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Annual Meeting business intersects with action

Meeting on the holy ground of the Dwamish at First Congregational UCC, the first church in Bellevue in 1896, the PNC Annual Meeting adopted a budget of $635,510, passed an emergency Green New Deal resolution, elected new leaders for its committees, celebrated with worship and discussed ways to support clergy of color.

Hilary Coleman is vice moderator.

Lisa Horst Clark, the lead pastor of First Congregational UCC Bellevue, said we are called to be your church in this place, members of your body, your servants, open our ears to listen, gathered to be transformed into your body, ‘Many Gifts, One Spirit,’ the Annual Meeting theme.

Hillary Coleman, vice moderator, said that “All we do at annual meeting—budget, worship—are ways to build community.”

Moderator Wendy Blight leads Annual Meeting on the theme, "Many Gifts, One Spirit."

Wendy Blight, moderator, announced a quorum with 245 from 45 churches.

“We are all here to serve the conference,” she said announcing the retirement of Hall Bergmann, Diane Darliing, Chip Laird, Cecilia McKean and Kenn Robinson, noting that retired ministers advocate, encourage, walk alongside ministers today. She welcomed 10 new clergy ordained in the conference and 11 members in discernment.

“Along with them, laity are often the ones who get the job done. They are the dreamers and implementers,” she said. “The Conference is all of us.”

She introduced the conference staff, including Andy Warren, who is the new accountant.
Wendy introduced Conference Minister Mike Denton, noting that he is one of the longest serving conference ministers in the denomination.

Mike referred to his written report, at, for details.

“We are in a make or break moment, deciding what to change—exciting, but we may feel nervous, overwhelmed and fragile,” he said. “It’s about more than what we are experiencing in the conference. It’s about what we are experiencing living in the world.

He cited the impact of climate change with half of Americans believing it means the end of the world in 200 years; the impact of race relations being on a downward trend; the impact of more youth suicides.
“Apocalyptic seems appropriate. It’s a time for anger or courage,” Mike said. “What we promote as normal is one reason for the mess. We rationalize theology. As a white, straight, Christian male, who has been responsible, I realize that we may think that we can see a problem and fix it.

“We try to figure how to do things in the right way, using the full force of our power, but often we have used the earth and souls, bodies, people of color,” he said. “I am complicit. The powers and principalities are racist. I am racist, too.

“In making the transition from the morning conversation to business, we may miss the point,” he said. “We need one another. The church needs us, too.”

Wendy then summarized her report on what PNC work.

“It’s easy to get discouraged about church. The conference structure may not always serve well. We have limited resources as we visit pastors and church members, and as we feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, advocate for the incarcerated, and share power.”

Most churches are open all week—not just 10 a.m. Sundays—to serve their communities, she said.

“Ours is an amazing abundant ministry we do every day with Jesus as our companion. If we are together we see abundance. The conference holds community together,” Wendy said, listing ways the PNC can help transform the world: 1) deepen connections between clergy; 2) deepen connections within and between congregations; 3) deepen ties of churches and the community, and 4) communicate effectively.

Ann Lev and Martha Baldwin presented the budget on behalf of the Stewardship Committee: “We are funding what is needed to give the conference a chance to succeed and move forward. We have chosen to operate with a big deficit for the third year,” they said.

More churches indicate they need to drop their Our Churches Wider Mission giving from $475,000 in 2015-16 to $417,700—nearly $60,000, because churches are having a hard time and need to fund their needs. The PNC is working to revitalize congregations.

So the PNC is using income from endowments, about $110,500 this year. In addition, the PNC is seeking to raise $24,000 from Friends of the Conference, communicating with people to give direct donations to the conference.

Even as the budget reduces the amount the PNC sends to the national UCC from 31 percent to 28 percent, the PNC continues to give the largest percent of any conference.

Administrative expenses are dropping from $62,000 to $38,500, including reducing the office space.

Meighan Pritchard, environmental justice leader on the UCC Council on Climate Justice, and pastor at Prospect, urged adopting the Emergency Resolution on the Green New Deal, noting that while U.S. carbon emissions are up 3.4 percent. As many political leaders are in denial, the fossil fuel market continues business as usual spending $5 trillion to explore for more fuel. The resolution goes to the General Synod.

Meighan cited children seeking the right to gain a world not wrecked by climate change and the Children’s Trust lawsuit saying government has a duty to protect the climate.

“We need to develop behaviors, not just a statement. The Green New Deal resolution, which came from Justice Witness Ministries, was approved with one abstention.

At the closing, Bianca Davis Lovelace, thanked the PNC for progress to equality and justice: “May we continue to do the deep work to model racial justice and empower people in the Conference,” she said.
Kelle Brown held up a strip with ripped cloth as symbol of lament, and said not to stop lamenting, but to “look at ourselves not with shame but with trusting in the renewal of God so we can go forward.”

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Pacific NW UCC News - Copyright © Summer 2019


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