A weekly news update from The Alaska United Methodist Conference

"Joy to the World. . .  Let earth receive her king. . ."
Isaac Watts, 1719

On the question of who's in charge, the Bible is clear. All kinds of foolishness and evil occur in human lives and human history, but God is in charge. The one who finds the lost, forgives sin, makes highways straight, deserts bloom and shines light in the darkness. The way we know that God is in charge, isn't because everything is fine. Bad stuff happens all the time.  We know that God is in charge because the values of peace, justice, kindness are woven into the fabric of our being and an alarm sounds when the ways of the world stray too far from the way of Jesus.

And so we sing JOY! in every season because even in the darkest times, God tugs people to grace and truth, unfailingly, eternally, and will not rest until creation thrives, people enjoy abundant life, and justice is as natural and unstoppable as a river.

There's a lot of anxiety about the recent presidential election.
  • The role of fake news in shaping public opinion
  • The intrusion of Russia into the process
  • The statements by the FBI director
  • The role of the electoral college
  • The depth of dissatisfaction of Americans with government (19% in Nov. 2015)
  • The depth of distrust in the President-elect (41-48% since election)
  • Will the president-elect really carry through on all the promises he made
"He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove the glories of his righteousness, and wonders of his love."

Truth, grace and love find their way through an uncertain time.  Sing for JOY!

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Apportionments & Submission Deadline
Here is the apportionment report as of December 12th.  17 of our churches have paid 100% of their apportionments! Congratulations to you! For those that haven't reached 100% yet, you have a few more days.  The last day of acceptance, IN HAND (NOT mailed-by date), is January 11th.
Baby News from Rev. Melissa Engel
In a Facebook post by Rev. Melissa Engel, pastor at Douglas Community UMC, she says "We welcomed Sophia Neoma Engel into the world on Friday, December 16, 2016 at 8:39pm! She is super smart, healthy, and beautiful. 7 lbs 3 oz and 20 in long!"  She also said, "she is amazing and we are so in love."  Congratulations to Melissa and Michael on your new addition.  Prayers and blessings to you!
Learning Event and Winter Rendezvous
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.

To prepare for the learning event, here's some homework for you.
1. Form a Vitality Team in your local church.
2. Read and study the following documents together
a.  Northwest Adventure: New Church Development in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area ( click here to download)
b. Renewal Northwest: Congregational Vitality in the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area (this document is being edited and will be made available soon)
3. Access and study your mission field's demographics through  MissionInsite. Each church in the Alaska Conference has access to this demographic service. For more info in how to log-in, contact Crystal Feaster at the Conference Office.
4. Test the results of your demographics study by interviewing key people in your community. Guide questions for this will be made available 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
        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!
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.
Praying Our Way Forward Phase 2 Commences January 1
The second phase of the 'Praying Our Way Forward' initiative will be launched New Year's Day with 75 weeks of focused prayer for The United Methodist Church. The effort will begin January 1 in the North Carolina Conference, and wrap up in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018.

"The aim of 'Praying Our Way Forward' is to ask and listen for God's leadership at this critical time in the life of our church," said Bishop Al Gwinn, who co-chairs the initiative.  

Co-chair Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett adds, "In addition to participating in a designated week of prayer, individuals are invited to join the initiative by praying daily and fasting weekly for our church, mission and future."  

Each annual conference will take one week to have intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, which begins meeting in January.  

The Upper Room has developed UMCprays.org, a website where spiritual leaders and intercessors can share prayers, information and resources. The site has prayer resources for individuals, families, small groups, districts, and annual conference events, as well as promotional ideas and information about the Commission members and the weekly prayer schedule. There is also a place for the bishop of the annual conference scheduled to pray during the coming week to share a prayer.
During phase 1 of the new initiative, 84 bishops of the church spent 15 minutes each day for four months in prayer for the selection and initial work of the Commission on A Way Forward.

You can read the entire  press release here.  For more information, visit UMCprays.org.
Church's Homosexuality Debate Tops 2016 News
The election of the denomination's first openly lesbian bishop and the creation of a special commission to examine church law on homosexuality were considered the top news of the year by church communicators. Joey Butler reports.

Lessons from Baby Jesus
Like Ricky Bobby in "Talladega Nights," Christians sometimes prefer "baby Jesus" to "grown-up Jesus." Beyond the cuddly Christmas imagery, the Jesus of the nativity challenges conventional ideas about power and justice. Heather Hahn reports.

Read the story
Hymns we Love, and Hymns we Don't
United Methodists are asked to name their favorite and least favorite hymns as part of the early research for the first new United Methodist Hymnal in almost three decades. Discipleship Ministries is doing the online survey through Jan. 9.

2016: Remembering Notable United Methodists
The church this past year marked the passing of a Bible study innovator, a birthday ambassador and the Pulitzer-winning author of a beloved novel. Heather Hahn has brief remembrances of 21 United Methodists who put their faith into action.

24: Christmas Eve
25: Christmas Day
26: Office Closed
26-Jan 6: Carlo on vacation
31: New Year's Eve

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
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.
Clergy Birthdays
December 23: Curtis Matz

January 5: Janice Carlton
January 18: Karen Dammann

Conference Office

Superintendent Carlo
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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