Written by Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Conference
For Maryann Hall, becoming a reserve delegate to the Western Jurisdictional Conference in 2020 wasn't necessarily pre-planned. But being new to The United Methodist Church, she knew "some big change is coming" and wanted to make sure "Native Americans and other people of color have equal say at the table."
Maryann is the first Blackfeet woman to represent the legacy Yellowstone Conference as a jurisdictional delegate. As a write-in candidate, she had to campaign for votes during the 2019 Mountain Sky Annual Conference Session in Billings, Montana. Not known in the conference, but with the help of Sheri Hill of the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish, Maryann was able to get elected on the sixth laity ballot.
"We campaigned in the hallways at conference," said Sheri. "We were able to get on the first ballot from talking to strangers. That was pretty exciting."
A relative newcomer to jurisdictional and general church events, Maryann is now learning more about the process and seeking advice from past delegates Don McCammon, Diane Martin and Glenna Brayton.
A self-described "bookworm," Maryann read about John Wesley and his motives behind starting the church. "We're supposed to be welcoming to all, loving to all – no judgement," she said. "But seeing what's going on in our church, I question some people. It's confusing from what I'm studying and having the actual experience."
Nonetheless, Maryann strives to be a change agent from within. She has attended Blackfeet United Methodist Parish, also known as BUMP, for the past three years and became a member in December 2018. She is now a lay servant and taking more courses of study for lay ministry. She's contemplating becoming a deaconess, and looking at her first online class for the initial components. She's grateful they offer classes on Zoom so she can participate. This is especially true for members of BUMP, as the church is located in a rural area in northwest Montana.
"I look forward to meeting people," Maryann said. "And answering questions on the positive side of our lives and away from the stereotypes."
The 2020 Western Jurisdictional Conference will be held July 15 to 18, 2020 in Billings, Montana. For more information about it, go to the Western Jurisdiction website