Friday Focus – August 10, 2018

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A year ago many NFCers scrambled to fill sudden vacancies in committees and church-wide positions, some taking on roles once filled by a team of pastors and staff. It was a sight to behold from my vantage in the church office! And it still humbles me to continue receiving a salary while so many others show their love for God and his church by joyfully offering their time and effort on a volunteer basis without grumble or murmur (that I ever hear).

A year ago I quickly realized I could not keep the office open nine hours a day, five days a week, assisting visitors, answering the phone, and still keep up with my other assignments. First, we reduced the office hours, an obvious solution! And then three angels stepped up to lend a hand: Susan Hampton, Carolyn Stansell, Cathie Jo Sturdevant (shown clockwise from upper left)! You can’t see their wings, but I see them every Monday (Susan), Wednesday (Carolyn), and Thursday (Cathie Jo), when they show up to accomplish the regular tasks I’ve moved from my plate to theirs. What a blessing they have been, not only to me but to our church’s rebuilding process this past year!

Friday Focus – August 3, 2018

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The administrative committee is pleased to announce that Kati Voth, a long-time member of NFC, has accepted the position as our bookkeeper. She is excited to share her gifts for organization, detail, and accuracy in this role, recently held by Janelle Nordyke. Kati will be in the office Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings to attend to the myriad details that keep the church’s finances humming along. When you see her, we hope you’ll stop and say “Hi!” and thank her for joining our office staff.

Friday Focus – July 27, 2018

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from … Dick Sartwell, NFC Yearly Meeting Representative

The 126th annual sessions of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (NWYM) were the same as usual – and wonderfully different. By tradition, our Willamette Valley treated Friends gathered from throughout the state and from Washington and Idaho to some of the hottest days of summer. The fellowship was warm as well. And there were the typical opportunities for worship through beautiful music and inspiring speakers. As normal, yearly meeting boards presented helpful workshops to equip attenders with information and practical suggestions to take back to their local congregations. The schedule included the typical four-hour morning sessions for worship in the context of business. But that is where significant change from recent years occurred. The strong contention of recent years was gone.

With strong and clear unity Friends reached consensus on the following matters of business:

  • James Le Shana was named the new general superintendent of NWYM. Jim grew up in Newberg and pastored for several years in California. In recent years he has served as a vice president at Barclay College in Kansas and will conclude his work there this fall. He will be in place in the headquarters by mid-October, and in the meantime Retha McCutchen will supervise the office staff.
  • A major change recommended by the Board of Global Outreach was approved. NWYM and Evangelical Friends Mission (EFM), a cooperative organization of several evangelical yearly meetings, have worked together for many years. With approval of the recommendation, governance and policy matters will be handled by EFM. Our yearly meeting board will focus on missionary recruitment and ongoing support of those missionaries, developing specific support teams for each field. A chief benefit of this change is to reduce administrative cost.
  • A proposal from the George Fox Board of Trustees to change nine items in their bylaws received immediate approval for seven of the items. The remaining two items had to do with numerical representation of Friends on the board, effectively reducing the required percentage of Friends, but maintaining the right of NWYM to approve or disapprove all trustees. Those two items, because of their significance to the governance of the institution will receive further discussion at the mid-year board meetings of NWYM.
  • Joy Brown Lujan was recorded as a minister. She currently serves as pastor at Whitney Friends in Boise, Idaho.
  • Phil Smith was approved as NWYM recording clerk (and therefore will step down as one of NFC’s YM representatives).
  • The Administrative Council (AC) reported on the status of congregations leaving NWYM. Ten congregations have made a decision to leave. One of those congregations has gone independent for reasons unrelated to recent controversy over matters related to human sexuality. Four congregations are leaving to join the new Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYM). The remaining congregations have assumed the status of independent churches. Additionally the AC reported on their decision to provide for sharing invested funds from the Ministry Fund and the appraised value of the headquarters building. The amount to be shared is based on a complex formula built on a ten-year record of attendance and contributions to NWYM from each congregation. The only congregations leaving NWYM who will share in funds are those who actually join the new yearly meeting. Independent congregations are not eligible for participation in the distribution. Based on the formula used, SCYM will receive approximately a 9 percent distribution. No operating funds have been or will be included in the distribution.
  • The loss of ten congregations (out of 51) predictably requires a smaller budget for NWYM. The proposed budget of $617, 283 was approved. The corollary of a reduced budget is that the number of permanent office staff in the headquarters has been reduced. Interim superintendent Retha McCutchen announced that a volunteer has indicated willingness to challenge 100 persons from across the yearly meeting to make $1,000 pledges to supplement the budget. In a spontaneous act, one person pledged $1,000 on the spot; several others immediately responded with similar pledges. It seemed like tangible evidence of a new and positive direction for NWYM.

In summary, the contention of recent years and the loss of congregations has been a sad time in NWYM for all involved, producing much grief. But the reorganization announced in January 2017 seems to have clarified and resolved much that separated us. The result for NWYM is new unity around renewed vision to share the good news of Jesus in our communities. Friends left these 126th sessions with great optimism and looking forward to the future.

Friday Focus – July 20, 2018

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from … Keith Reeser, with Cindy Johnson

“To be known…”
Within each of us is a wealth of experience and knowledge, whether or not we can recognize our own personal value. God chooses to know each of us. He knows our imperfections, yet he chooses to love and pursue us anyway (1 Corinthians 8:3 and Galatians 4:9). Do you see the beauty in this truth? God wants relationship with us!
From the earliest moments of creation God was already displaying his love toward mankind. We are simply vessels put on display for all to see how God cares for us. He wants us to remember we are all in this together, in fellowship as a community.
At NFC we look for reminders of God’s love for each person. Cindy remembers when her husband, John, became critically ill with an e-coli infection. The doctor saw little hope for recovery, but Cindy told him a lot of people were praying for John—people from NFC, his GFU colleagues, family from all over, neighbors, people who didn’t know them but heard about their situation. Through those next difficult months as John’s health slowly improved, faithful warriors continued to pray. This happened quite a few years ago, and we are all glad to see that John has completely recovered. He is a constant reminder of answered prayer and God’s work in his life.
Through this example may we be reminded that praying has no age requirement. We all need to be praying for each other and sharing our requests with the church prayer teams.
Here is a task, better yet a challenge, that each of us would take on the ministry of praying for those the Lord puts on our heart throughout the week. Consider writing a card with the simple acknowledgment you are praying for them, that God brought them to your mind and you wanted to lift them up to the God who hears and cares for his children. Picture this—people sharing cards of affirmation and prayers after the service. How would it be for God’s people to hear prayer requests and then respond to the congregation of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord? Well, friends, we are already seeing glimpses of this, so let me encourage you to continue growing this spiritual muscle!

Friday Focus – July 13, 2018

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. . . from Keith Reeser and Lisa Nauman

“Do you know? Have you not seen? Are you in the loop?”
While each of these questions can bring about a reaction, they can also inspire within us a desire to know who we are as a church and where we are headed. Too easily we might assume everyone knows what we are up to and how to join in. We want you to be in the loop, to feel part of what God is doing among us.

Here’s a question you might be asking: Why are children in the whole service on Sunday morning worship? These summer months are the perfect time to emphasize a partnership with our families, to involve our kids in the church of today rather than think of them only as the church of the future. We want our children to know they are loved, welcome, and needed. Each week we will invite the young ones to come to the front where an adult will share the verse of the week and give each one a pouch containing theme-related crafts, activities, and a copy of our verse. At the close of the service, children can find one of the “lights,” adults prepared to hear the children recite their verse and show off their sermon notes. We want to hear how God speaks in and through our children.
You might also ask: What are other ways we seek to be more intentional? In the weeks and months ahead we hope everyone will see and hear God moving and working in and through us as a congregation. In this season of our church story we want to intentionally focus our attention toward Jesus and becoming equipped for the kingdom work he has assigned to this congregation. As you pray for our church, would you pray we can display God in each of our ministries here? Would you pray that our children would be excited about the services? Pray our youth continue to grow closer to each other; pray they invite friends to attend morning worship and youth activities and see how Jesus is working in and through them.

Friday Focus – July 6, 2018

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from Keith Reeser, pastor

Our grand new adventure—together—for the glory of God

With my first few keyboard strokes into the realm of Friday Focus, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to this congregation and to those who have asked me to serve here at Newberg Friends Church. What a privilege to serve as your pastor and to be welcomed so warmly! I look forward to seeing much kingdom fruit in our future together.
In addition, at this earliest outset as your pastor I want to share my clear intentions and pure motives to seek the Lord in every decision. I want to know our church is grounded in truth and aimed upward as we pursue Christ Jesus in every ministry that has the NFC stamp of approval. My desire is to be an equipper of disciples who will, in turn, equip disciples. I want to be an encourager, one who inspires the varied talents and capacities our church body can extend to the Newberg community.
I ask you to pray for and with me as we begin our journey through Colossians. Pray we would enjoy rich fellowship in our gatherings, that we would be seen as people who “go and make disciples.” I look forward to our journey and hope we are all bowing to glorify our Lord Jesus, for he is worthy to be praised!

Friday Focus – June 15, 2018

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from . . . Dick Sartwell, interim pastor

What a year it’s been! My time of service as your interim pastor comes to a conclusion this week, and I look back with praise to God for the difference this year has made for me and for our church. A year ago many of us were in a state of shock over what had happened to our beloved Newberg Friends Church. In June of last year we were suddenly aware that we had only a couple weeks to reorganize with new clerks, new church officers, and additional members to fill the ranks of standing committees. Additionally, we faced the need to create a budget in a very uncertain future.

A year later we find ourselves with all those officer and committee positions filled by willing volunteers who stepped forward from the very first days. Our financial situation has been clarified and is healthy, thanks to your generous giving. And we are within days of installing our new pastor, Keith Reeser, who comes to us with his family from Chandler, Oklahoma. Praise the Lord!

Here are some specific things I notice as indicators of positive change in our congregation:

  • Together we began the work of clarifying our understanding of God’s vision for our congregation. We started to look outward again! That provided valuable background for the work of our elders and pastoral search committee.
  • We began learning how to “do church” differently with a much smaller professional staff but with revitalized committees doing creative work at shaping our future.
  • We have found new joy and praise in our worship services—and new urgency to be a praying people.
  • We’ve done good work together and individually in moving through some of the hard emotions—grief, anger, sadness—generated by our experience of the last few years.

These observable changes make me aware of what this year has meant to me personally. To be honest, I accepted the opportunity to serve as interim pastor with great reluctance. Linda and I have been a part of the congregation through these years, and I feared it would be hard for me to serve usefully and objectively in a leadership role. I have had my own “baggage” to carry and my own healing to work through. But surprisingly these several months have been a very great blessing to me. Seeing up close how my brothers and sisters in the Lord are seeking to move forward following Jesus with sincerity and humility has helped me find my own way forward on the same path. Thank you, my friends, for helping me find this blessing. We loved you all before, but that love has grown deeper this year. Linda and I now look forward to stepping back into our “normal” roles of retirement and just being part of this vital fellowship with you, eager to discover with you God’s next steps for all of us together.

Friday Focus – June 8, 2018

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Forty years ago Richard Foster and Ron Woodward were key members of the pastoral team here at Newberg Friends Church. During those years Richard nurtured his gift for writing and in particular prepared the manuscript for the book Celebration of Discipline, once named by Christianity Today as one of the ten leading Christian books of the twentieth century. The elders of the church released Richard from his normal responsibilities for a time so he could give full attention to writing that book. Ron Woodward voluntarily picked up the slack during those weeks in order to facilitate Richard’s writing.

This Sunday we have the privilege of hosting both these pastors in our morning worship hour as they reminisce together about their ministry at NFC and share a brief message from Colossians 3. Richard will be in Newberg for a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the publication of his best-selling book, which has blessed and nurtured millions in their faith, showing how God’s grace can take over our lives when we submit to the discipline of the Holy Spirit.