May 9, 2019

Dear Reader,

This Sunday I get to celebrate two things: my first Mother’s Day and my little boy hitting the 7-month milestone. Sometimes I’m amazed at how quickly we’ve gotten here, but there have been days that felt like months in this new journey for me.

While I’m obviously hoping for a little attention from my family on this special day, I recognize also there are so many without mothers (mine passed away when I was 11) or many out there wanting to be mothers who can’t for multiple reasons.

Instead, I’ve always tried to look at this day as a celebration of the nurturing relationships we have with one another and the way Christ nourishes us with abundant love.

Motherhood hasn’t been an easy transition for me, but there are those who have nurtured me along the way – including my ever-patient husband – and offered me the support I needed to fully embrace this gift of life and light.

As you read through this week’s UM Connector, you’ll see plenty of stories of nourishment and nurturing attitudes. People bringing relief to the refugees, churches tending to children impacted by yet another school shooting, abiding faith keeping survivors of Cyclone Idai moving forward and much more.

May you enjoy your weekend celebrating all the nurturers in your life!

Kristen Caldwell, Communications Associate


Claremont School of Theology signs affiliation agreement with Willamette University in Salem

CLAREMONT, CA — It is with pleasure and excitement that we announce that the Boards of Trustees at both Willamette University and Claremont School of Theology have jointly approved an affiliation agreement, the next and critical step towards a shared future.

This formal affiliation agreement brings together two institutions that share a common mission to educate students and prepare them for lives that contribute to and transform their communities.

Willamette seeks to be the Northwest’s premier liberal arts university, educating leaders for their region and the world by building distinctive programs that leverage collaborative partnerships between its undergraduate and graduate schools. Claremont School of Theology (CST) aims to position itself as the foremost theological school in the western United States by providing transformative ecumenical and inter-religious theological education that engages local and global communities.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Oregon-Idaho missionaries see border crisis up close

There’s nothing quite as heartbreaking as stumbling across a grave of a young migrant infant in the desert.

But that’s what Oregon-Idaho Conference missionaries and volunteers Evelyn Erbele, Teri Erbele and Louise Kienzle got to see when they took an up-close tour of the U.S./Mexico border in early April near Nogales, Ariz., and Mexico.

“You just can’t describe it. There is nothingness, but this heat and wind and then you come across a grave,” Evelyn Erbele said. “And you realize you’re in Arizona.”

The tour was organized with other missionaries and volunteers in the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church to understand all sides of the immigration and asylum issues facing the United States and bring information back to local churches in hopes of supporting relief efforts along the border.

“We hear so much on the news,” said Kienzle, who is the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission coordinator for the Conference. “Who knows what’s real and not real.”

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Pastors participate in Hood to Coast relay

Sometimes, when pastors get together, it’s not to preach, or even talk about preaching.

Four clergy from the Columbia District and one of their spouses competed in the Hood to Coast Pacific City Race over the weekend and found themselves energized – when not exhausted – by the 78-mile experience.

Revs. Erin Martin, Josh Kingsley, Eric Conklin, and Ric Shewell, along with Martin’s spouse Charlie Collier, all stepped up to run two legs of the race on Saturday. Their team name: “May the 4th be with you.” Rev. Julia Nielsen was also expected to participate but had to bow out at the last minute for health reasons.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Safe Sanctuaries training available for all at AC

Sponsored by the Safe Sanctuaries team, a half-day training is open to everyone attending Annual Conference and others interested in learning more about safe sanctuaries and abuse prevention.

The training will be held Wednesday, June 12, from 9 am to noon at the Wesley Community Center on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

This training is an opportunity for individuals and churches to:

  • Learn more about how Safe Sanctuaries is an important and integral part of your church’s ministry
  • Ask questions about the Oregon-Idaho Conference template on Safe Sanctuary Policies
  • Participate in discussions around current issues.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.


Assembly reviews some petitions — waits on others

The Legislative Assembly met April 27 in Lake Oswego, OR to prepare for the Annual Conference Session by reviewing petitions submitted to the Annual Conference.

In an unusual move, the assembly chose to postpone action on four items. Action requests AR-6 and AR-7, along with standing resolutions SR-6 and SR-7 all dealt with the issue of LGBTQ inclusion and how the conference might move forward considering the actions of the 2019 General Conference. With two major gatherings planned in May to discuss these issues, the assembly chose to postpone discussion and recommendation until the day before Annual Conference Session.

In addition, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, who was presiding over the assembly indicated that she saw issues with some of the items that would lead to her ruling them out of order.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Greater NW Pride: From toxicity to grace

In his latest blog, Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell compares and contrasts recent actions taken against United Methodist clergy performing same-sex wedding ceremonies with a “Time” magazine cover of Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten with the headline “First Family.”

“That’s why the story of Pete—a gay Episcopalian—and Chasten Buttigieg is incredibly refreshing, cleansing the palette from the toxicity that has infected some parts of the UMC. Granted, both Pete and Chasten have dealt with their own struggle of coming out of the closet, fighting off bullies, faced the loss of home, let alone jobs, because of being out and gay. And both are surprised to find themselves in this time of their lives on the cover of Timemagazine, with an image that instantly became iconic, stirring hope and joy in and among many LGBTQ+ people, whether or not the LGBTQ+ person votes for Mayor Pete or not. Another glass ceiling is broken. Another taboo has been breached.”

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

Spirit Alive: Life is a Series of Covenants

In his bi-monthly blog, Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry for the Oregon-Idaho Conference explores both the noun and verb, covenant, and what it means in our everyday and spiritual lives.

“For me, the concept of covenant is represented by a series of connections that begin close to home and expand outward, involving others who are a part of my life in various ways. Which means, when you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, your first covenant is starring at you face-to-face, because the status of your covenants with others says a lot about the promises and commitments you make between yourself and God…and this cuts to the very core of your being. So how is this, primary commitment going for you?”

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

Inspiring Generosity: Two inspiring lives lost

In this week’s blog post, Cesie Delve-Scheuermann reflects on the life and legacies of Rachel Held Evans and Jean Vanier. One, a progressive Christian author who died at 37; the other, a 90-year-old advocate for people with disabilities who founded L’Arche communities.

“The lives of Evans and Vanier remind me – remind us – to keep plugging away at what it means to be people of faith, to keep examining how to live out that faith, and to keep asking the important question: ‘why faith at all?’”

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

Appointment announcements

Greater Northwest Area Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky has announced her intention to make the following appointments, effective July 1, 2019:

  • Rev. Karen Ward to Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Portland Oregon. Ward is an ordained Episcopal Priest who is currently serving as a transitional pastor at Parkrose UMC in Portland. Ward has also been working with the Innovation and Vitality Team of the Greater Northwest Area. She will continue to work collaboratively with the IV Team for both the redevelopment of the Rose City Park congregation and also the planting of a new ministry called Church of the Beloved.
  • Rev. Ryan Scott to the Newman United Methodist Church in Grants Pass, Oregon. Scott is a Licensed Local Pastor and currently serves as pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church in Toledo, Oregon.It was previously announced that Rev. Richard Füss, who currently served Newman UMC will be appointed to Langley United Methodist Church in Langley, Washington.
  • Rev. Jared Maddox to St. Helens First United Methodist Church, St. Helens, Oregon. Maddox is a certified candidate in ministry in the Pacific Northwest Conference pursuing ordination as an Elder. He is currently on staff at Salmon Creek United Methodist Church in Vancouver, WA. His appointment to St. Helens will be half-time as a Licensed Local Pastor.
  • Rev. David Madden to Stayton First United Methodist Church in Stayton, Oregon. Madden is a licensed local pastor who currently serves the United Methodist Churches in Rupert and Paul, Idaho. Rev. Janine DeLaunay, who currently serves the Stayton community, will be retiring June 30.
  • Rev. Helen Mansfield to Klamath Falls United Methodist Church, Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mansfield is a retired elder from the California-Nevada Annual Conference who currently lives in Klamath Falls. It was previously announced that Rev. Phil Airhart, who currently serves the Klamath Falls community will be appointed to Tillamook UMC.
  • Rev. Steven Mitchell to Falls City United Methodist Church in Falls City, Oregon. Mitchell, a retired elder, will be appointed quarter-time to administer the life and worship of the congregation. He will also work with church leaders to develop additional worship leadership for times when he is not present.

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.


Bishop Oliveto issues statement after school shooting in Colorado

Yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon we heard the news that two students at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado shot and injured eight students, and fatally wounded one student, in a senseless act of violence.

Let us grieve for this loss of safety and of life in our midst. Let us grieve with the families, students, teachers, and all who have been traumatized by these harmful acts. Let us hold one another close in love as we lament the harm that has been caused to our beloved children. And let us rest in God’s embrace when we cannot express our grief, our sense of loss, our anger, and our fear.

I give thanks to God for the witness of St. Luke’s and St. Andrew United Methodist churches and for the ways they became waystations of comfort for the grieving and relief for the responders. The pastoral teams and lay members were the arms of Christ as they embraced scared youth and frantic parents.

They were vessels of God’s abiding, steadfast presence throughout the day and into the night, and continue to be a place of prayer, solace and safety today.

Read more of her statement on the Mountain Sky Area website.

After the cyclone, faith abides


With winds up to 125 miles per hour, the cyclone ripped tin roofs off houses and hurtled them like deadly missiles that killed and maimed.

Otherwise placid rivers jumped their banks and submerged towns and villages, drowning hundreds and leaving hundreds of thousands more with no homes or possessions throughout Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The final death toll is 843 — but hundreds are still missing.

One month later, Isabel João and her mother and aunt, Maria Lidia and Luise Marufo António, were scavenging for food in their cornfields in Buzi, where fully-grown cornstalks were black from days spent under water. The cyclone came just days before the corn would have been harvested, robbing the planters of a year’s supply of food.

Look at more of this photo story from United Methodist News Service.

Bishops begin meeting in ‘chaotic’ moment

Amid growing questions about The United Methodist Church’s future, Bishop Kenneth H. Carter challenged his episcopal colleagues to ask: How can we do the work of Jesus in the way of Jesus?

The answer, he preached, is for church leaders to welcome unconditionally, walk together and worship constantly. 

“Friends, we embark on the adventure of a Council of Bishops meeting in the midst of a turbulent and chaotic moment,” Carter said in his opening sermon to the group he leads as president. 

“We need to leave this place different than when we arrived. Something needs to happen.”

More than 120 active and retired bishops are meeting this week at the Hilton Rosemont for their first public gathering since the 2019 special General Conference saw a majority of delegates reject the plan recommended by a majority of bishops.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Black colleges and universities face challenges, too

Asked if the need for historically black colleges and universities has passed, Bennett College President Phyllis Worthy Dawkins fired right back.

“Well you know, you don’t ask that question of Catholic institutions, so I don’t know why we should be asked that question,” said Dawkins, who leads the United Methodist-related women’s college and historically African American school in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

“We don’t need to go away, OK?”

But many small, rural liberal arts institutions are facing tough times — not just historically black schools. Cynthia Bond-Hopson, executive of the Black College Fund and Ethnic Concerns at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, said it’s an issue of which she’s very aware.

“I tell you, it’s not something that doesn’t keep me up at night. This is just a tough marketplace,” Bond-Hopson said. “Certain church-related schools are having a tough time.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Radio can help unite divided church, bishop says

Bishop Daniel Wandabula of the East Africa Episcopal Area called for oneness during the fifth annual United Methodist Radio Network meeting, noting that radio is an important tool to help unite the denomination following the divisive special General Conference.

Forty-three participants drawn from the African Central Conferences and the Philippines attended the April 25-27 meeting. New to the conference this year were attendees from the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania.

“Unite the church (rather) than perpetuate divisions,” said Wandabula to the group of communicators who make up the network, which launched in 2015 to support and resource existing and aspiring radio ministries.
Currently the United Methodist Radio Network includes four radio stations in Africa: Voice of Hope (Côte d’Ivoire), Radio Kairos (Angola), ELUM 98.7 (Liberia) and Radio Lokole (Congo). The Philippines operates Radio Wesleyan, which is within the Wesleyan University Philippines, the only United Methodist campus in the country.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


Immigration Summit on May 21

On May 21 United Methodists and other faith leaders will gather at First United Methodist Church in Woodburn, Oregon, 700 N Cascade Dr., 97071. Statewide partners at the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice (IMIrJ), conference leaders, and faith communities will come together for a one-day summit to deepen relationships, strategize around what we see on the horizon, and strengthen the movement for immigrant justice in Oregon and across the United Methodist Chuch. The gathering will begin at 10:00 a.m.and will conclude by 4:00 p.m. Coffee. lunch and snacks will be provided. 

Register for this event through the Conference website.


Why Rachel Held Evans Meant So Much To So Many

By Laura Turner

           “ … Rachel was a breath of fresh air in a world — Christian women on the internet — that is mostly known for a sense of "curated imperfection," a polished messiness that is more interested in domestic achievement or kitchen renovations or faux female empowerment than in actual systemic change or in the person of Jesus Christ. Rachel never posted a picture of her dishes piling up in the sink as shorthand for vulnerability, never posed in a floral print dress while bemoaning the state of her house or her kids. The idea of her doing so was laughable, even though she was a Christian woman on the internet, because Rachel wasn't trying to draw attention to herself. She was not a brand. She was a warrior in a cardigan …”




This week in the
Annual Conference

Saturday, May 11

Table Talks 3.0 -- La Grande.

Monday, May 13

Greater NW Radical Compassion Network.

Saturday,  May 18

Amena Brown. Live!

Tuesday, May 21

Immigration Summit
Greater NW Area Inspiring Generosity Conference Journal

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