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Mike Denton reports on PNC, shares journey into UCC

mike denton

MIke Denton reports of Conference Annual Meeting.

Conference Minister Mike Denton reviewed PNC actions over the year:

•  The board of directors has passed a safe policy for camps and youth events.

•  The fiscal year is now June to May.

• The Stewardship Committee is viewing the PNC’s financial pockets so the budget makes sense.

•  Thirteen churches are in different stages of calling pastors.

•  The PNC will soon hire a coordinator of program development and implementation to work with justice Ministries, camps and youth. 

•   OCWM in 2012-13 was down one percent, so the PNC is helping churches share the OCWM story.

The national UCC Board has a mandate to cut $2.3 million, so programs are scaling back and positions being cut. 

“Church is being redefined.  As we face financial and personnel realities, we need to think of different ways to be church,” Mike said.  “We need to use the future as reference, not the past—when size was thought to mean success.  What will the future look like if it is our guide?

He anticipated future dynamics:

• The next reality for churches may be interreligious.

• The level people relate to the Bible has diminished. 

• As institutional life crumbles, affiliation around relationships in church life means less institutional identity.

• The role of clergy may become less important.

• The UCC is still among many voices for social justice.

Mike said relationships are key to understanding how “we live and work together.  As we look at who we are, know each other better and call for conversation, something exciting happens in our churches,” he said.

For Friday worship, Mike reviewed his pilgrimage from the United Methodist Church, where six generations of his family were ministers.  He was proud of UMC stands on racial justice and nuclear war, but uncomfortable that gay and lesbian friends were not included.  A friend suggested he try the UCC, and he found friends and a place he could invite those who felt betrayed by the UMC.

“Many in the UCC come from other traditions and find a spiritual home, but there was pain getting here,” he said.

Ideas of family and faith community are far from simple, he said, citing Mark’s story of Jesus’ family, sure he was out of his mind, coming to take control of him. 

“Jesus said his family are those who do God’s will.  Jesus was aware family can be messy.  Messiness is where life is,” said Mike, noting that Jesus calls followers into the messiness of failing, learning, grace and reconciliation. 

“Lives are transformed by love, pain and life. In the messiness we find joy and courage to be part of Jesus’ family of love,” Mike said.


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News © Summer 2014


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