September 13, 2018

Dear Reader,

That crisp air as a I step at my front door each morning is a reminder that we’re entering a new season – full of crunchy leaves, football games and fall festivals, to be sure.

But this is also the time we see churches entering a new season, too. New Sunday school classes, new curriculum, new parishioners.

It’s an exciting time in the life of the church. As the leaves fall, churches across the Oregon-Idaho Conference are doing new and exciting things – I’m pretty sure.

Our job here in your Conference communications office is to tell the story of YOU and your church. We love hearing about the different ways you’re trying to be the hands and feet of God in your community.

Over the summer we highlighted churches like Hillsboro UMC, which tried a new summer camp program for their community this year. We also looked at Portsmouth Union tackling an affordable housing project for its neighborhood.

There was also a young girl from Amistad y Fe in Wilder, Idaho, creating an animated video to talk to kids about DACA.

In this week’s Connector, you’ll read about Montavilla UMC literally “paving” the way for a closer connection with its neighbors.

We highlight these stories of new and unique ministries to hopefully inspire others across the Conference to seek out new opportunities to be disciples for transformation in the world.

Which church will we feature next week? Well, we won’t know until you email us your unique stories at

Kristen Caldwell, communications associate


WJ Mission Cabinet endorses One Church Plan

On September 10 the Western Jurisdiction Mission Cabinet released a statement offering support for the One Church Plan. The Plan is among those that will be considered by a special called session of the General Conference in February 2019.

Gathered at a recent meeting, the cabinet – composed of Bishop’s, Directors of Connectional Ministry, and the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team Chair – said, “We speak to you out of a deep love for Christ and Christ’s Church, believing that the church should be ‘a home for all God’s people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation.’”

In endorsing the One Church Plan, which is also endorsed by the Council of Bishops, they said, “It is after much prayer, study and discernment that we share with you that we believe that the One Church Plan is the best way forward for the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church. We stand with the Council of Bishops in their affirmation of this plan. We believe that this plan has the best potential to maximize the presence of United Methodist witness, allow for contextual differentiation, and balance an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with as much unity as possible.”

Read the full statement on the conference website and download a printed copy to study and share.

Montavilla UMC “paves” way for church outreach in Portland neighborhood

Montavilla United Methodist Church has decided to take church to the streets – well, the sidewalks at least – in its Portland neighborhood as a new way of reaching out to the community.

The church recently installed 22 12-inch by 12-inch concrete pavers engraved with inspirational quotes that reflect how diversely the church defines Christianity.

“We thought, ‘What would it look like to have 22 one-sentence sermons outside of the church?’” said Rev. Tim Winslea.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Conference hires new HR specialist

Joshua Alexander started this week as the Conference’s new human resources and benefits specialist after 15 years spent working in the non-profit and faith-based organizations.

“I’m excited to be working somewhere that is heavily focused on community and has a purpose and wants to help others,” he said.

The 36-year-old holds degrees in biblical studies and communications. Raised in Eastern and Central Oregon, Alexander moved to Portland in 2003. He started working for the non-profit Because People Matter (formerly known as Bridgetown) and was one of the original directors of Portland’s Nightstrike program, which 15 years later, continues to host weekly outreach programs with the homeless downtown.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.


Spirit Alive: Traveling through Samaria in order to find our common ground

In his bi-monthly blog, Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, explores Jesus’ difficult journey through Samaria and how that relates to our own stories now.

“This is not be an easy road to walk, because it takes us to places that we would prefer not to go. It's like Jesus taking his disciples through Samaria rather than avoiding the place altogether. It is a journey that forces us into the essence of his teachings by asking us to leave behind our desire to put loyalty to tribe before commitment to God. But in order to do this, we have to set aside our assumptions about others, so that we become open to strangers, many of whom we would prefer not to keep company with... and some whom we hold deep prejudices about.”

Read more of Lowell’s latest blog post on the Conference website.

Inspiring Generosity: Plan now, the end (of the year) is near

People might not like to hear it in early September, but 33 percent of non-profit giving happens in the month of December. Don’t worry, though, Cesie Delve-Scheuermann offers advice on how to get prepared in this week’s blog.

“Even though there are still three and a half more months left…everyone in the non-profit development/fundraising world is already talking about it. I’ve had at least three different posts cross my desk declaring “now’s the time to get organized.” The first one arrived on August 18th. Egads. Talk about freaking out.”

Read more Cesie’s latest blog on the Conference website.


Paths collide for immigrants, border agents

The helicopter swoops in lower, its big blades pounding, while fine pale dirt envelopes the U.S. Border Patrol agents as they turn and run headlong into tall sugarcane.

Agent Robert Rodriguez — parked at the crossroad— is listening to the chatter on the radio. All morning the Air and Marine Operation helicopter has been circling, helping the agents track a group of undocumented immigrants.

Rodriguez rolls down his window, slowing down when he spots footprints. He gets out to speak to the agents searching.

A radio call sends agents running toward a corner of the cane field, hoping to catch immigrants being flushed out of hiding.

Read more of this multi-part story from United Methodist News Service.

Arabic-speaking Swiss church provides home for migrants

Anna Shammas was homesick and lonely on a subway in Switzerland in 2002. As a migrant from Aleppo, Syria, she was wary when another passenger began to draw pictures and talk to her 2-year-old daughter.

When the Swiss woman learned that Shammas was a Christian, she invited her to worship, drawing a map to the United Methodist church in Aarau. 

“I didn’t want to go in a false way,” Shammas says, explaining her fear of the local people who might reject her as an immigrant. Yet the invitation to worship intrigued her at a time when she was “without a friend, without language skills, without security, and most of all without God.”

Today, the Rev. Anna Shammas, age 38, and her husband, the Rev. Rami Ziadeh, 43, are founders and leaders of the Arabic-Speaking United Methodist Church of Aarau. The congregation of about 70-80 Christian worshippers from Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and European countries — as well as some from the Muslim faith — have gathered in the United Methodist Church of Aarau since 2007.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Angola United Methodists weigh in on social principles

Listening sessions about the revision of The United Methodist Church’s 50-year-old Social Principles are the first contact many have had with the document that helps guide the denomination’s efforts to create justice in the world.

“This conversation, gives a boost to … the pillars of Methodism. For many, this is the first time they have a contact with this valuable and precious instrument that regulates the church activity in the different challenges … imposed in our society. Everything we discuss here will be useful to the global church. Great is our responsibility because we will be representing the church in Angola,” said the Rev. Manuel André, Western Angola Conference bishop’s assistant and a United Methodist Board of Church and Society member.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Churches can help erase stigma of HIV/AIDS

In 2010, more than 130 United Methodists went through HIV/AIDS testing during that spring’s Council of Bishops meeting to draw attention to a major global health issue and express solidarity with those suffering with the disease.

These days, such attention — from both the faith community and society at large — has diminished, says Indiana Area Bishop Julius C. Trimble, committee chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Committee.

“It’s what I call apathetic neglect,” he explained. “It’s another form of discrimination.”

Trimble hopes that an upcoming denominational conference will “generate some tangible commitment to re-prioritize HIV and AIDS in our overall concern about global and national health.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

New group pushes simple plan as Way Forward

A new group of United Methodists has formed to champion a “Simple Plan” at the special General Conference in 2019.

If approved, the legislation would open the door to full participation of LGBTQ individuals in the life of the church, said Methodists for the Simple Plan. The proposal eliminates all restrictions in the denomination’s Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality.

So far, 115 United Methodists — including 13 General Conference delegates — have signed on to support the plan.

In a statement released Aug. 28, the unofficial advocacy group insists the three plans proposed in the Commission on a Way Forward report “have significant theological, moral and ecclesiological flaws.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service


Responding to suicide prevention in faith-based communities

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and Suicide Prevention Week is September 9-15.

The Faith Communities Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has assembled an array of resources to help celebrate Faith.Hope.Life.

Faith.Hope.Life is an opportunity for every faith community in the United States, regardless of creed, to focus on one Sabbath each year on the characteristics common to most faiths that also help prevent suicides.

Find more resources on the Conference website.

United Methodist Global Ministries EarthKeepers training comes west

Global Ministries is bringing EarthKeepers training to Salt Lake City November 1-4, 2018. EarthKeepers equips United Methodist laity and clergy to develop or deepen environmental initiatives in their churches and communities. It connects them with a broader community of United Methodists who are actively engaged in creation care. Training topics will include eco-theology, anti-racism, strategies for social change, and United Methodist resources. Participants will leave the training with a plan to develop a creation care project in their church or community.

The training will be led by Rev. Jenny Phillips, Global Ministries Creation Care program manager and clergy member of the Pacific Northwest Conference. The training will include a component on climate change as it relates to disaster mitigation, relief, and recovery. We will meet with Brian Diggs, associate director of the UMCOR West Depot, and will volunteer at the Depot.

Lodging, food and training are paid for by Global Ministries. The application deadline is October 11, 2018. Read more and apply online today at:


African delegates need information before forming opinions

By Rev. Lloyd T. Nyarota

           … My brothers and sisters in Africa as well as the other central conferences must form opinions without neocolonial influence from the United States. …


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