Greetings, fellow disciples!

We’re now a full 10 days into this new year where we pledged to eat better, spend less, exercise more and find simple joys.

How’s that going for you? I’ve already enjoyed more cake than I probably should!

How about this: Can we see that we are imperfect people made perfect by God’s love? Or can we at least try to see that version of ourselves in 2018? What about the church? Wesley taught us we are to be moving on “toward perfection.” Is that not us (Christians, Americans, United Methodists) trying every day to more clearly serve God and one another?

In this week’s UM Connector you’ll see God at work in our lives through renewed youth ministry programs, a blossoming online church based in Meridian, Idaho, and United Methodists churches in Florida helping Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees.

Enjoy this week’s perfectly imperfect edition!

Kristen Caldwell
Communications Associate

Editor’s note: Communications Director Greg Nelson is in Africa on an UMVIM trip. Please send news items and information requests to


Oregon-Idaho Conference youth ministry heads in new direction

youth take part in communion

As local churches have changed shape and size over the years – shifting demographics, changing locations, less staff – so has the shape and size of youth ministry in the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

As these changes have unfolded, one thing has become increasingly clear: Youth ministry in this Conference cannot be done with a top-down approach.

“It’s not that churches don’t care. It’s just that they don’t have the resources,” said Christy Dirren, local pastor at West Portland UMC and new youth coordinator for Columbia and Cascadia districts.

This year, the Oregon-Idaho Conference shifted to a district-coordinated youth ministry after years of being without a conference youth director. The new structure is based off the successes created by the Rev. Anna Eckelbarger Salas and others in the Crater Lake District. Dirren is working for the next year in her youth ministry role, while the Sage District is in the midst of searching for its youth ministry coordinator.
These are part-time positions created through the Oregon-Idaho Conference’s budget with additional youth ministry funding from the Direct Program Support (previously known as the "askings"). This ministry is made possible through the generosity of churches that designate their “askings” as a part of Youth Ministry. Other Direct Program Support programs include: Campus Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, and the Vital Church Project.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Intercultural training workshop on Saturday cancelled

Saturday's workshop at Woodburn United Methodist Church has been cancelled. A new date for the event has not yet been set.

Spirit Alive! Live from Meridian, Idaho: It’s Sunday morning!

Lowell Greathouse

In his bi-monthly Spirit Alive blog, Rev. Lowell Greathouse, director of mission and ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, takes readers to Meridian, Idaho, where a new online church has created a whole new community of people engaged in church.

Read the story and watch the video about the ways Meridian United Methodist Church is reaching out to people all over their community, state and country

Inspiring Generosity: Three resolutions to increasing generosity in 2018

In her weekly blog, Cesie Delve Scheuermann highlights three important practices to consider in 2018 when trying to improve congregational and individual generosity.


Faith, Justice, Reconciliation workshop Feb. 3

Launching this year's Lenten Study on Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation, the Columbia District has invited Christena Cleveland, PhD;  social psychologist, minister, and author of the perspective-changing book, “Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart.”
The workshop will be held at Portland First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St., from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. The event is free and open to the public, with a suggested $20 donation. Participants will also receive a copy of Cleveland’s book.
Drawing from a vast body of research, Cleveland will help churches understand how to promote appreciation for diversity and build effective collaborations with diverse groups.
For more information about the event, to register and learn more about Cleveland visit the Conference website.

InsideOut: Shifting from scarcity to abundance

In his latest video series, the Rev. Bill Gibson invites churches to change their perspective when thinking about church resources. How do you shift from the perspective of scarcity to one of abundance?

Gibson, director of strategic faith community development for the Pacific Northwest Conference, uses examples from the Apollo 13 mission to the moon to draw comparisons of how churches can work together to recognize the gifts and resources they already have.


Northwest United Methodist Foundation Associate Director – Oregon

LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator – Portland, OR

Find these and other jobs at


‘Black Archives Matter’ campaign catches on

Bidwell library photo
DALLAS – Timothy Binkley deals with old stuff as archivist for a United Methodist seminary library.
And he found a new strategy for getting more of it.
Binkley started a Black Archives Matter campaign, aimed at showing that Bridwell Library, at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, cares about receiving, processing and promoting the scholarly use of papers of African American church leaders.
“We need to be more proactive in collecting African-American materials,” Binkley said. “First of all, because they’re important. Second, because students are going to come looking for them, and I want to be prepared to help.”

Congo churches react to cholera epidemic

Congolese women gather water
BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo – Five months after a cholera epidemic was declared in the South Kivu Province in Democratic Republic of Congo, United Methodists there continue to help with prevention efforts.
Cholera is an infectious disease usually spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. According to a report by the Provincial Division of Health in South Kivu, there were more than 13,300 cases in the South Kivu Province and 57 deaths since the outbreak began in August 2017, said Dr. Claude Bahizire.
According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than 24,000 suspected cholera cases and more than 500 deaths in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2017.

A prayer box grows in Brooklyn

from CityLab

The request was simple.

“Please pray to help me stay sober,” read the note, scribbled in black pen on a page torn from a notebook. “Pray that my young children can have a healthy, sober mom.”

Like many other requests that end up in the prayer deposit box outside Grace United Methodist Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn, it was anonymous. There are few clues as to who wrote it or what type of person they are. But that doesn’t matter: Whoever the author or whatever the ask, Rev. HyoungDock Yoo, the church’s pastor, treats each one the same.

Once a day, he checks the box next to the church steps and carries the prayers of New Yorkers—believers and atheists alike—to the altar of the 160-year-old building. There, he petitions God on their behalf for miraculous intervention.

Read more of this story from CityLab.

Florida churches assist Puerto Rico evacuees

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — It has been three months since back-to-back Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico, and The United Methodist Church has been quick to respond.

In Florida, where thousands of displaced families have poured into Orange and Osceola counties, churches are working on two fronts: helping with disaster recovery efforts on the island and helping families who are relocating to the mainland with a successful transition.

The outreach effort has gone from district-wide to conference-wide to connection-wide.

Read more of this story from the Florida United Methodist Conference.


Upper Room makes matching grants available for Spiritual Formation

Since 1983 The Upper Room has offered The Academy for Spiritual Formation® as an in-depth experience in Christian spiritual formation for clergy and laity.

Two new two-year Academies will begin in 2018:  Academy no. 40 will be starting July 2018 in Danville, California and Academy no. 41 will be starting August 2018 in Gallant, Alabama.

As a way to help conferences benefit from this unique offering, the Upper Room will provide a matching grant program which will provide up to $5,000 to help individuals from the Oregon-Idaho Conference participate.

The Academy is an intense two-year program which brings participants together for 40 days (five days each quarter) for worship, silence, covenant groups and study.  Sixteen courses form the backbone of the Academy; worship and small groups shape its heart and soul.

Once called “the best kept secret in the United Methodist Church,” participants emerge with a deeper relationship with God, a better sense of self- and soul-care and more creativity and freedom for the practice of ministry.
Check out the Upper Room’s website for more information on the Academy and the matching grant funds.


Doris Garrabrandt

April 1, 1918 – December 31, 2017

Doris Garrabrandt, widow of retired Pastor John Garrabrandt, died December 31. She is survived by her son Ted Garrabrandt and daughter Debbie Fox; five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Doris was preceded in death by her daughter Pam and husband.
The Garrabrandts served Twin Falls, Jerome and Cottage Grove in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. Pastor Garrabrandt retired in 1982.
A celebration of life for Doris Garrabrandt will be held at a later date.
Elaine Stanovsky, Bishop
Dan Wilson-Fey, Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer


Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Conference Office: 1505 SW 18th Avenue Portland, OR 97201
503-226-7931 ~ 800-593-7539 ~ 503-226-4158 (fax)