e~Aurora
A weekly news update from The Alaska United Methodist Conference
Aurora
CONFERENCE NEWS
Learning Event and Winter Rendezvous
Save the Date
Save the date: Our Learning Event will be February 16-17, 2017 (Thursday 1:00 pm - Friday 3:00 pm) followed by the Winter Rendezvous (Conference committee meetings) on February 17-18, 2017 (Friday evening - Saturday afternoon). The Learning Event will focus on Creating New Places for New People and Nurturing Vital Congregations with Rev. Dr. Bill Gibson and Rev. Steve Ross as our main resource people. We will have more information next week but just wanted you to mark your calendars.
Abundant Health
After the success of Imagine No Malaria last quadrennium, the United Methodist Church is embarking on yet another ambitious initiative:  Abundant Health.  The audacious goal of this initiative is to reach 1 million children with lifesaving and heath promoting measures by 2020. The lead agency will be the Global Health Unit of Global Ministries and they are enlisting our help. The primary vehicle for this initiative where local churches can take part is the  10,000 Church Challenge where, beyond raising money, churches are encouraged to participate in the actual work of reducing preventable deaths of children by putting or partnering with groups to start ministries that promote health. To learn more about the Abundant Health initiative,  click here. To learn more about the 10,000 Church Challenge,  click here.
Abundant Health Ambassador
To coordinate the Abundant Health initiative in the Alaska Conference, the Leadership Team has asked Sandra Woods of the UMC of Chugiak to serve as volunteer Conference Ambassador.  Sandra will be our lead person for the initiative and will be our liaison to the Global Health Unit.  Sandra has extensive experience in public health.  She is a registered nurse and is really passionate about health ministries, especially for the poor and needy.  She currently works as the Nurse Manager for Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, an agency that provides primary care for Anchorage's poor and underinsured population.  Sandra will be contacting your pastors and churches soon.
Upcoming Camps at Birchwood
Winter Youth Break-Away
An awesome winter camp for students in grades 6-12. Enjoy four days full of  fantastic fellowship, food, snow and ice activities! Online registration is now open for Winter Youth Break-Away (WYBA).
December 27-30, 2016
Winter Family Camp
REGISTRATION FEE:
        Adult - $100
        Children (4-17) - $60
        Children under age 4 - Free
Register by December 15 to avoid a $20 late fee.
December 30, 2016 - January 1, 2017
VIM Teams Needed!
UMVIM
We are still needing VIM Teams for 2017 for several of our churches.  If you know mission-minded people in your home conference, or even your VIM coordinator, please check with them about the potential for bringing a team next summer. At this point, teams are needed in Juneau and Fairbanks.  In Fairbanks, we especially need teams that only consist of 18+ year old participants. 
 
If your church is still interested in hosting a VIM team for next summer, or if you are aware of a team that might be available, please contact Conference VIM Coordinator, Daniel Wilcox at danielpwilcox@gmail.com, or 907.414.7078.
NATIONAL NEWS
Christmas Greetings from the Council of Bishops
In a Christmas message to the people of The United Methodist Church on behalf of the Council of Bishops, Council president Bishop Bruce Ough reminds us that disruptions in our lives are sometimes God's call for us to make room for Him in our hearts and our lives.  Watch the video here.

A Message from the Moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward
Dear Friends in Christ,

It is Advent, the season of expectation, preparation, and new birth. This Advent season seems more poignant this year than in years past in the midst of beginning the work with the Commission on a Way Forward.
 
The church is in a high state of expectation, similar to the time of John the Baptist when expectant people flocked to the Jordan for John's message of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sin (Matthew 3). Expectant people experienced in the strange and unusual presence and message of John what they perceived as a divine intersection. They listened as John bore witness to the light and life that was in the midst of them, but not yet fully known. He told them that the movement they were experiencing was not about him or about them, but about someone coming after him that would baptize them with the Spirit and with fire. This judgment was not so much about what they had done right or wrong, as God's desire to get them into alignment with the coming of Jesus. This baptism would lead to new life and they needed to be ready.

People are expectantly waiting, preparing for the new thing, the new life that God will bring through the church today. The external cleansing and the inner fire come together to wash and purge us of our self-righteousness and cynicism, prejudice and apathy. Again, in this season, we need to prepare, and to be expectantly ready for God's movement, Christ's new birth in our hearts and in the life of the church in this time and within our global context.
United Methodist Church Offers the Gift of Hospitality
The United Methodist Church is taking to the streets of nine major U.S. cities to offer the gift of hospitality this Christmas with a warm invitation and a hot cup of cocoa.

As commuters, holiday shoppers and eventgoers crowd the most trafficked areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Portland (Ore.), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., United Methodists will be amongst them -- hoping to warm their stomachs and warm their hearts.

Street teams will be wearing what look like bright red jetpacks, but they're actually bearing gifts - tasty cups of hot cocoa served from state-of-the-art backpack drink dispensers. The paper goblets filled with chocolate-y goodness exhort cocoa drinkers to "Rethink Church" and point them to a website - rethinkchurch.org/find-a-church  - where they can find a local church in their area.

Mobile billboards cruising the streets will do the same. National advertising is also running on digital media and cable television.

"We think that church can happen anywhere where people experience the spirit of Christmas," said Dan Krause, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "We want to carry a message of hospitality out into our communities and welcome everyone to attend a United Methodist place of worship as Christmas nears."

The unique outreach program from the United Methodist Church, which takes place December 8-11 and December 15-18 , comes at a time of the year when many people are particularly lonely or feeling that something is missing from their lives.

In fact, research shows that twice the number of U.S. adults say they are lonely compared to 10 years ago. That's despite being continually connected more than ever before through texting, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

"We're offering an invitation to come into our community where we continue to explore the true meaning of Christmas," said Krause.
Cokesbury Launches Christmas Campaign to Help Refugee Crisis
This month, book readers can make an economic impact in alleviating the refugee hardship by choosing to purchase the book Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher through Cokesbury.com in the month of December. From now through December 31, 2016, Cokesbury will donate $3 from the sale of each book sold to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering that coordinates thousands of relief programs in the U.S. and across the Globe. The book's publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, will also donate $1 to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

  Read more about the Christmas Campaign
Santa Teaches Lesson in Grace
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It is an emotional and spiritual tightrope that many families walk between letting their children enjoy the magic of Santa and making sure they know that Jesus is the reason for Christmas. Kathy L. Gilbert shares how Santa can help youngsters better understand grace.

  Read the rest of the article here
CONFERENCE CALENDAR
December
12-15: GNW Cabinet meeting in Seattle - Carlo attending
24: Christmas Eve
25: Christmas Day
26: Office Closed
26-Jan 6: Carlo on vacation
31: New Year's Eve

January
1: New Year's Day
2: Office Closed
8: Charge Conference - Anchor Park UMC
8: Charge Conference - First UMC Ketchikan
8: Charge Conference - Ola Toe Fuataina Samoan Fellowship
10: Charge Conference - Willow UMC
12: Charge Conference - St. John UMC
15: Charge Conference - First UMC Fairbanks
15: Charge Conference - New Hope Methodist Presbyterian Church
17-20: GNW Cabinet meeting in Portland - Carlo attending
25-29: WJ Leadership meetings - Carlo attending
27-29: UMW Executive Team meeting in Anchorage
29-Feb 1: ADCM Meeting in Phoenix - Carlo attending
Conference Office Email Address has Changed
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We have begun the process of changing the conference office email from umc@gci.net to alaskaumc@gmail.com.  For workflow ease, we are consolidating everything to the Google platform (email, calendar, etc.).  Please update your address books/contacts lists and start using alaskaumc@gmail.com for your emails to the conference. Carlo's email ( carlorapanut@gmail.com) will remain the same.
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Upcoming
Clergy Birthdays
 
December 10: David Hall
December 23: Curtis Matz

January 5: Janice Carlton
January 18: Karen Dammann



Conference Office
907-333-5050

Superintendent Carlo
907-854-8340
Submissions - If you have an article or event that you would like to share with the rest of the conference, submit it to the conference office by Monday evening for consideration.
AUMC Logo Mission Statement:
The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Held and supported by the transforming relationship with God through Christ, we of the Alaska United Methodist Conference seek to be a community that creates a home for all peoples, finds our hope through grace and journeys together into God's preferred future.
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