Midwinter Reflections

Midwinter Reflections

By Jim Sequeira, Lead Pastor, Cascade View Covenant Church

My wife Glenna really likes our Midwinter Conference even though she’s never been.  How do I know?  She told me, “Whenever you come back from Midwinter you’re a nicer person.”  I’m still trying to figure out the deeper meaning of my wife’s words.  For those of us who were able to attend this year, I hope you’ve been enjoying your new iPad they gave out.  Those who were unable to attend, I heard your etch-a-sketch is in the mail.  Okay, so we didn’t get iPads, but iGot blessed…again.  Midwinter has been an oasis of pastoral and spiritual renewal for me in the best of times, darkest of times, the hardest of times and some of the funnest times.

As part of my community service requirements I was invited by the Board of Ordered Ministry to interview some of our Covenant ‘ohana members for ordination and I was blessed and encouraged by the vision, passion and quality of the pastoral leadership; especially the giftedness of our young pastoral leaders.  Shout out to those who will be ordained/ordination transfer at the ECC Annual Meeting: Derek Hwang, Katey Hage, Debbie Montzingo, Bob Zurinsky and John Bangs!

I was blessed by the richness of our ECC ‘ohana’s diversity birthed by our Swedish immigrant  ancestors.  Chillin’ with my Hispanic, Asian-American, African-American, Indigenous and Caucasian-American brothers and sisters sharing stories, eating together and hearing from inspiring ethnic voices while attending the Racial Righteousness, Multi-Ethnic, Asian Covenant Pastors Association (“mahalo” to Gail Song Bantum for establishing a good foundation for CAPA) and Serve Globally gatherings.  I was blessed the ECC furthered the conversation and story of the marginalization of Indigenous Peoples a second year and the opportunity to co-lead the workshop and discussions with Lenore Three Stars (Oglala Lakota) and Curtis Ivanoff (Native Alaskan).  FYI-the ECC is planning to present a paper for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery at the Annual Meeting in June.

I was blessed again with the open, difficult and honest conversations with pastors and conference staff friends from various conferences and regions.  All speaking into my life bringing encouragement, joy and laughter.  I was blessed by the conversations with those in our own PacNWC; especially those in our regional multi-ethnic cohort who encouraged, corrected, schooled and taught me much.  I’m grateful to be their “Uncle Jim.”  And there are those who weren’t in attendance whom I missed as well.

There are just too many blessings and people to list here.  So, I guess when someone is this blessed there is no other option than to be “a nicer person.”  I really do need to find out what Glenna meant.

MUD 2018 Reflections

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

 

Newport Covenant – A Time of Transition

Newport Covenant – A Time of Transition

By Barbara Moffat, Chair, Newport Covenant Church

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)

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!

Thunder was Awesome

By Pete Anderson, Associate Pastor for Youth, Crossroads Community Covenant Church

Thunder 2017 this year was Awesome! We hit the ground running with the adventure of a lifetime. As lighting flashed on a mountain graphic on the screens, Thun-Der was being shouted by 460 Middle school students, and then Indiana Jones repelled from the ceiling. Thunder Retreat 2017 has begun! From worship, to food, to conversations and games this weekend was characterized by the word Awesome… Let me tell you a little more of what I mean!

Awesome Youth Pastors, Volunteers, and Cascades staff and volunteers:

For starters, we had an awesome set of Youth Pastors and Volunteers from across the PNW that sacrificed their time, energy, and sleep, to spend a weekend at Cascades. This retreat isn’t possible without these amazing leaders. I thank God for their commitment, their service, their love for students! We have an amazing set of leaders and volunteers! For real, wherever you are at in the PNW take some time to thank, encourage, support, give a Starbucks gift card to the Youth Pastors and Volunteers that run your student ministries! They are in the trenches and are doing a fantastic job! Speaking of …other people who made this retreat amazing… Jessica Palmer (Cascades Program Director) and the amazing Cascades staff and volunteers! They do an amazing job at helping make this retreat possible. I love the partnership, the comraderie, and support that we have in Cascades. It’s truly a blessing to have such an amazing camp, staff, and retreat to go to each and every year!

Awesome Retreat Speaker: Erik Anderson

Speaking of awesome… Our retreat Speaker was great. Erik Anderson, the outreach pastor at Crossroads Church (Woodbury, MN). He challenged our students into living an extraordinary life for Jesus; being misfits for the Messiah. Our life with Jesus is anything but ordinary. His messages were on point biblically, they were on fleek culturally, and they spoke to the hearts, minds, and lives of our Middle School students. He covered Samson and challenged our students to see that it’s easy to get distracted and pulled away from the extraordinary life God has for us. He looked at David and encouraged students to realize that God’s “Hesed” his love that pursues us, can help us through the pain, hurt, and sin that can make us feel less than extraordinary. He pointed out that the Good Samaritan stood up and did something extraordinary when the rest of the world just walked on by. And lastly, He sent us back into our church vans with this charge: As you go home remember you can play a part in a miracle. God has an extraordinary plan for your life. Go home and be misfits for the messiah. Mark 2 tells us the story of 4 friends who did whatever it took to get their friend to Jesus. We too, can play part in a miracle. There were many students who shared with their Youth Pastors of important faith decisions they made during the weekend; we praise God for how He worked and the faithful service or Erik bringing the good news!

So the questions from this retreat  that we are left with are these: Are we living as misfits for the messiah? Will you step up and play a part in a miracle? Are you living an ordinary or extraordinary life for Jesus?  What distractions are getting in our way from living extraordinary lives? What are you going to do about those distractions? Who is it that needs a little love, needs someone to stand up and live extraordinary on their behalf?

Awesome Worship: Crossroads Worship Team (Yelm, WA)

We had a great time of worship led by the Crossroads Worship team. This team was comprised of Debbie MacNealy with keys and vocals, supported by guitarist Pat MacNealy, Bassist Drex Zimmerman, and Drummer extraordinaire Vern Schick! I’ve truly got to tell you, there’s nothing better than worshipping with 400+ MS students!!! You know that scripture “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom…” Well, that rang true during worship at Thunder. The kids felt that freedom from the Lord’s presence and what followed was an amazing expression of praise… I’m talking about spontaneous conga lines, Piggy backs, Students swaying back and forth with their arms on each other’s shoulders, made up motions to the worship songs, Smiles, laughter, high fives, and the need to take a seat on the side because worship was so exhausting!!! How great to have a time to get into the wilderness with 460 middle school students and praise Jesus in freedom!

Awesome Weekend:

Cascades camp is an amazing place and we are so thankful to have a place to retreat and worship Jesus! Over the weekend we explored the 1,000 acres while playing big games, dueling our friends in the GaGa Pit, competing in extreme spoons, dodging paintballs in the paintball arena, making arts and crafts, off roadin’ in the Rubicon, having an adventurous time riding horseback through the forest in the rain, getting muddy, playing hours of 9 square in the air, probably eating too much candy, feeling the breeze as we zipped on the zipline, conquering fears scaling the climbing tower, holding reptiles like a Python and lizard, getting selfies with an alligator on your head, and much, much, more… What an awesome weekend that was! Thank you once again to everyone who helped plan, pray, give scholarships, and support the Thunder Retreat! We’ll see you next year!

Awesome Planning Team:

As I close this letter I want to give a big shout out to the great Retreat Planning team for the 2017 Retreat. Behind the scenes planning is often unrecognized and I want to make sure these folks know that I appreciate their hard work, their prayers, months of prepping and planning, and their partnership in ministry. As the retreat coordinator I couldn’t have pulled Thunder 2017 without this planning team: Kara Harris (Faint Covenant), Jessica Palmer (Cascades Camp), Erik Cave (PacNWC), Tim Anderson (Cascade Covenant), Brianne Losacco (Shoreline Covenant) and Micah Holmes (Countryside Covenant).