Council of Bishops President Bruce R. Ough calls for colleagues to be open to changing their minds under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Ough preached during the Feb. 25 opening worship service of a council meeting that goes through Feb. 28, in Dallas.

Friends in the Greater Northwest,

Yesterday Bishop Bruce Ough led us back to a principle that has guided Methodism throughout our history: God always leads Christians into ministry on the margins with the poor and outcast.

As the Council of Bishops meets to receive and consider the report of the Commission on the Way Forward, receive Bishop Ough’s sermon as a message of courage and hope for the whole Church. Please hold us in prayer, as we seek to lead the church on a path of faithfulness and obedience to God.

Click here to read Bishop Ough’s Address

Friday, nearly 50 leaders from the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences will gather to be equipped to lead “Table Talks” across the area where United Methodists can seek unity in the church that is deeper than our different understandings and attitudes about human sexuality. The differences are undeniable. They have strained the Church for more than 40 years. In these conversations we hope to understand what informs our differences from one another, so that we can respect one another, learn from one another, and continue to be members of one, undivided Church as we continue to listen to God’s leading through these differences.

The Table Talks will occur throughout the spring. I hope to see you there, to hear your voice, and to prayerfully, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, see the ways to live together in peace.

This is powerful, difficult spiritual work — worthy of the sober self-reflection of Lent. Any time we pause, turn to one another and God, and pray, we live in the promise of new life, revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I pray that as we gather, humbly and prayerfully, there will be enough light to show us the way.

With hope in the resurrection,


Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater NW Area

Ash Wednesday 2018

Today is marked by HEARTS and ASHES. Valentine’s Day celebrates the union of two people by love. Ash Wednesday leads us into the 40-day journey with Jesus through death to resurrection with a reminder that we are one with the stuff of the earth – dirt, ash.

Charles Wesley wrote that:

Love, like death, hath all destroyed,
Rendered all distinctions void;
Names and sects and parties fall;
Thou, O Christ, art all in all.[I]

Both love and death erase boundaries that separate us from one another. Receiving ashes smudged on a forehead, or a hand, is a humbling of self and a reminder that we live because God breathes life into dust. We are at once nothing, and one-with-everything.

This is the mystic mystery of living as creatures in relationship with the Creator. We are undeniably distinct individuals at the same time that we participate in a deep and inescapable unity with all of creation.

So, I celebrate both.

First, I receive ashes, which keep me from thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think (Romans 12:3) and to find my common humanity with all I meet. Second, I receive roses and a poem from my life partner, Clint, who draws me out of myself in so many ways and enters my solitude when I have retreated.

May you know your precious, existential uniqueness this day. And may you humbly receive the gift of shared life with others. Both are God’s gracious gifts.

The United Methodist Church continues its search for unity despite differences that threaten to divide us. Please read the following letter from Bishop Bruce Ough (CLICK HERE), President of the Council of Bishops of our Church, and pray for our church as we continue to seek unity that is deeper than our differences. Hear these hopeful words of John Wesley:

Many are we now, and one,
we who Jesus have put on;
there is neither bond nor free,
male nor female, Lord, in thee.

May we all “put on” Jesus again, and anew, this holy season.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area

[i] “Christ, from Whom All Blessings Flow,” by Charles Wesley, The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989, #550.

Image Credit: Foreheads on Ash Wednesday by Kelsey Johnson via CreationSwap.

I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.                 Isaiah 43: 19 NRSV

God’s doing a new thing. The Church is trying to keep up!

Take a minute and just enjoy.

The Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest and Alaska Conferences have worked collaboratively to cultivate vital ministries since Rev. Stephan Ross (Oregon-Idaho) and Rev. Dr. William Gibson (Pacific Northwest) started working together and across conference boundaries a couple of years ago. We’re breaking down silos to work collaboratively across conference lines, and across traditional staff job descriptions. Today an Innovation Team is taking shape to work in collaboration with district superintendents and local leaders to create new places for new people who are not finding authentic faith community in our churches as they are right now.

Meet the Greater Northwest Innovation Cultivation team, as it is taking form:

The newest member of the team is Dr. Leroy Barber, newly hired Congregational Developer for Vitality for the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

Dr. Barber joins Pacific Northwest staff, Rev. Dr. William Gibson, who will lead the team (Gibson shares some of his thinking in a recent video series), Kristina Gonzalez, a gifted trainer in cultural competency, coaching and leadership development, and Rev. Shalom Agtarap. I invited Agtarap to be one of our preachers for the 2017 Annual Conference; you can hear her message online. We plan to add a specialist who will help churches at the lower boundary of sustainability to explore options for the future. Stay tuned.

Together these innovation cultivators, working with the Congregational Development Team (CDT) in Oregon-Idaho, the Board of Congregational Development (BOCD) in Pacific Northwest, the New Church and Faith Community Development Committee in Alaska and the district superintendents are dedicated to leading a new season of vital ministry across the Greater Northwest through:

  • Innovation: starting new ministries, new churches, new faith communities
  • Multiplication: existing ministries in new places, and
  • Inclusion: reaching across racial and cultural differences to engage a wider variety of people in faith communities.

From left: Dr. Leroy Barber, Kristina Gonzalez, Rev. Shalom Agtarap, and Rev. Dr. William Gibson

Together, this team has first-hand experience in starting new churches, multi-cultural ministry, adaptive change, reconciling ministries, re-energizing and leading existing churches into their neighborhoods, and community organizing. They bring urban, rural and suburban experience. Together there is breadth, strength and wisdom that is the miracle of community. Please pray with me for this team as it forms, and the members listen to one another, and share their passion for vital ministries, and learn to work creatively across Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. As this team’s work evolves, look for upcoming stories that will detail how you and your congregation can access these resources.


Do we really have to? Yes. God – who last time I checked was as old as the hills – is all about making things new. So, it’s time to move, to shake off, to leave behind. And as much as we may like things as they are (or were!), God’s way is ahead of us, and if we want to be part of what God’s up to, we’ve got to get moving. What are you willing to give up so new people can be part of a life-giving, world-changing community?

I’m humming Curtis Mayfield’s 1965 anthem for the change God is working –

People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
You don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

Take a listen

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater NW Area

Installment # 2:  Already, but Not Yet

Dear United Methodist friends in the Pacific Northwest,

Top of 2018 to you! I pray that God will lead us on a good path this year, that

shines light
cultivates life
and showers joy

into the world through our lives, our ministries and our churches.

Last June, the Annual Conference voted to reduce by one the number of districts in the Pacific Northwest. We are in the process of living into this re-assignment of churches to districts. I want to let you know how the process is unfolding, and what to expect in the months ahead.

Officially, but invisibly, churches were ALREADY assigned to the new MISSIONAL districts as of January 1, 2018 to avoid confusing mid-year budgetary and administrative changes. I say “invisibly,” because local churches won’t notice much, if any change – NOT YET!

We are emphasizing that districts are MISSIONAL because every church is called to reach beyond itself to engage its community in life-giving, world-transforming ways. Districts help established congregations to think beyond themselves and to innovate in ways that create new places for new people with the potential to transform lives, communities, and even the world.

The district superintendent you had in 2017 will continue to supervise your pastor and consult with your congregation until Annual Conference in June. If you have a pastoral change, the district superintendent you’ve had in the past will introduce your new pastor and work with you through the transition.

During the first half of 2018 district superintendents will work with elected leaders to create and implement an organization and identify officers for the new missional districts. By July 1, 2018 all organizational units and officers should be aligned to the new missional district boundaries. Also on July 1 pastors and churches will begin to identify with their new missional district assignment and to its district superintendent.

During Annual Conference we will have opportunity to mark the shift and meet as colleagues and friends within our new district affiliations.

In the fall someone asked me, what does “Crest” in Crest to Coast refer to?
The Pacific Crest Trail runs from the US border with Mexico in the south, north along the backbone of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges and across the US border into Canada. The “crest” is the crest of the mountains. On one side of the crest rivers run to the east. On the other side of the crest rivers run to the west. The Crest to Coast district runs from the Cascade Crest to the Pacific Coast.

My question is, who’s gonna organize the Crest to Coast relay to inaugurate the new district?


If you have questions or concerns during this transition, the district superintendents are prepared to respond.

Change comes with challenges. There will undoubtedly be some unexpected bumps and grinds. I pray that each of you will help us make this transition as smooth as possible. With your good will (and humor) and God’s grace, we’ll make it.

Living in Faith,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky 

Read Installment #1 – New West-Side Districts

I call upon all who hear this message to give public witness to your love of God and neighbor this Martin Luther King, Jr. week by 1) participating in public commemorations, 2) advocating for racial, social and economic justice with elected officials and 3) serving human need in your community.

The last 24 hour news cycle presented me with four puzzle pieces that did not fit into a picture that made sense to me.

1. Dignity

President Trump issued his Martin Luther King Jr. Day message to the nation this morning. He taped it yesterday. It is well-crafted and high-minded:

…Dr. King opened the eyes and lifted the conscience of our nation. He stirred the hearts of our people to recognize the dignity written in every human soul. Today we celebrate Dr. King for standing up for the self-evident truth that Americans hold so dear – that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God….Today …we pledge to fight for his dream of equality, freedom, justice and peace.

2. Degradation

But, last evening the President of the United States may have profanely said Haiti, African and other nations produce people who are worthy of the dung heap. We don’t know if the reports are true. But we do know that the President has consistently pursued immigration policies aimed at excluding or disadvantaging persons based on his evident religious or racial bias.

3. Earthquake Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. Watch my interview with UMCOR’s Rev. Jim Gulley, who was trapped for 55 hours in a collapsed hotel.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, commemorating the world-changing life of a man who helped lead our nation to recognize and address its deep injustices.

When I first set these pieces next to each other I felt confused, and then I got pretty mad. It was righteous, faith-based anger. God gave me this anger as companion to love of neighbor. Don’t be messing with my neighbors!  It makes me MAD!

Let me introduce you to some of my beloved neighbors:


In October of 2011, I led United Methodists from the Mountain Sky Area on a mission trip to Haiti. It was nearly two years after the earthquake of 2010 devastated that island nation. The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) team boarded a flight in Miami that was chock full of teams like ours, as nearly every flight at that time was: young and old volunteers, wearing brightly colored mission team T-shirts –   Christian groups, civic organizations, and student service clubs – all flocking to Haiti to help.

I was on a team that went to the small town of Mellier, where the local church and school had crumbled to the ground. We worked for a week in a long series of teams to clear the rubble, frame foundations, haul rock and concrete in wheelbarrows to build a new church and school. We worked hand in had with local residents, hired with our financial contributions so that the reconstruction work not only used volunteer labor, it also benefitted local workers. And, we brought crafts and soccer balls and led and learned songs and skits with the children of the school, who were meeting in temporary plywood rooms erected by an earlier mission team from Europe. Our food was cooked on a wood stove by local women. Our drivers, and interpreters were all Haitian. Every one of them lived in poverty. Every one had a story of how they and their loved ones had been affected by the earthquake.

We all fell a little “in love” with Haiti, the first black republic in the world, with its rich culture and generous, gracious people, despite centuries of colonial violence, chronic poverty, meager natural resources, and corrupt public administration. We experienced people living in piles of rubble, who nonetheless walked, worked and welcomed us with self-evident and irrepressible dignity.


In 2011, Imagine No Malaria brought me in a delegation to Angola in West Africa to distribute anti-Malaria bed nets to protect families from the deadly disease. Here, too, we experienced lovely, industrious people, struggling to live well, to get an education and to care for one another under circumstances of extreme difficulty. Not one of them belonged on a dung heap.

My Piece of the Puzzle

These seem like dangerous times, when core principles of human decency and social justice are in question. The puzzle pieces don’t fit together by themselves. I have a place in the puzzle.

So, this morning I renewed my personal commitment to bearing public witness to my love of God and neighbor. I figured out which public events I will participate in to honor the life, ministry and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend. I see it as my job as God’s partner in creating the “new king/kin-dom.” Clint and I will join a public commemoration in Seattle, to join a community of people who recognize and work for the dignity of all God’s people.

Where will you be?

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice.

 Isaiah 60: 1, 5

Epiphanya moment of sudden or great revelation or realization.

We were shaken awake in 2017 in America – with the sudden realization that sexual abuse and harassment by powerful people of less powerful people is rampant in American society. Most common is abuse of women by men: Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and so many more. But it can be anyone who uses their advantage to intimidate and exploit someone at a disadvantage. As we know, abuse isn’t always by men of women, it can be between two people of the same sex, women of men, adults abusing children or youth, the rich abusing the poor, or as was reported just this week, parents trafficking their own children for sex to finance their opioid addictions.[i]

Sexual harassment and abuse occur when a person has an inflated sense of their own importance and a distorted sense of their place in the world, which leads them to go where they don’t belong and take what is not theirs. You can hear their distorted thinking, when abusers say, “I thought the feelings were mutual,” or “I thought the sex was consensual.”  The first (original) sin the bible tells us about is taking what isn’t yours. That’s what happened in the Garden of Eden, when Eve and Adam plucked and ate the fruit that wasn’t theirs to eat.

In October I was with clergy and other professional ministers in Alaska, when we began to hear about the gross abuses of film producer, Harvey Weinstein. I found myself talking with clergywomen about the inappropriate ways laymen and clergy colleagues treat them. Hugs that turn into gropes. Suggestive comments about personal appearance or physical fitness.  A “stolen kiss.” What is a “stolen kiss” if not one that wasn’t given?

Though I am constantly aware of these dynamics at work in our lives, I had fallen into complacency and given up hope of change. To shake myself awake again, I began a personal “Me Too” journal of the encounters in my life that crossed boundaries. I have 18 items so far. As I began to write, lost memories returned.  I didn’t think there would be so many. They fall far short of criminal actions. I think of them as encounters that taught me to be wary – to watch out for unspoken intentions, for hidden messages, for intrusions into my personal space.

And then I began to count the cases of clergy sexual abuse I have had a role in responding to as a district superintendent or bishop. More than 25, overwhelmingly men who used the trust of their office to gain sexual access to vulnerable women.

Today, as we remember that God repeatedly shines new light and calls people out of darkness, I want to share three messages.

To women and others who have learned to be wary. I’m sorry. You can be the beautiful, whole, beloved daughters (children) of God. Own and honor the integrity of your personhood: body, mind and spirit. If you feel unsafe around someone, don’t “be nice.” Protect yourself. If you feel another person may want something from you that does not belong to them and that you are not offering, don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. If a person invades your space, your security, or acts without your consent – tell someone. Do not become compliant or make excuses for your abuser if your personal integrity is under assault.

To anyone who has been sexually harmed by a Church leader. Sexual abuse, misconduct and harassment by a clergy person violates a sacred trust. As your bishop, I take reports of misconduct by clergy very seriously. If you have been harmed by a member or officer of a local congregation, I encourage you to share your experience with your pastor, or other trusted leader in the church. If you have been harmed by a clergy person, or an employee or elected officer of the Conference, report your experience to a district superintendent or other trusted Conference leader, who will work with my office to restore the sacred trust of the ordained ministry, and to find a just resolution to your concerns.

To clergy and others in trusted leadership in the Church. Do not confuse self-giving love with self-serving love. It is never OK for you to become sexually involved with people in your care. It is always your responsibility to maintain healthy professional boundaries. Don’t put yourself in a situation where your intentions might be misunderstood. The Church has given its stamp of approval to you as a safe, trustworthy spiritual guide and companion at the boundaries of life and death. Just as you have the power to heal, you also have the power to harm.  Your sexual attentions are not a form of ministry, or therapy. If there is something in your life that you can’t share with anyone – you may be a danger to the people in your care. Find a spiritual advisor, counselor, or mentor to help you sort through your “stuff” and ensure that you are a trustworthy pastor. If you do not or cannot maintain the sacred trust of your office, for the love of Christ, step out of ordained ministry.

Let this season of awakening open us to a new way of being in relationship, in which men and women of all sexual identities and orientations, and regardless of power or wealth, honor one another, until the radiance of God’s glory shines upon us.

Send me your thoughts.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area

[i] NPR – W.Va. Officials Warn Of Increased Cases Of Human Trafficking


Installment #1: New West-Side Districts

The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.[i]

Making disciples of Jesus Christ can be a tough mission in the midst of generational change, religious pluralism, and political polarization. The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is trying to be good stewards of the resources we have and put all our energy into ministries that change lives and the world to reflect God’s vision of abundant life. Last June the Conference acted to reduce the number of districts from 6 to 5, even as we are learning new ways to strengthen ministry both through existing congregations and by starting new ministries.

The reduction in districts will occur on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. The new districts will become reality on January 1, 2018 but you won’t notice much change until July 1, 2018. At that time we will add the word “Missional” to the name of each district, as a reminder that churches exist not only to support their members, but also to engage their context. Every church, fellowship and ministry is on a mission frontier, where people hunger and thirst for spiritual community.

Your district superintendent, and district programming will continue as they are now through the end of June, 2018, to coincide with the pastoral appointment year. Current district superintendents will continue in place through June, 2018, and they will continue to relate to churches and clergy in their present districts through the  2017-2018 appointment season. Beginning July 1, 2018, there will be one fewer district superintendent and churches and clergy will align to the new districts.

The assignment of churches to districts creates a new urban SeaTac Missional District, with the intention of developing specific initiatives for missional engagement in these growing urban areas, with their extreme economic disparities. Across the conference your staff is committed to both helping existing churches to engage their communities in new and life-giving ways, and to cultivating bold, new ministries that create new places for new people to become disciples of Jesus.

During 2018 churches will be aligned in districts as follows:

Inland Missional District:  no change
Seven Rivers Missional District:  no change
Puget Sound Missional District:  [Click here for the list
SeaTac Missional District: [Click here for the list]
Crest to Coast Missional District:  [Click here for the list]

Click here to view a dynamic Google map of the new missional districts. An embedded version of this can be found at the bottom of this page.

Between January and June district superintendents will work with current leadership of groups like UMW, district lay leaders, district boards of church location and building, and disaster coordinators to adapt to the new district alignment. District superintendents are prepared to help you find answers to your questions.

God is saying, “Behold, I am doing a new thing…. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43: 19). We’re trying to do a new thing with God. I hope you will bring your patience and creativity to this time of transition.

May God guide and guard us through this change,

Living in Faith,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area

[i] The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2016, ¶ 601.

Give the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,
and God the things that are God’s.
Matthew 22:21b

Greater Northwest United Methodists,

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement regarding DACA, I’m asking myself, what is the emperor’s and what is God’s? Matthew reminds us that the really important things belong to God and that what we owe to civil authorities is limited by what belongs to God.

Advocates for Dreamers attend a press conference and rally in Portland, Oregon following the Trump Administration’s DACA announcement. Photo by Mira Conklin.

Yesterday the White House announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy threatening to cause the deportation of 800,000 youth and young adults who were brought to the United States without documents when they were children. Today I remember that:

“The alien who resides with you shall be as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” – Leviticus 19:34

It’s not right even to threaten to deport peaceful, tax-paying immigrants who have lived here for decades, and know no other home. Doing so violates the teachings of the Bible.

Love of God demands that we speak out for our neighbors to government officials who have authority over their lives. Love of God might demand that we act boldly to protect threatened people and families as fiercely as we would protect our own.

The moral imperative to love the alien in our land is clear, though each person and each church will find its own way to love God and neighbor in their place and circumstance. I hope you will find ways to have serious conversations with people who are affected by this end to DACA, and to discern what God is leading us to do in the months ahead.

Pray for people who fear that their lives may be uprooted, and their families torn apart.  Pray for our government authorities. Pray that Christ will guide and lead the church to a season of clear witness and courageous action.

With faith in Christ, and confidence that love will win,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area


Visit for more DACA information and a list of ideas and resources to help us love one another, love our neighbors and love the stranger. On the page titled “Links for Further Information” you’ll find links to organizations active in supporting refugees and immigrants in each state (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington) alongside national and interfaith groups. Please send other local (to you) resources that you are aware of to the Rev. Lyda Pierce at for possible inclusion.


Greater Northwest United Methodists and people of compassion everywhere,



                 DO THIS AND YOU SHALL LIVE. ~ Luke 10: 27

Flodding evacuation

A team from Christ United Methodist Church, in Sugar Land, Texas, evacuated by boat the family of the Rev. R. DeAndre Johnson, a member of the church staff. Johnson said his home had taken on close to a foot of water on Aug. 27, when he made the decision to evacuate. (Chappell Temple photo)

Hurricane Harvey is devastating Texas and Louisiana, stretching all systems of relief and recovery beyond their limits. We’ve watched as tiny babies, venerable elders, and people of every condition of life have had their lives swept away by the floods. Local United Methodists surrounding the affected area are already providing shelter, food and comfort to people in distress.  They need us to support their work with “love made liquid” through prayer and offerings. And we’ll be sending Early Response Teams (ERT) from the Greater Northwest Area as early as October.

I am calling every church, fellowship group, Sunday School class, choir, coffee klatch, walking, or yoga group in the Greater Northwest Area (Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska Conferences) to love God and neighbor in the following ways:

  1. Pray for the people affected by the flood and those who work tirelessly to respond, and
  2. Receive a special offering for HURRICANE HARVEY FLOOD beginning this Sunday, and each Sunday in September. And when you donate, invite someone outside your group to donate, too. Donations will support United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR) US Disaster Response fund* and travel costs for Early Response Teams from the Greater Northwest Area that will go to Texas and Louisiana.

Miracles happen when people share what they have. Thank you.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area

* 100% of donations support UMCOR recovery and relief with no administrative overhead.  UMCOR has the highest (4 ★★★★) rating by Charity Navigator.


Related Items

Letter – Bishop Scott Jones – Texas Conference

Letter – Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey – Louisiana Conference

Video – Bishop Robert Schnase – Rio Texas Conference

Response – The Latest on UMCOR Response to Harvey

Response – Cleaning buckets and hygiene kits will be part of the response

News – Harvey Floods hit Houston Churches

News – Churches Pitch in as Harvey Crisis Continues

United Methodists and all others who strive for peace at home and around the world,

I hope you will join me, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, and many others in praying for peace on the Korean Peninsula this Sunday, August 13th. You’ll find Rev. Dr. Henry-Crowe’s invitation copied below.

Wars and rumors of wars trouble these days with threats of nuclear attack. Seventy two years after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, I’d like to invite you to meditate anew on these words found at the Nagasaki Peace Park, a memorial to that fearsome day.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky | Greater Northwest Area

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