January 31, 2019

Dear Reader,

Someone said to me yesterday, “I just don’t like change.” This got me thinking about change.

Apparently (according to Google) it was the ancient philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus who first said, “change is the only constant in life.”

But I found some other good quotes about change on a website from Among my favorites here are: “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.” (Maya Angelou) and "Change is inevitable -- except from a vending machine." (Robert C. Gallagher)

But joking aside, change will happen, and it’s happening in The United Methodist Church. With the special called General Conference now three weeks away, we continue to offer resources in today’s UM Connector that can help you understand more about General Conference and the Commission on a Way Forward.

And that’s not the only change we talk about this week. So take some time to get informed on the changes that we are part of, lest you become the subject of this quote by W. Edwards Deming, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

But, change we will.

Greg Nelson, Director of Communications


Greathouse retiring as Mission & Ministry Coordinator

Rev. Lowell Greathouse, mission and ministry coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference has announced his intention to retire at the end of the conference year, effective June 30, 2019. Greathouse has served in this role full-time since 2015. He has been a member of the cabinet since 2010 and was previously the Columbia District Superintendent. 

In his 30-plus years of ministry service, Greathouse also served in appointments to Filer, Lake Oswego, Beaverton, and Portland First United Methodist Churches, as well as to Catholic Charities of San Francisco, Community Action in Washington County, and United Way of the Columbia-Willamette.
Reflecting on his diverse ministry experiences, Greathouse said, “It has been a gift be able to serve the church in a variety of ways and find opportunities to connect the work of the church with the life of the community, especially around the pressing issues of our time. There is so much work still to be done, and people of faith have an important role to play. Over the years, I have learned that our connectional system creates helpful ways for us to collectively make a positive difference in the world.”

Read more about Greathouse’s retirement on the Conference website.

UMCOR and disaster response opportunities to give

When disasters strike in the United States or Internationally, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) responds.
But unlike past practice, UMCOR no longer accepts donations designated for specific disasters or location. Instead, all donations for disasters go into two common pools, either for U.S. Disaster Response (Advance # 90160) or International Disaster Response (Advance # 982450) so they can be prioritized within those areas of ministry. This practice creates a fast and effective way to make certain the full resources of UMCOR can be made available for disaster needs.
Disaster response is only part of the UMCOR mission. Elevating poverty and hunger, global health, and sustainable development are part of the long-term strategy of UMCOR. More information for these and other areas of focus for UMCOR can be found on their website.

Read more about UMCOR and disaster response opportunities on the Conference website.

General Conference 2019: Voices and videos

The upcoming General Conference, while focused on one issue, has generated a wide range of opinion and perspectives. It also raises questions. What did the bishops have in mind when they created the Commission on a Way Forward? What are the impacts and perspectives for the central conferences in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines? How do the supporters of the One Church, Connectional Conferences, and Traditionalist plans see them as a way forward for The United Methodist Church? And what about the Simple Plan?

These questions are addressed, if not answered, in a series of short interviews produced by United Methodist Communications. Using a question and answer format, they give short video answers to many questions people might have about the special session to be held February 23-26 in St. Louis, MO.

Places to start might include the interviews with Rev Gary Graves, secretary of the General Conference, Rev. Tom Berlin, a member of the Commission on a Way Forward talking about the One Church Plan, or Rev. Kenneta Bigham-Tsai, chief connectional ministries officer for the Connectional Table.

There are Sixteen interviews in all, with the last being Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the Philippines. You can find them on the website.

Separate from this series, the Council of Bishops has produced a video about the One Church Plan. This is the plan that the council voted to recommend to the church and has been endorsed by the Bishops and Mission Cabinet of the Western Jurisdiction.

More information and links are available at

Western Jurisdiction updates during General Conference 

The Western Jurisdiction Communicators are pooling their talents and resources together to curate a digest of the Special Session of General Conference in February 2019 in the form of a limited edition newsletter for the Western Jurisdiction. Because of your interest in Conference and District news, you are included in the subscriber email list.

Beginning on February 22, 2019, you'll receive a daily newsletter until February 27, 2019.

When you receive an edition of Western Jurisdiction updates, add the sending email address to your contacts to ensure you don't miss any of the upcoming news. If you don't want to receive the special edition newsletter, you can unsubscribe through the link provided in the footer of the Western Jurisdiction update. You'll find updates about General Conference from this newsletter and other news outlets by visiting


Rodriguez Flores withdraws under complaint

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky has announced that Jorge Rodriguez Flores, pastor of Las Naciones United Methodist Church, part of the Open Door Churches in Salem, Oregon, withdrew from ordained ministry and membership in the Oregon-Idaho Conference last week. Rodriguez withdrew, while under complaint, during the supervisory response to the complaint. His decision to withdraw ends the supervisory process and inquiry into the allegations made against him. The Bishop asked the conference to pray for Jorge Rodriguez, his family, Las Naciones UMC and those affected by his ministry.

Please note: It is important not to confuse Jorge Rodriguez Flores, who has withdrawn from ordained ministry, with the Rev. Jorge Rodriguez Vasquez, serving as pastor of Las Naciones of Hillsboro, Oregon.

Inspiring Generosity: Delve-Scheuermann joins Lewis Center podcast

In addition to her weekly blog, Cesie Delve-Scheuermann recently joined a podcast by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership on “Moving toward a culture of Joyful Generosity.

Listen to her thoughts on the Lewis Center website.
Be sure to check out her weekly blog on the Conference website as well.

CrossOver: More than cheesemakers

  “In a memorable scene from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian,’ several individuals are so far back during the Sermon on the Mount that when Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” they mishear him, hearing instead, “Blessed are the cheesemakers.” One woman responds, “Ah, what’s so special about the cheesemakers?” Another responds, “Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.” While I would only recommend this movie if you happen to be comfortable both with cursing and sacrilegious humor, it offers uncomfortable truths to people of faith …”

Read more of Rev. Dan Wilcox’s musings on the Greater NW CrossOver website.


Seminary's move eased by court decision

Leaders of financially embattled Claremont School of Theology see its relocation from the Los Angeles area to Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, as a matter of survival.

The prospects for the United Methodist seminary’s move recently brightened, thanks to a decision by Judge Dan Thomas Oki of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Oki’s ruling frees the seminary to sell its 16.4-acre campus in Claremont, California, at fair market value. Charles Clark, a lawyer for the seminary, puts that at about $36 million.

“The money will allow us to retire our debts and also to pay for the transition and the relocation,” said the Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont School of Theology. “We hope that we will still have a substantial amount to return to our endowment.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.
Read Willamette University's response and frequently asked questions on the university's website.

Praying Our Way Forward team unveils details of February 23 Day of Prayer

The Praying Our Way Forward team of the Council of Bishops has released details of the Day of Prayer, which will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CST in the St. Louis America’s Center Convention Complex on Saturday, February 23, the first day of the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.

The event will be live-streamed at

In releasing the details, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn of the Praying Forward team thanked the representatives from the Host Committee of General Conference and leadership from The Upper Room for working together to plan the Day of Prayer.

The two-fold purpose of the day is to pray for:
1) the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference and
2) increased effectiveness in fulfilling the Church’s mission. 

During the Day of Prayer, all bishops, delegates and staff will gather on the floor and observers will be in the seating and outer concourse areas of The Dome at the America’s Center.

Find the scheduled prayer times on the UMC website.

Border wall would cut off historic church

President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall could destroy a piece of Methodist history and disturb sacred burial grounds in this small rural area just a mile or so from the Rio Grande.

On the main road, two historic markers are the only signs that history lies down a two-lane road behind a grassy levee.
Trees and brush hide most of the view across from a pristine white chapel framed by a cross of shiny dark brown wood. About a mile or more on the other side is the border of Mexico and the river.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Rural group lists concerns with plans before GC2019

A group representing the interests of United Methodist rural congregations has sent a letter of concern to delegates for the upcoming special General Conference.

The letter from United Methodist Rural Advocates asks the delegates to be aware of the “potential harms” for rural and town and country churches while considering plans for the denomination’s future.

The Rev. Randy Wall, the Rural Advocates chairperson, said its members had discussed the situation several years ago and acknowledged “that there were differing opinions about the issues that are before General Conference 2019.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Redoubling efforts to fight ebola epidemic

More than 400 people have died from the Ebola virus in eastern Congo since the epidemic began in August. The death toll includes more than 50 United Methodists.

According to the World Health Organization and latest Ministry of Health report, there have been 405 confirmed deaths and 54 probable deaths, with 256 people cured.
Despite efforts by the government and its partners and prevention activities carried out by The United Methodist Church, the epidemic is the second largest on record and the deadliest the country has seen. The worst Ebola outbreak took place between December 2013 and April 2016, when the hemorrhagic fever killed 11,310, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Recognizing the magnitude of the crisis, United Methodist delegates to the church's annual health council in December “resolved that health coordination can double efforts and intensify prevention activities,” said Félicien Litalema, district superintendent of Kisangani II in the Oriental and Equator Conference.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


Deadline approaches for UMHEF scholarships

Just over a month remains to apply for scholarships from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation. A variety of scholarships are available to United Methodist students who need help with tuition expenses at 117 United Methodist-related colleges, universities and seminaries. Last year UMHEF awarded more than $2 million in scholarship funds.

Application forms and additional required documents must be postmarked no later than March 1.

Basic eligibility criteria: You must be a UMC member for at least one year and be enrolled or planning to enroll full-time at a United Methodist related college, university or seminary for the 2019-2020 school year. The two main programs are General Named Endowed Scholarships and the United Methodist Dollars for Scholars program.

Read more about and apply for scholarships on the UMHEF website.

Also apply for scholarships from the Oregon-Idaho Conference at


On Methodist Orthodoxy

By John Blossom

            “ … I experienced my definitive calls to ordained ministries, from God’s Holy Spirit, in John Wesley’s chapel, and before a carving of his face in a pulpit railing in Bridgeport, Connecticut; it’s safe to say that I am an ardent Wesleyan. So, I have to say that I am puzzled by the use of the word “orthodox” in defining these secession movements. I am puzzled, because, as far as I can tell, the kinds of orthodoxies that these movements are calling their followers towards would probably puzzle Rev. Wesley …”


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