In the wake of the exclusionary and punitive actions of General Conference 2019, Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky is announcing the formation of a Greater Northwest Area Guiding Coalition. The coalition will help to shape and lead a new movement of Methodism in the Northwest that fully includes LGBTQIA+persons in membership, participation and leadership, both lay and ordained.
In conversations with people inside and outside our churches, listening deeply to voices on the margins, the group will develop proposals for United Methodists across the Greater Northwest to move into a future of vital, inclusive, innovative, multiplying, engaged Christian ministry in the Wesleyan Tradition.
“We are forming this Guiding Coalition in response to many conversations since last February, and to legislation passed at the annual conference sessions earlier this year,” shared Stanovsky. “It is clear that we need to be both strategic and collaborative in this moment, when the generous practice of United Methodism is under attack. The coming months may require us to move quickly and rely on our collective strength.”
The Guiding Coalition is comprised of representatives from the three conferences that make up the Greater NW Episcopal Area – The Alaska Conference, the Oregon-Idaho Conference, and The Pacific Northwest Conference.
According to Stanovsky, the coalition will embody practices and values that build on strengths already present in the Greater NW Area. Previous discussions in the area have identified the need for deeper Christian discipleship and community engagement, including stronger ministries of solidarity, justice, and mercy.
The Guiding Coalition will invite work groups of laity and clergy to examine areas where the conferences can shape or define a way forward. One group will consider how the area can continue to resist the harmful remnants of the Traditional Plan that were passed by the 2019 General Conference while seeking to reform the Church through legislative action in 2020. Another will look at financial resources, including apportionments, seeking to align them with the values and concerns of United Methodists in the Northwest. And yet another will strive to discern what a new expression of Methodism might look like if designed for 21st century people living in the Greater Northwest Area.
One group will envision what a “grassroots” connection might look like, built on authentic relationships. Vital conversations across difference — between established and emerging leaders, churches of different hearts, minds, and experiences — will be explored. The group will also look forward to the 2020 Shared Greater NW Annual Conference Session in June, with anticipation for the potentially monumental decisions that may need to take place.
Members of the Greater NW Guiding Coalition include: Jim Doepken, Jo Anne Hayden, Kelly Marciales and Carlo Rapanut from the Alaska Conference; Wendy Woodworth, Jan Nelson, Mark Bateman, Rick Shewell, Jeremy Smith, Paul Cosgrove, Karen Hernandez, Allen Buck, Carter Lybeck, Laurie Day, and Donna Pritchard from the Oregon-Idaho Conference; and Skylar Bihl, Brant Henshaw, Joe Kim, Marie Kuch-Stanovsky, David Reinholz, Katy Ritchey, Elizabeth Schindler, Dionica Sy, Kathleen Weber, Karen Yokota Love, David Valera and Kristina Gonzalez from the Pacific Northwest Conference.
Many more people will participate in the workgroups as they form in the weeks ahead.