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Annual Meeting keynoters will look at rural and national churches

Along with keynote speakers, Elizabeth Dilley of First Congregational UCC in Red Oak, Iowa, and J. Bennett Guess, executive minister of Local Church Ministries (LCM), workshops and worship will help PNC Annual Meeting participants explore the theme, “Connect,” said Jane Sorenson, chair of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee.

“We will look at how we connect to God, to one another, across churches and across communities,” she said of the gathering from Friday through Sunday, April 27 to 29, at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center.

Gilley will focus on the vitality of smaller and rural churches.  She is pastor of a small, thriving, progressive church that promotes “the world-changing power of small churches.”

She earned a bachelor’s in educational theatre at New York University and a master of divinity in 2003 at Pacific School of Religion.  She is also a part-time health educator with Planned Parenthood, where she promotes healthy life and sexual choices.

At the national UCC in Cleveland since 2000, Guess served as communications director for Justice and Witness Ministries, news director and editor of United Church News and director of the UCC’s Publishing, Identity and Communication Ministry, before he was elected executive minister of LCM.

He served 12 years as pastor of a church in Kentucky.  He earned a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Kentucky, a master of divinity from Vanderbilt University Divinity School and a doctor of ministries in preaching from Chicago Theological Seminary. 

With limited space, there will be fewer workshops, Sorenson said, but they will cover a range of themes.

UCC spiritual directors will discuss the spiritual need for quiet and how to locate quiet, retreat time, whether for a few minutes or for a day or in a more formal time away. 

A workshop on Contemporary Worship will discuss differences and similarities of traditional and new models. After the Friday contemporary worship, there will be a discussion of the experience.

Other workshops will be on “What Your Pastor Learns at Boundary Training,” “Marriage Equality: What It Means, Why It Matters and How to Be Part of the Conversation,” “Oikocredit as an Opportunity for Mission and Stewardship,” “Technology Issues in the Local Church.”

Other workshops are still being selected, Sorenson said.

Four hearings will be on a resolution on the “Personhood of Corporations,” the change in governance for the national UCC, a Global Ministries mission statement and the budget. 

During the weekend, the conference will thank Randy Crowe for his years of service and dedication as manager of N-Sid-Sen.  The Sunday worship will install the new camp manager, Mark Boyd. 

After Annual Meeting, delegates may celebrate at 2 p.m., Sunday, with Shalom UCC at 505 McMurray in Richland as they dedicate their new space. 

To help people new to the conference and annual meeting, organizers provide orientation to processes and acronyms. Packets will include a glossary of UCC terms and a map indicating what area local churches are in—for area meetings.  There will be tables with take-away resources on the greater UCC, Sorenson said.

Dana Sprenkle and others at Shalom UCC in Richland are planning a service opportunity.

For information, call 206-725-8383 or visit  A packet with Annual Meeting information will be sent to churches in mid-February.


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © February 2012


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