February 7, 2019

Dear Reader,

Today the UM Connector has a lot of voices. Stories, blogs and commentary all provide different voices that tell us about the global church.

This is one of the things we can do as a communications team – give voice to others.

We have the voice of a bishop, wrestling with what it means to truly love all. We have the voices of someone who is, in some ways, excluded by the church. And we have a voice reflecting on the power of unity in the church. These are just some of the things for you to look for in today’s issue.

So, I invite you to take a little more time with today’s issue. Or come back to it a time or two. What voice is calling to you? What voice inspires you? Where is your voice needed?

Greg Nelson, Director of Communications


All means all. One means one. Some means none.

How do we read the Bible? What does it mean to say God loves all? What is our baptismal covenant to one another?

These are some of the questions that Bishop Elaine Stanovsky wrestled with as she prepared for a recent sermon given at First United Methodist Church in Seattle. The result is a deep dive into how scripture looks at our relationship as a Christian family and how that viewpoint informs the United Methodist Church’s current conversation about full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life and leadership of the church.

Putting her sermon in context she shares, “So, as I enter February, the special session of the General Conference looms large, when United Methodists will decide whether we will continue as one church or split apart, I’m looking for some Good News to carry us through. And I think I’ve found some.”

You can read the text of her sermon, or listen to the podcast of it on the website.

Holy Tamales: Churches' fundraiser aids farm workers

photo by Angie Kiblinger, Hillsboro UMC

In the kitchen at Hillsboro United Methodist Church the week before the Super Bowl, things were humming along as volunteer after volunteer worked to make 3,000 tamales to be delivered to two churches in support of one mission: assisting local farmers.

The tamale fundraiser is for the Western Farm Workers Association winter survival campaign. The tamale-making takes a month to pull off with all WFWA members being volunteers, according to coordinator Leecia Anderson. But everyone is involved in some aspect of making the pork, chicken and veggie creations.

“Everyone learns on the job and a wonderful camaraderie is developed in the group of a mix of ethnicities, gender, age, and socio-economic backgrounds,” said Anderson. “In five days, a team of more than 50 volunteers made 2700 tamales which supporters had donated supplies for."
Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Interfaith advocacy day in Salem March 4

Together with other faith-based organizations, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Oregon-Idaho Conference United Methodist Women are inviting people of faith to participate in the Interfaith Advocacy Day 2019 on March 4 in Salem.
Participants will be able to attend issue briefings and workshops on advocating for compassionate legislation regarding climate justice, criminal justice reform, gun violence prevent, health care, immigration and income inequality.

After the workshops, participants will then march to the State Capitol where they will speak with state legislators. EMO will provide talking points and make all necessary appoints for participants wishing to speak with legislators.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

New HR and benefits specialist ready to get to work

Meg Kau really loves working in human resources – just look at the coffee mug sitting on her desk.

“I can’t keep calm, I’m in HR” it reads.

Dig a little deeper when you talk to the Oregon-Idaho Conference’s new human resources/benefits specialist and she’ll tell you one of her favorite, nerdy things about working in this field.

“I love benefits,” she said.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.


Spirit Alive: The Things We Do Together

Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry, discusses what it means to be in unity in his latest blog.

“Think for a moment about all the things we've done together as United Methodists over the years.

For example, consider all the food pantries, congregate meals, hunger offerings, rallies, and other signs of commitment and service that have taken place in our congregations related to addressing the needs of those who are hungry in Oregon and Idaho.”

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

Inspiring Generosity: The church is ALWAYS asking for money, part II

As a follow-up to last week's blog about the church asking for more money, Cesie Delve-Scheuermann was inundated with responses from church-goers and members who wanted to sound off on the topic.

"Consider engaging your leadership council in the conversation. Put 'why is giving important?' on your agenda. Pass out these two articles and ask their opinion. We need to talk about this more, not less. And guess what? Everyone will have an opinion. I’ll be praying for the spirited discussions you’ll be having and I sure wish I could be a fly on the wall."

Read more of Cesie's blog on the Conference website.

CrossOver: KonMari for ministry with the multitudes

Marie Kuch-Stanovsky reflects in this week’s CrossOver blog about how Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” caused her to do some reflecting on letting go of items and expressing gratitude. It helped while coping with the final worship service at Trinity UMC in Seattle, but also has her thinking about the greater church mission:

“KonMari found its way into this reflection because I was inspired by the stories of Jesus ministering to the multitudes; time and again contradicting the custom of his time to impact lives; letting go of the religious laws that might have prevented his ministry. I hope that we as a church might let go of what is keeping us from living into Jesus’ example."

Read more of this blog on the Greater NW Area website.

Greater NW Pride: Inclusion, or who is including whom into which community?

In his latest blog, Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell dives into the issue of inclusion, what it means to be an outsider in the church right now and who holds the power.

"Therein lies the dynamic at play: the powerful ones? The ones in the whole, larger, or primary group. The powerless ones? The ones who are outside this same group. In the liberation theology and readers of liberation educator Paulo Freire-terms, the ones in power, keeping others out, were simply known as 'the oppressor' and the ones who wanted in? The 'oppressed.' "
Read more of Brett's blog on the Conference website.


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Court ruling prompts GC2019 plan revisions

Modifications could be coming to the Modified Traditional Plan.

Proponents of the Traditional Plan and its related modified version have offered revisions to the legislation heading to the special General Conference on Feb. 23-26.

Meanwhile, backers of the One Church Plan are recommending deleting three sentences in that legislation.
The goal, for all three plans, is to address constitutional issues that the Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s top court, identified in a ruling last year.
The plans are among the proposals offering very different directions for the denomination as it navigates a potentially church-splitting divide over homosexuality.
Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

United Methodist trust clause: Critical amid struggle?

John Wesley was good at predicting the future.

There have been times over the past 100-plus years when a congregation decides it no longer wants to be part of the United Methodist denomination but wants to keep all the church property.

That’s something John Wesley thought about in 1750. He asked three lawyers to craft deeds for three Methodist preaching houses in England. Those deeds were revised several times and under the leadership of Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke, the 1796 General Conference approved the trust clause that is still in effect today.

The trust clause states the local church owns the property in trust for the entire denomination.

As recently as December 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the denomination’s trust clause in a ruling over the property rights of the Alpine Community United Methodist Church, which has operated as a United Methodist church since 1843. 
Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.
*Side note: The courts also upheld the trust clause in a 2010 suit against the trustees of the Ontario (Oregon) United Methodist when that church attempted to break away.

UMW in Liberia focuses on ending violence against women

United Methodist Women in Liberia staged a peaceful demonstration in the streets of Margibi County against the growing waves of violence against women and girls. 

Muriel V. Nelson, president of United Methodist Women in Liberia, said the group’s advocacy is not limited to women of The United Methodist Church.

“The issue of violence against women is not unique to The United Methodist Church. This is an age-old global problem, so we must tackle it as a societal problem,” she said.


The day of the march, Jan. 24, was declared “Black Thursday,” and every woman attending the 72nd annual session of United Methodist Women in Liberia wore black.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Among all General Conference delegates, only 36% are women

As a result of action at the 2016 General Conference, the Council of Bishops established the Commission on a Way Forward and called a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC). The purpose of the 2019 General Conference is to consider legislation consistent with the scope of the called General Conference and the report from the Commission on a Way Forward, regarding human sexuality and the unity of the church.

Since the Special Called Session is a continuation of the 2016 General Conference, the great majority of the delegates at the Special Called Session are the same individuals who attended the 2016 General Conference.  A few Annual Conferences held elections for new delegates, and some 2016 delegates have been replaced by reserves because they are no longer able or eligible to serve. 

In 2016, the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW) published a 2016 four-part report on the representation of women among 2016 delegates. In anticipation of the upcoming special session, GCSRW presents this updated breakdown of the 2019 delegates, with special focus on the representation of women. 

Read more of this report from the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.


Learn more about General Conference

Links to resources for learning about the Special Called Session of General Conference are available at

Hear stories, poetry from Muslim immigrants

Several churches, including Lincoln Street United Methodist Church, are partnering together to bring the voices of Muslim immigrants to the Portland Community.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, “Moving from Fear to Hope: Muslim Immigrant stories and poetry” will be presented at Oregon Episcopal School Lower School Common from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The even is sponsored by the Institute for Christian Muslim Understanding, St. John the Baptist Episcopal School, Oregon Episcopal School and Lincoln Street UMC.

There is no cost to attend the event, located at 6300 SW Nicol Rd. in Portland.

Find more information about the event on the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding website.


Commentary: Why I stay

by Kipp Nelson

  “… Why do you choose to stay a part of the United Methodist Church?” That’s the persistent question pushed upon LGBTQ people amidst an ever-growing church debate. And after years of being asked this question, this is the only logical answer I have found. It’s home.

It’s the place in which I have encountered the very presence of God.

It’s the place in which I was formed in the faith before I even knew what faith was …”

Commentary: When your church talks about you, without you

By Jorge Lockward

       “… Don’t get me wrong: Some of us have been privileged to be present at the highest levels of church life. I have served as delegate to several General Conferences and as member of the Commission on the General Conference. And yet, even this participation has come with caveats, limitations and even the familiar whispers and disapproving behind-the-scenes conversations. All was well as long as my gay identity stayed just enough in the background to avoid the discomfort of others …”




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