Your NFC

Your NFC is a weekly newsletter featuring events and ministries as well as articles from our pastors and members. Your NFC is distributed via e-mail each Friday or can be read here.

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Your NFC – June 30, 2017

Click HERE to read the entire June 30, 2017 issue.

This is our final edition of Your NFC, as changes happen at NFC. David Thomas agreed to share some thoughts he has had as we all wade through the hard waters of separation.

by David Thomas

My dear NFC friends, this is a sad time as we break apart, with some people forming the emerging church, some staying, some choosing to move on to other churches, and some not sure what they will do. Debby and I joined NFC this past year because of all the wonderful people and relationships that have made up this congregation. It is sad to see these relationships strained and in some cases broken. For most this has been a heart-wrenching experience. So how do we go forward from here? How do we deal with our loss and with these changing relationships?

Back in Rwanda we went through some difficult and stressful church conflicts. During those days I was continually placing myself and all the turmoil we were experiencing on the altar. One leader accused us of being terrible missionaries, of destroying the church, even though we were trying to follow God’s leading to the best of our ability. It hurt deeply, and all I could do was to go back to the cross and release all of these things to Jesus.

At times I was really frustrated by someone, but I came to realize that as I prayed for them it was not my place to accuse them before God; that is Satan’s role. Instead, God asked me to forgive and bless them! This was hard, but Jesus enabled me to do this. This process of continually forgiving and blessing softened our hearts. In this process, God asked us to give some money toward this leader’s education. At first we did not want to do this, but God used our generosity to change our own hearts, allowing us to grow in love for this person. In time his attitudes toward us changed, and we were reconciled. Before we left Rwanda he told us how much he appreciated our persevering through the really hard time of influencing the church out of a culture of dependency. He is now one of our key ministry partners on the Rwandan Discipling for Development team.

I think the only way to get through a major conflict like this is to bring ourselves and the whole situation to the cross of Jesus. I find the picture of bringing our burdens and laying them down at the foot of the cross very freeing. It’s at the cross where we lay down our pain. Jesus’ suffering covers this and he can bring healing to our areas of brokenness. At the cross we can lay down our anger, our confusion, our bitterness, our feelings of ‘getting back at someone who hurt us.’ We bring the conflicts and people we are in disagreement with.

Along with the image of laying down our burdens at the foot of the cross of Jesus, the concept of dying to ourselves is also needed. Jesus admonishes us in Matthew 16:24 NLT, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Paul asserts in Galatians 2:20 NIV, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

Another symbol of dying to ourselves is the sacrificial altar. Paul tells us to “offer yourselves as a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1 NIV). I choose to get up on the altar, laying down my pride, my doubts, my fears, my rights, my bitterness, my need to be in control….

Through the cross we come to know what love looks like. God’s love for us is expressed through the cross, through Jesus dying for us, and we are enabled to love each other through the cross. It is difficult to love someone who has hurt us, but as we lay down our pain and hurt we are empowered to love the person who has hurt us.

From whichever side of this conflict you find yourself, know that you have been a part of something very special at NFC. As we all move forward, maybe this advice can be helpful.

Some Useful Advice:

• Assume we will get hurt in this conflict and split, and choose ahead of time to forgive.
• Bring to the cross of Jesus all our burdens and lay them down: burdens of pain, brokenness, sadness, fear, uncertainty…
• Take up our cross and die to ourselves daily. Choose to be a living sacrifice and die to our pride, our rights, our doubt, our fear, our control…
• Do not allow anything to come between Christ and ourselves! Be persistent and keep laying down our “stuff.”
• Forgive and bless those on the other side who we disagree with, especially those who make us angry. For difficult relationships, ask God for a tangible way to bless the other person.
• Do not allow a root of bitterness to grow. Do not give the devil a foothold! Deal with your anger right away, laying it before Jesus.
• Remember that our conflict is not with people but with the spirits of evil influencing the world around us. (Ephesians 6:10)
• Remember the bigger picture that God is good and is in control. Romans 8:28 in The Voice, says, “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”

May God bless each one of us as we choose to stay open and pliable in God’s hands.

Click HERE to read the entire June 30, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – June 16, 2017

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by Rick Muthiah

I’m often reminded of the frailty and brokenness of our world, a reality brought home by news near and far. A college or high school student takes his own life; bombings in Afghanistan, London, and Iraq kill 80, 7, and 40 people; a colleague is killed when a car rams his stopped motorcycle; more than 65 million refugees and internally displaced people are in search of a stable life; actions by our nation’s political leaders contribute to an ongoing cycle of cynicism.

We are also experiencing brokenness and pain within our church body as we have seen fractures and factions develop over the past months. Like many of you, I’ve been deeply grieved, troubled by the unresolvable differences within our church body. Tension, turmoil, conflict, anger, misunderstanding, hurt, judgment – and more – have been realities for folks across the spectrum on issues of human sexuality and the yearly meeting decision process. And sadness. That seems to be my core response: sadness, casting a shadow over the rest of life, a cloud I haven’t been able to shake for months. And yet…

Christ is Light, in Him there is no darkness,
Come draw in and He will give you Light.

These words are from a song we sang at the Taizé service in early May. They reminded me that even in times of darkness, the Light of Christ prevails. This song and others sparked hope in me.

Sing out my soul.
Sing out and glorify the Lord who sets us free.
Sing out my soul.
Sing out and glorify the Lord God!

The words in themselves are certainly meaningful, but I wish you could hear the tunes and sing the words, repeating songs or phrases numerous times, soaking in the power of truth as we worship our Lord and God.

Gloria, Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, Gloria, alleluia, alleluia!

I left the Taizé service with hope. Hope that the God I claim to follow is larger than church divisions – difficult as the rending of community is – and that God will continue to work in and through those who are faithfully following Jesus, even though they might be moving in different directions on some issues. Hope that God is at work beyond Newberg Friends, and that our travails will not derail God’s activity in the world. I need frequent reminders of hope, of Christ as Light of the World, because I remain saddened by so much that I see, near and far. And in the near future, I will no longer be a member of the gathered faith community that has been so important to me over the past dozen years or so.

Come and fill our hearts with Your peace,
You alone O Lord, are holy.
Come and fill our hearts with Your peace, alleluia.

I’m hopeful I’ll remain in community with many of you – the community of believers, the community of Newberg, perhaps even community through regular interaction with some of you. At the same time I remain sad that the broad umbrella of Newberg Friends Church, a place held together for so long with members who held a spectrum of theological, social, and political views and yet remained orthodox on central tenets of historic Christian faith – I’ll remain sad that that Newberg Friends will no longer exist as the body splits, fractures, and splinters.

In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful,
in the Lord I will rejoice!
Look to God, do not be afraid;
lift up your voices the Lord is near.

Thank you for shaping me, being home for my family, and enabling us to participate in the life and ministry of Newberg Friends. God has been gracious. And now this chapter is closed.

Peace [Love…Light…Christ] before us,
Peace behind us,
Peace under our feet;
Peace within us, Peace over us
let all around us be Peace.

Another song has been on my mind for the past few months and has surprised me by showing up unexpectedly in the past few weeks. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” May we each be drawn to the Light, be filled with the Light, and shine the Light of Christ as we encounter darkness and chaos in our community and our world.

Click HERE to read the entire June 16, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – June 2, 2017

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by Elizabeth Sherwood
administrative pastor

Yesterday was Memorial Day (as I write), and I sincerely hope Mark Thompson is taking the day off from serving as sexton of Newberg Friends Cemetery.

Four hosts during the Memorial weekend:
(l-r) Jan Thompson, Josh Nauman,
Mark Thompson, and Larry Anderson.

Mark, along with his wife, Jan, has just finished a long weekend of hosting nonstop guests at the cemetery. The week leading up to the holiday is a full schedule of mowing, pruning, and trimming around every headstone. The hours poured into landscaping and maintaining the cemetery are rewarded with the outpouring of gratitude expressed when visitors come by to pay respects to their family members or friends who are laid to rest at our cemetery.

This young man likes to help during the spring work day.

Mark spearheads the work and organizes the volunteers who generously give of their time. In the spring, the cemetery board, joined by other NFC folks, turns out for a work morning. They also take turns hosting during the weekend. Special thanks to Josh Nauman (clerk), Mark Martin, Jim Jackson, Karen Angus, Larry Anderson, Harlan Wooldridge, Jim Long, Brian Carlson, Steve Comfort, and Denise Lyman for serving on the cemetery committee. This year the Newberg Rotary Early Birds as well as Boy Scout Troop 525 also came out to volunteer.

Cemetery niche walls; preparation for placement of new ones in the forefront.

This spring the cemetery received an anonymous gift to purchase two needed niche walls that will serve our community and provide financial stability for the cemetery for years to come. The cemetery committee is humbly grateful for such a gift. The new walls will be available by early fall.

Click HERE to read the entire June 2, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – May 26, 2017

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Tabouli, Baba Ghanoush, Hummus and More…

by Irene Dunlop

The smell of frying eggplant fills the air as Hajar efficiently dips chicken legs in tomato sauce. Brandon Buerkle and I busy ourselves chopping piles of parsley, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Hala, age 5, entertains herself with toys on the floor.

In April 8 I joyfully offered my hands in service as Hajar Alodah worked to prepare a traditional Syrian meal for 35 lucky attendees. Last year we at NFC and North Valley joined together in the Welcome Home project, gathering the household items necessary to furnish a home for the Alodah family. Last August, they arrived in the U.S. from Syria via a refugee camp in Jordan. Ben and Emily Wynsma hosted the Alodahs in their home until the Alodahs’ housing in Salem became available. At Christmas, my children—Abram and Meika—and I colored and folded envelopes into airplanes, for the giving tree to raise funds to pay off the Alodah family’s travel debt. God provided through you, and their $ 7,000 debt was paid in full. God also afforded a wonderful connection for the Alodah family in the congregants of Evergreen Presbyterian, who took on the role of cultural mentors and navigators.

The ensuing months have been full of transition, learning, connection, and struggle. Hajar attends English classes; the kids are settling into school, and Ibrahim is looking for year-round, full-time work. Monetary support for the Alodah family through the U.S. resettlement agency and Catholic charities ended after six months. Ibrahim, a baker by trade, is currently working as a seasonal employee at a nursery up to 50 hours a week to provide for his family’s needs.

Hajar also uses her culinary skills to help provide for the family. Just after noon that Saturday we met her in the social hall kitchen to help prepare a delicious traditional meal for community members at Newberg Friends arriving at 5:30 p.m. to partake of delicious Syrian fare.

The first task was boiling chicken legs—with star anise, garlic, onion and chicken bullion, and Kebsa spice mix. After peeling and chopping the eggplant, we used Google translate to discover we needed more oil for frying. Hajar deep fried the eggplant for baba ghanoush. This technique was new to me, as my mom always roasted the eggplant for baba ghanoush. I  joyously discovered deep-fried eggplant makes a baba ghanoush better than any I have ever tasted (probably not nearly as healthy, but quite delicious). Once the chicken boiled, we removed it from the pot, then added rice to boil in the chicken water. Next we dipped the chicken legs in tomato sauce (mixed with a little Kebsa spice mix) and put them on trays under the broiler. All the while, we communicated with smiles, hand gestures, and the occasional translated sentence. Food is a universal language of friendship.

At 4 p.m. my husband, Aaron; Tamara Brand; and Erinn Hampton arrived to set and decorate the tables with flowers and candles. Hala, Meika, and Abram played joyously as we filled the buffet table with delicious food: hummus, pita, tabouli, baba ghanoush, leban (homemade yogurt), chicken, and rice. As the whole group gathered and ate together, I was reminded that we all have gifts to offer and receive within community. It was an evening to enjoy the culinary delights Hajar created, and in so doing we glimpsed the beauty of Syrian culture, helped provide for the Alodahs’ financial needs, and basked in each other’s loving, joyful presence.

Click HERE to read the entire May 26, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – May 19, 2017

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Have you heard of the “The cell rule of Optina”? It’s a reading structure that guides you through the New Testament in 89 days: three chapters per day, one from the Gospels and two from the other books starting in Acts. On Day 1 you read Matthew 1 and Acts 1 and 2, and 89 days later the last chapter of John’s Gospel is read on the very same day as Revelation 21 and 22.
Did you ever reread a book and discover details you’d missed the first time through. That’s what often happens when rereading scripture. Depending on where your focus lies at the time, different words and passages jump off the page. Maybe at the end of 89 days you’d choose to start again to see what other messages God places on your heart.
Why not start today or tomorrow? Use the guide below or CLICK HERE to find it online. Use your own Bible or choose a version here.

(This plan is in the public domain.)

Click HERE to read the entire May 19, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – May 12, 2017

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by Bethany Lee

I think I was two when I first discovered there were people in the world who cared for others for a living. My direction was instantly clear. I was going to become a nurse.

I spent hours as a child coloring in the anatomy coloring book I got for my eighth birthday. My dad took me on a fun field trip to the blood bank and, while my mom hid in the bedroom, dissected frogs with me at the kitchen counter. In high school, I took all the math and sciences I could and spent the summer after my junior year as an apprentice in the research department at Providence Portland Medical Center. As part of my apprenticeship requirements, I spent time with employees in many different departments: floor nurses and case managers and hospital administrators. I spent a day on the road with a home healthcare nurse and connected with nurses working in hospice care.

That summer was deeply inspiring but also clarifying. I headed off to my senior year of high school knowing my long-held expectations for my life were shifting. The pace and pressure of hospital nursing seemed beyond my ability to maintain, and my heart felt drawn to work in hospice. By that point in my life, I had also become a pianist and worship leader, and a full-time career in nursing would have crowded out those growing callings. I trusted God’s hand on my journey, believed that no part of my uniquely created makeup was a waste, and took the steps that seemed clear at the time.

I spent my college years taking a mix of classes in science, music, and religion; spent a few years as a chiropractic assistant and office manager; and then shifted to a life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been able to pursue part-time work as a musician and worship leader, but my caregiving skills have been focused primarily on my family as I’ve served as teacher/therapist/nurse/cook/guide to my daughters over our years of homeschooling and family life.

About 10 years ago, I became aware of the field of therapeutic music. This community includes specialists who use music to be present with the sick and suffering in different ways. Some work with the cognitively impaired to elicit memory and connection. Others work specifically with patients in hospice care for the purpose of end-of-life comfort. I had been following two separate threads of vocation—music and healthcare—and the possibility of weaving the two together was both exciting and empowering.

Following a sabbatical year of travel aboard our small sailboat, our girls began the transition from homeschooling to public high school. This year, for the first time, both my daughters are in school full time as a sophomore and junior at McMinnville High School. And this fall I went back to school as well, taking weekend classes every two months through the Music for Healing and Transition Program and learning to play the harp. I’m more than halfway through the coursework and then will have a couple of years to complete my practicum hours and other graduation requirements.

In addition to the many fascinating things I’m learning about neuroscience and the role of sound and music in humanity, I’m recognizing myself in so much of the training, finding my way of being in the world validated even as I continue to hone it. Our training deviates from much of traditional medicine in that we don’t seek to use music to cure or fix disease. That role is already held by many competent music therapists. Rather, we seek to use music and our own calming presence to create a space for healing, for wholeness. This feels like a natural extension of the movement of the Spirit in my life.

Both experiences in pastoral care and in my own personal life have called me to deeper intention of presence in the face of pain. It takes courage to be with pain that has no cure. To sit with a friend after shattering loss without trying to fix or explain the suffering. To confront the reality of trauma and its damaging effects on the human psyche. To face my own mortality and that of my loved ones.

Healing, a movement toward the shalom of God’s restorative power, can happen anytime, anywhere, even when a situation has no cure. For many, the gift of music can help prompt and nurture this healing. Music can be a balm to soothe the anxious or hurting; a buffer between the vulnerable and their own raw emotions; or a path of connection for the numb or grieving on which they can meet themselves at the deepest levels, open up, and let the work of the Spirit transform. But, just as nursing is not the only way to care for people, music is not the only way God brings healing. In the midst of impossible circumstances and wrenching loss, the creative presence of God’s power restores our relationships, connects us more firmly to God’s gift of grace, and offers us the hope of life abundant.

Click HERE to read the entire May 12, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – May 5, 2017

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by Michelle Akins
children and family ministries

This is my last “From Me to You.” Just typing that makes my heart hurt. Just a few weeks ago I wrote my resignation letter…my love letter to you all. Today I feel short on fresh words, so I’m sharing with you a post from my blog dated April 2013. As I look ahead to July 1, 2017, the first day of what I’ll start calling my sabbath, here are a few thoughts on defining strength that I believed four years ago and still hold true today.

Defining Strength

When God wants you to think about something, he allows multiple opportunities and perspectives to fill your head. I’m beginning to get a headache. It’s heavy in there.

On our recent mini-vacation, I woke up, made breakfast, and sat down with a warm mug of coffee. I want a life defined by the health of my closest relationships. My strength lies not in what I can or cannot achieve, but in my dependence on God to order my days and embrace sabbath.

Except for engaging in a few conversations with my family and friends, a walk on the beach, and packing up to head home, I was about as unproductive as this mama can get. Strength? Maybe this is stretching it a bit, but I honestly believe the days set aside to relax, renew, and just enjoy life build strength. In our culture, being successful (strong) often means working hard, being irreplaceable, and multi-tasking. I’ve bought into those lies more times than I’d like to admit. The truth is, giving time and attention to my family and friends matters. This year I’ve struggled to create space in my life to be with and actually have friends.

After the Boston Marathon bombing and the terrible explosion in West, Texas, the good ole USA was in shock. Our sense of safety was rocked as the unspoken vow we have with one another was literally blow apart—again. For all the fear we have in this country, we’re also a nation that tries to trust one another. We value life. When the bombs go off or the factory erupts, where’s the strength? As Di Murphy pointed out to us at Women’s Bible Fellowship, strength was found in the actions of the first responders on the scene, running toward the explosion. We continue to build those muscles when we help our neighbor. Our cities are full of people who feel vulnerable, afraid, and angry. Prayer matters. We are strong when we decide to accept our brokenness but won’t be overcome by evil. We are strong when we love. We are strong when we choose trust again.

During the week I met individually with four women who epitomize what it means to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually strong, even if they don’t always see it that way. These women face a vast array of daily challenges. They are living proof of how reliance on God turns ashes into beauty.

Friday morning, April 19, I sat glued to the TV. SWAT teams, police cars, and a frenzy of media activity displayed another kind of strength: money, technology, information, and deadly force. We live in a country where if you want to “call in the big dogs,” our dogs are huge. By Friday night the manhunt was over, thanks to the work of hundreds of people in dozens of law enforcement agencies and the general public working together. This kind of strength makes some of us cheer and some of us cry. I feel stuck in the middle, grateful that we have the power to capture “bad guys” and sometimes conflicted by the priorities and processes in which we do so.

At the end of the week our family joined thousands of believers at the Chris Tomlin concert. The Rose Garden Arena was transformed into a sanctuary, and we worshiped together for three hours. I stood, hands held high and dancing with as much enthusiasm as possible in the twelve inches of space in front of my chair. The strength of the Holy Spirit filled me with gratitude. Tears streamed down my face as I joined the congregation singing about God’s faithfulness. Yes, God is so completely and totally faithful! (You can’t be “kinda faithful.”) The tears continued as I stood behind my two daughters and my loving husband and I was reminded of my own failings. God’s conviction and mercy overwhelmed me. My voice became a mere whisper as I stood in the embrace of Christ. Wrapped in love, secure in forgiveness. We celebrated. I lifted my arms above my head, they felt weightless.

No amount of writing and editing will capture completely what I noticed last week. But I’m going to give it one last try and fumble through my definition of strength.

Church inspires me. Sitting in the pew, listening to the sermon, scribbling down my thoughts, asking questions, taking notes, making to-do lists. This is how I worship; this is how I work. Last Sunday I came home with this on my worship sheet:
“Changing what it means to be strong” with a little arrow pointing to “Eternal Life.” I came home with a desire to use many of the examples Gregg gave about “power coming through sacrifice and surrender” to redefine strength. The world tells me that being strong means being stoic in the midst of pain, using muscle and power to get my way and to strive for independence and self-sufficiency. If a woman holds back her tears, she is strong. If a teenager uses his karate skills to cut down a bully, he is strong. If a family doesn’t need to borrow or beg from the community, they are strong. Perhaps these examples hold a measure of truth, but I believe Jesus turns these definitions upside-down in the kingdom.
When we come undone, let it all hang out, bawl like a baby, and expose our most tender self to others—to God, we are strong. It takes strength to be vulnerable, open to attack, comparison, or ridicule. It also opens the doors to healing, help, and the power of the Holy Spirit. So I say let the cleansing, messy tears flow. Allow pain to be present, knowing it is temporary. Eternal life starts now and there is nothing stronger than resurrection power.

If we use physical strength to solve problems, have we really solved them? As I read the Old Testament I’m confronted with issues that are ongoing today. Fights for territory, power, control. People want to be right, to stand up for what they believe, and to subdue “the other.” For thousands of years humans have used muscles and might to dominate. Jesus shows us another way. A stronger way, submission, sacrifice. With Christ we suffer, in Christ we live.

If I don’t need you and you don’t need me, how do we love? Created to live in community, we deny the core of who we are when we choose separation and independence. (cheesy metaphor alert) If we compare humanity to a machine, that machine runs best when all of its parts are properly maintained and filled with fuel. God is the master mechanic, and love is the fuel. You know…the power of love. Cue Huey Lewis. In perhaps the greatest mystery of all, love brings life. Jesus conquered the grave through love. To truly love is to serve and be served. I remember seeing this popular license plate in the 90s: He who dies with the most toys wins. How different life is in the kingdom! If we dare to enter into eternity now, we choose life in community in which what is mine is yours, because it’s not really mine in the first place. In the body of Christ we’ll let each other know when we need help. We’ll share our “toys.” We will see love at work in one other and we’ll use that power to define strength.

Click HERE to read the entire May 5, 2017 issue.

Your NFC – April 21, 2017

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by Olivia Wilson

These past few months of working with Michelle in my role as intern for Children and Family Ministries at NFC have flown by! I taught a wonderful bunch of kindergarteners in Sunday school and watched them grow and develop their relationship with Jesus and with one another. I also got to be part of game nights for the older kids. Planning intergenerational game nights allowed me to also see other members of the church.

My internship has been filled with many different opportunities and projects. A main project was developing the safety plan I hope many of you have heard about or seen if you teach Sunday school. It was a large, time-consuming project that we hope will give you peace in knowing outlines and procedures to be followed if an emergency were to happen. All the plans are laid out, so all you have to do is grab the handbook to know what to you need to do for each specific circumstance.

I am so glad I got to work with Michelle in Children and Family Ministries. It has taught me a lot about myself and has let me grow as an individual and as part of a team. Thank you to all who came to a game night or let me teach your children in Sunday school. It has been a blessing to do all of the activities I have done this year. I will not be the intern here next school year because I will be assigned a new placement. Have a wonderful summer break with your kiddos. Maybe I will see some of you around town. Hope so!

Click HERE to read the entire April 21, 2017 issue.