Growing, listening, changing, living…
Elizabeth Sherwood, administrative pastor
Our vision statement contains dynamic verbs that communicate action and participation. We are not a static or paralyzed congregation. Good things are occurring, and how we grow, listen, change, and live is never the same from one season to the next.
We can reflect on what God is doing among us by noting the questions being asked that challenge us to discern and lean into hearing from God. Here are a few of the questions that have surfaced in the various committee meetings or conversations I have been a part of the last two weeks:
• How can we partner with YCAP and Edwards Elementary?
• What is our projected giving for next year’s budget?
• How can we better utilize business meetings?
• What is the first date for the Master Plan Revision Committee to meet?
• Could this ministry benefit from using the Friends Center space?
• What projects need to be on the 5-year plan for Friends
These questions are exciting because they illustrate that challenging things are being wrestled with, prayed about, and discussed. They surround areas of ministries where we seek God for wisdom and discernment. They reflect our desire to follow God’s leading in our service.
Gregg Koskela, lead pastor
Part of our vision as a church is to be a growing community…growing in numbers and also growing in our relationships with others. I’ve been really excited to see many new people become part of our church family in the last six months! It can be challenging to “break in” to a new church, so if you are one of the newer ones at NFC, I want to say welcome! We are really glad you are here. Please feel free to contact one of us on the pastoral team if you have questions about how to become more connected. We want to help you find ways to serve and have fun and learn and know people better.
For those of us who have been around a while, I want to say: remember that not everyone knows our “lingo” and our patterns and where things are. Hopefully we can all do our best to be aware of others and go out of our way to show care and welcome!
Nolan Staples, pastor of worship ministries
One beautiful thing about music is the element of vulnerability that comes with creating, performing, composing, and listening to music together. Sharing music with others is not something to be taken lightly, and I’ve had the joy of creating special connections with countless people through music. If I am playing music for or with you, I am sharing an important part of who I am, who God made me to be. And when we worship together with music, we have an opportunity to see a clearer picture of who God is in the beauty of the music.
So one cool part about my job is that I get to give groups of people the chance to share this experience with one another and with our whole congregation! I love seeing our community grow both through ensembles that meet regularly and have deepened relationships over time, and through ensembles made of people who have never met but get to know one another through the music. I’ve loved inviting people to join in leading musical worship on Sunday mornings for the first time, and seeing them make new connections with people they may not have connected with otherwise. I am thankful for this way in which we can continue to grow in community together.
Michelle Akins, pastor of children and families ministries
Our community is growing and blessing one another. It is pure joy to watch it unfold and be a part of helping connections take place. Late last September Ken Howe asked if he could offer his assistance teaching Sunday school. He has been so faithful! Kent Moore, a long time once-per-month volunteer, taught three times in January, allowing his new friend Ken some time to heal after a painful injury. Recently, Luann Foster sent me an e-mail letting me know she and her husband, Mike, changed their schedule to attend 2nd service so they can help in Sunday school two to three times per month. Holly Miele started working in the nursery and is happy to have her family settled into regular attendance at NFC. Just last week: Beth Koschmann asked me how she could begin the process of working in children’s ministries, Davida Brown took on a position in the 3s class, and Bailey Sherwood volunteered in Children’s Care. Thank you, Friends.
Steve Fawver, pastor of spiritual growth and care
During January I have the chance to drive from here to the coast on Highway 6 each Monday as a part of leading Sabbath by the Sea (retreats at Twin Rocks Friends Camp). On these trips one of the prevalent features is water—the river on the right, raindrops from the sky above, spray from the road below, and waterfalls gushing from the rocks on the left. Don’t worry, I do keep my eyes on the road! As I drive along this scenic ribbon of pavement it is a gift to see water springing up. This year we have been using John 4 as a text for our SBTS gathered worship times. The phrase that has been bubbling up for me has been Jesus saying, “…the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). As we look ahead to these next few months I want to encourage you to do whatever it takes to be drinking in Christ, or as our vision statement says, Listening to Christ and Changing in the Spirit. Some ideas for growth:
• Find a friend and get together to pray and to share.
• Join one of the incredible Sunday School classes that provide weekly teaching.
• Go to Women’s Bible Study Fellowship.
• Sit with the scripture we will be using each Sunday in worship.
• Volunteer with Love INC.
• Participate in the Ordinary Saints conference in April.
• Join other couples at 3M for time to be intentional in your marriage.
Jesus says that if we drink in his presence springs of water will well up within us. How might you drink in God’s love and let it flow out onto others these next few months?
Cindy Johnson, pastor of senior ministries
As pastor of senior ministries, I try to live out our whole vision statement. But as it relates to the Friendly Visitors who regularly check in with some of our Just Older Youth, I see their growing commitment—once a week to several times a month—to listen, to talk with, to pray with, to laugh with, go for walks, and play games. It not only blesses them but it also blesses the ones they visit. Having a friend come to visit really brightens their day.
When I visit with folks at Friendsview and other seniors from our community, I walk away so blessed by what I have learned from them and by the appreciation they express for my visit.
When Listening to Christ. One of my Friendly Visitors asked if I know of someone else who would enjoy a visit, along with the one he already visits. I had only one. When I told him the name he said he had thought of this person also. Now, that is listening to Christ!
Christ nudges me by laying on my heart and mind some particular person, and I need to follow through with the nudging. And I am glad I listened!
Eric Muhr, pastor for youth ministries
Living out love is hard work. Especially when we’re tired. When we’re busy or anxious. Especially when we’re with people.
But we’re trying. Some of the ways we’re trying:
• Just over 50 of us will travel to Mexico this spring break to team up with members of a church in San Luis and to help them finish homes for four families in need.
• A group of high school girls, now in their third year together, meet every Wednesday morning for coffee, for Bible study, for time to talk about where they’ve been, where they’re going, and where they see God in all of it.
• Middle school students are taking time every other week at youth group to pray for one another.
• High school students are meeting one Thursday a month to plan a weekend retreat for middle school students.
• Three teams of students and adults will spend a weekend in May helping seniors in our community with yard work.
The truth is this is work we’re not good at doing. But we’re doing it anyway. And God is teaching us in that work how to love the work we’re doing, how to love the people we’re working with, how to live out love.