Pastor Quarterly Reports
Pastors Seek Your Input on Specific Areas of Ministry
Elizabeth Sherwood, administrative pastor
One of the ongoing questions we are exploring here at NFC involves how we are serving our neighbors. As living expressions of Christ, how do we reach out to our immediate neighbors here on the south side of town as well as the larger Newberg community? In years past we have provided practical offerings through the Serve and Celebrate event. We have hosted Love INC’s Thursday night Relational Ministry for the past five years. This fall they will be moving to Newberg Christian in order to tag their program along with the community supper. Individuals from NFC serve with Love INC as mentors, office volunteers, and shelter hosts.
During Christmas break we responded to a request from the school district to provide a meal for Edwards Elementary students and their families. Even though the turnout was low, it was profound to provide a meal for the folks who did attend and who were very appreciative. Since Christmas, we have been invited by YCAP to help distribute “Friday Food Bags” once a month at Edwards. The staff at YCAP has let us know they would love to partner with us on any future projects.
So how do we move forward in serving our community? What ideas do you have for how we could use our resources to bless those around us? Is there a ministry you feel called to pursue? I want to hear from you, so please call or e-mail me soon.
Let us remain a community that listens to how God is leading us in new and dynamic ways.
Nolan Staples, pastor of worship ministries
One of my main goals in this ministry has been to get many different voices of our community involved in our Sunday morning worship. If you have any interest in singing or playing an instrument to help lead us in worship on a Sunday morning, please e-mail me; I’d love to talk with you about how we might use your gifts in our gathered worship.
Gregg Koskela, lead pastor
We continue to look for more opportunities to connect with each other at Newberg Friends. We have Sunday school classes and small groups and ways to serve together that build relationships. Some people find more casual “event”-type activities an easier place to begin making friendships. Our Story Slam nights in the last year are examples of that. I’m really curious if some of you have other ideas for “connecting” events that you would be willing to lead and invite interested people to be part of…perhaps some of you would organize a bike ride? Or a thrift shopping day? Or a trip to Powell’s Books or a fishing trip? What ideas do you have for activities that could help people at Newberg Friends make fun connections with each other? Give me a call or drop me an e-mail with your ideas!
pastor of children and family ministries
Trying to discern the desires of our community is a big part of pastoral leadership. I will admit there are times I feel as though I’ve done that piece well and other times I feel pretty clueless. I often wonder if the programming I help create in children and family ministries is actually what our congregation and the wider Newberg area really need. My position encompasses caring for and teaching children through 5th grade, women’s ministries (WBF and NFC women’s retreat), and family ministries such as Monthly Marriage Maintenance (3M). I am usually thinking about many areas per week…ha, make that per hour!
Your prayers, ideas, teamwork, expertise, interest, and enthusiasm are valuable and necessary as I aim not only to please and provide for you, but more important to offer my support as we respond to God. I find pastoral ministry most meaningful when we work together—when I take my lead from listening to Christ and listening to you. I pray that this pastoral report serves as a good reminder that my door, ears, and heart are always open to you and to this community. I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit will guide and empower us as we discern together. Perhaps you’re wondering what types of feedback would be helpful to me, so here are just a few suggestions:
1. What types of children’s ministries do you find most important and helpful to your children: VBS, Sunday school, Fun Nights, etc.? What would you like to see added or what do you find unnecessary?
2. Currently women’s ministries predominately consists of Women’s Bible Fellowship (Wednesday evenings, and Thursday morning) and an annual retreat at Twin Rocks. Are these helpful options for you? What else could NFC do to support women in our community?
3. Family ministry is a very broad category. We’ve done everything from a family story time and intergenerational game nights to parenting classes, missions support potlucks, and marriage support groups. How would you define family ministry? Where would you like to see NFC focus?
E-mail some of your thoughts to me or call to chat.
Steve Fawver, pastor of spiritual health and care
Men, mark your calendars for the weekend of September 18-20 for Men’s Retreat at Twin Rocks just for you. We tested out this event in 2014 as I joined Ron Hampton, Hutch Hutchinson, Pete Snow, Jeff McDonough, and Karl Birky. After a very positive weekend, we came home ready to jump in again in 2015. There was time to sit around the fire, make breakfast together (with plenty of bacon), enjoy excellent teaching, and have lots of free time as well. I plan to go again this year and hope we can double our group of NFC men who can get away, rest, and grow in our relationship with God and one another. As I have thought about Men’s Retreat it has also encouraged me to think about other options for men here in the NFC community. What things would help you in your journey with God? What options might create space for growth, challenge, encouragement, or connection with others in your life? Do you feel you have what you need in terms of spiritual encouragement? Do you feel you have what you need in terms of opportunities to connect with others? We don’t want to just create “programs” to fill up the calendar, yet we do want to find ways to be a support as the men at NFC do what it takes to “be rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith you were taught” (Colossians 2:7). Gregg Koskela challenged us this week to find ways to be intentional in our life with God. It was a powerful message, and I for one want to take this call to follow God seriously. If you have ideas or thoughts in this regard, feel free to catch me for coffee, send an e-mail, or give me a call when you have a chance. Men, how can we support and encourage one another?
Cindy Johnson, pastor of senior ministries
What would brighten your day? What activities do you look forward to or bring you excitement? What places do you like to visit? A trip to the Tulip Festival? Dave’s Killer Bread outlet store? Bob’s Red Mill? A mean game of ping pong with some regulars who play weekly at Friendsview?
I am looking for ideas from our Just Older Youth, events you would enjoy, ways to spend time together and have some fun and excitement. What would you like to do?
Send your ideas and suggestions and let’s see what happens. You can e-mail me or give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you!
Eric Muhr, pastor of youth ministries
There’s this joke I hear a lot about Newberg Friends. One variation—“Are we having Easter at Bauman this year?”—highlights the fact that even decades after the end of a program or event, we still remember it as the way we’ve always done things.
In the youth group, we have our own version of the joke. Somebody asks if Kyle is coming. Another person responds that yes, he’s coming, but they heard he’s going to be late. Many of the students who tell this joke don’t know who Kyle is (or was). But they understand the message.
We are strong on tradition. From meeting to meeting and year to year, most things stay the same.
Which isn’t necessarily bad.
Tradition brings with it a sense of stability and predictability that makes ministry more efficient. If you know how things are done, you don’t have to think about the details. You can focus more of your time and energy on the people. A strong sense of tradition also lends itself to a shared sense of institutional identity. And lots of inside jokes.
But tradition sometimes results in stagnation and decline. It also tends to exclude people who don’t know how things are done, who don’t know us well enough to interpret our expectations or to relate to our humor. In fact, they might not think we’re very funny.
This is my struggle in youth ministry at Newberg Friends. Middle and high school youth are a transitional sub-community within the larger worshiping community. They grow up fast. And before we’ve really had time to prepare, the youth group’s changed —all new students and families. Every year, we send off our graduates. Every year, we welcome new sixth grade students and their friends. Every year, the work that we’ve already done has to be done again.
People get tired. Too tired to think outside the box of tradition. So tired that sometimes, these new sixth grade students seem like a disruption to the way things are supposed to be. Which makes it hard for us to love them. It is a creative tension that doesn’t always feel creative.
This work that makes us tired, however, also points to opportunity. There is room each year for new volunteers to engage with this new group of students, to commit to traveling together for a time. It’s an opportunity for a new group of people to create new traditions. New shared experiences. And lots of new jokes.