2018 Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
In the second year of a quadrennial theme of “Do this and you shall live!,” based on Luke 10:26-28, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky lead the 50th Session of the Oregon-Idaho Conference.
The conference gathered in Boise, Idaho, June 13-16, 2018, as it does at least once each quadrennium to honor the merger of the Oregon and Idaho Conferences in 1968.
Building on a series of Table Talk sessions held across the episcopal area in the last three months, Bishop Stanovsky invited the Rev. Brian Brown, a trainer with the Arbinger Institute, to lead the conference in a series of training and discussion sessions based on the book “Anatomy of Peace.” Meeting in small groups of 10-12, conference members and guests practiced the skills of dispute resolution and listening with their hearts.
“Do What” was the sub-theme focus for the conference. And the conference did many things. Some of the highlights included returning land the Nez Perce Indian Nation, taking time to give voice to the #MeToo movement in the church and recognizing the plight of immigrants.
The conference overwhelmingly supported a motion to return 1.5 acres of river property at Wallowa Lake Camp to the Nez Perce tribe. The property is one small piece of the land taken from them when treaties with the U.S. Government were broken. In a moving transfer ceremony, a rock from the river was passed from church representatives to tribal leaders. In August, when the transfer is finalized, it will be returned to the river, which the tribe will use to support the return of wild sockeye salmon to the region.
A vigil and litany on the conference floor offered support for the #MeToo movement to fight sexual abuse against women. A wailing wall allowed attendees to share their stories and pain. The time of shared litany called for the Spirit of the Lord to, “Anoint us all to repentance, confession, and the new life that follows.”
In a time of heightened awareness of immigration and children’s rights issues, the conference passed actions to support the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child and protest detention of immigrant children. Discussion on the conference floor called for United Methodists to speak out against those who would use the Bible as an argument for failing to welcome the stranger.
Bishop Stanovsky presented the Bishop’s Award for service by a lay person to Yuni Rueda. Rueda is an outspoken advocate for the rights of immigrants in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As a DACA immigrant herself she has put a face on the issue for United Methodists and others across Oregon and Idaho. She shared how the church has given her the strength to tell her story.
The delegation to General Conference requested time to speak to the session. They shared their intent to include LGBT voices in the debate at the 2018 General Conference Session by strategically placing reserve delegates on the floor.
The conference commissioned one new elder. There were six United Methodist clergy in the retiring class.
Oregon-Idaho Conference membership stands at 23,920, down 714 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 11,475 in person and 938 online for an increase of 198. Professions and affirmations of faith stand at 508, up 98 from 2016.
Submitted by Greg Nelson, Oregon-Idaho Conference, Director of Communication