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2013 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
June 14-16, 2013, Wenatchee, Wash.

The 140th session of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference took place at the Wenatchee Convention Center in Wenatchee, Wash., on June 14-16, 2013. Bishop Grant J. Hagiya was the officiating bishop.

Wenatchee was a new location for the annual conference to meet, and the session was shorter than the previous year by about a half-day. This year's gathering launched a new "Change the World" day sponsored in part by United Methodist Communications. The Rev. David Valera was key in advocating for this new emphasis, a focus that aligned well with the conference theme, "Disciple is a Verb."

Members of the conference affirmed the conference budget, reduced by 3.36 percent as proposed by Finance and Administration chair Scott Anderson, and a variety of related financial items. They rejected a petition to reduce the budget and cap district superintendents' compensation well below current levels.

The conference affirmed their partnership with - and the continued financial and prayerful support of churches and individuals for - the Jamaa Letu orphanages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The body also passed a petition requesting that the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits exclude companies involved in the Israeli occupation from PNWAC investments.

On the domestic front, members supported petitions calling for compassionate immigration reform, increased gun regulation and mental health measures in Washington and Idaho. A petition to make all conference properties weapons free by default was referred after much debate. The body affirmed the Western Jurisdiction's Statement of Gospel Obedience that asserts that The United Methodist Church is in error on the subject of homosexuality's incompatibility with Christian teaching. It passed a statement "reaffirm(ing) its commitment to working for the full civil and ecclesiastical rights and privileges of all persons, including LGBTQ persons" and also supported a resolution suggesting a penalty of 24 hours for clergy or bishops convicted of conducting a same sex wedding, and ordaining or appointing a self-avowed, practicing homosexual.

The conference voted to approve the four constitutional amendments from General Conference 2012 by overwhelming majorities in each case.

Worship continued to reconnect members of the conference to each other and a common sense of purpose. A litany in opening worship reminded all of how God moves to upset to bring new life. During his sermon at the Memorial Service, Hagiya offered thanksgiving for the families who, having lost loved ones, remained a testament to hope.

A class of 20 retirees was celebrated on Saturday morning while new members were welcomed at the Service of Commissioning and Ordination that night. Retiring Conference Treasurer and elder, the Rev. Craig Parrish delivered a message for the ordinands. Closing Worship led by the young people of the conference called people to remember Jesus's admonition to feed his sheep and go where we don't want to go. United Methodist Board of Global Ministries US-2 Tara Miller was the preacher.

Three individuals were ordained as elders and admitted to full connection with an average age is 33.6. Four individuals were commissioned in preparation for the order of elder with an average age is 39.5.

Membership stands at 46,165, down 2,597 from the previous year.

Worship attendance stands at 20,167, down 269.

Church school attendance stands at 4,778, down 34.

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