Early in January, members of the newly formed Greater Northwest Area Vitality Commission met for the first time to consider how to best structure and support innovation and vitality efforts across the area. Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky convened the group, acting upon petitions passed at the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Sessions in June calling for its formation.
After an intentional discernment process, Bishop Stanovsky sent invitations to those nominated to serve on the commission in late November. This was followed by a period of questions and further discernment by those invited to serve. The group was nominated in keeping with provisions for diversity named in the petitions.
The petitions passed in June charged the commission with preparing a proposal for an area-wide governance structure for the work of the Innovation/Vitality (IV) Team. The legislation described the commission’s formation as “critically important” toward the aim of “clarifying, supporting and championing innovation and vitality practices” across the GNW.
“It is imperative that we continue to equip leaders and congregations for ministries that are relevant and engaging with younger, more diverse people in our communities,” wrote Bishop Stanovsky in her invitation to commission members, noting both the challenge of this work and its importance. “The formation of the Vitality Commission is our opportunity to take a deep breath, learn from recent experience, and adapt how we support this work to involve more people in decision-making, at the same time as we align administrative and funding processes in the three conferences that enable the work.”
The first meeting allowed the group to orient themselves to this task and each other. The commission includes as its members: Wongee Joh (clergy, serving in the PNW), Cynthia MacLeod (lay, OR-ID), Regina Morgan (lay, OR-ID), Paul Ortiz (clergy, PNW), Elizabeth Ripley (lay, Alaska), Skylar Marston-Bihl (lay, PNW), Jeremy Smith (OR-ID clergy, serving in the PNW), and Mark Galang (clergy, PNW).
The GNW Vitality Commission plans to meet again in late January to organize themselves and plan the tasks ahead. The group is expected to offer a report to each annual conference’s session in 2022 of its work and recommendations, with an option to request an additional year if needed.