Pressing On: Pacific Island Methodists of the Northwest meet in Seattle
By Kathy Finau
PINCUM, the Pacific Islander Caucus of United Methodists meets at First Tongan UMC to revitalize the local church and develop leadership, to start.
PINCUM and The Pacific Island Ministry Plan
Pacific Islander (PI) congregations from the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Oregon-Idaho Conferences attended the Pacific Islander Caucus of United Methodists (PINCUM) meeting at the Seattle: First Tongan UMC, for two days in November.
Attendees learned about the Pacific Island Ministry Plan (The Plan) that will train existing leaders and young adult leaders to appreciate and claim the gifts offered by The United Methodist Church in preparation for General Conference 2016. “Our prayers go to the Pacific Island National Caucus and Chairperson, Monalisa Tuitahi, as they gather in their first major workshop for youth and young adults here in the Pacific Northwest. We are so excited about the possibilities of this workshop, and we ask for God’s blessings on the work that will be done during this time,” expressed Grant J. Hagiya, Bishop of The Greater Northwest Episcopal Area.
Having a Voice
The Plan works with PINCUM and directly with the local churches. PINCUM (http://bit.ly/pincum) is the voice of the PI community to the Methodist Church; the Pacific Island Ministry Plan is a program funded through the General Conference to address five objectives that include: new church development and church revitalization; leadership development; ministry with the poor; language ministry; and global health. “Pressing On (the theme of the gathering) means equipping our PI leaders to better meet the challenges of making disciples in this day and age. Therefore, this event will continue to train first-generation leaders who have diligently led our first generation. More importantly, we will focus on training our young adult leaders to appreciate and claim the gifts offered by The United Methodist Church, its polity and structure,” stated Monalisa Tuitahi.
Empower Elders, Strengthening Youth
According to The Rev. Dr. Christian Van, GBGM, Executive Secretary, Asian American Language Ministry and Pacific Islanders Ministry Plan Mission Theology & Evaluation:
This Regional meeting is to share the message broader from the national level. Our objective is to bring the two generational groups into the Methodist mainstream. My hope is to be a bridge for young people and the general church. I would like to continue to empower the elders and their leadership but mostly to strengthen the youth and the young adult to have a voice and become leaders.
On the first day, the Rev. Rich Lang, PNW Seattle District Superintendent, provided a sermon encouraging the youth to persevere through God’s calling because there is a place for them in the church no matter what their circumstance or their performance in school. Kristina Gonzalez, PNW Director of Leadership Development for an Inclusive Church, led the group through small group discussion about their identity as Christians and PIs and how they can develop discipleship and leadership.
On the second day the group broke into clergy and youth/lay leaders groups. Eta Valega, Anchorage Park UMC; Apaau Fuataga, Medford Oregon Samoan Fellowship; and Asafo Asofa, Kalevaria UMC reported on the outcome of the youth/lay discussion that included ideas about church outreach, leadership training for youth, seminars about the foundation of the greater church and where they can be involved. They also expressed exploring the possibility of organizing a Christmas Institute (an annual youth event) for PIs to help them grow as a community. An ad-hock committee of young people was formed with five of the PI congregations for young people to work with Tuitahi and Van on implementing the group’s ideas. The clergy group discussed creating a Sunday School curriculum that represented their language and faith traditions and how they develop leadership within these understandings.
General Conference 2016
Finally, Tuitahi encouraged everyone to participate in the 2016 General Conference, stating, “In a few months, thousands of United Methodists will convene in this region to legislate all matters concerning the UM connection. General Conference happens once every four years, but will not happen in the West again for another few decades. The event will offer a window into General Conference and we encourage PIs to participate in this quintessential United Methodist experience.”
Van enthused, “I have been able to meet the pastors and the lay leaders, Seattle District Superintendent, Cultural Development Director. The PNW Conference obviously cares about this community through the leadership that they have provided to the PI community. The voice of the younger generation is coming out and we are all listening.”