Monday, September 30, 2013

Calling in the Digital Age, has the Ringtone Changed?

I'm going to this event called Exploration (through the United Methodist Church) in Denver in November to learn about ways I can live out my calling of working in a church setting of some sort. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Excited for seeing old friends who I only get to see every few years as well as meeting new friends who share a passion for ministry in the United Methodist Church. Nervous for seeing where the holy spirit moves me into my calling for ordained ministry.

I had always felt a calling to work with the church in someway. My first mission trip was to the Yakima Indian Reservation in White Swan, Washington. The pastor working there at the time was Jane Sautter.  I saw what an impact she made on the children in the after school program. That made me think I could do something like that.

If you had asked me freshmen year of college what my dream job would be I would have said working at church camp. Preferably Camp Indianola, in Indianola, Washington.

Now my focus has changed in what I want to do in ministry. Currently I want to do photography with an emphasis on social justice issues combined with the use of social media and communication to communicate for others what is happening around the world.

I see myself working in the extension ministries role of ordained ministry and not in a typical church setting. I see my role not in a local church but helping bring communication to people around the world in ways that are new, exciting, and maybe even never tried before.

The voice that has called me into calling has changed over time from just being internal to people telling me you should do this with the church. The main person who pushed me into this line of ministry was my former DS, friend, and mentor Mary Huycke. Whether she realizes it or not it was the push I needed. To experience the different side of church that wasn't just all about meetings and legislative work. The side where rules didn't really matter and being creative with new intentions and ideas was key.

Being a young person in the United Methodist Church that is highly active in there conference is a rarity these days. Knowing that clergy and laity have looked at your work you have done and see the potential you have for the future of the church is important. With that I know the work I do for the church makes a difference in peoples lives in ways that we wouldn't have thought were imaginable 20 years ago.

Monday, September 23, 2013

You Call Them What? The First World Problems of Knowing Everyone in the UMC.

I am involved in a lot of church things, serving on various committees, doing social media, photography, and writing for the local, district, conference, jurisdiction, and national level of the United Methodist Church. With this comes the ability to know laity, clergy, DS's, Bishops, missionaries and other church folk who are in high places. How do I go about calling people one might ask?

For the average church person they might just call there Bishop by his or her first or last name. I on the other hand call the Bishop by his or her nickname. I only do this to the ones that I personally know and have to deal with it. I call these two Bish Grant and Bish Elaine. These nicknames are said by the younger people when dealing with the Bish in a conference event such as annual conference.

With my DS's, I normally call them by their first name but, sometimes I call them random things that don't really make sense unless you understand our friendship.

The looks I and the other young people get when call the Bish and other clergy said names is rather entertaining. The look is basically you just said what and he or she responded back to you.  Some people think its insane that I call the Bishop or clergy anything besides his or her formal name. For me its normal and a sign of a good relationship. I think it's not a problem once you know the person and have a friendship with them that goes beyond the church walls.  

In reality its not in the name of what you call your clergy, or Bish. Instead its the relationship you have with them that matters. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Bishops, Twitter, and Churchquake

I was looking at my twitter feed featuring tweets from ChurchQuake 2013 (#cq13) and decided to tweet something.  

#wjumc has the coolest bishops ever hands down. We do what the LORD requires of us not what the #BoD wants. #umc #cq13

I didn’t know that my tweet was going to cause so much controversy. A blog post in response in response to my tweet can be found here.

Having spent quite a bit of time with two of the bishops in the Western Jurisdiction (thanks Grant and Elaine), I know a bit about their personal involvement with the Reconciling Ministries Network movement.

With that being said the Western Jurisdiction is on of the most if not the top progressive Jurisdiction in the United Methodist Church. We like to do things a bit differently around here. Our jurisdiction and many of our conferences including my own (PNW) passed resolution saying we will ignore what the Book of Discipline says about marriage being just between a man and a women. Instead we agree that marriage should be available to all Gods people.

I went to a conference with young adults from our jurisdiction and the one thing they said that they liked about the church is that we don't follow the Book of Discipline exactly as it says we should. We do what the Lord requires of us not what a book says. I agree. The basic message of God is that we should love everyone no if ands or buts.

My ability to be bold in my witness to God and the church was needed to show everyone on all sides of the table that we will not be silent any longer on the topic of LGBTQI equality in the church. I stand with the bishop of the Western Jurisdiction. The table if open for ALL.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Millennials Need the Church

There has been lots of talk recently dealing with millennials and the church recently. Rachel Held Evans has posted several blog posts about this. You can find info about them here. 

As a person considered being part of the millennial generation of people, I have seen my friends on both sides of the story either staying in the church or leaving for various reasons. In my personal opinion millennials need the church for a variety reasons especially during college when they start to question who they are and where they belong in the larger world.  

As Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us whether we understand or not. Here’s why:


The church can and will provide you a sense of community if you let it happen. The church provides a need for shared experiences and history.

For me I know there are countless of clergy and laity that I can go to for guidance on anything and know they wont judge me for who I am. These people understand me because they what its like to be a college student who is questioning who they are and what they mean for the church.

I know I can step into practically any United Methodist Church and have a community of people who will support me through my struggles even when I don’t feel like I am doing enough.


We might not all agree on how we do communion or how Christ is present at the meal but we all share in the common meal that Christ gave his disciples.

We long for the presence of God. That mystery that can’t compare to anything we have ever experienced.


The church has many great leaders both nationally and locally that have gone before us that can teach us a thing or two about being great leaders.

The church has free built in mentorship. I am reminded when I interact with people both clergy and laity alike who have a few years and a maturity wiser than my own I have people I can go to for accountability and guidance on a number of topics.

Union with Christ

As followers of Jesus we long for the day when communion with becomes complete and this can happen in the church.

This union can be compared to many things including a marriage and a banquet.

No matter what the studies say Christians believe there is a future for the church.

As much as I struggle to fit in with the church at times, as much as I may doubt, fight, and question about the churches future and the place of the young person. I am a part of the United Methodist Church in the good times and bad, for better or worse.

This is why I haven’t given up on the church and I suspect why the church hasn’t given up on me. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Love/hate relationship with the church

I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with the Methodist Church.

A quote I recently heard was "if you fall in love with the system you loose the capacity to change it." I agree. There is so much about the church I love but also so much hate I wish I could change. I don't think I could ever leave the UMC. I have so many connections with people that wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for church. I can pretty much go anywhere to a church function and either have a friend there or have a friend of a friend to meet. The church is like a big awkward family. We might not always get along but we care for each other in times of need.

I hate the actions taken by the church we currently live with/in on certain topics. I believe we need to understand that we must  change our actions against the LGBTQ community. The church has done harm to them and their family and friends. I'm sorry for what the UMC has done. I also think we need to recognize the young people both lay and clergy. The church needs us or its going to die. The young people are the now, not just the future of the church. The church must want the young people in order to continue to grow.

Derek Webb has some song lyrics from the song I Love/Hate You that currently reflect my relationship with the church:
But your love is a noose around my neck
I give up and I know I will regret it
You love is a weight around my legs
But I don't know who I am unless you're holding me

I love the church so much that if I give up on the future of the church I know I will regret it deeply. I will regret not doing the things that need to be done in order for the church to move forward into our current time period. I'm stuck in the church because I don't where I would be without it. So many pastors, bishops, and laity have helped me become who I am today. The church is a part of me and the church needs me to continue to flouish and grow. 

Why do you love/hate the church?

What can we do to change the hate? 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ding Dong DOMA's Dead!

In recent weeks, social justice has been taking a turn in favor of the LGBTQ community. This is great news, but what does it mean for the United Methodist Church?

First and foremost pastors in the UMC get to choose which couples they want to marry. This means they can perform a marriage ceremony for whomever they want. If a pastor doesn’t want to marry a couple, they do not have to, whether that be a heterosexual or homosexual  couples. Secondly, state rules are important when getting married.  If a state declares LGBTQ marriage legitimate, a pastor can perform the marriage ceremony, if they so choose to defy UMC church law.

The tagline of the United Methodist Church is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors”. Now that DOMA has been struck down, our tagline seems partially closed off.  Christians are always talking about practicing what we preach, but if our hearts, minds, and doors were really open, we wouldn’t be turning people away from our churches. The people who have been turned away from our churches have seen the harm that has been done by being exclusive.  The current generation of young people want the church to be accepting of all people; we do not see the need to hate anyone. After all, love is love.

There are various steps we can take as the Church to be more inclusive to the LGBTQ community. We need to apologize to those who have been hurt by or turned away from the church. Most United Methodists are accepting of people for who they are, no matter what. In addition, the church is a place for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity. After all, the church is a hospital of sinners, rather than a museum for saints. Lastly, it takes each of us to make a difference. One person’s words or actions can help spark change in the atmosphere to make the United Methodist Church as great as it possibly can be.  

-Joint Post by Caitlin and Amy

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Open Table For ALL

The topic of LGBTQ equality is a sticky subject within our churches today and in the past. However, the younger generations of people are more understanding and caring of LGBTQ people. My generations of young people who are also involved in the church don’t see the need to discriminate against anyone. One example of this is during the PNW Annual Conference this year we ended up getting into a heated discussion of some sort involving LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. I remember hearing from young person saying; “why are we even debating on this topic? The Bible talks about divorce as being wrong but people still get divorced anyways. The Bible doesn’t say anything about gay marriage so why are we even talking about it here". 

Being from the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church we are more progressive and forward thinkers then most parts of the church. The Western Jurisdiction acknowledges that the United Methodist Church is wrong and has done harm. 

A statement of Gospel Obedience:

In response to our common belief that God’s grace and love is available to all persons, the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church states our belief that the United Methodist Church is in error on the subject of “homosexuality’s incompatibility with Christian teaching.”
We commend to our bishops, clergy, local churches and ministry settings, the challenge to operate as if the statement in Para. 161F (of the Book of Discipline) does not exist, creating a church where all people are truly welcome. (Link here to the orginal text). 

Why am I bringing this up one might ask? As a very liberal progressive United Methodist who has friends both as laity and clergy who are in the LGBTQ community I have seen the harm the church has caused them. There are so many young people who want to be ordained by their conference but cant because of their sexual orientation.  Thankfully in some conferences this is changing because we are seeing more and more people who are getting ordained and are open about their sexuality to their conference and being affirmed in their call to ministry.

I decided to be a reconciling United Methodist because I believe that everyone is sacred in the eyes of God regardless of your sexual orientation.   Your sexuality is God’s given gift to you.  I would like to end with some Lyrics by Derek Webb from his song “What Matters More”
    You say you always treat people like you'd like to be
     I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
    You love when people put words in your mouth
    About what you believe, make you sound like a freak

   'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
   You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
   Wouldn't silence your concern when the liars speak
   Denying all the dying or the remedy

   Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
   Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

Using Social Media at PNW Annual Conference

At Annual Conference this year we decided to take a risk and have a young person live tweet the plenary sessions as they happened. Social media in the church is something congregations have struggled with understanding the best way to use these tools to help their congregation.  With Annual Conference we decided that social media was going to a part of our holy conferencing. One might ask why add social media to an already busy Annual Conference? Well, in my opinion we added an official tweeter because we saw the need and want of people to try something different. With this tweeting through the conference page and personal tweeting with the hash tag #pnwac13 we saw people voice their opinions both good and bad, see the struggles we were facing with as they came in, and poke fun at things that were entertaining or annoying.
Being the head tweeter was rather daunting at times. Having to sit at the Bishop’s table with his crew overlooking the whole body of Annual Conference. I needed to make sure my emotions of my own opinions didn’t get in the way of helping people understand what was happening during plenary. I have to admit there was a few times I had to ask the twitter world what we were discussing during plenary because I was completely lost by all the amendments and motions people were tossing out.  If you happened to see me making faces while at the table, I may or may not have been having staring contests with my incoming and outgoing DS’s in the Seven Rivers district (thanks Mary and Juli).
I’m sure people are wondering if head tweeting was easy? In all honesty it was easy and confusing at times. Trying to figure out what to tweet when and how to write the tweet in a mere few seconds before the discussion passed. I often got fielded questions by people tweeting on where to find more information about a topic. The second most thing people tweeted or texted me about was the click of Bishop Grant’s pen. I numerous times was asked to please figure out a way to silence his pen. Being the head tweeter had its advantages as well. I could see the wide range of perspective of people’s opinions on different legislative topics. I as a young person at the head table had the advantage of telling Shirley and Bishop Grant to recognize young people need to speak on topics rather then just letting the young people be voiceless when we need a voice in todays times.
I hope the conversations we have started from Annual Conference and the importance of using social media to break boundaries will be used in congregations around the conference. Using social media is a viable option not just for your own church members but for reaching out to people who wouldn’t normally step foot into your churches. Next time you see a person on their cellphones in church don’t tell them to get off but ask them what they are doing.  The younger generation has a lot to tell the older generations about social media. We do care about the church, social media including twitter is one outlet we use to share our faith with others.