The 145th Session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Story by Patrick Scriven | Click Here for More Photos

The 145th session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference took place at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, June 22-24, 2018. Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area officiated.

This was the third time that Puyallup has been home to an annual conference session; it was last held in the same location in 2016. A quadrennial theme shared across the area with the Alaska and Oregon-Idaho Conferences, “Do this and you will live!” was explored with a new focusing question, “Do what?”

Significant Messages

The Rev. Katy Shedlock offers a spoken word poem during the Opening Worship.

Following a recognition of the first people to live in the Puyallup Valley, the conference got off to a strong start with an energetic Opening Worship service. Church planter Rev. Katy Shedlock offered a provocative spoken word poem titled “Do What?”. Bishop Stanovsky delivered her Episcopal Address which included a report from Commission on a Way Forward member Rev. Donna Pritchard. Her report included an overview of the three models that are the product of the commission’s work.

Throughout her address, Bishop Stanovsky focused on the question, “What does love look like?” She lifted up a number of examples including the work of churches to respond to natural disasters, poverty, and advocacy for those without power or voice. Efforts to bridge divides including the recent Table Talks initiative were also offered as examples.

Rev. Donna Pritchard of Portland First UMC updates members on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.

The news of refugee families being separated and detained at the border worked its way into several moments of this year’s conference including Stanovsky’s address. “We gather in Puyallup, a former internment camp of Japanese Americans. Today, we might call it a detention center. If that sounds political,” she said, “read the Bible.” The bishop went on to mention that the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington was just a couple miles from both her home and office. 75 conference members would organize less than two days later to hold an early morning prayer vigil outside of it.

As she turned toward the coming year Stanovsky addressed denominational uncertainty saying, “whatever happens at General Conference in February of 2019, United Methodists in the Pacific Northwest will find a way for LGBTQ people to be fully a part of our little neighborhood in God’s wide kindom. Our walk with Jesus, for decades, has led us to this place.”

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky asks members to consider “what does love look like?”

The conclusion of Stanovsky’s address cast a vision for the next 12 months as a “Crossover Year of loving new neighbors.” Instead of waiting passively, the bishop encouraged members to use the year to begin, and renew, efforts of missional engagement in their neighborhood. A presentation received later in the weekend by the Greater Northwest Innovation Vitality Team built off of this emphasis.

The Rev. Daniel Foster offered the message at the Memorial Worship. His sermon, “Fully Paid” reminded us that “Death is the culminating reality of life. No one escapes it…we have to eventually come to terms with it ourselves.” Foster cautioned attendees to avoid “the very convenient escape of somehow believing this world is pretty much all there is for us” instead of trusting upon the promises of Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber delivered a fiery message on the role of disruptors.

At the Ordination and Commissioning Service, Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber delivered an empassioned message declaring, “From now on, we ordain and commission disrupters!” The theme of disruption was recurrent as he explored an alternative way of considering the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. Barber, recently hired by the Oregon-Idaho Conference and a member of the Greater Northwest Innovation Vitality Team, noted that “God goes to the margins to pick his leaders.”

The conference dedicated significant time to presentations on the Anatomy of Peace (AOP) delivered by the Rev. Dr. Brian Brown, an elder from the Virginia Conference and trained facilitator for the Arbinger Institute in the AOP. Each session was followed with small group work by conference members dubbed Table Talks 2.0 with participants practicing some of the principles being taught.

Offerings and gifts were received during the weekend to help to close a funding gap for Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center’s new dining hall, the Central Washington branch of Justice For Our Neighbors, and a request to fund student scholarships to Africa University from the South Congo Episcopal Area. Giving for these items at the conference totaled $3,246.48, $5,334.36, and $2,932.28 respectively.

The Work of the Body

During its plenary time, members of the Pacific Northwest Conference received reports, considered legislation, and recognized the accomplishments of churches and individuals.

Three Anatomy of Peace learning sessions led bt Rev. Dr. Brian Brown provided alternatives to conflict.

The conference affirmed the election of Marilyn Reid as Conference Secretary of Global Missions and established the second Sunday of September as UMVIM Awareness Sunday. It also reaffirmed six existing Conference Advance Specials while adding Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors to the list.

With some minor amendments, the conference affirmed a resolution expressing solidarity with United Methodist churches and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines as they seek to address “the peace and human rights situation in the Philippines.”

Members approved several pieces of legislation brought to the conference floor addressing recent developments in the church and the world. One resolution called for the publication of a press release by the PNW Conference supporting the Poor People’s Campaign, encouraging congregations to study it and become more knowledgeable of the issues it raises. Another petition directed the conference secretary to send letters to elected officials requesting a cessation of the policy of separating the families of asylees at the border, the reunion of children to families already separated unless there is “an explicit risk of direct violence or harm,” and the provision of basic human rights and legal counsel to all those detained.

CCOYM President Falisha Hola was one of several speaking in support of legislation lifting up the rights of immigrants.

The conference also approved a request for a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council on whether the establishment of $200-300 fees for visitors to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference conforms to the United Methodist Constitution as the fees potentially create “a de facto barrier to full inclusion based on economic condition.”

Members again voted to ratify a constitutional amendment regarding gender equality which was affirmed by the 2016 General Conference. The re-vote was due to an error in the text put before many conferences in 2017.

Members approved a smaller conference budget than they did last year, reducing it by 1.87 percent to $5,176,604. The budget assumes that the PNW Conference will honor 100% of its General Church apportionment as it has for several years now. A 3.1 percent increase in minimum salary to $42,065, changes effecting moving allowances, and a number of other grants and benefits adjustments were enacted. The closure of three churches were also approved.

The body also commissioned a newly consecrated deaconess, Lynn Swedberg, who has long been an advocate for the full inclusion of those with disabilities in the life of the church.

Skylar Bihl and Rev. Elizabeth Ingram Schindler were elected as delegates to the 2020 General Conference.

While the conference did not elect replacement delegates for the 2019 General Conference, it did chose to elect its clergy and lay delegate, and first reserves of the same for the 2020 General Conference. They will attend the 2019 special session in a support role and learn from that experience. Rev. Elizabeth Ingram Schindler was elected as clergy delegate with Rev. Gregg Sealey elected as clergy reserve. A. Skylar Bihl was elected as lay delegate with Conference Treasurer Brant Henshaw elected as first reserve. Additional reserves and Western Jurisdictional Conference delegates will be elected in 2019.

Conference dates for 2019 were set for June 6-9 and the body received an invitation, from new Crest to Coast Missional District Superintendent Rev. Kathleen Weber, to meet again in Puyallup, Washington.

Reports and Awards

Alexa Eisenbarth received a Ruth Award Scholarship from the clergy women of the conference.

Women clergy awarded the Revs. Sharon Moe and Carolyn Peterson with the Marion Kline Award, named after a PNW elder who was one of the first women to be admitted to full clergy membership. Barbara Dadd Shaffer received the Ruth Award, which honors significant women in ministry. A scholarship was also awarded to Alexa Eisenbarth.

The significant accomplishments of the lay-led Rebuild:Up From the Ashes effort were acknowledged in both the Laity Session and during plenary. Carlene Anders, mayor of Pateros, Washington and executive director of the Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group, was on-hand to recognize the efforts of Jim Truitt, Rosalee Mohney, and the Pacific Northwest Conference.

Carlene Anders, mayor of Pateros, Wash., recognizes PNW UMVIM Coordinator Jim Truitt.

Laity also elected a new Associate Conference Lay Leader, Angelina Goldwell, while offering sincere thanks for the work of outgoing associate David Reinholz. A report from the Hope for the Children of Africa marked 20 years of partnership with the South Congo Conference, while highlighting increased generosity and the dedicated service of its outgoing chairperson. Its Jar$ for Jamaa Letu initiative brought in $15,962.32 at Annual Conference.

A report was received from Tom Wilson with the Northwest United Methodist Foundation (NWUMF). He introduced the conference to new associate directors, Julia Frisbie and the Rev. David Nieda. Dave Burfeind, director at Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center shared that construction is well underway for its new dining hall. A small funding gap will be closed with a loan from NWUMF.

A One Matters Award was given to Community United Methodist Church in Colville by Discipleship Ministries. District Superintendent Gregg Sealey expressed his appreciation for their missional engagement with the community including a jump in baptisms as they creatively reach out.

Rev. Dr. William Gibson introduced the Greater Northwest Innovation Vitality Team and shares some of their work.

The Conference Board of Church and Society awarded its Peace with Justice Awards to Goldendale UMC for its work with Native American youth, and to CWJFON for its efforts offering hospitality to immigrants. The Rev. Karen Yokota Love was honored with the Martin Luther King, Jr. award for her justice work, particularly relating to the Japanese-American community and in leading Mason UMC in offering space to young organizers of the March For Our Lives event early in 2018.

The conference received an update from a freshly branded Greater Northwest Innovation Vitality Team. Rev. Dr. William Gibson led off a 30-minute presentation where he introduced the fully formed team including the recently hired Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber joining Kristina Gonzalez and Rev. Shalom Agtarap. New and advancing projects in Seattle (Ravenna), Marysville, Squamish, British Columbia and out of the South Sound Cooperative were highlighted.

Members also received a short report from Rev. Kathy Neary who was appointed as Transitional Ministry Developer a new position designed to help churches that face sustainability and vitality challenges to consider new missional possibilities.

And finally, the conference closed its final plenary in prayer over two of the three young people travelling next month to represent us at the Global Young People’s Convocation in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Some Data Points

Newly commissioned deacon, Rev. Jeney Park-Hearn, serves communion.

For this report, United Methodist News Service asked the following question: “Did your clergy session approve any openly gay candidates for ministry? If so, how many?” Our PNW Board of Ordained Ministry continues to maintain its position of giving equal consideration to all ministry candidates irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity, so this is not data we collect or quantify. On the final day of conference, Rev. Rachel Neer, who was ordained into full membership as a deacon, did offer gratitude to the bishop and conference saying in part, “When I am ordained in two hours, my wife will be standing with me. This is not a small act. I would not be ordained in another conference. I would be named as “an issue.”

During this year’s Ordination and Commissioning Service, five elders and one deacon were ordained and admitted to full connection with an average age of 43. Nine individuals were commissioned in preparation for the order of elder and two into the order of deacon with an average age is 46.5.

Providence Kamana blessed the conference during Memorial Service with his musical gifts. 

In plenary, we offered appreciation for the new and continuing service of Certified Lay Ministers and licensed local pastors, and in celebration we recognized the retirement of 12 pastoral leaders including 8 elders, 2 associate members, and 2 local pastors who have offered 330.92 years of service in ministry to the church and the world.

Finally at a Memorial Service on Saturday night, in grief we mourned, and with joy we honored, 32 saints who have gone on before us and three churches whose ministries will end, but whose legacies will live on.

Membership stands at 37,743, down 1,361 from the previous year.
Worship attendance stands at 16,785 down 531.
Church school attendance stands at 4,504 up 774.
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2017 were 745, up from 2016 by 66.
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2017 were 10,393, down from 2016 by 291.
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2017 were 10,281 up from 2016 by 1,194.

Patrick Scriven serves as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church. 

Pacific Northwest United Methodist Women collect 284 quilts for children at risk

Story by Madelyn Bafus

A tradition since 1991 at the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session is the display of United Methodist Women (UMW) Quilts for “Children at Risk” in our Conference. The result this year was a beautiful display of color, texture, shapes and most especially love and prayers for at risk children in our conference.

This year 284 quilts were received, an increase of 22 quilts. Puyallup United Methodist Church were again the top quilters bringing 65 quilts, an increase of five quilts year to year. The West Highlands UMW brought three quilts in 2017 and this year they brought 25 quilts! That is an increase of 22 quilts!! Thank you to all who brought quilts. A special thank you goes to Rev. Jo Ann Shipley who blessed these beautiful quilts.   

Quilts were given out to the UMW District Presidents to be distributed to mission agencies in their areas working with women, youth, children, and babies. In that distribution 60 quilts were given to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. Some other places of distribution were Tacoma Community House, Atlantic Street Center, Mary’s Place in Seattle, Vida’s Ark in Vancouver, Mount Vernon Hispanic Ministry, Nooksack Indian UMC, the Support Center in Omak and Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane. This is just a few of the places that will receive these 284 quilts.

Next year the United Methodist Women are hoping to increase the number of quilts brought to Annual Conference. If you did not bring a quilt to conference this year, please consider bringing one next year. If you brought one, how about bringing two next year?

Together we can increase the number of smiles on the faces of children receiving quilts filled with love and prayers.

Madelyn Bafus serves as the Inland District President for United Methodist Women.

A report from the Hope for the Children of Africa Task Force

Submitted by Rev. Jon Short

The Hope for the Children of Africa Task Force had much to celebrate this year at Annual Conference.  First, we celebrated that this year marked 20 years in which the Pacific Northwest Conference has been in partnership with the South Congo Conference.

The partnership began in 1998 in response to the plea for help from the United Methodist Bishops of Africa, who were concerned for the children of the continent devastated by war, famine and disease. The Pacific Northwest Conference partnered with the South Congo Conference to provide care for Congolese orphans who were living on the streets, and the Jamaa Letu Orphanages are the result of that partnership. Over the past 20 years our means of support changed. After initially funding construction of a 60-bed girls orphanage and then later a 30-bed boys orphanage, support shifted to providing quality care for the children living in these orphanages.

Which brings us to our second cause for celebration. During Annual Conference in 2016 the Task Force shared about the funding challenges being faced, not only in sustaining our commitment to caring for the children in the orphanages, but with the anticipated shortfall in providing educational scholarships for those who were qualified to go on to college. The Task Force is delighted to report, that the people of the Pacific Northwest Conference heard our concern, and for the past two years your giving has made it possible to meet our financial commitment to the orphanages without having to dip into reserves, thanks to an increase in Orphan Sponsorships and special giving.

Support for university students has increased as well. In particular the Task Force highlights the work of John and Bryn Martin who, along with Kristin Joyner of the Bothell United Methodist Church, made it possible for Microsoft to offer matching grant monies for Jamaa Letu Educational Scholarships. This match program resulted in nearly $20,000 of funding for scholarships in 2017.  So, if you know of someone who works for Microsoft, encourage them to donate to this program. These Microsoft funds, combined with a $20,000 gift made through the Northwest Foundation, helped cover the projected shortfall of support for our 18 university students this year. So, we celebrate your generosity and encourage you to keep up the good work!

Barbara Dadd Shaffer was presented a Certificate of Appreciation for her many years of leadership with Hope for the Children of Africa.

Our final celebration involves recognizing one particular person from our Task Force who has been chair of the Hope for the Children of Africa Task Force for nearly half of the time it has been in existence – Barbara Dadd Shaffer. Barbara is stepping back from chairing the Task Force, but she is not stepping away from the Task Force. She will continue on the Task Force, working primarily in the area of her passion – Education Scholarships.

As Task Force Chair, Barbara made five trips to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to visit the Orphanages.  During two of those trips she attended Round Table discussions called by the Bishop of the South Congo Conference. She also oversaw the fundraising, construction and dedication of the Boys Orphanage, helped create a partnership agreement with the Congo Board of Trustees who oversee the operations of the Orphanages, led efforts to increase funding for Orphan and University Student support, and was the primary liaison from the PNW in relating to the UM General Boards, PNW Agencies, South Congo Agencies, DRC Missionaries, the Orphanage Directors as well as Orphanage Residents.  In addition, Barbara helped facilitate the first visit to the PNW by one of the residents of the girls Orphanage – Claudine Nyota Kasango.

In recognition of her ten years of good and steadfast leadership as Task Force Chair, Barbara was presented a Certificate of Appreciation during the 2018 Annual Conference Saturday afternoon plenary session.

Eric Sparkman and Pastor Jon Short have stepped up to serve as Task Force Co-Chairs, and express gratitude for Barbara’s excellent leadership which has made this leadership transition a smooth one, and for her continued presence on the Task Force as mentor and coach.

If you would like to know more about the work of the Hope for the Children of Africa Task Force or how you might support one of the orphans you can find that information on our web page,

A peacemaker’s perspective on the Anatomy of Peace – #pnwac18

Story by Rev. Terri Stewart

I am a peacemaker. I regularly practice a tradition called Peacemaking Circles passed to us from the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people. We use Peacemaking Circles to bring healing out of brokenness to youth who are incarcerated. With that in mind, I was curious what I would learn from Rev. Dr. Brian Brown’s sessions on the Anatomy of Peace. What can he teach a peacemaker?

With an affable style, Brown brought to PNWAC three sessions that touched on how to heal yourself of conflict. Well, that checked off one of the large peacemaking principles in my world: The only person you can change is yourself. The second often unsaid principle is: If you change yourself and become more peaceful, others around you will change.

In the first session, Brown focused on grounding the need for peacemaking practices within the story of WoodlawnFaith Church. It had a membership of approximately 750 folks that swelled upwards during a Christmas season and then quickly and suddenly receded to about 350. He mentions that the church thought they could remedy attendance with “strategic fixes.” Brown describes these fixes as “strategies that are sustainable and can be duplicated.” In my lexicon, that translates to new church programs. Brown, a former District Superintendent, asked to become the leader of this church and the cabinet of the Virginia Annual Conference assented to placing Rev. Dr. Brown there.

The second session focused on the first of two straightforward and simple principles of the Anatomy of Peace. What it means to live with an inward mindset and what an inward mindset invites in others. An inward mindset is a way of thinking about “what is in it for me!” This approach, Brown tells us, result in hearts at warand always being in a box. Further, it causes us to see others as objects.

We objectify others. In objectification, we treat people as vehicles that can help us get something done, obstacles that must be overcome, or irrelevancies that we don’t care about. This whole process flows over onto other people and the conflict that originally was within one person spreads exponentially and becomes conflict for the entire community.

At this point, I was reminded of Richard Rohr’s quote, “Pain not transformed is pain transferred.”

Brown’s third session was on developing an outward mindset or how to get outside of the boxwe place ourselves in! The Anatomy of Peacecurriculum presents an Influence Pyramid that includes, in descending order, these qualities:

  1. Dealing with things that are going wrong: Correcting
  2. Helping things go right: Teach & communicate, listen & learn, build the relationship, build relationships with others who have influence, get out of the box/obtain a heart at peace.
After three teaching sessions on The Anatomy of Peace led by Rev. Dr. Brian Brown, conference members formed dozens of groups to practice some of what was being taught.

After the sessions and attendant small-group meetings, I spoke with several folks about their experience. In general, those new to leadership training found it helpful while those who have had experience found it to be very basic. I would also caution Brown to use more diverse images of those who are in conflict. For myself, I noticed that every example of a person in conflict or a person centered in being wrong, was a woman. While I have not read the book, folks I interviewed tell me that it has racial and ethnic stereotypes embedded within it. I am reminded that for some minoritized* folks, this may not be a safe presentation to attend or book to read.

In these conversations, I also found a generational divide regarding the view of conflict. For some, their understanding of conflict grounded in their family of origin was revealed to be almost zero as they were taught to be strictly obedient. Their parents did not argue in front of them. And they were surprised, years later, to discover that their parents did not get along! This broke nearly universally in generational lines. I feel like this is an important understanding within conflict and how we manage it: there are generational, communal, and cultural differences that influence how we enter into conflict.

Of course, none of this directly solves problems. And yet, changing your mindset changes everything. It is a paradox of simplicity. It sounds simple to say we must listen and develop relationships. But it is paradoxically very difficult. However, Brown put it this way, “God calls us to graduate and be better than those who came before us.”

There really is no secret sauce revealed in the Anatomy of Peace. The tools are within you just as the Kindom of God is also within you (Luke 17:21)! Do mercy, love justice, and walk humbly with one another and with God.

* Minoritized folks are those people who have a minority or marginalized status thrust upon them by a dominant culture.

Terri Stewart is an elder appointed to extension ministry at the Church Council of Greater Seattle. She is the Director of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition program. As such, she oversees all ministries that connect with incarcerated youth, including their Peacemaking Circle efforts that are focused on interrupting the punitive justice system and transforming their efforts to healing. The motto of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition is “Listen, listen, love, love.” She learned Peacemaking from Saroeum Phoung who was taught by the Tagish and Tlingit people. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have shared their ancient practices with western colonizers for the transformation of the world.

For more:

  • For Peacemaking Circle training and consultation, PointOneNorth and Saroeum Phoung can be found at
  • For Peacemaking Circle training, The Circle Works and Dr. Pamela Taylor can be found at
  • On adaptive leadership reading, two authors to read are Heifetz and Linsky.
  • On wicked problems or problems that are too big for one single strategy that can be duplicated, the book, Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solvingis available for free online at
  • For daily meditations from Richard Rohr, visit the Center for Action and Contemplation at
  • For Bystander Training: Using Non-Violence and De-escalation to Interrupt Hate, please contact Rev. Terri Stewart at

United Methodists gather for morning prayer vigil outside Federal Detention Center in SeaTac – #pnwac18

Above: The Rev. Mary Kohlstaedt Huycke prays at the fence surrounding the Federal Detention Center in Seatac, Washington, during a June 24 prayer vigil in support of immigrant parents inside the prison who’ve been separated from their children. Huycke is district superintendent of the Seven Rivers District of the United Methodist Church.

Story by Rev. Richenda Fairhurst | Photos by Rev. Paul Jeffrey

Dennie Sherman (left), a lay person from Mount Vernon UMC is pictured next to Rev. Fairhurst. Sherman saw the vigil as “an opportunity to let the people who were there [in detention] know that they are loved and not all of America wants them in detention.”
“Who is your neighbor?” Early Sunday morning, starting just after sunrise, United Methodists from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference set out to answer that question with an act of public witness at the Federal Detention Center near SeaTac in Washington State. They arrived with guitars, amps, signs, stoles, coffee and prayers, setting up on the street corner outside the 8 ft wrought iron fence to sing, pray, hug, cry, and witness together.

About 75 attended the Morning Prayer Vigil organized and led by Rev. Lyda Pierce and a group of clergy and lay people energized by the recent spike in detentions of immigrants and asylees especially along the southern border of the US. In an escalation of arrests and detentions over the last number of months, ICE and Border Control separated over 2,300 children at the border, detaining them separately from the adults traveling with them, children as young as 3 months old.

The seizure of children and infants by border enforcement is unprecedented on the scale that it was ordered and practiced during the ‘zero tolerance’ period. Although the zero tolerance order has since been rescinded, detainment is still occurring and children and parents are still being held separately with no plan to reunite them.

At the start of the Annual Conference session, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky spoke to the hearts of the hundreds of United Methodists gathered from across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, when her opening remarks included mention of the children, mothers and fathers who were detained. This news was especially difficult, she had shared, because mothers and fathers were being detained just miles from her home and the Pacific Northwest Conference office.

”Last week I heard that 206 undocumented immigrants, 174 women and 32 men, were locked in the federal prison in my neighborhood, some had been separated from their children,” said Stanovsky. The Bishop gave voice to the anger and lament experienced by many members of the Annual Conference as she continued, “It makes my blood boil. I want to do something, I want to stand outside [the detention center] with a great big banner. I want to send a personal note to each one of those 206 people that says there is a neighbor outside who knows they’re there and cares. I want to see the building crumble.”

The Bishop shared lament but also hope, finding hope in the upwelling energy of Love that erupted across the country in response to the suffering at the border. She noted that this upswelling forced a policy change from the government. “People who act on the love of God and neighbor are strong,” she said. She encouraged those attending opening worship to be strong in love, “Every one of the communities that you represent needs and expects the church to care for people who need it, and even to change systems of harm.”

Click here to view more vigil photos from Paul Jeffrey on Kairos Photos.

Among the attendees at the vigil were a few of the #UMC600 who had signed and submitted a formal complaint against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, and an enforcer of the zero tolerance policy. Rev. David Wright, the primary author of the complaint, was motivated to attend the Morning Prayer Vigil in part because of the Bishop’s words. He explains, “The SeaTac Detention Center is about two miles from my house, and Bishop Stanovsky’s words about ‘in my neighborhood’ at the start of Annual Conference resonated deeply. I had not been able to make a few earlier actions of witness, and so it felt very important to get literally out on the sidewalk in a prayerful, meaningful manner.”

Sofia Estevéz (right), pastor of evangelism at Highline United Methodist Church in Burien, Washington, speaks outside the Federal Detention Center in Seatac, Washington, during a June 24 prayer vigil in support of immigrant parents inside the prison who’ve been separated from their children.

For Rev. Wright these acts of witness go together. “While the complaint is an attempt to elicit a particular action – to equip his pastors to work with Mr. Sessions towards a change of heart and action – It is not enough to try and change one person, nor is it enough for me to sit home and post or write. This morning’s vigil and other actions of witness, disruption, prayer, song, solidarity, and more…all of these are critical as we try to offer a glimpse of a different Christianity, a different America, than the one that is experienced as hateful and harmful by the guests and strangers seeking safety in our midst.”

The Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session gathered attendees from three states. Even for those far from the ‘neighborhood’ of the Tacoma/Seattle area, their presence at the vigil felt to them like an important act of love.

Lyn Rush, pastor and church planter in the Vancouver/Portland area of Southwest Washington State, leads Pinoy Van-Port Ministries that serves Filipino Americans and immigrants. When she saw the notice announcing the vigil, “my heart said that I should be there.” She sees the response of the heart as “part of our Methodist heritage through John Wesley,” explaining, “I stay and stand feeling that God’s Holy Spirit is with us, that it is continually knocking in everyone’s heart to see, listen and feel.” Being present at the Detention Center, she said, “is a representation of God’s love and hope.”

Organizers of the Morning Prayer Vigil included Rev. Lyda Pierce, Coordinator for Hispanic Latino Ministries Pacific Northwest Conference, Rev. Shalom Agtarap, Associate Director of Strategic Faith Community Development, Joel Rodriguez, Pastor at Sunnyside United Methodist Church, Rev. Jen Stewart Pastor of the Ellensburg United Methodist Church and others. Activities associated with the vigil included making paper hearts of prayer, making signs, and taking photos/selfies with messages to send to Jeff Sessions and/or to stand ¡Presente! with the detained.

“There is so much going on with immigration at the moment,” says Rev. Pierce, “It is necessary for our own spirit to be connected, to pray, to be near some of the people and to see one of the institutions involved, and hopefully touch some of those inside with our presence. They are in our prayers and we stand with them.”

You can watch the Morning Prayer Vigil as streamed on Facebook Live below.

Richenda Fairhurst is an elder from the Pacific Northwest Conference serving as Senior Pastor of Ashland First United Methodist Church in Ashland, Oregon.

Paul Jeffrey is a United Methodist missionary who writes about the work of the church around the world as senior correspondent for Response, the magazine of United Methodist Women. Paul also provides coverage of emergencies for the ACT Alliance, a Geneva-based global alliance of churches responding to disasters.

Resolution on immigrant justice passed on final day of #pnwac18

The following resolution on justice for immigrants was passed with strong affirmation on the final day of the 2018 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session. Rev. David Wright, PNW elder and chaplain at the University of Puget Sound brought the resolution to the body.

Resolved, that the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, in the name and Spirit of Jesus Christ, shall respectfully request the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security immediately:

  1. Cease the practice of indefinitely detaining families suspected of border or immigration violations.
  2. Immediately reunite all children separated from their parents with their families unless their family members are deemed an explicit risk of direct violence or harm to their children.
  3. Ensure that all those held in detention facilities awaiting review by immigration courts or authorities are provided with basic human rights and have the opportunity to receive legal counsel.

We direct that the Conference Secretary send letters expressing these requests on behalf of the people of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church to the following elected and appointed officials:

The Senators and Governors of the States of Idaho and Washington, the President of the United States Donald J. Trump, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen were the listed recipients.

A moment of personal gratitude – #pnwac18

An hour before her ordination as a United Methodist deacon in full connection, Rev. Rachel Neer offered these words of gratitude during a moment of personal privilege to Bishop Elaine Stanovsky and the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

Rachel Neer, Clergy, Project Transformation

Bishop and members of the Annual Conference,

I come to you today with a heart full of gratitude and peace. As my favorite singer/songwriter writes, “Courage doesn’t always shout but whispers and reminds, when we get up one more morning and we try another time. We tried yelling at each other. It hasn’t worked so well. Throwing gas on the fire never helped as far as I can tell. Throwing stones cuts deep; a little kindness goes deeper still.”

Bishop, I would like to take this moment to thank you for naming the justice issues that have been before us. It could be easy for us to turn from kindness to “other.” However, this has been the kindest annual conference I have attended. We have not been afraid to speak about the hard things, and we have spoken about the hard things in kindness and respect to one another.

This body has affirmed no fewer than three times this Annual Conference my calling to ministry, my ministries of justice, and my deep love for Christ and the church. When I am ordained in two hours, my wife will be standing with me. This is not a small act. I would not be ordained in another conference. I would be named as “an issue.”

Thank you, bishop and body, for not making my siblings and I simply another issue to be debated but allowing my wife and I, along with countless others, to be counted fully as members of this gathered body. Under your leadership, I am not afraid. Under your leadership, I will continue to do justice ministries that shake the foundations of the church and serve as foundations for revival, revolution, and incredible grassroots ministry in a building that is not crumbling but is expanding to draw the circle wider still.

As Wesley named, “Though we not think alike, can we not love alike?” Thank you for fostering the space for this gathered body to love alike.

You can also watch the moment on Youtube starting at 38:13:

Ordination & Commissioning: Go forth and disrupt! #pnwac18

Story by Rev. Pam Brokaw | Photos by Rev. DJ del Rosario & Patrick Scriven

The Sunday Ordination and Commissioning service at Annual Conference challenged all to a risky new journey of service on the Jericho road. “From now on, we ordain and commission disrupters!” announced the Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber, in a vigorous sermon preached on the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.

Barber, Greater Northwest Area Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church, hails from the Baptist tradition and he delivered an interactive sermon encouraging responses of “Amen!” Conference clergy and delegates were eager to comply. Barber told the familiar story from Luke 10:25-37 where a man broken and beaten is lying in a ditch. He is helped by a Samaritan who many consider an outcast after being ignored by a priest and a Levite. Unlike those who refused to stop and lend aid, the Samaritan disrupted his routine. He stopped and helped offering acts of radical hospitality.

Rev. Patricia Longstroth receives a stole from Rev. Mark McMurray after her ordination as an elder. Rev. Alissa Bertch (left) coordinated the worship service.

It is this disruption we are called to, Barber said, unpacking the story as a direct call to mercy and compassion from “Jesus the disrupter.” Speaking directly to the newly ordained and commissioned, Barber said: “We must be willing to disrupt our routine for hurting people on the road.”

The spirited sermon came only hours after dozens of United Methodist clergy and supporters gathered for a sunrise prayer vigil at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac where immigrants are being held. Barber gave a “shout out” and thanked those who disrupted their routine to come and show care and support for marginalized people that many prefer to pass by.

Digging into the heart of Luke’s message, Barber said it’s time to stop judging how people find themselves in need. “It’s time to stop thinking about what you do…they might be there to help you,” he said. Barber’s message called for consideration of the Samaritan’s privilege and how he was able to negotiate support for the injured man others had disregarded. “There was something about this guy that represented privilege,” Barber said as be reflected on how all with means are meant to give on the roads they walk on each day. In fact, he said, Jesus flips the story and puts people in the margins as those having voice.

Rev. Karen Yokota Love kneels during her ordination by Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky.

Barber also noted that “God goes to the margins to pick his leaders.”

Barber concluded with a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his observations of Luke’s story. “One day, we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway,” King said. “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard or superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

The atmosphere and theme of the Ordination and Commissioning service reflected the conference spirit of “crossing over” into new missional ways encouraged by Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky two days earlier. Indeed, we are to “run for it” Stanovsky said. She earlier noted that “the spiritual way is not a short path. It is the long and winding way.”

Pam Brokaw currently serves as pastor at the Castle Rock United Methodist Church in the Vancouver District. In July, she will be appointed to the Rochester and Oakville United Methodist Churches in the new Crest to Coast Missional District.

List of those Commissioned or Ordained

Commissioned in Preparation for the Order of Deacon

Rebecca Jeney Park-Hearn
Mark Chung Hearn

Rev. Jen Stuart (center) moments after her ordination as an elder.

Commissioned in Preparation for the Order of Elder

Laura Kathryn Baumgartner
Lucas Jonathan Samuel Boomsma
Emily Grace Ripley Carroll
Dione Ricardo Corsilles
Colin Timothy Cushman
Amanda Loren Nicol
Siesia Kiholeva Puloka
Zachary Noel Taylor
Sandra Siversten Ward

Newly ordained deacon Rev. Rachel Neer offers a prayer during the service.

Admitted to Full Connection and Ordained Deacon

Rachel Jaqueline Neer

Admitted to Full Connection and Ordained Elder

Charles Michael Lawson
Patricia Diane Longstroth
Dirk Allen Robinson
Jennifer Thomas Stuart
Karen Yokota Love

Remembering the saints that we are all connected to – #pnwac18

By Mary Stanton-Nurse

It always seems like too much, to try to recount everything about the Memorial Service at Annual Conference. A clergy friend who is relatively new to the area remarked today, “This is the first time that someone I’ve known personally has been remembered in the service.” The group gathered around him assured him that it will certainly not be the last. So this evening, I offer you a reflection on the connections I found in this service.

Providence Kamana provided special music before and during the service.

For me, there are still some years when I don’t know any of the people remembered personally. This year, however, we remembered: the life, work and ministries of the pastor who baptized me; the wife of a dear teacher and mentor, who attended my wedding, and whose wedding I attended; a member of my local church who was one of the reasons I chose to visit for the first time, and one of the many reasons I stayed; and I didn’t realize it until his name was read and his photo posted, but also the man who my sister and I used to pester for candy at church when we were little.

I am not alone in this kind of connection. We are all tied in relationship to one another. Rev. Jo Dene Romeijn-Stout shared during Plenary today that she was a member of the youth group at Wild Rose UMC, whose closure we marked, and Bishop Stanovsky reminded us all how none of these connections die away when churches close, or when people die. Just as Wild Rose touched the life of Jo Dene, her ministry has touched the lives of countless others. And those people have been connected through other churches, and other people. What a legacy that is.

Each and every connection ripples outward, overlapping with all the others. The clergy and their spouses remembered served scores of churches between them, maybe hundreds. They touched thousands and thousands of lives. And because our system is connectional, those people overlapped with one another. They met one another at conferences, summer camps, UMW gatherings, and on and on.

Rev. Jeney Park-Hearn, who will be commissioned as a deacon on June 24, serves communion.

The beloved laity who were remembered may not have been in as many places as the clergy families over their lives, but they built deep and lasting relationships, provided leadership, and ministered in a multitude of ways throughout the conference. The lives they touched overlapped and intersected with the lives of those people baptized and confirmed, taught and inspired by the clergy and their partners who are also no longer with us.

Rev. Daniel Foster reminded us in his sermon that “Death is the culminating reality of life. No one escapes it…we have to eventually come to terms with it ourselves.” It is true, and inescapable.

But as we remember in this service, every year, our lives are not lived in isolation. As each of us reflect on our connections to the beloved children of God remembered this evening, we are also drawn to reflect on those threads which bind us together to one another, through time and space, across the generations.

I assure you, even if you did not have the joy in this life of knowing any of these beloved saints, you have known someone whose life was touched by their ministry. For those of us in leadership, clergy and laity, my hope is that we all may recognize how we each are connected in that same web, that we see how our stories intersect and overlap with all of those who have come before us and who will come after us.

Rev. L. Daniel Foster delivered a powerful sermon and reminder of life’s fragility.

When Rev. Foster concluded his sermon by inviting us to sing “I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry,” I knew I was going to tear up. I always do. But tonight it was especially poignant, as I sang “I rejoiced the day you were baptized” recalling the pastor who baptized me, and “I rejoiced when you were but a child, with a faith to suit you well,” to a lay leader who indulged and rejoiced in my sister and myself. I recalled a woman who attended my wedding, and whose wedding I attended, as I sang, “when you find someone to share your time, and you join your hearts as one,” and a woman who treated me as an adult despite having known me since I was a child as I sang, “In the middle ages of your life, not to old, no longer young.”

I shared the relationships for which I could identify my closest connections. But each and every one of these beloved we recognized tonight have just as complex a web of relationship. They each blessed those in their lives with joy and faith, connection, wonder.

As Rev. Foster reminded us, this song is about God’s steadfast presence in our lives, and the promise of life to come. But I think it is also about the relationships we build throughout these earthly lives, the joy we take in one another’s milestones, and how we are bound together in that love which has its source in God.

Mary Stanton-Nurse is a lay member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle, Washington. You can catch more of her thoughts at her blog online HERE.


Click here to read the Memoirs


David Lawrence Aasen
Laurie Yvonne Jones Aleona
Christie Anne Lagergren Brown
Wayne Donald Griffen
Kelvin Bruce Groseclose
Edward Toshio Iwamoto
Ronald Kent Johnson
Eugene Floyd Kester
Robert (Bob) R. Roberts
Donald Earl Steeb
Larry Michael Warren


Marian Elizabeth Reisfelder Towle


Mary Jane Brooke
Elizabeth C. Buford
Marjorie Ann Murphy Caldwell
Evelyn D. Smith Carlson
Barbara J. Steeb


Beryl Eugene Curtis


Eugene (Gene) Joseph Bratt
Lanora Marie Roper Callahan
Richard Pentecost Ferguson
Robin Kerry Frisbie Galvin
Robert (Bob) William Stevens
Mary Ellen Hartle Tapp
Elizabeth Barta Widel


Garfield United Methodist Church
Wild Rose United Methodist Church
Yakima: Westpark United Methodist Church

A celebration of service – #pnwac18

By Pastor Scott W. Rosekrans

On Saturday morning, we celebrated the retirements of those remarkable individuals who have lived a life devoted to serving Jesus Christ through pastoral ministry. The Rev. Mark McMurray called us to order to celebrate those God called into ministry.

We began in song singing This is the Day of New Beginnings which served as a reminder that this does not mark an end, but the beginning of a new chapter in their lives in serving God because, as we know, there is no such thing as a retired Methodist minister.

Revs. Mike Lawson, Rachel Neer and Jen Stuart provide a dramatic reading on a familiar parable.

We were treated to the story of the Good Samaritan, a reminder of the untold numbers of lives touched by these retirees that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Their service was then acknowledged by the bishop as they received their retired clergy pins.

I had the opportunity to visit with one retiring elder, current Puget Sound District Superintendent Daniel Foster. I asked Daniel for some words of wisdom for those newly commissioned and he said, “Never forget your connection to Jesus Christ and that your connection to Christ is the key to your success in the ministry.”  I asked about favorite memories to which he said there were many but planting a church at Cornerstone UMC stands out.

When asked what he would do differently he said he would have worked harder at recruiting and training effective leaders. He shared that it has been an absolutely wonderful privilege to serve Jesus Christ in the Pacific Northwest and he couldn’t believe how blessed he was.

We are blessed by the service of all the retirees. Well done good and faithful servants. We thank you for your example and inspiration. May God continue to bless you and keep you close.

Scott Rosekrans serves as pastor to the people of Community United Methodist Church in Port Hadlock, Washington.

Retirements Recognized at 2018 Annual Conference

Janette Anderson  |   41 years of service

Patricia Beeman   |   27.25 years of service

K Bramstedt   |   11 years of service

Barbara Caviezel   |   24 years of service

L. Daniel Foster   |   35 years of service

Anne Hayes   |   20 years of service

John Hunsberger    |   45 years of service

Lindsy Ireland   |   27.75 years of service

Steven Poole   |   28.17 years of service

Wendy Riddle   |   14 years of service

Marta Schellberg   |   25.5 years of service

James Watson   |   32.25 years of service

In total, our retirees have offered 330.92 years of service in ministry to the church and the world.

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Need Help?

If you have questions about registration, please contact our AC Registrar, Gretchen Engle - (206) 870-6835.

PNWAC18 Session

Washington State Fairgrounds
Showplex Center | Puyallup, WA
June 22 to June 24, 2018 

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