Friday Focus

Friday Focus is a newsletter for the Newberg Friends Church community distributed weekly through MailChimp. Subscribe here!

A weekly newsletter for the Newberg Friends Church community
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Prior to July 2017, our newsletter was named Your NFC. All the archived issues remain available, as you can see down the right-hand column!

Friday Focus – September 22, 2017

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From . . . Dick Sartwell, interim pastor

Your invitation to serve as interim pastor at NFC for the next several months humbles me. I accept that offer with some trepidation because what we have been through in our church has been traumatic for so many of us. We have some serious rebuilding to do in our beloved congregation. While we have been focused on our local situation, many people in the south and southeast of our country and others around the world have faced sudden and tragic natural events like flooding and earthquakes. Those cities and towns most likely to recover from those calamities are those whose citizens work together to help each other rebuild and who use their personal and collective tragedies to rethink how to shape their communities for the future.

Linda and I have been a part of the past of Newberg Friends Church, and that carries rich memories for us. But restoring the past is not the challenge our congregation faces at NFC. Rather, with God’s help we want to discern his vision for the future of our church. Have you sensed with us in recent months the clear evidence of God’s presence and blessing in our worship? To me that is a sign that he has a plan for our future (Jeremiah 29:11). Let’s discover it together!

Friday Focus – September 15, 2017

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From … Angel R. Diaz, pastor, La Iglesia Evangelica Los Amigos

Hello Friends.

The Hispanic Friends Church of Newberg (Iglesia Evangelica Amigos) thanks the Friends of Newberg Church for all the years we’ve shared. We want to tell you that we deeply want to continue in this relationship until Christ comes. Also the pastoral family thanks you for all the support received in the circumstances of our lives in the month of August when my wife vacationed in Venezuela. First she suffered the death of her sister of 36 years, and then she needed an emergency operation for appendicitis that has delayed her return to the United States. But in the midst of all these adversities, the baby, born prematurely to her sister just before she died, survived and today is in a state of recovery in the home of a family member who is a military nurse. The baby girl has been the gift of God in all this storm.

As a church we want to celebrate the 10 years of financial independence from NFC with a meal in honor of you. Our church men put a new floor on the left side of the chapel. In an attitude of gratitude we wanted to do it, even though the building will be sold. We continue in our plan to clean the entire Friends Center, each family per month. So choose the day* and kind of food you want to celebrate our unity in Christ and in our Faith and Practice.

We also want to share that we started a Hispanic Friends Church in Sherwood with brother Acasio Solis as pastor and with the full support of Sherwood Friends Church. We have services on Sundays at 5 p.m. In McMinnville we have already reached 10 years (5 years as a self-sustaining church). We have also started a community garden in McMinnville that is already reaping its fruits these days.

Friday Focus – September 8, 2017

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from Cindy Johnson . . .

I would like share with you a ministry that means a lot to me: Congregational Care. I am back again as your congregational care coordinator. I am so excited and blessed to be asked to do this again. I didn’t really have to think about it before I said YES. It is a gift the Lord has given me.I love and enjoy working with you. An awesome team has stepped up to help; I will name them at the end.

What does congregational care mean? It is a ministry that involves visiting those who attend NFC or who can no longer make it to church. It includes hospital visits, sitting with family during a time of grief, praying with them, finding ways to show we care.

It means visiting newcomers with a loaf of homemade bread and a “glad you came.” We answer their questions about NFC. Our congregational care may include rides to doctor appointments, a caring note, a birthday greeting.

Prayer shawls, lovingly crocheted and knitted by ladies in our congregation, are given to those who have lost a loved one or who are going through a very tough time. When the recipients put the shawl around their shoulders or on their lap, it serves as a reminder that people are praying for them.

These are the people already involved in this ministry: Steve and Diana Gulley, Sharon Hubbell, Julie Anderson, Howard Harmon, Jo Helsabeck, Merrill Johnson, Kathy Schlittenhart, Ron Woodward, Ron Stansell, Dick Sartwell, and Sara Grant. If you feel drawn to join this ministry, please let me know.

If you have a need, or you might be in the hospital and would like a visit, or someone to pray with, please call me (503-857-3581) or the church (503-538-8381).

I look forward to being involved again with this ministry.

Friday Focus – September 1, 2017

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from Joe Thouvenel . . .
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.”   -Prince Caspian

I am incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to serve and work alongside college-aged young adults for all of my professional career. I was first blessed as an admissions counselor at George Fox, guiding prospective students through the process of deciding on a college and preparing them for what Fox could offer them academically, socially, and spiritually. Then, during my 11 years on staff at Twin Rocks Friends Camp, I supervised and mentored college students from around the country who participated in the camp’s Summer Staff program. Currently, I work with students transitioning from George Fox to the world of work, coaching them to make the most of their knowledge and experiences as they pursue their callings in fields as diverse as engineering, social work, or art.

What has kept me committed to this particular age group? It’s the potential I see for transformational growth as these young women and men transition into adulthood. It’s an exciting time of clarifying values and beliefs, seeking out friendships and connections, new-found purpose, and asking important questions about who they are and where they’re heading in life. Often this time of life is full of a confusing mix of emotions: hopefulness and excitement alongside fear and uncertainty. I find a willingness in young adults to embrace authenticity in newly discovered ways that can lead to deeper connections with one another and with God. I love being a part of that journey.

This Sunday at 10am* we’ll begin talking and praying about how to provide a space for this to occur at Newberg Friends Church in the coming year. I hope students and young adults can encounter a time and place to come together, away from the pressures of everyday life, to share with one another, to listen to each other’s stories, to learn from the stories of those who have gone before them, and to be encouraged through fellowship, scripture, song, and prayer.

Friday Focus – August 25, 2017

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from Marilyn Harmon . . .
Thank you, women of Newberg Friends, for the fun luncheon. All this week I’ve thought about Elizabeth Todd’s question—What can we learn from the Chinese church?

One personal lesson I learned in China: God doesn’t need us, but if we’re blessed and lucky, he uses us. God works out his plan of loving and calling his own. His Holy Spirit can call the seeking without any human interference, but sometimes we’re lucky enough to be used. Many Chinese Christians told stories of hearing the Holy Spirit when they were not in contact with a church. I think that is true in America too. God calls people to himself.

God loves our child-like dependence on him. In our weakness, he can show himself strong. Most of my Chinese friends have not had a lifetime of learning from the Word. Sunday school was forbidden, so children of church members sat with their parents through the long adult services. But, today these grown children love scripture and read it daily. In email to me they share newly learned scripture passages. They love reading the Bible and know the power of scripture in their daily life. New Christians devour the Word; Bible study groups encourage each other through daily sharing.

The Chinese church shows great love and passion in their worship and seeking to know God better. The Holy Spirit drives them to share the good news with joy and enthusiasm to the unsaved. I wonder why we sometimes hesitate – perhaps because of cultural conditioning or more likely the lies of Satan. But the Chinese enthusiastically share their faith, though it often means they will be persecuted, rejected by family and friends, or lose out on a job promotion. They fervently pray for their loved ones who do not know Jesus. When students head home for the holidays, they ask us to pray for chances to share with their loved ones. They share the good news with strangers in McDonalds or on the bus. The college campuses have groups that go to other campuses or public parks and share what God has done for them.

So, the Holy Spirit of God is at work. Our cultures are different, but God is the same. If we could all see the Christian army being raised around the world we would all be encouraged. It doesn’t make the American news, but God is calling his own and we are part of it.

Pray for Tiffany and Daisy as they prepare to go to China in the next month.
Shang Di Zhu Fu Ni (God bless you)

Friday Focus – August 18, 2017

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—from Ron Stansell, clerk of elders

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). I continue to believe that injunction can be completed, even when circumstances are difficult. Let me share some of my thankfulness and at the same time bring the Newberg Friends Church congregation up to date.

  • An administrative committee has been formed of congregational clerks, clerks or a representative of standing committees, and our administrator. This includes a member from the newly formed Christian education committee. While elders are charged with the spiritual care and nurture of God’s people and spiritual outreach, our administrative committee will work in partnership with the elders to care for business, office personnel, property, and financial concerns brought to them from the various committees
  • Sherry Macy’s work has been partially redefined and she will continue to help us as office administrator and with publications. Denise Lyman continues as bookkeeper, record keeping. Interim pastor Steve Fawver has been helpful in recent weeks in transition consultation and personnel contacts.
  • NFC elders are recommending a ¼ time visitation coordinator position to begin very soon. The NFC administrative committee will consider this. A congregational care committee of volunteers for visitation has been active for several weeks already.
  • REAL: a place for women to study God’s word—has been approved as a Newberg Friends ministry to begin September 7, following the format of Women’s Bible Fellowship, open to all women of the community and with childcare provided.
  • Finality on a Covenant of Separation between Newberg Friends and the Newberg Emerging Friends Church is close. The plan is to seek separate approval by both congregations for an orderly and respectful moving forward in ministry.
  • NFC elders and a worship planning group continue to secure pulpit supply and participants in worship. We have been blessed! This will likely continue through October.
  • NFC elders are actively evaluating possibilities for an interim pastor to serve until June 30. By that time we hope to have extended a pastoral call for long-term pastoral leadership.

A few weeks ago, I counted reasons for “why I’m smiling,” and several people asked if I was still smiling. Now you can ask me, “what are you thankful for today?” And I will have some answers for you! Pray for the leaders of Newberg Friends Church and for those God is calling to minister with us.

NOTE: In future issues of Friday Focus you will see similar reports from presiding and committee clerks in an effort to keep you informed of our ongoing rebuilding progress.

Friday Focus – August 11, 2017

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89 Days

If you started reading Matthew and Acts shortly after the Cell Rule of Optina was introduced in Your NFC on May 19, you might be nearing the end of John and Revelation. I started on May 1 and finished 89 days later* on July 27 (*admitting some catch-up was required along the way). Crossing the finish line left me speechless (it happens)—reading John 21 in tandem with Revelation 21-22 after 89 days of “witnessing” Jesus’ life (times 4) interwoven with the early church and the horrors and beauty of Revelation. I’ve never experienced Bible reading in such a meaningful way. It’s impossible to overestimate the value of reading God’s word every day.

Some of you long-timers remember when we read through the whole Bible chronologically with “Bible Readers Unanimous.” That was a monumental commitment, especially adding the monthly gatherings to talk over what we’d read. Reading the New Testament in 89 days will seem like a breeze by comparison. See how I did that? You have until September 1 to choose your translation, then we can all start together. Download and print the reading chart (it’s in the public domain) and mark your calendar. Try to imagine with me the powerful impact an entire church reading scripture together will have on us.

Sherry Macy

Friday Focus – August 4, 2017

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SPOTLIGHT on Adult Sunday School
A member from each of our three adult Sunday school classes shares a synopsis…

    Shalom is a round-table discussion Bible study where we take a book of the Bible and cover a chapter every Sunday. We are now studying the book of Psalms. We sit around a table and bring our Bibles, reference books, commentaries, and I-Pads—whatever helps us answer questions that come up in our discussion. We do not have a teacher but ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern the meaning and application of the chapter. At times we have periods of silence as we meditate on the words of God. We would love to have you come and visit or join us as we have a vibrant conversation of Scripture, so crucial today as never before. —Kathy Schlittenhart

    We started out as the young marrieds’ class around 1958 or 1959, then reorganized and renamed the Agape Class about 30 years ago. As people of that generation have moved to Newberg and become part of NFC they have joined our class. So we are a fun-loving group of mostly retired folks that care and pray for one another, love to study the Bible, connect with and pray for missionaries, and keep up on what is happening at GFU. Since the church was reorganized this last month with a new schedule, our attendance has increased substantially with past members returning and new folks joining us. —David Brown

Children of Light:
    Why do I go to a Sunday school, even as an adult? First, we, as part of the Children of Light class, have learned to trust each other on significant levels. Over time it grows exponentially for each of us. We cheer each other’s successes and help carry each other’s deepest pains and most urgent prayer requests. Second, there is profound caring for each other. It’s powerful to hear another lift your burden to the Lord in prayer. Hugs and tears reinforce this caring. Third, generous and genuine laughter is part of almost every gathering. Fourth, a good measure of honesty, even when we disagree, encourages mutual trust and caring.
    These add up to “generous social security,” a type the government can’t match. We are personally and spiritually secure with each other. Yes, we have insightful, relevant, and biblical lessons too. I wish everyone had a group like this, not only because I believe the church is much more than mere private faith, but because it feels good to be known, loved, respected, and challenged. —Doug Bartlett

Friday Focus – July 28, 2017

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Persist in Prayer
by Julie Anderson

When his disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he taught the familiar model we call the Lord’s Prayer. But directly after, he gave another example of how to pray, using two hypothetical situations. 

First, he asked his disciples to imagine knocking on a friend’s door in the middle of the night, while loudly demanding three loaves of bread to feed a surprise visitor. The sleepy friend replies “do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” However, he eventually changes his mind, gets up and gives away the bread, not because it was his friend asking, but because of his friend’s persistence (Luke 11:5-8 NRSV). Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word for persistence as “shameless impudence.” Jesus was illustrating God’s desire for us to come to him with boldness and make our most desperate needs and desires known. If persistence causes an earthly friend to answer a need, how much more will our heavenly Father respond to audacious prayer? Jesus teaches on: “Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” God loves to inhabit our earnest prayers and welcome us into his presence (vv. 9-10).

Jesus begins his second illustration on how to pray with a set of questions. If your child asks for a fish, will you give him a snake or for an egg will you give him a scorpion? The implication is—of course not! “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (vv. 11-13). Let us persist in approaching the throne of God boldly, asking our loving heavenly Father to provide for our physical and emotional needs. But more important, let’s also ask the Father to meet our spiritual needs by pouring out his Holy Spirit on us, that we might come to know the fullness of his glory.

Friday Focus – July 21, 2017

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Why am I smiling?
by Ron Stansell, clerk of elders

One of the most encouraging prayers in all the Bible is found in Ephesians 3:16-19, the passage we read in our Sunday evening congregational business meeting on July 16. Glorious riches are found in Jesus from which he draws to give us inner power, allowing the eternal Son of God to live in us. The Spirit prays with Paul that the church of Christ be established in love that we might know the love that is beyond knowledge! That makes me smile!
In the spirit of those strengthening words, Newberg Friends carefully approved members of standing committees for the coming year and established an administrative committee composed of congregational clerks Carl Anderson and Dick Sartwell, clerks from the elders, stewards, and trustees, and others as needed. A part-time church administrator will be named by the administrative committee to help in transitional matters and beyond. That makes me smile!
Elders for the coming church year are Julie Anderson, Bob Hampton, Hank Helsabeck, Gail Hutchinson, Ron Stansell (clerk), Ron Woodward, and David Woolsey. That enthusiastic group is charged with caring for the spiritual life of the congregation, congregational care and visitation, worship planning, and working alongside interim pastor, Steve Fawver. Steve will assist the administrative committee and elders on immediate issues during the remainder of July and all of August. That all makes me smile too!
Why am I encouraged? Let me count still other ways!
Judy Woolsey reported for the nominating committee that nearly every person contacted for positions said “yes!” 
A worship committee is working prayerfully and quickly to arrange pulpit supply and plan worship, working several weeks in advance. We have been blessed by messages from George Fox University President Robin Baker!
 Sunday morning prayer gatherings have been lively and rich. Elder Julie Anderson has led these each Sunday from 8 to 8:50 a.m.
Two couples, Darin and Cathie Jo Sturdevant and Ralph and Holly Miele, opened our last two services with enthusiasm and grace. More to come!
No denying it, Newberg Friends Church has passed through hard times in the past year. Grief and sadness remain. At the same time, the Holy Spirit is leading us into a deeper place. What else makes me smile? One Sunday a younger adult stood in open worship and expressed a longing for revival and renewal for the entire believing community of Newberg! That’s what Ephesians 3:16-19 is all about. Go read it again!