e~Aurora
A weekly news update from The Alaska United Methodist Conference
Conference News
With the office closed last week and no e~Aurora, this edition includes information from both weeks. So, it will be a little longer than normal for that reason. Thanks for sticking through it all to see all the important news.
An Electronic Door to all Churches: Local Church Leadership Development | Conference Lay Leader (last week's post)
One of the many challenges of ministry in the Alaska Conference is the isolation and physical distance between many of our churches. As such, networking and collaboration has been limited to the churches near each other (which for many of our churches are none).

During this past year the conference initiated an effort to change that reality for many of our churches by creating a platform, albeit virtual, for creating connection among our local church leaders. 

Initiated through a joint effort of Superintendent Carlo Rapanut and Conference Lay Leader Jo Anne Hayden, six different groups: Lay Leader; Lay Member to Annual Conference; Council Chair; Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Chair; Finance Chair; and Trustee Chair were started with plans to begin some more groups this fall. These local church leaders from throughout the conference were invited to participate in a Zoom conference call conversation with leaders serving in the same role as them within their own churches. Though participants were encouraged to participate via their computer if possible so that they could see other participants, if that wasn’t a workable option, they could also participate by phone.

Opening a Door to Christ Through Samoan Culture | First Samoan UMC (this week's post)
First Samoan UMC was established 24 years ago led by Pastor Maga and it was the biggest Samoan congregation in Anchorage at the time. After the passing of Maga in 2013 there was a decline in membership. FSUMC did not give up, they courageously continued to worship, fellowship and do everything other churches would normally do except communion. As a result of their commitment in fasting and praying for a Samoan speaking Pastor, I was appointed July 1 st of 2018 with 63 active members at the time. Today, I am humbled to share that we have 80 active church members and I give all the Praise and Glory to our Mighty God! Here at FSUMC we are blessed to share the facility with our brothers and sisters at FUMC. We have joint communion services quarterly and try to participate in their events as much as possible as we are a multi-parish church. Last year we built a float together as we participated in the 4th of July parade and this year we are working together again to take part in our community as we get ready for 4th of July for another float.

CrossOver to Life! • Week 28
Spirit Move Me, God Help Me
Teri Watanabe
CrossOver reflection for Week 28 • Beginning June 16, 2019
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my [siblings]. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.” – Galatians 5:13-16 (NLT)

For almost 6 months, we have been walking/making a road together. What happens when the road feels like it’s now under water?

This image speaks to me of the road we think we walk on—how we might be so sure of our footing one day—with one frame of mind and one convicted stance, like singular rocks jutting from the earth—only to lose sight of and contact with the path when the floods of change swamp our shores.

National News
New York Conference ordains LGBTQ deacon
The Rev. Lea Matthews was ordained as a United Methodist deacon after a circular route starting in the Mississippi church of her childhood, a detour for 13 years as a teacher and then a return to church leadership just when the question of the status of LGBTQ people in the church was heating up. She sees her ministry as a helping hand to marginalized people in the world, including LGBTQ people like herself and her wife.

Exiting congregations face hefty price tag
U.S. conferences are calculating how much a church must pay if it leaves the denomination under legislation approved by General Conference 2019. Some, such as the South Georgia Conference, have already approved policies related to disaffiliation.

Openly LGBTQ provisional elder commissioned
The Rev. Taylor Gould, an openly bisexual-queer woman, was among six clergy candidates ordained or commissioned by the Oregon-Idaho Conference. "There's such a deep privilege here," the 26-year-old provisional elder said. She is the first LGBTQ person in the conference to be a candidate for ministry since General Conference 2019 passed legislation that strengthened the ban on "self-avowed practicing" gay clergy and imposes tougher penalties for violating that ban when the law goes into effect in January 2020.

VBS is not immune to racism
Youth ministers, lay leaders, parents, and especially children are excited -- Vacation Bible School season is here. It is, however, starting with controversy over one particular VBS curriculum created by Group Publishing called  Roar! Life is Wild, God is Good .

Roar! is a five-day Africa-themed VBS curriculum that is insensitive and offensive toward people of color and more specifically, Africans and the entire continent of Africa. The General Commission on Religion and Race has issued a statement  calling out this curriculum for its institutional biases, blind spots, and lack of intercultural competency. In the statement, we also offer guidelines of what to look for and how to choose an inclusive church school curricula.
Ramping up response to US spring disasters
A small Missouri congregation has been feeding those trying to stop the mighty Mississippi from spilling over its banks, while a United Methodist pastor in Dayton, Ohio, is seeking justice along with disaster care for low-income tornado survivors. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Conference is training additional flood response volunteers "just in time."

Paid parental leave campaign launched
United Methodist Women in the U.S. launched a nationwide paid parental leave campaign as it kicked off annual Mission u events. This year's action campaign is paid family leave. Mission u will occur in more than 50 locations around the country from June through October.

Young women's program revived in Sierra Leone
Six years after shutting down, a program to educate and hone leadership skills in young women is active again, thanks to a $5,000 donation by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries.

Pemberton church celebrates 250th anniversary
A New Jersey United Methodist church founded in 1769 celebrated its 250th anniversary at a gala attended by 200 current and former members. Pemberton United Methodist Church is the third-oldest United Methodist congregation in the U.S.

Faith lessons from new films
Sitting in a movie theater can be a great escape from the routine (and heat) of summer. The stories told on the big screen are sometimes rich with imagery and can remind us of biblical themes.

Play together - and strengthen your church
Except when the topic is related to children's or youth ministry, the word "fun" may not come up often when your church is planning a program or activity. However, studies show that Christians who know how to have fun together also do effective ministry together. Explore some innovative, fun ideas that can help make your church stronger, healthier and more connected.

Be a discerning church
Taking time for spiritual discernment may not come naturally to churches that are used to quick and predictable decision-making. It requires patience, humility and letting go of control. Learn how engaging in spiritual discernment as a first step in decision-making can help your church re-attune to God's call and find a path to the future.

Saying "hello" to your new pastor
It's "moving season" for United Methodist clergy across the United States. If your congregation is welcoming a new pastor this year, take a moment to discover 50 ideas for saying a "healthy" goodbye and providing genuine welcome, thanks to an article from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.

Treasurer/CFO wanted for UMW
United Methodist Women, national office is seeking a TREASURER/CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER. For more information on the position and to apply, click here .
Working to fill void left by record number of retirees
With a record number of retirees this year — more than 55 — the Great Plains Conference has worked to fill the vacancies in several ways. Among them is a new influx of international pastors.

Conference Calendar
24-26: GNW Cabinet Retreat - Carlo attending
4: Independence Day - Office Closed
5: Office closed
22-23: WJ Summit Design Team - Carlo attending
Upcoming Clergy Birthdays

July 11 -
Bob Smith
Joe-d DowlingSoka

July 21 -
Lisa Talbott
Conference Office
907-333-5050

Superintendent Carlo
907-854-8340
The Conference Office hours are:

Monday - Thursday: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Friday: 9:00 am - 11:30 am
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 Tuesday at 9:00 am for consideration.
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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 in God's preferred future.
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