April 10, 2018
graphic of people in a circle with word "community"

Ways to Begin

In the Book of Acts we read about the early church and how they did things as a community of faith. In Acts 4: 32-35 we see that the early Christians of Jerusalem made a radical decision to live together as community, pool their resources, and share the wealth “as any had need.” What we don’t know is how they decided that this was the way to be faithful in that place at that time. We do know that at that time the poor, the disenfranchised, widows, orphans, and foreigners all were treated poorly and that those who had no real economic standing suffered the most. I think it is safe to say that the early Christians were responding to the needs of their neighbors when they pooled together and gave out to any who had need.

Today the church is adopting and adapting methods that come from many decades of community organizing, community development, and a drive to improve neighborhoods, including  organizing around community needs and community assets.  The goal is to find out what your neighbors need and address that need.
There are some great trainings out there (one in Seattle soon: Love Thy Neighbor: UMC Neighborhood Innovation) but you don’t have to go to a training to begin to get a feeling for what your neighbors need right outside your church’s door. The first thing to do is to see your neighborhood, community, town, crossroads, etc. with new eyes. Look around and notice what you might have overlooked because it has become part of the background. Notice who lives around your church. See what businesses are there. Look at the folks walking by, if there are folks walking by. Does what is outside match what is inside? Are the people in your neighborhood part of your church?
I recommend that each congregation gather its leaders and do a prayer walk around the area that borders the church. Ask God to open your eyes to see what is there, and to open your hearts so that compassion is awakened for what you may not have seen before. Pray for the businesses, their owners, their clients. Pray for the community leaders, other faith communities, the bars and dispensaries. Pray for each person you see, pass or encounter. When you get back to the church compare notes. What did you see, what did God show you, where were the needs? Debrief the experience and do a circle prayer where each person lifts up the most surprising, challenging, or unexpected revelation of the walk. Make sure someone is taking notes!
Empower a team of people to do targeted interviews. Get some time with the school principal. Arrange to chat with elected leaders. Talk to the business people, the chamber of commerce, the social service agencies and the other faith communities. Spend some time interviewing the police or sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, EMTs and others who are on the front lines of responding to the most basic needs. Observe when school begins and ends and watch who comes and goes. Interview folks on the street and those who live there. These interviews do not have to be long or involved. What you want to know are three things: 1) who do they see in the neighborhood, 2) what needs are there that aren’t being met or met well and that they think the church could help with, and, 3) what does the future of this community look like from their perspective.
One thing is certain, in order for a congregation to thrive it needs to be directly involved in the community around it. The church exists for those outside its walls. The church isn’t some kind of oasis from the neighborhood. It is an aid station for the neighborhood. Those of us who make up the church find our rejuvenation and our connections within the church, but God calls us to look outside and to see and respond to the needs of our neighbors. To be the best church we can be we need to assess what’s out there and what assets we have to address what we discover and seek out partners to help us fill in the gaps. Our primary concern and motivation is the same as the early Jerusalem Christians:  make sure that anyone who has a need is helped.

  Tim's signature

Tim Overton-Harris
Cascadia District Superintendent


 Upcoming events in the District Superintendent's Schedule:

April 12-13     Greater NW Cabinet at Collins Retreat Center
April 14          Teaching Certified Lay Minister Workshop in Vancouver,WA
April 15          Presenting at McMinnville Co-op Ministries about becoming                                a Reconciling Congregation
April 17           District Youth Ministries meeting
April 19           District Committee on Ministry
April 21           Teaching Certified Lay Minister Workshop in Boise, ID
April 22           Table Talk at Madras UMC
April 26           District Church Extension Society Board Meeting

Please let Tim know about significant events happening in your local congregation.  He may or may not be able to attend, but he would like to know about them!  You can e-mail him at 


Table Talks: Conversation on the Way Forward

Table Talks Covenant                 

Have you heard of the Table Talks being offered around our Conference this Spring?  

Have you heard about them, but decided not to attend because it sounds like it might be uncomfortable?  

Jan Nelson, Conference Lay Leader, asks you to re-consider.  In an article on the Conference website, Jan reflects on that old advice:  "Never discuss politics or religion."  She thinks most of us long to have in-depth conversations on topics that matter to us with people who are closest to us, but we are often afraid of the conflict that may come.  But the Table Talk events are designed to help us share our opinions and listen to each other in the context of mutual respect, in the context of our shared faith and as brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Jan says, "The experience will be far more valuable if there is a diversity of opinions represented. I fear that people who perceive themselves to be in the minority on the main issue for the day will stay away. We can’t learn to talk about difficult subjects if everyone starts out in agreement. This event is for YOU, whoever you are and whatever beliefs and experiences you bring. Laity or clergy, old or young, whether you see yourself as a leader or not, there is a place for you at the table.

"There will be some information about the Commission on the Way Forward and the proposals for reshaping The United Methodist Church, but this is not the major focus of the event. The focus is on the conversation itself.

"One event is not going to make us all experts at having difficult conversations. But like all worthwhile journeys, each small or large step is important. If the church cannot model this kind of behavior, who will? This is important work; let’s all join in!"

You can read Jan's full article here.

We hope you will join us at one of the Table Talk events!  

 Table Talk locations within reach of the Cascadia District are:

  • Portland FUMC on Sun., April 15
  • Madras UMC on Sun., April 22
  • Gresham UMC on Sun, April 22
  • Hillsboro FUMC on Sun., May 6
  • Corvallis FUMC, Sat., May 19
  • MICAH Bldg., Salem on Tues, May 22
  • A location on the N. Coast TBD
See for more information and a full listing.

Please RSVP online or by calling the district office so that we can be prepared for your presence.

Annual Conference 2018

Registration is Open Now

The 50th Session of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference will meet June 13-16, 2018 in Boise, Idaho. The Conference will be held at the Riverside Hotel and at Boise First UMC. 

Members and guests can now register online at

Be sure to register online by May 29th to avoid a $25 late fee.  Online registration will continue to be available with the $25 late fee until June 5th.  After June 5th the only way to register will be onsite on Wednesday, June 13 and Thursday, June 14th, with a $75 late fee assessed.

Keep up-to-date on all the information for the June 2018 session of the Annual Conference at  




This week in the
Cascadia District

April 12
Coast Colloquy

April 14
Legislative Assembly

April 15
Table Talk at Portland FUMC

Looking Ahead

April 19
Cascadia District Committe on Ministry meeting

April 20-21
Lay Servant Ministries - Basic Course

April 22
Table Talk at Madras UMC

Table Talk at Gresham UMC

April 23
Riff Raff Colloquy

April 26
Communion at District Office

Cascadia District Church Extension Society Board

Love Thy Neighbor: UMC Neighborhood Innovation

April 27-29
Light Up the World! Lay Development Retreat - Canby



Other Important Opportunities

Love Thy Neighbor: UMC Neighborhood Innovation

A pre-event to the Love Thy Neighbor conference in Seattle, the Asset-Based Community Development training will take place at Seattle First United Methodist Church (180 Denny Way, Seattle 98109) on Thursday, April 26 from 10-4 p.m. Here is a flyer for more information, and you can register here. You can also contact Leroy Barber, Greater Northwest Area Developer for Congregational Vitality, at for more information. See his video invitation here.

UMCOR Kit Supplies and Depot Work

Get your UMCOR kits to a pick-up location by April 26th for transport to UMCOR Depot West.  Locations near Cascadia District churches are: Trinity UMC in Salem, Lake Oswego UMC, and LaGrande UMC.  There will be another pick-up of kits at the Annual Conference Session in Boise, June 13-16.

Explore the possibility of taking a team this summer to work at the UMCOR West Depot in Salt Lake City.  You can get all the information about kits and pick-up locations and working at the Depot online at

Lay Development Retreat - All are Welcome!

All are welcome at the family-friendly Light Up the World Lay Development Retreat offered by Columbia District.  It will be held at the Canby Grove Christian Center, Fri April 27 - Sun April 29 (You can just come on Saturday).  It will be a time filled with worship, study, laughter, deep conversations, and relaxations.

Learn more and register by clicking here.

School of Congregational Development - Scholarships Available

The School of Congregational Development is not until August 15-18 (in San Diego!), but to apply for a scholarship you need to act now!

Learn about this premier UMC event focused on congregational vitality by clicking here.

Click here to apply for scholarships.

UMW Award and Grant Deadlines Extended

The deadline for applications for the Charter for Racial Justice Award and the Zimmerman Trust Grant has been extended to April 30th.

Learn more about the Charter for Racial Justice Award by clicking here, and about the Zimmerman Trust Grant by clicking here.

Disaster Preparedness Workshop

Mountain Home UMC (Sherwood) is offering a Disaster Preparedness Workshop on Saturday, May 5th.  

Learn more about it by clicking here.

Bookkeeper Wanted

Mountain Home UMC is looking for a part-time bookkeeper.  Read about the job by clicking here.

Training in Online Communication

Every day, 95% of spiritual seekers use the internet and 83% use social media. Embrace opportunities to build your church’s presence in digital spaces where people spend their time.  United Methodist Communications offers training to help you connect with people online.  Click here to learn more.

Prayer Calendar

April 8-14
Silverton UMC
Interim Pastors: Wally Gustav and Paul Teyler
Lay Leader: Mike Long

April 15-21
Stayton UMC
Pastor Janine DeLaunay
Lay Leader Judy Mohney

April 22-28
Tigard UMC
Pastor Jeremy Hajdu-Paulen

See the full prayer calendar

Contact us

DS Tim Overton-Harris

District Lay Leader
Paula Sadler

District Administrative Assistant
Linda Grund-Clampit

Check out the Cascadia District webpage:

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Cascadia District Office of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
680 State Street, Suite 200, Salem, Oregon, 97301 ~ (503) 581-3969 ~