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In his report, Mike Denton lists some of PNC accomplishments

If churches become immersed in church statistics, it often does not look good, noted Conference Minister Mike Denton in his annual report—during his 10th year in ministry in the Pacific Northwest Conference.

Conference Minister Mike Denton preaches at Annual Meeting.

“The Spirit, however, whispers in my ear words of comfort and encouragement,” said Mike, telling of feeling down in the winter.  “The Spirit said, Mike, I don’t care about numbers.  Don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth.

“The truth is that something contrary to all that should happen is happening,” he said.  “We are alive.  Something is breaking forth.”

He said something is breaking forth in what God requires for the community of faith, which is to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly.

Some of the new breaking forth includes churches becoming sanctuaries to immigrants, churches supporting civil disobedience and resistance to incarceration of youth, participating in church anniversaries and pastoral installations, and pastors advocating for a mobile health clinic.

“Those are all stories of what has been happening within the last two weeks,” Mike said.

At the fall PNC gathering, activity focused on deepening relationships.

“Doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly can easily be a catch phrase, not something we see in action,” he said.

Because camp managers Mark Boyd at N-Sid-Sen and Wade Zick at Pilgrim Firs have a strong relationship, they were able to differentiate the roles of their sites, focusing N-Sid-Sen on youth camps and Pilgrim Firs partnering with agencies in Port Orchard to serve the growing community.

“On both sides, usage of the camps were down, so the PNC seeks to turn it around to encourage churches to use the camps to develop relationships and model ways to do justice,” he said.

The idea of the church vitality is breaking forth in different strands of the conference that are using the conference reserve funds, he said.

Mike said that he relies on Arlene Hobson, executive administrator, to keep him informed on the history of the conference and its commitments.

Michelle Doherty resigned as accounting manager to spend more time with her family, and Kara Newsome is the new accounting manager.

Peter Ilgenfritz and Wendy Blight as leaders of the PNC Board “have been a great team, challenging us to do better,” he said.

Mike encouraged people in the conference to take off their blinders and see how the conference does much.

• The two camps are a success, used for many retreats throughout the year.

• Communities of Practice help clergy who struggle with the leadership. Tara Barber is leading that program in the PNC and serving other conferences, too, training local churches in congregational health.

• How can a conference of our size have a Justice Leadership Program in which young adults and older adults spend a year engaging in the world and with congregations to make life different for thousands of people? Three graduates have gone on to work with The Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Faith Action Network and one is vice moderator of our conference.

• Amy Johnson is on the national UCC staff.

• Meighan Pritchard, pastor of Prospect UCC, continues to  work on environmental issues.

• Darrell Goodwin, now pastor at Liberation and Everett UCC churches, is on the national UCC Board.

• The PNC is the largest per capita giver to Our Churches Wider Mission.

• PNC staff are turned to as experts and consultants in the denomination and around the world.

• The conference is the largest geographically in the UCC but one of the smallest in numbers.

How do we compare with other conferences?  Something new is breaking forth,” Mike said.  “We are going to local churches with the Friends of the Conference campaign and encourage increased giving by congregations to the conference.”

In the business meeting, Ann Lev, reporting on the budget, said that even though the PNC is using reserve funds to revitalize its ministries, it finished the year with $7,000 more because of increased income from the investment programs. 

There is also increase in income from support from the Friends of the Conference, plus reduction in office expenses by using modern communication.

The Budget Committee recommended that support for the Faith Action Network be restored back fo $12,000.

In the last four years the PNC has used less of its reserves, Ann said.

Susan Andresen said funds are coming from the project fund rate of return, not principal.

For information, call 206-725-8383.


Pacific Northwest United Church News © Summer 2018


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