My first Annual Conference

From Left: Bishop Elaine Stanovsky and representatives of the Greater Northwest Area, Jan Nelson, Jo Anne Hayden, Rev. Donna Pritchard, Rev. Mary Huycke,  and Rev. Carlo Rapanut enjoy a moment together during the Installation Service on June 14, 2017 in Portland, Ore. Photo by Patrick Scriven, PNW Conference.


By Rachel Fitzgerald

People told me to hold on. I was in for a bumpy ride. You see, I’m new. I’ve never been to an Annual Conference; even through all my years as a PK (Preacher’s Kid). I was told this year’s conference was going to be unusual and a bit of a scheduling beast. I was nervous. I had no reason to be.

Rachel Fitzgerald

Being a PK, I’ve had an interesting and circuitous spiritual journey. I saw pain and hypocrisy in the church and became fairly jaded. It made me look for something that brought me deeper meaning and understanding. My divinity was in the theatre; in the spoken word and human emotional relationships. Then I started working for Bishop Elaine.

Something began to unfold on Wednesday night in the opening ceremony. All God’s children were represented – clergy daughter, native son, retired father, and lay mother. The joy was palpable. The Bishop, who I only knew as Boss, was speaking words that wrapped us in peace and buoyancy. There was fire but no brimstone. Bishop Stanovsky, through her humor, passion, intellect, and heart, placed us on the path to new and developing Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences.  Her leadership is kind but will push us to become better human beings and followers of Christ. It was evident every time she spoke.

With that opening ceremony, I took a breath, smiled, and relaxed into my first Annual Conference.

I see the road ahead of us and it is good. It was evident in every ceremony, every meeting, and every smiling face I passed in the halls of the Red Lion. I am honored and humbled to be part of the larger congregation. May the spirit of the Annual Conference be with us throughout the year. I look forward to seeing you in 2018.


Rachel Fitzgerald serves as the Administrative Assistant for the episcopal office of The Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church. She started in this role in April.

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