This week was a celebration of united ministry for all of the pastors and teachers of the Oregon Conference. Together as One, an annual two-day meeting, brings front-line conference employees together to discover new ways of working hand in hand rather than serving separately in nearby silos.
“Our pastors and our teachers are the front line of ministry in the Oregon Conference,” says Conference President Dan Linrud. “We are strongest when these men and women come together and work as one in ministry."
This year’s meeting featured our 2019 Oregon Conference theme: Loving Jesus and Others with a focus on how we can all love LGBT+ people in our church and community.
“These are God’s kids,” presenter Bill Henson of Lead Them Home Ministries reminded us. “Remember, God doesn’t check us out before loving us. God loves each human equally because of who He is, not because of who we are.”
As part of the Oregon Conference’s commitment to Loving Well, this year’s Together as One conference helped us see how, as Christ-followers, we are given the privilege and challenge to help communicate His love to all those around us. Our love, reflecting His love, cannot stop to “check out” another before loving them. We love, openly, directly, transformationally, as He loves us. If the lives of others include sins different from the ones in our lives, we still love them, as God loves us. We do not shun, bully, or otherwise harm anyone, no matter how different they may be. We lift them up so they may more clearly see the face of God through us. Always.
It's not easy to interpret how all of this works “on the ground.” This was grist for many hours of conversations around the conference room tables. It’s a process to which we are dedicated, a process we’ve begun, a process we will all be sharing in the years to come.