December 19, 2019

Dear Reader,

A week ago, I said goodbye to my faithful furry companion of 12 years, my beloved dog Harper Lee. We met when I adopted her from an animal shelter in Montana when she was 5 months old and she’s been by my side through so many life changes (moving, a husband, and a baby to name a few).

Losing her has been harder than I thought it would be, even though I knew it was time and she knew she was ready to go. I find myself grieving during this season of Advent, when I had hoped to be preparing for a joyous Christmas with my family.

Society makes it harder for those who are grieving to endure this hectic season of joy.

But I take comfort in God’s creation of the Winter Solstice in the middle of Advent. On Saturday, many churches will acknowledge that - for at least a short while - the darkness outweighs the light. There is space for those whose hearts are feeling heavy to lean into their grief during this supposed season of merriment, knowing there are lighter days ahead.

There are stars to follow in the deep, dark night. There are angels reminding us “do not be afraid” and there is a manger awaiting the Christ Child. If we allow ourselves to see and feel it, the love of God is surrounding us – always – even in our hardest days. Maybe that’s cause enough for celebration.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Kristen Caldwell
Interim Director of Communications

(p.s., there will be no UM Connector for the next few weeks as we celebrate the holidays and get started in the new year)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from us to you!

Season's Greetings from your Oregon-Idaho Conference UMC staff!

From Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, your Innovation Vitality Team, your Finance and Administration staff, Connectional Ministries, Camp & Retreat Ministries, and your Cascadia, Columbia, Crater Lake & Sage Districts; we are wishing you God's grace and peace through the holidays and we look forward to continuing to serve with you in the New Year! 


Greater Northwest Area conferences commit to 100% payment of General Church apportionments in 2019

The three United Methodist conferences that comprise the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area have each committed to paying 100% of their General Church apportionments for 2019.

The announcement, which comes toward the end of a tumultuous year where giving has slipped significantly across the denomination, was delivered by conference treasurers during the recent Greater Northwest Area Cabinet meeting.

Read more of this story on the Greater NW Area website.

Alaska Conference surprises GNW Area with generous gift

In this season of uncertainty and anticipation and about the future of The United Methodist Church, it's heartwarming to see generosity flowing multiple directions across The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area.

This summer the Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho Conferences committed to a special offering in the local churches to help lower the cost of Alaska Conference members traveling to Puyallup, Wash., for a shared Annual Conference this June. When a cry went out from churches in Oregon, Idaho and Washington located far from the Conference site, the Alaska Conference responded in kind for their siblings in Christ in the Oregon-Idaho Conference who will also endure significant travel costs to attend.

“People just really resonated with the idea that we want to come alongside in solidarity,” said Rev. Carlo Rapanut, Superintendent for the Alaska Conference.

Read more of this story on the Greater NW Area website.

Advent 2019: Celebrating “Surprise” the fourth week

“I bring good news to you – wonderful, joyous news for all people, your savior is born today; he is the Messiah” 
Luke 2: 10-11

To download this video as well as the last week of Advent Calendar, visit

INSPIRING GENEROSITY: Top 8 blog posts of 2019 

Cesie Delve-Scheuermann reflect on the blog posts that resonated most with readers during 2019 and offers a recap.

Why? Because maybe there are still some good ideas from 2019 that can be implemented in 2020, as she somewhat shared in one of her most-read blogs about the Giving U.S.A. report.

“It’s good for us to keep up with trends in giving. So, don’t feel too gloomy but don’t ignore the facts either. You have an opportunity to make the case that your congregation, your people – through their financial giving – are proclaiming good news and making a real difference in the world.”

Read more of Cesie’s year-end recap on the Conference website.


UMCOR aids indigenous earthquake survivors 

Seven Aeta communities affected by a deadly earthquake this spring received much-needed aid from The United Methodist Church in the Philippines and the denomination’s relief agency.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief issued a $100,000 grant to provide support for 860 Aeta families. The Aeta are indigenous peoples who live in the isolated mountainous parts of the island of Luzon.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Church future under negotiation before GC2020

A small group of United Methodist bishops and U.S. traditionalists, centrists and progressives met this week as part of negotiations about the denomination’s future.

The Dec. 16-17 meeting in Washington was an outgrowth of discussions that Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu initiated in July to find consensus on any potential church separation ahead of the 2020 General Conference. Participants, who represent varied perspectives on LGBTQ inclusion, agreed to confidentiality while their delicate conversations proceed.

Although they offered few details on the closed-door session, group members struck an optimistic note at the meeting’s conclusion.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

What should a Christmas welcome look like? 

The garlands are hung by the chancel with care — in hopes Christmas Eve visitors soon will be there.

The Advent candles are snug in their wreath, bringing visions of Christ’s light for the world underneath.

No doubt about it, anticipation is high as congregations around the globe prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth. They know company’s coming. After all, it’s a truism that people come home for Christmas — to family and to church.

United Methodist congregations have particular reason to be hopeful of fuller pews this Dec. 24. A survey commissioned by United Methodist Communications this year found an increase among U.S. adults interested in visiting a United Methodist church specifically.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Special General Conference tops the news in 2019 

For the second year in a row, The United Methodist Church’s struggle to stay together despite longstanding division over homosexuality was the denomination’s top news story of 2019.

This year, however, the focus was on unity efforts by the Commission on a Way Forward and others, culminating in a special called session of General Conference Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis.

Thirty-eight ballots were cast by church communicators and United Methodist News staff for the top five United Methodist news stories in 2019. February’s special General Conference had 154 total votes, including 28 first-place votes.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.


Davey M. Lefler                                

January 26, 1953 – December 18, 2019

Pastor Davey M. Lefler died on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 at the age of 66, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is survived by his wife, Roberta Lefler, and three sons: Chad, Robert, and Joseph. He is also survived by ten grandchildren.

Pastor Lefler served the Kirkwood and Altona UMCs in the Illinois-Great Rivers Annual Conference. He served at Shelley, Aberdeen, American Falls, and Chubbuck UMCs in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. 

A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday, Dec. 23, at 11 a.m. at Shelley Community UMC, 190 South Holmes Ave., Shelley, ID  83274   (208) 357-3633

Friends may contact Roberta Lefler at 1518 12th St., Idaho Falls, ID 83404, (208) 360-6606 for condolences or more information.  

James H. Smith                                       

June 12, 1919 – November 26, 2019
Rev. James H. Smith died on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, at age 100. He is survived by his daughter, RoxAnne Jetine Smith, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, B. June Smith, and two sons, Roger and Bryan.

Rev. Smith served Rosbury UMC in Kansas West Annual Conference; Waldwick Circuit in Wisconsin Annual Conference; Willamina/Grand Ronde, Lake Oswego, Portland: Patton Central, Portland: Rose City Park Associate, Idaho Falls: St. Pauls, Oregon City, and Bennett Chapel UMCs in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. He retired in 1985.

A memorial service will be held at a yet-to-be-determined time and place in January.

Friends may contact RoxAnne Jetine Smith at 2516 SE Harrison St., Apt. 71, Milwaukie, OR 97222 for condolences and more information about the service.  

Elaine Stanovsky, Bishop
Dan Wilson-Fey, Conference Treasurer and Benefits Officer



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