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PNW News Digest #1 - January 9, 2020

The United Methodist Split that Wasn't (yet)

It's been a busy news week for The United Methodist Church, and a frustrating one for people trying to distinguish fact from fiction, and possibility from promise.

While the structure and decision-making processes of The United Methodist Church have some internal logic, they are not intuitive. Many good United Methodists struggle to follow along with our system of governance; secular reporters even more so.

So, despite what many people saw in the news this week, The United Methodist Church hasn't split up. A decision like the one envisioned in "The Protocol..." can only be enacted by General Conference when it meets again this May in Minneapolis. It is unlikely to be a straight path from here to there.

In this week's News Digest, you'll find a number of news reports with local leaders trying to explain what did happen, and UMNS reports of a church trying to wrestle with the same. A planned livestream with protocol developers next Monday will hopefully provide an avenue to answer more questions.

If you have limited time, our siblings in the Desert Southwest Conference have pulled together an excellent FAQ on the Protocol. I'm adding a link to it on our GC2020 resource page; check it out!

Ministry continues in spite of denominational turmoil. My favorite surprise discovery this week was Bay View UMC's great example in a spotlight on local church prison ministry in Washington State. God continues to call us to offer hope to a world in desperate need of it; no need to wait for General Conference on that count.

Before you recycle this issue of the PNW News Digest, be sure to also check out a number of events happening between now and July. Registration is now open for events like the Early Response Team training in May, and closing soon for February's Women in Ministry Retreat. Don't miss out!


Patrick Scriven
Director of Communications & Young People's Ministries

Think Out Loud: Methodist Church Plans For Possible Split

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky was interviewed earlier this week on OPB's Think Out Loud program after last week's release of the 'Protocol for Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.'

The bishop spoke with host Dave Miller providing some context for this moment in the life of the denomination, and sharing how the Protocol, if approved by General Conference, might impact local churches.

Listen Now

Greater NW & Other UMC News

What happens when a parish rallies around an ex-offender?

What happens when a parish rallies around an ex-offender?

In its latest issue, U.S. Catholic magazine shares how Washington State churches are making a difference by connecting with inmates as they transition back to society.

The story leads off by sharing how a letter-writing campaign by members of Bay View United Methodist Church offered hope.

Read More

Finding God, Finding Self

Sue Magrath describes the powerful impact the Academy for Spiritual Formation made upon her when she began attending in 2005.

She also shares the exciting news that an opportunity to experience the program is coming to the Northwest this July.

Read More

Central Oregon United Methodist churches stay pro-LGBTQ amidst potential split

The Bend Bulletin spoke with pastors of United Methodist churches in Bend and Madras, Oregon this week to get their take on a potential deal to allow churches that can't support the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons to leave the the denomination.

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky added that while she believes God wants us to "figure out how to live together in peace," it may be pragmatic to allow some to walk a different path for a time.

Read More
The United Methodist Church didn’t just split up

Some thoughts for Local Church Pastors needing to explain why The United Methodist Church didn’t just split up

With a potential agreement to allow amicable separation released on the first Friday after a busy holiday season, Patrick Scriven suggests that pastors need to communicate carefully as news reports exaggerate where things currently stand.

Read More
Split over LGBT issues shakes United Methodist churches in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene

Split over LGBT issues shakes United Methodist churches in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene

The Spokesman-Review spoke with local United Methodists including Inland District Superintendent Gregg Sealey and leaders of Community United Methodist Church in Coeur d’Alene about yesterday’s news of a potential agreement to allow for some conservative churches to leave the denomination, if approved by General Conference in May.

Read More
United Methodist Church looks at splitting over same-sex marriage

United Methodist Church looks at splitting over same-sex marriage

KIRO 7 News interviewed Trinity UMC, Ballard pastor Rev. Ruth Marston-Bihl about the news of a proposed agreement to allow for some conservative congregations and conferences to leave the denomination, pending adoption by May’s General Conference.

“This moment in time is actually one that brings me a lot of sadness,” Marston-Bihl said. “I never wanted to see this disunity happen.”

Read More
Pastoral Letter

ICYMI: A Pastoral Letter for Epiphany 2020

United Methodists were greeted last Friday to news of a proposal that would establish protocols for a graceful separation within The United Methodist Church.

In a pastoral letter, Bishop Stanovsky offers cautious optimism while encouraging United Methodists to prayerfully read and consider the proposal.

Read More
Progress Report from Fresh Summit Working Group

Progress Report from Fresh Summit Working Group

When leaders in the Western Jurisdiction gathered last November for the Fresh United Methodism Summit, they elected a group to continue to develop some of the ideas that surfaced. That group met in Denver last weekend and are sharing their initial progress report.

Read More
Feinberg kept United Methodist negotiators at table

Feinberg kept church negotiators at table

Famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg described as a "labor of love" his work helping a diverse team of United Methodist leaders come up with a "Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation."

Feinberg and fellow lawyers Richard Godfrey and Wendy Bloom spoke to Sam Hodges about their role in the talks.

Read More
Resistance to Traditional Plan accelerates

Resistance to Traditional Plan accelerates

Across the United States, United Methodist churches kicked off the year with events aimed at showing solidarity with LGBTQ Christians.

The gatherings were part of Resist Harm, an organized effort to oppose the Traditional Plan that took effect Jan. 1 in the U.S.

Read More

Reaction aplenty to separation plan

United Methodists are reacting to a major new plan — offered by a diverse team of church leaders — for getting past the denomination's long struggle over how inclusive to be of LGBTQ persons. Support, criticism, heartbreak, caution — all were voiced.

United Methodists offer a range of views on proposal that would address divisions over homosexuality by letting traditionalists form their own denomination.

Read More

UM News to interview protocol developers

Members of the team that developed a new proposal for The United Methodist Church's future will be interviewed in a livestreamed panel discussion on Monday, Jan. 13.

Conducted by United Methodist News , the 60-minute interview will be streamed on the UM News Facebook page and beginning at 6:30 a.m. Eastern U.S. Time. The interview will be recorded and archived.

Read More
Diverse leaders’ group offers separation plan

Diverse leaders’ group offers separation plan

A diverse, 16-member team of church leaders, including bishops and advocacy group leaders, has offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. Proposal backers say it could end the denomination’s impasse over homosexuality.

Proposal maintains The United Methodist Church but provides $25 million for traditionalist churches to start new denomination.

Read More
You Asked: Alternatives to CDs

You Asked: Alternatives to CDs

The Northwest United Methodist Foundation released a new "You Asked" column this week based on real questions from real churches in our area.

This week, they share some alternatives for a local church that has CDs scheduled to mature this year.

Read More

Upcoming Events

ERT Spring Training
Learn More & Register

Orientation to Ministry Gatherings

February 15, 2020 at Renton First UMC
February 29, 2020 @ Moses Lake UMC

The PNW Board of Ordained Ministry will be hosting two gatherings for exploring and established candidates for ministry to:

  • SHARE INFORMATION regarding the pathway to professional ministries, in its various forms
  • BUILD RELATIONSHIPS between candidates, mentors, and BOM members (¶312 Book of Discipline)
  • MEET & GREET, Presentation of Different Ministries

Attending this orientation is a requirement for certification as a candidate for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. Click the link below to download a flyer with more information.

Learn More & RSVP
GNW Five-Day Academy

Greater Northwest Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation

July 12-17, 2020 | Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center, Federal Way, WA

Registration is now open for the Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation being held next Summer in Federal Way, WA. The academy will focus on the theme "The Power of Story" with faculty Leticia Guardiola-Saenz, PHD, and Ray Buckley. Participants will be given time and space to respond to this theme through silence, written and spoken word, prayer, worship, and community sharing.

You can learn more and express interest on Facebook here. Click the button below for registration information.

Learn More & Register
Women in Ministry Retreat

Women in Ministry Retreat

February 2-4, 2020 | Rainbow Lodge, North Bend, WA

This annual retreat is a wonderful time for women in ministry (all clergy under appointment, lay-persons assigned, or retired) to come together for shared sisterhood, a slowing down of the pace to gear up for Lent and Easter season, a walk in the woods, sitting up talking or playing games, having all your meals cooked for you and cleaned up!, and just hanging out to get to know each other better.

Registration for the Full Retreat (2 nights, 5 meals) is $185. One Night (Monday lunch to Tuesday lunch; $128) and Monday Daytime only ($56, includes lunch & dinner) options are also available.

Visit the event page to learn more about this excellent opportunity!

Learn More & Register

Resources & Opportunities

GC2020 Resources

General Conference 2020 News & Resources

As we continue on the path to General Conference 2020, we will be providing members with news and resources about the important conversations happening in The United Methodist Church.

Please keep this page bookmarked and share it with people in your congregation. We will work to keep it updated with essential content to inform the important conversations taking place across the area.

Learn More
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The Pacific Northwest Conference Office of Connectional Ministries works collaboratively and creatively to serve the missional needs of United Methodist ministries in Washington State and Northern Idaho.

Copyright © 2020 Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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