Delegates and reserve
delegates to the 2020 Western Jurisdiction were elected
during the conference session. 2020 General Conference delegates and reserves had been elected in 2019. The completed delegation well represents the Church the Pacific Northwest and aspires to be-diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
9 individuals were ordained as elders and admitted to full connection. Two individuals were commissioned in preparation for the order of provisional elder and one into the order of provisional deacon. The new license of a local pastor, and the retirement of 15 pastoral leaders, were also recognized.
The memorial service included the names of 17 people and 3 church closures
Membership stands at 36,845, down nearly 900 from the previous year.
- Worship attendance stands at 16,417, down around 370.
- Church school attendance stands at 4,450, down 54.
- Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2018 stand at 694, down by 51.
- Baptisms stand at 295, down 92.
- Adults and young adults in small groups were 9,888, down by about 500.
- Worshipers engaged in mission 9,979, down by 302.
But What is new?
53 church planters in the Greater NW Area, launched 43 new projects, and ended 9, 83 pastors were trained, 28 of which were church planters, and we placed 17 interns of color.
It was noted that if we inhabit the domain of privilege, we are the ones who must choose to step aside to allow others such as persons of color, and youth to lead. We, who have power must demonstrate our willingness to embrace differences, if we are to expand the boundaries of our churches.
The church is celebrating a Bicentennial of Mission, and the United Methodist Women are celebrating 150 years of Mission. During this time the church has weathered many storms and will survive many more. We each will, with God's help find our path forward, and endure strong and resilient, no matter what happens next.
Finally, As I'm sure you know, a great deal of time and energy went into addressing the issues raised by the 2018 General Conference. The Pacific NW conference is trying to be proactive in our response, and many people continue to work to discern options, and how best to respond to changes.
What changes? Actually, the General Conference didn't actually change that much, but what was changed has significant impact on our local churches. It added language which imposes a Prohibition of approving or recommending any LGBTQ person for service, AND allows complaints against clergy including Bishops, who are now mandated to not receive recommendations for LGBTQ persons.
Important dates to be aware of:
- The PNW district plans to become a separate legal entity and obtain a 501-C with a planned effective date by Oct 15
- Jan 1, the new Traditionalist plan goes into effect. An onslaught of accusations is expected at that time.
- May 5th the next General Conference will be held in Minneapolis. Some are hopeful that changes may be made to the Traditional plan at that time, but expectations are low.
Our Conference Sent Delegates to UM Forward, which identified 3 major options, to stay and resist, stay and explore a way out, or to leave.
Delegates were also sent to UM Next and explored Reconciling Ministries. They agreed on basic principles.
- To be passionate followers of Christ
- Resist evil, and oppression
- Reject the traditional plan
- To work to eliminate discriminatory language, and penalties.
- More information can be found at (UMCnext.com)
On the more traditional side the WCA (Wesleyan Covenant Association) is also working on a contingency plan for themselves. They do not expect to be present at our Annual Conference next year.
It is generally believed that the majority does not want a split, but this is an issue of conscience.
A matrix of options, with potential costs has been developed, and can be summed up as follows:
- Stay/resist. This is already happening.
- Disaffiliation/withdrawal which will take 1-3 years for the process and could be expensive and high risk.
- Withdrawal of annual conferences and single churches.
- Negotiated division with asset distribution 3-5 years to implement.
There is no reason to wait for another General Conference. We are being proactive.
At conference Offerings and gifts were received during the weekend. The first was for a
Safe Harbor Fund
to support clergy persons and candidates outside of the Greater Northwest Area endangered by the actions of the 2019 General Conference. This fund was Initiated by Bishop Stanovsky, and will be managed by the Greater NW Area.
The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference declared that it will:
- Reaffirm and continue its commitment to Non-Compliance with United Methodist and governmental actions that limit, degrade, or hinder full participation in the life of both church and society for members of the LGBTQIA+ communities.
- Affirm and celebrate the sexual and gender identities of all members of the LGBTQIA+ communities.
- Live into the statements of the PNW Board of Ordained Ministry, the Western Jurisdiction's Leadership Team, and Mission Cabinet, as it seeks to become a truly inclusive Church [where its leaders have stated that they do not consider sexual orientation or gender identity as disqualifying candidates for ministry and refuse to capitulate to the by resisting and exploring alternate structures].
- Listen to and further the work of gatherings like UM Forward and UM next, alongside those most impacted by oppressive systems, as it considers new ways forward for the church
Petitions ran the gamut from calling for the exploration of disaffiliation, to creation of a task force to establish a new legal entity which might develop a new expression of Methodism.
Another expresses the will of the conference to prioritize complaints relating to LGBTQIA+ in an effort to minimize the impact of multiple complaints swamping the Conference, as investigations, arbitrations, and possible church trials stemming from a flood of complaints could easily overwhelm the administrative capacities of the conference. The conference also directed its secretary to send a petition to General Conference calling for the formation of the United States, or North America as a Central Conference.
In all over 30 petitions were approved.
This is yet another Cross over year. This year, decisions must be made, by each and every Conference, and Congregation. Each pastor, and each church member, ultimately will have to decide.
We hope you appreciate the concerns of our Council of Governance. We will continue to be listening to concerns of the congregation, in order that we may discern the thoughts, and feelings of our congregation, and determine how best to proceed as a congregation. Thank you.
Terry L. Eaton