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Dear Brothers, Sisters, and Siblings in Christ:

Later this month, the United Methodist Judicial Council will gather to consider a question related to last July’s election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, who was assigned by our Western Jurisdiction to serve the Mountain Sky Area. The conferences of that Area are holding a prayer vigil between April 23 and 30 and we are writing you today, that you might consider adding your prayers to theirs.

The Western Jurisdiction’s election of the church’s first openly lesbian bishop has created a sense of uncertainty for some people across our United Methodist connection. The apostle Paul addresses such feelings in his letter to the emerging early church at Phillipi, writing in the fourth chapter:

“Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” – CEB

It is with this attitude of prayer that the jurisdiction’s delegates undertook the election of Bishop Oliveto. Should we not continue to pray with the same perspective trusting that God hears us, loves us, and heals our wounds?

Western Jurisdiction delegates believe something sacred took place in Scottsdale, Ariz., as they responded to the movement of the Holy Spirit and elected Bishop Karen Oliveto. The video that accompanies this letter (LINK) shares the thoughts of several. They understand the burden of their decision within the church they love, and pray for God to lead us into a unity that includes all of our Lord’s children.

The core questions before the Judicial Council focus on the actions of the delegates and the bishops that laid hands on Bishop Oliveto to consecrate her. The Western Jurisdiction’s response, grounded in church law and precedence, strongly affirms the vote and the bishop’s consecration.

The Judicial Council will conduct their oral hearing on the election of Bishop Oliveto on Tuesday, April 25 starting at 6:00 a.m. Pacific, lasting approximately three hours. The hearing will be open to the public but no live broadcasts or recordings will be allowed. Attendees will be prohibited from posting to social media or text during the hearing. While some reporting might be expected later that day, a decision is not expected until the full meeting of the Judicial Council concludes at noon (9:00 a.m. Pacific) on Friday, April 28.

Our Bishop, Elaine Stanovsky, will be present at the Judicial Council on April 25, to support Bishop Oliveto and as a member the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.

We share these details with you as they provide a good time of focus for our prayer. The following Prayer Template from the Mountain Sky Vigil is being offered to people across the Jurisdiction as one possible way to construct prayer time. Feel free to adapt it for yourself, your local congregation, or group.

  • 5 minutes of centering prayer and opening to the movement of the Spirit.
  • 15 minutes of prayer for the persons directly involved in the proceedings, the Judicial Council members, those representing the South Central Jurisdiction that filed the case, those representing the Western Jurisdiction, including the College of Bishops and its counsels, and Bishop Karen Oliveto and her spouse, Robin Ridenour.
  • 15 minutes of prayer for those who will be immediately affected by whatever decision comes from the Judicial Council.
  • 15 minutes of prayer for the people and churches of the Mountain Sky Area and the Western Jurisdiction as we work to discern how we will move forward, no matter what the decision may be.
  • 10 minutes of prayers of thanksgiving for the work God has done and continues to do in The United Methodist Church as we seek a place of unity.

Since her assignment starting last September, Bishop Oliveto has exhibited a leadership style and Christ-focused vision for the people of the Mountain Sky Area. Many there would like to continue to see what her leadership will foster. Please hold the people and churches of this area in your prayers as well and reach out to offer your prayerful support during this time of uncertainty.

Click here to acknowledge your commitment to be in prayer and to send a short message to Bishop Karen and the people of the Mountain Sky Area.

In gratitude for every opportunity to be in ministry with you across this Greater Northwest Area,


Rev. Carlo Rapanut
Conference Superintendent
Alaska Conference


Rev. Lowell Greathouse
Mission and Ministry Coordinator
Oregon-Idaho Conference


Rev. David Valera
Director of Connectional Ministries
Pacific Northwest Conference

Prayer IS Action!  Here’s a word of hope and action in face of President Trump’s recent Immigration Order. Steve Sprecher is interim Cascadia district superintendent in the Oregon-Idaho Conference. We can all pray with Muslims around the world at noon on Friday.  One God, many names!  – Bishop Elaine

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

It is no secret that we are living in a tumultuous and disturbing time of social and political upheaval. Almost every newscast or conversation starts with a phrase like, “we’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Rev. Steve Sprecher

But in fact we have. This is not the first time in our history that dark forces have attempted to build walls of division between people, to label and demonize others, and to use these wedges to persecute those “others” who are different from us. Examples of such prejudice and xenophobia are, sadly, too numerous to mention.

Today we are in a different country with different players, but the underlying forces are the same. Attempts to play to our fears instead of our hopes, to emphasize divisions instead of the commonalities which are the strength of our communities have brought us to a moment of truth when we have the opportunity and responsibility to decide who we want to be in the future – as Americans, and especially as Christians – and where we want to look for guidance to lead us forward.

By Rev. Steve Ross

Vision is the word I use to describe why a congregation exists. The big huge purpose of the church is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. But that mission statement is a purpose bigger than any congregation can fulfill on its own. Vision is the particularization of the mission in a specific community of Christians at a specific time. It deals with two questions that have real, but constantly evolving answers.

  • Who are the specific people we called to engage in the life of discipleship?
  • What is the specific transformation we are called to bring now?

Creating Space

By Rev. Dr. William D. Gibson

Most of us desire a sense of belonging and purpose in the world. And during difficult seasons, such as our current political climate, we long for safe spaces to find hope. This season presents a unique opportunity for the church.

Many, if not all, church leaders and laity I encounter across our church hold a common thread: A large majority would love to have more young people in their churches. But does our corporate desire translate to creating space within our church families for these long-lost siblings?

By Dr. Neil Tibbott, Executive Director of LeadershipOnRamp

One of the most famous coaching references you may have heard is the story about legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, who spoke to his team at the beginning of a season about the basics. At the first practice, he lifted a football for the entire team to see and said, “Gentleman, this is a football.”

In training for ministry, we sometimes skip important steps that help facilitate growth. If we miss those basic steps, then churches struggle to gain a foothold in the very communities they hope to serve.

By Brian Zehr, Co-Founder of Intentional Impact

What if there were a relational way to develop leaders?

What if we could invest in people in such a way that ministries are multiplied?

Started in October 2016, the Multiplying Ministries Group continues to wrestle with these questions (and others). As we kicked off this eight-month cohort, three values emerged:

Transcript:

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ,

I’m Elaine Stanovsky and I’m the brand new bishop in the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, having just moved here from Denver, Colorado where I served for eight years. I can’t tell you how excited my husband Clint and I are to be in the Northwest, we came from the Northwest, we served all of our professional lives in the Northwest and its great to be back in the Pacific Northwest Conference, the Oregon-Idaho Conference, and the Alaska Conference.

I believe to the core of my being that God is still at work in the world through the Church. And that the job of those of us who believe in Jesus Christ and who know the power of Christ’s life-giving work; our job is to figure out where God is at work, and how God is at work in the world, and to go join God in that work! I hope that all of you and all of your places are looking for that kind of new reengagement with your neighborhoods.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to get to meet you as I begin to travel the Area, learn about the ministries you are involved in, and encourage you along the way. But for now I’m going to say:

God bless you, God keep you, and may God bring us together on the road.

ejws-signature-web

Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, 

Grace to you and peace from God, our Creator and Christ, our Redeemer. We, the members of the Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska Cabinets, write to you today as one voice, leaders who are adjusting to this time of transition. We speak as those committed to continuing the value of innovation, the formation of disciples for Jesus Christ, multiplication of faith communities, and the deepening of our relationships to God and neighbor in our Northwest context. Vitality, innovation and excellence were high values Bishop Grant Hagiya brought to us through his example, intellect, faith in Jesus, and servant leadership.

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