Image

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! It’s good to be re-Connector-ing (I’m so punny) with you again after a brief hiatus!

Did you hear some things in the news recently about The United Methodist Church? Something about a split or separation? Not. So. Fast.

I love the Washington Post but this sub headline on their story: “Church leaders agreed to spin off a ‘traditionalist Methodist’ denomination, and allow the remainder of the denomination to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history”  makes it seem like this is a done deal and everyday church leaders were involved in making it happen.

Technically, it’s called a “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.”

There is a lot of broad-based support for this plan and it may very well become the future of the church, but it still has to go through the same vetting any of the other proposals about the future of the church have to go through: General Conference 2020 in May in Minneapolis.

Your local communications directors have been fielding phone calls from various news outlets wanting responses from local churches (see below). Also, on Monday morning, United Methodist News Service will livestream a discussion with the protocol creators.

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky has done her very best to respond, talking to everyone from the Bend Bulletin to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s “Think Out Loud.” She also issued her own Epiphany message (see below) just after the announcement was made late last week. And there are news analysis pieces to read along with the national and local news stories.

But guess what? We’re still busy being church, too! Read in this edition about how Hillsboro UMC turned a Safe Sanctuaries event into a training with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Read about a new community choir forming at Park Rose UMC in Portland. Get signed up for a special musical event at Camp Magruder, too.

It might feel like an unsettling time in the life of The United Methodist Church, but it’s also a great season, too: Epiphany. May we see and feel the light of God surrounding us and may we feel clarity in the knowledge that God’s love never fades, no matter what church we are.

With grace and gratitude,

Kristen Caldwell
interim communications director


CONFERENCE NEWS

A pastoral letter for Epiphany 2020

This is an excerpt from the letter from Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky issued on Jan 3, 2020 in regard to the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.”
 
"While this is not the resolution I hope for, I believe it may be the best next step for the people called United Methodists who have been unable to find a way forward that maintains the unity of the Church. It does not move the Church toward Christ’s vision that we “may all be one…so that the world may believe” (John 17:21), but it is a faithful effort “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), even as we find it necessary to walk separate paths for a season.

I trust this proposal is designed to unbind us from our “irreconcilable differences” and free us to focus on the future. It does not guarantee a particular outcome, but it appears to offer United Methodists in the United States the opportunity to choose a future that is fully inclusive of LGBTQ persons.

Please read the attached proposal, asking prayerfully whether it offers Life and Light as we seek to create a new movement of Wesleyan faithfulness in the Northwest and around the world.

Read the full letter on the Greater NW Area website.

Related news articles:

Hillsboro UMC hosts “Recognizing Child Molesters” training Saturday

This year, Hillsboro United Methodist Church is choosing to take its mandatory Safe Sanctuary abuse and prevention training one step further.

This Saturday (Jan. 11), the church will host a free training led by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on recognizing child molesters.

The training is free and open to anyone over 18, but you must register (childcare is available).

It will be held at Hillsboro UMC, 168 NE 8th Ave. from 1 to 3 p.m.

“As part of our commitment to Safe Sanctuaries, our team here at HUMC reached out to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to offer this training to our congregation and community,” said Angie Kiblinger, spokesperson for HUMC. “We want to do all we can to protect the children and youth in our care and throughout our community. In addition to our Oregon-Idaho Conference policy, and our congregation’s procedures, learning directly from the detectives fighting these crimes right here provides the most timely and accurate information about what is happening and how we can best prevent future crimes and assist victims.”

Rose City Park UMC seeks community through new gospel chorus

As we enter into a new decade, Kita Montgomery hopes to bring the Rose City Park community together through the Rose City Gospel Chorus. She envisions this group as offering their talents to the local community by performing in a wide range of places from festivals to nursing homes.

In Montgomery’s estimation, community singing allows for a blending and bonding that builds up solidarity and morale among those participating.

“Our community needs to bond more than before. We’re not as socially connected as we used to be in the past,” Montgomery said.

Read more of this story on the Conference website.


AROUND THE GNW AREA

ANALYSIS: Some thoughts for local church pastors needing to explain why the United Methodist Church didn’t just split up

By Patrick Scriven, PNW Communications Director

I appreciate that “United Methodist leaders” decided to wait until after the holidays to deliver the news of a proposal to allow for some amicable separation within The United Methodist Church. Unfortunately, they chose to release this news on a Friday morning leaving pastors with the unfortunate task of trying to discern what it all means while also deciding if they want to address it on Sunday morning. Tack on top of that a number of sensational news reports with misleading headlines, and our shared tendency to skim the news, and some pastors may now have to answer questions about things this Sunday that haven’t even happened yet.

Recognizing this challenge, I’m offering a few suggestions to consider. I wish I had had a chance to write them earlier, but hopefully, they will help someone in a pinch.

Read more of his suggestions on the PNW Conference website.

Inspiring Generosity: Get Ready, 2020. Here We Come

In her first blog of the new year, Cesie Delve-Scheuermann is certain you can make 2020 your best year ever in your church. Well, maybe, with a little help from a stewardship calendar (which she has available for you to access online).

“There’s a lot to do to have a successful year raising funds for your awesome ministries and non-profits. Just praying, while helpful, won’t cut it. It takes action. And prayer. And more action.”

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

Alaska Conference: UMCOR provides home sanitation units for Alaska’s Yu’pik community as first residents relocate to Mertarvik

The United Methodist Committee on Relief’s partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the National Tribal Water Center to provide portable alternative sanitation systems for the Newtok, Alaska, community has made good progress this year. Newtok is a Yu’pik village that has lost much of its land and some houses to rising sea levels and eroding coastline.

The whole community is moving in stages to Mertarvik, Alaska, further inland on the Ninglick River, yet still within the territory their ancestors knew as a summer home.
UMCOR – through its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene or WASH program – has provided the in-home sanitation systems for 21 new homes completed in Mertarvik this year.

Read more of this story from UMCOR’s website.


AROUND THE GLOBE

UM News to interview protocol developers live Jan 13.

A livestreamed panel discussion with members of the team that developed a new proposal for The United Methodist Church’s future is set for Monday, Jan. 13.

The panel interview, conducted by UM News, will be streamed on UMNews.org beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern U.S. Time. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/q2wZQyAjU6M. The panel discussion will last approximately one hour and will be recorded and archived on the site.

The panelists will describe how they developed the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation, a proposal that they are working to have drafted as legislation and sent to General Conference. The proposal, announced Jan. 3, would provide a means for traditionalists to leave The United Methodist Church and form their own denomination, as well as a way for others to leave the denomination within a specified time. Proponents emphasize that no one is being asked to leave the church.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.
 

Resistance to traditional plan accelerates

Across the United States, some United Methodist churches kicked off the year with worship services and other events aimed at showing solidarity with LGBTQ Christians.

At First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, some 575 people packed the 120-year-old sanctuary — including the balcony — for a special Holy Communion service Jan. 5 that sought to affirm the image of God in all people.

“The church itself was just filled with God’s spirit,” said the congregation’s senior pastor, the Rev. David Freeman. “Many people have said, ‘This is what the church should look like. This is what worship should feel like.’”

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Feinberg kept church negotiators at the table

A few months ago, United Methodist leaders trying to break the denomination's long, divisive impasse over homosexuality sought help from a famous lawyer-mediator.

Kenneth Feinberg — who oversaw the 9/11 victims' compensation fund — not only agreed, he said he'd do it for free.

A Feinberg-mediated proposal for The United Methodist Church, titled "Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation," went public last week and made international news.

Some of the diverse, 16-member team of United Methodists who joined Feinberg in the negotiating room consider him heaven sent.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Church helps war-displaced people in east Congo

Humanitarian assistance from The United Methodist Church has reached more than 5,500 war-displaced people in Eastern Congo.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief provided a $100,000 grant to support more than 700 families who fled to the territory of Lubutu, a United Methodist district of the Oriental and Equator Conference. The disaster management office in Eastern Congo distributed more than 200,000 pounds of food to 5,760 people.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Taking church archives from hi-fi to wi-fi

Back in the 1960s, a national United Methodist call-in talk radio program drew listeners in the wee morning hours to topics like teenage drinking, astrology and “Are Protestant Churches Sterile?”
 
“My personal favorite was they reviewed one night the second James Bond movie,” said L. Dale Patterson, archivist-records administrator at the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History for the past 26 years. “They said that probably runs the course of this particular string of films. There probably won’t be another James Bond movie."

Read more of this story from UM News Service.


RESOURCES & OPPORTUNITIES

Attend Magruder Choir Camp in February

The annual Magruder Choir Camp will celebrate 35 years of making music during its annual gathering Feb. 14-17 at Camp Magruder on the Oregon Coast.
The theme for this year’s camp “Life up your Voice and With us Sing” will including preparing music selected by Director Luanne Hardy, accompanied by Sara Pope and Sarah Shay.

It’s a weekend of singing together, workshops, and a variety show while also preparing for a concert Sunday evening.

For more information contact Sally Robertson at srobertsongm@gmail.com and visit the Go Camping website to register.


IN REMEMBRANCE

June A. Powers                    

September 7, 1927 – December 27, 2019

June A. Powers, surviving spouse of Rev. John “Jack” Powers, died Friday, December 27, 2019. June is survived by her children, Jeffrey Powers and Julie Powers Aalbers, and 4 grandchildren.

Reverend John “Jack” Powers served at Omaha: Ames Ave.-Asbury UMC in the Nebraska Conference; then served Portland: Cherry Park, The Dalles, Coos Bay, and Monmouth: Christ UMCs in the Oregon – Idaho Conference. He retired in 1987.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, January 4, 2020, at the auditorium of Capital Manor, 1955 Salem Dallas Hwy. NW, Salem, OR, 97304. (503) 967-3086.

Memorial gifts may be directed to the Suttle Lake United Methodist Camp, c/o First United Methodist Church, 600 State Street, Salem, OR 97301.
 
For more information and to offer condolences, friends may contact Julie Powers Aalbers at 579 SW Birdsdale Dr., Gresham, OR 97080; or at 503-888-3349; or at a2lbers@frontier.com

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


COMMENTARY

Hacking Christianity, The Art of the Deal: Understanding the Plan of Separation for the United Methodist Church

by Rev. Jeremy Smith

      “ … Third, Progressives (especially in the Western Jurisdiction) will have to hold their dreams of a new denomination more lightly because we will be stuck with the church as it is, just less anti-gay. So efforts to create a denomination from the ground-up, absent of its inherited colonialistic and systemic sins, will need to shift to reform rather than build. Although with some nominal seed money for a new progressive expression, there still might be the chance for congregations or conferences that are willing to try …”

 


 

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