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Moderator invites PNC members to Annual Meeting April 29

By Peter Ilgenfritz - Moderator

Early on a Sunday morning, two days after President Trump’s executive order restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, I came back to church with several emails from PNC’s Justice and Witness Ministries Committee, inviting our churches to gather at Plymouth Church in downtown Seattle to pray together and to march as a group to a rally in Westlake Center.   

Justice and Witness Ministries called for rally for welcoming immigrants at Plymouth UCC in Seattle.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ilgenfritz

I shared the news with our congregation that morning and by mid-afternoon more than 100 of us had gathered from UCC churches and other faith communities throughout Seattle and our wider region for song, prayers and sharing of poetry.  We appreciated again the power of what happens when we show up together.

As I looked around the room, I saw us, the Pacific NW Conference, here in the form of particular people in a particular place with a particular call to be a presence and prayer for justice and love. 

One member of my congregation shared that because of her professional role she is not allowed to take part in political rallies.  “However,” she shared, “no one says I can’t go to church.” 

We made room for folks like Mary who otherwise might never have been able to come out on a day like this.  We made welcome and room for those who wouldn’t know how to do this alone but could do this together. 

As I looked around the room, I saw what it means that we here together.  One church sending a few representatives is a powerful thing, but all the more so when we join together to become a larger and more diverse community of hope.

Throughout this year our Board of Directors of the Conference has been wrestling with what it means to be a vital community of churches gathered for mission together.  We’ve made our plans and tried on some experiments of deepening connections and taking risks, some of which have worked, and some of which have not worked so well. 

We’ve struggled with coming back to doing what we are most comfortable doing, making lists and to-do’s, and finding that there is so much more work than we could possibly do without the energy and the people to bring it to life.  

We’ve felt frustrated, overwhelmed, tired, worn out sometimes, and no, not new experiences for those in church life.

On that Sunday afternoon, however, something different happened. I looked around and I saw what wasn’t just a dream but what was right there.  For sure there are ways we can strengthen our communication and ways of doing some things, that’s always there and needs to be done. 

We also need to look around as well and get what we got in that gathered community that afternoon—that this matters—that is, that our being together.   

Uniting our voices and witness, sharing our stories of what brought us here and becoming part of a larger more deeply connected story matters.  It’s not only a nice idea, but it also actually makes a difference.

These are times that are calling the church to remember and live who Jesus is always calling us out to be: a community of and for love and justice. 

We’ve said the words for a long time but in days like ours the words carry a new urgency. 

This coming year, I hope that wherever we are we will look around and see who’s out here with us.  That we’ll reach out and make a connection and experiment with what happens when we come together. 

I hope that we’ll share those stories of what brings us out here on cold rainy days like it sometimes is around here and witness the powerful new story we make when we bring our stories together.

Let’s look around, reach out and celebrate what happens when we come together. 

It sounds like who Jesus is calling us again to be today. 

We look forward to seeing you at Annual Meeting on April 29. 

Peter Ilgenfritz, Chair for the Board of Directors                

Gen Heywood, Vice-Moderator

Andy CastroLang, Immediate Past Moderator John Eisenhauer, Personnel Chair       

Wendy Blight, Treasurer       Ed Evans, Scribe   

Sandy Cheatham, Northwest Area Representative          Stephen Eriksen, Southeast Area Representative

Andrew Conley-Holcom, Central West Area Representative           Hillary Coleman, Young Adult Representative

Janet Matthews, Southwest Area Representative            Emma Fjermedal, Youth Representative

Judith Rinehart-Nelson, Northeast Area Representative

For information, call 206-524-2322 or email pilgenfritz@university


Internet tie with John Dorhauer part of Annual Meeting

The PNC Annual Meeting begins with an optional Friday evening arrival at 6 p.m., with a 7 p.m., dinner and fellowship at Pilgrim Firs, 3318 SW Lake Flora Rd. in Port Orchard.

The program on Saturday, under the theme, “Further Out on a Limb,” will feature time with the national UCC General Minister and President John Dorhauer at 10 a.m. through a live internet connection.

He will provide information on life in the denomination and answer questions sent in advance to Gen Heywood at

After a 7:30 a.m. breakfast, 9 a.m. invocation and plenary, 11 a.m. worship, there will be plenaries at 11:40 a.m., 1:15 and 3 p.m., ending at 4:50 p.m.

At lunch, there will be time to explore the camp, and there will be an optional dinner and fellowship for those staying overnight.

Registration is through the camp website at, with orders for optional Friday and Saturday dinners by April 20.

There will be displays of information and resources.

Attending Annual Meeting will by clergy with standing in the PNC, three lay delegates per congregation plus one for each 100 members beyond 200 and one more under the age of 26.

The Reports for the Annual Meeting and a packet with Budget and Finance Reports are online at, follow the links to Annual Meeting.

The reports include a review of the life of the conference by PNC staff, the moderator, treasurer, committees and special programs.  It also includes information on clergy memorials and transitions, nominees for committees, and a resolution on being refugee and immigrant welcoming.

For information, call 206-725-8383, 800-954-8777 or email


Resolution proposes being welcoming as a conference, churches

Among the items of business at Annual Meeting will be consideration of a resolution proposed by the Justice Witness Ministries Committee on “A Call to Become Immigrant and Refugee Welcoming as a Conference and in Congregations.”

Submitters Briana Brannan and Paul Ashby from the JWM Committee said the resolution is based on the belief that “every immigrant and refugee has inherent dignity and human rights,” should be able “to live in safety and without fear, and should have access to basic necessities and opportunities.

The resolution acknowledges that U.S. foreign policy, militarism and exploitation of natural resources have contributed to the global human migration crisis, and many U.S. immigration policies have been based on racism and xenophobia.  It challenges spending funds for for-profit immigration detention centers and spending billions to build a wall.

The resolution also says immigrant labor is a significant means to maintain the U.S. food system and other infrastructure.

It calls for the PNC to  declare itself an “Immigrant and Refugee Welcoming Conference,” and people in the PNC offer “a counter-narrative of humble hospitality, radical inclusivity and courageous resistance in response to “unjust and dehumanizing immigration policies, practices and rhetoric.  It also invites people to offer workshops and legal defense, to educate themselves and support the 2017 General Synod “Immigrant Welcoming Resolution.”

For information, call 206-698-4454 or email


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News © April 2017


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