The Rev. Richenda Fairhurst being commissioned during the 2014 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session.

[dropcap type=”1″]T[/dropcap]he 141st session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference took place at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Wash., June 19-22, 2014. Bishop Grant J. Hagiya was the officiating bishop.

The Washington State Fairgrounds was a familiar venue for many Pacific Northwest United Methodists even though this was a new location for the annual meeting. The conference was convened for the laity via a live video stream as Bishop Hagiya was offsite for a closed clergy session. The 2014 theme, “What’s Our Next Act?” asked members to look at their life together using the metaphor of a three act play.

Worship was an essential part of the conference session. An opening worship on Friday morning offered the body an opportunity to remember the history of the host site where Japanese Americans were unjustly “processed” shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Members of that community, and the Portland-based Minidoka Swing Band, joined the body for this service.

Preachers for the weekend included Bishops Hagiya and Paul L. Leeland of the Alabama-West Florida Episcopal Area, and outgoing Tacoma District Superintendent Sharon Moe. Preaching at the Memorial Service, Rev. Moe lifted up the example of the Parkland church which was discontinuing while still having assets to leave a legacy. In addition to preaching at ordination, Bishop Leeland offered members a teaching moment on Saturday morning challenging members that to be faithful we need to be fruitful. An intergenerational message was coordinated for the closing worship service by Karyn Kuan.

Members approved a smaller conference budget than they did in 2013, reducing it by 3.36% or $206,916. A petition calling for the cessation of all church trials based on clergy sexual identity and participation in same sex weddings and unions was approved as was one naming PNW churches and their facilities safe for people regardless of their gender identity, and another supporting a bill that would provide penalties for any mental health practitioner who engages in Sexual Orientation Change Efforts.

Another petition was approved asking leadership to consider the schedules of those employed (or in school) outside the church as they schedule meetings. The body voted to support WA Initiative 594 which would require background checks for gun sales, supported legislation for a constitutional amendment of corporate personhood, and resources for the study of fossil fuel divestment. Lay and clergy members elected Global Ministries Secretaries, renewed support for Jamaa Letu, and designated its Conference Advance specials.

Finally, the Ministry Fund Drive offered a presentation updating the conference on their shared work toward revitalizing existing, and starting new, faith communities across the region. The report also provided an opportunity to honor the legacy of Bishop Jack Tuell, a Bishop with deep ties to the PNW who passed away earlier this year.

One of the fund drive’s three foci, the Imagine No Malaria campaign, was the beneficiary of a 5K Fun Run (and Stroll) on the fair grounds. Over 100 members of the conference participated and various activities throughout the weekend raised nearly $40,000 for the effort.

Three individuals were ordained as elders and admitted to full connection with an average age is 36.3. Two individuals were commissioned in preparation for the order of elder with an average age is 38.5.We celebrated the new licenses of 18 local pastors, and the retirement of 17 ordained clergy.  And in grief we mourned, and with joy we honored 32 saints who have gone on before us, and two churches whose ministries will end, but whose legacies will live on.

Membership stands at 46,209, down 2,465 from the previous year.
Worship attendance stands at 18,505, down 1,663.
Church school attendance stands at 4,543, down 280.
Professions of faith stand at 715, down 77.
Baptisms stand at 502, up 31.

Respectfully submitted by,

Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications & Young People’s Ministry
Rev. Shirley DeLarme, Conference Secretary& Pastor of Port Orchard UMC

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