Pastor Reports — “Dreams: Realized and Striving”
Nolan Staples, worship ministries
I once had a teacher who regularly reminded us: “There is no there.” The same is true with our music and worship; we will never have “arrived” at a final place. There will always be new ways to relate to each other and express our worship through music. We will always be works in progress as we continue to show up to sing, listen, connect, and worship in community together. Our desire increases to grow closer to God and to be molded more into people who live and love well. God never tires of our worship offerings, and we are renewed in our singing and listening and waiting together. I am encouraged that there is life and creativity and healing in music. There is freshness and depth in music- making that we can continue to use as a point of connection as we worship together. I pray we can be a community that is blessed and challenged by having variety in our music. I pray we can be a community that gives freedom to each one to use his or her unique gifts to bless our diverse church body. I am very glad we have so many people in our congregation who are eager and willing to join together to lead us musically.
Elizabeth Sherwood, administrative pastor
This spring facilities co-managers Dan Ritter and Arnie Mitchell developed a plan to bring a couple of our furnaces up to speed in both cost and energy efficiency. The furnace that heats the Barclay building is used six days a week and runs below 80 percent efficiency. The ceiling unit in Barclay A is loud and distracting. The proposed plan will involve a 96 percent efficient furnace in the office and a ductless heat pump for Barclay A and B. The project will be funded by the Furnace Repair Reserve as well as the Gasoline Tithe Fund. The trustees approved the project and anticipate savings to the budget as we honor our value of being better stewards of our energy resources.
This project is the second of two significant uses of the Gasoline Tithe Fund, created in 2009. The goal of the fund was to raise awareness of how we each use resources (specifically, gasoline) and to encourage voluntary giving of either a literal or symbolic tithe on the amount we spend at the gas pump. Funds would be designated for creation care projects at the church. Over the years, $6,200 has been given. In 2012 we worked with Energy Trust of Oregon, which matched monies from the tithe fund for insulation for the Barclay building. This summer we will be using more than $2,000 of the fund to replace three inefficient furnaces. The trustees want to thank folks from NFC who have participated in the Gasoline Tithe Fund and would like to invite others to join in this specific effort of stewardship.
Gregg Koskela, lead pastor
Even with the tension that has swirled around our church and our yearly meeting over the last nine months, there have been beautiful signs of health in our community. Wider events have opened our eyes to ways we disagree about important issues; yet there are so many ways we see evidence of people seeking God through the Bible and community to find out how to live more faithfully in obedience to Jesus. There are so many ways people are working to demonstrate love and compassion to all.
In each of the Sundays in April, more than 100 people gathered to watch a series of videos on human sexuality and meet in small groups for discussion. Forty-nine of those have filled out a survey about the experience (you can do it here if you haven’t already). The answers show that this process was really helpful! Before the meetings, 21 people (43%) said they were apprehensive or concerned about having these discussions in our church (with 7 of those very apprehensive or concerned). After the meetings, 37 (75%) were grateful or hopeful about the continued process (6 of those very grateful or hopeful), and only 8 apprehensive or concerned (and none in the “very” camp). The questions about how the elders’ goals of learning together and listening with compassion were achieved all were answered positively. Perhaps most encouraging was that 83% agreed or strongly agreed that they could now do a better job of explaining a perspective different from their own.
It’s not easy being in disagreement about important things, but this shows there is value in being the kind of church that can discuss and learn and seek truth together. We will publish more results from the survey after more responses are in.
Here’s what else encourages me: while some might feel issues of sexuality have been the sole focus of the church, there are all kinds of examples that show growing ministry. Our International House, which was just an idea in Loren VanTassel’s mind a year ago, experiences vibrant community each Friday night, and several are part of our Sunday morning gatherings. More than 30 people from NFC have been praying and researching ways to tangibly help refugees. We have an intern coming on board this summer who will help with that process, as well as explore a new Christian ministry in Newberg called Safe Families, that would give us the opportunity as a church to holistically help a local family in crisis. I’m very grateful for being part of a church that continues to focus on living obediently to Jesus and living out God’s love in our world!
Michelle Akins, children and family ministries
When you think about the NFC social hall, I wonder if your thoughts and feelings resonate with mine? For me, it’s where many of my dreams have come true. The social hall is a place of healing, worship, fellowship, and peace. My affection for the social hall began 13 years ago with the Alpha course, facilitated by Jo Helsabeck. Since then it’s been used in my life and pastoral work for a variety of ministries. Currently, I am grateful for the space as a place for Women’s Bible Fellowship (WBF) to gather on Thursday mornings. In the fall of 2003 I sheepishly walked into a community of women who embraced me with grace and forgiveness. I found WBF to be a place of freedom and kindness, and I never left. I was encouraged to study, use my gifts, and live with integrity. Soon I offered myself as a small group leader, steering team member, and when Jo retired a few years ago, WBF (and women’s ministries in general), became a part of my pastoral responsibilities. I am happy to report that today WBF has expanded to include an evening group on Wednesdays. At least half of the participants in WBF/WBFpm are from beyond the NFC community. Our social hall is a sanctuary, a place of worship, for more than 85 women who have participated in WBF this year. We welcome all women, regardless of previous attendance, to join us for a delicious brunch on May 26, 8:45 a.m., in the NFC social hall.
Ff you follow me on social media, you probably know that another place I’ve experienced dreams realized is in my home on Tangen Road. Here on almost nine acres, Alan and I are learning about “farm life” and what it takes to manage the flora and fauna. Being serious suburbanites our whole lives, we have a steep learning curve, but he and I are enjoying the work it takes to grow as individuals and as a couple in order to partner together as country folk. Perhaps all this talk about growing has been the catalyst for me to rename our children’s ministry meetings to Children’s Ministry Cultivation (CMC). Years ago, this idea stemmed from my desire to see real growth and transformation happen within our church in the area of children’s ministries. I’ve been grateful for the ways you have trusted me to put together a plan, implement it, and keep it going—but my heart longs to have your input, teamwork, and group prayer feeding children’s ministry on a regular basis. Every other month during the year you’re invited out to Tangen for CMC. Here in my home we’ll share stories, seek out ideas, discuss questions designed to cultivate children’s ministries, and pray together. My hope is that volunteers, parents, and interested NFCers would join me as we strive to grow together for the benefit of the children we serve, worship with, and love in our community. Our next CMC will be May 12, 7:30 p.m, 14035 NE Tangen Rd., Newberg. Meetings last one hour.
Eric Muhr, youth ministries
Lightening our load of possessions brings a lightness of spirit, even freedom.
Not so many years ago, a friend of mine left for California on an early spring morning. He was working there for the summer. He was supposed to have everything packed up and ready to go by 6:30 that morning. Of course, he put it off until the last minute. Of course, his alarm clock didn’t go off. And he wasn’t able to finish his laundry. And he didn’t have room for even half the stuff he wanted to take.
I noticed something interesting as he rushed around, trying to get out the door. His priorities had changed (or finally come to light). Many of his prized possessions —television, computer, books, new clothes—had to be sacrificed because they wouldn’t fit (and the journey was of primary importance). He couldn’t afford to take anything that would hold him back.
Maybe this is how we should view our own lives in the world: as a journey. What are we spending time on—career, possessions, responsibilities, relationships—that we don’t have time for? What people, things, or activities are holding us back from fully experiencing this journey to which God has called us? And of all the things that we desire, how many of them do we actually need? Are they good for us?