2015 Oregon-Idaho Conference
The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference session theme, “Restoring the Sacred Circle,” was visible throughout the conference. Rather than just holding an Act of Repentance as a one-time event during the conference, the planning committee invited members of the Committee on Native American Ministry to participate in developing the theme and planning how it could weave through activities and worship of the three-day conference held June 11-13. To help raise understanding, each conference member was given a copy of “On the Spirit Walk” by Henrietta Mann and the Rev. Anita Phillips. Phillips was guest speaker at the conference.
Bishop Grant J. Hagiya presided over the 47th session of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference in Salem, Oregon; a city founded by Methodist missionaries in 1834. In his opening sermon, Hagiya recounted the devastating history between Native Americans and white settlers, concluding with the statement, “As I read the church’s history against Native Peoples, and as a current church official, the only response that I have, the only thing that is appropriate is for me literally — in the biblical sense — to bow down in sack cloth and ashes and repent. No words can make this right. All that is left for me — and all of us — is to bow down before our Native brothers and sisters, ask for forgiveness, repent, and try to make a difference in the future.”
Native blessings each day connected with the conference theme and led up to the Act of Repentance service on Friday. In addition to Phillips, the Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell Jr., Executive Secretary of Native American & Indigenous Ministries, joined the conference to help provide an understanding of the historical and cultural significance of holding an Act of Repentance and building new relationships with Native Americans.
The annual conference passed seven action requests and updated or added 11 standing resolutions to its conference journal. Six petitions were sent to General Conference. Three of the items dealt with occupied Palestine. An action request calls the conference and its foundation to, “Divest all Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference funds from stock held in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard, and continue to exclude these companies from the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference investments until these companies end their involvement with the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.” Two petitions sent to the General Conference also deal with divestment and illegal settlements.
Some of the other legislation passed by the conference included items dealing with investments in fossil fuels, voting rights, Native American relations, human trafficking, immigration and encouraging pulpit exchanges.
The conference elected delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Jan Nelson was elected as the lay delegate and will serve as the head of the delegation. The Rev. Donna Pritchard was elected as the clergy delegate. Both are experienced with General Conference. Nelson was a delegate in 2012 and Pritchard in 2008. Jurisdictional delegates (and General Conference reserves) are Josh Hauser, a young adult, and the Rev. Clay Andrew. Additional jurisdictional delegates are Mark Bateman, David Armstrong, the Rev. Jeremy Smith, and the Rev. Duane Anders. Jurisdictional reserve delegates are Emilie Kroen, Norm Dyer, the Rev. Wendy Woodworth and the Rev. John (Joung Youl) Go.
The conference commissioned one new deacon (age 37) and ordained one deacon (age 66). There were 13 in the retiring class and 17 saints of the church were remembered at the memorial service.
More than $10,000 was raised at the conference for Imagine No Malaria with a 5k run, art auction, T-shirt sales, and other donations.
Conference membership stands at 26,024, down 937 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 12,897, down 304. Professions and reaffirmations of faith stand at 2,902, down 233 from 2013. Worshipers engaged in mission increased by 2,239 to 5,424, while adult and young adults in small groups dropped by 2,736 to 6,983.
— Greg Nelson, director of communication for the Oregon-Idaho Conference