This month's issue includes:

Table Talks to Spark Conversation, a note from Erin Martin
Oh, the people you'll meet! a note from Lydia Henry
Seeking Nominations for UMW Charter For Racial Justice Award
Deadline Nears for Annual Conference Legislative Proposals
Certified Lay Minister (CLM) Classes - Register Now!
Marriage & the Bible
Holy Land Tour This Fall
The Buddy System, a note from your district AA
Upcoming Events and Dates to Know


Table Talks to Spark Conversation
A letter from District Superintendent, Rev. Erin Martin

               While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it,
              gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.'”


Dear Kindred in Christ:
The table holds significant meaning for us within the Christian story. Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, gathered his disciples around the table. There, he reinterpreted for them the Passover meal to include giving himself in sacrificial offering. Bread and cup, body and blood, freely given with the instruction that as often as we share this meal, we do it in remembrance of him.
In my intentional Christian community, Metanoia Peace House, the table also holds significant meaning. One of our covenant practices is to daily share the evening meal together. The table is the place for communion after a busy day, the place to come and be seen and heard and reminded that in our community, we all have a place at the table.
Right now, the Council of Bishops is calling us as a whole church to the table. As the Council of Bishops prepares to receive a plan from the Commission on the Way Forward, each Annual Conference is asked to host “Table Talks.”  Recently, Bishop Elaine explained that 50 leaders from Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences gathered to be equipped to lead Table Talks across the area.  The purpose of the Table Talks will be to “seek unity in the church that is deeper than our different understandings and attitudes about human sexuality."
The table as a place to come together to seek the unity of the church, wow! That is no small thing.  In the Columbia District, we will be hosting two Table Talks in the month of April. You are invited to join the conversation on Sunday, April 15 from 2:30 to 5:30pm at Portland First United Methodist Church, or on Sunday, April 22 from 3:00 to 6:00pm at Gresham First United Methodist Church. The topic of conversation will be our differences in the church on the issue of human sexuality. The purpose of the conversations will be to build relational depth with each other so that we might withstand what is coming to us in the specially called General Conference in 2019 by modeling first among ourselves civil dialogue on this significant topic.
Bishop Elaine explains, “The differences (on human sexuality) are undeniable. They have strained the Church for more than 40 years. In these conversations we hope to understand what informs our differences from one another, so that we can respect one another, learn from one another, and continue to be members of one, undivided Church as we continue to listen to God’s leading through these differences.”
Will you gather with us at the table? Will you be a part of preparing for our future as the United Methodist Church? Will you bring your whole selves to the conversation and experience a foretaste of Christian conferencing? At the recent Table Talks training, Bishop Elaine warned us that if we cannot make room to facilitate these difficult conversations, we will lose our witness to the world.  She said, “we will be sad and shallow people. We will not stay together, and we will be useless to God’s mission.”
May we be bold to come to the table. May we meet each other there in the presence of Jesus. May we discover and practice a unity in Christ that can hold our differences. May we listen and speak to each other with convicted humility and in so doing, discover for ourselves, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a way forward.
Grace and peace,

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 Oh, the the people you'll meet!
A note from Columbia District Lay Leader, Lydia Henry

With a bit of a grin, I notice that when I began working on this letter, the phrase that came to mind was, “Oh, the places you’ll go...and the people you’ll meet.” I immediately thought of Dr. Seuss and his wonderful book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  It wasn’t until the next day that I saw the posting on Facebook, “Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!”  March 2nd was the 114th birthday of the author whose writing style captured our imagination and whose characters have become part of our culture. I confess that I’ve not read all 60 of Dr. Seuss’s books, but the ones I’ve read were favorites that helped my children and grandchildren learn to read.
And so, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, I share this poem to introduce three of the new friends you’ll meet when you attend Light Up the World, Columbia District’s Lay Development Retreat April 27-29.
Oh, the Places you’ll go! And the people you’ll meet
When you sign up and show up for Laity’s retreat!
No Grinches or Hakken-Kraks will ruin your days
As you gather with others to laugh and to praise
To listen and learn… what a marvelous thing
Together in friendship our voices will ring
Shout out to the world, we’ll try something new
With new friends and old friends – kindred spirits too
Can't hardly wait for April to come! Oh, the people we’ll meet!
What joy and what fun! To share a retreat!

Laura Jaquith Bartlett
Laura will help shape our time together by offering a Taizé worship service on Friday evening. Taizé worship is contemplative and simple. It is not leader-driver or wordy, but features candles and other visual elements, along with short scripture passages, silence, and lots of singing. Taizé songs are short and repetitive, and lend themselves to a sense of meditation and reflection.
Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett has plenty of experience designing worship, having served as the Director of Worship & Music for the 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, where she created and coordinated 27 services in 11 days! On a different scale, these days Laura leads a monthly Taizé service for the SE Portland Parish where she and her family are active, the Sellwood Faith Community. Laura and her spouse, Todd, spent almost 9 years at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center; at Collins Laura helped lead a Taizé retreat a few years ago, and also founded and continues to lead the Great Hymns of the Faith series.
Brian Shimer
During Brian’s session, we will explore Matthew 5:14-16 through a fresh lens. This is an opportunity to not only touch base with ways God is speaking around the world, but to experience the story of Scripture and see what happens when God's story impacts your own.
Brian Shimer has been a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 30 years. He currently resides in Beaverton, OR, with his wife of 36 years, Karen, who also is clergy in the UMC. They have four grown daughters, two sons by marriage, and four delightful, engaging grandchildren. Brian has spoken internationally on how God heals, prayed and counseled with many people and seen Jesus bring healing to many lives.  He is a trained Bible storyteller with the international organization Simply the Story, a lifelong learner, a man of joy, a student of the Scriptures, and an apprentice of Jesus.
Beth Estock
We are calling Beth’s session, “What do we do with all of this?”  This question has been asked throughout our church history beginning with the apostles who were told to share the good news of God’s love and peace to the ends of the earth. Those early followers had something more powerful than a strategic plan; they were gifted with the Holy Spirit and then learned to listen and follow it to the ends of the earth. Beth will reintroduce some of the forgotten practices that help us to discern God’s preferred future for our lives and our communities of faith. 

Beth Estock has served rural, city, and suburban United Methodist churches in her 30 years of ministry in Georgia and Oregon. She led the development of the New Start Initiative in the Oregon Idaho Conference as the Director of New Faith Communities. She has created several house churches in Portland and is on the faculty of the Missional Wisdom Foundation in Dallas, Texas. She serves as the chair of the Columbia District Committee on Ministry and is a member of the District Ministry Strategy Team. In 2016 she co-wrote Weird Church: Welcome to the 21st Century with Paul Nixon. Beth coaches leaders who are experimenting with new ways of being “the church” in the 21st century. She brings her gifts of deep listening as well as integral theory to all her work. She is a certified Associate Coach with Integral Coaching Canada and is a trained Prakriti yoga instructor. Beth blogs at
Oh, the places you’ll go … and the people you’ll meet!  See you at April’s Laity Retreat!
For more information or to register for the retreat, go to

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Seeking Nominations for UMW Charter For Racial Justice Award

Each year the Oregon-Idaho Conference United Methodist Women seeks nominees for the Charter for Racial Justice Award.

The group encourages you to prayerfully consider individuals and/or groups whose work reflects the spirit of the "We will" statements listed in the Charter's nomination form.

The committee also announces that Zimmerman Trust Grant applications are being sought. There are funds available for programs directed toward leadership development of Native Americans or African Americans or in support of a Women's Division Foreign Mission Project. To find out more or to apply, here is more information.

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Deadline Approaches for Annual Conference Legislative Proposals

If you have proposals for potential legislation to be discussed at our Annual Conference Session this June 13-16 in Boise, submission deadlines are approaching! If you require developer help with your proposal, the deadline is March 19th; if not, April 1st.

The Oregon-Idaho Legislative Assembly will meet Saturday, April 14, at Lake Oswego United Methodist Church. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude when the work is complete. Guests are welcome.

The assembly will review the 2018 legislative items - making edits and recommendations for the 2018 Annual Conference Session to review. Some items, if recommended with a 90% or higher vote, will be grouped on a consent calendar for voting by the Annual Conference Members in blocks.  For more information, check out the Annual Conference Session website, or contact Warren Light.

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Certified Lay Minister Classes - Register Now!

CLM classes begin soon and stretch through the spring. Find more information and register using the following links.

CLM Weekend Intensive
March 16-17, 2018 - Collins Retreat Center

Leadership in the Wesleyan Way: Evangelism & Mission Field Engagement
April 14, 2018 - Vancouver
April 21, 2018 - Boise

Leadership in the Wesleyan Way: Spiritual Formation & DiscipleMaking
May 19, 2018 - Boise
May 26, 2018 - Vancouver

Questions? Contact Hollie Swanson at or Rev. David Nieda at

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Marriage & the Bible
working through relevant passages

A One-Day Event on April 14th at Portsmouth-Union UMC

Facilitated and taught by biblical scholar Jennifer Bird, PhD. a United Methodist and Adjunct Professor at University of Portland and PCC, this workshop is intended to offer information, not to convince of a particular perspective. The morning will focus on the Hebrew  Bible, and the afternoon will revolve around the New Testament. We’ll read and discuss passages together, then hear content drawing from  biblical scholarship to engage a more complex understanding of our sacred texts. Prepare to engage in deep, prayerful study of the Bible and fellowship with your siblings in Christ.

What: Full-day workshop, with lunch
When: Saturday, April 14 2018 8:30am~4:30pm
Where: Portsmouth Union Church
              4775 N. Lombard St.
              Portland, Oregon 97203
Registration: Email Rev. Julia Nielsen at
Suggested donation: $15/person (covers materials and lunch)

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Holy Land Tour Offered This Fall

OR/ID United Methodists – and friends – are invited to join the Holy Land Task Force on a pilgrimage tour of Palestine/Israel in October, 2018.

From a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee to Bethlehem and Nazareth, the itinerary includes all the “traditional” Biblical sites. Pilgrims will also visit the ancient cities of Hebron and Jericho, as well as refugee camps in Palestine, and Israeli settlements to provide a variety of perspectives on the Occupation.

Visits with Archbishop Chacour (author of Blood Brothers) and a tour of the ancient Roman ruins of Sabastiya are among the highlights, along with a walk on the Via Dolorosa and a full day’s visit to Jerusalem.

The UMC has passed resolutions on "responsible" tourism to the Holy Land, and this trip will follow those guidelines by utilizing a Palestinian Christian travel agency and guide, as well as by visiting many places that are usually omitted from the standard "tourist" itinerary.

The land portion of the trip, including all meals and lodging, transport in private air-conditioned bus, entrance fees and the services of a licensed, English-speaking Christian guide, costs $1,750.  Air travel is estimated at $1,500.

For more information, see the brochure or contact Dee Poujade 

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The Buddy System
A note from Sara Ross, Columbia District Administrative Assistant

Hello, Columbia District!

Last summer, I made my first trip to the Atlantic Ocean, my first opportunity to go swimming in ocean waves. (I know, I know... blame it on my landlocked Oklahoma childhood!) I was with my sister-in-law's family, a crew of seasoned swimmers and they taught me about the buddy system. No matter how good a swimmer any one of them is, no matter how many times they've been in the waves, nobody goes in without a buddy. You never know when the tide is going to do something funky, or when a surprise (or "sneaker") wave might come and knock the wind out of you. This, I was taught, is the motto of the ocean-going family: you never go out alone. And then I watched as they taught the little ones, free to float and flail, but always with a hand near enough to grab onto.

As I get acclimated to my new job (and city!), I’m feeling more comfortable in the physical space. Can I find pens and printer paper? Check. Does my computer work the way I need it to, and have I memorized a couple of different routes to the office? Check, check. Do I remember that I'm not allowed to pump my own gas? Check!

There are, of course, deeper levels of learning and evolution that continue to roll in like waves. Some moments I feel the flow sweep over my head and tumble me around, while others, I’m combing the shore for interesting tidbits I might have missed when the water rushed by. I’ve talked to many of you, here and there, in person, by phone, and in email and each encounter teaches me something new about how I’m here to help and what we’re all doing together. For all of these moments – even when the sneaker waves strike – I am grateful because it’s all about the buddy system, right? Reach out through the water and there is a hand to guide me up.

As we move through March, I pray we all find time to take a rest on that metaphorical beach with enough perspective to ponder the mystery of how the waves move, and especially the strength of the hand that holds us as the water, unceasingly, comes and goes.

And to feel the warmth of a tiny bit of real-life springtime sunshine beginning to break through!

In peace,

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Columbia District Office of Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
1505 SW 18th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97201 ~ (503) 249-1851 ~