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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Dear Reader,

Grace and peace.

If you’ve had reason to receive an email from me in the last few years, it may well have been signed with the closing, “Grace and peace, Greg.”

For me, it is the grace of God that allows one to come into relationship with God and become a new person. I crave grace as I work to be a better person and build the kin-dom that God calls us to. It is grace that tells me I can move forward, despite my brokenness, failings, and failures.

And my prayer for everyone is peace: Peace in our complex lives and relationships, peace in our world, and peace in our broken denomination. It's the peace that passes all understanding – the peace that, like grace, leads us toward perfection.

So, over the years, this simple closing has grown for me. Each time I type it (I always type it, it isn’t a pre-set signature file), I am saying a prayer for the recipient of the letter, asking that God grant you grace and bring you peace.

So, as I finish my term as Director of Communications today, I ask that you show Kristen Caldwell (interim Director of Communications), the same patience and grace you have shown me with missed messages and misspellings. And I invite you to open your heart to the peace of Christ, knowing that all things are possible through him.

Grace and peace,
Greg

(Greg Nelson is pictured above receiving a quilt made out of Imagine No Malaria T-shirts to celebrate his retirement at Annual Conference and offer thanks for his support of the program during its tenure)


CONFERENCE NEWS

From the Bishop: A Call to action in response to the plight of migrants

I am sharing the following Call to Action to relieve conditions for migrants on the U.S. southern border from our United Methodist Immigration Task Force.

No matter what your politics, Jesus teaches us to turn strangers into neighbors and to love those neighbors as ourselves. As you see men, women, and children being held in standing room only cells, without showers, soap or toothbrushes, without medical care or sufficient nourishing food, I know you want to reach out and speak out with tender mercy to relieve the suffering.

Please read and respond with love. In addition to the actions suggested below, you can find a list of organizations working to offer hospitality to our neighbors on the Greater Northwest Area website. Consider how you might partner with one. If you have others to suggest, email them to communications@greaternw.org.


Read the letter from the UMC Immigration Task Force on the Conference website.

An endowment as a catalyst for new life

“Faith Formation happens when our children and youth experience worship, engage in faith practices and discussions at home with family, and develop in a spiritual community that surrounds and supports them. Our church is a place of belonging, where all are welcome, and we are working to show kids that they have a place to belong in the Church.”

Sand Point Community United Methodist Church Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry, Sarah Ritchey, closed her report with the above words after sharing some of the exciting activities the youth attending their church are able to participate in.

Ritchey creates age-specific worship resources for three different groups to help them engage with each week’s message. Monthly the youth prepare and serve a meal with their parents to the tenants of nearby Tent City 3. Several times a year kids gather at the church for games, crafts, dinner and a short movie. They build and strengthen important friendships while their parents enjoy a night out.

The legacy of this church is one that desires to invite youth to participate. Children have been prioritized at Sand Point Community UMC and that work is partly made possible by the Fran and Irv Marr Endowment, named for the donors Frances and Irvine Marr. Irv served as a board member, chairman of the finance committee, and was instrumental to the building phases of the church. He even hired the architect.

Read more of this story from the Northwest United Methodist Foundation.


AROUND THE CONFERENCE

Registration still open for UMW’s summer Mission u

It’s not too late to get signed up for a Mission u event in the Oregon-Idaho Conference this summer.
 
United Methodist Women have put together the classes and seminars on a wide range of issues in wide-ranging places for participants to learn, grow in their faith and increase fellowship. These classes are not just geared for UMW, either. Men are encouraged to attend.
 
“In attending Mission u people study difficult issues through faith lenses,” said Becky Warren, president of Oregon-Idaho UMW. “Often topics that are polarized in other sources, i.e., Palestine, immigration, poverty, and human sexuality are historically and prayerfully explored with scriptures from both Testaments considered.”
 
While registration has closed for the Boise Mission u event July 12-13, people have until July 12 (Friday) to sign up for the Lake Oswego event July 19-20. Mission u will also be held in Roseburg, Oregon, Aug. 2-3 and in Burley, Idaho, Aug. 9-10.
 
Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Inspiring Generosity: Dark clouds appear

As Cesie Delve Scheuermann dove into her copy of the Giving USA 2019 report she found some daunting statistics: Things like church giving dipping below 30 percent.

"But there is hope, if churches follow three simple (not necessarily Wesleyan) rules:

1. Thank people for their generosity. Don’t take them for granted.
 
2. Tell your story. Communicate how the generosity of your donors is making a difference in the lives of people.
 
3. Ask people to give. Everyone is searching for a way to make a positive change in the world. You can offer them a way to be that change."


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

Employment opportunities

Organist/pianist – Newberg, OR

Find more employment opportunities at www.umoi.org/classifieds


AROUND THE GLOBE

2 bishops offer plan for denomination’s future 

Two bishops propose turning The United Methodist Church into an umbrella organization for new, self-governing church groups that would offer different approaches on ordination of gay clergy and same-sex unions.

Michigan Conference Bishop David Bard and Texas Conference Bishop Scott Jones began collaborating on a plan after the rancorous 2019 General Conference and shared it with United Methodist News this week.

“We both envision a future where the church will focus on its mission of making disciples and spend less time and energy debating issues of human sexuality, which means we need to bless different parts of The United Methodist Church to be about the mission in their own ways,” Jones said.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Slavery anniversary leads to new discussions 

In August 1619, about 50 people from Angola arrived in Jamestown, Virginia — the first African slaves in what is now the U.S. Four hundred years later, African Americans still struggle with the onerous remains of that legacy.

“In 2019, after centuries of structural change, protests and policy reforms most often led by Africans and people of African descent, why do these groups still experience such disproportionately high percentages of hunger and poverty today?” wrote the Rev. Angelique Walker-Smith in the introduction to “Lament and Hope: A Pan-African Devotional Guide.” The guide, by United Methodist partner Bread for the World, was produced to help people reflect on the quad-centennial.

“And why is there still such a wide wealth and income gap between these groups and individuals of European and Asian descent?” she asked.

The devotional guide is among resources and events endorsed by three United Methodist agencies to help Christians study and commemorate the beginning of slavery in the U.S.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

How accurate are church membership numbers?  

In the United States, reporting a United Methodist congregation’s membership figures takes no more than a trip to the closest computer.

On the African continent, district superintendents in Congo travel grueling hours by bicycle to collect church registries.

No matter the conference or country, the United Methodist membership data collected serves an important purpose.

“Collecting membership provides a method to show where we are and how many we are globally,” said Sharon Dean, chief officer for communications at the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

From trash to cash: Zimbabwe woman launches venture 

Tapiwa Nyawasha, a member of Kuwadzana Extension United Methodist Church, recently devised a way to earn money for food and empower widows, single mothers and other women. Her business venture, launched last year, involves fashioning discarded plastic into mats for various uses. She said she was inspired by magazine articles, including one about a woman who took up knitting wool at age 79.

Now 59, Tapiwa started crocheting when she was in her 20s. “I started crocheting doilies for women who did cross-bordering,” she noted. Cross-bordering is the buying and selling of goods and services between businesses in neighboring counties, with the seller in one country and the buyer in another. “In return,” she said, “I was given clothes for my children.” Today she teaches her craft to other women so that they, too, can benefit.

Freelance writer Ndaizivei Chifamba was grateful for her new knowledge. “The training I received from Tapiwa,” she said, “enabled me to craft using my hands. It is a skill no one can take away from me. I would gladly take part in the project because, as a woman, I believe I have the strength and ability to develop and impact the community and find other new, innovative ways of crafting.”

Now Tapiwa wants to expand her business. “I just need someone to advertise my project,” she said. “I need to open a shop to sell these mats and raise resources to finish building my house and put aside for my retirement.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


COMMENTARY

New possibilities are all around you

By Joe Daniels and Christie Latona

       "… An abundance mentality, however, sees that all things are possible with God. This mentality recites over and over again that eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard, and neither has it entered into the hearts of men and women the great things God will do for those who love God. …"
 


 

 
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