June 2018 Newsletter

This month's issue includes:

Among Us, a note from Erin Martin
Silence doesn't mean nothing's happening, a note from Lydia Henry

Annual Conference
UMCOR Updates & Needs
Summer Yoga Retreat at Wallowa Lake
You are so brave, a note from Sara Ross
Upcoming Events and Dates to Know

Among Us

A letter from our District Superintendent, Rev. Erin Martin

“In Christ’s family, there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave
and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a
common relationship with Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28 (MSG)

Dear Kindred in Christ:
Until this year, I never thought that gender equality was doctrinally in question within the United Methodist Church, and yet, in May, we learned across the connection that Annual Conferences failed to ratify Amendment 1 to the UM Constitution clearly stating that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. What in the world happened?

The text of the amendment reads:
“As the Holy Scripture reveals, both men and women are made in the image of God and, therefore, men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God. The United Methodist Church acknowledges the long history of discrimination against women and girls. The United Methodist Church shall confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large. The United Methodist Church shall work collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten women’s and girl's equality and well-being.”

Or will we?

This statement is right and true in every way, but somehow our global church fell short in endorsing this statement.

I remember distinctly that it was the strong presence of women in leadership that was a key reason that I became United Methodist in the first place. It was nearly 25 years ago when I first attended a UM church in Columbia, SC with my college roommate and a woman was leading worship at the time. Something stirred in my heart that day, and within 5 years, I was seeking ordination within the United Methodist Church for myself. Now, as a District Superintendent, my heart breaks to think of the women and girls who might question their value because we failed to speak clearly on their behalf.

This year, at Annual Conference in Boise, a group of Columbia District clergywomen are raising awareness about the #MeToo movement. We are inviting women and survivors of sexual harassment and abuse to wear black on Friday, June 15. We will break the silence of sexual harassment and abuse against women and other vulnerable people by sharing stories on a “wailing wall,” participating in a public liturgy on the floor of Annual Conference and calling upon God’s Spirit to lead us all toward full healing and shalom. For women, the power of the #MeToo movement is the ability for us to speak our truth, to say what we have always known, that for as long as we can remember, our dignity, safety and our equality have been in question, and yet, in Jesus Christ we find our full humanity and take our rightful place in the Kin-dom of God.

Will you join me in this important act of justice and peace?

See you at Annual Conference!

Grace and peace,

Rev. Erin Martin

Silence doesn't mean nothing's happening

A letter from our District Lay Leader, Lydia Henry


“Be still, and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10

It was a dark and stormy night… well, maybe not stormy, but it was dark, about 11:00 p.m. when I drove out of the car rental lot at the Ontario airport in southern California. It was another trip in my weekly commute to California for a project I was working on. Long days – late nights.
As I pulled onto the street leading to the interstate, I was in auto pilot mode, thinking about the trip to the hotel and the list of tasks waiting for me the next morning.  Everything seemed fine. But when I stopped for the red light I noticed the car had “stopped running”. There was silence – nothing, nada - no sound coming from the engine. I started the car and continued down the road. At the next light, it happened again. The car’s engine stopped.
Fearing that I would be stranded on the freeway, I turned around and drove back to the rental office. I parked the car and went inside. I worked my way through the line and told the counter person, “The car keeps turning off at stoplights.” He looked at me, and with a straight face said, “It’s a hybrid car. They turn off when they are stopped. But when you put your foot on the gas, they re-start.” “Oh….”
Needless to say, I was very aware of the sounds of the car after that – and the silence.
In our busy lives, I think we sometimes don’t know what to do with silence. I watch my grandchildren who are constantly connected to music or games or texting with friends. Silence and downtime is something they try to avoid.
Often, I catch myself busy with activities and thinking, “I don’t have time…”  Time to read the book I’m interested in; time to send a friend a note; time to sit on the deck and relax into the sounds of nature; or time to just be in the moment. Time to be in a place where the silence is a blessing and I am attuned to the words not spoken yet heard. Words whispered to my soul about the deep longings never shared out loud.

Silence doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. 

I find silence to be healing and refreshing. I know that I am not alone in this sentiment. One of my favorite scriptures talks about turning to the silence. In 1 Kings, we read about Elijah’s experience after he fled from Jezebel and was hiding in a cave. “The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

What are you doing here, Lydia?  What are you doing here, my friends? What gentle whisper is waiting for you and me in the silent moments of our days? In these times when so much is happening in our lives, in the church, in our neighborhoods and world, I seek the silence – and listen for the whispers of God.

Silence doesn’t mean nothing’s happening.

Get all the details at

Questions? Concerns? Email or call 503-802-9203.

 UMCOR Updates & Needs

 UMCOR has received a 4-star rating on - the highest rating there is!

Thanks to the collection point churches who have agreed to store kits until they can be transported twice a year to West Depot in Salt Lake City! There will be a pick up of kits and kit supplies at Annual Conference, June 13-16 in Boise! Items we need are listed on the UMCOR website under Relief Supply Kits. On the same page, you'll find videos detailing how to build school kits and cleaning kits.
Note: If you're bringing the kits to Annual Conference, please disregard any shipping or monetary instructions.

Questions about kits and drop-offs? Contact Donna Waltman at

Looking for general information about UMCOR needs, money, transportation, housing in SLC, etc.? Check out the new Mission Opportunities page on the Conference website!

Summer Yoga Retreat at Wallowa Lake

A message from retreat leader, Rev. Beth Ann Estock:

As we witness the speed and magnitude of change with our technology, environment, work, culture and institutions it becomes increasingly important as leaders to find our quiet center and live out of our deep purpose. But for many of us we don’t know how to find that place of depth, let alone live out of it.  No matter how hard we try to power through the frenetic pace and chaos that we find ourselves in we are left feeling tired and defeated.
As I reflect upon my 23 years of yoga practice I have come to realize how it has shaped and formed me as a creative and resilient leader. The practice has helped me to connect with the wisdom of my body and befriend my soul. It has helped me to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit and given me eyes to see Goodness, Truth and Beauty unfolding all around me. Yoga has given me metaphors and practices to help me face uncertainty, pain and anxiety that would have normally devastated me.
This summer – July 24 to 28 - I am offering a retreat for leaders who are longing to take a step away from the chaos and discover their quiet center as a guide for their lives.  Each day of the retreat we will focus around themes such as relaxation, resilience, alignment, and discernment. We will use body movement, meditation, breath work, journaling and the beauty of the Wallowa Mountains to help us discover our deep joy and wisdom.
This camp is open to folks who are curious about yoga as well as those who have a regular practice. The practices will be gentle for beginners and deepening for yoginis! If you are longing for renewal this retreat is for you.

For more information, please visit

Rev. Beth Ann Estock is an ordained elder in the United Methodist church, a Prakriti yoga instructor and a certified integral coach.

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Y O U   A R E   I N V I T E D ! 

Oregon-Idaho RUMS Picnic in the Park

Saturday, August 11th at 3 pm
Beaverton First UMC - 12555 SW 4th Street Beaverton, OR

Join us to share the heart-warming Reconciling spirit!
Please RSVP to Roxanne Ushman
by August 1, so we know how many people to expect! 

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and desserts will be provided.
Feel free to bring side dishes to share!
Questions? Contact Roxanne Ushman  503-313-0072
                       Bonnie Parr Philipson  503-547-3822

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You Are So Brave

A note from Sara Ross, Columbia District Administrative Assistant

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the
Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

I remember the moment the #MeToo movement came on my radar. I was cruising Facebook late one night and saw a post from one of my oldest and dearest. She wrote only: #MeToo. The hollow of my throat went hot. My cheeks flushed. I heard a shushing in my ears while my heart pounded. I remember the cold of my fingers against my lips as I stared at the screen. I typed in a comment: You are so brave. I love you.

It’s not that the truth of this particular friend’s me too was a surprise; I know her story well. It was the boldness of saying it out loud like that, in public like that, the boldness of claiming her history and taking a stand to say, time’s up. It took me 24 hours to post my own #MeToo and I did it with shaking hands. It’s not because I’m too timid to share myself; it’s because our #MeToo moments have taught us about fear, have taught us about silence, have taught us about shame. The time for all that is up.

Lines from the end of Alice Walker’s poem, “Each one, pull one,” loop in my mind.


I returned to faith as an adult in a very progressive – especially for middle America – Methodist church. I didn’t, at first, even know it was a Methodist church. After hiding in the crowd for a few weeks, I stayed after Sunday worship for an event called “Coffee with the Pastor.” So scared was I to be seen, to let myself be known and to learn whether this was a safe place, my hands shook enough that coffee sloshed down over my wrist. They won me though. They won me with their firm stance on LGBTQ inclusion and advocacy, their talk of prevenient grace, their women at the pulpit, their propensity for deep philosophical conversation. They won me with their boldness in declaring the all-encompassing love of Christ.

And now I’m here, the work of the Methodist Church shaping my daily life, and I wonder. I wonder at how viscerally afraid I was to come back to church. And at how much that particular community changed my life. I wonder at all the amazing, progressive, Christ-followers I have found around the country and here in my new hometown. But, I also wonder in confusion that a Special Session will meet next year – in the home city of that very church that brought me to Methodism – to decide if the Church will honor all people or just some. At the failure of Amendment 1 of the UM Constitution. Was that community that embraced and led me to Light the future? Or a growing, blessed rogue?


This links together – the silence, the shame, the shaking. The #MeToo moments that have taught us fear, the churches that have told us we didn’t belong.  I’m over it. Maybe you are too. Time’s up.


In a poem with so many layers it’s unfair to quote just a piece, the Alice Walker lines that sing through me are these: “Each one pull one back into the sun… All of us must live/Or none.”

Prayers for peace and gratitude and connection as we move toward the glorious warmth of summer.

In peace,


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