Volume 4, Issue 1

Embracing the Future: A Message from the Pastor

This Sunday as I walked through the door towards the sanctuary I was surprised to see the bulbs in the entry table bursting into bloom. A couple of weeks ago I had placed them there as a symbol of the hidden movement of life in the midst of winter. I expected them to take at least a few weeks to bloom. But, the bulbs had a different plan: they couldn

I feel that same sort of energy arising in our congregation. People are volunteering for things; committee meetings are becoming enthusiastic, our worship grows ever more energized and connected; new visitors are coming through the door.

Throughout Advent we have prayerfully and quietly reflected on what God is calling this church to be. We have strengthened our connections to one another; we have dreamed of the possibilities for this church. Now, we are in Epiphany and God continues to surge into our lives in surprising and joyful ways.

Our annual meeting is coming up on February 18. In preparation for that we have worked on revising our mission statement so it may guide our future steps. We have considered the different names this church has been called over the years and will present to the congregation our recommendation for what we shall be called now.

We are taking concrete steps to have a regular child care provider and to revitalize our ministry to children. The pledge drive has been successful and the Board of Trustees has approved extending my hours by 5-8/wk starting in April. Some members of the congregation are looking at how we can make our fellowship hall more inviting. We continue to ponder who our neighbors are in Monroe and how we can be of service to them.

In mid-January I traveled to Berkeley for the Earl Lectures sponsored by the Pacific School of Religion for my week of study leave. I attended workshops that talked about church growth, mission opportunities, and enlivening worship. There were lectures on Christian Mission within a Pluralistic Age that helped increase my understanding of what the church is called to be in this day and age. Interactions with other pastors and church leaders led to wonderful sharing of ideas about church life. These are exciting things I look forward to sharing with you that will enhance our life together.

And yet, I feel that all of these things happening in our church are just the tips of new beginnings for this congregation. I wait with excitement to see where these beginnings take us. I am confident of the Spirit working in unseen ways to create even more possibilities for us to be a full expression of God in this community.

As I look outside at the buds just beginning to show on the trees I am aware of the pulsation of life growing just beyond what we can see. This poem gives a hint of the endless possibilities that are available for new life:

Unseen Buds

Unseen buds, infinite, hidden well,
Under the snow and ice, under the darkness, in every square or cubic inch,
Germinal, exquisite, in delicate lace, microscopic, unborn,
Like babes in wombs, latent, folded, compact, sleeping;
Billions of billions, and trillions of trillions of them waiting,
(On earth and in the sea the universe the stars there in the heavens,)
Urging slowly, surely forward, forming endless,
And waiting ever more, forever more behind.

-Walt Whitman

With God as our guide, there is always ever more life available to us. May we keep our hearts open in these coming months for the new life God will bring us that we may respond faithfully to that call.


Pastor Diane

Pastor-Parish Committee

The Pastor Parish Committee plays a vital role in supporting a healthy church The Committee seeks to support and maintain an open and healthy relationship between the pastor and the members of the congregation. The committee serves in two primary ways: as an advisory group to the pastor and as support for the pastor s leadership. As an advisory group the committee shares ideas, dreams, hopes, expectations, and concerns of the congregation with the pastor. As support for the pastor, the committee interprets roles, functions, and needs of the pastor to the congregation. The committee deals confidentially with sensitive issues.

Our committee is composed of Kayleen Bryson, Davi Martin, Hans Dankers, Lois Reuss and Pastor Diane. We meet at least quarterly to share with each other any concerns, questions or ideas we might have about the relationship and work between the pastor and the members of the congregation.

One example of the committee supporting the pastor is the recent questionnaires distributed to committees to determine who does what, when they meet, how they interact with other committees, which ones are advisory and which ones make decisions. This information helps educate a pastor new to the community.

We also have talked of participating in some conflict management training. There is conflict in all relationships and a church is not immune to this. This committee hopes to play an active role in modeling how a church can effectively confront difficult issues in a way that is healthy, respectful and timely.

If there are concerns you have about the pastor you feel you cannot talk about with her directly, please feel free to share the issue with one of the committee members. That information can be conveyed to the pastor in a confidential way that allows the issue to be addressed.

Moving Melodies: Our Music Ministry

Beautiful music for worship has always been a core part of our church. These past few months have been particularly enlivening ones for our ministry of music. We have our new hymnals and are exploring the new and familiar songs within it. We have musicians who have returned to share their gifts with us. The congregation has contributed their own joyful noise through using the bells and the percussion instruments with some of our songs. These have produced particular moments of joy. But, one movement within our music ministry is sad. Sasha Swanson, our long Music Director, has resigned so she can spend time with her husband at his church in Seattle and sing with him in the choir. Sasha s last Sunday was January 28. However, she has promised to come back once in a while to share music with us. We wish her well and are abundantly grateful for all she has shared with us.

On Feb. 18 we will welcome Keith Ruby as our new Music Director. Keith comes to us from a Congregational Church in Seattle where he has been an active leader in the congregation as well as music director for over 20 years. Keith was impressed with the wonderful qualities of our musicians and our sense of welcoming. He is enthusiastic about being part of the exciting future we are all creating for our church.

Share Your Gifts

Help Lead our Church into the Future. Every year there is some rotation of church committee members and leaders. We are pleased Davi Martin has agreed to continue as Moderator for this next year. There are lots of exciting things happening in our church and we are eager for some of you to help guide us. Whether you are a long term member or fairly new to the church you bring the uniqueness of who you are to our work. These are the positions open for next year.

Moderator Elect(1): This person assists the current Moderator in preparation for becoming the Moderator next year. The Moderator works with the pastor and congregation to provide leadership for the church. He or she chairs Cabinet meetings and is the presiding officer at all business meetings of the Church.

Clerk(1): The clerk keeps records of business meetings of the churhc ant the registry of members. S/He is responsible for recording admissions, baptisms, deaths, marriages, etc and works closely with the historian.

Trustees (1 or 2): Trustees have charge of the financial affairs of the Church and care and custody of the property of the Church. They are elected for a term of 3 years of less.

Diaconate (1 or 2): Members of the Diaconate Board assist in the preparation and administration of the sacraments. They attend to the spiritual interests of the church with a special focus on worship.

Historian: (1) The historian is responsible for the old records of the church and keeps a file of current church happenings, publications and photographs. Currently Joanne Meads is willing to do this when she is in town; it would help to have another person to share this responsibility for those times when she is gone.

Nominating Committee (1): The Nominating Committee prepares a list of nominations for officers, committee, and board members for the ensuing years and recommend to the Cabinet persons to fill vacancies that occur during the year.

If you have an interest in any of these positions please contact one of our nominating committee members: Hans Dankers, Kayleen Bryson, Ken Setzer or Pastor Diane. Recommendations will be presented at our annual meeting on February 18, 2000.

Part-time Work Opportunities at church

Please pass word of these opportunities on to people you know.

Administrative Support-- 4 hours/wk -- some flexibility in hours $9/hr.

Child Care Provider for Sunday service. Present at 10:15am to greet children and parent; service 11:30am. $10/hr.

Someone to make additional pew racks for the new hymnals. One time only.

For more info call Pastor Diane at 206-729-3725.

Monroe Congregational Church Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars for Sunday, February 18, 2000. This is when we gather together after church to celebrate the work we have done and look towards the future. There will be a potluck, a business meeting, singing and fun.

WNIUCC Annual Meeting: Our Hope for Years to Come

Our Conference annual meeting is being held April 27-29th<\sup> in Wenatchee. On alternating years there are business meetings or educational focuses. This year the focus is educational and there will be many exciting workshops and different kinds of worship to experience in a theme of renewal. Guest presenters include Michael Kinnamon, Yvette Flunder, Dayton Edmonds and Mike Stern.

This is an important way to connect with people from other UCC denominations and share our experiences. Our Board of Trustees has agreed to make a stipend available to people from our congregation who would like to attend this. Interested? See Pastor Diane

With Gratitude and Appreciation

To Sasha Swanson for her rich contributions to our worship music

To Karen, Brian, Chuck, Sue, Lois, Barb, Kris, Russ who contributed all the wonderful music during Christmas and who continue to bless our worship with their gifts.

To Davi Martin for her work as Moderator and for doing the bulletin.

To Betty Stewart for doing the newsletter

To Kris Browne for volunteering to become our regular greeter

To Russ Browne for his good work with our website.

*To all the leaders and committee members of the church who are leading the church into new life and for those who have been lay leaders for our worship services.

To Ken Setzer who keeps things running smoothly every Sunday morning.

In Our Prayers

Eileen Rosenzweig as she continues her healing and to as he provides her support. Cards can be sent to: 20704 Woods Creek., Monroe 98272.

Jeannie Dunlap as she heals from her surgery. Her address is 11321 Angeline Rd. E., Bonney Lake, WA 98390.

Bob Reuss as he continues his healing from surgery. All those unable to attend church because of health and physical limitations.

Moderator's Notes

Dear Friends;

Even though it is still officially winter, we have had such mild weather so far that I feel as if spring is just around the corner. These unseasonably sunny and relatively warm days beckon me outdoors it seems I crave the sun as surely as do the buds which will soon be breaking forth. I am sure that there is a plan, God s plan, which makes us yearn for the simple pleasures of the creation, to smell the smell of the woods, to grub in the soil and get dirt under fingernails, to plant seeds, prune trees and nurture our gardens, even if they only consist of pots. Our church is that same creation of Gods, needing nurturing, pruning, weeding and fertilizing. It is alive, always growing and changing and I feel we are very fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to participate in this exciting time of growth.

As we move through this season of Epiphany toward Lent and then Easter, let s remember that Epiphany is a time of discovery and learning, and of manifestation of divinity. We can open ourselves to this discovery of our gifts and talents, seeking the joy of being truly ourselves with our deepest and best qualities acknowledged and utilized.

We have sent out a questionnaire to committee heads asking for clarification of the duties and responsibilities entrusted to their groups. With a new pastor in place, it is a good time to consider just what we are all about when we meet to handle the workings of our church. Also, Diane needs to get familiar with how this church runs what we do and how we do it so we can all kind of step back and think of how to answer these important questions. Hardly any of us enjoys meetings just to pass the time, so analyzing what is truly important can help us all.

What fun it has been to use the new hymnals that were dedicated in November and are now in the pews. There are cards to put in the hymnals if you donated money and would like to dedicate a hymnal. We also need to have some extra space to hold both the old and new hymnals, so if anyone feels moved to make new racks for the backs of the pews, that would be very much appreciated.

I have really enjoyed getting to know Pastor Diane , and am grateful for all the work she has been doing for our church. Se already feels like family; she has been with us through some sad times, for two memorial services as well as visiting those with health problems. What a great comfort it has been to have her with us to share joys and comfort sorrows!

I hope to see many of you at the Annual Meeting.

Peace and love,



February 4, 2001
Isaiah 6:1
Psalm 138
1 Corinthians 15:1
Luke 5:1
February 11, 2001
Jeremiah 17:5
1 Corinthians 15:12
Luke 6:17
February 18, 2001
Genesis 45:3
Psalm 37:1
1 Corinthians 15:35
Luke 6: 27
February 25, 2001
Exodus 34:29
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12
Luke 9:28

Healing Arts Festival...

. . . on Saturday, February 17 at Everett UCC. Massages, facials, Reiki, etc. The cost will be $20 at the door and proceeds will benefit Housing Hope. Hours are from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, contact Sheri Comfort, 425-513-8032.

Missed Church?

Missed Church? Keep up with Diane's sermons and church activities on the Internet. The address is http://www.monroefirstcongregational.com.

Taizè Services

These are held at 6:30 p.m. the first Sunday of every month at our church. They consist of quiet worship, prayer, meditation and chant, and are led by Bill Comfort, former pastoral intern with us. They last about an hour and are a wonderfully simple wrap up to one week and the start of the next one.

Holy Week

Yes, it's true, Lent is coming up soon. Pastor Diane is discussing the possibility of holding ecumenical Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services with the Methodists, Episcopalians and Lutherans. More information will be coming.

Earthquake Relief

You can channel your donations for earthquake relief to El Salvador and India through the church and get more bang for the buck. Checks made out to Church World Service and placed in the offering plate give help with no administrative costs, because One Great Hour of Sharing does the administration. And CWS has workers on site in both places to ensure that donations get into the right hands. Mark earthquake relief on your check, and if you wish it to go to one or the other country, be sure to specify.

The Wider World

Barbara Tuck has agreed to keep us in touch with news we should be aware of in the larger world around. She has written for this newsletter before, but often our local news has crowded her articles off the pages. To take advantage of her reading and thinking, Russ Browne has agreed to include her articles on our church web page that address again is: http://www.monroefirstcongregational.com. If you don't have a computer at home, the library can help you.


Karen Rich reports that 27 pledges have been made for the year 2001, for a total of $46,969.

If you have not yet pledged it isn't too late. Just fill out a card and either drop it in the offering plate or send it to Karen.

As I See It

A long time ago, I became aware that when people spoke of morality they were referring only to sexual misbehavior. We have seen this again during the election and beyond, with people talking about Clinton s and Jesse Jackson immoral conduct. Without excusing either of them, I believe that morality is larger than this, and that all of us are immoral in many ways.

It seems to me that the election debacle in Florida was immoral that it deprived many people of the voice they need to invest in and cherish our government. Abusing a spouse or a child, whether physically or emotionally, I think is immoral. I also believe that if we allow anyone, anywhere to go without food or shelter, it is immoral. Bad mouthing the Hispanics or homeless around our area is another example. And yet another I live on Lewis Street, a state highway and very busy thorofare. I think it s immoral that at least 75% of the vehicles using it have only one person in them. What a waste of our resources!

I'm sure you can think of and see many other examples, and I d be glad to hear about them. You can reach me by phone - 805-9881, or e-mail, or see me in church.

Betty Stewart

(If you would like to contribute to this space, please talk to Pastor Diane or me. We d like it to be an open forum as long as there s room.)

Special for Women

Special for Women Mark your calendars now for the Nortwest Regional Women s Conference VI at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Warm Springs, Oregon, on November 2, 3, 4, 2001. More information will be coming.

Jesus Seminar

Seattle University will host "The Jesus Seminar" on March 9 - 10. Talks to be given include: "Jesus Before the Myth," "Reading the Resurrection," "Jesus Past and Future." The work of the scholars of the Jesus Seminar has provoked everything from excitement to outrage. This presentation is sure to stimulate your thinking and beliefs. For more information, call Bob Burkhart (206-525-8478)