December 2017

Speaking from the Heart - December 2017
 The State of Shared Ministries (apportionments) in Sage District
Change in the Timing of Appointment Advisory Forms
Praying Our Way Forward - December 10-16


Speaking from the Heart - December 2017

This is my seventh year as a District Superintendent.  It is my 31st year of ministry. The Bishop and the Board of Ordained Ministry have received my letter requesting the retired status effective July 1, 2018.  After weeks of prayer and discernment, I believe God is calling me into this new status. 
My ministry has taken me from the southern coastal range of Oregon to the high desert of Idaho.  I have met many faithful Methodist people who love Jesus and their church.  I have seen the decline and been part of the cultural shift.  I know it will take enormous change for the United Methodist Church to survive beyond the next 10 to 20 years.  It will take creativity and innovation and the willingness to let go of what used to work and what “feels like church” to people my generation.  I am more than willing to hand off my role and my preferences to the next generation.  It is time for change.  It is time for us to come together and listen to new ideas and support risk.  It is time for us to truly open our doors to all people, especially those who feel excluded by our polity.  
The next several months I will be preparing Sage District for their next District Superintendent, whoever that is, by making the best appointments possible, by listening and supporting clergy and their congregations, and leading the cabinet with openness and honesty.  It has been an honor to serve as a pastor and District Superintendent.  It has been meaningful, challenging, rewarding, and heart-breaking.  I have received more grace from colleagues and congregations than I deserve.  I have learned to lean on my colleagues on the cabinet and especially on Jesus.  I have more questions than answers in this uncertain time.
Retirement will be a time of re-designing my life with long hikes, deep conversations, connecting with family and friends, and letting go of a role where my work was never done.  One of my dreams is to walk the Camino.  I will continue to work behind the scenes and at the ground level for an inclusive church and a nation that values kindness, respect, civility and mature leadership.

Gwen Drake

 The State of Shared Ministries (apportionments) in Sage District

The good news is we have eight churches who have paid 100% as of Nov. 25, 2017:  Aberdeen, Cove, Elgin, Sweet, Glenns Ferry, St. Paul’s in Idaho Falls,  Shoshone, and Haines.  Jerome has paid 125%.  Seventeen churches are on track to paying 100%.  Many churches will make their traditional strong finish in December.  The most improved churches are:  Collister, Blackfoot, and Fruitland, so far.

The challenge is that Sage District is a little over 2% behind where we were last year.  The goal is to do better than last year. If the Sage District improved by another 8% (like we did last year), we would possibly finish ahead of Columbia, Cascadia, and Crater Lake!  That’s the challenge.  Let’s do it.  (They are currently 8-10% ahead of us.) 

We are at 60% overall now and the goal by Jan. 11, 2018 is 80%.  (Actually, the goal is 100%!)

Change in the Timing of Appointment Advisory Forms

In the past, the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference has sent appointment preference forms each year to clergy and SPRC Chairpersons. These forms have typically been mailed in December with responses required sometime in January. These are the forms where clergy and SPRCs check their desires for the upcoming appointment year. The options have typically included options like Strong desire to remain in current appointment but open to move or Open to new appointment but willing to remain. Effective immediately, the Bishop and Cabinet are making the following changes to this long-standing practice:

  1. The form will be called Appointment Advisory rather than Appointment Preference
  2. The form will only be distributed to clergy and churches in the fourth year of an appointment relationship and every year thereafter.
  3. The Appointment Advisory form will be distributed in November with responses expected by December 4. This is earlier than has been our practice.

There are many reasons for this change. First, we expect appointments to last longer than one to three years so it makes little sense to send consultation forms during that time period. This does not mean that clergy and/or congregations cannot initiate a consultation conversation with a District Superintendent during that time. Also, the title advisory reminds us that all appointments are and always have been, made after consultation. The term preference is indicative of the consumerist culture we live in and should not be the way we frame the appointment process. Lastly, the earlier time period will help the Bishop and Cabinet make better informed, strategic decisions that benefit the churches of our conference and hopefully, make appointments more fulfilling for our clergy.

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky - video link

Praying Our Way Forward - December 10-16

For many years The United Methodist Church has struggled about how to be church together when we do not all have the same understanding along the issues of human sexuality, especially homosexuality. At General Conference 2016, this issue came to a head and in order to find new ways to address our struggles, a Commission on a Way Forward was created. This 32-member body is composed of clergy and lay delegates from 9 countries and 4 continents. They were given the task of examining and revising paragraphs in the Book of Discipline dealing with LGBTQ inclusion in the church and exploring options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the Church. They have been meeting often and will bring their proposals to the Council of Bishops and a special General Conference to be held in St. Louis on February 23-26, 2019.

 As The United Methodist Church works, struggles and envisions a way forward as a denomination, we have the opportunity to play an active role – by praying for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.  Each Annual Conference is invited to be in prayer for this effort called Praying Our Way Forward. The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference’s week to pray is December 10-16.  
This is a special holy time to lift to God the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the future of our denomination, and the work that God is doing through each of us and our local churches and ministries.  

Each person in The United Methodist Church is invited to be in prayer in any way that you feel called to. Prayers for each day of our prayer week are available if you would like them. You can find those prayers and other resources at   

The way forward as a denomination can feel a bit uncertain. This time of Praying our Way Forward is a way to remind us to surround this work with the power of the Holy Spirit.  We hope you will participate!

Watch the short video from Bishop Elaine and other Conference Leaders about this time of praying together.

Sage District Office of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
1505 SW 18th Ave, Portland OR 97201(503) 802-9225 ~