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2013 Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference

June 20-23, 2013
Boise, Idaho
Theme: "Disciple Is a Verb"

The action, commitment and impact of being a disciple was evident at the 45th session of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. In action more than any other attendee was Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Bishop Grant Hagiya. He led his third annual conference session of the month with the theme "Disciple Is a Verb".

Hagiya presided over the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference for the first time since being assigned by the Western Jurisdiction to supervise three annual conferences: Alaska, Pacific Northwest and Oregon-Idaho. This was his second quadrennium with Alaska and Pacific Northwest.

Giant letters across the front of the stage kept the word "disciple" in front of attendees through all of their work.

The conference celebrated the third year of a focus on health and vitality by recognizing the many churches and leaders that have participated in the Congregational Leadership Development program. Participants celebrated several new church starts to renew existing church locations with new ministry, reach out to Hispanic communities and create a network of house-church leaders.

Hagiya opened the conference by challenging churches to show measurable increases in worship attendance, baptisms and professions of faith. Yet, at the same time, he recognized that those measures were more closely related to the old "attractional style of doing church." He called for both clergy and lay leaders to find new ways of "being the church" for the current generation, saying, "We've got to be there to pick up people's lives in these tough economic times...The people are hungry."

Hagiya was not the only inspirational speaker. Pittsburg Area Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton encouraged the conference to seize the opportunity to be disciples in action by joining in the fight to end malaria in Africa by supporting the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. While not setting a specific goal, Hagiya challenged every church in the conference to embrace the mission of Imagine No Malaria by holding at least one event to raise awareness and funds for the campaign.

The last day of conference was dedicated to a day of learning with Phyllis Tickle. Tickle, a noted author and lecturer, kept the conference members and guests fully engaged for the day with her explanation of the connections between history and religion and how "Emergence Christianity" will shape the current and future church.

Tickle challenged the attendees saying, "We are in post-Christendom. For the sake of our faith, we must be observant, not just cultural, Christians."

"There are 293 different translations of the Bible for sale on Amazon," she continued. "Which one will you be inerrant with?"

On motions from the floor, the conference voted in favor of two statements related to the Boy Scouts of America's recent change regarding participation by openly homosexual Scouts. In the first motion, the conference "&ellipsis;applaud[ed] the decision of the Boy Scouts of America to accept openly gay Scouts and reaffirm our longstanding support and sponsorship of Boy Scouts of America troops." In the second, the conference voted to "encourage the churches of the Oregon-Idaho Conference to open their doors to any Boy Scouts of America units that are disenfranchised due to their movement toward social justice and inclusion (which is to say, their recent acceptance of gay youth within their ranks), and to offer those units sponsorship."

In other action, the conference supported a 4-percent increase in the conference budget, voted to provide retirement funding for quarter- and half-time clergy, reaffirmed that all United Methodist churches should have open membership without discrimination on any basis including marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. The conference members also voted overwhelmingly in favor of the four constitutional amendments.

The conference ordained three new elders, and recognized the ordination from another denomination of one clergy person. These new clergy have an average age of 50. Thirteen clergy retired.

Statistics:

  • Membership, 27,854,down 404from the previous year
  • Worship attendance, 13,648, down 86
  • Church school attendance, 3,540, down 55

- Greg Nelson, director of communications, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference