Renew 2019 Talks Available to Stream


Another Renew at the Oregon Coast is in the books; a time for rest, contemplation, and reconnecting with Alliance Northwest family (despite the storms outside).

Matt Hannan brought wise counsel with his series on Preserving Your Soul in the Midst of Crisis and Calamity, beginning with the prayer: “Lord, I want you to do in me everything you need to do, in order to do through me everything you want to do.” All four sessions are available for streaming and/or download below.

Thanks once again to everyone who came to the coast and shared their time with the Alliance Northwest family. Next up, Field Forum (March 18-20)!

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New Tax Laws Affecting Your Church in 2019

Your personal tax withholdings, your church parking lot, and a family medical leave tax (if you live in Washington) represent legal developments that will affect you this year. Check out these new laws to ensure you don’t get caught unaware. 

  1. Determining if Your Church Needs to Pay the New Parking Tax:  In 2017, the federal government implemented a new tax that could affect your church if you provided parking to your employees in 2018. Although the guidance from the government has been minimal, we now have some basic guidelines to follow to help you determine if your church will have to pay.  The attached link will provide you with some of the basics: Church Parking Lot Tax. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Julie at the Field Office.

  2.  NEW Oregon 2019 W-4: Federal tax law changes, including how withholding allowances are calculated, mean that some Oregonians haven’t been withholding enough from their paychecks to cover their state personal income tax liabilities. Oregon now has its own W-4 for state income tax withholding. Form OR-W-4 will allow employees to determine their correct Oregon withholding. You can download and print the form at

  3. NEW Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Tax: Beginning January 1st, 2019, all churches with employees in Washington must begin withholding and/or paying taxes to the Washington Employment Security Department to cover a new Family & Medical Leave program. This program will allow employees who have worked 820 hours or more in Washington to receive benefits if they end up on family and medical leave (beginning in 2020). In order to cover this program, the new tax begins with paychecks given to Washington employees as of January 1st, 2019. Information on this can be found at If you have further questions, feel free to contact Julie at the field office.

How Was Your 2018? Annual Reports Due Feb 22

It’s that time again: Time to fill out the 2018 Local Alliance Church Annual Report.

Last year, Alliance Northwest had a 94.6% completion rate. Other districts in The Alliance reached 100%. Are we really going to let them show us up like that this year?

Starting January 8, 2019, the 2018 version of the Annual Report will be available for churches to complete. Lead pastors and editors will receive an instructional email on that date from Terry Smith, vice president for Church Ministries. The deadline to finish the Annual Report is February 22, 2019.

Lead Pastors can visit the MyCMA Website to download and complete the report.

For problems accessing the report, email or call Lisa at 503-685-9160.

ACF Church Teams with Compassion International to Sponsor 500 Children in Burkina Faso

This is what love of neighbor looks like. Days after the earthquake that shook the Anchorage Basin last November, the people of ACF Church in Eagle River, Alaska pledged their resources to sponsor 500 kids living in impoverished Bobo, Burkina Faso.

The church is working through Compassion International, an organization that works with churches on the ground to administer its services — and in Burkina, those churches are Alliance. This partnership with Alliance international workers was one of the key reasons why ACF decided to partner with Compassion. Compassion International has over fifty years experience pairing sponsors with children around the world who need support.

Lighthouse Christian Center Opens Its Doors to the Houseless During Winter Months

The Northwest has certainly felt like winter lately: cold temperatures and windy nights make us think about cozying up with some blankets and warm socks. However, for many in our cities who are without houses, Northwest nighttime temperatures can be brutal, and even dangerous.

Lighthouse Christian Center (Puyallup, WA) has joined with other local churches to open their doors to those in need, as a part of a program called Freezing Nights. Each church is available on a specific night of the week (Lighthouse has Monday nights, 7pm-7am), and provides shelter and a warm breakfast to around 70 people who come through the doors. Many hands make light work, and around 150 volunteers have been helping make Freezing Nights a reality.

For more information on the Freezing Nights program, click here.

Salem Alliance's Salem For Refugees Honored with the "2018 Salem Peacemaker Award"

On October 24, the Salem Peace Lecture Committee awarded their 2018 Salem Peacemaker Award to Salem For Refugees, an organization founded by Anya and Doug Holcomb through Salem Alliance Church. Salem For Refugees is involved in many facets of a refugee’s settlement in Salem—from finding housing and work, to getting around town and integrating into their communities. The award was given during the Annual Salem Peace Lecture at Willamette University.

This is another exclamation point in the book that God is writing in the lives of the Holcombs, who had been working in Kosovo before circumstances forced them to return to Oregon. They write:

It was an honor to receive this award on behalf of all the volunteers, faith communities & organizations who have collaborated with us to make our city a welcoming place for refugees, and on behalf of our new refugee neighbors who contribute to this community in amazing ways! 

Medford Neighborhood Church Cares for Paradise Amidst Campfire Blaze

The fallout from the catastrophic Camp Fire has reverberated far beyond Paradise, CA, and even into the Rogue Valley, where as many as 52,000 displaced Paradise residents have fled.

Medford Neighborhood Church, led by pastor Lee Gregory, has become the center of a burgeoning movement to help the residents of Paradise who are currently in the Medford area. Incidentally, Lee and Doreen Gregory have a history in Paradise; they grew up and got married there.

The church has become the area donation distribution hub as a part of the I-CARE (Compassion And Respect for Everyone) movement that has sprung up (via Lee’s community presence). The Gregorys have also taken in some of their family from the Paradise area who escaped with only the (singed) clothes on their backs.

The news of the generosity and care shown by the church has spread to local media—you can read the coverage here.

Todd King Called as New Lead Pastor for Mercer Creek Church

Mercer Creek Church recently extended a call to Todd King after a Lead Pastor search that lasted through the summer.

The Kings (Todd, Karynn, and their two sons) come to Mercer Creek from Bellingham, Washington, where Todd served as executive pastor at Christ the King Church (a large, multi-site church in northern Washington) and Karynn was a counselor.

Southern Oregon Network Gifts $6K to Their Church Plant Journey Roseburg For A New Heating Unit

As the months get colder, churches in less-than-cozy buildings can really start to feel the chill. Recently, Journey Roseburg had a need for three costly heating units for the church’s warehouse gathering space, but didn’t have the funds. That’s when the Southern Oregon Network stepped in to help buy them.

Journey Roseburg Pastor Jeff Paschall called it a “generous financial blessing” and said: “I can't express the encouragement our young church feels… Having planted three churches, this one, by far, owes so much of its success to the constant, tangible, and practical love and support we receive.”

Church Safety in an Age of Violence

Taken from materials written by the North Central District of The C&MA

Church shootings and other security issues continue to seize our attention. Up until recently, church security was mostly about making sure that someone kept track of keys and that the building was locked up. Although most of our churches remain safe places, the impact of a violent event, while extremely rare, is so damaging that it's wise to think about your church's plan in these situations.. We must resist the impulse of irrational fear while still acting with wisdom and foresight. This paper is designed to guide a leadership team through that process.

Why We Care

More importantly, an Alliance church should be a safe place for people to gather for worship. Through our child and youth screening policies we promote that a local Alliance church should be the safest place for young people to hear the gospel, and the same should be true for our entire congregation. Again, any type of violence is extremely rare, but people who attend our churches expect that reasonable and appropriate security measures are in place. Church leaders are called to be shepherds and, in Scripture, shepherds both cared for and protected their sheep. Part of this protection is against our spiritual enemy (the devil) and rightly so. In The Alliance we also believe that protection is physical. We do this for our children when we guard against sexual abuse and it is appropriate and right to also consider the safety of anyone who attends one of our churches. Put another way, in The Alliance our goal is for security to enhance, not inhibit, our worship of the true and living God. 

Legally, the law imposes on a church a duty to protect occupants against foreseeable criminal acts. The foreseeability of a violent act is based on a variety of factors, such as the church location, size of the church, known threats against the church or church members, and past violent behavior in the church vicinity. Recent church shooting incidents have targeted small rural churches, so it would be unwise to think it could never happen to your congregation.

Who This is For

These guidelines are designed for the “typical” Alliance church. More than half of our churches have 100 or less in weekly attendance and more than 80 percent have less than 200. Our larger churches have access to far greater resources and may have addressed security concerns. While still helpful, this document is not provided primarily for these larger churches but rather to assist those more typically-sized Alliance churches that have either just started or have not yet had this conversation. 

The Big Ideas

Every church has a different culture, size, and location. There is no “one-size-fits-all” security plan. These guidelines are designed to help your leaders engage with the most essential issues and point them to trusted resources as a church develops its own safety and security plan. 

For a plan to be effective, it is essential to gain buy-in from the entire leadership team, particularly the lead pastor and elder and/or governing board. Sometimes it is necessary to overcome the notion that “nothing like that could happen here.” 

Any security plan should not just address the unlikely event of an active shooter, but the far more likely scenarios of a non-violent confrontation or medical or weather-related emergency. Typical scenarios to consider include:

  • A child in your children’s ministry is caught in the middle of a domestic dispute 

  • Someone under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or who struggles with mental health issues, sees your church as a place to express their anger

  • An attendee has a medical emergency during a worship service

  • A local activist group protests outside your church doors on a Sunday morning 

  • A fire spreads out of control

  • An auto accident occurs in the parking lot 

Any security plan involves everyone in public leadership. This includes pastors and staff, ushers, greeters, parking attendants, elders, and deacons. This is true even for churches that create a separate safety and security team. Each person should know their role in a crisis scenario. For example, the easiest and most effective strategy is for church team members to be vigilant for anything that is out of the ordinary. This is often referred to as a DLR – “doesn’t look right.” Do ushers or greeters spot someone who looks out of place? He/she should be engaged as soon as possible to assess any potential concerns. This can be as simple as introducing yourself, welcoming them to the church, and asking them what brought them to your church that day. 

When your safety and security plan is ready, the proposed plan should be reviewed by your insurance agent, a local attorney, and your local law enforcement agency. Every insurance company has extensive helpful resources on this topic and your agent will ensure that your plan doesn’t jeopardize necessary liability coverage. Your attorney will align the plan with any state or local municipality laws. Your local police and fire department can provide practical help as well as coordinate any emergency response. The importance of insurance, attorney, and police, and fire department engagement is particularly important if members of your team will be armed.  

It is important to realize that even the most stringent security practices may not have prevented the recent church shootings. It is extremely difficult to completely foil a determined and armed assailant. However, through use of an appropriate security plan, it is possible to deter such acts in some cases and to mitigate harm in others.

Security Plan Options

Every security plan involves one or more of the following elements:

Even the smallest churches can intentionally create heightened awareness. Your leadership team at Sunday worship services or any other event can be vigilantly aware of anything that is out of the ordinary or seems odd. Is someone wearing a large coat on a warm day? Does someone seem unusually distracted? In most cases, there will be a reasonable explanation, but engaging people with warm and appropriate questions is almost always the first and simplest line of defense. 

Some churches have designated their property as gun-free zones. Some states[1] include churches among the locations where concealed firearm permit holders are not allowed to carry. Whether required by law or designated by the church, this is an extremely difficult policy to enforce, especially in some western and southern locations where carrying a concealed firearm is a normal and fiercely protected practice. This prohibition will be largely symbolic unless a church is willing to invest in airport level security practices. 

Many churches contract part-time professional security, especially during worship services and other major events. Typically, these are off-duty law-enforcement officers who are well-trained, often uniformed, and who carry their own liability insurance. Some churches consider the presence of a uniformed police officer near the entry an effective deterrent and well worth the minimal cost for only a few hours work. 

Most churches will consider creating and training an in-house safety and security team. The advantages to this option are that it would be staffed by volunteers and can be tailored to fit the unique needs of the church. These teams may or may not include members who are armed, and if possible, will include members who are medically trained, such as EMTs, nurses, etc. Although the size and scope of a team will vary with each church, five essential requirements for any team are described in the following section. 

Church Safety and Security Teams

Forming a church safety and security team involves five critical steps: identify, recruit, train, deploy, and manage[2]

Identify – Serving on a church security team is not a position for “any warm body.” It is a significant commitment of time and requires a person with strong people skills, a mature Christ-like character, a stable personality, the ability to observe people and situations, good judgment, and a heart for this important Christ-centered ministry. It is helpful to look for people with these characteristics who also have a law enforcement, military, or medical background. This is an opportunity to select from a pool of church members who otherwise might not be interested in traditional volunteer roles. 

Recruit – Once a potential team member is identified, recruitment should be done by personal invitation. The full extent of the commitment should be carefully explained, including the expected level of training. Recruitment for safety and security teams should never be casual.

Train – Proper training is the key to team member enthusiasm and longevity. Training and retraining is essential because team members must be equipped to respond decisively and skillfully to a wide variety of difficult circumstances. At least quarterly training is considered a best practice, with a focus on the variety of scenarios that could occur in your church setting. Typical training sessions will include response to an active shooter, medical or weather emergencies, custody disputes, or domestic violence. Methodologies include the use of hypotheticals, role plays, hands-on drills, and presentations by experts. It is important to include ushers, greeters, and other non-team volunteers as appropriate so that there is a coordinated response to any circumstance. 

There are heightened requirements for any team members who carry a weapon. At the very least these should include: (1) a written application that includes a description of the applicant’s previous weapons training; (2) at least three non-relative references; (3) initial and ongoing training consistent with the training required by law enforcement personnel in your community; and (4) active monitoring that the team member has maintained his/her concealed carry permit. Local churches with existing security teams are a good referral source for training providers in your region. 

Communication with the church’s insurance carrier is essential for teams that include armed members. To ensure liability coverage, you must obtain written approval of your security plan from your insurance carrier. Additionally, your state or municipality may have specific laws that govern the formation and deployment of an armed security team, so it will be necessary to seek the review and counsel of a local attorney. 

Deploy – Generally, each team member will be responsible for a specific area and will follow a pre-determined protocol depending on the circumstances. Each team member should know precisely the area, scope, and expectations of their role. In most cases, new team members should first be paired with experienced people for at least three to four weeks to establish fit and competence. This time period may be much longer before a team member may be armed.

Manage – When the team begins to serve, it is helpful to regularly debrief to fine-tune the process. You will: (1) create a plan, (2) train to the plan, (3) rehearse the plan, (4) evaluate the rehearsal, (5) adjust the plan based on what is learned, and (6) start over. Also, to avoid burn-out, care should be taken so that volunteers are not expected to serve week after week without a meaningful break to prevent burn-out 

Common Concerns

Won’t God protect his church? 

As Christians, we believe in a wholly sovereign God who is in control of his created world. We should and must absolutely trust in his oversight and not live in fear. Jesus left his disciples with these words knowing that the world is a dangerous place: Peace is what I leave with you; it is my peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid (John 14:27). God often works through others to fulfill his purposes. He brings healing through the medical community and physical protection from our military and law enforcement personnel. In this more dangerous age, he may also provide protection through the purposeful actions of a church safety and security team. One biblical example is found in the prophet Nehemiah’s response to an armed threat as he sought to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem: we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night (Neh. 4:9, ESV). 

Our church is too small

Yes, a church’s size, location, and ministry focus will affect a congregation’s vulnerability, but the shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, occurred to a church with an average attendance of only 60 in a town of 1,000. No church is immune from potential attack. The level of security will vary, but the days of thinking “it couldn’t happen to us” are long gone. Even the smallest church can take simple steps to increase the safety of its congregation and increase its ability to respond well to any emergency.

We can’t afford the expense of a safety and security team

The expense to train and deploy a safety and security team may be surprisingly low. Most churches rely entirely on dedicated volunteers who may pay for some or all of their own training and equipment. Even churches that hire professional security for a few hours a week typically consider the minimal cost to be a worthwhile investment for all that is gained. 

The presence of a security team will scare or worry members and visitors

The opposite is more likely. People in your community are well aware of the recent church shootings and will generally have a higher expectation for church safety practices. When measures were first introduced for nursery and child care security, which included screening, stronger oversight, and child check-in procedures, many leaders had the same concern. But again, the opposite occurred. Having stronger security measures increased attendees’ confidence that their children were safe in the church. People will appreciate that our church family cares for them and that we desire to give them a place to worship in peace.

What if someone is hurt by a safety and security team member? 

Any potential risk must be balanced against the potential that someone may enter the church with intent to cause harm. The risk of someone being hurt by a member of the safety and security team will be low and mitigated by careful and consistent preparation and training. In most cases, the church’s insurance policy will provide coverage. 

We already have people in the congregation who carry a firearm, can’t we rely on them?

For several reasons, a church wants to avoid attendees acting as informal security. When a church either explicitly or implicitly authorizes someone to carry and deploy a firearm, the church will assume the liability for any consequences. In that scenario, it is possible that the incident would not be covered by the church’s insurance. Potential liability could also greatly increase because, although there was authorization, there was no required training or oversight. It is important for church leaders to not explicitly or implicitly encourage attendees to carry firearms and to not rely on them for church security. 

Recommended Resources

Donihue, Bryan. 2014.. Grand Rapids, Sheepdog Development. What They Don’t Tell You About Church Safety

Rupp, Tim. 2016. Pistol in the Pulpit. Idaho Falls, A Strong Blue Line.

Brotherhood Mutual:

Church Law & Tax Report:

[1] The firearm laws related to each state are readily available on the internet.

[2] I’m grateful to Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company for this helpful framework

31 Ordinations Later, the Updated Licensing, Ordination, and Consecration Process Is Now in Full Swing

It’s the dawn of a new era here in the Alliance Northwest.

A couple of years ago, we determined that we could upgrade the whole Licensing, Ordination, and Consecration process to better develop our leaders. Grandfathering out the old system took a few years, and 31 ordinations later, it’s done.

Jason Simmonds, Leadership Development Lead at the Field Office, looks forward to bringing new pastors into the revised LOC process: “I’m excited because the new system affords pastors the opportunity to develop their leadership in ways the old system didn’t because of the emphasis on assessment and creating a personalized leadership development plan.”

For more information about beginning your journey toward getting licensed, ordained, or consecrated, contact Kristy at the Field Office.

Simple Tips for Screening and Selecting Underage Workers

The excellent resource hounds at ChurchLaw&Tax have compiled this helpful guide for churches who want to engage youth for employment or volunteer work. Find the original article here.

Churches put a lot of emphasis on screening and selecting adult volunteers, but what about recruiting minors to serve in your ministry? Because churches cannot screen all the kids active in youth ministry and because potential 16-year-old offenders have no criminal record, normal sexual misconduct preventions do not apply.

So what is a church to do? Here are some simple steps you can take to begin implementing specific screening and selection protocols for your underage workers:

Raise the bar

Start by establishing requirements that must be met before an individual can serve in a position working with children or youth. For volunteers, attention should be given to two factors: (1) how long the person has been part of the congregation, and (2) the level of involvement the person has in the church. It is not enough for a person to have attended the congregation for an extended timeframe, such as six months. He or she should also be active enough in the life of the church that other members can provide a reference.

Screen carefully

The screening process for underage volunteers is similar to that of adult volunteers and paid staff, with the exception of a criminal background check. It should include the use of a written application, reference checks, and a personal interview. Because you can't conduct a criminal background check, have your youth applicants provide references from adults who have firsthand experience working with them, such as youth pastors, public school teachers, scout leaders, or coaches.

Forms for applications and interviews should be developed and approved by the congregation and reviewed by the church's attorney. All information, whether collected on a form or during an interview, should be kept strictly confidential.

Stay close to your volunteers

Richard Hammar said the most dangerous areas for sexual misconduct are where older youth are given full supervision of younger children, such as in vacation Bible school or nurseries. This practice is very common in churches. Adequate adult supervision is a must. Volunteers, whether adults or minors, should never be alone with one child! Your underage workers should always be with an adult when working in children's ministry.

Middle Schoolers Find Connection at Quest 2018

Most Christians come to know Jesus as young people - and the middle school years are so crucial! Quest is an Alliance Northwest conference for 6th through 8th graders, held at scenic Black Lake Bible Camp each October.

“Connection” was the theme for Quest 2018, using John 15 as the core text. The conference content focused on who Jesus is, who we are, and the relationship we can have with him. “Connection” speaks to the love Jesus has for us and also how we can love him back.

Below, you can find the highlight video from the weekend, as well as a selection of the session talks. Thanks to Claire Faucher and Jason Simmonds, our Quest 2018 speakers!

School Principal to Madison Community Church pastor: "You make Jesus look real good."

Madison Community Church (Everett, Washington) pastor Peter Vincent knows that effecting neighborhood change takes time and perseverance. Six years ago, Peter started a relationship at an area school by meeting with the Principal and saying that his church would like to help out, in whatever ways they could. The school seemed baffled and hesitant at first, but agreed.

So Madison got to work. The church popped popcorn in the cafeteria, helped keep up the school grounds, and even read to students during class time. Years passed, students got older, a new Principal came, and Madison became a familiar presence on campus.

Recently, Peter was contacted by the new Principal, and they had a different sort of conversation than when Madison first began there. The Principal told him: “You make Jesus look real good.” Madison’s years of steady involvement demonstrated that they cared, and the school wanted to know more. After this conversation, a busload of teachers from the school came to the church, toured the facility, and met Madison’s staff. The church’s faithful service is making a difference in their community, and through it, others can see the love of Christ.

Church of Thorne Bay buys adjacent property without the need for any loans

When God moves, we follow; even if it’s next door. Ron Youderian, Lead Pastor at Church of Thorne Bay (Thorne Bay, Alaska) shares this happy news: the church is expanding! The Church of Thorne Bay has been working on purchasing the vacant Catholic Church next to their property, and had been praying for God’s provision so they wouldn’t have to take out an ADF loan.

God provided them with the necessary funds! No loan required. The additional property is slated to be a community center for the church as well as the wider Thorne Bay community.