Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dear Reader,

Do No Harm. Do Good. Stay in love with God.

During this week’s Wednesday Webinar with Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky, she reminded us of the Wesleyan principles – along with scientific facts – that are guiding her decision to maintain the in-person worship suspension through June 15, even as states in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area begin phases of re-opening.

You can read more about her guiding factors below, but some of the words she shared, while talking to more than 200 clergy and laity during the weekly Wednesday Webinar bear repeating here:

"It’s become divisive. Different individuals think of it differently. Different communities think of it differently. And my hunch within the church is that it’s helpful to us not to have every local church need to fight over what the opening dates and criteria are going to be. And so, I take that on myself, not because I think I’m smarter than anybody else, but because I’m in the role that the church has set up to provide that kind of consistency and oversight."

Your compassion and grace as people of faith has not gone unnoticed. There are still so many stories to share about how you are choosing to be church in your community while you can't necessarily be in your church during this pandemic.

Keep reading and keep sharing those stories with us, please!

Rev. Jim Doepken, Patrick Scriven and Kristen Caldwell
Greater Northwest Area Communicators


Bishop's COVID notice no. 6

Worship Suspension and Building Closures Extended through June 15, 2020

As bishop of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church, I am extending the suspension of in-person worship in United Methodist Churches and other ministries and the closure of church facilities to all but essential services throughout the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences through June 15, 2020. This early in the phased reopening process, data on the spread of the virus is inconsistent and inconclusive. This date allows two more 14-day periods during which to assess whether COVID-19 cases are declining or increasing. Our churches will be on the leading edge of protecting public health, but not be on the leading edge of reopening at the risk of increasing exposures, infections and deaths.

What Have We Learned So Far from the Pandemic

COVID-19 is opportunistic. It looks for opportunities to jump species, to spread from one person to another.

Some environments provide excellent conditions for the virus to spread. Think of cruise ships, prisons, migrant work camps, nursing homes, an aircraft carrier, homeless shelters, subways, meat packing plants. These were some of the breeding grounds for this deadly disease. And some of the early hot spots for spread of the disease were gatherings of faith communities for worship.

Read More →


Bishop Stanovsky offers candid insights on episcopal responsibility and authority amid COVID-19 church closures

Click on the video above to watch an excerpt from the May 13 webinar with Bishop Elaine Stanovsky as she offers a candid response on her leadership and decision-making process for churches during the coronavirus pandemic.

Join Wednesday Webinar on May 20

Ministry in the New Normal: Our church life beyond the COVID-19 crisis, part 3

For the third installment of this webinar series, we will continue to discuss the practical steps, and questions churches and ministry settings should be asking as we move toward returning to our facilities.

As per usual, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky and Alaska Superintendent Rev. Carlo Rapanut will help to guide our time of prayer and discussion.

The webinar is anticipated to last up to 90 minutes. It begins at 8 am AKDT, 9 am PDT, 10 am MDT. 

Register now →


South King County food banks face severe shortages - and there's no end in sight

Originally published in the South Seattle Emerald | May 12, 2020

At the Tukwila Pantry, the situation is no different. The area has a high poverty rate, and a large population of immigrants and refugees, most of whom don’t speak English very well.

“Our schools have [80] languages in them, and our pantry clientele is very representative of that,” said Jan Bolerjack, Riverton Park United Methodist Church’s pastor and one of the food bank’s executive directors. “Eighty percent of our kids are on free and reduced lunch. … So, that’s who we are. A lot of diversity, a lot of different languages.”

Read more of this story featuring United Methodists at work on the South Seattle Emerald's website

The Dalles UMC triples gift card goal with support of partners

The Dalles UMC is across the street from the high school and organized a successful food backpack program since 2012. They provided up to 165 bags per week of supplemental food for students on the school lunch program in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank food pantry and volunteers from other churches.

When the churches had to close their doors in March and most of the volunteers had to stay at home, they came up with new ways to work through their partners.

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

Peace with Justice grants available in the PNW

By Rev. Lee Carney Hartman

Is there a justice-generating or peace-making ministry you are dreaming of, but need finances to begin or expand? It’s time in the Pacific Northwest Conference to apply for a Peace with Justice Grant!  

If you or your church are involved in building neighborhood partnerships, providing basic needs, and/or inviting systemic change, we’d like to know about and support that good work. Grants up to $1,000 may be awarded to selected United Methodist and other non-profit organizations for local projects that engage the values expressed in our Social Principles. Apply for a Peace with Justice Grant online here.

The deadline has been extended to May 30th. For additional information, contact Rev. David Wright at

Read more of this story from the PNW Conference on the GNW News site.

Plans for LGBTQ+ inclusive senior housing at Christ UMC in Portland moving forward

Christ United Methodist Church Cedar Mill is moving forward with plans for a 53-unit affordable housing complex on its property that is explicitly LGBTQ friendly.

For two years, the church council there has been studying and exploring the possible uses for two lots east of the church building.

There is a critical need in Portland, specifically in the Beaverton area where CUMC is located, for affordable housing for senior citizens.

Read more of this story on the Greater NW News site.

Greater NW Pride: What CNN’s Anderson Cooper as a dad might teach us about being church 

In this week's blog, LGBTQ+ Advocacy Coordinator Brett Webb-Mitchell, explores the juxtaposition between how the global church responded to news of CNN's Anderson Cooper becoming a single, gay father via a surrogate (hint: the church didn't respond well) versus the notion that a child's birth is to be celebrated by a church, and the rest of that child's village.

"For it is in our baptism, not in the individual family unit, that the network of incredible relationships—both holy and mundane—are celebrated, affirmed, and called to action in supporting everyone in raising a child and whatever family or guardians come with a child. In our baptism, we are publicly welcomed into the body of Christ, which is an incredible household of people, to say the least."

Read more of Brett's blog on the Oregon-Idaho Conference website.


Pastors guide members through pandemic

The Rev. Isaac Broune travels 22 miles by taxi several days a week to keep in touch with his two congregations. 

“No sacrifice is too great to feed the Lord's sheep,” he said.
Broune is in charge of Bethel Quartier-Eléphant and Anani Cité de Paix United Methodist churches, two communities in the outskirts of the South-Abidjan District. They have a combined membership of 600.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Talented 10-year-old Zimbabwe girl inspires others during pandemic

The voice of a 10-year-old United Methodist is transcending the global pandemic.

Britney Sadete, a young leader at Hunyani United Methodist Church, released her first album, “Tsitsi Dzake,” just days before Zimbabwe declared a nationwide lockdown on March 30 to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

For some struggling with fear and grief, her music offers an escape and a message of hope.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

Georgia shooting sparks call to end racism

The words “Black Lives Matter” are flying on a flag outside Park Hill United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado, and United Methodist leaders are calling for a renewed effort to end racism after an unarmed black man was shot and killed while jogging near his home in Brunswick, Georgia.

Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot on Feb. 23. On May 7, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced it had charged two white men, Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, with murder and aggravated assault in the case. The arrest came after the public release of a cellphone video of the shooting.

Two United Methodist agencies called in a joint statement for the eradication of racism. The South Georgia Conference bishop, in a statement signed by other clergy, stressed that United Methodists value the sanctity of human life.

Read more of this story from United Methodist News Service.

'I would do anything for a do-over': Calgary church hopes others learn from their tragic COVID-19 experience

Members of a Calgary church ravaged by COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic are sharing their stories of grief and healing, after Alberta's chief medical health officer cited them as a cautionary tale.

"I had the opportunity recently to talk to a faith leader whose faith community gathered together in mid-March before many of our public health measures were in place,” Dr Deena Hinshaw said Thursday. "The congregation had a worship service and then gathered together for a celebratory social event. There were only 41 people present, and they were careful to observe two meter distancing and good hand hygiene. They followed all the rules and did nothing wrong. "

Despite that, 24 of the 41 people at the party ended up infected. Two of them died.

Read more of this story on the CTV website.


Top Ten Reasons Why Your Pastor Needs a Break (A Special Message for Clerks of Sessions and Elders)

by Ryan Landino | Sixty Second Preacher

        " ... Those anxieties we are all feeling? Those symptoms of depression that overwhelm you whenever you see the news? By virtue of our shared humanity, your pastor has them too. Preexisting conditions we may have been managing quietly and out of notice are now an amplified struggle. Very often in difficult situations, leaders go into “emergency mode” where we put our humanity aside and take care of everyone else’s needs before our own ..."

Oregon-Idaho Conference website →
Alaska Conference website →
Pacific Northwest Conference website →
The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area provides leadership for the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho, and the Pacific Northwest Conferences of The United Methodist Church. |
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