Conference Report to the UMC
As each annual conference meets, a report is filed with Unied Methodist Communications on key events and actions of the conference. You can read all the reports on the UMNews.org website. Below is the Oregon-Idaho wrap-up report:
The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference celebrated 50 years of gathering since the merger of the Oregon and Idaho Conferences. With a history reaching back to the 1849 organization of the Oregon-California mission conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the conference also recognized the 200 years of mission for The United Methodist Church.
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky presided over the conference, held June 12-15, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon. This marks 64 years since the conference has met in Eugene.
Building on a quadrennial theme of “Do This and You Shall Live!”, the conference sub-theme of “Love Like This” captured the frustration and disappointment shared by most attendees about the actions of the 2019 Special Called Session of General Conference.
Recognizing the breadth and diversity of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area, Conference preachers were Rev. Kathleen Weber, a district superintendent from the Pacific Northwest Conference, Rev. Carlo Rapanut, conference superintendent of the Alaska Conference, and Rev. Lowell Greathouse, retiring mission and ministry coordinator of the Oregon-Idaho Conference. The three traveled to all there conferences to share their message.
In key legislative actions, the conference called for the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops to convene a special jurisdictional conference for the purpose of “… continuing to be a home for all people …” and “to consider and develop a process for creative separation from The United Methodist Church …” Other petitions stated disagreement with the actions of the 2019 General Conference and called for full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons in the life of the church.
Four people were commissioned for ministry and one Elder and one Deacon were ordained. The group, with an average age of 38, asked for time to speak at their ordination and commissioning service. The six stood as Taylor Gould, an openly queer pastor, read a portion of a statement they had shared [https://www.umoi.org/newsdetail/recomended-candidates-offer-open-letter-to-leaders-and-colleagues-12823208] disapproving of the harmful actions caused by the 2019 Special Called General Conference, specifically to LGBTQ+ individuals who are also children of God. While choosing to go forward with ordination, commissioning and answering the historic questions about upholding the Book of Discipline, they also stated that the church's current position on LGBTQ+ inclusion goes against their baptismal vows to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever form it presents itself.”
At one point the statement says, “We want the Oregon-Idaho Conference to know that it is not just their most senior leadership who cannot in conscience support these policies. It is also their least senior leaders who denounce structures that target, exclude and stigmatize LGBTQIA+ people. Though we do not have the experience that comes with years of leadership we do represent the future of this denomination, and in that humble capacity we are announcing our dissent from the Traditional Plan and its reinforcement by recent Judicial Council rulings.”
The conference elected delegates for the 2020 General and Jurisdictional conferences, Rev. Wendy Woodworth, and Jan Nelson, conference lay leader will be the General Conference delegates, Rev. Anna Cho, Esteban Galan, Rev. Donna Pritchard, Mark Bateman, Rev. Jeremy Smith, and Kylie Nelson will be jurisdictional conference delegates and reserves to general conference, and Rev. Dayrl Blanksma, Lydia Henry, Rev. Julia Nielsen, and Carter Lybeck will be additional reserves on the delegation.
Membership in the conference stands at 23031, down 3% from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 10999, down 4%. Church school attendance stands at 2,640, up 1% from the previous year. Professions or reaffirmations of faith numbered 420, down 17%. Adults and young adults in small groups stands at 6,309, down 1%. And worshipers engaged in mission held steady at 11,088, up 8 persons from the previous year.