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.

The River Witness service welcomed members of The OR-ID and PNW Conferences to reflect on the waters that nurture life, justice, and faith. Photos by Rev. Karen Yokota Love.

By the Rev. David D.M. King | Photos by Rev. Karen Yokota Love

United Methodist clergy and laity from the shared session of The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences gathered on the banks of the Columbia River shortly before noon on Saturday, June 17 to bless the river and to remember the blessing water brings to creation and human thriving.

We recalled the story of God’s spirit-wind blowing over the face of the waters at creation, bringing order and life out of chaos. We celebrated the life that water gives to all living things, and accepted our responsibility to care for those waters.

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The class of 2017 Retirees from the OR-ID and PNW Conferences present at Annual Conference:  (L to R) Jim McGinnis, Sharon Hamilton, Joy Martin, Ellen Peach, Sharon Moe, Karen Nelson, Barbara Essen, Carol Mariano, Stephan Ross, Carolyn Johnson, Jane Hill, Peggy Luckman, Scott Harkness, Ardis Letey, and Timothy Stover

By the Rev. Carolyn Peterson | Photos by Greg Nelson

With a backdrop of the Columbia River and the arch of the bridge connecting Washington and Oregon, this year’s class of retirees joined past retired clergy from the OR-ID and PNW for the annual Retirement Luncheon.

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All fourteen candidates for commissioning as Elders or Deacons kneel as Bishop Elaine Stanovsky prays over each. Photo by Greg Nelson.

Story by Angie Kiblinger | Photos by Bill Vollmer, Rev. DJ del Rosario, Greg Nelson, Patrick Scriven, and Teri Tobey

The Battle Ground High School Jazz combo set a welcoming tone at the 2017 Commissioning and Ordination Service of the Shared Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Annual Conferences at 2pm on Saturday, June 17th.

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky opened the service inviting Duane Medicine Crow to offer a prayer.

The ceremony included the commissioning of 14 candidates (11 Provisional Elders, 3 Provisional Deacons), the ordination of one Deacon and ordination of two Elders across both the Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences. (A complete list can be found below.)

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(L to R, top row) Bishop Elaine presides over the shared OR-ID and PNW plenary session; the Rev. Elizabeth Schindler opens up on the importance of having a woman as bishop; the Rev. David Valera closes the PNW plenary session in prayer.
(L to R, bottom row) Coyote Marie Hunter-Ripper addresses the shared plenary; Amy Valdez thanks the shared plenary; Megan Kilpatrick and the Rev. Cara Scriven invite the PNW Plenary to Annual Conference 2018.

By the Rev. Shirley DeLarme | Photos by Patrick Scriven

Shared Plenary: Investments, Native Recognition, and Seminary considerations

  • Amy Valdez from the denomination’s Connectional Table, thanked us for being Product, Investor, and Beneficiaries of the Connection.
  • Kristina Gonzalez of CONAM introduced Coyote Marie Hunter-Ripper, Charley Brower, and Priscilla Gardee who shared stories and thoughts to help us with our growing awareness and connection with our Native neighbors.
  • Krista Jenkinson from Wespath let us know how the former General Board of Pensions & Health Benefits is working to manage our investments in a way that honors our fossil free and climate aware priorities, including using influence with shareholders who also use influence with the companies.
  • Jeffrey Kuan, President of Claremont School of Theology, told about the growing student body, including in the hybrid on-line learning program, and the need for the school to examine whether it can maintain its mission in its current location.
  • Shannon Laverin, Senior Manager of Shared Service, GCFA, thanked us for faithful giving to the General Church, at 100% of our apportioned amount, one of 27 churches to do so, a record high.
  • Bishop Elaine appreciated Treasurers Brant Henshaw and Dan Wilson-Fey for their support.
  • Reading of Changed Appointments, mixed with songs and blessings.

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(From L to R,top row) Members of El Dios Vivente are recognized with the One Matters Award; Gretchen Engle and Becky Dulurey (not pictured) are recognized for their work in the Episcopal office; The Rev. Teri Eberle and Ketchickan UMC are recognized for their abundance shared with their community. (From L to R, bottom row) Ronald UMC’s Marilyn Reid and Reuben Roque accept recognition for Ronald Commons; The Rev. Ric Shewell accepts the One Matters Award on behalf of his church, St. Paul UMC in Idaho Falls; The Bynums are recognized for their work at a Methodist Counseling Center in the Treasure Valley (Boise, Idaho).

By Sophia K.R. Agtarap

In a culture where we are taught to hold tightly to our resources, our possessions, our time, last night’s Celebration of Abundance Banquet offered a different narrative—a narrative that says our abundance comes from God, to be shared with others.

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Editor’s note: The following statement was read towards the end of the Pacific Northwest Plenary Session on the afternoon of Friday, June 16, 2017. Rev. Schindler was kind enough to share a written copy with us. 

By Rev. Elizabeth Schindler

Last night was the installation service for Bishop Elaine Stanovsky in the Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences.

I was excited for the service, so happy to see my friends at the beginning of Annual Conference, and to process with them in robes and stoles; and I was completely unprepared for how emotional I felt during the service.

When Bishop Elaine was introduced by the Committee on the Episcopacy, tears welled up in my eyes.

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The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Plenary Session adopted a new budget.

By the Rev. Roberta J. Egli | Photos by Patrick Scriven

An adopted budget, legislative votes and a video of a bear brought our final 2017 OR-ID plenary session to a close. Or in other words…a budget, some votes and a bear… OH MY! After a rushed but delicious lunch, Bishop Elaine began our session with a short prayer that the meditation of our hearts and our words would be not be pleasing to God as well as serve God’s purposes.

After the groundwork presentation by Rick Beadnell at an earlier plenary session, the adoption of the 2018 budget went smoothly. In short order, we adopted the total 2018 Conference budget of $7,234,142.00. In addition, we adopted the non-budget program support (previously titled ‘additional askings’) for Campus Ministry, Conference Church Development, Hispanic Ministry Program and the Council on Young People’s Ministry.

We took a number of votes ranging from the ratification of the nomination report so carefully prepared with addendums as well as an Action Request (AR) and two Standing Resolutions (SR). After some respectful holy conferencing, AR-9, which petitioned the Western Jurisdictional Bishops to call for a special session of the Western Jurisdictional Conference, was defeated. We then turned attention to SR-10 titled “We Are a Church for All God’s Children” and SR-11 titled “One Body in Christ: Affirming LGBTQI Clergy”. Each resolution had healthy and respectful debate before the body adopted both of them. After the votes, Bishop Elaine graciously recognized and thanked those who had shared their thoughts against the SR’s and recognized that although we had disagreements “we got to be the church together”.

A Way Forward
I realize that you are waiting patiently to hear about the video of the bear…and it is coming up soon right after the hopeful news from the Commission for a Way Forward from the Rev. Donna Pritchard. Donna shared that the work of the commission has brought a profound experience of Christian community and that the commission is working diligently as well as strategically through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

With one of the multiple trips to the podium, Warren Light recognized that the newly retired the Rev. Tim Stover had received the Francis Asbury award for excellence in Campus Ministry. Congratulations Time! The United Methodist Women’s Gertrude Crane Award was given to Mia Park and Deena Wolfe. This scholarship, funded by a donation of Gertrude Crane, provides scholarships for women in the OR-ID Conference who are pursuing higher education.

But what about the bear?
In their presentation on Safe Sanctuaries, Warren Light and Lydia Henry shared a video which explored the frightening statistics that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college. Through the three pronged approach of risk reduction, bystander training and primary prevention, working together we create safe places for the vulnerable among us.

And finally, prior to adjourning five minutes ahead of schedule we were invited to beautiful Boise, Idaho on June 14-16, 2018 for our next annual Conference.

The Rev. Roberta J. Egli serves as pastor of Trinity UMC in Eugene, Ore.
Patrick Scriven serves as the director of Communications, Young People’s Ministries for the PNWUMC.

By Greg Nelson with Dan Wilson-Fey

The OR-ID Conference raised the amount billed to local churches for the support of healthcare coverage of their clergy (those appointed ¾-time or more) roughly 3.5%. The rates churches have paid have not been changed over the past four years. Beginning in 2018, participants will be able to choose from six plans instead of two. The two currently available to participants will be among the six that will still be offered. Additional benefit choices of enhanced vision dental benefits will be available choices in 2018.

In short: six choices instead of two, and choices for vision and dental.

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