Mountain Sky Conference makes historical firsts at 2019 annual session

June 25, 2019
Story and photos by Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Conference


It was a record-making weekend at the 2019 Mountain Sky Annual Conference held June 13 to 16 in Billings, Montana (and no, that does not include the midnight voting party!). On the second clergy ballot cast on Saturday, June 15, delegates to the 2019 session elected the Reverend Jasper Peters as the first-elected clergy delegate to the 2020 General Conference for the legacy Rocky Mountain Conference. He is the first African-American clergyman to be elected first delegate.

For Rev. Peters, he "was incredibly surprised to be first-elected clergy this year. I'm humbled and grateful for the support of our conference. It isn't lost on me (or most folks) that our conference isn't historically diverse. Yet, more than being excited for this moment, I'm excited that we are embracing our commitment to support younger and more diverse leadership. This is a great step, and I'm excited to keep growing together."

On the third laity ballot, Harvey Tukutau was elected as the first young adult Tongan lay delegate to General Conference for the legacy Rocky Mountain Conference. In addition to being first-elected, he is also the head of delegation for the legacy Rocky Mountain Conference. On the first clergy ballot, the Rev. Dawn Skerritt became the first clergywoman for the legacy Yellowstone Conference to be first-elected delegate to the 2020 General Conference. On the sixth laity ballot, Maryann Hall was elected as the first Blackfeet woman to be a reserve delegate to the Jurisdictional Conference for the legacy Yellowstone Conference. You can view more ballot results online.

"I was very honored to have a small part within our service and be recognized for my gifts and talents. I am excited to serve as a licensed local pastor within the Mountain Sky Conference while continuing my education." - Ashley Hawkins, licensed local pastor and co-convener for the Mountain Sky Queer Clergy Caucus


During the "Service of Honoring and Ordering Ministry" on Sunday, June 16, Bishop Karen Oliveto licensed three women: Victoria Lozoya, Olympia Tukutau and Ashley Hawkins. Hawkins, an out lesbian and co-convener of the Global UMC Queer Clergy Caucus, will serve a three-point charge in Montana. Additionally, Bishop Oliveto commissioned a class of 10 people that included Amber Mitts, an out lesbian, who will serve a church in southern Colorado.

For Mitts, "being commissioned and affirmed in my gifts for pastoral ministry is the best feeling ever. Finding a safe place to imagine and explore what it means to follow Christ right now is a sacred gift. I give thanks for this conference and the blessing it is to be sent out to serve."

The diversity of the clergy who were licensed, commissioned, and ordained reflected what the Mountain Sky Conference strives to be: a home for all God's people. This included a varied group of people of color: one Hispanic woman, one Tongan woman, one African-American woman and three Korean men. The service was a joyous one and highlighted the Mountain Sky Conference's commitment to develop leaders "across the broadest expressions of humanity — including sexual orientation, gender identity, race, theological perspective, physical ability, and age," as stated by the Board of Ordained Ministry.

Find more post-conference information on the 2019 Mountain Sky Conference site. Click here for the post-Annual Conference report sent on June 19.

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