debated at almost every annual session since its founding, gaining in intensity since the late 1990s. The first resolution addressing the topic was passed at the 2001 Annual Conference (191 to 137), affirming the Western Jurisdiction Conference’s resolution of those liberals who “will not be silent” concerning the defeat of removing the same-sex language (¶ 161G) taken at the 2000 General Conference.
The UMC Movement
The United Methodist Church traces our heritage to 1700s England where John and Charles Wesley started the Methodist Movement. Since then, there have been many expressions of our Christian denomination.
In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church merged together and dissolved the Methodist Church’s racially segregated Central Jurisdiction.
Today, United Methodists continue to make strides as we see God working in and through us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Find stories and useful links to help you learn more about the roots of our denomination and trace developments that led us to today.