The Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church is called to be a community, diverse and united in God’s saving love, sent out in vital life-giving ministry for and with Jesus Christ. Find Coverage & Conversation about United Methodists News in the PNW!
Members of Ronald United Methodist Church in Shoreline, Washington are connecting and resourcing their community through a new day center and overnight shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
The community work with the homeless began in the summer of 2018 when several people were camping outside of Ronald’s church building. Rev. Kelly Dahlman-Oeth, the pastor to the church, started small by offering these individuals coffee and a chance to build relationships. He also encouraged members of the congregation to interact with the individuals as they felt comfortable. Those relationships with members began to develop and they were welcomed into the church.
On February 3 of this year, the congregation moved 14 people inside the church before two weeks of snow and freezing temperatures. Shortly after, they took a bigger step voting to approve a 90-day pilot for a day center and overnight shelter ministry. Rev. Dahlman-Oeth began leading the “RUMC’s Love First Overnight Shelter Program”in a three-person coordination team with members Stephanie Henry, chair of the church’s finance team and overnight host, and Jason Metcalf-Lindberger, chair of the education team and overnight host.
Rev. Dahlman-Oeth believes loving and serving one another is the work of the gospel.
“I repeatedly say that I cannot experience Christ, understand the gospel, or worship on Sunday mornings without walking alongside my vulnerable and marginalized siblings,” Rev. Dahlman-Oeth shared. “The selflessness that Jesus called us to is the benefit in and of itself. To look for some value-added, or some reward is to distort the call of Christ.”
The coordination team built relationships with Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ, University Lutheran Church – Seattle, Dale Turner Family YMCA, and the Shoreline community. Each community provides volunteers as overnight hosts for the homeless working alongside those from Ronald UMC. Members of Ronald UMC also do laundry, provide rides to court, and prepare meals.
An individual finds a quiet place to play guitar while enjoying shelter in Ronald UMC.
The utilities, maintenance and repair costs associated with this ministry are estimated between $5,000-$10,000 a year. Both the costs and new revenues are difficult for the church to measure, and it is also tricky to measure the impact of members who leave, and others that join, because of their feelings about this emerging ministry area.
“There were concerns about safety and security, but as the congregation has gotten to know our participants and as our participants have grown more comfortable in the church, many concerns have been found unwarranted,” Henry said. “The relationships, even friendships, that have formed are worth every penny spent and hour of restless sleep.
Ronald UMC plans to continue their shelter ministry and take it one step further by communicating more with the City of Shoreline. As part of their ministry, four volunteers have accompanied and advocated for individuals in the courthouse over misdemeanor crimes. The church is also working with local judges and others in the community to replace a punitive approach to homelessness with a therapeutic one.
Using the resources we have been given in partnership with our community is a challenge every church is called to according to the Rev. Dahlman-Oeth.
“You have been made stewards of those resources. They do not belong to you,” Rev. Dahlman-Oeth said. “If you open your doors and your hearts to the most vulnerable in your community, you will soon find Christ living among you as part of the gloriously, messy, beloved community.”
Sasha Terry is serving as a communications intern for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference this summer. She is a student at Biola University majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast and minoring in Biblical and Theological Studies.
CAPTION: Group picture of participants in a meeting called by Central Conference bishops to address the impasse in the United Methodist Church regarding inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. Photo by Maidstone Mulenga.
CHICAGO – A group of prominent United Methodists met in Chicago on Friday, July 19, 2019, to seek new ways to address the impasse regarding full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in The United Methodist Church.
This meeting was called by Central Conference bishops for the purpose of creating space for open and frank conversation where all parties could dialogue and work together to find a new pathway for the denomination.
Those in attendance included Tom Berlin, Keith Boyette, Junius Dotson, Maxie Dunnam, Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, Adam Hamilton, Mark Holland, Jan Lawrence, Patricia L. Miller, Randall Miller, Karen Prudente, Rob Renfroe, Kimberly Scott, Jasmine Smothers, and Mark Tooley. The discussions were guided by Bishop John Yambasu, Bishop Christian Alsted and Bishop Mande Muyombo.
The group began its work centered in worship, focused on Ephesians 4:1-6, which urges Christians to make “every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Engaging in candid conversations, striving for consensus, the participants grappled with the painful realities of the aftermath of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference held in St. Louis in February.
The participants agreed to form a group comprising two persons each from centrists, conservatives, progressives; and two central conference bishops. The purpose of the smaller group is to recommend a framework for the future of global United Methodism.
As the participants departed, there was consensus that regardless of differing convictions, the Holy Spirit is still at work in our Church.
When it comes to churches and other non-profits, fraudsters are most eager to take advantage of the benevolence and trusting nature of those involved.
The Greater Northwest Area, and the conferences therein, utilize many means of technology to communicate with those in our area. However, it is often through these same channels that criminals attempt identity theft, phishing, and other scams. It is important to stay alert when opening emails, clicking links, and accepting follow/friend requests on social media.
While many email/social media scams are easy enough to spot, fraudsters who take a little extra time to try to understand the relationships present in an organization like the church can find vulnerabilities. Because of this, we are offering some helpful tips for recognizing official communications from the Greater Northwest Area and the annual conferences therein:
Official conference emails will come from email addresses ending with the following domains: @greaternw.org, @pnwumc.org, or @umoi.org. If you receive an email that seems odd, email communications@ your respective conference immediately. Alaska is an exception to the aforementioned; they use firstname.lastname@example.org for Alaska Conference communications. As noted in the Lifehacker article linked above, advanced email spoofing can be hard to notice so be skeptical of unusual requests even if they come from these domains.
Do not respond/click on links from suspicious email addresses. The conference will only ask for personal information through official channels, such as registrations and surveys. If you receive an email asking for a phone number/email address, make sure it is from one of the conference email addresses, and if you are unsure, email communications@your respective conference.
Our official social media channels are listed below.If you get a request or message from any other entity than those listed, it is not from the area or your conference. Please email communications@ your respective conference with any fraud social media page requests.
Bishop Elaine Stanovsky does have a personal email address she uses for correspondence that does not end with any of the aforementioned domains. The Bishop will not email you from this account, or any other, with personal appeals for gift cards or other requests like the one described in this article from the Better Business Bureau. And if our good bishop is stranded in a foreign country, be assured that she will not email to ask you for urgent assistance. The same advice is true for other conference leaders as well.
Your best defense against fraudulent email is a healthy amount of skepticism. Please avail yourself of the information above and give yourself permission to be less trusting in this one area of your life.
For those serving in local churches, please also consider how you can inform and protect your members from similar issues on a local level. Sharing contact information is part of being in relationship as a church, but sensitivity should be used to share only what is needed, and avoid publicly posting prayer requests, directories, or lists that can tempt spammers. Developing reliable patterns of communicating with your community can help to minimize the possible risks of fraudulent behavior visiting you this holiday season.
If there is one item in this newsletter that you read or watch this week, I hope it is this one. In fact, I’d encourage you to share it with others in your church through an email or on social media. Even better, see if you can get a few minutes set aside to play it during worship.
Falisha Hola delivered this powerful testimony about growing up as a child of immigrants in the U.S. at YOUTH 2019, a national gathering for United Methodist youth, last week.
Falisha is a young person from Seattle First Tongan United Methodist Church who has served on our Conference Council on Youth Ministries for the past four years, including as president. She was elected as a delegate to the 2020 Western Jurisdictional Conference when the PNW Conference gathered in June.
It was hard not to think of Falisha’s vulnerable words over the weekend as President Trump targeted a racist tweet at four congresswomen of color telling them to “go back” to the countries they came from (three of the four were born in the U.S).
Speaking of her family, Falisha said “I never spoke of the situation of my family in fear that someone would take them away from me, in fear that they would be discriminated against because of what people labeled as immigrants. Labeling them as illegal, not American, telling them to go back to where they are from…”
We can all grow from listening to each other and striving to understand how we see and experience the world differently. It’s hard to imagine how we can aspire to love our neighbor if we won’t listen to them and take seriously the things we hear.
So please take a few minutes—even just for yourself—and listen to Falisha’s testimony. As a fellow Christ-follower, I think you’ll be blessed by her words and wisdom.
Patrick Scriven is a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated layperson working professionally in the church. Scriven serves the Pacific Northwest Conference as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries.
I have been trapped in the clichéd, superficial, proposition based form of Christian religious life in North America for some time. I have also been familiar with Joseph Heller’s Catch–22 for many years but it was not until a recent reading that I had an insight that provided me with a way out of this propositional, religious trap.
The insight was that religious claims, as opposed to scientific or ethical claims, should be expressed only as Catch–22s because these paradoxes do not make straightforward claims about the world that can be believed or rejected. Catch–22s are a form of paradox which establishes conditions that cannot be escaped. Because of this, one cannot find hope in a Catch–22. This means that our only options are despair and transcendence. One cannot obtain freedom without risking despair. This is the only kind of risky invitation we should expect from any religious path that is worth living.
As I reflected upon this insight, I realized that in some respects, common or traditional religious language has always used Catch–22s, though this has gone unnoticed. I persisted in an investigation whereby I translated theological claims into Catch–22s. I felt a freedom that comes when one realizes that the only way to escape a larger trap is through triggering a smaller trap. This paradox lies at the heart of the book I have written, ZeroTheology.
I call this freedom ZeroTheology because I make zero straightforward, comforting claims about the world. Another way of saying this is that ZeroTheology makes zero theological claims about the world other than the ones that can be expressed as Catch–22s.
In a ZeroTheology world, those currently trapped in the belief paradigm, which divides people into believers and unbelievers, could converse as friends because their proposition based disagreement would disappear. My goal is not to correctly align straightforward comforting religious beliefs with some proposed metaphysical structure of the universe. My goal is to live a free and transcendent life.
ZeroTheology is not for everyone. It is only for those courageous enough to risk despair.
ZeroTheology consists of ten Catch–22s. Each catch will be put forward and then an expository section will follow. Some sections will read easily while others will require more attention and patience. This is the way religious enlightenment works. It comes in fits and starts. It is freely given and only available to those who work at it.
The Catch–22s are meant to throw you off balance. I am trying to flip you out of the belief paradigm into something new. This new paradigm does not attempt straightforward theological answers for confronting the griefs of life. The Catch–22s make this fact explicit and encourage people to look to connecting relationships and fulfilling practices that are intrinsically rewarding rather than to instrumentalist beliefs or propositions that deceptively promise escape. Catch–22s are not like propositions that can be believed or doubted. They are paradoxical traps that can set us free.
The preceding text has been adapted from the preface and introduction of Zero Theology: Escaping Belief through Catch-22s. It is available for purchase from the publisher and also on Amazon. You can also learn more on the ZeroTheology blog.
Rev. John Tucker serves as Superintendent for the Crater Lake District in the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
LEAWOOD, KS – The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection announced today that registration is now open for Leadership Institute 2019, held September 25-27 at the Leawood, Kansas campus.
The Church of the Resurrection, along with leading bishops, pastors and laity across the US, believes that the decision at the 2019 General Conference does not represent the vast majority of United Methodists in the US, and that it brought greater harm to our LGBTQ members and their families.
Resurrection is a church that welcomes and loves members of the LGBTQ community. Our leadership is actively involved in conversations about where we go from here and Leadership Institute 2019 is another step of this process. The format and focus for this year’s conference are aimed at preparing United Methodist leaders to navigate and lead their congregations and annual conferences for the future, in response to events taking place in the denomination at this time.
Church of the Resurrection hopes to have leaders from 1,500 churches participating at Leadership Institute 2019. For this reason, registration is limited to two participants from each congregation (one clergy/one laity, two clergy or two laity). For those pastors serving multiple congregations, the pastor and one laity person from each congregation are allowed. Also invited are denominational leaders serving at the conference, episcopacy, district level as well as agency leaders, campus ministry leaders and leaders from extension ministries.
For those not part of the United Methodist Church, plan to attend Leadership Institute 2020, which will return to the ecumenical format and focus on leadership development and offering practical ministry tools and ideas. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the leader of the Episcopal Church and the man who touched millions when he preached at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding, has been named as a keynote speaker for 2020.
Those participating at Leadership Institute 2019 will:
Catch a leadership vision for a future that reflects a vibrant, missional United Methodist Church, one that is passionately Wesleyan and authentically Christian, drawing all people into relationship with Jesus Christ.
Learn about the latest opportunities and the potential impact on your local church from leaders who are currently charting various courses forward, including: staying and reforming within our current structure, disaffiliating from the UMC to start something new, and dissolving the UMC to multiply into two or three new Methodist expressions.
Be equipped to lead difficult conversations, navigate change, and build consensus in your ministry context, as you seek to affirm the full participation in the church of people of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
Leave prepared to lead a movement within your Annual Conference to win hearts and minds to the center eliminating discriminatory language, restrictions and penalties in the UM Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons.
The conference also offers Pre-Institute Sessions on Wednesday, September 25, led by guest presenters digging deep into topics such as: church growth, stewardship, preaching, transitions, call to ministry, difficult conversations and self-care, all through the lens of the current divisions within the church.
Details and registration can be found at li.cor.org. Super Early Bird prices are offered through August 2. Register today for the best rates and availability. Questions? Contact email@example.com or 913-232-4139.
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection is located at 13720 Roe Avenue, Leawood, Kansas. It also has locations in Olathe, Blue Springs, downtown Kansas City and Overland Park. Resurrection is the largest Methodist church in the country with over 20,000 members. For additional information about the church, please visit the web site: www.cor.org.
I have two darling children. Really, I have great kids. They are funny, kind, smart, enjoyable to be around, compassionate toward others, and creative in a variety of ways. Like most kids, they also have their troublesome sides—cantankerous, ornery, opinionated, and wildly independent. I have no idea what it’s like in your house, but in mine, their tiresome selves mostly show up at the worst times. Like Saturday night. I think it’s almost guaranteed that Saturday night in a clergy home brings sleepless children, terrible attitudes, broken appliances, and general chaos.
Unless it’s a high holy season, and then the crazy comes any day of the week.
After more than a decade in ministry, I can say that with some laughter at all the wild things that have popped up. It’s no longer surprising when the dishwasher stops working the morning of Christmas Eve as we’re trying to prepare a family meal while finalizing a sermon (or three) for worship. Or when the member who attends once in a blue moon is suddenly terribly concerned about some trivial thing that warrants none of my time but somehow engulfs hours of mental energy. Or when it’s Holy Saturday and the dog pukes on the bed. It’s an hour before special service and my potty-trained child has a full-on explosion that requires scrubbing floors, showering, and a load of laundry. Your details may be different, but the chaos is the same.
And I swear there’s some sort of pheromone clergy emit when it’s high tide that beckons our children to NEVER leave us alone! It’d be nicer for you if this were just me, but I know too many clergy parents to even pretend that’s true. I split my working time between home and the office (and a hundred places around town), which allows me to be home and available to my kids in the ways that I want. I’m home most every day when school lets out and available to help with homework, fix a snack, or play outside. Ninety percent of those days my kids are glad to see me but are generally more involved with themselves and their own antics than anything else. Except on the days when there’s a tight deadline or fifty things that all need my attention at once. Then, they are on me like white on rice. They feel compelled to be in my arms, on my lap, at my side every single step of the way. When all I need is five minutes to finish the task at hand so I can devote my full attention to them, they’ll have none of it. Which means that my five-minute tasks won’t be finished for more than an hour.
I don’t have much wisdom to offer new clergy parents, but I have learned this: ten to fifteen minutes of focused quality time will often buy me forty to sixty minutes of work time. If I can sit and play Legos, go for a walk, dig in the garden, read a book, complete a puzzle, or simply listen and cuddle for a bit, then they get what they want—a bit of mom, and in turn I get what I want—a chance to finish my work so I can return to my family.
Some people strive for a “work-life balance.” I’m not sure it exists. Not in the sense of homeostasis. Parenting and working require constant movement. It may be more accurate to say “work-life balancing act” since the gerund (“ing”) indicates that it is an on-going, never-ending process. Accepting that as a reality is a big help. Parents who strive to find the perfect schedule with just the right balance are likely to be disappointed. Especially in ministry. The demands of each week vary, and what you had planned may very well be interrupted by someone’s crisis, a death, a broken furnace, an argument surrounding church politics, a kid who is projectile vomiting, or a pet who requires a trip to the vet. That’s when all you can do is let go of your best-laid plans and carry on.
Too often we only think about disasters when they strike. The Pacific Northwest is not immune to floods, fires. earthquakes or tornados. When a disaster does strike, the community turns to those they trust – your church can be that safe refuge of support, comfort and hope. The visible presence of the church is an essential ministry in times of crisis.
Are you prepared? The truth is, we can be preparing now as individual disciples, as congregations, and as communities to be ready for and mitigate the effects of the next disaster.
“Connecting Neighbors” is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) program that gives congregations the tools and information needed to guide the development of their disaster response ministries. Congregations that invest time in “Connecting Neighbors” training are better prepared for what emergencies may come, able to draw on local resources more quickly in the wake of a disaster, and more confident that United Methodists will be a resource for community recovery. While Connecting Neighbors is a program from UMCOR, each United Methodist Conference is responsible for introducing and implementing the program for the congregations in the conference.
UMCOR-qualified trainers from the PNW Conference are ready now to support local churches with the Connecting Neighbors training. Workshop attendees learn how to identify types of disasters likely to impact the community, assess immediate needs and the church’s resources to meet those needs. Guidance connects the local church to outside resources, the community’s emergency plans, develops a system of communications, and much more. The training is composed of three half-day workshops and can be tailored to the needs of each individual church.
For more information or to arrange a workshop contact Terry Reddick, Connecting Neighbors Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or PNW Disaster Response Coordinators Kathy and Dana Bryson at email@example.com.
Kathy Bryson is the Pacific Northwest Conference Early Response Team Coordinator (ERT) and a United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) certified ERT trainer. Along with her husband, Dana, she also serves as PNW Disaster Response Coordinator.
A new vision of churches learning and collaborating first surfaced when First United Methodist Church (UMC) of Olympia staff attended the Northwest Leadership Institute in 2017. A few months later, they began to test it by contacting several churches in their area including Tumwater UMC, Saint Andrews UMC, and an emerging church start in the Steamboat Island neighborhood. They then held a laity meeting with representatives from each church agreeing to start the partnership which became the South Sound Cooperative Ministry.
While the South Sound Cooperative Ministry is made up of the aforementioned faith communities in the Olympia area, three other churches—the Shelton, Rochester, and Oakville UMCs— are beginning to relate more closely as their ministry grows.
Earlier this year, the Crest to Coast Missional District held a Clergy Day Apart in Chehalis with the theme “Crossing Over from Competition to Collaboration.” This event allowed pastoral leaders to engage in conversation with one another about collaboration in ministry. They were also able to participate in activities around cooperation and collaboration. The South Sound Cooperative Ministry is one example of how churches can come together to collaborate.
Crest to Coast District Superintendent Rev. Kathleen Weber believes that each church in the co-op strengthens and builds their congregation through working together on shared visions.
“They are better able to reach the greater [Olympia] community because as they meet folks who are looking for a church community, they can best direct them to the church that fits the inquiring person’s desires and needs.”
People gathered for a joint charge conference in 2018 for First Olympia, Tumwater, and Steamboat Island where they celebrated the newly created cooperative appointments.
The South Sound Cooperative Ministry’s main objective is to connect people to Christ and build the abundant life of God’s kingdom in the greater Olympia area. To accomplish this, member churches agree to support one another and work together rather than competing.
Leaders in the South Sound Cooperative Ministry commit to weekly gatherings at a member’s home to run down three tasks. They begin these meetings by inviting members to pray for one another, their ministry, and their congregations. Then they share their ministry vision and projects. Finally, they dig into the details and collaborate on how they will work together to carry out projects.
Rev. Peter Perry has been a part of the First United Methodist Church (UMC) for five years and the South Sound cooperative since its inception three years ago. He believes the Cooperative is still living into its potential as the clergy and churches learn how to transition into life together.
“We still have speed bumps, but instead of working independently, we are working together as a team,” Rev. Perry said. “Finding out how to weave pastoral appointment changes into the teamwork of the co-op will be a new challenge for us this summer. Discovering our gifts and graces and passions and how best we can all work together will be a place of exciting growth in the coming months.”
Youth ministry is one area where collaboration has begun to take root. There is a co-op youth group that allows for large group connections and activities. The youth from all the churches meet a couple of times a month and plan special events such as skating, movie nights, hikes, and more.
“By uniting our youth and their leaders, we have gained great momentum and excitement,” Rev. Weber said. “Each church is thrilled to be able to provide a quality youth program for their youth.”
Members from the four South Sound Cooperative churches enjoyed a picnic together last summer.
The members of the South Sound Cooperative Ministry believe that the Holy Spirit is inviting them to share their story with other geographic regions so that those churches can create groups like the South Sound Cooperative Ministry to strengthen and empower their ministry. The South Sound Cooperative Ministry members are hopeful in building relationships and discovering new ways to serve their communities.
Sasha Terry is serving as a communications intern for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference this summer. She is a student at Biola University majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast and minoring in Biblical and Theological Studies.
Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky has appointed the Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos as Hispanic/Latinx Ministries Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference beginning July 1, 2019.
Rev. Lyda Pierce, who previously served in this role, retired in June.
In this position, Rev. Santos will work collaboratively in developing and implementing a fresh approach to Hispanic and Latinx Ministries across the Pacific Northwest. Over time, it is expected that he would become a trusted voice and liaison to other such ministries in the Greater Northwest Area and across the United Methodist Connection.
“We are excited by the pastoral gifts and experience that Rev. Santos clearly brings to this position,” offered the Rev. David Valera, who will supervise his work as Executive Director of Connectional Ministries. “Our search team was equally impressed with his ability to listen deeply as he answered our questions, a talent so valuable in ministry with others.”
Rev. Santos is an ordained elder from the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He holds a number of professional certifications in coaching, counseling, and graphic design. Additionally, he has received training in Module 1-2 of the National Plan for Hispanic Ministries (UMC) and Clinical Pastoral Education.
Previously, Rev. Santos served as Director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries for the General Board of Discipleship (2006-2009) and the Florida Conference (2001-2005). While serving the latter, he was an instrumental part of the growth of its Hispanic/Latino Ministries with the number of Hispanic/Latino missions and churches doubling during his time there. In addition to this work, Santos has pastored a number of United Methodist churches in Florida, Illinois, and Puerto Rico and most recently served as chaplain for VITAS Healthcare of Central Florida.
Upon invitation, Rev. Santos offered the following words of greeting:
Greetings, my brothers and sisters in faith!
My name is Cruz Edwin Santos and beginning on July 1st, 2019 I will become the Director of Hispanic/Latinx Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference. I want to say “thank you” to our Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky, her cabinet, and to Rev. David Valera for the confidence they have placed in me in selecting me to do this task, which is so important for our whole conference.
I want to say to all of you, clergy and laity, I am very committed to this call that God has placed on me, and I ask for your help through your prayers and your good advice so that the work that we will do together will be a great blessing for our beloved UMC.
As a leader, I am a collaborative person that enjoys working with others as a team member. I have a strong commitment towards our goals, and vision that is always focused on excellence. Discovering new ways of reaching the Hispanic/Latinx population will be an important part of my work to create Vital and Contextual Hispanic/Latinx Churches.