Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dear Reader,

As we prepare for Holy Week and Palm Sunday, our year-long CrossOver Bible study reaches week 18.

Rev. Dan Wilson-Fey, our conference treasurer takes a different angle to road building as he responds to chapter 31 of Brian McLaren’s “We Make the Road By Walking.”
Dan, and McLaren, look at commitment and decision making. And we see that there are different styles of decision making in journeys and road building. Some start walking and see where it leads them, some want a well-traveled and thoroughly tested path, while still others are willing to try something new, but need more data before committing.
As we continue to our United Methodist journey following the 2019 special session of General Conference, we may need to use each of these decision methods at times. Dan’s blog post, and McLaren’s book are both worth your time to read.
And so are all the great articles in this week’s UM Connector. Especially if you know a youth that would like to learn more about the church and meet other youth from around the conference. If so, make sure to tell them about the opportunity to be a page at the Annual Conference Session in June.
Grace and peace,
Greg Nelson, Director of Communications


Centrist and Progressive UMC leadership engage in conversations for a better way forward

ATLANTA –  “We don’t know the exact nature of Paul’s trouble but we know he made it through!” said Rev. Junius Dotson as he opened the Atlanta “UMC Next” Gathering with a time of worship on Thursday. Rev. Dotson, pointing to the Apostle Paul’s message in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (MSG), navigated the gathered leaders through a time when Paul felt “it was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it… As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally…” Rev. Dotson reminded the gathered, “In the midst of change, what lies before us is an ocean of opportunity.”

On March 27 and April 4, 2019, centrist and progressive leaders from across The United Methodist Church gathered in Dallas, TX and in Atlanta, GA.

Facilitated by Gil Rendle and Bishop Janice Huie, the aim of the meetings was to bring together thoughtful leaders representing various stakeholders in the church to see if a consensus could be reached about a better way forward for The United Methodist Church than that which was passed at General Conference 2019.

The gathered leaders were clear that they agreed to be a part of the conversation, not as a reaction to the onerous Traditional Plan that passed at General Conference 2019, but to give prayerful consideration to a faithful response that reflects the convictions of the majority of United Methodists in the United States who voted against the Traditional Plan.

Read more of this story on the Western Jurisdiction website.

Youth needed to support Annual Conference in June

Every year a few select youth have the opportunity to see the work of the Annual Conference up close.  Working at Annual Conference as pages, they assist by running messages and motions during the meeting, setting up before each session, and addressing any unforeseen difficulties that arise.  While doing this, they get the opportunity to observe the business of the Annual Conference up close.

So, if you are a high school student, or you know one that would be interested in the future of our denomination and  want to help the Annual Conference meeting, applications are now open for positions as pages at the 2019 Annual Conference in Eugene, Oregon. Applications are due by May 6th.

Pages are required to arrive for initial set up on June 12th at 3pm and will be needed through June 15th at around 1 pm. Food and lodging will be paid for by the Annual Conference in thanks for their service. Questions can be directed to the floor manager for Annual Conference, Rev. Dan Benson at or 541-777-7398 (texting OK).


Inspiring Generosity: Easter’s almost here; watch the jargon

Cesie Delve-Scheuermann reports that there are studies that show most first-time visitors to church will decide within the first 10 minutes if they’re going to come back. And since Easter’s one of the biggest visitor Sundays of the year, she offers some tips on how to make sure people feel welcome.

“There was also a recent study done that looked at why visitors didn’t return after they attended a service. Of the top ten reasons people don’t come back, #7 was “Insider Jargon.”*

This is not to say that you need to be jargon-free. However, it does mean that you need to remember that 45% of Americans are unchurched – meaning that they have not been (nor they may have never been) to a religious service in over six months.”

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

Greater NW Pride: Publicity! How to Affirm LGBTQ in Our Churches

In his latest blog, Brett Webb-Mitchell discerns the difference between being a welcoming church and an affirming church for LGBTQ individuals in our churches.

“This means going beyond all the rainbow flags and Reconciling Ministries Network insignias buried or blazing on a page. After all, this is part of my job as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator: seeing and hearing and feeling how are the churches in the Oregon-Idaho Conference are not only welcoming but—to use language from the United Church of Christ (UCC)— “open and affirming,” and respectful and desirous of LGBTQ people of faith to attend and fully join and participate actively in the life of a church.”

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

Spirit Alive: It’s time for a bit more Jesus

At this time in the life of the church, Rev. Lowell Greathouse said we ought to be thinking about what Jesus would do. Not in the WWJD type of way, but comparing the times’ of Jesus’ ministry to today.

“But our times so resemble Jesus' own times...which were filled with political power plays, social inequality, religious turmoil, and spiritual longing.....that not to focus on Jesus would be foolish on our part, especially as people who call ourselves Christians and who seek to follow his Way of living.”

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

Appointment announcements

It is Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky's intention to make the following appointments effective July 1, 2019:

  • Rev. Taylor Gould to LaGrande United Methodist Church, LaGrande, Oregon. Gould has been recommended by the Board of Ordained Ministry for commissioning as a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church. She currently serves Faith United Methodist Church in Troutdale, Oregon. Rev. Al Trachsel has been serving the LaGrande UMC while in retirement.
  •  Rev. Craig Pesti-Strobel to Cottage Grove United Methodist Church in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Pesti-Strobel currently serves the Junction City and Coburg churches. In the new appointment, he will continue serving Junction City half-time and will also pastor Cottage Grove half-time.
  • Rev. James Pierce to College United Methodist Church in Philomath, Oregon. Pierce, a licensed local pastor, currently serves the Hermiston and Pendleton UMCs.
  • Rev. Lura Kidner-Miesen to Albany United Methodist Church, Albany, Oregon. Kidner-Miesen currently serves the Cottage Grove United Methodist Church; her appointment in Albany will be half-time. Rev, Kate Conolly, who currently serves the Albany congregation, will be retiring June 30, 2019.
  • Rev. Michael Gregor to Southside Boulevard United Methodist Church in Nampa, Idaho. Gregor currently serves College United Methodist Church in Philomath, Oregon. Rev. Phil Bence, who currently serves the Southside congregation will be retiring June 30, 2019.

A summary of appointment announcements can be found on the conference website at A list of clear openings for appointment can be found on the Greater NW area website.

Employment opportunities

Director of Music Ministries & Sanctuary Choir -- Salem, OR

For this and other job opportunities visit


Church takes reins at Hanwa Mission School

Hanwa Mission School, a project of the Community United Methodist Church of Crofton, Maryland, is now officially a United Methodist school.

In March, the Murewa Rural District Council transferred the primary and secondary school to the Zimbabwe United Methodist Church for further expansion to benefit the local community.

As a registered United Methodist school, Hanwa can offer exams to the students who previously had to travel long distances for testing.

The designation also means that Hanwa can be developed into a boarding school. Plans are for that work to begin in 2020, said the Rev. Solomon Mawoyo, Zimbabwe West education secretary. “But with the economy, we surrender all to Christ,” he said.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Groups approve plan to divvy up slashed budget

The two groups responsible for putting together the general church budget approved a plan for how to divide significantly reduced funds.

The groups’ votes April 4 culminated nearly a week of discussions — which were tense at times — about how to slice a much smaller financial pie, while leaving ministries with more than just crusts.

The Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration board each agreed to the Connectional Table’s recommended allocations for most of the 2021-2024 general church budget.

During the joint meeting, the Connectional Table, as coordinator of the work of general agencies, approved the plan by a vote of 29 to three. The board of the denomination’s finance agency decided by a much narrower margin, with nine in favor, eight opposed and one abstention. Agency top executives have voice but not vote on the Connectional Table.

“We have an agreement,” said North Texas Conference Bishop Mike McKee, president of the finance agency board, immediately after the votes. “I remind you it’s not overwhelming, but it is an agreement.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Leaders pursue plan for new U.S. structure

United Methodist leaders are pressing ahead with an effort to create a new decision-making body for U.S. matters — despite concerns that it will become another battlefront in the homosexuality debate.

The Connectional Table in its April 3 vote gave the go-ahead to submit legislation to the 2020 General Conference that, if the legislative assembly approves, would offer two steps toward creating such a structure. The 64-member church leadership body acts as sort of a denominational church council coordinating the work of ministry and money.

Judi Kenaston, who leads the Connectional Table subcommittee working on the proposal, made clear that the goal is not to skirt General Conference’s votes on homosexuality.

Instead, the Connectional Table’s goal is to have a place for United Methodists to vote on clergy pensions, retirement plans, property matters, resolutions and other initiatives that solely affect the United States — and take some of the burden off General Conference to deal with these matters.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Relationships key for churches to help addicts

Editor’s note: This is the second in an ongoing series about churches in West Virginia dealing with the opioid crisis.

There was about to be a big fight, and it was all the Rev. Barry Steiner Ball’s fault.

The pastor and retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent had come to Spruce Street United Methodist Church in Morgantown to present his “What If?” initiative, a West Virginia Conference ministry encouraging churches to confront the opioid epidemic. Church members were at one table and police at another. A woman he didn’t know was sitting at a third.

When Steiner Ball asked if anyone had seen hypodermic needles in the church parking lot, Caitlin Sussman stood, identified herself as a social worker from Health Right — the needle exchange across the street — and said to call her any time there were needles to clean up.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


Sing a New Church! Great Hymns of the Faith 2019 begins May 16

“Let us bring the gifts that differ and, in splendid, varied ways, sing a new church into being, one in faith and love and praise.” Thus writes Delores Dufner in her hymn, “Sing a New Church” (copyright 1993 Delores Dufner). Through communal singing, we are shaped into a new community as we proclaim God’s alternate reality of faith, love, and praise. If ever we needed a new church, it is now. The Alton L. Collins Retreat Center offers a series of events each year that invites participants to explore congregational song through story, theological reflection, and (of course) singing, as we lift our voices and transform our world.

The 2019 Great Hymns of the Faith series kicks off on May 16. Each event begins at 10:30 and concludes with lunch, along with the option to stay through the afternoon to simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the Center. The cost is $20 per program, or purchase a “season ticket” at $55 for all three. A flyer with the details (including the menus—some people come just for the food) and the online registration form can be found on the retreat center’s website. Come join us to sing a new church into being!

Sign up for Inhabit pre-conference

For the second year, the Greater Northwest (GNW) Innovation & Vitality Team is partnering with the Parish Collective in presenting the Inhabit Conference, April 26-27, in Seattle. The conference is intentionally designed to “engage, encourage, and empower innovative, missional practitioners as they go about practicing the way of Jesus in place.”

“Inhabit is focused on community engagement” says Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber, GNW Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church. Joining Barber as a presenter at Inhabit this year is the Rev. Shalom Agtarap.

The GNW Innovation & Vitality Team is offering a special pre-conference session on Thursday, April 25, the day before the two-day main conference. Clergy or lay people interested in planting new churches and bringing new vitality to existing ministry are encouraged to attend. 

Learn more and register on the Greater NW Area website.


Board of Camp and Retreat Ministry Approves Policy of Inclusivity

Since 1995, the Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries (BCRM) has been living out the mission of providing quality environments of Christian hospitality and learning. This statement has guided the work of our directors, staff and volunteers as they have created environments and programs that are safe for all of God’s children. This wide boundary has allowed us to provide programming that is inclusive and welcoming to all of God’s children; to host and support non-BCRM groups who are doing good in the world; and to hire and support staff who reflect the diversity of God’s children
In an effort to establish a policy that reflects the current practice at our sites, in our programs, and in the spirit of the quote: “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary, use words,” The Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries approved the following Policy of Inclusivity:

The Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church considers all people to be children of God and is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment based on race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, genetics, gender identity or expression. The Board is fully devoted to inclusiveness in order to provide quality environments of Christian hospitality and learning to campers, guests and staff while complying with all Federal, Oregon, and Idaho state laws.

I am grateful to the Board for its dedication to the practice of Christian hospitality that welcomes, cares for, and supports all of God’s beautiful children – young and old.

Todd Bartlett, Executive Director
Camp and Retreat Ministries of the Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Church


The Church of High End @PreacherNSneakers & Underpaid Overworked Pastors

by Melissa Florer-Bixler

“… That’s the conversation I hope is spurred by people who encounter PreachersNSneakers. I don’t know anyone who wants to spend their time policing pastoral footwear (although I would ask anyone who sees me wearing multiple Yeezys to church to pull me aside for a Come to Jesus conversation). Behind the account is a lingering question: how does the Gospel offer the church space for radical experiments in economic equity? …”




This week in the
Annual Conference

Friday, April 12- Sat. April 13

Vitality Stakeholders summit.

Sunday, April 14

Palm Sunday.

Marsha Aizumi Reconciling Event.

Sunday, April 21

Easter Sunday
Greater NW Area Inspiring Generosity Conference Journal

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Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Conference Office: 1505 SW 18th Avenue Portland, OR 97201
503-226-7931 ~ 800-593-7539 ~ 503-226-4158 (fax)