Author: Elaine Stanovsky

Advent Message 2021

An Advent message for the Greater Northwest Area from Bishop Elaine Stanovsky

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Transcript

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Grace to you this morning, we are well into the holiday season, the holy holiday season. And I have not been speaking to you, my people across the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church much lately. Time and again, I have thought I want to give a good word, to share good news with the people that I serve with. And yet, the words have not come.

So, I want to start this morning just by saying thank you again. I hope you’ve heard me say thank you before. This has been an awkward and difficult and trying season and you have kept alive, most of you. And we mourn those who have not made it through this pandemic for reasons of COVID or other life circumstances and health circumstances that have taken their lives.

But those of you who are listening to this message, who are hearing this message today, you are alive and you’re serving and you’re caring, you’re struggling at times. Thank you. God works through us. Whether we feel up to the task or not. People find blessing in us. And so, we get up each morning, we greet the sun, and we go on, as best we can, spreading love and hope and tenderness to the people that we encounter. So, thank you. Thank you, God bless you and keep you.

It is a strange and disorienting time, though, isn’t it? Don’t you find it so? I certainly do. There are so many urgent matters to give our attention to, to open our hearts to, to learn about, to respond to with compassion and understanding. Every time I think about bringing you a good word, I find myself caught.

Shall I speak about the climate and the flooding and the wildfires and the need to move away from fossil fuels and find new sustainable sources of energy?

Shall I speak to you about COVID and the deaths and the dangers and the trials of not being able to gather and sing together?

Shall I speak to you of January 6 and the divisions that seem to be separating us as people in our nation and threatening the very foundation of civil society?

Shall I speak to you about racism and the trials of Rittenhouse and the people who killed Ahmaud Arbery and Charlottesville and the danger of losing voting rights?

Each time I think about what to speak to you about, I think, if I speak one word, it leaves unspoken those other words, and we carry it all, all at the same time. And yet we can’t speak of it all at the same time. And so, I have found myself in a season of silence. Not because I don’t feel deeply, not because I’m not attuned with what you’re struggling with, with what the world is struggling with. But I find myself unable to speak because it is so broad and so deep and there’s so much, it’s hard to know where to begin.

I turned to scripture, into prayer, deeply in the last couple of weeks to prepare for this message and what I found there were two great stories in the Gospel of Luke of people being drawn into stillness.

The first is from Luke 1 and it’s the song of Zechariah. You remember Zechariah is married to Elizabeth and Elizabeth becomes pregnant with the baby that will become John the Baptist. And Zechariah receives this announcement and is puzzled by it and doesn’t quite trust it. He and Elizabeth are older and not sure they can have children. And so, he questions the angel that brings him this news. And the angel strikes him silent, takes his voice away for doubting the word from God.

And he sits in silence, then until you recall that Elizabeth gives birth, the baby is born. They’re going to name it Zechariah after his father, and Mary says, “No, his name is John.” And that people turn to Zechariah and say, “What do you say about this? What do you think, shouldn’t the baby be named after you?” And Zechariah gets his voice back, his voice returns. And he says, he doesn’t say I want to name him, John. He doesn’t say I name him John. He says, “His name is John” as if it comes from beyond. It’s a powerful moment in the scripture.

And then I’m drawn also to Mary. And all that she pondered in her heart as the world was swirling around her and she had given birth to this new baby and shepherds and angels, and the sky opened up and prophets are speaking, and she speaks a word. But then she ponders it all in her heart.

The writers of the Bible, know what we’re going through – the fear, the disorientation, the danger, the displacement, exclusion, betrayal, the plagues. They know it all, it’s all in the story. It’s not a happy Christmas Eve story with babies in and animals in a barnyard and halos. It’s also a story of deep displacement, disregard, flight. And yet, it’s a story that invites us to wait, to find our own silence, to anticipate, not to wait passively, but to anticipate and watch for and prepare for, and live in hope.

Because the core of the scripture is the message that what’s going on around us what we see with our eyes, what we hear with our ears, what we experience in the complex and unpredictable social lives we lead isn’t everything, that beneath it, there is a spirit. There is a place where our souls live, there is a place where God who watches and tends the whole complexity of our lives, tends to us, plans for a good future, and invites us to partner in creating that future.

So here we are. We’re invited into this season of Advent which is all about coming. Advent means coming. It’s about God coming into the world, yes, in the baby Jesus. But God coming every year as we celebrate Advent, every day, as we awaken to the dawn, to lead us in new ways, to teach us new things, to invite us to participate in our own lives in the world with open eyes, and new awareness.

I want to read to you Psalm 46 this morning. You can hear this as foolish optimism, superficial wishful thinking, or you can hear it as an invitation to look for where the goodness and the hopefulness that God promises is alive and being born in the world.

Our defense is sure, our shelter and help in trouble, God never stands far off. So we stand unshaken when solid earth cracks and volcanoes slide into the sea. When breakers rage and mountains tremble, the Lord of cosmic power, Jacob’s God, will shield us.

A river delights the City of God, home of the Holy One most high. With God there, the city stands. God defends it under attack. Nation’s rage, empires fall. God speaks, the earth melts. The Lord of cosmic power, Jacob’s God, will shield us.

Come, see the wonders God does across the earth. Everywhere stopping wars, smashing, crushing, burning all the weapons of wars. An end to your fighting. “Acknowledge me as God,” God says. High over nations, high over Earth, the Lord of cosmic power, Jacob’s God, will shield us.

And so, in the season of Advent, we wait. We anticipate. We prepare. We hope for what the scripture tells us is the truth we sometimes cannot see.

Be still. Be still with Zechariah. Be still with Mary. Be still with Job. Be still with Jesus in the garden.

Don’t be consumed by what you see on television or on social media. Watch for help in trouble. Notice where our world, our city, our neighborhoods are being made glad.

Pray with me this breathing prayer. Come, Jesus, be born in us today. Come, Jesus, be born in us today. Come, Jesus, be born in us today. And see if you can get up about seven in the morning or a little bit earlier and to look outdoors, find a place that looks east and see if you can see the sun rising.

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

May it be so for you, for your congregation, for your neighborhood and for God’s amazing wide world.

Amen.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

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From the Bishop, RE: Boy Scout units chartered by local United Methodist Churches

Aug. 27, 2021

Dear Greater Northwest United Methodists of the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences:

We send this letter with heavy hearts, knowing that many young people have been harmed while participating in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), over many decades. While countless young persons have benefited from the different programs and levels of Boy Scouting, some have experienced demeaning and abusive behavior while participating in scouting activities and events and have taken their claims to the courts.

Many local United Methodist churches partner as charter organizations for Boy Scout units across the country. The United Methodist Church (TUMC) is committed to being a safe and nurturing place for all people, to healing harm that has been done and, to partnering with organizations that share this commitment. The United Methodist Church is reviewing its relationship with BSA to ensure that the Church is acting responsibly to protect the safety of children and ensure that it is not responsible for harm done during Boy Scout activities.

BSA Current Reality

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is overwhelmed with potential liability exposure from sexual assault allegations nationwide. The BSA has filed for bankruptcy protection. Under both of the proposed plans that the BSA has suggested as ways to continue after the bankruptcy, they are leaving their chartered organizations out on a limb by themselves. The chartered organizations are the local churches, schools, and civic groups that sponsor or host a Scout Troop, Pack, Crew, or other unit. The details of these plans are still being played out, but the BSA is placing all of our United Methodist churches who have ever been involved in Scouting in a very difficult position.

Despite their consistent past assurances that they held enough insurance to cover their chartered organizations in case of injured scouts, we now know that the BSA did not have enough or sufficient insurance. The local churches are at risk of having to pay significant sums to victims to compensate them for the damages they suffered at the hands of some Scout leaders. In addition, the local churches will have to pay for the cost of their own attorneys to defend those claims. All of this is because the BSA did not fulfill their promise to have enough insurance to protect the local churches.
 
Future Relationship with the BSA

Our team, made up of the Bishop, her GNW Area assistant, and the treasurers and chancellors of the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conferences, recommends that local churches change their relationships with Scouting units.

If your local church currently charters a Scout unit, we recommend that you NOT renew that chartering agreement when it is up for renewal or re-chartering this fall. Instead, we recommend one of three options, the choice of which is up to you:

  1. Tell the local Scout council that you will NOT renew that chartering agreement but will only extend the current agreement until December 31, 2021.  
  2. Tell the local Scout council that you will NOT renew that chartering agreement but will enter into a Facilities Use Agreement with their unit until December 31, 2021.
     
  3. Tell the local Scout council that you will terminate the existing charter agreement and replace it with a Facilities Use Agreement with their unit until December 31, 2021.

In options 2 and 3, the Facilities Use Agreement will act similar to a lease allowing the Scout unit to continue using your space, but they will be responsible for everything else, including the selection of leaders. A proposed agreement template can be found here. Also, please let your Conference Treasurer know if you are currently hosting a scout troop in any of the above described manners.

After December 31, 2021, we should be in a better position to see how the future will unfold. Once a reorganization plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, we will know better how to proceed.

If your local church does not charter a Scout unit at this time, we recommend that you NOT consider chartering a unit until the bankruptcy case is finalized and we have an understanding of how The United Methodist relationship with Scouts will continue in the future.

We understand that these suggestions are dramatic, but we think them to be the prudent course of action at this time. We want to protect our local churches from being accused of contributing to the abuse of children and to the resulting risk of costly litigation.

Closing Thoughts

Boy Scout councils have begun contacting local churches directly that host Boy Scout units. One such letter is attached here. If you receive any communication from a local Scout council or the BSA advising or encouraging you to contact a Boy Scout attorney, please report this at once to Rev. Carlo A. Rapanut, Assistant to the Bishop. His email is carlorapanut@gmail.com.

We know the value of scouting. It has played a very large role in the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church for a very long time. But the BSA is not proving faithful to The United Methodist Church as they leave us without the protections that they promised. We simply cannot currently commit to the relationship with the BSA as we have in the past. Until we know how the BSA will be organized and operate in the future, we must make some changes. Hopefully, we will be able to continue our long connection with scouting in some way, but we need to make some changes today to help prevent us from being dragged down with the BSA in the future.

May God’s mighty, surprising, Holy Spirit work a miracle of healing in the lives of people harmed by abuse. May God bless and keep us honest, diligent and wise through this process.

Faithfully,



Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater NW Area
The United Methodist Church

                   




Rev. Carlo A. Rapanut
Assistant to the Bishop
GNW Area of The UMC





Brant Henshaw
Conference Treasurer
Pacific Northwest & Alaska Conferences





Rev. Dan Wilson-Fey
Conference Treasurer/Benefits Officer
Oregon-Idaho
Attached documents:
Facility use agreement template for Boy Scouts of America.
Letter related to BSA sent to pastor at Homer UMC in Alaska.

From the Bishop: Join me in honoring Juneteenth National Independence Day

People of God,

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8: 31-32

June 19, known as Juneteenth, celebrates the freedom of enslaved Black Americans, by recalling the day in 1865 when the news of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was finally proclaimed in Texas, three years after it was issued.

Yesterday the U.S. Congress established June 19th as a federal holiday: Juneteenth National Independence Day. The action awaits President Biden’s signature.

On Saturday, June 19th at 10 a.m., the Coos Bay Museum in Coos Bay, Oregon, will dedicate a memorial to the only confirmed lynching of a Black man in the state of Oregon. Alonzo Tucker was lynched in Coos Bay in 1902 as a crowd of 300 people watched. Sponsors of Saturday’s memorial event hope at least 300 people will attend the online dedication of a memorial to Alonzo Tucker.

The memorial to Alonzo Tucker’s lynching is part of a movement of the National Memorial of Peace and Justice to remember and mark the sites where more than 4,400 Black people died by lynching between 1877 and 1950. Taylor Stewart began the Oregon Remembrance Project after visiting the National Memorial as part of a Civil Rights tour of southern states.

Much of our nation’s violent racial history has been forgotten or suppressed by white Americans or assumed to have occurred only in slave states. This event, on Juneteenth, 2021, is an opportunity for citizens of the Northwest to remember and realize that this region has its own violent past that is ours to reckon with and heal.

I hope you will join me online on Saturday, Juneteenth, 2021, as part of the crowd that stands for truth, justice and reconciliation.  

Thank you,

Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop, Greater NW Episcopal Area

An update on my retirement plans

Greater Northwest Area clergy and lay members of Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences,

Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith…

After deep reflection, conversation with my family and consultation with trusted colleagues, I am withdrawing my request for retirement, effective January 2022, to continue my assignment to the Greater Northwest Area. I hope and pray that postponing retirement will relieve anxiety and contribute to an orderly transition of leadership for all the conferences in the Western Jurisdiction during this extended pandemic interruption of normalcy. I am not naming a new retirement date at this time but hope that it might follow in-person general and jurisdictional conferences in 2022, with the election and assignments of new bishops, for a new quadrennium, beginning January 1, 2023.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

I never intended my retirement to add to the uncertainty of this wilderness passage. I originally named January 1, 2022 as my retirement date so that my retirement would coincide with that of Bishop Hoshibata and possibly, Bishop Hagiya. At the time, we anticipated regular in-person general and jurisdictional conferences in the fall of 2021, when new bishops might be elected to begin serving as the new quadrennium began with the new year.

Since that request, general and jurisdictional conferences have been put off again, further postponing the election and assignment of new bishops. In light of these delays, the timing of my requested retirement is no longer helpful.

I have a renewed sense of focused mission for this extension of my active service and look forward to continuing to work with lay and clergy leadership of the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences.

Jesus is nudging and tugging the church to engage people and communities with the faith, hope and love of Jesus Christ in ways that bind up wounds, transform lives and overturn systems of exclusion and inequity. We can’t stop now.

I’m still running the race with Jesus. Won’t you pull up your socks, tie your shoelaces, strengthen your weak knees, and join me for the next leg of the race?

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Stepping forward safely in love and trust

Clergy Siblings in Christ,

Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, 
so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. 
Help each other out. And run for it!–Hebrews 12:12, The Message

Friends, we have been running to care, serve and survive COVID-19 for more than 14 months and the end is not yet in sight. You have been our essential workers in ministry for many months as our buildings have been largely closed and activities severely restricted.

We have not crossed the finished line, though we have learned a lot, adapted incredibly, and experienced the presence of God in ways we never expected. From my heart, thank you for your endurance, your courage and fortitude, your vulnerability, your compassion, your faithfulness in the valley of the shadow of death.

Attached is new guidance for churches as they Stepping forward safely in love and trust, that builds upon, but replaces Reimagining Life Together.& It acknowledges the continuing risk of disease, advances in science, and the increasing capacity of our local church leaders to manage the risk in their contexts. New responsibility falls to local leaders to understand and guide their ministry settings wisely and safely with fewer mandated guidelines.

Some of you will welcome the shift of responsibility to local leaders. Others may dread managing intense differences of opinion within your congregation as you make difficult decisions locally. I want to call your attention to two provisions from the document that may help you lead with strength.

1. “…please remember Saint Paul’s admonition that what is “permissible” is not always “beneficial” to the common good. (I Corinthians 10:23). While some churches may act quickly to adopt new, less restrictive practices, it is always OK for a church or ministry to choose to remain more cautious for any reason.”

2. “A local church is not permitted to hold in-person worship without the approval of the pastor. For local churches, decisions about the use of church property for worship or other gatherings belong to the pastor without interference from the Board of Trustees (Book of Discipline, ¶ 2533).”

Your trusted lay leaders and clergy colleagues, district superintendents and directors of connectional ministry are your partners in ministry as you lead one more challenge in the fight against this deadly disease.

And most of all, GOD IS WITH US.

May God bless and keep you all in your circles of care — members, friends, family, neighbors, strangers — so no one will trip and fall!

Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop, Greater Northwest Area
The United Methodist Church

A pastoral update on our COVID-19 response

Dear Siblings in Christ, 

We are making progress, but we are not quite there yet. It has been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life as we knew it. We continue to persevere, exhausted at times, yet anticipating the day when we can gather, greet each other, share communion and other precious rhythms of life and spiritual practice in person without risking harm to one another. Hopeful also that we now carry with us new learnings and practices, hard lessons of necessity that will continue to connect us in new ways in life and ministry.  

The rapid vaccine rollout gives us hope that we can enjoy more freedom to gather as families and faith communities soon. Vaccinations coupled with continuous strict adherence to safety protocols are expected to lower infection rates, hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths. Overall, we have seen the number of cases decline since the winter peak in many places, but progress has been stalled by premature re-openings, the easing of restrictions in some places, resistance by some to being vaccinated and observing simple safety practices: washing hands, social distancing, wearing a mask. I hope that each of us is continuing to follow these practices, as well as being vaccinated, consistent with medical advice, as soon as we are eligible.  

I was surprised by the deep joy that welled up in me when those shots went in my arm, protecting not only me but also everyone I encounter from the dangers of this virus. I’m grateful to every person who is able and willing to join this movement toward health and safety.   

As Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reminded us in a briefing earlier this year,  

“We may be done with the virus, but clearly the virus is not done with us. We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us – not now; not when mass vaccination is so very close.” 

Permissible not Necessarily Beneficial 

In an article for The Atlantic, Dr. James Hamblin of the Yale School of Public Health points out,  

“Our social lives can resume, but only when the whole community is ready. The turning point does not arrive for individuals, one by one, as soon as they’ve been vaccinated; it comes for all of us at once, when a population becomes immune.” 

With this understanding, we are advised that the number of coronavirus cases needs to decrease further before we resume regular activities, especially in light of the arrival of new fast-spreading variants of the virus. A premature reopening, even if allowed by the state, may run the risk of not just stalling but even reversing the recent progress we have already achieved.  

I am reminded of Saint Paul’s admonition that things that are “permissible” are not necessarily things that are “beneficial” to the common good. (I Corinthians 10:23).  

While we should celebrate the good news of vaccines providing a layer of protection already for a significant number of members in some of our congregations, the church does not belong solely to those who are vaccinated. Especially as we have just now reached a time when all adults are eligible to receive a vaccine, we must continue to be patient to allow them the privilege of receiving this gift of security before we consider letting our guard down. At the same time, we will need to find ways to protect and include children in church life while continuing to wait for vaccination eligibility to be extended to them. 

As the church, God calls us always to do things that are beneficial because we bear responsibility towards the well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable among us.  

A Posture of Hopeful Caution 

The progress we see in vaccinations, tempered by the potential threat of variants we race, leads me toward a posture of hopeful caution; we are almost there but not quite there yet. Even as our hope is renewed with the increasing percentage of those vaccinated, our decisions and actions must continue to manifest the utmost concern for one another as an act of love in response to Jesus’ command for us to love one another as he had loved us (John 13:34).  

Accordingly, I am asking churches to remain vigilant in their planning and decision-making processes. The COVID-19 Response Team, made up of lay and clergy members from across the area, is continuing to review and amend its guidance to local churches. By May 5th, we will release updated guidelines for Phase 3, shifting more responsibility to local leaders to guide their congregation’s, camp’s or other ministry setting’s COVID-19 response.  

I am grateful for each of you and your faithfulness and commitment, especially during this long time of physical separation due to this pandemic. May the hard lessons learned as we have persevered, and new skills developed as you have adapted, empower our work together and witness to God’s love which never fails us. 

“Those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31) 

With love and grace, 

Elaine JW Stanovsky 
Bishop, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area 

Offered in consultation with the COVID-19 Response Team, as currently composed: 

  • Rev. Alyssa Baker, pastor, Open Door Churches of Salem-Keizer, OR-ID Conference 
  • Laurie Day, OR-ID Conference Director of Connectional Ministries 
  • Rev. Jim Doepken, pastor, Moose Pass & Seward Memorial UMCs, Alaska Conference 
  • Rev. Mark Galang, Puget Sound District Superintendent, PNW Conference 
  • Rhondalei Gabuat, Executive Assistant for Bishop Stanovsky Greater Northwest Episcopal Area  
  • Rev. Karen Hernandez, Sage District Superintendent, OR-ID Conference 
  • Rev. Pat Longstroth, pastor, Bremerton UMC, PNW Conference 
  • Becky Platt, lay member, Boise (ID): Whitney UMC, OR-ID Conference 
  • Patrick Scriven, PNW Conference Director of Communications 
  • Jim Truitt, lay member, Renton (WA): Fairwood Community UMC, PNW Conference 

Standing in solidarity against anti-Asian hate

Friends in ministry in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area,  

Where does love live, if not in our hearts and in our relationships with God and our neighbors?

My heart is heavy with this week’s news of a young white man’s racial hatred targeting Asian and Asian American women for murder in Atlanta. Is there no limit to the depths of hatred and inhumanity?

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

What insanity blames innocent fellow citizens for a virus that spreads silently, putting people of every nation and race at risk? No-one is safe. No-one is to blame. If one suffers, we all suffer together.

My heart overflows with love for the women who lost their lives, for elders attacked on sidewalks, for passers-by spit at. Love lives where people lay their lives down for their neighbors, not where people violate the dignity, safety and very lives of their neighbors out of irrational fear and hatred.

Listen with me to the reflections of my friend and colleague, Bishop Bob Hoshibata of the Desert Southwest Conference, who said this week: “We must confront the ways that harm presents itself: whether it be ‘innocent’ re-telling of jokes, to perpetuating racist rhetoric related to COVID-19, or violent actions to innocent people, we must acknowledge that these are things that fuel bias and prejudice against those of Asian heritage.”

I affirm the words from Asian and Asian American Bishops of the United Methodist Church, the New Federation of Asian American United Methodists, the Asian American Language Ministry Plan, along with other Asian American leaders and academics of the United Methodist Church, including some from the Greater NW Area: “We ask that all United Methodists read again and live out our own Charter for Racial Justice which states that all persons are of equal value in the sight of God and that racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ.”

I encourage you to participate in this webinar, March 24 at 4 p.m. PDT, hosted by Asian-American friends and colleagues in the California-Nevada Conference.

May the LOVE of God continue to light our path in these dark days, 

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky 

Dos anuncios importantes para el Gran Área del Noroeste

Amados en Cristo, 

Les escribo hoy con dos anuncios que impactarán el área Episcopal del Gran Noroeste de la Iglesia Metodista Unida este año. 

En Epifanía, solicité la jubilación voluntaria como obispo de la Iglesia Metodista Unida, a partir del 31 de diciembre de 2021. Hoy, les comparto esta noticia.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Parece demasiado pronto para anunciar mi retiro mucho antes de que llegue, pero los muchos pasos que siguen en referencia a la asignación de un nuevo obispo lo exigen. Esto es más importante este año, con la lucha denominacional, la pandemia en curso y las consecuencias financieras que cada uno de estas cosas crean, manteniendo una incertidumbre adicional para nuestra conexión metodista unida.

Si bien lamento que mi jubilación pueda aumentar la carga de otros, estoy convencida de que este es el momento adecuado y la acción adecuada para mí personalmente. Continuaré trabajando diligentemente con los líderes de la conferencia durante todo el año para prepararnos para lo que sea que venga a continuación. Y confío en que Dios continuará moviéndose en los corazones de los fieles, para levantar líderes para la siguiente etapa de este peregrinaje.

La otra noticia que comparto es menos personal pero nos impactará de todos modos.

Dada la presencia continua de COVID-19 en nuestras comunidades, esperamos celebrar la Conferencia Anual 2021, una vez más, de forma remota en línea.

Si bien es posible un cambio de fecha, continúen manteniendo las fechas anunciadas, del 9 al 12 de junio de 2021, mientras exploramos posibilidades alternativas, incluyendo múltiples sesiones virtuales. Esperamos saber muy pronto a medida que se tomen decisiones sobre planes para conferencias generales y jurisdiccionales.
 
Dejaremos que los miembros de cada Conferencia Anual conozcan más información a medida que esté disponible.

A pesar de los muchos desafíos y transiciones que trae la vida, en la fe sabemos que el amor sigue vivo. Por favor, sepan que sigo orando por todas las personas y los ministerios del Gran Noroeste mientras todos somos testigos de esta verdad juntos, aunque todavía separados unos de otros.

Con gratitud y esperanza

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky 

Translated and Adapted by Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos, Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

Two important announcements for the Greater Northwest Area

Beloved in Christ, 

I write to you today with two announcements that will impact the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church this year.

On Epiphany, I requested voluntary retirement as a bishop in The United Methodist Church, effective December 31, 2021. Today, I share this news with you.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

It seems too early to announce my retirement long before it arrives, but the many steps that proceed the assignment of a new bishop demand it. This is truer this year, with denominational strife, the ongoing pandemic, and the financial consequences of each creating additional uncertainty for our United Methodist connection.

While I regret that my retirement may add to the burden of others, I am convinced that this is the right time and the right action for me personally. I will continue to work diligently with conference leaders through the year to prepare for whatever and whoever comes next. And I trust that God continues to move in the hearts of the faithful to raise up leaders for the next stage of the journey.

The other news I share is less personal but will impact us all the same.

Given the continuing presence of COVID-19 in our communities, we now expect to hold Annual Conference 2021, once again, remotely online.

While a date change is possible, please continue to hold the announced dates, June 9-12, 2021, as we explore alternative possibilities — including multiple virtual sessions. We expect to know more soon as decisions are made about plans for delayed general and jurisdictional conferences.

We’ll let members of each Annual Conference know more information as it becomes available.

Despite the many challenges and transitions life brings, in faith, we know that love lives on. Please know that I continue to hold the people and ministries of the Greater Northwest Area in my prayers as we witness this truth together, though still apart from one another.

With gratitude and hope,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

La Iglesia como una comunidad amada

La Iglesia como una comunidad amada


Carta pastoral de la obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky • Enero de 2021

A la mayoría de los Metodistas Unidos blancos en el área metropolitana del noroeste, con una invitación a otros para que escuchen y se unan a esta conversación.

Pero ahora, gracias a Cristo Jesús, ustedes que antes estaban tan lejos han sido acercados por la sangre de Cristo…. Rompió la barrera del odio que nos dividía…. Así que ahora ya no sois extraños ni extranjeros. Cristo te está construyendo en un lugar donde Dios vive a través del Espíritu.

Efesios 2, Selecciones

Amados en Cristo, los he llevado en mi corazón y en mis oraciones en cada momento durante estas temporadas de pandemia, división racial, disturbios cívicos y ataques violentos al Capitolio de los Estados Unidos. Mientras lamentamos la imagen de una bandera de la Confederación ondeando descaradamente en el Capitolio, y nos preparamos para más violencia extremista allí y en las capitales estatales de todo el país, la carga es pesada para las personas de conciencia, que viven en la fe, la esperanza y el amor a través de eventos que nos exigen tanto.

Oro por el presidente saliente, el Sr. Trump, y por el presidente entrante, el Sr. Biden, por los funcionarios gubernamentales electos y designados en cada lugar y sus funciones. Que prevalezca el bien de cada uno y que su pecado sea quitado.

Unas palabras para las personas y pastores de color en la Iglesia Metodista Unida

Unida
Más bien, al hablar la verdad en amor, creceremos en todos los aspectos en Aquel que es la cabeza, es decir, Cristo, de quien todo el cuerpo, estando bien ajustado y unido por la cohesión que las coyunturas proveen, conforme al funcionamiento adecuado de cada miembro, produce el crecimiento del cuerpo para su propia edificación en amor.

Efesios 4:15-16

Tenemos un largo camino por delante. Es un testimonio del poder del Espíritu Santo que usted conozca y ofrezca sus dones a todo el cuerpo de la iglesia. No es su responsabilidad soportar la falta de respeto en la iglesia, o enseñarme a mí y a mis hermanos blancos cómo nuestras palabras y acciones dañan y excluyen. Y sin embargo, por su amor a Dios y con la eterna esperanza de un nuevo día, continúan generosamente en su relación con Dios mientras la Iglesia se esfuerza por crecer en la fe, el servicio y el testimonio. Que Dios edifique la iglesia mostrándonos cómo ustedes pueden trabajar juntos correctamente en amor.

Oro por nuestra nación y su gente. Que los valores del respeto, la libertad, la equidad y la justicia marquen el camino a través de nuestra angustia y peligros actuales. Oro por las personas cuyo enojo se ha derramado en violencia, enojo por cosas tanto justas como malas.

Quiero llevar un mensaje esperanzador a la Iglesia. Pero la esperanza de esta temporada solo es visible a través de una extensa neblina. Que caminemos a la luz de la fe, al servicio del amor hasta que la esperanza resurja sin obstáculos.

Mientras celebramos la vida y el liderazgo del reverendo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., les traigo un mensaje que sé que será difícil. Tiene sus raíces en mi amor por nuestro Creador, Redentor y Sustentador, y en mi amor por todo el pueblo de Dios.

AHORA ES EL MOMENTO. ESTE ES EL LUGAR. SOMOS EL PUEBLO para anular el privilegio y la supremacía de los blancos en nuestros corazones, nuestras mentes y en nuestras comunidades y para construir una amada comunidad de justicia y equidad racial

AHORA ES EL MOMENTO de desmantelar los sistemas opresivos de racismo institucional, que

  • viola la dignidad y santidad de la creación de Dios
  • divide nuestras comunidades
  • deformar el cuerpo de cristo
  • aísla las iglesias locales de sus vecinos y
  • silencia el testimonio profético de los cristianos sobre la justicia y equidad de Dios.

El racismo blanco llegó al Nuevo Mundo con Cristóbal Colón en 1492, mucho antes de que los Peregrinos o la Declaración de Independencia elevaran el valor de la libertad. Echó raíces y no se ha erradicado. Está vivo y coleando en Estados Unidos. Ahora, los videos de teléfonos celulares de la violencia policial contra negros desarmados exponen el racismo persistente para que todos lo vean. La raza está en la agenda pública de una manera nueva y urgente. Las protestas, demandas, testimonios personales, documentales y seminarios virtuales han abierto una ventana a lo generalizado que es el racismo en la vida de nuestra nación.

En comparación con las personas de color, los blancos disfrutan de la “buena vida” de manera desproporcionada en casi todos los aspectos: educación, atención médica, salud ambiental, justicia penal, encarcelamiento, derechos de voto, propiedad comercial, empleo, ingresos, vivienda y esperanza de vida, para nombrar algunos. Este es el privilegio que disfrutan los blancos en Estados Unidos. Los patrones de privilegio y pobreza en Estados Unidos están incrustados en instituciones, normas, prácticas y sistemas que no dependen de los prejuicios, el odio o el maltrato individual. Tienen vida propia.

LA IGLESIA ES EL LUGAR … para despertar y enfrentar valientemente el pecado del racismo y crear una comunidad amada.

Dios les da a las personas de fe una visión de seres humanos diversos que viven juntos en una relación correcta entre sí. Pero a lo largo de la historia, la Iglesia cristiana a menudo ha creado y mantenido sistemas de desigualdad racial en Estados Unidos y en todo el mundo. Hoy, la iglesia está llamada a reconocer y desmantelar su propio racismo y unirse a un movimiento de reconocimiento racial y reconciliación en todos los lugares.

Cuando las comunidades donde la iglesia esta situada experimentan cambios especialmente identificados como económicos, étnicos o ambos a la vez, la iglesia local hará un análisis deliberado del cambio en la comunidad, y alterara su programa para enfrentarse a las necesidades y patronos culturales de los nuevos residentes.  La Iglesia local hará todo esfuerzo posible por permanecer en el vecindario y desarrollar un ministerio efectivo para los recién llegados, ya sea que pertenezcan a una comunidad cultural, económica o étnica diferente de la de los miembros originales o actuales. 

¶ 212, Libro de la Disciplina

Para el año 2045, los blancos serán una minoría de la población estadounidense. En los estados de Alaska, Idaho, Oregon y Washington, casi todos los pueblos y ciudades se están volviendo rápidamente más diversos desde el punto de vista racial y étnico, pero nuestras Iglesias Metodistas Unidas en la región son predominantemente blancas, de clase media, envejecidas y en declive. En su mayor parte, nuestras iglesias no se están adaptando a la población cambiante al dar la bienvenida o involucrar al creciente número de sus vecinos que provienen de diferentes herencias nacionales, raciales o étnicas.

La Iglesia Metodista Unida proclama el valor de cada persona como hijo único de Dios y se compromete con la sanidad e integridad de todas las personas. La Iglesia Metodista Unida reconoce que el pecado del racismos ha sido destructivo en su unidad a través de la historia. El racismo sigue presentando una penosa división. La Iglesia Metodista unida habrá de confrontar y buscar la eliminación del racismo, tanto en organizaciones como en individuos, en cada fase de la vida y en la sociedad en general. La Iglesia Metodista Unida habrá de colaborar con otras para enfrentar aquello que amenaza la causa de la Justicia social en todas sus formas.

¶ 5, Libro de la Disciplina

El equipo ejecutivo del Área Metropolitana del Noroeste de la Iglesia Metodista Unida reconoce la inclusión como una práctica esencial de una iglesia vital. Estamos incorporando esta práctica en nuestros propios equipos de liderazgo y agendas. En cada reunión, participamos en la formación de competencias interculturales y aplicamos lo que aprendemos a nuestro equipo y su trabajo. Tenemos la intención de invitar a personas de color al liderazgo pastoral de nuestras iglesias para reconocer e interactuar con la variedad de personas en sus que tenemos en nuestros vecindarios.

El racismo persiste en nuestras iglesias.

El racismo puede existir sin odio racial. En muchos lugares, nuestras iglesias son participantes pasivas en sistemas racistas que hemos heredado y de los que ni siquiera somos conscientes. Si nosotros, la mayoría blanca, simplemente continuamos haciendo lo que siempre hemos hecho – a medida que la comunidad cambia y se vuelve más diversa -, silenciosamente y sin siquiera reconocerlo, perpetuaremos el privilegio y la supremacía de los blancos.

Es por eso que en mi discurso episcopal a la Conferencia Anual en septiembre, le pedí a cada iglesia local que examinara las imágenes en sus edificios, las prioridades en sus presupuestos y las personas que toman decisiones para la iglesia, para ver si una rica variedad de culturas y voces están presentes. Las decisiones son diferentes si se incluyen diferentes perspectivas en la toma de decisiones. En respuesta a esto, los superintendentes de distrito iniciaron conversaciones sobre el racismo en cada iglesia local como parte de su cargo o conferencia de la iglesia.

Lamentablemente, hemos comenzado a notar un patrón de racismo manifiesto dentro de varias congregaciones. Este patrón está presente en las tres conferencias y los cuatro estados. Algunas expresiones incluyen:

  • criticando a los pastores por predicar sobre la justicia racial
  • negando la autoridad del pastor sobre la adoración
  • negando el respeto, la deferencia y la confianza que generalmente se brindan a los pastores
  • criticando la gramática o la pronunciación del pastor, especialmente en el caso de un pastor para quien el inglés es un segundo o tercer idioma
  • esperando que un pastor de color adopte las normas culturales de la congregación sin curiosidad, preguntas o discusiones
  • negándose a incluir una variedad de expresiones culturales dentro de la vida de adoración de la congregación

A veces, las congregaciones incluso se han negado a aceptar a un pastor que he designado, debido a razones de raza abiertamente o, a veces sutilmente.

Al escuchar estas historias y discutirlas dentro de mi gabinete, lamento informar que estas actitudes están presentes, aunque a menudo no son predominantes, en casi todas nuestras iglesias. Cualquier pastor de color que sea designado para una congregación mayoritariamente blanca puede esperar encontrar una resistencia racista abierta o implícita, tanto personal como profesionalmente.

Responsabilidades y deberes de Presbíteros y Pastores Licenciados – Liderar la congregación en la inclusión racial y étnica.

¶ 340.2.c)(4)

El racismo no tiene lugar en la Iglesia.

La Iglesia es el cuerpo de Cristo. No podemos permitir que el racismo infecte el cuerpo al tolerar estos comportamientos porque son no hospitalarios y peligrosos para el amado de nuestro Salvador. Ninguno de nosotros puede descansar mientras nuestras iglesias participen activa o pasivamente en el pecado del racismo.

En el bautismo cristiano, nos comprometemos a resistir el mal, la injusticia y la opresión en cualquier forma que se presenten. Ya sean llenos de odio o amables y bien intencionados, estos comentarios y actitudes son dañinos y refuerzan el ámbito estrecho, fijo de separación de nuestras congregaciones. Cualquier bien que hagan nuestras iglesias, se ve necesariamente comprometido por la sombra proyectada por las actitudes y hábitos que surgen de los supuestos normativos de la cultura blanca.

Itinerancia abierta significa que los nombramientos [del clero] se hacen sin importar raza, origen étnico, género, color, discapacidad, estado civil o edad.

¶ 425.1

A lo largo de nuestras vidas, Jesús nos presenta nuevas experiencias, nuevas personas, nuevas ideas. Cuando nuestros caminos de vida se cruzan con personas de diferentes partes del mundo, con diferentes experiencias de vida, diferentes experiencias culturales, diferentes aspiraciones que no coinciden con las nuestras y pueden hacernos sentir incómodos, nuestro malestar es a menudo Dios trabajando, estirando y fortaleciendo nuestro amor. Jesús nos invita a dejar de lado el juicio y proceder a la curiosidad, preguntando: ¿cómo está trabajando Jesús a través de una nueva relación para profundizar nuestra fe y fortalecer la iglesia o comunidad?

La iglesia no debe valorar lo familiar, lo tradicional o lo cómodo sobre lo que es correcto, nutritivo, emergente y esperanzador. Dios dice “¡Mira! Estoy haciendo algo nuevo; ahora brota; ¿no lo reconoces? (Isaías 42: 19a. Abrazar a la gente nueva y las cosas que Dios nos envía es una práctica espiritual que da vida a la iglesia y, a través de la iglesia, da vida al mundo.

Tu obispa te cuida con amor.

Mi deber, como su obispa, es supervisar los asuntos espirituales y temporales de la iglesia. Nombro lo que veo y animo a los líderes y congregaciones bajo mi cuidado a crecer en la fe y dar testimonio del reino de Dios. Yo veo que nuestro espíritu no es lo suficientemente fuerte para seguir a Jesús en esta amada comunidad y para reconocer que el nos invita a decir la verdad a un mundo que está inundado de mentiras.

La Iglesia Metodista Unida puede y debe convertirse en un movimiento que está despertando, aprendiendo, creciendo y avanzando hacia la conciencia racial, la competencia intercultural y la comunidad inclusiva.

En fidelidad a nuestros votos bautismales, mi gabinete y yo estamos comprometidos a trabajar con pastores y laicos para reformar nuestras iglesias para reconocer nuestro pecado y emprender un viaje hacia la equidad, la justicia y la inclusión racial. Así como los miembros del gabinete tienen una disciplina mensual de capacitación en competencias interculturales, el gabinete desarrollará un proceso para trabajar con las congregaciones para evaluar y reconocer actitudes y comportamientos que dan preferencia a la cultura blanca dentro de la iglesia, y tomar medidas para ser más conscientes y competentes en las relaciones interculturales y raciales.

Los nombramientos interraciales y transculturales se realizan como una respuesta creativa al aumento de la diversidad racial y étnica en la iglesia y en su liderazgo. Los nombramientos interraciales y transculturales son nombramientos de clérigos para congregaciones en las que la mayoría de sus miembros son diferentes de los antecedentes culturales raciales / étnicos del propio clérigo.

¶ 425.4

El objetivo del gabinete es ayudar a cada iglesia a convertirse en un puesto de avanzada del amor inclusivo de Dios en cada lugar y para toda la gente. Detrás de este objetivo, creemos firmemente no permitir que los comentarios y comportamientos racialmente ofensivos o exclusivos dentro de nuestras congregaciones no sean cuestionados ni transformados.

El reverendo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. y John Wesley informan nuestro trabajo contra el racismo.

En 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., escribió una carta en respuesta a ocho líderes religiosos blancos que lo criticaron por liderar manifestaciones de protesta por la segregación racial en Birmingham, Alabama. En la carta, King reflexiona sobre su decepción con los líderes religiosos durante la lucha por los derechos civiles, diciendo:

  • He visto iglesias blancas quedarse al margen y simplemente hablar piadosas irrelevancias y santurronas trivialidades….
  • Me he encontrado preguntando: ¿Qué tipo de gente adora aquí? ¿Quién es su Dios? ¿Dónde están sus voces?….
  • En profunda decepción, he llorado por la laxitud de la iglesia… Sí, veo a la iglesia como el cuerpo de Cristo. Pero, ¡oh! Cómo hemos manchado y marcado ese cuerpo a través del abandono social y el miedo a ser inconformistas.

Casi 60 años después, el rostro del racismo ha cambiado, pero la iglesia no es menos laxa hoy que en 1963. Debemos viajar juntos de ser “casi cristianos”, como describe John Wesley en su famoso sermón, a convertirnos en ” totalmente cristiano ”, viviendo de maneras que no solo evitan el pecado, sino que cultivan y promueven la virtud y la justicia.

En las próximas semanas, invitaré al clero a una conversación sobre cómo podemos caminar juntos en el camino hacia la comunidad amada, liberados de la herencia del racismo sistémico y profundo.

Mientras vives en la vorágine de la semana que viene y de las que vendrán, agradezco a Dios por tu fidelidad, a través de tiempos de peligro y duda, y oro para que Dios sostenga la gracia en tu vida, tu familia y tus ministerios. Las malas noticias nunca tienen la última palabra. Sigue escuchando. ¡Hay buenas noticias en camino!

 

Elaine JW Stanovsky
Obispa Gran Área del Noroeste

 

Translated and Adapted by: Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos
Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministries

Un miembro profeso laico de una Iglesia local podrá ser acusado de las siguientes faltas y si es así, pedir un juicio: (a)inmoralidad; (b)crimen; (c)desobediencia al Orden y Disciplina de la Iglesia Metodista Unida; (d)diseminación de doctrinas contrarias a las normas de doctrina establecidas de la Iglesia Metodista Unida; (e)abuso sexual; (f)conducta sexual impropia; (g)maltrato de niños; (h)hostigamiento, incluso pero no limitado a racial y, o sexual;(i)discriminación racial o de genero…

¶ 2702.3

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