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Transcript: Bill Haden: Hosting the Global Church in Portland

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Full transcript:

Bill Haden: "People are coming from Africa, from the Philippines, from Europe. And they may well never have either been to the United States or more specifically to the Northwest."

Oregon resident Bill Haden looks forward to the United Methodist General Conference coming to Portland in May of 2016. This active church member serves on the commission that plans the quadrennial event. He’s also chair of the host committee, playing a quiet but crucial role.

Bill Haden: “I would like to not be noticed. I would like to be (if you will) the man behind the screen, responsible for certain activities, not others. Not policy making, not legislative procedure making, but rather helping to create an environment that encourages inclusivity and that brings people together. If that happens then I will feel that we have been successful.”

The host committee sets out the welcome mat and remains available throughout the delegates’ two-week stay.

Bill Haden: “We intend to greet people at Portland International Airport, ensure that they get on the MAX transportation system which will bring them to downtown Portland to their hotels, be a presence in the hotels and in the convention center. Our objective is to ensure that people have a positive experience here and that the environment around them is comfortable enough that they can focus on the work of the General Conference.”

One of Haden’s greatest challenges has been recruiting 1,000 volunteers. Aaron Pazan is among the locals who answered an appeal to congregations.

Aaron Pazan, Host Committee Volunteer: “It’s a fun opportunity to know church people and it’s a good experience.”

Sometimes unforeseen needs arise and hosts must respond. In Tampa in 2012, a booth offering free blood pressure screenings brought serious medical needs to light.

Bill Haden: “A lot of people, as I understand it, had never had their blood pressure taken before. And in some instances it was at a highly unusual elevated or low rate. And so there were things that needed to be addressed there that nobody apparently had thought of before.”

In 2012, Haden attended General Conference in Tampa as an observer to get a ground floor feel for the responsibilities of the 2016 host committee.

His resume includes past president of West Virginia Wesleyan College and member of the Africa University Board. Faith, leadership, and dedication to the church inspired his bishop at the time to name Haden as the right person for this role.

Bill Haden: “My friend Bob Hoshibata reminded me that this was an important form of service to the church. I believe the power, the motivation to do this, to continue to do it, to see it through to its completion, is partly a function of having been a lifelong member of The United Methodist Church. Understanding the importance of the role that General Conference plays in the life of the church encourages me and others to see that we do this well.”