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2011 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
June 23-26, 2011 Pasco, Wash.

From June 23-26, United Methodists representing 265 faith communities gathered for the 138th session of the Pacific Northwest Conference in Pasco, Wash. Not only was this a "first time" to gather in this part of Washington state, but also to meet in a convention center setting.

The gathered body was welcomed to the Conference by members of the Yakama Nations, representing some of the first people to live in this part of the country. The opening worship service included a mariachi band and a young troupe of ribbon dancers from a new United Methodist church start in Pasco, Nueva Generación de Dios. In his welcome address, Bishop Grant Hagiya embraced the urgency of our annual conference theme, "Everybody Fed Now!" He encouraged the Conference community to become a spiritual and transformational force in the world.

We were joined this year by the Rev. Michael Slaughter, author and chief dreamer of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tip City, Ohio, who led us during three teaching sessions. Slaughter encouraged personal discipleship and a move for churches away from the attractional model to a missional one.

For its legislative work, the body adopted 17 petitions relating specifically to its ministry in the PNW and affirmed an additional 17 pieces of legislation with the intention that they will be sent onward to the 2012 General Conference for its consideration. Balloting also took place throughout the plenary session as the body elected its General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference representatives. The Rev. Craig Parrish was the first elected clergy person and will lead the delegation per conference tradition of alternative lay and clergy delegation leadership at General Conference. The Conference was also introduced to the Rev. Curtis Brown who is joining the Conference staff as the Director of Faith Community Development.

A report on the financial health of the Annual Conference was delivered by the Conference Treasurer, the Rev. Craig Parrish while Dr. Lura Powell, chairperson for CF&A spoke of the growing relationship between CF&A and the Connectional Table as the budget is developed. Amory Peck addressed the Conference community on behalf of the laity while Emma Donohew did so during the Young People's Address. The body received a report from Congregational Development and an update on progress made on the Ministry Fund Drive it had approved at a Special Called Session in March. Bishop Hagiya honored three churches (Auburn First, Everett: St. Paul's and Pateros) with Growth Awards. The Bishop's Award was given to Pete Olds for years of dedicated service supporting the Annual Conference and Amory Peck for her ministry as the Conference lay leader for the past 8 years. Beacon UMC received a Peace with Justice Award for their work.

During our sessions together, we also spent time in worship. On the first evening, we remembered the saints who went ahead during the last year at a moving Memorial Communion Service. On Friday, we honored a class of 20 retirees. Saturday began with a burst of energy provided by the Young People's Service and its preacher Marie Kuch. Later that evening, the conference commissioned four provisional members and ordained four elders into its order. Attendees were moved by an inspirational sermon by the Rev. Lyda Pierce. The Conference concluded with a service of sending and where appointments were read and the Bishop encouraged the PNW to innovate their way through the wilderness always keeping an eye toward the light and their hearts open to the mission field. Recipients of offerings included: UMCOR Advance: Japan Recovery, Children/Youth For Hope Project in Israel and My Friend's Place Teen Shelter.

Membership stands at 50,046 down 2,377. Average worship attendance 21,423 up 301. Church school attendance stands at 5,253 up 81.

-Patrick Scriven, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries with Young People, Communications