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PNW Plenary: Women rule, Peace with Justice Awards, reducing districts, Project Transformation and more!

(From L to R) Friday’s PNW Plenary sessions featured Ruth Award recipients Noriko Lao; Marion Kline Award recipient the Rev. Lyda Pierce; the Rev. David Wright and Ann Mayer present Peace with Justice Awards; and Nancy Tam Davis (right) presenting a petition to the body.


By Mary Stanton-Nurse

“Big things come in small packages,” was an apt description of the ministry and leadership of Noriko Lao, who was awarded the Ruth Award by the PNW clergywomen as they sung us into our slightly-delayed second plenary session. Bailey Brawner, a seminary student at Boston School of Theology, received the Ruth Award Scholarship. The Marion Kline award was then presented to Rev. Lyda Pierce for her lifetime of ministry alongside Hispanic and Latinx (Latino or Latina) people. “I don’t do anything alone,” she said, inviting Hispanic/Latinx people, immigrants, and those whose ministry involves working alongside these groups to rise.

Friday morning’s joint plenary ran significantly overtime due to conversation about the Constitutional Amendments to be decided, and the PNW Plenary began a little more than twenty minutes late. The consent calendars were then presented, with the petition to reduce the number of districts from six to five (#15 on page C-11) having been removed by members of the conference. The consent calendars each passed as amended by a large majority.

Rev. David Wright and Ann Mayer presented Peace with Justice Awards to: Seattle First UMC for their ongoing work through their Shared Breakfast program; Goldendale UMC for their soup kitchen community meal program; White Swan Wilbur Memorial UMC for their work developing a program focusing on how the Doctrine of Discovery impacted the relationship between the UMC in the PNW and the Northwest Indigenous Tribes; Ellensburg UMC for their local Justice for Our Neighbors program, which provides support and advocacy to low-income immigrants and their communities; and Boundary County Victim Services in Bonner’s Ferry, ID, in order to provide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training for two registered nurses in that county.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Award was awarded in absentia to Jean Ferguson, who is the primary organizer of Seattle First UMC’s Shared Breakfast, “for her continual commitment to food justice.”

After that lovely break, Nancy Tam Davis presented the petition about reducing the number of districts which was earlier removed from the consent calendar. Discussion centered mainly around questions of logistics, costs, and impacts on both local churches and the workload of clergy and conference staff. The petition passed, and Bishop Elaine encouraged conference members to give input and share their concerns about the process of reducing districts with her office and with their District Superintendents.

A petition to share the costs of Annual Conference was then referred to the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A). This petition was requesting that Annual Conference Session registration fees be eliminated in favor of instead rolling the costs of Annual Conference into the Apportionments process, sharing the costs among all churches according to their resources.

As we neared our allotted time for lunch, we had only a few agenda items remaining, and pages rushed to ensure that all members had a copy of the packet of new petitions received at registration.

The petition requesting that there be a special called Western Jurisdiction Conference prior to the special General Conference Session in 2019 (L-2) was then brought forward for consideration, and referred to CF&A for consideration to be brought back to the 2018 Annual Conference Session.

A team from Project Transformation reported on the excellent work of that organization, partnering with local churches, young adult interns, and local schools to provide summer educational enrichment to children in disadvantaged communities. The conference joined in song and prayer to bless and commission the summer interns and staff for the Vancouver, Washington site of Project Transformation.

The Jars for Jamaa Letu offering was our final act of the plenary, and stomachs were rumbling as Bishop Elaine prayed over the offering and our meal. Plenary was dismissed only 23 minutes past our scheduled time, despite both extra business and starting later than scheduled.


Mary Stanton-Nurse is a member of Seattle: Trinity United Methodist Church. 

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