A message to the PNW: “Where are we headed?”
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.