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PNC’s 2018-19 goal is deepening relationships

Stick with me, here, for what might seem like a couple of wonky paragraphs. There is more here.

Conference Comments by Conference Minister Mike Denton

A couple of years ago now, the PNC Board did what boards are supposed to do and worked to discern what direction the conference might be called to go.

They rooted this discernment in what the Rev. Courtney Stange-Tregear, our Minister for Church Vitality, witnessed as marks of vitality in our congregational life. 

They named what we have come to call our conference intentions as a commitment to deepen relationships, do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.

This fall, the board choose to focus particularly on the intention to deepen relationships by focusing on four encompassing priorities for the year. These are: to deepen relationships between colleagues throughout the Conference; to deepen relationships within congregations and between congregations; to deepen relationships between congregations and their neighborhoods and communities; to improve the effectiveness of communication throughout the Conference. Again, these are not separate from the conference intentions I mentioned earlier but a deeper dive into one part of these intentions.

Many times when I read such things coming out of boards and committees, I tend to have a few, well, cynical reactions.

The first is usually an overriding impulse to say something like, “OK, these are fine but how are they going to do this?”

The next question is usually along the lines of “Isn’t this something they’re supposed to be doing already?”

The next one is usually something along the lines of “Of all the important issues they could be dealing with why are they focusing on this one?” Sound familiar?

I get it. That said, I think these goals tap into what I’m being convinced is the primary purpose of boards and committees; to manage and deepen relationships. Yep, the committees will frequently have names that point towards another purpose. Yep, the members of the gathered body are usually chosen because they were willing to work together towards a particular task or set of responsibilities.

However, all these human systems have the very basic purpose of helping us get to know each other so that we can work together when possible and sort through the best ways to build enough trust that we’re willing, with a spirit of generosity, to stay out of each other’s way.

It’s all about relationships. I know the prevailing opinion is that “it” should be about the about to doing work fast, efficiently and effectively. There’s a place for that and a need for that but when a method gets in the way of deepening and relationships that are mutual and whole, there’s probably something wrong with the method.

Many of you have heard me go off on this before but the experience of personal loneliness is increasing. The health services company Cigna published a study in May of this year that found that about half of Americans feel lonely, a number that’s even higher among millennials. (See

This number has doubled since the 1980s and is correlated with significant and increasing physical health concerns. (See  Although we are—in some ways—more productive than ever, what are we being productive for? To have more stuff or to have more fulfilling lives? Efficiency has its place, but when we sacrifice relationships on an altar before efficiency we’re worshipping a false god.

So, yes, the PNC Board has decided to focus on the general goal of deepening relationships this year and I think it’s a good, beautiful and holy one. We need each other. We really, really do.

There is a place in my heart shaped a bit like you and the same is true for your heart. When we find a way to connect something amazing happens. We both feel just a little more whole, a little more loved, and little more human.


Pacific Northwest United Church News - Copyright © November-December 2018


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