2023 Annual Conference Lay Member Report

Day one of our 2023 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Sessions was bookended with worshipful experiences with thoughtful messages. During the opening worship service, Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth continued a series of messages he has offered to the conferences of the Greater Northwest Area. We then shared communion and took a short break. Laity session: The Bishop opened up with his brief history, especially noting that August 20th is his birthday. He spoke about wearing his class ring to remind him of where he came from. The Bishop really supports the Laity. He worked on a pilot program for student pastors when he was still at Claremont in 1999. He was appointed to a part-time student Local Pastor in south Los Angeles St. Paul UMC. He ended up at Bowden Memorial UMC. He also opened the session for questions. After worship, there were numerous presentations by committees and we voted on items that the focus team had already approved.  It was obvious that the attendees respected the committee’s judgment.

The second day was a plenary full of legislative work, celebrations, reports, and other recognitions.  The morning also included recognition of the gifts and witness of certified lay ministers; Hispanic lay ministers, home missioners, deaconesses, and licensed local pastors.
Just prior to lunch, retiring clergy members were celebrated at the 2023 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session. In her message, Rev. Karen Yokota Love congratulated retirees while lifting up their good fortune to have arrived at this stage. The afternoon included reports from several conference boards and agencies, highlighting their work. The Board of Ordained Ministries introduced the candidates for provisional and full membership, who were subsequently asked the historic questions by Bishop Bridgeforth and prayed over by retired Bishop Mary Ann Swenson. Church and Society announced this year's Peace with Justice and MLK, Jr. award recipients, and Archives and History marked several significant ordination milestones before celebrating Fern Prairie UMC and its 150 years of ministry. Three districts – Puget Sound, SeaTac, and Seven Rivers – had their appointments read on Wednesday.

During the final plenary members and guests celebrated the commissioning of two provisional elders, the ordination of one deacon, and several elders. Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth honored retiring Faith Foundation NW Executive Director Tom Wilson with his first Bishop’s Award.
Conference members passed the proposed budget for 2024 with the assurance that the Conference Finance and Administration board would be working with the Treasurer’s Office to provide more clarity in future years. Appointments to extension ministries were read, and dates and a general location for the 2024 annual conference were announced – June 13-16 in the Seven Rivers District. Retired Bishop Mary Ann Swenson delivered the sermon after an introduction from Bishop Bridgeforth, sharing her impact on his ministry and reminding PNW members of her connections to our conference.  The day concluded with a shared GNW Closing Worship. All of the Bishop’s wonderful sermons are now available to watch on the Conference website. We enjoyed spending time with CLM/LL John Townsend and Reverend Amanda and getting to know them better. The campus was beautiful, and we especially loved the big sequoia trees.  FYI, the food was surprisingly good, and definitely suitable for hungry college students.

Respectively submitted by:
Michael and Janet Keffer
Lay Delegates to 2023 PMW Annual Conference.        
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