After a long vacancy, the presidency of the Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Congress of the Deaf is now filled by Bryan Branson, of Spokane, Washington, effective April 1, 2016. A member of Manito United Methodist Church, and UMCD, Bryan was asked by Rev. Tom Hudspeth, president of UMCD on behalf of the executive officers of UMCD, to offer leadership for UMCD in the western area of the United States. Bryan has been active in advocating for Deaf ministry in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference and is chairperson of the Grants committee of the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries. Bryan is Deaf, and works as an insurance agent and is active in the local Deaf community. Bryan's term will be for four years, and is being filled under the by-laws of UMCD. The Western Jurisdiction encompasses the annual conferences within Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam and other island territories in the Pacific. Please offer your prayers for Bryan's leadership. Thank you Bryan!
"Connecting with the Spirit" was the theme for the meeting on January 14-16, 2005 at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church in Phoenix AZ.
What a wonderful conference we had! It began with an all day workshop presentation by the National Committee. Several local pastors, lay persons and caring ministries staff attended this workshop. All areas of ministering with the Deaf, Late-Deafened, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind and Interpreters were represented. The entire workshop was also covered by CART.
As the conference started, all present focused on an inspirational presentation by Rev. Joo Kang. What a wonderful story he has to share about his experiences in Korea and why he has come to the U.S. to minister.
Saturday morning began with our WJ business meeting. We were able to elect new officers for all positions. President is Elke Sharma, Gooding, Idaho; Vice-President is Aditya Sharma of Gooding Idaho; Secretary is Jeffrey Burns of Julian, CA; Treasurer is Marian Aiken of Los Altos, CA, and Newsletter editor is Francine Kenyon of Honolulu, HI. With this group of officers, we should be able to accomplish much in the next two years.
During the business meeting, it was decided not to make any changes in the bylaws until we hear further what takes place at the National level. Jeff Burns is to
check out resources in the San Diego area for location of our next WJ meeting.
Following the business meeting, we had three
spiritually focused workshops: "Lectio Divinia", "Sensing God" and "Praying With You Hands." The leaders did a remarkable job of presenting excellent information in a short period of time which allowed us to focus on spiritual themes that we could take home with us. Once again, we had the privilege of having Rev. Joo Kang speak late afternoon.
While those who were basically attending the WJ meetings in one room, the Social Hall at the church was bursting with a large enthusiastic crowd of interpreters attending an all day religious interpreters workshop. It was inspirational seeing so many interpreters in
one room with the desire to improve their skills and share their knowledge to minister with the Deaf.
Saturday evening everyone gathered in the Social Hall for an evening of entertainment by the "Hands of
Joy" sign language choir from St. Mattew's UMC, Mesa, AZ. Not one person left that evening disappointed. What a delightful way to end our day!
Sunday morning, we gathered for morning worship in the main sanctuary of Paradise Valley UMC. The congregation
at Paradise Valley UMC were able to experience worship with interpreters, CART, the Hands of Joy Choir and an informative sermon by Rev. Dr. Kelly Bender. It's almost certain that no one left the WJ-UMCD gathering without a feeling of satisfaction. Not only were our souls being fed but also our bodies with plentiful meals and refreshments as well as our social needs with the diversity of our group.
May we all applaud the planning committee —
Chris Chaille, Ginny Clark-Wright and Rev. Diana Williams — for their exceptional planning to make this meeting a success. We also would like to extend our thanks to Paradise Valley UMC for hosting our meeting.
by Marian Aiken, past-president of WJ-UMCD