Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019

Dear Reader,

If you’re trying to keep pace with the potential changes happening in our United Methodist denomination right now, you likely have a lot of free time. No, I’m kidding.

In reality, your head is probably spinning with talks of the Indianapolis Plan, the Traditional Plan, and the N.E.W. Movement, to name a few. Add into that a Western Jurisdiction Fresh United Methodism Summit on the horizon after a recent UMC Next gathering in Kansas City to talk about future identity.

I struggle keeping up with it all, and that’s part of my job (thankfully, though, UM News Service put together a good timeline story this week featured below).

However, I sit in the pew on Sunday and listen to my pastor go through the weekly announcements about different ministries my congregation is undertaking. And I remember the heart of our story as United Methodists is our local churches.

That’s why this week you’re going to read about a new affordable housing project Christ Church in Cedar Mill is examining while also learning how a drag show and Q&A on LGBTQ+ issues in a Twin Falls café is bringing more understanding about God’s loving embrace to people outside the church.

Each week, our goal here in the Connectional Ministries and communications office is to capture the story of at least one of our local churches.

No matter what’s happening in the global church, you are undoubtedly engaged in the work of God’s kin-dom in some fashion. Let’s talk about it.

With grace and gratitude,

Kristen Caldwell, interim communications director
p.s. There will be no UM Connector next week as I’ll be attending a conference.


Christ UMC hoping to build senior affordable housing

Sometimes a church goes out looking for a mission project and the project chooses them.

That’s been the case for Christ UMC Cedar Mill on the west edge of Portland, where the congregation has been actively engaged in conversations about how to best use church property to better help the community it serves – and that happens to be affordable housing for senior citizens.

While researching options on affordable housing, Rev. Ric Shewell said the congregation learned the property they own adjacent to their current facility is zoned for institutional use and transit, which meant an affordable housing complex could only go up if it addressed a critical need – housing for senior citizens.

“It felt like what God was calling us to do,” said Shewell.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.

Twin Falls UMC sponsors Drag Queen Theology event

In Twin Falls, there’s a growing pocket of progressives who are working to be more loving and more inclusive and Twin Falls United Methodist Church has been doing its part to support these conversations.

Most recently it resulted in a Drag Queen Theology gathering at the local Yellow Brick Café. Local drag queens performed a show while also answering questions in a pub-style question and answer session with Oregon-Idaho Conference LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator, Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell last week.

“There were periods of times where people had serious questions in the middle of a drag show,” Webb-Mitchell said. “This was easier than doing it in a church.”

Read more of this story on the Conference website.


From the PNW Conference

Marchers converge in downtown Ellensburg to support detained immigrants

Originally published in the Ellensburg Daily Record Oct. 1

They came to support, to console, to advocate.

“No estan solos — you are not alone,” chanted a combination of approximately 75 local citizens and people who traveled from across the region as they marched through Ellensburg on a path that eventually finished at the Kittitas County Corrections Center Sunday.

The marchers gathered to call on Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana to end a contract the county signed with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that allows the county jail to be used to house migrant workers who have been detained due to their immigration status.

Read more of this story on the Daily Record website.

Inspiring Generosity: It’s Stewardship month … right?

In her weekly blog, Cesie Delve Scheuermann examines the attitudes that drive stewardship campaigns in churches during this time of year and what it might mean when we promote stewardship outside of the normal “season.”

“What if we put stewardship “programs” out of business because they were no longer needed simply because we were talking about stewardship all year long?”

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

Sitka UMC: Small Church, Big Heart

From the Alaska Conference

The United Methodist Church is blessed to be able to minister and serve in this beautiful island of Sitka in South East Alaska.  This is a town with a population of about 9,000 people, a 14-mile road system, and a rich history of Russian influence. It is home to Tlingit and Haida Alaska Native groups, was the site of the Alaska Purchase, and was formerly the capital of Alaska.

Life in this “rock” as locals say, is serene and simple but it is not without challenges as Sitka is only accessible by plane or boat.  High cost of living, difficult access to low cost housing, growing senior population, and substance abuse are also realities that Sitkans face in varying degrees. But being the Alaskans that we are, resilience and community help people cope and thrive. The strong and close-knit community fosters a “we make it happen” spirit that is evident in arts, education, sports, recreation and even mission.

Read more of this blog on the Alaska Conference website.

Greater NW Pride: LGBTQ+ missionary pilgrimage in southern Idaho

Recently, LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell, visited churches across the southern Idaho portion of the Oregon-Idaho Conference for various meetings, discussions and yes, one drag show.

He shares his thoughts on the experience of seeing churches openly embracing the LGBTQ+ community in this week’s blog.

“What an incredible, short pilgrimage I went on across the southern, broad, part of Idaho! I called it the LGBTQ+ Missionary Pilgrimage, although on Facebook I called it the Queer Missionary Pilgrimage, spreading the love of Jesus who called us to love one another: by this they will know you are my disciples because you love one another (John 13:35, paraphrased).”

Read more of his blog on the Conference website.


Breaking up would be hard to do

Will the 2020 United Methodist General Conference bring everyone back to the table or will delegates go off in their own corners to divide the church?

At issue is the denomination’s now 47-year-long debate about the role of LGBTQ people in church leadership.

The phrase that has brought the church to the brink of breaking up was introduced into church law in 1972 when the denomination’s top lawmaking body declared the practice of homosexuality was “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Every General Conference since that 1972 gathering has debated that phrase. But at the end of the day, the language has stayed in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s policy book. Also, church law has stated no “self-avowed practicing” gay person may be ordained, no same-sex marriage ceremonies can be held in a United Methodist church and no United Methodist clergy can officiate at a same-sex union.

Read more of this analysis from United Methodist News Service.

Filipino legislation calls for church unity

Amid various proposals to split the denomination, a group of Filipino United Methodists has submitted legislation to the 2020 General Conference that aims to preserve church unity.

The plan for the denomination’s future is the first such legislation to be unveiled that does not originate in the United States.

It will be among multiple petitions heading to The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking assembly that seek to address longtime divisions over the status of LGBTQ people.

According to this plan, separation is not the solution.

“Any plan to dismember or dissolve the church is harmful to the Body of Christ through whom people of faith seek to connect and live in gracious relationships,” asserts the petition titled “Oppose Dissolution and Preserve the Unity of The United Methodist Church.”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Methodists in Bahamas cope with Dorian’s trauma

The Rev. Kenneth Lewis, a Freeport resident and superintendent of the Grand Bahama Circuit for the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, experienced his first hurricane when he was 5 years old. 

Of all the hurricanes he has lived through, he declared that Dorian “was the worst by far.”

Even in Freeport, 2 miles outside the hurricane’s eye, Dorian was a punishing experience, with four days of hurricane-force winds, including a battering 48-hour period as the storm sat still.

About a dozen people — Lewis and his wife, Dularie, and extended family members — rode out Dorian in the house he had built after a hurricane in 2004, with its expandable metal hurricane straps, planted inside reinforced concrete, tied to steel and nailed to the roof’s wooden frame. Solar batteries kept the lights on and fans running when needed. 

Still, Lewis feared the roof would come off his home, leaving them with no place to go. “I prayed every minute of the storm,” he told UM News.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Congo church connects with street children

There are nearly 3,000 children and youth living on the streets in South Kivu. The United Methodist Church in Congo is working to build relationships — through evangelism, counseling and other support — to help some of them find a better path.
“Men of God are called to help these categories of people because it is part of the mission of the church,” said the Rev. Clement Kingombe, pastor of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu, who has been working with the youth for two years.
Oftentimes, the young people gather around places that sell alcohol and they cause trouble in the streets, he said.

Mbilizi Bonane, president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, said it has become a real problem. “There are street kids criss-crossing and bothering us from day to day. They smoke along the way and take strong alcoholic beverages,” she said.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


Indigenous Peoples’ Day event at Great Spirit UMC

Pastor Allen Buck and the people of Great Spirit United Methodist Church are excited to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day this year. The event is open to everyone and will feature speakers (including Mark Charles and Chauncey Peltier), wonderful music (including Turquoise Pride Drum / AIM Warrior Society), Native arts and crafts (Indigenous Come Ups will have NA vendors), and radical hospitality. The event is free, with donations being suggested at the door. It runs from 4 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14.

Great Spirit United Methodist Church is located at 3917 NE Shaver St. in Portland.

Indigenous Peoples Marketplace will offer native arts and crafts.See the Facebook page for more information and to indicate your interest in attending.


Ernest I. Smith       

October 24, 1942 – July 21, 2019

Reverend Ernest Irving Smith died on Sunday, July 21, 2019. He is survived by his wife Neva Smith and children; Ernest I. Smith and Beth Smith; and grandson, Ernest I. Smith.

Reverend Smith served in Weedsport in the Central New York area and at Eagle, Wasco, Union/Cove and Toledo in the Oregon-Idaho Conference. He retired in 2007.

The service will be held on October 12 at 11:00 am at the Cove UMC in Cove, Oregon.Memorial gifts or donations should be directed to UMCOR in memory of Ernest Smith.

Friends may contact Neva Smith at 131 Stratus Loop, Sequim, WA 98382, (541) 805-8242 and for condolences and more information about the service.  
Elaine Stanovsky, Bishop
Dan Wilson-Fey, Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer


Image bearers

Rev. David Valera

        " ... So now as an American, I often ask myself, “What image do I bear when I come across another immigrant? Do I become threatened, defensive, and afraid? Or will I dig deep and live out my value of hospitality and welcome.
And what image should I bear when I am in the midst of the dominant culture? Inferior and weak? Bitter and angry? What about living out God’s call to be co-creators of a world that thrives in peace, justice, joy, and love? ..."


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