When Harvey and I began attending Newberg Friends back in the early ’90s, we became a part of the Agape Sunday school class and found a smaller church community within the larger community of NFC. (Average attendance is between 45 and 60 people—as large as some of our NWYM Friends churches!) I had attended George Fox with a few of the class members back in the ’60s, so it was good to be among some folks we knew as we were getting acquainted with others.
When we joined the class, there were retired pastors, former school teachers/administrators, some who were currently teaching, former missionaries, and a mix of other types of professions. Our class is rich with people who have been in the ministry for many years and are willing to bring the lessons on Sunday morning—whether from the adult Sunday school quarterly or a series they wanted to bring on a particular topic. On occasion we invite other NFCers to come and teach lessons. Many of our beloved class members now feel the need to stay and worship at Friendsview or have graduated and gone on to be with our Lord. And as some leave, new ones join us.
Our class likes to keep up to date on what is happening with our Friends ministry around the world—not only Northwest Yearly Meeting and Evangelical Friends Mission work, but also some who serve under other mission organizations. When they are on home assignment, we have them come and share with the class so we know better how to pray for and support them. A few years ago, Howard and Bethlin Harmon traveled to Bangladesh with Chuck Mylander, former EFM director. That trip resulted in our class “adopting” Albert and Metali Adhikari and their sons, Steve and Edwin, to support both financially and in prayer. They have been to Newberg two times, most recently in March of this year.
We try to have a party or two throughout the year, but we always have a Christmas dinner in early December. For several years now, we have held this at Friendsview with the Bon Appetit food service preparing and serving the meal, then a musical program following.
The monthly Agape Notes, edited by Alice Maurer, keep us informed on activities and special events among our class members and former members who keep in contact even though they are far away. It also includes news from our missionaries, birthdays/anniversaries of class members and former members, and updates from “Bridges.” (Bridges is a ministry point under Spokane Friends Church. The Agape class partners to uphold them in prayer as they minister to people who have left the church.) And as emergency prayer requests come up, Alice e-mails them to class members.
That is what happens while we are together. Many of us, although retired, are still actively involved in various ministries within the community, NWYM, and GFU. Then we have Farmer and Mrs. Brown (Dave and Nancy), owners of Mustard Seed Farm; I don’t think they will ever retire. It’s not only a business for them but a ministry to many people, including many at NFC.