Prosser UMC

Prosser UMC
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Bo's Blog



BO’s BLOG

August 2020
In the first and fourth notes I wrote back in March and April, I compared our time of COVID-19 restrictions to the traditional practice of self-denial Christians may observe during the season of Lent. But now it’s August. Lent ended back in April. Yet we are still living with our season of self-denial.
Self-denial, in Christian tradition, is not meant to be a testing of our endurance, although it certainly can also be that. Self-denial is meant to be a practice that helps us grow in our relationship with God. The giving up of something, or not doing something, we normally have or do creates a tension within us. Our routine is broken! We can’t stop thinking about chocolate at snack time! In the midst of this self-induced stress, God works with us, and we with God, to grow into the tension. We learn we can depend on God to be with us in times of uncertainty and stress, large and small. We learn we are capable of growth at any age. We learn that routine and chocolate may not be the most important things in life (note I said “may”).
We are certainly in a time of uncertainty and stress. We cannot gather together at church for worship and fellowship. We cannot leave our home without a face mask. We can-not shake hands or hug friends, or even family who don’t live in our house. We have seen the results around our country and in our counties when we don’t abide by these rules. We don’t know when this will end, other than when we get a vaccine. We feel a jumble of emotions—anger, loneliness, sadness, guilt, restlessness, uncertainty, fear, hopelessness, and more—in what I’ve been recently calling our “COVID time,” these months in which we live a more restricted life.
In the midst of our inner unsettledness, there is an invitation. We can choose to see this COVID time as an extend-ed season of Lent. We are living in the liminal time between what was, before COVID, and what will be, after COVID. God invites us to use this inner unsettledness and this restricted COVID time, to grow personally, and in our faith, in our relationship with God, just as Christians have down through the centuries.
This month, and the first Sunday in September, I will return to the Lenten scriptures we skipped over after our worship services stopped in March. My homilies will focus on ideas in the Gospel readings that help us grow our relationship with God—to “Stay in Love With God.” I will also speak to how the unsettledness within us during this COVID time can help us in this process. However, we won’t, yet, pursue the Lenten narratives into Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. That will come for us, one day. There will be an end to the vigil we are keeping. There will be Easter.
Shalom,
Bo

July 2020
 
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our bishop has framed the Northwest United Methodist response upon the structure of something called the “Three Simple Rules.” They are:
“Do No Harm”
“Do Good”
“Attend Upon All The Ordinances Of God” (or, as Bishop Rueben P. Job rephrases it, in his book Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living, “Stay in Love With God”)

You will notice these are the titles of three of my homilies this month. So what are these “rules,” where do they come from, and why would our bishop use them in responding to a pandemic?
These rules are actually the “General Rules of our United Societies,” which can be found in the 2016 edition of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church on pages 77—80. The societies, and their subdivisions, called class meetings, were begun by John Wesley when, in the midst of his reforming work in Britain, he found people coming to him looking for some means of support in their new life of faith after hearing his words. He gave them a structure of small groups to build each other up in their faith each week, and these rules to guide them in what they did in their daily lives.
Bishop Job notes in the Introduction to his book that Wesley recognized the need for this kind of guidance was not new in his time, nor is it outdated in ours. “Most of us yearn to live . . . a good and faithful life in Christ. We do want to be faithful to the highest we know. We do want to practice our faith in ways that are healing and life-giving, not destructive and life-denying.” John Wesley, he writes, “knew that everyone needs help to live a holy and good life in a world like ours.”

The three simple rules are a tool the bishop, as a Christian, and especially as a United Methodist, used to respond to the pandemic. It is a tool we can use to respond as well, to COVID-19, to racism, to economic worries, to partisan divide, to every aspect of our life in this world. It is a way to live out the commandment Jesus said was the greatest— to love God with all our heart, mind, strength, and spirit, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

As we go through each one of these rules in the coming weeks, I hope you will find ways they can help strengthen and grow your faith in some aspect of your lives. Every one of us can use help in living a good and faithful life in the world we have today.

Do No Harm.
Do Good.
Stay in Love With God.
Shalom,
Bo


June 2020
Last week Bishop Stanovsky and the leadership of the Greater Northwest Area of The United Methodist Church sent out a document called “Reimagining Life Together” to the UM churches
of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. This document provides guidelines to local churches as they develop plans for re-opening for in-person worship.
Don’t get excited yet. We’re not having worship service in the sanctuary next Sunday. But it is time for our church to start talking about how and when we are going to have worship services in person again.

Our Church Council has received copies of this document (if you would like a copy of it you can call the church office, or find it on-line at greaternw.org), and has begun the process =of developing our re-opening plan by creating a committee (we are Methodist, after all). The committee will work
through the 26 page document and put together a plan for what we need to do now, and in the future, to prepare to move through the phases toward re-opening. Much like the Washington State plan, the church will be going through 4 phases of re-opening. We are currently in Phase 1, which is what we’ve been doing since March—the church building is closed for use, church staff can access it only to collect mail, pay bills, take care of the building, etc. Phase 2 allows up to 10 people to gather at church, but with strict distancing, sanitizing, and facemasks, and not for worship. Phase 3 allows up to 50 people to be at church, still with distancing, sanitizing, and facemasks. Worship, weddings, and funerals may occur. Phase 4 has no group size limit, still requires sanitizing spaces after use, but does not require facemasks or distancing.

Our plan will need to show how we will prepare for each phase, and what we will do in each phase. We will need to work with our district superintendent to get our plan approved. We will move from one phase to the next when the governor & bishop have moved the state into the next phase, and when our district superintendent approves our plan for Prosser UMC to do so as well. There is a lot for us to do to prepare for re-opening, and some difficult decisions to make. For example, while it looks like we could re-open for worship in Phase 3 of the process, the guidelines restrict those who can attend to those not in the “High Risk” categories. This means people over 65, people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and people with underlying medical
conditions would not be able to attend worship. The question the Church Council will have to deal with is “Should we start up worship again if most of our congregation can’t be there? Another restriction that will be a BIG change for all of us is that we will not be able to sing in any of these phases. No sung hymns, prayer responses, benediction. No choir. The reason for this is that studies show singing projects our breath, and anything in it (coronavirus), up to 26 feet. It is not practical for us to gather for worship and stand 26 feet apart from each other.

We will miss those things we have always done, but at least we will be together and safe. The re-opening committee, and our worship leaders, may find new ways we can celebrate and worship God together.

Ultimately though, it is God’s grace, and God’s love, that sustain us as we move forward in faith.
Shalom,
Bo


 May 2020

May seems to be our transition from indoor to outdoor life. “April showers bring May flowers.” We celebrate those flowers on May Day, with dances around the Maypole. We share flowers with our moms on Mother’s Day. We honor those who have died with flowers on Memorial Day. Memorial Day also completes our transition into the season of barbecues, picnics, boating on the river, hot summer days, and vacations.
Or perhaps I should say, this is what May is usually like. This year, May will be a bit different. There won’t be gatherings around Maypoles. Many will not be traveling to see their moms or children. There will probably be fewer at the grave sites, at the barques, out camping in the forests. Life is different for us. Life is different for the non-humans in the world too. There have been reports of deer and elk walking on roads, ducks nesting in parking lots, more birds singing in the trees. The rest of the world is noticing the absence of us humans, and our cars, our noise, even our trash. I’ve never seen the streets of New York City so clean as in the pictures of them these past few weeks. There have been comments about how clean the air is in Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, New Delhi, and Beijing.

Undoubtedly, as we begin to return to our “normal” lives, the cars will get back on the roads, litter will return to the streets, the noise level will increase, and the particulates from our activities will again fill the air. It is the way we live. But wouldn’t it be nice if, right now, while we have this time of quiet, of staying at home, of not being preoccupied with our work, we were instead to take time to listen, and to reflect on what nature is telling us? Could there be a mes-sage for us in the sound of birdsong, the sight of animals on our roads, the smell and sight of clear blue sky?

One thing I hear is a reminder that we are not apart from nature, as we seem to act most of the time, but are rather a part of nature. We push nature back with our houses, yards, fences, parking lots and roads, but when we retreat inside our homes, or abandon neighborhoods, nature grows back in. Our presence is never permanent. Nature always counters our actions (how many times do I have to cut down those mulberry shoots before the roots will die?). Perhaps there’s no greater example right now of our being subject to nature than our forced re-treat into our homes before a natural virus. Had we not done so, how many more would have died, or become gravely ill? Corona virus is a part of nature we cannot yet control with our technology.

Perhaps also the cleaner air we’ve seen could tell us that it is possible to reverse some of the negative effects of our activities on earth. We’re not going to give up driving cars altogether, but we could be inspired by the clean air to develop and use affordable electric vehi-cles, and to build the infrastructure to support their use. There are ways of moving forward in the areas of transportation, food production, ranching, manufacturing, that help us be more efficient and better stewards of the world God has created. We’ve found these ways in the past, and we can continue to find them in the future.

It is May, and it is our season of transition, hopefully in more ways than one. While we do so, we can continue to enjoy the beauty and inspiration of the natural world around us that God called “very good.”
Shalom,
Bo

April 2020
As our times now are far different than any we’ve shared in the past, I want to do something different with my blog this month.

First, I’d like to invite you to get a Bible and sit in a comfortable chair. Then read Psalm 130.
Next, read the following quote from one of our United Methodist bishops, published in 2002:
“As Christians we live by faith in God, and we carry within us the notorious hope that a life of faithfulness is indeed the best way to live. Our hope is that fidelity and faithfulness will result in a holy life and the comforting companionship of Jesus Christ. The rewards of peace and assurance of continued companionship with God in the life to come belong to every faithful Christian.

“We hope for that which we do not see. The reward of holy living today is merely a hope for tomorrow. The rewards of peace and assurance may be ours today, but they are only a hope for tomorrow. The companionship of Jesus Christ is experienced today but is only a hope for tomorrow. The promise that this ordinary life can be invested in the extraordinary reign of God today and tomorrow is the hope that encourages us to do what we can where we are to make God’s will known and real.

“When disease, disaster, death, or triumph strike, we are filled with hope because our ultimate trust is in God. Our worlds and wealth may crumble; disease and disaster may lay hold on what and whom we value; but followers of the Christian way continue to be hopeful. We hold on to hope because we are filled with faith that God is able to consummate the promise made to redeem and transform all who turn their lives toward God.” (Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, p.155)
Now go back to your Bible and read the story of Jesus and his friends, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, in John 11:1-45.

As you consider these readings, what are the stories of hope you hear or see in these times? Where is God’s promise of hope being fulfilled by those doing what they can “to make God’s will known and real.” Share those stories with the people in your household, or call someone who you know lives alone and talk with him or her about it. Share the hope you see.
Shalom,
Bo


March 2020


I remember learning in elementary school that “March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.”
We learn, as adults, that life is not always as simple and constant as we thought it was when we were kids.
One constant about March is that Lent occurs during most, if not all, of the month.
Another constant about March is that we transition from winter to spring, regardless of the wind, snow, ice, or rain.
Shalom,
Bo

February 2020

There seems to be a lot of division in our society today.
Some blame the proliferation of media options for today’s divisiveness.
That can be further reinforced by the news we watch.and our perception of our own lives can become more negative.
However, there is hope.
I don’t know if the Protocol will be voted in by General Conference, or if it will work.
Shalom,
Bo

 


January 2020

I have to confess that I’ve not been very good at making and keeping New Year’s resolutions.
not from having too much muscle, as I could tell by looking at a side view of myself in a mirror.
Later, I began to change my approach.  Instead of trying to do something big (like lose 50 lbs.) all in one year, I would focus on smaller transitions.  Drink more water and less soda this week.  Exercise for 5 minutes today.  Don’t buy ice cream at the store.  Try to weigh the same, or a little less by this time next week.  Allow myself to eat more desserts, cookies, or candies at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  In doing this, I ended up developing new habits that were healthier for me, and now I start 2020  28 lbs. lighter than I was back then.
I’m not selling a weight-loss program here.  What I’ve shared is an example of a way we can change our lives in a lot of different areas, including our spiritual formation.  If we say “This year I’m going to read the Bible from cover to cover,” that can be pretty intimidating to many of us.  But if we say “I’m going to read a part of the Bible for the next 10 or 15 minutes,” that can be more easily done, and, repeated often enough, can lead into a new habit of reading the Bible regularly.  The same process can help develop your life in prayer, worship, tithing, and serving others.
I invite you to consider the changes you would like to make in your life, and the small steps which might lead you, in time, where you’d like to go.
Shalom,
Bo
 


December 2019
The first of this month, the first Sunday of Advent, December 1, we begin our church cycle of seasons again. Yet, as we wait, expectantly, through these four Sundays for Christ’s Mass to arrive, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our hope will be assailed by the world around us.

We have leaders in our country who seem to feel their most important job is being right, and to label the people in the other political party as wrong. As unhelpful to the concerns of our nation, and the world, as that may seem, at least we don’t have leaders who think it’s ok to use chemical weapons on their own people, or who send those who disagree with them to re-programming camps. Meanwhile, in our country and around the world, we have people using social media to create biased perceptions and opinions.  We have racial, religious, and gender discrimination and violence on the rise. We have rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which will lead to global warming and ever more extreme climate changes. We have droughts and famine, where thousands of people die each day, and millions are seeking to migrate to places where they can at least survive. Almost every day, there are senseless acts of terror, of shootings, bombings, IED’s, and genocide.

How do we maintain hope in this season of Advent with all this, and more, going on around us? How do we keep from growing apathetic towards others, immunized to the deep needs and cries for help in our world? How do we avoid creating a bubble around our lives as we go about decorating our homes, shopping for gifts, cooking those holiday treats, and humming carols under our breath?
We do so by remembering that Jesus was born into this same violent world, with self-serving leaders in the government and the church; that he grew up in a poor family, knowing people who were struggling to survive; and that he never gave up hope, or became apathetic, about God’s kingdom, here on earth, and on the final day.

As followers of Christ, we maintain our hope, we grow our hope, we rejoice in our hope, and we act through our hope. This time of year I try to keep change in my pocket or wallet, even though I almost always use my debit card, because those Salvation Army ringers are everywhere. They are part of the holiday season for me. We can each act in ways to help others this time of year. Sign up at Jubilee
Food bank to help make or hand out holiday food boxes (see article on page 1). If you get a new sweater for Christmas, give your old one (in good condition) to the Red Door thrift store. These may seem like small things, compared to the world’s problems, but these small things help us orient our lives to God’s kingdom. Spend some time this Advent, as you wait expectantly to celebrate Jesus’ birth, to reflect on how you can be an agent of God’s kingdom in a world, country, and community that badly needs more of such people.
Shalom,
Bo

November 2019


Stewardship is not an attitude about money.  Stewardship is an attitude about life.  It is about caring for, and being grateful for, the gifts with which we are entrusted in life, and we need to reclaim this concept of stewardship in order to be better stewards.

If we love someone, we know we do not deserve love from the one we love, just as we know that the one we love does not have to earn or deserve our love.  It is simply there, a gift given.  Because of that, it is something precious that we need to care for, and so we give of our time and energy.  We give of ourselves, making ourselves open and vulnerable to the one we love.  We nurture the relationship, providing the invaluable food of intimacy and self-sacrifice.  This is stewardship, because love is not something that belongs to us, but rather something we can only care for to keep it healthy, and be grateful that someone wishes to give it to us.

This life we have is a tremendous gift.  There are many times I have not paid much attention to it—I get busy, and time goes by, and suddenly I realize I’m not 36 any more.  But we don’t deserve or earn this life we have—the smells of autumn, the feel of brisk cold air in our lungs, the tastes of good food, the sound of a river, the sight of sunshine on yellow, orange, red, and brown leaves.  The joys and sorrows, the hunger, the plenty, death and new life, the pain, the healing are all gifts to us.  To fully live this life, we have to pay attention to it, care for ourselves and others, and remember to give thanks in gratitude for the experiences we have. This is stewardship.

I encourage you to find ways to express gratitude on a daily basis, for that is how we can pay better attention to the gifts we are given.  It can be by giving time to a child who needs help, giving a hug to a spouse or friend, or giving thanks to God at the end of each day for the best thing that happened that day.  In this way we can be better stewards to the life, the relationships, the events, the places, and yes, even the money we are given.

Shalom,

Bo


 

October 2019
 
October brings us into the heart of Fall, with World Communion Sunday at the beginning of the month, and Reformation Sunday/All-Hallow’s Eve at the end of the month. This year we also have our All-Church Conference October 6, beginning with a potluck (appropriately Methodist!) at 6:30 PM. The early morning air is brisk to walk in, and the afternoon sun warms the air, providing beautiful Fall sunsets.
The people of Israel celebrated this time of year, when the final harvests were brought in, and the outdoor work was completed. The Festival of Booths, or Sukkoth, is the time when thanks were given to God for the abundance that had been received from the earth that God created. Certainly, we can give thanks to God at

September 2019



I was recently given a copy of an article entitled “Why Our Service Organizations are Dying: (and 6 ways to fix them)” that was published about 3 years ago (Thank you Alys Means!). While the article is about organizations like Rotary, Kiwanis, Masons, Shriners, Elks, and others, it sound-ed similar to other articles I’ve read about the decline of the church (mainline and independent). It seems we aren’t the only community category losing members! 



One reason for the decline, this author states, is a shift in our culture away from communities built on impersonal characteristics, such as geographical location or altruistic concepts, toward communities built on personal affinities, such as a social issue that affects us, or a favorite football team. In our digital age, a large number of people are finding their community, or place where they feel like they be-long, on-line. The author says they have reverted to an older form of community—a tribal community. 



In many ways this makes sense. A young couple who’ve just had their first baby can find a whole new community of “friends and family” on the internet—other young couples with whom they can share the ups and downs, trials and joys, of this most wonderful journey they have begun. That “tribe” can give them the support, and perhaps even guidance, they need. 



However, if we limit ourselves only to our collection of “tribes,” if we interact and participate only with other “like-minded” people, we then isolate ourselves from so many other people, and it becomes easy to assert that we have truth, and others do not (or perhaps that all truth is relative, and my truth is as good as yours). We can lose sight of the impersonal fact that there is truth beyond our personal experience, or our “tribe’s” experience. Service groups know that serving others is important, not because they know those they serve, but because those people are in need. 



Yes, it can be helpful to be part of a group of people whose experiences resonate with ours, But we are also called to go beyond ourselves. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and that truth, and the way and life to which he calls us is God. Jesus called his disciples to spread the good news, not just within the tribes of Israel, but to all people, to the ends of the earth. We, like the disciples, are called to go beyond our tribes, to all in need of life in God. 


Shalom,


August 2019
Thanks to all of you who listened to the reports Donna Barr and I shared during the July 14 worship service, and for your
One thing we did not talk about that Sunday, and which was a question in my mind after our Annual Conference (AC), was what other ACs did in response to the changes the General Conference (GC) made in February.
The answer, as would be expected in a denomination as diverse as ours, is yes, and no.
In other parts of the country, 2 ACs in Texas and Georgia had no legislation at all related to this year’s GC.
This is only a small sampling from other AC websites.
Shalom,
Bo

June 2019

It is good to be back! It is good to see you all on Sunday mornings again and at evening meetings. It is good to be out and about in the community, and in the office during the week.

Donna Barr has done an excellent job in the office while I was gone, keeping the administration of this church going. Damage from water leaking through a roof, and ice pulling off a gutter, is in the process of being re-paired, with the first insurance check already in our account. People have been settling into the new space downstairs, and figuring out what it needs to complete the look, and the sound, of it. Sunday morning attendance was up for March and April, as was income. As I’ve joked with some of you, perhaps I should stay away more often. I greatly appreciate Rev. Mark Williams filling the pulpit, and providing pastoral care and administrative guidance while I was on leave. I’m glad that you all have had the chance to get to know him, and his wife Lisa. They are friends as well as colleagues, and good people. I knew the church was in good, and very capable, hands during my absence.

Those were not the only capable hands either. Many others stepped up and pitched in as well to meet the needs of our church, newcomers and long-term members alike. While some people (particularly pastors) feel that the pastor is the most important person in the church, the past few months at Prosser UMC show that it is the energized and active lay people in the pews who are most important to the vitality and life of a faith community. This life and vitality have been evident even before these past few months. Over the past 2 years you have raised more than twice your annual budget so that you could pay for most of the remodel work downstairs as well as the programs and operation of the church. And while the conference statistician notes in this year’s pre-Annual Conference Handbook that an average weekly attendance of 100 or more “is generally accepted as the attendance level [necessary] to sustain a full time or-dained pastor,” you all have been doing that for the last 25 years with an average worship attendance of 40.  There are no more capable hands than the faithful hands of God’s people. It is good to be back amongst you.
Shalom,
Bo

A Word from Pastor

Mark Williams

It was a privilege to worship and pray with you these past weeks while Pastor Bo was on leave. You made Lisa and me feel most welcome in the house of worship at Prosser United Methodist Church. Your ability to make us feel at home is one of the great gifts you have to offer as
the people of God. In celebration of our time together, I want to share three words regarding house and home. The first I share is an illuminated prayer which hung in my parent’s home. It read: “God Bless this house and all who go in and out.” That prayer remains engraved in my memory. It has always shaped my life and my understanding of ministry. I almost always pray those words when  visit someone in their home. I fervently pray these words in a hospital room when I pray with a patient. I pray these words on a Sunday as I enter the church. And for four weeks as your pastor and preacher I prayed God’s blessing on the Prosser United Methodist Church and all who came and went. It is my hope that you will continue offering up such a prayer. Not because it’s your house, but because it is God’s house. And in God’s house everyone who enters
deserves such a blessing.
Lisa often reminds me to think of the church as God’s house. She quotes a member of a church in Africa who welcomed her with the word, “Please feel most welcome in your Father’s house.” Lisa was deeply moved by that word and the thought that such a welcome applied (or should apply) to every house of worship. I am confident that if every visitor at Prosser is made to feel welcome and at home in the house of worship, then they will be greatly blessed, and you will be blessed to be part of a growing family of faith.
A final word comes from a family whom I once stayed. I was expressing my gratitude for their hospitality when the hostess interrupted me. “ We want to thank you because you have made our house a good home. A house with not vistors is a bad home. By visiting us you have made you house a good home.” Since that conversation with a humble homeowner who provided generous hospitality, I have always sought to invite others to my home and into God’s house. I hope you will always do the same.  The church, God’s house, the place that welcomes visitors and gives them a blessing, is truly the church only when we invite others to come in. Only then does our Father’s house become a good home. God has given you a good and blessed church home. I invite you to be generous in sharing it with others. And may God richly bless you to be a blessing.
Grace and Peace,
Mark

Bo’s Blog

March 2019
The General Conference of 2019 is completed. The Conference met to try to change the deadlock we seem to be in around the topic of human sexuality. For decades we have had heated debates at General Conferences on this issue. I attended the 1984 Bicentennial General Conference in Baltimore where there were protests, many petitions, and ultimately, little change in policy about the participation of homosexual persons in the life of The United Methodist Church.
35 years later, we have much the same story. The Conference voted to approve what is called the “Traditional” plan.  In this plan there are no changes in what the Book of Discipline says about people who participate in same-gender relationships. The plan does, however, attempt to change the process by which United Methodists hold each other responsible for “breaking the rules.”

I use the word “attempt” because many parts of the changes proposed were deemed unconstitutional by the United Methodist Judicial Council, both prior to, and at, the General Conference. Some fixes were voted on at the Conference, but we won’t know if they are constitutional until the

Judicial Council meets again in April. So it appears, after all that, we could be right where we were 3 years ago. In our relationships with other people, when we keep having the same argument with them over and over, it’s a sign that we are not truly listening to each other. Unless we learn to stop, take a breath, let go of whatever we’re holding onto so tightly, and really listen to the other person, so that we understand them, we will never be able to respond in a way that provides the other with the opportunity to stop, take a breath, let go of whatever they’re holding onto so tightly, and really listen to us.
I wonder if General Conference is structured to do this kind of relationship work. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t been able to resolve this issue, even after more than 35 years.
It will take each of us having conversations with other United Methodists, building relationships within churches, districts, conferences, and jurisdictions, and across churches, districts, conferences, and jurisdictions, before we can come to agreement on a solution. The answer will not come from legislation, but from conversation. Holy conversation. Conversation in which we speak from our heart and listen with our heart. Conversation in which we can hear God in the other, and they can hear God in us.
Shalom,

Bo


Western Jurisdiction UMC Bishops video statement script (Feb 28, 2019)

http://westernjurisdictionumc.org/western-jurisdiction-umc-bishops-video-statement-script/

(Look for the video.)

From our District Superintendent

February 2019,
From our District Superintendent

I keep hearing people talk about the big decisions to be made next month at General Conference. Well, I want to invite you to join with me in praying that what we do there is not decision-making but is instead discernment, real discernment, because those are different things.
To come together in an attitude of decision-making, we would surface and share information, we would apply our best thinking and we would wrangle with one another until together we figured out for ourselves the best way to move ahead. A very human approach, when it could be, and should be, and can be so much more for people of faith.
See, anytime the question on the table is: “Is God trying to bring something new into the world? Is God trying to lead us into new understandings of ourselves and one another and what it means to be a faithful follower of
Jesus Christ?” Well, then that’s a moment for discernment and of listening to God as well as to ourselves and one another. It’s a time to surface and share information, to bring our best thinking and then for all of us to set our egos aside with everything else on the table and say, “God what could you create in the midst of this?” And then listen.
My prayer for General Conference is that the Holy Spirit breaks in and that those of us present are open and present enough that we notice—and that we collaborate with it for what God could do in our midst.
My hoped-for outcome of General Conference is that we could increase the United Methodist way of bringing lifegiving, life-saving, life-transforming love into this world; that love that we know through Jesus Christ.

I invite you to be with me as I and the rest of the delegation prepare ourselves for work in St. Louis. And please be in prayer for us, and with us, in St. Louis that we might not just be doing the work of Church but that we might be Church and bring and embody the best of what it means to be the body of Christ.

Rev. Mary K. Huycke is the first-elected clergy delegate from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference to the 2019 General Conference, meeting in St. Louis in February. She also serves as district superintendent for the

Seven Rivers Missional District.


By Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

A Bright Star in the Night Sky

By Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
A baby was born who turned the world on its head. Lives are changed by Jesus, who opens our eyes to God’s transforming love and justice.  We celebrate his birth extravagantly, because we understand that his life, death and resurrection are awesome in their creative power—maybe even awe-ful in their disruptive power. They show us that life is not in vain, that the most violent powers of sin and death cannot snuff out the hope that burns in our hearts, even at times like a small, flickering flame.
The story of Jesus turns us inside out as we sing, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I pray that your very personal hopes and fears are met by Jesus in the New Year.
United Methodists will carry our very public hopes and fears from 2018 into 2019. A special session of General Conference in February will seek a way forward out of decades of strife over whether and how the Church will welcome and include, or reject and exclude, people based upon their sexual identities and orientations.
What are the hopes that delegates will bring to the Conference?
•Full Inclusion. The Simple Plan would remove of restrictive language in the Book of Discipline to enact full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life and ministry of the Church. Sexual identity and orientation would not be a standard for ordination. Same sex weddings would be allowed. 
•Obedience to scripture and discipline. The Traditional Plan reaffirms the traditional teaching that marriage between one man and one woman is the norm. “Self-avowed practicing homosexuals” would be prohibited from ordination and samesex weddings would be prohibited, with stricter enforcement of each. [Learn More | Proposed Legislation]
•Redefining the Connection. The Connectional Conference Plan is the most complicated of the three proposed by the Commission on a Way Forward providing for three overlapping conferences which share some services but have more theological autonomy. Of the major plans, if provides the most space for theological differences but probably has the least support due to the number, and difficulty, of the changes proposed. [Learn More | Proposed Legislation]
•Room for contextual adaptation. The One Church Plan offers less legislated uniformity and allows clergy, local churches and annual conferences to set standards and practices appropriate to their ministry context and exercise of conscience.

I have publicly joined other bishops and leaders of the Western Jurisdiction in
support of the One Church Plan.

Bo’s Blog, “Wait. . . . . . .Wait. . . . . .”

December 2018

“Wait. . . . . . .Wait. . . . . .”
I remember being startled the first time a crosswalk button talked to me. Well, yeah, I thought, I am going to wait until the crosswalk signal changes. But I sure wish it would change soon.
Waiting is a part of life. We have to wait for the results of the test we took at school. We have to wait to find out if we got the job for which we interviewed. We wait for food to cook. We wait until we’ve saved enough to buy the car, or boat, or house, we want. We wait for the “right person” to come into our lives. We wait for months for a child to be born. We wait for that raise or promotion.
We wait for our kids to come home after school, or our spouse to come home after work. We wait for the kids to move out, get jobs, begin families of their own. We wait to go on vacations, for retirement to arrive. We wait for many things to happen in our lives. But many of us are not good waiters. Our culture, for
decades, has been one of instant gratification, about making the waiting less, and the goal sooner. We can see our test result as soon as the grading is done by checking our student account on-line. No need to “Wait. . . .Wait. . . .” until the next class to get your score. We have more credit cards now, so we don’t have to save up (“Wait. . . .Wait. . . .”) to buy what we want. We can call long distance at no extra cost, get up-to-the-minute news, and “chat” with a group of friends, all through our phones, without having to “Wait. . . .Wait. . . .”. In many ways waiting is a thing of the past.
We lose much, though, when we don’t have to “Wait. .. .Wait. . . .”. When we’re busy rushing from one thing to the next, we don’t have time to relax in between, to notice life going on around us, to have a sense of anticipation for what’s coming next. We don’t have time to think, to process, to imagine, to feel our emotions.
As human beings, we need time and space to wait. Advent is such a place. It is God’s season of “Wait. . .
.Wait. . . .”. I invite you to join me at the crosswalk. Intentionally lengthen the space between your pro-
jects, your shopping, and your other lists. Take time to reflect, to remember, to look around and enjoy the sights and sounds of waiting. Resist the urge to rush towards Christmas until it actually is Christmas. Take the time to feel your true self in this season, as we await the celebration of the birth of the One who calls us to be those true selves.
Shalom,
Bo

Bo’s Blog

November 2018
 BO’S BLOG
At a gathering of the pastors of our conference at Wenatchee First UMC last month, the Rev. Larry Peacock, a retired UM pastor from the Cal-Pacific Annual Conference, who is now the Executive Director of the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Portland, led a workshop on spiritual disciplines. Of the three disciplines he highlighted, one was gratitude. “Practicing gratitude,” he said, “turns scarcity and fear into abundance and hope. ”I always give thanks as part of the prayers I say, but I hadn’t really thought much about gratitude as a life practice, as an attitude toward life. But the practices
Larry lifted up in that workshop were about doing things in everyday life to reinforce a feeling of gratitude within. One was saying grace. Very simple, very basic, but what saying grace does is remind us
of the good gifts we have in life, beginning with food to eat. Having food is not a given in many parts of the world, nor even in our country, and community. It is a blessing to have food, and to share food with others around a table. Saying grace reminds us of this simple, basic truth.
Another practice of gratitude he shared (my mom’s going to love this) is writing thank you notes. In writing these notes, we acknowledge that we are not Lone Rangers, that we are not “all alone,” as King
Aurthur sings in “Spamalot.” Instead, we receive gifts from God and others, and the gift-giving, and the acknowledgement of gift-receiving enriches and deepens the relationships we have in life. I had no idea that my thank you notes were anything more than a chore I had to do as a kid until last year, when my brother sent me those very notes I had written to my grandfather. My grandfather had kept them in a drawer beside his bed. When he passed away, my father found them, and kept them. Those small notes held more meaning for those two men than my very basic “thank you,” and the notes about the weather I included. In saying “thank you,” we bind ourselves to others in relationships of goodwill.
Another practice is to simply review our day, as it closes, and remind ourselves of the good things that happened for which we are grateful. This helps build a habit within us of expecting good to be there, even if it seems to be carefully hidden.
Through these practices our perception of life can move from negative to positive, from isolation to belonging, from “scarcity and fear” to “abundance and hope.” Happy Thanks-giving!
Shalom,
Bo