Young People from the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and Pacific Northwest Conferences open up about their concerns about LGBTQ, immigration issues, outreach, and the future of the greater church.
By Pastor Carrie Bland
I sat down with our youth equalization-voting members after dinner to hear what they had to say. It’s surprisingly easy to get them to talk when you provide the space. We have eight youth, split evenly between the two Conferences and one visiting youth from Alaska. They came to conference because they see it as an opportunity to discuss some prevalent social justice issues such LGBTQ and immigration, which are important to their generation.
A view of the Interstate Bridge over the Colombia River. Photo by Aaron Pazan.
By the Rev. Jenny Phillips | Photo by Aaron Pazan
We will create a river of life alongside the mighty Columbia River this Saturday! At the conclusion of the “Ministry Alive!” experiences, everyone is invited to gather along the banks of the Columbia adjacent to the Red Lion Hotel. We will bear witness to the suffering of God’s creation and to the gifts made manifest through the river and through the hospitality of the hotel staff who nurture all who travel this way.
Gathering at the riverside is a means of experiencing God’s grace anew. “We, as worldly, bodily beings, are in God’s presence,” says theologian Sallie McFague. “We do not have to go to some special place—a church, for instance—or to another world to find God, for God is with us here and now.”
The Rev. Jenny Phillips, PNWUMC’s Minister for Environmental Stewardship and Advocacy, will give a short homily. At the end of the witness, we will unfurl large swaths of blue fabric as we commit to hold fast to hope for a river of life that brings healing to the nations. If you brought fabric, please bring it! If you have blue clothes with you, please wear them! Questions? Contact Jenny Phillips at email@example.com.
The Rev. Jenny Phillips is intended to serve as Creation Care Program Manager for UMCOR, The General Board of Global Ministries. Aaron Pazan is a student and attends Portland: Portsmouth Union Church.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky presides over the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference plenary session with Paul Cosgrove, Conference Chancellor.
By the Rev. Karen Hernandez | Photos by Patrick Scriven and Jesse N. Love
In our Friday morning plenary session, the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference (strengthened and renewed by a more substantial breakfast, thanks be to God!) worked through some of our more complicated legislation. We completed voting on the standing and action resolutions sent to us through the Legislative Assembly.
We received the report and motions of the Council on Finance and Administration and the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits, including their proposals for some significant changes in health insurance coverage. Those insured through the conference plan will now have a choice of among six insurance plans, while the premiums paid by churches go up very slightly and are not based on the particular plan chosen by the plan participants. (God gives us a variety of gifts. Figuring out the nitty-gritty details of insurance and finances is not among my gifts! Thanks be to God for the hard work, wisdom, and faithful stewardship of those who serve on CF&A!)
Greater Northwest Area Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky pours water into a basin during the Memorial Service at Annual Conference. The Rev. Shalom Agtarap (right) presented the night’s message, “Rivers of Life”.
By Karen Yokota Love | Photos by Patrick Scriven with DJ del Rosario
The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences gathered on Thursday, June 15, 2017 to honor and celebrate the sacred lives of clergy, clergy spouses, beloved laity, bishops, and bishops’ spouses that have passed on this year. Thursday night’s Memorial Service was filled with remembering those who gave their time, talent, service and heart to the ministry.
“Here By the Water” served as an anthem and backdrop for the naming of all of the church communities that closed over the last year. We celebrated with thanksgiving the life and work of each faith community and remembered the refuge, comfort, and challenges that they experienced for all God’s people — how they served for generations the faithful people of their communities.
When Jesus realized that the trusted structures and the traditional leaders could not longer serve God’s purpose, it was time for a change. So, where one church closes, another is birthed in a new faith community.
The Rev. Shalom Agtarap preached a moving sermon, “Rivers of Life.” She drew from John 7:37-39: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Agtarap notes that throughout the Greater Northwest Area, we have oceans and seas, streams and rivers that cut into and surround the land we inhabit. These rivers and streams have made impressions on this geography they have fostered life to grow in certain valleys, they have impacted where cities would be built, they have been disturbed and disrupted.
The Rev. Shalom used the Festival of Tabernacles, an annual reminder in the life of faith that God had delivered Israel from wandering, in hunger and thirst, to a future with hope.
Agtarap reminds us that God still loves us even if we fail him over and over again. She reminds us of Kairos time and when Jesus says, “my time has not yet come, but your time is always here.” Attendees were urged that Jesus is inviting us to pay attention to every moment. We should not to look away, but, instead, “to look at our own grief, our pain, our challenges — and say, how are you my teacher and what am I to learn?”
She asks, “What places do we need to be delivered from and ushered into the presence of living water? What brings heartbreak and sorrow today?”
“And, despite our waywardness, our warring madness, our inability to love dark skin the same way we love white skin — that God still wants to work with us. And God continues to love us,” she says.
Following the message was a sacred naming of the Honor Roll of our ancestors. It was bookended with a beautiful Prayer of Remembrance remembering the rising sun and its setting to remembering those who are weary and in need of strength.
A special offering was collected for the people in the South Congo to provide desks for 600 students in two schools in Lubumbashi. Each locally manufactured desk seats four students, at a cost of about $40 per student.
Rev. Shalom Agtarap concluded this year’s Memorial Service with a dismissal and blessing.
To view videos of services and other events from this year’s joint Annual Conference Session, click here.
Karen Yokota Love is currently the associate pastor of Puyallup UMC and is intended to serve Mason UMC beginning in July.
Patrick Scriven is the director of communications, Young People’s Ministries for the PNWUMC.
The Rev. Dj del Rosario serves as pastor of Bothell UMC.
(From L to R) The Rev. Tim Winslea and Emile Kroen; Azzie Jones and Francine Freeman; Rosalee Mohney and Barry Hansen; and Rudilyn ‘Lyn’ Rush (see below) shared powerful examples of how laity actively make an impact in their communities.
By Jesse N. Love | Additional photos by YouTube
The shared Conference Laity Session focused on four ways that can help lay persons can have an impact in their communities.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am. Send me!”-Isaiah 6:8
The laity of this year’s Annual Conference gathered to hear real testimonies from laity impacting their communities in awesome, yet heartfelt ways.
Jan Nelson and Nancy Tam Davis, Conference Lay Leaders of The Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences (respectively), emphasized the high value laity have on the life of the church and the neighborhoods they reside. “Laity make up 99.2% percent of the Church. Understand that power, moving ahead,” shared Davis.
Share your stories from this year’s joint Annual Conference Session! E-mail Patrick Scriven (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jesse N. Love (email@example.com) for details.
By Jesse N. Love | Photos by Patrick Scriven
One of the many joys of belonging to a connectional community is sharing our stories. We love hearing what’s new and happening; we love listening to how our lives have changed; we want to know how different churches in different communities are doing new things that help revitalize – so we can DO the things we need to DO to LIVE!
You are invited to share your stories via the Greater Northwest blog! We are looking for members of each Conference: Oregon-Idaho, Pacific Northwest, and even our friends in Alaska, to contribute to the diverse voices being shared through this news stream.
If you are interested, contact Patrick Scriven (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jesse N. Love (email@example.com) and let us know how you would like to help.
Jesse N. Love serves as the Graphic Designer and Print Manager for the PNWUMC. Patrick Scriven serves as the Director of Communications, Young People’s Ministries.
The Oregon-Idaho Conference began with a report from the Council on Finance and Administration.
The Oregon-Idaho Conference celebrates financial good news, mourns its church closures, and meditates on transformation outside of the four walls of church.
By the Rev. Eilidh Lowery | Photos by Jesse N. Love
To be honest I was a little nervous about how the shared plenary and the transitions to each Conference’s business would work. I needn’t have wasted the mental energy. Bishop Elaine ran the session with the perfect mix of humor, compassion, and no-nonsense facilitation. CF & A (Council on Finance and Administration) was the first report and while we were ‘winkingly’ promised a long, boring, statistics-filled presentation, what we experienced was a joyful sharing of the deeply thoughtful and faithful way the team has embraced their work. With financial good news to celebrate, an explanation of the ramifications of our divestment work, and a review of the team’s goals, it is clear that the finances of the OR-ID Annual Conference are in excellent hands.
The PNW Annual Conference began its plenary session. (From L to R) Nancy Tam Davis, the Rev. David Valera, the Rev. Wes Stanton (below) and Bishop Elaine Stanovsky.
Thursday’s PNW Plenary Session begins legislative process, reflects upon closures, celebrates GBGM, Campus Ministry, and the welcoming of our new bishop, Elaine JW Stanovsky.
By Mary Stanton-Nurse | Photos by Aaron Pazan
Following the initial organizing motions passed Wednesday evening after the Bishop’s Installation, the PNW Annual Conference’s initial Plenary session began bright and early Thursday morning with the rest of our traditional early-conference work, including the initial reports of the Rules and Nominations Committees.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky blesses attendees with water at the Installation Worship Service at the joint Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session. Photo by the Rev. Dj del Rosario.
Installation Service of Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky emphasizes life and abundance.
By Scott Klepach, Jr. | Photos by the Rev. Dj del Rosario
[Portland, Ore.] There was singing. There was dancing. There were stories. There was life.
These elements highlighted the installation service and opening plenary of the shared Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences in Portland, Ore. on June 14, 2017. The opening ceremony featured worship and the installation of Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, who was assigned by the Western Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy to the Greater Northwest Area last year. Bishop Elaine was elected bishop in 2008.
The service, which began with a Native American ceremony that featured drumming and a special blessing and concluded with a reaffirmation of baptism, emphasized love and life.