A Celebration of Abundant Life…for All

(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.

The evening began with two congregations in our connection: El Dios Viviente United Methodist Church, in Seattle, Wash. (the Rev. Gerardo Guzman) and St. Paul’s in Idaho Falls, Idaho (the Rev. Ric Shewell) being presented the Discipleship Ministries’ One Matters Award, given to churches nominated by their Conference for significant work they have done to renew their focus on discipleship for the transformation of the world. Both churches demonstrated what happens when we choose to say “yes” to the ways God calls us to listen and respond to the needs of the community where we are planted.

As we celebrated congregations, we also took time to recognize the work of two individuals who have been instrumental in the work of our Conference and Episcopal offices: Becky Dulurey and Gretchen Engle. As they have transitioned to new roles and life-giving ministries, they continue to be remembered for their grace and hospitality.

The celebration continued as we gave special attention to three ministries in the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences that have provided spaces for the community to gather and live in to the abundance of health and wholeness offered to us by our Creator.

“You are saving the city” is one response the Revs. Teri and Ann Erbele and the people of Ketchikan First UMC have heard over and over again. The Day Shelter serves a growing transient population in Ketchikan, Alaska and is the only place in their community that offers day shelter for those who would otherwise be on the streets. In addition to providing a physical space for those experiencing homelessness, it offers showers, clothing, and hygiene care for those who don’t have access to facilities. The Day Shelter offers a non-judgmental space and referrals to local resources, reducing death, illness, and potentially negative interactions with law enforcement.

The ministry of Ronald Commons, a new affordable housing development in Shoreline, Wash. was the second ministry to be highlighted at the evening’s celebration. The partnership with Ronald United Methodist, Hopelink, and Compass Housing Alliance offers 60 units of affordable housing, and a 12,000 sq. ft. Integrated Service Center owned and operated by Hopelink. The Integrated Service Center will include a food bank, family services, and financial education and assistance for low-income households. The dream of being a space of-and-for the community has been many years in the making; Ronald will continue to respond to the call to love God and neighbor through nurtured partnerships, community meals, and the witness of faith in action.

The third ministry highlight came from the Bynum’s who serve at the Methodist Counseling Center in the Treasure Valley. The dream of providing a counseling space that understood the interconnectedness of spiritual health and mental health was important to founder, the Rev. Fred Hoadley. As he turned his empty parsonage into the first Methodist Counseling Center, he made it a goal to offer counseling services regardless of a client’s socio-economic status. Now Josh Bynum, MS, LPS is the Clinical Director of the center and shares that same passion. In 2016, the Center helped nearly 300 new clients, over 20 interns, and connected faith communities in the areas they serve. Relationships are central to the work the Center does. “Our services are brought to life through relationships,” Josh said, “and relationships begin with stories.” We don’t have to be licensed professionals to listen to one another’s stories. Perhaps that is one way we can all be in partnership with the Methodist Counseling center: listen to one another and see what other needs might arise as a result.

There were no shortage of stories that reminded us of the richness of abundance and hope, visible in the everyday. As we seek abundant health for ourselves and one another, may we always be reminded of the God who calls us to abundant living, deepened by love and service to God and neighbor.

Sophia K.R. Agtarap is a member of the PNW Conference and is a resident of Nashville, Tenn.
Special thanks to Teri Tobey.

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