Volume 4, Issue 5
Pastor Message: Open Hearts
It's nearly time to say goodbye; September 9th will be my final service with you. It
seems that only a short time ago I was saying hello. What a journey we have taken
together! God has blessed us.
I said to a friend the other day, "Maybe I shouldn't have let my heart be so open; it's so hard to say goodbye." She smiled and reminded me that I really wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
As we all know, when we hold our hearts open, there is a risk. We're vulnerable to disappointment, loss and goodbyes. But, a small heart doesn't leave room for the abundance of grace dancing in the universe to fully enter our lives. God calls us to risk living with big and open hearts.
John Shea says, "We are the stories God tells." My heart is full of what I have learned about God from my relationships with you. Each of you has taught me something; yes, even those of you who at this moment are thinking, "Well, not me." God speaks in whispers as well as big, booming expressions. Sometimes God reveals God's self by just staying quiet but visible. Sometimes just one encounter leaves a powerful imprint.
If it "takes a village to raise a child," it just as surely takes a village to raise a church. Over our months together I have seen you take initiative in new ways and also look candidly at the past. I see a growing awareness that moving into the future will take a response from each one of you to share your unique gifts in this community so it may be renewed and able to respond to God's call for what it is to become.
My prayers and blessings on you all will be continual. I look forward to seeing Monroe Congregational Church, U.C.C. living up to its potential as a vibrant and visible presence of the gospel in the larger Monroe community.
You have my deepest gratitude for the joyful experience I have had doing ministry with you. Thank you for helping me realize that my call to ministry is authentic and graced. I will never forget my first church!
As we move into our varied experiences of the future, let us go boldly forth with open hearts knowing that our foundation of faith and openness to the Spirit will sustain us no matter what we encounter. God's music never stops playing.
Where Everything is Music by Rumi
Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks, it doesn't matter.
We have fallen into the place where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes rise into the atmosphere,
And even if the whole world's harp should burn up,
There will still be hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out,
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
They derive from a slow and powerful root that we can't see.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
And let the spirits fly in and out.
Lots of phrases come to mind right now, with all the things that are going on... but once more with feeling should work! Like everyone I will miss Pastor Diane terribly, her leaving will leave a tremendous hole in my life and the life of the church. However I also have the sure conviction that we are moving into a new and exciting time. We have been doing a lot of work, preparing for the job of choosing our next pastor. The evening we spent with our Conference Minister, Christine Boardman, began the process by identifying our tasks. We had a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, and chose the first people for the selection committee. They are Kayleen Bryson, Chairperson, Laurie Ide, vice chair, Keith Ruby, Sue Bell, Rosella Roff, Davi Martin, and two volunteers which we will ask for on Sunday. We have at least five people interested in being our new pastor, so we have our work cut out for us!
Wednesday, August 15 our Pastor-Parish committee met; Rosella Roff, Lois Reuss, Kayleen Bryson and Davi Martin were there with Pastor Diane. Hans Dankers was unable to attend. We discussed how the committee functions and how it may be a great aid to the new pastor. The committee is a method of communicating between the congregation and the pastor. Anyone with a concern, question, compliment or observation concerning the life of the church can bring it to a member of the committee and have it addressed. It is also a tool to help the pastor know how the work and life of the church is going. It is our hope that this very valuable committee will become more visible, and its function as a help to the congregation will become better understood.
On Thursday, August 16, we had an exit interview with Pastor Diane. In the packet which Rev. Boardman handed out, there was a paper which outlined how it is done. Fred Rosenzweig, Rosella Roff, Kayleen Bryson, Davi Martin and Pastor Diane were there. Diane shared with us how she perceives our church with its strengths and weaknesses, and we shared with Diane how her ministry has affected us. Davi took notes which will be given to the selection committee so they will have a better idea of what questions to ask the candidates as far as what our expectations are of a new pastor, and what our needs are as a church.
Upcoming on August 27, is a meeting of the Cabinet planning group at which we will take a look at the results of the survey which was mailed out. We have had a most gratifying response so far, and it will be very interesting to see how people have shared their opinions. We will be sharing the results with the congregation in the future.
Since we expect that it will be a few weeks before we get our new pastor in place, we have been scheduling pulpit supply for the Sundays at the end of September and the first Sunday in October. We will again be welcoming Manny Odom and Bill Comfort, and Rev Diane Hoagland will be with us for communion on October 7.
I certainly hope that anyone with concerns or comments about the search process will feel comfortable sharing them with the committee members. We are a congregational church, and we all have an equal voice. We also have given our trust to our committee members, that they will, with much help and guidance from the Holy Spirit, make a choice which will be the best for our dear church.
Peace and love
Honoring Our Separation by Pastor Diane
Powerful bonds are formed between clergy and congregations; I have been blessed with many wonderful connections with the people of this church. When clergy leave a congregation there are ethical guidelines that are honored to facilitate the shift of leadership and responsibility from one pastor to another. Clergy make a complete break with a congregation for an extended period of time; usually 12-18 months. This means the leaving pastor will not attend worship services or perform pastoral services such as counseling, weddings and memorial services for members of the congregation. This can be difficult for those of us involved, but it creates a healthy and open opportunity for the relationship between the new pastor and the congregation to be nurtured in a way that is for the good of the church.
I will honor this protocol, which has proven to be important to a healthy transition for churches, not just because it is part of my ethics as a pastor but because I care deeply about the future of this congregation and want to do my part in helping that happen in a positive way. I ask your cooperation in holding to these guidelines as well.
Although we will not see or talk to each other for some time, you will all be visible and
present to me in my wonderful memories of our time together. There will be a time
when I will make contact again after the church and new pastor have had extended
time together. I look forward to seeing what you and your new pastor will have created
in your ministry together.
In Our Prayers:
On Sunday, August 26, we joyfully received Phyllis Bryson and Virginia Fyke into
membership of our church. Phyllis was a past member of Alki Congregational U.C.C.
Virginia joins us from the First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish. We are blessed by their
presence among us!
Exciting Ecumenical Work Continues
Last month pastors and lay people from our church and the Lutheran, Episcopal
and Methodist Churches met to explore ways we could work together ecumenically.
Three concrete things came out of that meeting. We will do a joint Blessing of the
Animals service in the fall, perhaps at the park by the Senior Center. A "Meet the
Candidates" forum is planned for the fall before the elections. One person from each
church will work on a task force for each of these events. In addition, there was a
decision to start a community youth choir to provide a place for young folks to gather
and sing. Keith Ruby, our music director, is taking leadership with this endeavor and is
joined by people from the other churches, including a teenage singer from the
Lutheran church. Stay tuned for more information about these events. If you'd like to
help on these one-time activities, please contact Pastor Diane.
Search Committee Formed
On Sunday August 12, the Cabinet met and put forth names to form a Search
Committee for our new pastor. In addition, an announcement was made on Sunday
August 19, during worship to solicit interest from members who had a special desire to
serve in that capacity. The following people will make up our search committee:
Kayleen Bryson, chair. Laurie Ide, vice-chair. Sue Bell, Teresa Burns, Davi Martin, Rosella
Roff, and Keith Ruby, hereafter to be known as the "Magnificent Seven." Although an
attempt was made to include more males in the committee, traveling commitments
and health concerns prevented that from happening. The committee welcomes
comments from all friends and members regarding the search for a new pastor. In
addition, they will review information from the recent "Accessing the Past" survey and
the notes from an exit interview conducted with Pastor Diane.
"Accessing the Past" Survey
Thanks to all of you who returned the recent survey sent out by the Cabinet
Planning Committee. We have received about 33 of them back and the feedback is
being compiled. The Cabinet Planning Committee reviewed the information in its
recent meeting of August 27th, and will prepare a document for the congregation
sharing what we have learned and how we will address any concerns and suggestions
Our church has recently been blessed with a $20,000 bequest from our beloved
Eileen Rosenzweig who died last fall. In addition, Gwen Bradley, daughter of Ellen
Bradley, our pastor from 1937-1957, and Etta Carlstrom, long-time church member, both
recently sent monetary gifts to our church. God must have important work for us to do!
We are fortunate for these people whose love and appreciation for this church have
been shown in both intangible and tangible ways!
Sunday School to begin September 30th.
We are delighted that our Sunday School program will resume on Sunday,
September 30. We will be using a Bible-Based Sunday School curriculum for
Kindergarten through Confirmation called the "Mustard Seed Series." The program is
diverse, innovative and still easy to teach. The Christian Education Committee is lining
up people to teach during the fall and preparing the Sunday School Room to be
welcoming and well-supplied for the sharing of our Christian story with children. If you
would like to be involved in this important service to children and families, please
contact Gayle Parry. Teachers will generally teach in 4-6 week blocks.
We are in the process of having a speaker installed in the nursery that will allow
parents who wish to stay with their children to listen to the service if they wish. We are
looking for a childcare provider for the fall. The position pays $10/hr. If you know
someone who might be interested, please contact Pastor Diane.
Monroe Demographics: Who are we?
The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia recently had a demographic study of the Monroe area done last spring. Our neighboring Church of our Savior, Episcopal, has graciously shared this information with us. The report is illuminating about who lives here and what they look for in a church. The following is a sample of some of the information received:
As we near the month of September, our vacations soon come to a close and we think about another Church season. That's a pleasant way of saying, "Ok, Choir Members, it's time to come back together and let's 'Get it on!" Yep, time to buckle down and start practicing again. I want you to think about the previously discussed notion of moving our rehearsals to an evening during the week. I suggest Thursday as a possibility. Due to the Sunday noon meetings of standing committees, it seems this change is appropriate. The quicker we say "yes" and make the change the easier it will be to adjust. It's usually better to have an evening rehearsal at a set time while we are trying to recruit new members. If this creates a conflict for any choir member, please let me know.
On September 9th, which is Pastor Diane's final Sunday with us, we're planning lots of music during the service. I hope you all plan to be here, as there will be some musical surprises. This will be a grand celebration. A member of the Churches and Clergy WNIUCC Conference Committee will be with us to participate in the service.
Finally..."You're Invited!"...to an evening/afternoon of Brahms. On September 8th & 9th, the Evergreen Community Choir will present the Liebeslieder Waltzes and other Brahms selections; to include a quartet, duets and solos. Members from our Church are Sue Bell, Soprano, Karen Rich, Tenor and Accompanist, and Keith Ruby, Baritone and Accompanist. There will be a flyer posted in the Narthex and we'll make further announcements. The September 9th performance will be at our Church at 3:00 PM. We have worked very hard on this all summer long. The Concert is FREE, so you must come! It should be an enjoyable event for everyone.
Your Music Director,
We've received an address change from Jack and Janet Smith-St. Cyr. They are now
living in Trumbull, Connecticut, where Janet is doing an interim pastorate. Jack says he
will start his 12th interim ministry in Sept. He also says he enjoys keeping up with the
doings at Monroe Congregational UCC and sends his best wishes.