Newtown & Town Halls
by Al Reimche

2013 — It just seems like yesterday we were talking about a new century, a fresh page in the history of our world, and now we have pushed into the “teen years.” We have discovered that instead of fresh pages, these years have left their scar on our planet and hearts.

As I write this article we are less than a week after the shootings at Clackamas Mall and the Newtown school massacre. Just weeks before that I was stuck in Chicago while attempting to fly to meetings in Washington, DC. Hurricane Sandy had just moved into the eastern part of the U.S. Each of these events, as well as others, remind us that this world is not a place of peace and safety, and people everywhere are asking, “what next?” As I listen to the news and discussions, Newtown, Connecticut appears to be developing as a watershed experience in our American psyche—a call to safety at the expense of personal freedoms.

Toward the latter part of January and the first part of February we will again be holding town hall meetings throughout our conference. These will happen in five different regions throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. What does this have to do with Newtown? Not a lot, and yet in some ways, quite a bit. Newtown reminds us that this world is not our home and that we need to focus on ways of reaching our family, friends and neighbors with the Good News. Jesus IS our only source of peace and safety and He is coming soon and wants all to hear that Good News.

How do we collectively refocus our energies in sharing that news? Some of the topics of discussion will include:

- Finding ways to keep a forward motion happening in our Conference. We can be so intent on balancing a budget that mission loses momentum.

- Understanding the concept of all members in ministry – what does that mean to over 60% of our membership?

- Focusing on the future of our youth and educational institutions – how do we support them?

- Discovering ways for sharing the Good News as quickly and powerfully as we can.

- Soliciting agenda items that could be discussed at our next Constituency Session that would keep our conference focused on the mission we have been given.

Since this is the year for our constituency session we are asking all newly elected delegates to be present at these town halls as well as lay-advisory members, and any member who is interested in growing God’s work in our territory. At past town halls we have tended to share the vision and issues of the conference, and though we will still do that for a small portion of the time, we want to spend the majority of time listening to your thoughts and vision for our conference.

How can we tell the story in more compelling ways that Jesus IS coming soon? Please come and be involved in shaping the direction of our mission to a world in turmoil!