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2012 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
June 21-24, 2012, Pasco, Wash.

From June 21-24, clergy, laity, and guests joyfully returned to the TRAC Center in Pasco, Wash., for the 139th session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. Officiating Bishop Grant J. Hagiya called the session to order and introduced this year's conference theme, "Everybody Fed: Hope for Tomorrow."

The session opened with an invigorating worship revival in which hymns were sung "lustily," prayers for a new church thrown in the air, and thriving revitalized ministries highlighted as the body celebrated "God moving into the neighborhood." Ministries reaching new populations of people, meeting basic human needs, creating community and caring for God's creation were spotlighted from different corners of the annual conference area.

Three teaching sessions were provided this year by Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and Diana Butler Bass, respected author, speaker, and scholar. In the first session, Winkler who was introduced as having a "truthful tongue," spoke on the unacceptable increase in wealth disparity in our nation, and in this light reminded the gathered body of the role of the ancient and contemporary prophet: to speak for God and tell the truth; not to uphold the status quo.

Bass delivered a report during the second and third teaching sessions on the United States' current pulse on matters of religion and spirituality. She highlighted the church's decline, rapid changes in the public perceptions of religiosity and spirituality, and discussed the possibilities for the next Great Awakening.

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Conference urged each church and individual to become seriously involved with the Imagine No Malaria campaign. The Harper Haines Group presented an update of their work on a ministry fund drive the proceeds of which will help churches to reengage their mission fields and develop strong disciple making system while also providing needed resources for new church starts.

Members of the Pacific Northwest delegation to the 2012 General Conference shared of their experience in Tampa, Fla., and offered reflections on the state of the connection. Daniel "D.J." del Rosario in the Young People's Address gave a rousing call to ministry, encouraging the body to stop playing church and to be the "hands and feet of Christ". In her final Laity Address, Amory Peck spoke poignantly on her eight years of service as conference lay leader, passing the mantle during that time to Joan Holms.

Executive Director of Connectional Ministries, David Valera encouraged a revitalized discipleship challenging us to "get the gospel preached! And, use words if necessary!" while storyteller Dayton Edmonds led a water ceremony, from the Caddo tradition, to commemorate those that have passed away over the last year.

The conference celebrated the retirement of seven clergy members, leaving them each with a note that read "God is not done with you yet!"

The youth and young adults of the conference, complemented by younger clergy including preacher John Helmiere, presented a vision of The United Methodist Church as a "church on fire," leading all in spirited and justice-centered worship. Many of the same individuals were presented in that evening's commissioning and ordination service, in which five were commissioned, and one deacon and ten elders were ordained. During the service, the bishop and members of the cabinet prayed individually with those who came forward to answer and affirm a call to ministry.

Bishop Hagiya preached at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning and again at the Closing Worship the next morning. He called for a renewed commitment to the demands of ministry and addressed the need for courage in the presence of fear.

The body supported historical recognition for sites at Nisqually (present-day Dupont) and Steilacoom. We affirmed our support for the Jamaa Letu orphanages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and added Inland NW PET (Personal Energy Transportation Hand Bike) Project as a Conference Advance Special. We closed the Lyle congregation and voted to donate the building to the Twin Bridges Historical Museum. The formula for apportionments was changed.

The conference adopted a budget of $2,433,121 for 2013, down $6,506 a decrease of 0.27 percent from 2012.

Several resolutions passed through committee for approval by the body. Two petitions dealt with the issue of inclusion and affirmation of gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. One recognized marriage equality in the State of Washington and the second reflected on how we deal with the requirement to discriminate in our denomination. Both were strongly affirmed with respectful floor discussion on the second item.

Next year's annual conference will be one day less in duration, June 14-16, 2013. It was voted that we will hold our 2013 conference at the Pasco TRAC Center.

After having been reenergized, reconnected, and recommitted, the body was adjourned to be missionaries, disciples, and prophets; the hope for tomorrow.

Membership stands at 48,762 down 1,284. Average worship attendance 20,436, down 987. Church school attendance stands at 4,812 down 441.

- Patrick Scriven, director of communication and young people's ministries

The Rev. John Shaffer, conference secretary
Karyn Kuan, office of connectional ministries intern