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2010 Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference

Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
June 10-13, 2010, Salem, Ore.

It was never hard for the attendees of the forty-second Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Session to remember that they were gathered under the theme "Boldly Making Disciples of Jesus Christ: Embracing Change." The conference was full of changes. The most noticeable was the change to a new location at the Salem Conference Center, Salem, Ore. After many years of meeting on university campuses and using dormitory housing, many attendees appreciated the conveniences of a dedicated conference center and hotel housing.

But those physical changes weren't the real story of change. What captured the conference was a changed spirit as conference leaders heard information and adopted action to support a new focus for the support structure of the annual conference. This structure will enable leadership development to build, support and sustain healthy, vital congregations and a renewed commitment to creating new faith communities.

This emphasis on healthy, vital congregations was demonstrated when the conference schedule was adjusted to delete routine items and make time for a full day of training with the Rev. Adam Hamilton. Hamilton brought his Leadership Institute training from the Church of the Resurrection to encourage new ways of thinking about strengthening the church, building both lay and clergy leaders and building healthy, vital congregations.

Change was also embodied in conference structure. The members voted to support the shift from a Conference Leadership Team of area representatives to a Ministry Leadership Team primarily comprised of the conference level staff that will carry out the mission of the annual conference. A committee led by the conference lay leader will provide feedback and hold the Ministry Leadership Team accountable for its work toward the mission and the support of healthy, vital congregations.

Members of the Eastern District, which encompasses the southern portion of the state of Idaho, moved that the district name be changed to the Snake River District. The conference approved the action that recognizes that all the churches of the district are located in the watershed of the Snake River.

Financial realities are a key part of the changes being made at the conference level. The Council on Finance and Administration proposed a budget for 2011 to the conference that was 10 percent less than 2010. Supporting this budget will mean moving conference-level program areas out of the budget; changes in conference staff and suspension of some activities done at the conference level. But the council feels by being more realistic about the ability of churches to support the budget and freeing funds for local church programming, it can increase the commitment to the apportionment covenant, and strengthen local church programming.

Bishop David Brauer-Ricke, Bishop of the Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, offered an inspiring message at the ordination worship service and challenged both the ordinands and longstanding clergy to look for, work for and serve those outside their churches. He echoed themes shared by Hamilton earlier in the week that a healthy, vital congregation is focused on the community, not the membership. Four persons were ordained as elders, with an average age of 42. In addition, three clergy members from other denominations were recognized for full or provisional membership. One person was commissioned and one candidate for associate membership was accepted.

While those persons were recognized by the conference for a new level of service, six elders, two deacons and one local pastor were recognized at retirement.

Membership stands at 30,315, down 771 (2.4 percent) from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 15,291, down 223 (1.9 percent). Church school attendance stands at 4,253, down 109 (2.4 percent).

-Greg Nelson, Conference Director of Communications