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New PNC moderator reflects on tasks, recruits participation

By Tara Leininger

I’m your moderator for the next two years.  I was blessed to serve as vice-moderator while Hillary Coleman was your moderator the last two years.  She has been a strong presence and a most enlightening teacher for me. 

Tara Leininger is the 2022-23 Conference Board of Directors moderator.

Photo courtesy of Tara Leininger

Being 65 years old, there is a bit of the “boomer” left in me; I’m rather blunt, honest, but try have a heart set on open and honest love and communication.  Hillary was able to soften my edges and open my voice to a new age. 

My bachelor’s degree was in communication, history and religious studies in 1979 at the University of Montana, so you would think that communication would come naturally, but in this century, everything is different.  I thought an IBM Selectric typewriter was the height of technology in those days.  A computer was about punch cards and whirling disks.  Our attitudes towards anything were supposedly enlightened.

For those who do not know me, I’ve been pastor at the Metaline Falls Congregational UCC for 24 years.  I am active in our community theatre/events center, and have been mayor of our small town of 245 since 2008.  I’m married to a retired music teacher and have one  daughter (one now deceased), eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Welcome to the PNC-UCC in 2022.  

Our Annual Meeting in April was moving along sufficiently well when everything seemed to fall apart.  A covenant that we all agreed to at the beginning of the meeting was simply run over and there was little any of us could do to stop what was happening. 

Whether you agreed with how the AM22 ended, the leadership and the Board of Directors did what they could and made the best decisions possible at the time.  

Now we have to pick up the threads that were knotted and try to weave back together a diverse conference to do what we are called to do as a conference. 

Nothing has stopped, nothing is suddenly different, but everything for us has changed.  

Be aware that the Board has confirmed the slate of officers and committee members as presented at the AM22 business meeting, which is in accordance with our By-Laws. 

All committees are able to conduct business as needed.  All committees and the Board of Directors are encouraged to continue to fill vacancies as allowed by the By-Laws.  

The Board has also confirmed that the Conference will work under a three-month provisional budget based on the proposed budget, with renewal of that provisional budget each quarter, starting with the financial year that began in June, 2022. 

As soon as possible, a vote by the wider conference will be held to affirm the proposed budget for 2022-2023.

In other words, we’re going to do the work that needs to be done. 

This statement, however, now reflects deep emotions and unmet expectations, so the work we need to do now is not only growing, but is infinitely more difficult and delicate. 

For those of you who feel your voice was stifled or ignored, for those of you angry or upset, talk to me!  Email me at, and I will respond to you personally. 

I will take your message to the Board of Directors and to our Conference Minister. 

All of us will work together to make the changes needed. 

Be aware, however, that this is not going to happen in a few months or even in the next year. 

This is going to take time.The Board of Directors is already considering several options on how best to work for the future. 

If you think things weren’t happening fast enough before, then you need to become part of the solution.  There are positions on the Board available. There are committees whose work needs physical bodies. There are opportunities to do good work.

One of the strong threads for this conference is in our new vice-moderator.

Indigo Brown is ready to take on the leadership of this conference and I expect her voice to be a strong one for all of us to hear. 

The conference I want to give to her in two years is one of radical change, in our structure, in our by-laws and in our very heart. 

The anti-racism work being done now will only become more relevant and important to our presence not only as the PNC-UCC, but in this corner of the country, in this nation  and in the world. 

We cannot belittle the work that has been done, but we also cannot wait for someone else to do it. 

If we are to live in Christ, then we must be willing to take great risks in order to do great things. 

While sometimes it seems as if nothing has changed, be assured that ever step we take is one towards a future where God’s children are all respected, cared for and loved.

One of the saddest observations I have experienced in my time as a mayor of Metaline Falls in Northeast Washington is that “decisions are made by those who show up.” 

The number of people in the conference willing to “show up” to do the work that the PNC has set out for itself is shrinking. 

Many of us are getting older—not too old to do the work—but we’ve been at it a long time, and the future belongs to another generation and so far, few are taking on the challenges this conference must face. 

I’m not talking only about 20 or 30 year-olds, but those of in their 40s and 50s.

This is a call to do ministry for the greater good. This is a call to be a disciple of Christ. It has been said by others more wise than myself, there is a cost to discipleship.  

We are a unique conference. 

The tapestry that we have woven together may seem a bit frayed and tattered right now, but I assure you it is not beyond repair. 

There are great changes facing us. This is where our strength and unity will prove itself. 

We will unravel what has been knotted, weave together what might have frayed and discover that our colors are as bright and beautiful as they have always been. 

The tapestry of the past really was lovely, but it is not the tapestry needed today, nor will it be the same in the future. 

Come, join me in being a part of the future of the PNC-UCC. 

Let God’s presence be sent from us. 

Let Christ’s love be our love. 

Let the Spirit’s fire always grow from our hearts.  

In the Triune God, I give you all praise and prayer!


Tara Leininger invites greater participation in PNC

August 3: From The Moderator - Tara Leininger, pastor at MFCUCC

While everything needs to be moving quickly, the actuality is that things are very slow, indeed. 

The Board has had difficulty in establishing a quorum in order to make necessary decisions, but I am hopeful that this logjam is breaking, and we will soon be able to let the all in the PNC know what our steps will be. 

The difficulty is finding people willing to step up and do some decision-making.  Making decisions is not all that difficult once you have needed information and have discussed with others—multiple voices make for better understanding.  No, it’s not the decisions themselves that is the sticking point, it is getting everyone to a meeting time where we can make those decisions.  I am now under the impression that maybe about 10:30 p.m. would be possible.

As your moderator, I rely on others to give voice to the conference, but I am also a very impatient person and can be rather upset when things are not happening as quickly as they should. I hear Mike’s voice at these times – breath! 

We will very quickly need to put into place an interim or temporary Conference Minister and find our interim camp director for N-Sid-Sen, but I need your voices and your time.  Contact me if you will be willing to serve on the search committee. 

This will take time out of your busy schedule, including meetings, but the work needs to be done.

The tougher decisions about the future of the conference are going to be in the hands of the Board of Directors; we still have 4 empty seats at the table. 

There are committees that are very short of members to do the necessary work. I’m getting some very worried voices about what is/is not happening.  I’m worried as well. 

Until those elected are sitting at a virtual table, nothing can happen

Our conference is one great big open space.  There are people in it, but many have spent their time in work for the conference, while others do not think they have the skills or knowledge (which is so underestimating your abilities!), and too many think they just don’t have the time. 

We have to find the time.  We have to do the work.  I can’t make these decisions on my own, although I seem to be getting the anxiety from others because I am the moderator. 

This is my third letter begging for some input and help.  The Pacific Northwest Conference is you.  Where are you? 

For information, call 206-725-8383 or 509-589-1044 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church of Christ News © August 2022


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