Volume 4, Issue 3
A Message from the Pastor
What a delight it is to be outside these days surrounded by the beauty
and fragrance of blooming things! Spring energy enlivens us and we feel a
new sense of possibility. The glad tidings of Easter resonate within us:
new life arises out of the tomb.
There is a good sense of movement in our church; a springing forth of new ideas and enthusiasm. As we contemplate our future, we often remember our past. One of the things I often hear among members of our congregation is a passionate desire for our church to be full and lively again just as it was in the past. "I remember when . . . we had so many kids . . . we had a huge choir . . . we were a pillar church in town. "
Pastor Deborah Adams of the First Congregational Church of Everett, in her message in their church bulletin, astutely summed up the possible limitations of thinking this way:
"Over the years I have seen again and again that one of the greatest barriers to growing healthy churches is the subtle belief that the church's past is more promising than its future . . . that the best days are 'the good ol' days'! Who was it who reminded us that anyone stuck in the 'the good ol' days' has well-functioning selective memory!?!" In the true spirit of Easter, we are called to let God lead us into new life. God's possibilities for us are not situated in the past but are being creating anew. If our energy is still attached to the past, even in an unconscious way, we restrict our creative ability to grow into the fullness of God's vision for us now.
How do we treasure our past and yet let it be the past and not the determinate of our future?
One of the things we do is honor our past by acknowledging it in its fullness: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We "complete" the past in that way so we can move on unencumbered to our future.
Maynard and Leanne Dalderis have said this about letting go of the past: "When we are complete with something, we have said whatever we have needed to say, felt whatever we have needed to feel, admitted whatever we have needed to admit, and released whatever we have needed to release."
The question before us as a congregation then is "What do we need to do to feel complete with the past?"
The past, even a good past, can be our tomb if we do not do fully name the memories and experiences that have been part of our story as a congregation. That naming needs to come from a diversity of membership. We have some additional work to do together in this area and in the coming weeks I will be suggesting processes that can be supportive of us as we remember the story that has been Monroe Congregational Church.
Any gardener knows a spring garden needs nurturing. We have many new shoots coming up through the ground. It is an exciting time. To make sure we are growing our new plants in good compost, let us take the time to see what has made up our soil from the past. Then we can turn unencumbered to see what sprouts anew.
Imagine 15 years from now, Monroe Congregational members saying the following: "The church was truly transformed in the early 2000s! Who would have thought the church would lead the larger community into such a movement for social justice? Who would have believed that the seemingly strange ideas for changes in worship would have led to such a meaningful experience for so many people? Who expected the radical new way of doing children's ministry would become a standard for all of the UCC conference churches? Hard to believe that the unusual steps the church took in those years led to us becoming known regionally for our ministry of music!" The possibilities are endless; let us free ourselves to dream by truly letting go of the past and allowing ourselves to be led into the future by God's vision.
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Moderator's Notes - May 2001
Dear friends --
What a wonderful Easter season we have just had! It is such a great a joy to be able to share in services and celebrations with our neighboring churches. The music on Good Friday, in the Methodist Church, was simply awesome. I was really happy to see our sanctuary so impressively full on Easter Sunday, and it was also great to see so many people enjoying the delicious breakfast the Men's group made. A big thank you to everyone who put so much time and energy into making everything happen so beautifully.
We have a very busy few weeks ahead of us again. The weekend of April 27, 28, and 29, Pastor Diane, Manny Odom, Laurie Ide and I are going to Wenatchee for the Conference Annual Meeting. I'm sure we will come back with lots of new energy and ideas. The sessions will focus on many fun things to do with worship, including drama, music and storytelling.
On Saturday, May 5, people from the congregation, who have leadership roles, will be meeting at Huston Camp and Conference Center for a leadership retreat. We will get to know each other, how we work together, and how we can effectively accomplish the work of our church.
The following Monday, May 7, we are hosting a potluck for the preschool families. Rosella Roff has a full evening planned, with food, gifts, and lots of activities. We are getting to know these families so we are much more than just a landlord!
And the very next Saturday, May 12, we will have our Spring Bazaar. We are again planning the traditional plant sale, baked goods and country store, with something a little different for lunch. We have planned a baked potato bar, featuring lots of fun toppings, along with salad and our famous home made pies. Let all your friends know, and invite everyone to come! One of the ways we can help our congregation grow is to let people know who we are, and an easy way to do this is not just to invite friends to join us for a Sunday service, but to have people join us for our many other activities! We have a truly wonderful church, and it is the people who make it wonderful. Let's share that!
Peace and joy
Come One, Come All
... to our "come as you are" plotluck -- a get-acquanted time with the pre-schiil families that meet in our church -- mome, dads, and the children. May 7 from 5:30 to 7pm.m. breaking break and sharing our food is one of our great Christian traditions.
Several of you have committed to do specific things. This is another opportunity to let our guests know you and for you to show the open and caring arms of Monroe Congregational Church.
There will be fun things going on, and hopefully with your presence a great evening will be enjoyed by all.
Mark you calendar -- May 7 -- 5:30-7p.m.
MonroeChurches.org takes off
Last month I wrote that we had not one but three websites, of which the most exciting was MonroeChurches.org. MonroeChurches.org is a joint website for all Monroe Churches.
The idea for such a website came to me as I attended the joint Christmas service last December at the Methodist Church. I originally conceived of the joint site as a page or two within our own website with basic information about our sister churches and a listing of upcoming ecumenical services (when there happened to be any). The idea expanded as I thought about other projects I've been involved in here, or at other churches, where such a website might have been of some use if it had existed at the time.
For example, a while ago our Men's group hosted a speaker on Domestic Violence. At about the same time, we hosted a few meetings to organize a Habitat for Humanity chapter in Eastern Snohomish County. Both of these were events where we wanted to get information out to the community, and did so by posting notices around town. MonroeChurches.org has an "Events" page where churches can post electronic notices when they want to get the word out.
The site also has (or hopes to have) listings of Outreach programs run by the various churches, and Youth Programs such as Scouting groups, Teen Dances, etc. I hope the site will be a resource for the entire Monroe community, even those not associated with any church, showing what the churches in Monroe are doing.
Last month, I said to watch for a link to MonroeChurches from our site. Such a link exists now. You can get to MonroeChurches.org by going to MonroeUCC.org (our own website) and clicking on "Monroe Community Churches".
Sad News At The "Hutch"
The impact of the shocking investigation results at the Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Center hit the front pages in big black letters, as well it
should, and caused more than a regional gasp of alarm. Two of the
researching physicians had actually used drugs known to be unsafe on some
of their patients. These physicians had financial interests in the drugs
being used. Each patient's record included an informed consent form
signed by the patient. One wonders how long this would have gone on if
the careful and lengthy investigation by two reporters had not brought it
to light. How will this affect the reputation of the Hutch? Probably,
very little. The conscientious, successful research, development and
treatment done there for many years will not be undermined by the greed
of two men. It will, however, enforce much stricter vigilance of the
whole system by its administration .
Beloved Boeing -- How Could You?
As if the shocker from the Hutch wasn't bad enough, right on the heels of
it came the announcement from Phil Condit, (via Washington D.C., by the
way) that the central office of Boeing will be relocating its head
offices to Chicago, Denver or Dallas. My bets are on Chicago.
What effect will this have on Seattle? Aside from the 500 jobs going with
the central office, and the 500 that will be offered placement elsewhere,
the only thing we are losing is the arms producer. For the time being at
lease, we retain the assembly of the commercial airplanes. We have
already survived greater losses at the hand of Boeing than that.
CEO Condit's statement to the New York Times made it clear that to become
a global corporation, it is necessary to be able to serve the stock
market unburdened by any emotional attachment to people or place. In the
meantime, there's quality office space available at Boeing.
Ecumenism -- UCC News, April
Ecumenism defined means to erase boundaries between denominations, but a
high percentage of most congregations are high on denominational
identity, especially the Mormon church with a high 94%, with the UCC at a
low 38%. The report classifies the UCC with the Unitarian Universalist.
The growing ecumenism and dissolving of identities have given impetus to
the non-denominational "mega-churches" which are rapidly increasing
I'm sure, as a pastor once told me, that my rejection of constant change of format and other erasures of traditional expectations, could, as was diplomatically suggested, be "age related -- possibly"? Indeed that is true. The world and everything around us is changing very rapidly; does the church really have to do that too? Attitudes and acceptance of others can and should change, but please, let's be careful of that baby in the bathwater.
Curious about the Prison?
Join Pastor Diane and other members in a Monday night visit to the prison
to meet some prisoners and hear about their lives. Rev. Jon Nelson, a
Lutheran pastor has been a sponsor of the Concerned Lifers Organization
(CLO) at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe since 1972. He makes
weekly visits to the prisons inviting others to come with him to
experience life there and to talk with some inmates.
He says "If you're making the trip to Monroe to visit the CLO, be prepared to be surprised. Sure there is the tight security at the scanner, and the electric slam of heavy door mechanisms as you enter the prison. But once in the meeting room, in a circle of intent men and their community sponsors, there are bonds of friendship and moments of personal inspiration you won't soon forget. Would it surprise you to meet men whose lives had been a shambles, now articulate and moving in constructive directions?"
We need to register with Jon about three weeks ahead of time. We meet in Monroe at 5pm, have a simple supper (often at a pizza place), get some background on prison life and then time to talk with inmates inside the prison.
Contact Pastor Diane if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity to broaden our preconceived notions about prison and prisoners. Consider risking, as Jesus risked, bringing compassion and caring to the outcasts of society.
Adult Education Opportunities:
I agree fully with the "ungendering" of much of the language of the book, and realize that English lacks gender-neutral pronouns.
However, I still have some arguments with the book. Some of the changes seem specious to me. Look at "America, the Beautiful" (#594). The changes in this one, to me, are unnecessary, and I wonder if the changers were trying to make some kind of a point to enlarge themselves. At the least, it seems as if they could have put the familiar version in as well as the new one.
I'm also troubled by the fact that the hymnal seems to cut God down to human size. I'm aware that God is immanent and within us, but I also know a God "out there," a transcendent God. I need a God who is bigger than me, one I can praise and give thanks to beyond myself. So many of the hymns in the new hymnal seem to lose sight of the "God out there." Look at the language: all of the "me," the "my," the "mine," the "I." And so little "Praise God. . .!", "Now thank we all our God . . .", "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise," "Joyful, joyful we adore thee . . ." Yes, those old favorites are there, but look at how the words have been changed. And also look at how many other "me" and "my" hymns have been added. And yes, I would like to retain a language that sets God apart from us at least at times "Thou, God . . . "
God is very real to me, and part of my daily life, but I need a God that is more than just a comfortable and cuddly Teddy Bear. I need a God who calls me to account and demands more than a familiar next-door neighbor. I need a God who is "GOD" something and someone really special that is more than me -- in me, around me and through me.
Thank You to:
Russ Browne for the startup of the Monroe Churches Website.
Men's fellowship for painting hallway.
Keith Ruby and all our wonderful musicians for the inspiring music during Holy Week.
Board of Trustees for the purchase of our new copier.
Manny Odom, Davi Martin, Laurie Ide for representing our church at the
UCCWNI Conference Annual Meeting in Wenatchee.
Healing Prayers for:
Phyllis Bryson as she recovers from surgery.
Daphne Ide as she recovers from hip surgery.
Newly married Lynn and John Montgomery .
Mark Your Calendars:
Northwest Regional Women's Conference IV
Kah-Nee-Tah camp in Warm Springs, OR, Nov. 2-4, 2001.
Keynote speaker will be Dr. Carol Flinders.