Conducting memorial services during COVID-19: tips for how to make meaningful connection

In the best of times planning and officiating at funerals and memorials can be both very challenging and rewarding. In these times of Stay-At-Home and Do-Not-Gather orders the challenges and opportunities abound. The following suggestions and resources are offered as an invitation to consider how we can best support those in our our congregations and communities, who are grieving the loss of loved ones, during these especially difficult times. The following are recommended resources from Rev. Marshall Wattman-Turner, Abundant Health Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference and trained chaplain. Your comments and suggestions are welcome: marshall@umoi.org.

  • Find Out Who Will Be Involved in Making Decisions regarding Funeral / Memorial Arrangements. If several people will be involved or need to be consulted, it may help you to identify a primary point of contact.
  • If your congregation is already set up for online worship, consider how these resources might be adapted to livestream or record and distribute a Memorial Service.
  • You Don’t Need to Try and Re-Invent the Wheel The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship provides a wealth of resources related to COVID-19 and Funeral & Memorial Services:
  • Consider A Virtual Wake to provide an opportunity for sharing memories in whatever manner works best for those involved. It could be a live event via telephone or online, or an invitation could be extended to share personal remembrances over an extended period by mail, email, or online. If you are uncertain about how to proceed, ask your local Funeral Home / Mortuary for guidance or assistance. Reminiscing together can be framed by Scripture or Prayer.
  • Consider the use of social media and its practical implications for a memorial service.
  • The National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA) includes several resources including: When a Loved One Dies During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ways to practice self-care while grieving 

  • Write a letter about your loved one and memories you have, make copies and mail them out to friends and family. Invite them to reply to you with memories of their own.
  • Reach out to family and friends by phone. They’ll enjoy hearing from you and it’s an opportunity for you to share a memory of your loved one and for them to do the same.
  • Keep a journal. As you are inspired to do so, write about memories of your loved one and how you are feeling about your grief. Share those memories with others as you are comfortable in doing so.
  • Make self-care a priority

A Memorial Service can be Postponed.  Grief Can Not.

  • Amidst the shattering of life, as you’ve known it, grief is more than “just a feeling” It encompasses our whole being: Body, Mind, Heart, and Spirit. Grief may involve dozens of feelings—sometimes contradictory feelings—that are a response to losing someone you love. Because grief is such a complex experience that is different for every person, it is important to find support and take good care of your emotional and physical needs. While grief is a normal, natural, and fully human response to loss, it can be cumulative and complicated, when denied or delayed.
  • Learn More About the Journey of Grief from the Center For Loss and Transition.
  • ACES Connections gathers resources for Trauma-Informed Care. Daren Casagrande is a Mental Health Therapist in Davis, Calif., where the first case of COVID-19 in California was identified. His recommendations include some Best Practices For Conducting Sessions Online.

Bishop’s COVID-19 Notice #1, March 13, 2020

Dear United Methodist Clergy, Members and Friends:

DO NO HARM.  DO GOOD.  STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD.
John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules, adapted          

DO NO HARM

Day by day we are learning more about COVID-19, or the Coronavirus. We know that as many as 14 days may pass between when a person is exposed to the virus, and when symptoms begin. This means that, as in King and Snohomish Counties in Washington State, the virus can go undetected for some time before it is identified. During that time, the person infected with the virus is exposing others to infection without even knowing it. We also know the virus is highly contagious but that cautious measures can slow down the rate of its spread. Slowing the spread flattens the curve of the peak of an epidemic like this.  If there are too many cases needing medical attention at the same time, they can swamp our hospitals and clinics, making it impossible for all the critical COVID-19 cases, as well as other unrelated medical emergencies to receive timely and proper treatment. 

Consistent with the directives and recommendations issued by Oregon Governor Brown and Washington Governor Inslee and recognizing that persons over 60 or who have compromising health conditions are advised not to attend gatherings of more than 10 people, I am directing the local churches of any size and other ministries in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to suspend in-person worship and other gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks, starting today. Your conference leaders and I will assess unfolding events and update this directive as appropriate, but no later than March 24, before Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

Some people wonder if this strong action is warranted in Alaska, where the first case was just confirmed and Idaho, where COVID-19 has not been detected yet. I am asking you to adopt this discipline as a courageous act of prevention. It is likely that the virus is present, though undetected, as it has been in so many places. We don’t want to risk anyone contracting or spreading this virus in church!

I am also asking conference staff to suspend unnecessary air travel and advising clergy to do the same until further notice.

DO GOOD

The Oregon Health Authority reminds us that “Together, we can minimize the impact of COVID-19 on our most vulnerable community members”. United Methodists strive to live in ways that promote the well-being of others. In this season of spreading disease, I appeal to “extend hospitality to strangers:”

  • keep a social distance of 6 feet, no hugs, hand-shakes or elbow bumps
  • stay home if you don’t feel well
  • practice healthy hygiene

“Contribute to the needs of the saints,” by continuing to support your local church and other vital ministries by your prayers, presence (in spirit and online), gifts (including financial support), service, and witness so that ministries of compassion and justice are uninterrupted. Oregon-Idaho Conference emergency preparedness info, PNW Conference preparedness info, Alaska Conference preparedness info.

In order for ministries serving vulnerable populations to remain open – like childcare, feeding programs, homeless services, AA – strict adherence to safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control or other public health agencies for cleaning, social distancing and health screening guidelines is mandatory.

STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD

In times of uncertainty and vulnerability, human contact and spiritual connection are important. I encourage you to find creative ways to keep in contact with your colleagues and your parishioners during this time. Social media is great, but it’s no substitute for a phone call or face time.

Even as we are encouraged to stay at home, avoid social contact, and worship online, churches and social service agencies need unfailing community support to continue their crucial work of justice and compassion. I hope you will experiment with offering online worship, donations and meetings during this pause. There is great news for churches about Zoom and CCLI licenses.

Finally, in times of crisis fear gives way to hate. People of Asian descent, or those who have traveled abroad report that they have been harassed and stigmatized on the assumption that they brought the virus here. Individuals are not responsible for the virus, and any of us could be carriers. Only perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4: 18). As people of faith, let your words and actions cultivate love all God’s people.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Romans 12: 12-13

Please take precautions to keep yourself, loved ones, strangers, congregations, and communities safe.

With gratitude for you and your leadership, and with confidence in the steadfast love and grace of Jesus Christ,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Opportunities to worship online in the Greater NW

A wide variety of churches in the Greater NW Area offer opportunities to worship online. Some have been offering online worship for years, others are just getting starting because of the spread of COVID-19.

If your church is not on this list and you’re in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, please email communications@umoi.org with a link and time for your worship service. If you’re a church in the Alaska or Pacific Northwest Conferences, please email communications@pnwumc.org with the same information.

Alaska Conference

Aldersgate UMC (Juneau)
w/ Douglas UMC
10 amFacebook
Anchor Park UMCPrerecordedYouTube
Christ First UMC (Wasilla)
Joint Service w/Willow UMC
Prerecorded
11 am
Facebook
Facebook
Douglas Community UMC10 amFacebook
Every Nation UMC9:30 amFacebook
First UMC (Anchorage)10 amZoom
First UMC (Fairbanks)PrerecordedFacebook
First UMC (Ketchikan)1 pmZoom
Girdwood Chapel UMC10:30 amFacebook
Homer UMC11 amFacebook
Jewel Lake Parish9:30 am Facebook
Kenai UMC11 amFacebook
Northern Light United Church – Juneau11 amFacebook
North Star UMC9:30 am Facebook
Palmer UMC9:30 amZoom
St. John UMC 9:15 Trad.
11:30 Contem.
YouTube
Seward and Moose Pass UMCs10:30 amFacebook
Sitka UMC10 amFacebook
Soldotna UMC10 amFacebook
Turnagain UMC10:30 am Zoom
UMC of Chugiak10:15 amFacebook
Willow UMC
Prayer Service w/ Christ First
Prerecorded
& 11 am
Facebook

Pacific Northwest Conference

Aberdeen UMC9 am Facebook
Aldersgate UMC10 amFacebook
Arlington United10:30 amChurch Website
YouTube
Auburn First & Colby UMCPrerecorded Sundays
& Daily Devos
AFUMC Facebook
CUMC Facebook
Audubon Park UMC – Spokane10:30 am + weekly
Zoom activities
Church Website
Beacon UMC 11 am Facebook
Bear Creek UMC 10 am Facebook
Bellevue First UMC Prerecorded Church Website
Blaine Memorial UMC Prerecorded Church Website
Bothell UMC 9 am Church Website
Bremerton UMCPrerecordedChurch Website
Bryn Mawr UMC Prerecorded Facebook
Central United ProtestantPrerecordedChurch Website
Centralia UMC11 amFacebook
Chehalis UMCPrerecordedChurch Website
Cheney UMCPrerecordedYouTube
Clarkston & Lewiston First UMC11 amCUMC Facebook
LFUMC Facebook
Colby & Auburn First UMCPrerecorded Sundays
& Daily Devos
AFUMC Facebook
CUMC Facebook
Colville UMCPrerecordedFacebook
Buzzsprout
Community UMC – Coeur d’Alene, IDPrerecordedYouTube
Cornerstone UMCPrerecordedYouTube
Des Moines UMC Prerecorded Facebook
Connell UMCPrerecordedFacebook
East Wenatchee UMCPrerecordedYouTube
Edmonds UMC 10:30 am Church Website
Ellensburg UMC10 amChurch Website
Elma UMCPrerecordedFacebook
Everett: Centro Palabra Viviente UMC11 am Worship in SpanishFacebook
Fairwood UMC 10 am Facebook
Faith UMC 10 am Facebook
Federal Way UMC 10 am YouTube
Foothills UMC Buckley/Bonney Lake9:30 amFacebook
Garden Street UMC10 amYouTube
Gig Harbor UMC10 amFacebook
Green Lake UMC & Woodland Park UMC 11 am YouTube
Kent UMCPrerecordedChurch Website
Langley UMCVariousFacebook
Lewiston First & Clarkston UMC11 amCUMC Facebook
LFUMC Facebook
Liberty Park UMC – Spokane11 amFacebook
Manito UMC – Spokane10:30 amFacebook
YouTube
Marysville UMC 10:00 am Church Website
Mason UMC10 amFacebook
Milton UMC 10:30 am Facebook
Moran UMC in Spokane10:30 amFacebook
Moses Lake UMCPrerecordedYouTube
Moscow UMC10:30
Prayer time, Thurs @ 9am
Facebook
Mount Vernon UMC10:30 am
Maundy Thurs & Good Friday – 7 pm
Website
Facebook
Oak Harbor First UMC10:00 am
Youth-led service on
Wednesdays at 8 pm
Facebook
Church Website
Orchards UMCSundays, Study, Noon on Tues., Disc., Noon on Thurs.Facebook
Orting UMC11 amFacebook
Port Orchard UMC Prerecorded Church Website
Puyallup UMC Prerecorded Facebook
Redmond UMC 10 am Zoom
Renton UMC 10:30 am Facebook
Riverton Park UMC10 am on Rev. Bolerjack FB
Later on RPUMC FB
Facebook
Facebook
Ronald UMC 10:30 am Zoom
Sandpoint UMC, Idaho9:30 amFacebook
Seabold UMC10 am
(M-F prayer also)
Facebook
Seattle First UMC 10:30 am Website
Simpson UMCPrerecorded Sundays
Daily live devotional
YouTube
Facebook
South Sound Co-op10 amFacebook
Church Website
Spanaway UMC10:10 amFacebook
Spokane Valley UMC11 amChurch Website
St. Andrew’s UMC – Lacey, WA10 amFacebook
Stevenson UMC10:30 amFacebook
St. Paul’s UMC – Spokane11 amFacebook
Sunrise UMC – Federal WayPrerecordedFacebook
Trinity UMC – Ballard Prerecorded Facebook
Trinity UMC
Port Townsend
10 am
7pm Daily Prayer/Reflection
YouTube
Website
Trinity UMC – Ritzville9:30, 10:30 amFacebook
Trinity UMC – SequimPrerecordedChurch Website
UMC at Lakewood10 am
Wed, 6 pm on FB
Thursday Prayer, 4 pm Zoom (email invite)
Facebook
United Church of Ferndale10:30 amFacebook
University Temple UMC, Seattle10:30 amFacebook
Valley and Mountain 11 am Facebook
Vancouver First UMC 10 am Church Stream
Facebook
Vancouver Heights10 amFacebook
Walla Walla Pioneer10:30 amYouTube
Wallingford UMC 10 am YouTube
Wenatchee First UMC10 amFacebook
Wesley UMC – YakimaPrerecordedYouTube
Willapa UMCPrerecordedFacebook
Woodinville Community10:30 amFacebook
Woodland Park UMC & Green Lake UMC11 amYouTube

Oregon-Idaho Conference

Bay City UMC (OR)10 amFacebook
Bend Church9 am, 11 amChurch Website
Boise-Amity9:15, 10:30 am MDTFacebook
Boise downtown9, 10, 11, 11:30 am MDTFacebook
College UMC Philomath10:30 am
Facebook
Christ Church – Portland, Beaverton10:30 am Facebook
The Dalles UMC11 amZoom
Harmony UMC, Coos Bay11 amFacebook
Magic Valley Ministries11:50 amFacebook
Meridian (ID) UMC9:30amWebsite
Newburg First UMC9:30 am Website
Open Door Churches Salem-Keizer10 amFacebook
Oregon City UMC10 amChurch Website
Portland – Oak Grove UMC10:30 amFacebook
Portland First UMC8:30 am, 10:30 amYouTube
Rupert (ID) UMC11 am (MDT)YouTube
Silverton UMC9:30 amZoom via links
on Facebook
Troutdale (OR) – Faith UMC10:45 amFacebook
Twin Falls (ID) UMC10:50 amFacebook
Westside UMC – Beaverton9 amChurch Website

Event cancellations due to COVID-19

The following events across the Greater NW Area have been canceled or postponed due to concern for our siblings in Christ as we try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you know of an area-wide, conference or district event that is being canceled and is not listed here, please send an email to communications@pnwumc.org or communications@umoi.org.

  • Rural Church Engagement Initiative meeting in Boise, March 17-20
  • OR-ID Gathering of the Orders/Deacons/LLP, Boise, March 17-18
  • Northwest Leadership Institute, Boise, March 18-20
    Rescheduled to March 10-12, 2021
  • SUMYT (Youth Retreat), Indianola, WA, March 20-22
    Rescheduled to November 20-22, 2020
  • Implicit Bias Training, Chehalis UMC, March 24
  • Messy Middle Retreat, March 24-26
  • Inhabit Conference, Seattle, April 20
  • Columbia District Laity event, Gresham, OR., March 14
  • Seven Rivers District Spiritual Day Apart
    Rescheduled to May 23, 2020

Other Significant cancellations or postponements across the United Methodist connection

  • General Conference 2020, May 5-15
    New dates not available yet

Electronic giving allows ministry to continue in ‘isolating’ times

Giving to your local church means giving to your local communities. Passing the offering plate in church on Sunday mornings is a physical and symbolic reminder of Jesus’ commitment to ministering to all those around us.

When church attendance is slowed or completely stopped, though, to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, offering online giving is a way to continue to feel connected to your local church and its many ministries.

There are several easy steps churches can implement right now to create an online giving platform.

United Methodist Communications offers these suggested resources for online/electronic giving options.

Here are some examples of church “Donate” or “Give” web pages across the Greater Northwest Area of The UMC:

Stewardship and finance experts from across the Greater Northwest Area recommend churches use direct bank transfers – electronic funds transferring – so that churches experience fewer fees than using a platform based solely on credit card donations. However, they acknowledge that credit card apps are sometimes easier for those who give.

Management of online donations may seem like a daunting new process for churches, but many who have already implemented such changes said churchgoers appreciate the convenience of online giving. Connect with Dan Wilson-Fey in the Oregon-Idaho Conference at dan@umoi.org or Rik Jamieson for the Alaska or Pacific Northwest Conferences at rjamieson@pnwumc.org if you have questions.

This is an opportune moment for the Church, called to serve in God’s world in new ways. After the Coronavirus is long gone, churches will have established a sustainable, flexible way to continue supporting God’s kin-dom.

United Methodist churches hosting online worship on March 8 #Coronavirus

By Patrick Scriven

The following local churches have communicated that they are canceling worship, or including a special online component this week, in response to concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Some will be livestreaming a special service at a set time; others are uploading prerecorded content.

Please note that in addition to COVID-19, we all lose an hour this Sunday due to Daylight Savings Time this week.

A general note to churches. Please make sure that your plan for this week is clear on the homepage of your website in addition to your primary social media accounts.

This page will be updated as information comes in. Please send additions or corrections to communications@greaternw.org.

Church Onsite Worship Time Online Worship Link/Info
Aldersgate UMC No 11:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/AldersgateUMCBellevueWA
Beacon UMC No 11:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/pg/beaconumc
Bear Creek UMC No 10:00 AM https://www.bcumc.org/ & Facebook, Youtube
Bellevue First UMC No Prerecorded https://fumcbellevue.org/sermons
Blaine Memorial UMC No Prerecorded http://blaineonline.org/
Bothell UMC No 9:00 AM https://www.bothellumc.org
Bryn Mawr UMC No Prerecorded https://www.facebook.com/brynmawrumchurch
Des Moines UMC No Prerecorded https://www.facebook.com/desmoinesunitedmethodistchurch
Edmonds UMC No 10:30 AM https://edmondsumc.org/worship/sundaymorning
Fairwood UMC No 10:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/pg/fairwoodcommunityunitedmethodistchurch/
Faith UMC No 10:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/FaithChurchWA
Federal Way UMC No 10:00 AM https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUd5C2SzCeq0x-ycPufcDZg
Green Lake UMCYes9:30 AMhttps://youtu.be/LZbFJovbfQk
Haller Lake UMCNoN/ANo Online Worship
Lake Washington UMC No N/A No Online Worship, encouraging Gospel reading
Marysville UMC No 10:00 AM http://www.marysvilleumc.org/worshiponline.html
Milton UMC Yes 10:30 AM https://www.facebook.com/dojusticelovekindnesswalkhumblywithgod/
Olympia First UMCYesRecorded after Church Special stream of Sermon: https://www.facebook.com/FUMCOLY/
Port Orchard UMC No Prerecorded https://www.portorchardumc.org/
Puyallup UMCYesPrerecordedhttps://www.puyallupumc.org/watch
Redmond UMC No 10:00 AM https://us04web.zoom.us/j/7444090420
Renton UMC Yes 10:30 AM https://www.facebook.com/events/671256986952789/
Ronald UMC Yes 10:30 AM https://zoom.us/j/867526399
Seattle First UMC No 10:30 AM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsHeJOaaE5o&feature=youtu.be
St. Peter’s UMC No TBD Alternative Worship by phone call-in.
Details: https://stpetersumc.net/call-in/
Tibbetts UMC No N/A No Online Worship
Trinity UMC – Ballard No Prerecorded https://www.facebook.com/Trinityumcballard
Trinity UMC
Port Townsend
No10:00 AMhttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV8u-vtPjp1kYiYDxd6HUag/live
University Temple UMC Yes TBD Video available Sunday afternoon.
Valley and Mountain No 11:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/valleyandmouNtainorg
Vancouver First UMCYes10:00 AMhttps://video.ibm.com/channel/583uQMbDpp4
Wallingford UMC No 10:00 AM https://www.facebook.com/wallingfordumc/

Patrick Scriven serves as Director of Communications, Young People’s Ministry for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Greater NW Area Lay Leaders gather to discuss common challenges, opportunities

By Patrick Scriven

Over the weekend, local church, district, and conference lay leaders from the three conferences of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church gathered at Des Moines United Methodist Church, 30 minutes south of Seattle. 

The 24-hour Lay Leader’s Retreat was initiated by the Conference Lay Leaders with the intent of bringing voices together from across the area to identify common challenges and opportunities to learn and work with one another. The event took place just a week after the Alaska Conference took steps toward becoming a mission district of the Pacific Northwest Conference (PNW).

An open forum encouraging questions and making room for common concerns was led by Directors of Connectional Ministries (DCM) Laurie Day and Rev. David Valera. Two sessions with the DCMs also served as an opportunity for lay leaders to know how to utilize them as resources for mission.

PNW DCM Valera shared that the task of a director of connectional ministry is one of alignment, adding that they strive to be advocates for the work of the laity. Day, a layperson herself, described the role as including “a lot of networking,” as they work to keep people connected to the many ministries across the conferences, area, and global church. Valera described it as one of “telephone operator” facilitating conversations between separate groups which have similar visions and conversations. 

Directors of Connectional Ministries Rev. David Valera (PNW) and Laurie Day (OR-ID) field questions from the lay leaders.

Participants also received a preview of the Greater Northwest Area’s Shared Annual Conference Session being held June 11-14, 2020 in Puyallup, Wash. The DCMs fielded a number of questions about the session while also providing insights into the legislative process and goals. The session will happen a few weeks after the 2020 General Conference takes place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Developing healthy working relationships with pastors was an undercurrent in several table and group conversations throughout the gathering. Day encouraged the laity saying, “don’t wait for the clergy, they are not the keepers of the church.” Several participants acknowledged that the consumer-model of lay participation, where laity receive a product the clergy deliver, was a self-imposed barrier to lay empowerment.

Multi-generational engagement in lay leadership was a theme that arose on several occasions as well. “How do we help our young people feel that they are called to action,” provoked Teri Tobey who works in the PNW Conference as Program Associate for Ministries with Young People. Laity discussed the importance of training people of all ages so they can be successful, in addition to inviting them into meaningful leadership work.

Lydia Henry spoke on Saturday morning to some of the challenges of the lay speaking/servant program, unearthing a desire for more training and some areas that need development. Along with Emilie Kroen, they shared efforts underway in the Oregon-Idaho Conference to try to envision how to provide coursework and a framework to make lay education more interesting, inspiring, and accessible. 

Lydia Henry sharing conversations underway in the Oregon-Idaho Conference on lay leadership development opportunities.

PNW Lay Leader Nancy Tam Davis and SeaTac District Lay Leader Andy O’Donnell led a session on strengthening relationships between district lay leaders and district superintendents. Davis noted how impressed she was with the collaborative presence O’Donnell had with SeaTac District Superintendent Derek Nakano during district events. Good, bi-directional partnerships were named as a strong gift when present. The need for a shared vision and good communication at each level of the church was essential to missional alignment.

The event concluded with group work at tables facilitated by Davis strategizing on priorities for next steps. During the conversation, PNW United Methodist Women President Ja net’ Crouse offered the anecdote, “we develop leaders, we train dogs” capturing the hunger for meaningful, smart resourcing that laity in the room named as necessary for a vital church moving forward.

Networking, leadership development, and building a culture of gratitude were identified with participants when asked to consider what they would personally consider organizing around. Davis closed the day with words of gratitude and encouragement of Sabbath for all those who attended. She lifted up in thanks Angelina Goldwell, the PNW Associate Conference Lay Leader for her work in providing some of the logistical support that made the event possible.


Patrick Scriven is a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated layperson working professionally in the church. Scriven serves the Pacific Northwest Conference as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries.

Greater NW Cabinet continues to #ResistHarm with MLK reflection

By Rev. Erin Martin

The Greater Northwest Area Cabinet continued its commitment to #ResistHarm on Tuesday, February 11 during their regularly scheduled Cabinet meeting in Salem, OR.

In honor of Black History Month (and Valentine’s Day) members of the Cabinet dressed in red and read excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sermon entitled, “A Knock at Midnight” published in King’s book, “Strength to Love.”

Greater NW Area Cabinet members take time to remember the powerful words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while recommitting to pursue justice. Photos by Rev. David Valera.

The powerful sermon is based on the parable from Luke 11. It compares the story of a visitor who knocks on the door of a friend at midnight seeking bread — and is denied — to spiritually hungry people knocking on the door of the church and being denied. King equates midnight in the parable to the circumstances of darkness in our world to suggest that it is midnight for us as well.

Cabinet members took a moment to name the situations of midnight that surround local communities and society: climate crisis, increased gun violence, separation of immigrant families at the border and more. This was done to call on Cabinet members to recognize that darkness marks the world. Now, more than ever, the world looks to the church to offer the bread of hope in tangible ways.
 
After reading portions of the sermon, Cabinet members reminded themselves that King was clear that “darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky passes the light to Seven Rivers DS Joanne Coleman Campbell.

A light was passed between each of the Cabinet members. We then passed the light to each other as a symbolic gesture of their increased commitment to be light in the world. They did this while singing the South African freedom song by Archbishop Tutu that proclaims, “Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness and life is stronger than death.”

Both the Cabinet and the GNW Guiding Coalition are continuing to plan for a future of United Methodism in the Northwest that fully includes LGBTQ+ persons in the life of the Church. Additionally, they are continuing to learn and to foster practices, each time they meet, that will help the Area to center voices that are younger and more diverse, recognizing that there is both wisdom and vitality around a table with distinct perspectives. 


Rev. Erin Martin serves as Superintendent for the Columbia District in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Leadership changes in Oregon-Idaho Conference, Greater NW Area Cabinet

Changes are in store for the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area with a few changes in leadership positions in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, announced by Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky on Monday.

Wendy Woodworth

The first will be adding Rev. Wendy Woodworth of Morningside UMC to the GNW cabinet when she begins serving as the Cascadia District Superintendent July 1.

“I can’t wait to hit the road and visit the diverse churches and ministry settings across the Cascadia District: from the coast to the mountains to the painted hills, from urban settings to the small towns, and from large churches to smaller ones,” she said. “Each of you is called to unique ministries in your context and yet all of us are called to the vital ministry of bringing God’s love, grace and justice into our communities by following Jesus and being empowered by the Spirit.”

Woodworth earned her master’s of divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion. She has served as an associate pastor at Portland First UMC, Pendleton, Portland Trinity UMC, Portland Fremont UMC, Salem Morningside UMC and now the Opeen Door Churches of Salem-Keizer, with primary responsibility at Morningside. She also served on the Conference’s Council on Finance and Administration for 12 years and currently serves as the chairperson of the Board of Ordained Ministry.

“You know Wendy’s deep faith, broad experience and steady demeanor.  I know that you will celebrate with her this new responsibility and honor her for her seven years with Morningside and Open Door Churches. Please keep Wendy and her wife Lori, in your prayers during this time of transition,” Bishop Stanovsky said.

Tim Overton-Harris

Rev. Tim Overton-Harris, who has been serving as the Cascadia District Superintendent since July 2017, will begin serving the Columbia District (which encompasses the metro Portland area) on July 1, 2020.

Prior to his position as District Superintendent, Overton-Harris served as pastor of Vermont Hills UMC. He started his ministry in the Oregon-Idaho Conference in Oregon City as an associate pastor. He moved on to serve churches in Estacada/Marquam, Salem Morningside, La Grande and Christ UMC in Portland. He is a graduate of Boston University School of Theology.

“The honor and challenge of serving Columbia District is great. The many and varied ministries, innovation projects, new starts, and the diverse communities of the district offer a unique opportunity for me,” he said. “I will build off of the faithful work of Erin and know that my skills, gifts and graces will be well used in my work with Columbia District.”

Erin Martin

Rev. Erin Martin, who has served as the Columbia District Superintendent for the last five years, is to be appointed to Fremont United Methodist Church in Portland effective July 1, in place of Rev. Linda Quanstrom, who is returning to retirement.

Martin served at Wesley UMC in Eugene for nine years before becoming Columbia District Superintendent.

Greater Northwest Area Cabinet begins 2020 with pledge to Resist Harm as it continues to seed a vital, more inclusive church

By Patrick Scriven

Even as members of the Greater Northwest (GNW) Area Cabinet absorbed the implications of the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, they recommitted themselves to resisting elements of the Traditional Plan that took effect January 1. Meeting for the first time in 2020 last week, they joyfully reaffirmed their baptisms, pledging together to resist harm as they provide leadership to the Area.

Last November, the bishops of the Western Jurisdiction issued their Safe Harbor Declaration, explicitly refusing to implement the new provisions and prohibitions of the Traditional Plan. The GNW Area Cabinet welcomed this statement at the time and continues its move forward with the clear guidance it provides. 

While the Protocol mentioned above includes a moratorium against the filing of charges against LGBTQ+ clergy, and those performing same-gender weddings, if passed, it would only create a pathway down which full inclusion could be reached. Stopping the harm is only one step down the path.

Both the Cabinet and the GNW Guiding Coalition are continuing to plan for a future of United Methodism in the Northwest that fully includes LGBTQ+ persons in the life of the Church. Additionally, they are continuing to learn and to foster practices, each time they meet, that will help the Area to center voices that are younger and more diverse, recognizing that there is both wisdom and vitality around a table with distinct perspectives. 

The GNW’s Innovation Vitality Team offered the Cabinet an update on projects that are underway across the Area, work that includes both New projects (new church starts or new campus/multisite) and Vitality projects (existing church where an identified planter/innovator is appointed). Of the 37 supported projects, 20 (54%) are led by leaders of color.

Rev. Kathy Neary provided an update on her work with smaller congregations in the PNW Conference, sharing one of her insights this week on the PNW News Blog. The GNW Cabinet also discussed the promising work happening in rural areas through the Rural Church Engagement Initiative. Lynn Egli provides a short progress report you can read here.

Continuing its work of assessing and preparing for the leadership needs of GNW Area churches and ministries, the Cabinet finalized its initial list of Clear Appointment Openings. The practice of sharing Clear Openings allows clergy the opportunity to express an interest in a particular appointment while also allowing them to share their gifts and calling with the Cabinet as the discernment process begins. 

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky and members of the GNW Area Cabinet spent time with participants of the UMC LEAD Conference.

Plans were also finalized at the meeting for the calling of a Special Session of the Alaska United Methodist Conference on February 22 in Anchorage to ask the 2020 General Conference to discontinue its status as a missionary conference. The Alaska Conference will also vote to petition the Western Jurisdictional Conference to provide affiliation and oversight, possibly as a mission district of another annual conference. 

The Conference Treasurers provided the Cabinet with an end of year report on the apportionment giving of the Area’s three conferences. Apportionment receipts for the Alaska Conference reached 84.7% in 2019, down 2.03% from 2018; Oregon-Idaho Conference receipts reached 77.9% in 2019, down 5.4% from 2018; Pacific Northwest Conference receipts reached 93%, up .21% from 2018.

With the Cabinet meeting concluding late on Saturday, Cabinet members visited area churches for worship the following day. Twelve members were also able to attend parts of the UMC LEAD event that began later that day in Seattle, Washington. Bishop Stanovsky offered a greeting to attendees of the LEAD event, offering a word of encouragement and appreciation for The United Methodist leaders, many of whom had traveled across the country to participate.


Patrick Scriven serves as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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