Closing Worship challenges Conference to reclaim the name “disciple”
By Jesse N. Love | Photos by Amy Pazan & Jesse N. Love

The 2013 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Sessions concluded in worship as children welcomed a new member into the Christian family; attendees were challenged by the insights of a young adult missionary; and Bishop Grant Hagiya blessed our appointed ministers as they go with renewed energy to make a difference in the communities in the Pacific Northwest.

Welcome Brexton
The family of the Rev. Dayton Edmonds welcomed baby Brexton into the Church through baptism. Bishop Grant Hagiya along with the children of our AC session shared in a “holy moment” by assisting in the baptism ceremony. The families along with our Conference were tasked to support and guide Brexton on his journey of faith.

Tara Miller Reclaims the Name
Closing Worship was prepared by the PNW’s Young People’s Ministries. As a participant in the US-2 program of Global Ministries, Tara Lynn Miller serves at Mary’s Place in Seattle – nurturing her passion for social justice as she engages and walks alongside the homeless women of the Seattle Area. Miller presented her message, “Disciple: Reclaiming the Name”.

Miller began with silent reflections asking the Conference to consider ways we are helping the community – then identifying the barriers that prevent us from doing so. She made the distinction between “sheep” and “lambs” in the context of John 21: 15-19. Those who are followers and who are the most vulnerable & faithful have needs that Christ has commanded us to meet. But, such needs are more than physical.

Miller deals with “all kinds of brokenness” in her position at Mary’s Place. She names addictions, mental health issues, and issues of trust as just some of the needs she and the staff at MP are engaged in. “You have to care less about how you are being perceived and more on how the needs are being met,” Miller shares.

The work of this particular ministry requires participants to overcome the barriers that many face. Having the willingness to talk to others about “faults and fears,” being vulnerable, and following paths to where people don’t want to tread are just a few of the difficulties in serving as a missionary.

But despite these challenges, the people of the Church are not alone. As Christians are summoned by Jesus’ call to “follow me”, Miller assures that tending to sheep and feeding lambs can be a reciprocal process for those helping to meet needs of the flock. Miller reminded our Conference that if not connected to the Source of Life, one will be unable to go to places that he or she may potentially be spiritually changed for good.

“Love doesn’t offer security. It won’t be easy,” Miller says. Feeding and tending to those with the deepest needs will be a task that requires help from many within our community. This work may involve risking reputations, emotional comfort, and can even leave one open to personal criticism. But, in feeding sheep and lambs while allowing oneself to be fed, the Pacific Northwest Conference is closer to being a Church that is working to reclaim the name “disciple”.

Let’s Go
Following the sermon, Bishop Hagiya echoed some of Miller’s message as he blessed the PNW church appointments for 2013-2014. Briefly, Hagiya explained that maintaining and growing a church in the 1960s was different from today. Now, a higher level of energy is needed. Bishop Hagiya then sent forth the Annual Conference ready for the work of discipleship as a verb.

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Special thanks to Tyrone Olds. Jesse N. Love serves as the print & publications manager of the PNWUMC

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