Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Report
Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ: Renewed in the Spirit was the theme of the 43rd Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference meeting in Salem, Oregon. One year ago the conference was talking about how to embrace change, but this year the embracing is fully involved and the conference is looking at how that change is shaping and empowering the conference and its churches with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The leadership team shared changes that have been made in how staff work to resource local churches to be healthy vital congregations; how the church development team is working to create new faith communities as one aspect of health and vitality; and the cabinet has changed the way it works with local congregations by moving away from Charge Conference reports, and holding conversations with church leaders about what they are doing to be and become healthy vital congregations. Churches will be tasked with setting measurable benchmarks for their ministry.
Conference leaders shared how 525,600 minutes had passed since last year’s conference and the ways that change had manifested in the last year. They shared how the cabinet and other leaders have begun a new process of continuing education and church consultation for clergy and lay teams. Bishop Hoshibata announced that another change would be a realignment of districts and Assistants to the Bishop offering leadership to the districts. The current five districts will be realigned into four districts in January.
This was the second year that the conference adjusted its schedule to clear a full day for focused training. Michael Slaughter from Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio came and shared his passion for changing the church by changing the world. Attendees went away charged with new ideas and new challenges. In his closing remarks, Bishop Hoshibata challenged conference members to consider what story they would have to say when they return after another 525,600 minutes.
Three petitions will be sent to the General Conference based on Annual Conference action. All three deal with eliminating discriminatory restrictions in the Book of Discipline that impair the ability of clergy to minister with a witness of love, justice and inclusion to all persons.
In addition to official action of the conference, nearly 70 clergy signed a pledge to not discriminate in the exercise of their pastoral duties. Specifically, they…“joyfully pledge that we will meet, counsel and celebrate with any prepared couple who comes to us for Christian marriage.” The action by clergy of the conference was inspired by a similar action taken by clergy of the Minnesota Annual Conference.
Bishop John Innis of Liberia and his wife Irene were guests of the conference. The Liberia and Oregon-Idaho annual conferences have had a long partnership relationship. Bishop Innis’s visit was well timed for the conference as it began its response to the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Nearly $5,000 was received at the Friday evening worship service doubling what had already been raised by Oregon-Idaho churches and individuals. Conference attendees learned more about the campaign and how they can respond to this multi-year effort to eliminate this killer disease of poverty.
Two women and one man were ordained elder, and one woman was ordained deacon, with an average age of 49. One person was commissioned as a provisional elder. Among the ordained is Rev. Janine DeLauny who has been blind from birth and is appointed to serve two churches in the Portland, Oregon area.
The lay delegate elected to General Conference is Jan Nelson from Salem, Oregon. The clergy delegate elected is Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett from Eagle Creek, Oregon. The additional Jurisdictional Conference lay delegates are; David Armstrong, Florence, Oregon; Bonnie McOmber, Eagle, Idaho; and Vincent Myers, Salem, Oregon. The additional clergy delegates to Jurisdictional conference are: Clay Andrew, Hillsboro, Oregon; Donna Pritchard, Portland, Oregon; and April Hall Cutting, Sweet Home, Oregon. Laity reserve delegates are: Mark Bateman, Salem, Oregon; and Norman Dyer, Beaverton. Oregon. Clergy reserve delegates are: Scott Harkness, Roseburg, Oregon and John (Joung Youl) Go, Fruitland, Idaho. Barlett, a Deacon, will serve has head of delegation.
Membership stands at 28726, down 1589 (5.3%) from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 14,391, down 900 (5.8%). Church school attendance stands at 4,021, down 232 (5.4%).