“Buscando ser la luz de Dios en el mundo”

Isaías 40

Una voz proclama:
«Preparen en el desierto
un camino para el Señor;
enderecen en la estepa
un sendero para nuestro Dios.
4 Que se levanten todos los valles,
y se allanen todos los montes y colinas;
que el terreno escabroso se nivele
y se alisen las quebradas.
5 Entonces se revelará la gloria del Señor,
y la verá toda la humanidad.
El Señor mismo lo ha dicho».

La Jurisdicción Occidental de la Iglesia Metodista Unida tiene la visión de convertirse en un “hogar para todos los hijos/as de Dios, para que todos podamos estar reunidos alrededor de una mesa de reconciliación y transformación”. Algunos nos han llamado desobedientes. Otros afirman que somos profetas por reconocer a las personas LGBTQ + como hijos amados de Dios, bendecir sus matrimonios y ordenarlos para el ministerio mucho antes que la mayoría de la iglesia lo hiciera. La inclusión LGBTQ + es solo una de las formas en que en la Jurisdicción Occidente hemos buscado preparar la mesa para todos los hijos/as de Dios. La Jurisdicción Occidental da la bienvenida a inmigrantes de todo el mundo y ha consagrado a muchos “obispos tales como”: Wilbur Choy, Chino-americano; Roy Sano, Japonés-americano; Elías Galván, Hispanoamericano; Leontyne Kelly, mujer de la raza negra; Minerva Carcaño, Hispanoamericana; y Karen Oliveto, primer obispo en un matrimonio y comprometida con una persona del mismo sexo.

Los líderes Metodistas Unidos en la Jurisdicción Occidental aceptamos la petición de John Wesley de que “seamos de un corazón, aunque no necesariamente de una sola opinión”. Estamos dedicando este año para reconocer, nombrar y celebrar la variedad de ministerios “Donde vive el amor”, no porque tengamos un rincón especial en el mercado del amor, sino porque el amor se ve diferente en cada lugar.

Comencemos por ver dónde vive el amor en los extraordinarios detalles de la historia de Navidad.

Photo by Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky.

El amor vive en una pareja sin hogar, cansada después de un largo día de viaje, que encuentra descanso en un refugio lleno de animales.

El amor vive mientras esta pareja exhausta da la bienvenida al nacimiento de su bebé y lo acuesta en un pesebre.

El amor vive cuando una estrella brilla en el cielo nocturno o cuando desciende una canción del cielo, señalando de que está sucediendo algo nuevo y santo.

El amor vive donde pastores, peregrinos aparecen en la noche, después de ver, de maravillarse y de seguir estos signos de esperanza.

La historia de Navidad nos muestra que donde vive el amor, suceden cosas que nunca creíste posibles. Así como Dios nació en Jesús, Dios también puede morar en nosotros, a medida que crecemos para amar tan maravillosamente como Dios ama, tan extravagantemente como Jesús ama a nuestro prójimo, a los extraños y a aquellos que consideramos como enemigos. Esta es una muy buena noticia cuando la gente vive a la sombra de la muerte y bajo el yugo de la opresión. Estemos atento en donde vive el amor.

El amor vive donde una abuela pone su abrigo sobre los hombros de un extraño que esta dormido en un autobús helado.

El amor vive donde un cuidador de la salud sostiene un teléfono inteligente o una tableta para conectar a un paciente moribundo con un ser querido.

El amor vive cuando una iglesia local da la bienvenida a extraños, viudas y huérfanos que buscan seguridad.

El amor vive cuando las personas que están ordenando su sexualidad e identidad tienen un lugar en la mesa de la fe.

El amor vive donde los cristianos viven su promesa bautismal de “resistir el mal, la injusticia y la opresión en cualquier forma que se presenten”.

El amor vive cuando un transeúnte graba una atrocidad violenta y racista en su teléfono para que el mundo la vea. El amor vive en el angustiado grito de justicia y amor.

El amor vive cuando una iglesia ofrece espacio para que las personas evacuadas de los incendios forestales puedan guardar sus pertenencias o alojar a sus mascotas.

El amor vive cuando cualquiera de nosotros encuentra nuestro corazón endurecido abierto y listo para sanar una relación rota.

Que Cristo nazca en esta oscura Navidad. Oro para que Cristo more en sus corazones a través de la fe, mientras están arraigados y cimentados en el amor, para que puedan ser llenos de toda la plenitud de Dios.

Obispo Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área Episcopal del Gran Noroeste

Translated and Adapted to Spanish by:
Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos
Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

“Seeking to Be God’s Light in the World”

Isaiah 40

A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, 
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
– Isaiah 40: 3-5

The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church has a vision of becoming a “home for all God’s children, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation.” Some have called us disobedient. Others claim that we are prophets for recognizing LGBTQ+ persons as beloved children of God, blessing their marriages and ordaining them for ministry long before most of the church. LGBTQ+ inclusion is just one way we in the West have sought to set the table for all God’s children. The Western Jurisdiction embraces immigrants from around the world and has consecrated many “first bishops:” Wilbur Choy, Chinese American; Roy Sano, Japanese American; Elias Galvan, Hispanic American; Leontyne Kelly, Black woman; Minerva Carcaño, Hispanic American woman; and Karen Oliveto, first bishop in a committed, loving same-gender marriage.

United Methodist leaders in the Western Jurisdiction embrace John Wesley’s plea that we “be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion.” We are dedicating a year to noticing, naming and celebrating the variety of ministries “Where Love Lives” – not because we have a corner on the love market, but because love looks different in every place.

Let’s start by seeing where love lives in the extraordinary details of the Christmas story:

Photo by Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky.

Love lives as a homeless couple, weary after a long day of travel, finds rest in an animal shed.

Love lives as this exhausted couple welcomes the untimely birth of their baby and lays him in a manger.

Love lives when a star shines in the night sky or a song spills from heaven – signs that a new and holy thing is happening.

Love lives where shepherd and sojourners show up in the night, after seeing, wondering and following these signs of hope.

The Christmas story shows us that where love lives, things happen that you never thought possible. Just as God was born in Jesus, God can dwell in us, too, as we grow to love as wondrously as God loves, as extravagantly as Jesus loves our neighbors, strangers, and those we think of as enemies. This is very good news when people live in the shadow of death and under the yoke of oppression. Watch for Where Love Lives.

Love lives where a grandma lays her sweater on the shoulders of a sleeping stranger on a chilly bus.

Love lives where a caregiver holds a smartphone or tablet to connect a dying patient with a loved one.

Love lives when a local church welcomes strangers, widows and orphans seeking safety.

Love lives when people who are sorting out their sexuality and identity have a place at the table of faith.

Love lives where Christians live their baptismal promise to ‘resist evil, injustice, & oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.’

Love lives when a passerby tapes a violent, racist atrocity on her phone for the world to witness. Love lives in the anguished cry for justice and love.

Love lives when a church offers space for people evacuated from wildfires to store their belongings, or board their pets.

Love lives when any of us find our hardened hearts open and ready to heal a broken relationship.

May Christ be born this dark Christmas. I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 



Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area


Throughout the month of December, the Greater Northwest Area will be sharing videos, stories and other resources for local church and ministry settings across the Western Jurisdiction to use on social media, in online worship, group discussion and more on the topic of “Where Love Lives: Seeking to be God’s light in the World.”

We will be sharing stories, poetry and other resources that speak to the Advent message of God’s love living among us today – calling us to care for our neighbors, seek justice, dismantle racism, fight against a pandemic and committing ourselves to so many other acts of love in Jesus’ name.

Resources will be linked to either www.westernjurisdictionumc.org or www.greaternw.org as well as being shared on the various websites, social media channels and newsletters from the conferences which make up the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.

#wherelovelivesumc

Mensaje Episcopal sobre el COVID-19 #9, 10 de Noviembre de 2020

Las circunstancias y los riesgos de COVID-19 varían de un lugar a otro y de tiempo en tiempo. Por lo tanto, el Equipo de Manejo de Crisis de COVID-19 ha adoptado un nuevo apéndice de la Fase 2.1 para Re-imaginar la vida juntos, que abre la posibilidad de reuniones de hasta 25 personas para el culto y otras actividades. En lugares donde los datos muestran un bajo riesgo de propagación del virus, una iglesia u otro ministerio puede presentar un plan de ministerio para su aprobación para pasar a la Fase 2.1 siempre y cuando que el riesgo siga siendo bajo.

Los casos de COVID-19 están aumentando en todo Estados Unidos a lo que un médico de salud pública llamó una “tormenta de fuego furiosa”. El mayor número de nuevos casos diarios de COVID-19 desde marzo ocurrió ayer en Alaska. Los números en Idaho, Oregón y Washington han ido en aumento desde el 8 de septiembre. Este no es el momento de bajar la guardia contra esta enfermedad mortal y altamente contagiosa.

Así que no nos cansemos de hacer lo correcto, porque cosecharemos en el tiempo de la cosecha, si no nos damos por vencidos. Entonces, siempre que tengamos la oportunidad, trabajemos por el bien de todos, y especialmente por los de la familia de la fe.

Gálatas 6: 9-10 NRSV

Aunque los estados no siempre han sometido a las organizaciones religiosas a las mismas restricciones de reunión que a otras organizaciones, he mantenido a los Metodistas Unidos en el área episcopal del Gran noroeste con límites estrictos.  Para la mayoría de nuestras iglesias, este no es el momento de aflojar estas restricciones.  La mayoría de las iglesias se han movido con éxito con la celebración de adoración y otras actividades en línea, ya sea en vivo o preproducidas. Si yo fuera pastor de una iglesia local hoy, no me movería hacia reuniones en persona más grandes en este momento y no animaría a nuestras iglesias a que lo hagan.

Algunos, sin embargo, están ubicados en áreas sin Internet confiable, algunos no tienen la capacidad técnica y algunos miembros y líderes simplemente no usan ni usaran las opciones de la iglesia en línea.

Esta pandemia, y nuestro conocimiento sobre ella, han crecido y cambiado con el tiempo:

  • Desde febrero, la ciencia ha aprendido y enseñado cómo se propaga el virus y cómo limitar su propagación usando máscaras, manteniendo una distancia de 6 pies, limitando la duración de las reuniones, lavándose las manos constantemente y usando desinfectante para manos.
  • Hoy mismo escuchamos la esperanza de que una vacuna eficaz estará disponible para fin de año.
  • La incidencia y el peligro de propagar el virus es muy bajo en algunos lugares y extremadamente alto en otros, y
  • Cuanto más vivamos con restricciones en nuestra libertad de movimiento y reunión, mayor es el riesgo de sufrimiento mental, psicológico y espiritual.

Las iglesias buscan equilibrar el daño causado por la propagación continua del virus y el daño causado al continuar restringiendo las reuniones en persona para la adoración, la oración, el compañerismo y el estudio.  ¿Cómo balanceamos el riesgo de propagación y muerte de COVID-19 frente al riesgo de soledad, depresión, desesperación, abuso de sustancias, violencia doméstica y suicidio a medida que pasan los meses, los días se hacen mas cortos, oscuros y el clima nos empuja a estar mas tiempo en el interior de nuestras casas? Ninguna reunión está libre de riesgos, pero a medida que nos esforzamos por equilibrar los daños en competencia, algunas reuniones con prácticas estrictas de seguridad bajo ciertas condiciones pueden ser prudentes.

Fase 2.1 Apéndice a las pautas de Re-imaginando la vida juntos permite que una iglesia u otro entorno ministerial, con el consentimiento de su pastor, presente un plan para realizar reuniones en persona de hasta 25 personas manteniendo la distancia física y usando máscaras faciales para su aprobación por el Superintendente de distrito, en el caso de iglesias locales, o Director de Ministerios Conexionales en el caso de otros ministerios. Todas las iglesias o ministerios, todos los superintendentes de distrito y directores de ministerios conexionales utilizarán datos de www.CovidActNow.org para determinar el nivel de riesgo de su condado, a base a 5 indicadores de riesgo.

 Si una iglesia u otro ministerio se encuentra en un condado donde el riesgo está en la zona verde o amarilla, y si el supervisor designado aprueba el plan del ministerio para la Fase 2.1, entonces se le permitirá reunir hasta 25 personas para el culto u otras actividades ministeriales, siguiendo las prácticas aprobadas en el plan. Si una iglesia se ha movido a la Fase 2.1, pero el riesgo informado por COVIDActNow aumenta a niveles naranja o rojo, deberá regresar a los niveles de actividad de la Fase 2.

Lea el apéndice de la Fase 2.1, una opción dentro de la Fase 2

Mientras miramos los informes diarios de una pandemia que está fuera de control y consideramos aflojar las restricciones sobre las reuniones de la iglesia, recuerde estos pensamientos que compartimos en el documento de Re-imaginando la vida juntos:

A medida que volvemos a entrar en la vida juntos, debemos permitir que nuestro sueño o memoria de comunidad se desvanezca para dejar espacio para que el amor emerja de formas nuevas y diferentes.  La tarea que tenemos es re-imaginar la iglesia, todo lo que somos, hacemos, para que podamos ser lo que Dios sueña que seamos.  Después de todo, la iglesia no es un edificio; no son puertas ni un campanario. La Iglesia es la gente en ministerio y servicio.  Si no podemos hacer este ministerio como lo hemos hecho en el pasado, encontraremos nuevas formas de hacerlo. Vamos a encontrar la manera. Nuestra imaginación puede mostrarnos lo que es posible.

¡Voy a hacer algo nuevo!
Ya está sucediendo, ¿no se dan cuenta?
Estoy abriendo un camino en el desierto,
y ríos en lugares desolados.

Isaías 43:19

¡Que Dios guíe nuestros pies por el camino de la paz!

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área Episcopal del Gran Noroeste

Translated and Adapted to Spanish by:
Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos
Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

Bishop’s COVID-19 notice #9, Nov. 10, 2020

The circumstances and risks from COVID-19 vary from place to place and from time to time. Therefore, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Team has adopted a new Phase 2.1 addendum to Reimagining Life Together, which opens the possibility of gatherings of up to 25 for worship and other activities. In places where data shows a low risk of spreading the virus a church or other ministry can present a ministry plan for approval to move to Phase 2.1 as long as the risk remains low.

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across America in what one public health doctor called a “raging firestorm.” The highest number of daily new cases of COVID-19 since March occurred yesterday in Alaska. Idaho, Oregon and Washington and have been rising since September 8. This is not the time to let down our guard against this highly contagious, deadly disease.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.      Galatians 6: 9-10 NRSV

Although states have not always held religious organizations to the same gathering restrictions as other organizations, I have held United Methodists in the Greater Northwest Area to strict limits. For most of our churches, this is not the time to loosen these restrictions. Most churches have moved successfully to holding worship and other activities online, either live streamed, or pre-produced. If I were a pastor of a local church today, I would not move toward more and larger in-person gatherings at this time and I do not encourage our churches to do so.

Some, however, are located in areas without reliable internet, some do not have the technical ability, and some members and leaders simply will not and do not use online church options.

This pandemic, and our knowledge about it, have grown and changed over time:

  • Since February, science has learned and taught us about how the virus spreads and how to limit its spread by wearing masks, keeping 6 feet apart, limiting the length of time of gatherings, and washing hands and using hand sanitizer.
  • Just today we heard hope that an effective vaccination may be available by the end of the year.
  • The incidence and danger of spreading the virus is very low in some places and extremely high in others, and
  • The longer we live with restrictions on our freedom of movement and gathering, the higher the risk of mental, psychological and spiritual suffering.

Churches seek to balance the harm caused by continued spread of the virus and the harm done by continuing to restrict in-person gatherings for worship, prayer, fellowship and study. How do we weigh the risk of COVID-19 spread and deaths against the risk of loneliness, depression, despair, substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide as the months wear on, the days grow short and dark and the weather pushes us indoors? No gatherings are risk-free, but as we strive to balance competing harms, some gatherings with strict safety practices under certain conditions may be prudent.

Phase 2.1 Addendum to Reimagining Life Together guidelines allows a church or other ministry setting, with the consent of their pastor, to present a plan for holding in-person gatherings of up to 25 persons with physical distancing, and facemasks in use for approval by their District Superintendent, in the case of local churches, or Director of Connectional Ministries in the case of other ministries. All church or ministry settings and all District Superintendents and Directors of Connectional Ministries will use data from www.CovidActNow.org to determine their county’s risk level, based upon 5 risk indicators.

If a church or other ministry is located in a county where the risk is found to be in either the green or yellow zone, and if the designated supervisor approves the ministry’s plan for Phase 2.1, then it will be allowed to gather up to 25 people for worship or other ministry activities, following the practices approved in the plan. If a church has moved to Phase 2.1, but the risk reported by COVIDActNow increases to levels orange or red, it will need to retreat to Phase 2 levels of activity.

Read the Phase 2.1 addendum – an option within phase 2

As we watch daily reports of a pandemic that is out of control, and consider loosening the restrictions on church gatherings, remember these thoughts from Reimagining Life Together:

As we reenter life together, we must allow for our dream or memory of community to fade to make room for love to emerge in new and different ways. The task we have is to reimagine church – and all we are and do –  so that we can be what God dreams us to be. After all, church isn’t a building; it isn’t doors or a steeple. Church is the people in ministry and service. If we can’t do this ministry in the ways we have in the past, we will find new ways to do it. We will find a way. Our imaginations can show us what is possible.

God will open a new way before us.

I am about to do a new thing;
                     now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
                        and rivers in the desert.         Isaiah 43: 19

May God guide our feet into the way of peace!

Elaine JW Stanovsky
Bishop, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area

Prefacio al Aviso COVID-19 #9

Prefacio al Aviso COVID-19 #9


23 de octubre de 2020

La próxima semana espero emitir el Aviso # 9 sobre el COVID-19. Hoy prepararé el escenario, los invitaré a orar y estudiar conmigo sobre el desierto en el que nos encontramos.

LA PANDEMIA

Titular: ayer se informó el mayor número de nuevos casos de COVID-19 en los Estados Unidos desde el comienzo de la pandemia. Para fines de febrero, se proyecta que las muertes por COVID-19 se dupliquen a 500,000 [i] – aproximadamente igual al número de muertos en Estados Unidos por la Segunda Guerra Mundial, las guerras de Corea y Vietnam combinadas. Los casos han ido en aumento en los estados de Alaska, Idaho, Oregón y Washington desde principios de septiembre.

LA TEMPORADA

Ha caído nieve durante la noche y se ha convertido en lluvia en nuestra casa en las Cascadas de las Montañas. Para el solsticio de invierno, Nome, Alaska, verá menos de 4 horas de luz solar; Boise, Idaho, alrededor de 9 horas; la mayor parte de Washington y Oregón alrededor de 8.5 horas. Las temperaturas están bajando y muchos días están nublados y lluviosos o con nieve. El invierno está llegando al Noroeste, llevando a muchas personas a mantenerse en el interior de sus casas y experimentando depresión.

NOSOTROS, LA GENTE, vivimos con un virus mortal, iglesias cerradas en la mayoría de sus reuniones, escuelas virtuales y trabajo desde la casa, inseguridad financiera y pérdida de empleo, aumento de la violencia doméstica, adicción, suicidio y disturbios políticos nacionales. La gente clama por encontrarse en persona para adorar. Nosotros, las personas, vivimos entre medio de valores en conflictos: protección contra el virus versus salud emocional / espiritual / mental y libertad personal.

LA VISION DE DIOS

Dios ve los titulares, los dolores de todas las personas y cada una de las vidas que este virus esta tomando, de todos los trabajadores exhaustos, que se estirando sus recursos para satisfacer todas las necesidades.

Dios ve los estados de ánimo que se oscurecen y las realidades más cortas que vienen con los cambios de estación.

Dios siente la fatiga cuando los días se vuelven semanas, meses y casi un año entero.

Dios conoce el hambre en nuestros corazones de estar juntos, compartir un abrazo y cantar en voz alta y juntos los cánticos de fe:

  • Alabaré a mi creador mientras respiro …
  • Cantemos al Señor…
  • OH, que canten mil voces …
  • Cantaré cuando el Espíritu diga canta …
  • ¿Cómo puedo dejar de cantar?…

Le pregunto cómo quiere Dios que yo dirija en este momento y lo invito a unirse a mí en el estudio y oración para que sepamos qué hacer mientras preparo el Aviso de COVID # 9.

  1. Esta semana encuentre las últimas estadísticas de COVID-19 para su condado en covidactnow.org haciendo clic en el mapa de su estado y luego seleccionando su condado. Vea usted mismo cómo el virus está afectando a su condado:
    1. ¿Cuál es el riesgo de un brote de COVID en su estado? ¿Cómo se compara el nivel de riesgo con el estado vecino?
    2. Ahora, seleccione su condado de la lista en la página del estado.
      ¿Cuál es el riesgo de un brote de COVID en su condado? ¿Cómo se compara con todo el estado?
    3. ¿Cuántos casos de COVID se informan por cada 100,000 personas en el condado?
    4. ¿Está aumentando o disminuyendo el número de casos en el condado?
    5. ¿Cómo se compara el número de casos hoy con el número de abril o julio?
    6. ¿Cuál es la tasa de infección en su condado? ¿Cómo se compara con la tasa de infección de todo el estado? ¿Es alrededor del 1% o menos, lo que indica que es una propagación lenta?
  2. Ore para que Dios nos muestre lo que significa amar a Dios con todo nuestro corazón, mente, alma y fuerza y a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos durante estos días impredecibles.
  3. Para el 1ro de noviembre, esté atento a la nueva guía sobre cómo los Metodistas Unidos continuarán adaptándose a los desafíos que enfrentamos.

En oracion y reflexión,

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área episcopal del Noroeste


[i] IHME, an independent global health research center at the University of Washington  | covid.healthdata.org 

Translated and Adapted to Spanish by:
Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos
Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

Preface to COVID-19 Notice # 9, October 23, 2020

Preface to COVID-19 Notice # 9


October 23, 2020

Next week I hope to issue COVID-19 Notice #9. Today I’ll set the stage, and invite you to pray and study with me about the wilderness we find ourselves in. 

THE PANDEMIC

Headline: yesterday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of February, COVID-19 deaths are projected to double to 500,000[i] – about equal to the US death toll from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. Cases have been on the rise in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states since early September. 

THE SEASON

Snow fell overnight and has turned to rain at our house in the Cascade mountains. By the winter solstice, Nome, Alaska, will see fewer than 4 hours of sunlight; Boise, Idaho, about 9 hours; most of Washington and Oregon about 8.5 hours. Temperatures are falling, and many days are overcast and rainy or snowy. Winter is coming to the Northwest, driving many people indoors and inward with depression. 

WE, THE PEOPLE are living with a deadly virus, churches closed to most gatherings, virtual school and work from home, financial insecurity and job loss, rising domestic violence, addiction, suicide and national political unrest. People are crying out to meet in person for worship. We, the people live at the intersection of conflicting values: protection from the virus vs. emotional/spiritual/mental health and personal freedom. 

GOD’S VIEW

God sees the headlines and aches for each and every life that is taken by the virus, for all the exhausted workers, stretching to meet every need. 

God sees the darkening moods, and the shortened tempers that come with the changing seasons.

God feels the fatigue as days become weeks and months and nearly a whole year.

God knows the hunger in our hearts to be together, share a long-delayed hug and sing aloud and together the songs of faith:

  • I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath…
  • Cantemos al Señor…
  • O, for a thousand tongues to sing…
  • I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says sing…
  • How can I keep from singing?…

I’m asking how God would have me lead in this moment and I invite you to join me in study and prayer so that you know what informs me as I prepare COVID-Notice #9. 

  1. This week I find the latest COVID-19 statistics for your county at covidactnow.org by clicking on the map of your state and then selecting your county. See for yourself how the virus is affecting your county:
    1. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your State? How does the risk level compare to a neighboring state?
    2. Now, select your county from the list on the state page. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your county? How does it compare to the whole state?
    3. How many cases of COVID are reported per 100,000 people in the county?
    4. Are the number of cases in the county rising or falling?
    5. How do the number of cases today compare to the number in April or July?
    6. What is the infection rate in your county? How does it compare to the infection rate for the whole state? Is it about 1% or less, indicating slow spread?
  2. Pray that God will show us what it means to love God with our whole hearts, minds, souls and strength and our neighbors as ourselves during these unpredictable days.
  3. By November 1, watch for new guidance about how United Methodists will continue to adapt to the challenges we face.

In prayerful reflection,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater NW Episcopal Area

Next week I hope to issue COVID-19 Notice #9. Today I’ll set the stage, and invite you to pray and study with me about the wilderness we find ourselves in. 

THE PANDEMIC

Headline: yesterday reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States since the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of February, COVID-19 deaths are projected to double to 500,000[i] – about equal to the US death toll from World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. Cases have been on the rise in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states since early September. 

THE SEASON

Snow fell overnight and has turned to rain at our house in the Cascade mountains. By the winter solstice, Nome, Alaska, will see fewer than 4 hours of sunlight; Boise, Idaho, about 9 hours; most of Washington and Oregon about 8.5 hours. Temperatures are falling, and many days are overcast and rainy or snowy. Winter is coming to the Northwest, driving many people indoors and inward with depression. 

WE, THE PEOPLE are living with a deadly virus, churches closed to most gatherings, virtual school and work from home, financial insecurity and job loss, rising domestic violence, addiction, suicide and national political unrest. People are crying out to meet in person for worship. We, the people live at the intersection of conflicting values: protection from the virus vs. emotional/spiritual/mental health and personal freedom. 

GOD’S VIEW

God sees the headlines and aches for each and every life that is taken by the virus, for all the exhausted workers, stretching to meet every need. 

God sees the darkening moods, and the shortened tempers that come with the changing seasons.

God feels the fatigue as days become weeks and months and nearly a whole year.

God knows the hunger in our hearts to be together, share a long-delayed hug and sing aloud and together the songs of faith:

  • I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath…
  • Cantemos al Señor…
  • O, for a thousand tongues to sing…
  • I’m gonna sing when the Spirit says sing…
  • How can I keep from singing?…

I’m asking how God would have me lead in this moment and I invite you to join me in study and prayer so that you know what informs me as I prepare COVID-Notice #9. 

  1. This week I find the latest COVID-19 statistics for your county at covidactnow.org by clicking on the map of your state and then selecting your county. See for yourself how the virus is affecting your county:
    1. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your State? How does the risk level compare to a neighboring state?
    2. Now, select your county from the list on the state page. What is the risk of COVID outbreak in your county? How does it compare to the whole state?
    3. How many cases of COVID are reported per 100,000 people in the county?
    4. Are the number of cases in the county rising or falling?
    5. How do the number of cases today compare to the number in April or July?
    6. What is the infection rate in your county? How does it compare to the infection rate for the whole state? Is it about 1% or less, indicating slow spread?
  2. Pray that God will show us what it means to love God with our whole hearts, minds, souls and strength and our neighbors as ourselves during these unpredictable days.
  3. By November 1, watch for new guidance about how United Methodists will continue to adapt to the challenges we face.

In prayerful reflection,

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater NW Episcopal Area


‘Where Love Lives, Creating a Fully Inclusive United Methodist Church’; Western Jurisdiction Beginning Year-long Campaign

DENVER, Colo. (Oct. 7, 2020) – The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church is beginning preparations for the next General Conference by recommitting itself to be a faithful, inviting, open, safe and loving place for all people.

As The United Methodist Church awaits a delayed decision on the proposed Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, “Where Love Lives” is a nearly year-long campaign centering on the faith values that have undergirded the jurisdiction’s long-term commitment to a scripturally based fully inclusive ministry. It advocates approval of the Protocol by the General Conference.

“The Western Jurisdiction is committed to living out our belief that God’s church is open to all,” said Bishop Karen Oliveto, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. “The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation offers a way forward to begin easing the five decades of pain created by the wounds inflicted on LGBTQ persons by the church.”

Episcopal Address Part 3 | The United or Untied Methodist Church – shaping the future of the Church?

The United or Untied Methodist Church – shaping the future of the Church?

Episcopal Address Part III  (Part IPart II) | September 16, 2020

Remember February of 2019?

General Conference met in St. Louis, Missouri, with high hopes that The United Methodist Church would adopt “The One Church Plan,” eliminating the prohibitions and punishments which have marginalized and excluded full participation of LGBTQ+ people in the Church and its ministries for nearly 40 years. When the plan failed, hopes crashed and the General Conference ended in open anger and hostility, while conversations began across the church about what needed to happen next.

How can United Methodists who cannot tolerate the exclusive policies and practices resist? Hang banners outside the church, run newspaper ads, withhold apportionments, plan to leave the denomination? Should we try again at another General Conference? Should the denomination plan for an orderly separation with fair division of assets to be presented to the next General Conference? Should we abandon the idea of a global church, and give more autonomy to national or regional churches? One thing we quickly realized is that we needed to intentionally invite into leadership as we shape the future that they will carry forward.

A year ago, I called together a Guiding Coalition of diverse leaders from the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences. It organized into ten working groups that began to look at options for the future. 

And then COVID-19 grabbed our attention, threatening the very health of the nation and world. It became the critical focus as we adjusted every aspect of our lives to keep safe and prevent the spread of the disease. Concern for the future of The United Methodist Church receded into the background. Almost everything we understand as Church moved online. Conferences were cancelled or postponed and conducted remotely like this one.

And then the world saw George Floyd, with a policeman’s knee on his neck, struggle, plead, call for his Mama and die on a street in Minneapolis. Again, the headlines shifted, attention focused on real and present systemic racism in America. People cried out, rose up and poured out into the streets to demand racial justice and equity.

We live in a different world today than we did even a year ago. These movements are overwhelming. They demand all our attention and resources. We are weary. But no rest for the weary.

As wildfires rage across the West, we find ourselves in another crisis in Oregon and Washington, and to a lesser degree, to this point, in Idaho. And the church digs deeper, finds reserves it did not know it had, invents new ways to mobilize to offer relief to people who are evacuated, homeless, and stricken by sooty, ashen air.

Disaster response volunteers are working with district superintendents, local church pastors and laity, our Hispanic ministry coordinator and communicators to provide emergency shelter – a necessary service. They are also responding to the need to store the personal belongings of people who have evacuated in church buildings that have been closed for months. All the while they adopt practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The faithfulness, courage, and generosity of the churches is urgently needed and ready in this time of uncertainty. And the “connections” The United Methodist Church brings to these crises are the blessings of generations of faithful folks who have given, organized, volunteered, prayed, and reached out.

United or Untied: what is the future of United Methodism?

I think about this as a telescoping question, beginning in every local church, and expanding out until it includes the whole global UMC.

At the Center: Local Churches 

At the center of questions about United Methodism is the local church. We know, going back to Paul’s church in Corinth, that every local church struggles to have a center that is strong enough to hold people together despite strong differences of understanding, practice, opinion and actions. This is nothing new, though it looks different in every generation and every location. Churches fight about anything and everything: music, the color of the carpet, worship time, Sunday school curriculum, who should have keys to the building, or the kitchen. And they fight about abortion, gun rights, human sexuality and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in its ministries.  Divisions have become even more intense as attitudes toward the pandemic, racism and LGBTQ+ inclusion have become politicized and threaten to divide congregations that have lived in peace for decades.

First Ring: The Alaska Conference

The Alaska Conference, which is 49 years old, is asking to become a mission district in the Pacific Northwest Conference. This proposal will come before the Annual, General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2021. What will life together look like if this proposal is adopted next year? What must we be doing now, planning now, changing now to fully embrace Alaska in the PNW?

Second Ring: The Greater Northwest Area – Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences

What does it mean that the area shares one bishop? It’s easy to see it as a burden – less bishop per conference. Even as the churches and communities across the Greater Northwest decline and struggle to connect with new generations and new populations in their communities, we are learning that as we work together across conference lines, we often expand our capacity, our innovation, our community engagement, our connectional strength. Cooperation across conference lines has blossomed during COVID-19 and now in response to the wildfires that are ravaging Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Crisis response, communications, Grocery Gift Cards for Families and the Fund for Families, all benefited from cross-conference collaboration.

  • Let’s hear it for disaster response volunteers and the district superintendents who have worked as a crisis management team consistently from the earliest days of the pandemic, to learn the best science as it emerged, to listen to the best advice, and to lead our churches to put health and life first, and to adjust and limit their activities to prevent spread of the virus. Oh, and they just secured two $10,000 UMCOR emergency grants, one for Pacific Northwest and one for Oregon-Idaho Conference, to provide relief to victims of the wildfires. And they are working with district superintendents to help local churches that have been closed for months, open to provide emergency shelter and other relief services.
  • Let’s hear it for conference communicators, who have worked tirelessly during COVID-19 to help us keep connected while we were staying at home, closing church buildings, and learning to worship, pray and give online. Communicators from the three conferences have worked together to provide timely updates on the pandemic, host weekly webinars on topics like online worship and giving, providing pastoral care, staying healthy. They promoted the best practices for hygiene, including a campaign to sew and wear masks. They helped local churches learn to use Zoom, Facebook and other platforms for online worship and meetings. They published notices to local churches on staying safe, postponing in-person worship and Reimagining Life Together. They produced online Easter Worship available across the area, and resources for local churches to incorporate into online Pentecost worship.
  • Let’s hear it for the Innovation Vitality (IV) Team, that initiates and supports innovative ministry projects across the area, within existing churches and with new leaders working in communities our churches don’t reach. 

Now take a deep breath. I’m going to ask a question that I mostly hear in whispered tones:

Is it time for the conferences to merge into one?  

Hear me. I know that simply uttering this question causes some blood pressure to rise, and other blood to boil. I have been slow to consider this question until and unless it arises from within the area. Friends, this question is arising from within the area. We can pretend we don’t hear it, but it’s being asked. And as it is asked, I hear two responses: 

  1. This is the time to merge into the Greater Northwest Conference – when everything is disrupted already, and we are working well together, and
  2. Never! The conferences have distinctive cultures, history. We don’t want to lose that. We’ll get lost in a bigger conference.

We owe it to ourselves and to each other to have this conversation, and to ask: Where is God leading us? Where are we finding new life?

The Western Jurisdiction

Our jurisdiction has more unanimity about the divisive questions of LGBTQ+ inclusion than almost any other sector of the Church. LGBTQ+ clergy have been ordained and survived in ministry, and LGBTQ+ weddings have been performed in every conference in the West. So, what does the future look for in the West? If the main branch of United Methodism continues to prohibit and punish LGBTQ+ inclusion, what is to become of the Western Jurisdiction? Can it remain part of a church that excludes or marginalizes LGBTQ+ people, working and praying for another General Conference to solve the conflict? Across the United States and around the world, United Methodists who are LGBTQ+ inclusive look to the Western Jurisdiction to lead. What might that look like? How do we have those conversations? God didn’t lead United Methodists in the West out of the slavery of homophobia to let us wander eternally in the present wilderness. We search for the path to promises fulfilled.

The United Methodist Church

For nearly 40 years our church has struggled to reach a consensus about inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the life and ministry of the Church. But it hasn’t been just about human sexuality. Some strategic people chose this as the issue over which to divide the church. This conflict came to intense and agonizing conflict at the General Conferences held in 2016 and 2019, with no resolution. It does not appear that United Methodists can remain together in the one, global church we have been since 1968. So, what will become of this one great “connectional” church of 12 million members worldwide when the ties that bind us stretch and break? Will it break into national churches? Will it splinter into many small fragments based on worship style, inclusive language, sexual identity and orientation or social policy? Will every local church have to decide who to affiliate with? Or will Annual Conferences make this decision, forcing some local churches to vote to stay or withdraw from their Annual Conference? How will property and other assets be divided? And most importantly, what will the division be for?  What purpose will it serve?  What vision is God leading us toward? Who do we want to be for one another and how does God want us to transform the world? 

The existential question we face in the Greater Northwest is, will we stay together? Do we want to stay together? Do we love each other enough, to stay in communion with one another despite real differences? The annual conferences of the Greater Northwest Area have been LGBTQ+ inclusive for many years. LGBTQ+ inclusion is already part of the identity of United Methodism in the area. And we have had a commitment to include ministries with immigrant people, and to be racially and ethnically diverse. Both urban and rural. Young and old. Red and blue.

But we fall short of our own inclusive aspirations. And we squabble over which diverse communities can stay together and which ones are incompatible. Between now and General Conference in September 2021, we need to test and grow our faith to a deeper level where we trust that Jesus gives us One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism, even though we live out our faith in different ways. At the core we are not divided. Our gifts all serve one Savior, who gives us the grace to live, worship and serve together. We can endure this rough patch if we stay in relationship, if we learn to talk about what we hold most close, if we let love bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. 

A year ago, when I called the Guiding Coalition and its working groups, we started to explore the complicated questions surrounding our United Methodist Future. When COVID hit in the spring, we all shifted our focus from the future of United Methodism to the immediate present. All except one group that called itself “Weaving a Grassroots Connection.” The members of the group continued to experiment with initiating conversations among people in The United Methodist Church about why they are United Methodist. They had a great time doing it. And they want to help us all have these conversations. Watch this first fruit example of their efforts.

They believe, and I believe that if we grow to know and love one another, we will be united and connected in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. What was it Jesus said? “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). What would Jesus do with us if we gathered in small gatherings, learned to love each other, and asked him what he wants for us? What if the “connection” became personal instead of institutional? What if it was about loving relationships with one another, about how a local church relates to its community or how one local church comes alongside another local church in times of joy and distress – to share each other’s burdens? What if the future of United Methodism rested on a weaving of connections between people who are learning to see, know and love each other? Now that would be a strong connection.

So, my friends, my siblings, and cousins, my neighbors and you who may be strangers – I invite you to be the hopeful, faithful, loving, courageous, audacious, humble people that God, in holy scripture, invites us to be. We can stop the spread of a deadly virus. We can root out racism and create beloved community. We can and we will recover from flood, earthquake, storm, and wildfire. We can be a “big tent” church, where people can journey with each other, in the presence of Jesus, toward a future where everyone has a place, and the parts all fit together. We might even be able to save the planet and all the teaming creatures that call it home.

When faced with a very difficult assignment that the disciples did not feel capable of, Jesus said to them, “truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

How do we move forward together?

For the next 15 months, the Greater Northwest Cabinet is committed to focusing our leadership on three ministry foci:

  • Do No Harm

    Fighting COVID-19

  • Do Good

    Dismantling Racism
  • Stay in Love with God

    Weaving a Connectional Future for United Methodism

Alongside these priorities, we will, of course, help our churches provide relief to people harmed by wildfire. And we will always keep our eyes on the horizon to receive what comes our way of blessing or curse and respond with love. This is what love requires. And what is possible – with the faith of a mustard seed.

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Greater Northwest Episcopal Area

Respuesta a los incendios forestales en el gran área del noroeste

Respuesta a los incendios forestales en el gran área del noroeste

Amigos en el gran área del noroeste,

Los líderes metodistas unidos de toda nuestra área se han reunido para monitorear y responder a los incendios forestales que asolan nuestra tierra y amenazan a muchas comunidades en Idaho, Oregon y Washington. Personas en muchas áreas han sido evacuadas o se están preparando para ser evacuadas de sus hogares.

Si usted no está en peligro inmediato, puede ser que este experimentando como muchos otros, que ven y prueban estos incendios forestales en cielos llenos de humo y con cada respiración que tomamos.

Las personas de fe quieren hacer el bien frente al peligro, pero debemos trabajar para asegurarnos de que el bien que pretendemos hacer no haga daño accidentalmente. Debido a las evacuaciones masivas que se están emitiendo en todos nuestros estados, y debido a que nuestras iglesias y entornos ministeriales están comprometidos a no hacer daño, hacer el bien y permanecer en el amor de Dios, se ha agregado un apéndice a las pautas de Re-imaginando la vida juntos para nuestras iglesias y entornos ministeriales para guiar nuestra respuestas metodistas unidas a la crisis del incendio forestal.

Mientras buscamos responder a estos incendios forestales, reconozco cuán cansados ​​están todos en este momento por tantas demandas, además del coronavirus, además del desmantelamiento del racismo, además de la escalada del partidismo que está erosionando nuestra capacidad de trabajar juntos por el bien común. Increíbles equipos de respuesta a desastres en el gran área del noroeste actúan como las manos y los pies de Jesús en las comunidades de toda el área y en conjunto con las iglesias locales. Cuando ocurre un desastre, los sobrevivientes a menudo pierden mucho: el techo de sus casas y otras propiedades, medios de vida, incluso sus seres queridos. Estos incendios forestales muestran cuán devastadores pueden ser estos desastres. Sin embargo, este año parece ser que enfrentamos una crisis detrás de la otra.

Y entonces, clamamos a Dios, buscando misericordia. Buscando alivio. Buscando solo un día en el que no sintamos el peligro en nuestras manos y no sentirnos como que el peso del mundo esté sobre cada uno de nuestros hombros.

APENDICE PARA EL DOCUMENTO: RE-IMAGINANDO LA VIDA JUNTOS para el alivio de incendios forestales del noroeste de 2020

Efectivo desde el 11 de septiembre de 2020

Solo para “Wildfire Relief” (Alivio de Incendios Forestales), este apéndice reemplaza la guía de respuesta ante desastres en el documento Re-imaginando.

Todos los ministerios que planean brindar ayuda y apoyo en sus comunidades trabajarán con el superintendente de distrito (iglesias locales) o el director de ministerios conexionales (otros entornos ministeriales) para discutir la necesidad de la comunidad y solicitar la ayuda de autoridades del gobierno local y alguna otra respuesta ante los desastres de agencias (como la Cruz Roja) para el apoyo y ayuda durante este proceso.  Los Superintendentes de Distrito o Directores del Ministerios Conexionales deben aprobar los planes para usar las instalaciones (Edificios) de la iglesia para actividades de apoyo a los incendios forestales.

Únase a mí para orar por la seguridad de nuestros amigos, vecinos y por aquellos que ya han sufrido pérdidas de vidas. Únase a mí para orar por los socorristas y los bomberos forestales que se ponen en peligro para ayudar a otros a buscar refugio, salvar hogares y propiedades. Únase a mí para orar por la creación de Dios, para que podamos atenderla con más cuidado.

Únase a mí, también, en un llamado a la acción a través de nuestras donaciones de recursos financieros. Sabemos que algunas de nuestras comunidades ya han sido afectadas por el fuego y sabemos que hay otras en peligro potencial.

Estoy agradecida al informar que las conferencias del “Pacific Northwest y Oregon-Idaho” han recibido cada una ayuda de emergencia de $ 10,000 del Comité Metodista Unido (UMCOR) para apoyar los esfuerzos de respuesta en nuestras comunidades. Pero esto es solo una gota en el cubo de lo que se necesitará.

Donacion electrónicamente, al Fondo de Desastres de la Conferencia de Oregón-Idaho

También puede donar al Fondo para Desastres de la Conferencia OR-ID (Fondo # 260) a través de su iglesia local o enviando un cheque a nombre de la Oficina Tesoreria de la Conferencia de Oregon-Idaho con el Avance de la Conferencia # 260 en la línea de memo a:

Centro de conferencias anual de Oregon-Idaho
c/o Tesorero de la conferencia
1505 SW 18th Avenue
Portland, Oregón, 97201-2524

Donacion electrónicamente al Fondo de Desastres de la Conferencia PNW

También puede dar el Fondo para Desastres de la Conferencia de PNW (Fondo # 352) a través de su iglesia local o enviando un cheque a nombre de la oficina del Tesorero de la Conferencia de PNW con el  # 352 en la línea de memo a:

Oficina de conferencias del noroeste del Pacífico
c/o Tesorero de la conferencia
PO Box 13650
Des Moines, WA 98198

Finalmente, líderes de la iglesia local, por favor manténgase en contacto con los superintendentes de distrito si su comunidad se ve afectada por un incendio forestal. Hágale saber a su superintendente lo que está sucediendo en su comunidad y lo que su iglesia está haciendo, o se le ha pedido que haga, en respuesta. Su superintendente coordinará con el coordinador de respuesta a desastres de la conferencia para ayudarlo a respaldar su trabajo durante esta crisis.

Manténganse a salvo, mis amigos, y conozcan el amor inquebrantable de Dios cada día.

Obispa Elaine JW Stanovsky
Área episcopal del noroeste

 

Translated and Adapted by/Traducido y Adaptado por: Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos, Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministry

© Copyright 2022, Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. All Rights Reserved.