Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019

Dear Readers,

Some of us step into mission work boldly – jumping in feet first. Some shyly tiptoe their way into meetings and ministry. Others of us accidentally step across a line into social justice work.

OK, maybe I’m the only one who has accidentally become more deeply involved in the plight of immigrants and asylum seekers because I accidentally stepped across a line and was mistakenly arrested while seven months pregnant.

A year ago, an assignment to cover clergy participating in an act of civil disobedience outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Portland for the sake of illegally detained asylum-seekers resulted in me spending a few hours under arrest.

You can read my (hopefully) humorous and poignant story about my experience a year ago if you keep reading through this edition of the UM Connector.

But there’s more social justice to discuss than my limited experience in this week’s newsletter. You get to read about Beaverton First UMC stepping up to support immigrant and refugee families in their community as well as learning how United Methodist Volunteers in Mission operates within the Oregon-Idaho Conference.

Whether by accident or by intention, I hope you all know the grace that comes from stepping outside your comfort zone into the mission field.

With grace and humility,
Kristen Caldwell, interim communications director


WakeUp Beaverton provides back-to-school help for refugees, immigrants

In a year since its inception, the WakeUp Beaverton event hosted by First United Methodist Church has more than doubled the number of immigrant and refugee families it serves.

As people chatted in Korean, Mandarin, English, and Spanish waiting to pick up a backpack for their child or lining up to get food from the church’s monthly free food market or sought information on affordable housing options in Beaverton, local pastor Jefferson Chao took in the chaos with a smile.
“I never pictured it to be this big,” he said.
Last year, in his new appointment to Beaverton First UMC, Chao said he had three weeks to put together a back-to-school program. With assistance from the city, the congregation and other community partners, the church gave away 200 backpacks and started its monthly food market giveaway.

The church has given away more than 48,000 pounds of food this past year and last week handed out 400 backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in need.

“We’re not trying to convert (people),” Chao said. “We’re just trying to love them.”

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Western Jurisdiction youth leaders invited to retreat in Oregon-Idaho Conference 

More often than not, the young people who walk into their weekly or monthly youth group meetings are carrying a lot on their heart.

More often than not, the youth leaders assigned to work with their local youth feel isolated and alone in their work as they try to provide meaningful spiritual development for kids who have higher-than-ever rates of anxiety and depression.

With support from other youth leaders, West Portland Pastor Christy Dirren has worked to put together a youth workers' retreat Sept. 22-25 at Suttle Lake Camp that either paid or volunteer staffers from across the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church can attend.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Finding God’s grace while pregnant in handcuffs

A first-hand account from Kristen Caldwell

A year ago, I found myself sitting in a cell inside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland with tears of laughter and fear streaming down my face.

I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant.

I was sitting in a jail cell because I was accidentally swept up in an arrest of peaceful protesters taking part in civil disobedience for the sake of immigrant families.

I wasn’t there to protest. I wasn’t there to make waves. I was simply there to take photos and tell the story of United Methodist clergy and laity who were protesting the continued detention of asylum seekers at the Sheridan Federal Correction Center. 

But I ended up capturing a lot more than what was on my camera. Through my own lens, I caught a glimpse of humanity on all sides of the issue. Let me explain.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Mission 200: UMVIM—What? Why? How?

“People appreciated our presence in their community and said over and over again how important that presence is to them. The also recognized that many people in our communities and families had made it possible for us to be there.”

“I will go on other mission trips—without question. It was a week where working to help others in need brought me many unexpected gifts.”

UMVIM, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, is a part of the Mission Volunteers program area of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. UMVIM is “Christian Love in Action”.

The understanding that ‘we are called, and ‘we are sent’ is the foundation of our faith…. We are called, wherever we are in the world, to love all of God’s creation and to demonstrate that ‘love in action’. Through Volunteers in Mission, every person in the church has the opportunity to serve in short-term mission. Using what God has given us in service with others, we have ‘life-transforming’ experiences.

Read more about UMVIM on the Conference website.


Special Sunday for Alaska Conference to be Sept. 8 in Oregon-Idaho Conference

On or near the 2nd Sunday of September, churches around the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area will have a Special Sunday Offering to Support the Ministries of the Alaska Conference.

The Alaska Conference is comprised of 28+ churches and ministries spread across more than 600,000 square miles of the Last Frontier. There are urban, rural, and remote ministry locations, each offering great opportunities for spreading the Good News.

These include locations such as: Nome, where the Nome Community Center is a lifeline for community members. Unalaska, where the “2nd Blessings Sales” recycle and reuse goods 800 miles from Anchorage. Ketchikan, where the United Methodist Church provides a Homeless Shelter and Warming Center. Fairbanks, where the church is a base for UMVIM teams building a housing community for the homeless. And Anchorage, where a new United Methodist Church church plant is reaching a diverse neighborhood.

Download your Alaska Conference Special Sunday Bulletin on the RESOURCE PAGE.

Discover the ministries of the Alaska Conference in the  CONTINUING BLOG SERIES: “One Church / Many Doors.”

Inspiring Generosity: Summer’s Over: Time to Read “Imagining Abundance”

In her weekly blog, Cesie Delve Scheuermann explains the necessity of reading the book “Imagining Abundance” by Kerry Alys Robinson.

It is not a “how to” book, though there are some good tips sprinkled throughout. What the book affirms is, that at the heart of fundraising there is relationship.

“In many ways, ‘Imagining Abundance’ is a primer about living life fully. It is about finding mission and vision, being grateful, discovering joy, and being present. It is about prayer, the faithfulness of others, and mentors of faith. It is about discernment and listening to God’s call.”

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

Saipan recovery still needs skilled volunteers

From the PNW Conference

Teams are continuing to form to help survivors return to their homes after Super Typhoon Yutu struck Saipan October 2018 causing catastrophic damage. Many homes still are in need of roofs, windows, doors, electrical and plumbing work. Volunteers will serve a two-week commitment plus travel time and be assigned to multi-conference teams based on abilities and availability. Proven construction skills including carpentry and metal skills for rebuilding trusses and roofs are highly desired.

Read more of this story on the PNW Conference website.


Native ministry provides three decades of food security

On the third Saturday every month, a handwritten note on the Billy Hooton United Methodist Church’s front sign reads, “Food Pantry today.”

The locals, who arrive early on Aug. 24, already know what day it is.

“I come every time the door is open,” said Curtis McBride of Oklahoma City. “It’s very important. I draw a check; you know, by the time you pay your rent and your bills, you broke. You are lucky to buy groceries.”

The food bank ministry began nearly 30 years ago. Each month, the Oklahoma Food Bank delivers a truckload of food to the Native American church.

The frozen food goes into the freezers located in a storage closet in the front of the sanctuary. The fresh produce goes in the open space next to the pulpit. Dry goods fill the remaining rooms and line the hallways.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Youth camp bridges divide in tense region 

About 30 young people from neighboring countries Albania, Macedonia and Serbia gathered in the beautiful coastal area of Spille for the second United Methodist Regional Youth Camp.

The topic of the camp was “Being a Disciple of Christ,” and the participants heard from lecturers representing all three countries. They shared their understanding of what it means to be a disciple, and encouraged and challenged the youth to stay true to their faith in Jesus Christ.

From outside, the camp may look like any other. But as Serbia superintendent Daniel Sjanta explains, there’s more to this gathering than your typical camp.

“For decades, the region of the Balkans has been very turbulent and unstable,” Sjanta said. “Several new countries came into existence in the past 30 years, and there were several other attempts of creating new countries — which failed, but the bitterness and hostility remained. We all grew up with some prejudices, and with the notion that we are good, and the others are bad.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Denman award winners stand out as evangelists

When the Rev. James “Jim” Konsor and his wife, Kathy, arrived in Watford City, North Dakota, about seven years ago, it was to take advantage of the oil boom there with a well-paying job as a truck driver.

Reflecting after his retirement last June, Konsor is amazed and thankful for all that’s been accomplished.

Not as a truck driver, though.

The Konsors leave behind a legacy of helping the multitudes that arrived to work in the Bakken Oil Fields only to find that the local economy fell short when it came to basic services.

“It was kind of like gold-rush days, only with pickup trucks and semi-trucks,” said Jim Konsor. “It was noisy and loud and chaotic and overrun.”

The Konsors are among the notable winners of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award in 2019.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Filipino United Methodists condemn latest violence 

Filipino United Methodists strongly condemned violence and killings on Negros Island that have threatened residents. 

"State terrorism prevails in Negros Island," the Philippines Board of Church and Society said in a statement. 

"Human rights advocates and supporters of local peasant associations previously red-tagged as communist supporters or sympathizers were killed, this time by unidentified assailants or motorcycle-riding assassins. The soldiers and policemen, in carrying out their operations, left a trail of blood and tears and untold miseries to the families of their victims and the people of Negros," the statement said. 

According to Human Rights Watch, violence on the island escalated after four police officers were killed in July by the New People’s Army — the armed wing of the Communist Party in the Philippines. More than 300 special action forces of the Philippine National Police were then deployed to the island. 

The Board of Church and Society statement said militarization has taken its toll on Negros Island and its people. 

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


A Revelation revelation

Rev. Jim Doepken

            "... I had learned that Revelation was a message of hope to persecuted Christians in a troubled time. But, when I was told, “God wins,” it was a revelation for how this book spoke to my present situation and world. It meant that no matter the struggles…no matter how oppressive political systems and leaders may be…no matter how much the denomination I love fights over including ALL people…no matter which beast or dragon or horseman is spreading some contemporary version of famine and pestilence…. NO MATTER WHAT, GOD WINS ..."



This week in the
Annual Conference

Monday, Sept. 2
Labor Day -- offices closed

Monday, Sept. 9

GNW Radical Compassion Network.

Tuesday, Sept. 10 - Thursday, Sept. 12

GNW Area cabinet meeting
Greater NW Area Inspiring Generosity Conference Journal

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