MUD 2018 Reflections

We had a fantastic MUD High School Retreat at Cascades Camp January 12-14.  Matthew Humphreys and Laura Rudeen were our Co-Coordinators.  Here are their reflections on the event:

Matthew Humphreys:

200 high school students and 60 youth leaders  spent this past weekend at Cascades Camp for MUD 2018: ROOTS. There was an expectation set after our speaker, Steve Wong from University Covenant Church in Davis, California, spoke the first night that God would speak. It was a great start to camp to see circles of youth groups asking and have students sharing what they were hearing God say during our first session. We recognized that the things that were shared were not necessarily the things that anyone had actually said from up front, because God sometimes speaks in the pauses and prompts just as much as the literal words said.

It was a full weekend of Olympic-themed games and competitions; elective activities; seminars; prayer stations; worship; archery tag; glow in the dark dodgeball; and invitations. Each session we were invited into worship by high school students. We were invited throughout the weekend to listen to and respond to key challenges from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Sunday students were invited to respond to Jesus as Lord with many coming forward to mark their commitment to Jesus. Other students responded to the invitation to start following Jesus for the first time. Our final invitation that brought students back to the circles they started in as churches shared a time of communion together.
Thank you for your prayers ahead of and during MUD. Please join us in praying that the seeds that were planted at MUD would continue to grow in the lives of all who came.

Laura Rudeen:

MUD 2018 was incredible. Steve brought the students words to challenge and guide us. The truth is, God not only works through our circumstances to bring His kingdom more fully on earth, but God also works BECAUSE of our circumstances to do the same. It filled my heart to see high schoolers realize they matter, their stories are important, and God has a unique part for them to play in His kingdom mission. I am still hoping and praying that students will continue to be transformed by what God did at MUD. May the Lord give us eyes to see all of our neighbors as beloved brothers and sisters in the mission of Christ, not despite our different backgrounds, but because of them.

Thank you to Erik and Zach for being fun upfront presences, to Matt for gracefully and profoundly leading us through Letter From A Birmingham Jail, to Steve for his excellent messages, to Carl and the NPU band for leading us in worship, to Jessica and the camp staff for holding the weekend together, to Carla for her work on the prayer stations, and to the leaders who make this possible.

 

[Click Here] for more pictures from MUD

 

Cultivating Faithfulness Clergy Cohort

Cultivating Faithfulness Clergy Cohort

By Dawn Taloyo, Director of Pastoral and Congregational Health, PacNWC

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” (NASB)

The first Pacific Northwest Conference “Cultivating Faithfulness Clergy Cohort” (CFCC) began in late September with a retreat at Cascades Camp. We were blessed with sun and a camp all to ourselves. The quiet space was not empty space, however! We were enriched with God’s Word, an inspiring article by Henri Nouwen, great conversation as we learned one another’s stories, and generous time to connect with God.

The purpose of the CFCC is to provide restful and listening spaces among colleagues for the purpose of sustaining and renewing one’s call to Christ and devotion to ministry. Guided readings, monthly spiritual practices, and quarterly retreats, assist us in our listening.  I have heard over and over how this came at just the right time for these colleagues, now friends.  Our monthly online video calls keep us connected as we share about life and the fruit of our practices, and then pray for one another.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to pilot this cohort, as I learn and adapt from my experience with the Fuller Formation Groups. In my experience, sharing life with others who “get it,” as well as purposefully creating space for practices and retreats that help me abide in Christ, have been essential in remembering Whose I am and why I do what I do. I am grateful for grants from the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence fund, as well as our PacNWC Ministerial Association, that has made this opportunity available and affordable.

Lessons From A Church In Zombie Land

Lessons From A Church In Zombie Land

By Rob Bryceson, Lead Pastor, The Gathering House, Spokane, WA

Tonia and I came to Spokane in the summer of 2008. By November we found ourselves working in a dying, downtown church surrounded by homeless people, addicts, mentally ill, and those suffering under generational poverty. Within a year we opened our doors to the neighborhood inviting them to come in. That’s when the adventure really began.

This is our story – Lessons From A Church In Zombie Land. If you read this book, it will make you will laugh, you will get angry, you will be moved to sadness, and you might rethink your own church experiences. I’ve put the opening page below as a sample.

If you’re interested I would greatly appreciate if you would get a copy, leave a review on the site, and help spread the word.

Lessons From A Church In Zombie Land is the true story of how one pastor, transplanted from an affluent area of California through a shocking twist of events, was found serving in a downtown church among the homeless, addicted, broken and afflicted.

These accounts are his observations from the underside of civilization. This volume is the story of unlearning preconceived notions about what church should be and what working among those on the lowest rung of society is actually like, all the while learning to navigate the swamps of poverty culture.

These stories are often hilarious, sometimes poignant, frequently angering, but always thought-provoking. Rob Bryceson takes us on an intrepid ride of faith and adventure, with several miraculous twists and turns, as he shares the story of one downtown church coming alive from among the dead.

 

[Click Here] to buy the book, Lessons From a Church In Zombie Land

[Click Here] for more information on Street Wise Ministry

[Click Here] for more information on The Gathering House

 

 

Newport Covenant – A Time of Transition

Newport Covenant – A Time of Transition

By Barbara Moffat, Chair of the Newport Covenant Church Pastoral Search Committee

It is a situation no church ever desires:  the resignation of a Lead Pastor.  Yet it is that singular situation that was instrumental in our learning to be completely reliant upon God’s leading.  We have learned that when God moves, sometimes He moves boldly, and all you can do is hang on for the ride.  We have also learned that sometimes God’s direction is found only through waiting and praying.  The last year and a half has been a time of transition for Newport Covenant – and He has been with us every step of the way.

There was little warning that our pastor would resign; however, over a very short period of time, things were brought to light that had to be addressed.  We turned to both the PacNWC and the ECC Denomination for help.  They have walked alongside us and been available for the millions of questions that came along with ‘what do we do now’?  The resources that were available to us were amazing.  We didn’t need to recreate anything – all we had to do was ask and rely on the help that was right there.  In short order, we hired an interim lead pastor, formed a search committee, and began working ‘the process’. We created a church profile (and video!), advertised on CovConnect, shortlisted candidates, performed screening interviews, brought in candidates for formal interviews, held a candidating weekend, and offered a call.  And then we waited.

In the meantime, as a church we were learning to acknowledge, confront and address many years of wrongdoing and hurtful actions.  Our interim lead pastor, Rick Mylander, was instrumental in reaching out to as many people as possible to help both them, and us as a church, begin to transition into a new way of living and relating to each other.  This culminated in a service of Reconciliation and Hope which included an apology read by the Church Chair and Vice Chair naming and owning each and every painful act we could remember.  The service took us through a process of Understanding Reconciliation, Understanding Forgiveness, and Understanding Peace, and included a responsive confession and a time where people could come forward to one of three stations in the sanctuary to name their individual hurt and receive pastoral anointing and prayer.  The service was not meant to ignore or minimize continued pain, but to be a point from which each individual could move forward in their healing process.

One of the greatest things we have learned during this time of transition is to wait upon the Lord. Although we were confident in knowing who God intended to have for our next Lead Pastor, it was not immediately evident to our candidate!  Pastor David Beck was quite content with his current Call in Sacramento, CA, and was not looking for a new placement.  In many ways, this new Call is downright inconvenient.  But, he was open to being where God wanted him:  one step at a time, listening, praying, and being willing, seeking guidance, fasting, more prayer, and finally, embracing the Call.

Excitement is now building as we look toward Pastor David beginning at Newport on January 2, 2018 (with his first Sunday and a service of installation on January 7th).  A new year, a new pastor, a new ministry, a fresh start!  Even during a short one-month sabbatical in December, Pastor David has already started the process of reaching out and beginning to integrate himself into our lives and ministry.  Although we know that our true time of transition is about to begin, we will rely upon the lessons we have learned to-date about trusting Him and allowing God to direct our steps.

Are we ready for our new pastor?  Are we ready to lay down our own wants and desires and allow Him to continue leading us?  Are we ready to continue the process of being conformed into His image?  God willing, yes, because in the end, it must always – and only – be about Him.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.” (Ps 130:5)

From the Superintendent for January 2018

From the Superintendent for January 2018

By Greg Yee, Superintendent, PacNWC

Happy 2018!  I trust that you had a wonderful Christmas.  I’ve heard and seen so many good reports from around the conference including neighbors served, needs being met, people turning their lives over to Jesus, churches coming together, beautiful music being savored, kids looking heart-meltingly cute, multi-lingual services shared…so much!  I pray that this Christmas spirit – the reality of God With Us – would continue with great Holy Spirit momentum into the new year.

For me, I’m excited about ministry development and church planting.  I am writing this while attending the Chinese Mission Conference in Ontario, CA.  It’s been a fantastic way to end 2017.  I’m attending with the single purpose of finding ministry partners and/or church planters to reach the Chinese-speaking in the PacNW.  I know that many of our churches are in neighborhoods that have seen sizable Chinese growth.  I long for us to be part of God’s action among the Chinese (and also East Indian!).  I want to remind us that we are “doubling down” on ministry development/church planting in general this year with the ongoing work of our coaches (Russ Blake, Mark Meredith, Rob Fairbanks), contracted work with Esau Del Arca to lead Latino ministry growth, and the start of our new Conference Coach, Peter Sung, who will oversee planting.  I’m really excited! I can’t wait to see what God will show us!  I long for more people to be reached and for all of our communities to be transformed through new ministries in your churches and with new plants.  But I know nothing will happen without us praying and fasting.  PacNWC, please join me in regularly doing so.  In addition to other times and ways you might pray and fast, I want to invite you to join me in calendering something specific.  I will set my phone alarm to 9:38PM as a reminder to pray Matthew 9:38 (Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest…).  I will also calendar a weekly fast through March and then reassess.  Let’s keep it real, Mission Friends.  New Years blessings to you, yours, and your church.  May Jesus continue to be glorified.  Happy New Years!

Greg Yee

 

From the Superintendent

By Greg Yee, Superintendent, PacNWC

As we begin a new Christian Year with the first week of Advent this Sunday, I find myself reflecting on the beautiful and theologically vital passage Philippians 2:5-8.  As we enter this time of the year when we remember in anticipation the coming of our Savior, we are given this description of Jesus knowing his place of power and privilege.  Even though he had this, deserved it, it was not his focus to maintain it.  Rather, he let go of his control and position and took on human flesh.  He did this to make things right so that all could flourish and have new life.  In the beginning of this passage it says, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”  How is your mindset?  I’m feeling this deeply as we just came off our 10th Journey to Mosaic.  How do I understand my racial privilege and power and what must I do to have Christ’s heart-set when it comes to learning and responding to race realities?  I’m feeling this deeply as we are confronted with the shocking and steady flow of names coming forward around sexual assault/harassment.  How do I understand how misogynistic our culture and subcultures are and how do I have the focus and attitude of Christ as a male? I once read this quote, “One of the privileges of the great is to witness catastrophes from a terrace.”  I believe there is much for each of us to consider as we, even today, expectantly wait for Jesus’ coming.  May we have the mindset of the Prince of Peace and not sit on our terraces, but enter our worlds full of catastrophes.  We are people of contentment & restlessness, peace & frustration, and love & anger.  May you begin Advent with the mindset of the Prince of Peace & our Conquering King.  Come, o come, Emmanuel…

Reflections on Journey to Mosaic

By Matt Dyment

Three weeks ago, I had a few dreams come true. Ever since seminary, and participating in the Sankofa experience, I have longed to take a similar journey with fellow Christians from a mosaic of races and ethnicities. Alongside this dream I continually strive to take students on transformational adventures – adventures where what is happening right in front of them is so good, so beautiful they forget about their phones, studies, and the urgent demands of life and open their eyes to the Kingdom of God space they live within.

J2M brought these dreams together. I joined four undergraduate students from George Fox University for the four-day, non-stop, you-better-learn-to-drink-while-standing-under-a-raging-waterfall journey.  It was filled with deep conversations connected with a partner from another race/ethnicity while taking in documentaries and movies while we drive to meaningful, painful, and hopeful places.  The dialogue of justice is constant and the pursuit of racial reconciliation isn’t an add on but on center stage.

J2M doesn’t offer easy answers, and it doesn’t give the opportunity to walk away from the table. Thanks to our leaders and the grace of God, while around this table of truth and pain, personal stories were shared in ways bringing freedom. One of the female Hispanic students from Fox pulled me aside after the last night and said, “That was the first time I knew I could share my whole story, my whole opinion and not have to worry I was going to be judged. It was so wonderful. I knew sharing my story would only bring me closer to those on the trip. My story usually creates distance from others when I tell it.”

Personally, J2M deepened my heart for the work of justice in our local community, state, country, and world. It is hard, exhausting and long work, but it is where we are called to be in our time of history. We from Fox are so thankful to have been able to join J2M on it’s 10th anniversary. I am so thankful to be part of a regional conference in the ECC which prioritizes the work of racial reconciliation and continued learning. Don’t wait to sign up for the next trip if you are interested. Get your name on the list now!

Will There Be Churches?

By Peter Sung, Director of Church Planting, PacNWC/Lead Pastor, Evergreen Covenant Church

Before we immigrated when I was eight, growing up in South Korea meant immersion in the way of life that was the Presbyterian church, and that meant conforming to fit in. Now I can see that for what much of it was: bad theology, default culture, and really, just human nature.

1981 was the start of a new life in America but the continuation of the same social and spiritual environment: put on the mask and fit in. But a new imperative showed up in the immigrant church: Be good and succeed. This too was human nature coursing through the veins of bad theology and an even more oppressive cultural mandate. Stiff burgundy and white envelopes with names and dollar amounts were read out loud each week in each of the three Sunday services. These unashamedly public tithes and offerings were the perfect emblem that proved goodness and success.

Repulsed, and feeling spiritually and culturally homeless, I decided 11th grade was old enough to leave the nest and go find… something different. With vague ideals and words like acceptance (not performance), belonging (not fitting in), grace (not merit), and true community (not masked ones) swirling around my head, I went off in search of a better land and began my second immigration journey, this time a chosen one.

I found an inner city church with a white pastor, a woman worship leader, and a congregation that was culturally mixed. I had few categories but I felt like I was getting closer to home and a seed was planted. In college, I didn’t just join InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, but I deliberately rejected many others that I felt were gathering for reasons other than the Gospel. Inspired by a sense of mission to propagate a new kind of church, I abandoned my mother’s call on my life to become a medical doctor, switched my major, and applied to seminary. With my acceptance letter to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in hand, one week after graduation from college, I planted my first church. Then a second. Then a third. Then a fourth. Then a fifth. Then I met the Covenant, fell in love and joined, and the 90’s were over.

This whole time, underneath the surface, the cultural ground was shifting and presumptions were being challenged. The internet, and the technology to access it, began to fill the earth just like the waters cover the sea. Postmodernity became less of a talking point and less threatening to the church relative to the opt-in culture that was the child of individualism, consumerism, and technology. How people related to information, to authority, to people, places, and things – shifted. Coming to church, committing to church, church being a serious contender in culture and in calendars – shifted.

Lots of fails. Lots of studies. Lots of books. Lots of consulting groups later, we’re beginning to see the church doing what it has always done – adapt, and eventually thrive, again. But many churches and leaders are getting lost in the shuffle. It’s all just happening so fast and furiously. At times like this, we are able to appreciate the difference between resilient and strong. Strong is like the pyramids – powerful but now, mostly gone. Resilient is like a forest – easily destroyed but able to spring back to life. Resilient endures, adapts, and finds a way to thrive again. Strong cracks, wears down, and goes away.

Beginning with my own spiritual journey, then church planting, then directing church planting, and now engaged in the work of church turnaround, my respect for the church has been growing again, not because it’s perfect or strong but because it’s resilient. It’s resilient because it’s alive. Buildings and programs and strategies and cultures – these all have their place in life but are not life. The end purpose is life and life will find a way as God guides his Church through time and space.

If I stop anchoring in the past and show up here and now with Christ’s Gospel in heart and hand, the opportunities to engage the present day, as it is and not as I think it should be, abound. Is today’s missional challenge for you? No, the gates of hades will not prevail against the Body of Christ.

This is my sense of call as I continue the work of church turnaround locally and partner with the Conference more broadly: to competently engage culture and society with light and salt, sweat and tears, and the enduring blood of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit who is moving in our world more than we can think or imagine.

Let’s end with a benediction for all of us, for all generations before and yet to come:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

From Our Superintendent

By Greg Yee, Superintendent, PacNWC

I strongly encourage you to make it a point to send your full compliment of delegates to the 2018 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (June 21-23).  It is a significant year of transition for the ECC as this meeting will elect a new president of the denomination and North Park, and potentially installing a new executive minister for Develop Leaders and superintendents for  Canada and the Southeast.  All of these transitions have reminded me of something that has come up several times recently – LEGACY.  We are certainly blessed by the legacy of these leaders that are moving on.  Last weekend, we celebrated Tom and Donna Moline and their 80 combined-years in camping ministries. Last week at our pilot of a continuing ed opportunity for veteran pastors, “Vocational Excellence 2.0,” we asked ourselves, how do we finish well as pastors – what do we pass on?  Susan Bosak from the Legacy Project writes, “At the beginning, we are what we are given. By mid-life, as we make our way in the world, we come to understand that we can be what we have been given and what we can create. Toward the end of life, we must understand that we must give to others, so that when we leave this world we are what we have been given, have created, and have passed on.” Psalm 78:4 brings it home well, We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.  With all of this reflection on legacy, it seems like a good time to ask – are we passing down a completely sold-out life for Christ?  By God’s grace, may it be – sola dea gloria.

Clergy Retreat Report

By Vicki Lund  on behalf of the Pac NWC Ministerial Executive Committee

The fall weather was beautiful at Cascades Camp at the October “Clergy, Staff and Family Retreat.” For those who came to enjoy outdoor activities, this made canoeing on the lake, going horseback riding, or trying out the zip line that much more enjoyable. Some even relaxed with a massage.

Our speaker, Pastor Doug Bixby, from Massachusetts, shared practical tips concerning conflict, and how the church can discuss ways to building healthy relationships in our congregations. He shared from 24 years of pastor experience as we looked at personal relationships with parishioners and our family. Ministry is a stressful career for both those serving and their family. A special session was added this year for clergy spouses.

The PAC NW Conference continues to seek to have this getaway retreat, so those who attend can rest, be renewed and enjoy time with ministerial colleagues.

One of our goals for next year is to have more clergy in our conference involved in our sessions together. We welcome your ideas and help as we seek to serve you better.