For this round, four of our pastors offer a general update on their area of ministry.
— Steve Fawver, spiritual health and care
When I reflect on this past year, one of the highlights has been the chance to meet with other couples once a month for 3M. “Monthly Marriage Maintenance” is a Monday evening set aside for any married couple to stop and give intentional energy to nurture their relationship with one another. It has been a joy for Diane and me to have time together to be attentive to what Christ is doing in our marriage—and to do this alongside other couples who are being attentive to their marriages. Although my analogy may seem a bit mechanical, I have begun to view this as a time when we pull our car into the garage to have the brakes checked, the tire pressure leveled, and the battery connections tightened. Normal-life wear-and-tear often seems to challenge our relationship. We want to be healthy, communicate clearly, and support one another but sometimes find this difficult to do. Our brakes get squeaky, tires pick up nails from the road, and the wiper blades need to be replaced so that our vision can be clear. 3M has given us a place to intentionally seek God’s presence and power together with others. Thank you, Michelle Akins, for your gracious work in this area; Gary and Carol Hankins, for serving on the pit crew; and for the many other couples who take time to come alongside one another on the journey. Not everyone can make it on Mondays, but I hope you will find ways to pull off to the side of the road to nurture your relationship. Although we will not be meeting this summer, we hope to open the garage once again and invite you to stop by—it might be time to get that brake light checked!
— Michelle Akins, children and family ministries
The Predictability of Change
It’s that time of year again—when everything that has structured my days and weeks for 8 or 9 months comes to an end. Depending on the moment, I swing from dread to delight. For example, I have volunteered at Busy Bees this year, and it’s been a highlight of my week. Interacting with preschoolers is a balm for my soul. The children amaze me with their sweetness, sensitivity, and silliness. So I’m bummed that this past Monday marked my last weekly block of time sharing the experience with “Mrs. Staples and Ms. Sandra.” And yet—that phrase, “block of time,” is exactly why I’m grateful that Busy Bees is over. As things move off the calendar a new season approaches, allowing for fresh blocks of time to work on projects and with people in ways that can’t be done during the fullness of the school year. I’m mourning one minute and doing a happy dance the next. Ready to release and embrace all at the same time. It can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Are you feeling it too? Regular, scheduled, connections with people are what I miss most and eagerly anticipate in this season of change. While I let go of WBF, WBFpm, and 3M for a season, I find joy in seeing how God will shape VBS, our trip to Rwanda with the NFC team, and summer Sunday school. Thank you, NFC, for being a place we can experience the full breadth of emotions and find love, support, and understanding.
— Gregg Koskela, lead pastor
I’m grateful to serve as pastor here at Newberg Friends. I took some vacation time to pick up our daughter and her stuff from college, then to travel with other pastors on a trip to Guatemala to see Compassion International’s work there. Both of those experiences gave me time to reflect on things I am grateful for at NFC.
I’m grateful for Mauri Macy’s good ministry. I’m grateful for our entire staff and the ways they go the extra mile (even though many will never see what they do). I’m grateful for newer people to our church who say they love the openness and vulnerability and shared responsibility they see at NFC. I’m grateful for decades of faithful financial giving.
In between those times of vacation, there has been plenty to do: finalizing our budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1; working with the search committee and the elders on the plan for Nolan Staples as our interim pastor of worship ministries; wrapping up 5 o’clock gathering until fall; and walking with some people through difficult life circumstances. One beautiful thing is the way God is moving in my own mind and heart to solidify some important things. I’m learning to trust God more—which leads me to be more honest. I’m learning to let go of fear—which helps me listen more than speak and fix.
As we look ahead, I think we will find a pivotal year in the life of our church. We can look at it anxiously: “How will things be different with Mauri’s transition? Do we have the resources to do the ministry God is calling us to do? What will happen if these difficult Yearly Meeting conversations about human sexuality don’t go the way I think they should?” Or we can look ahead with eyes of trust: “God has been faithful to lead this church for almost 136 years of change—what does God have next?”
I’m asking God for the strength to choose the latter!
— Elizabeth Sherwood, administrative pastor
A Busy Season…
There are many good things happening around NFC these days — and some are very obvious:
• The progress on the lift is coming along beautifully, and we look forward to the day we can begin using it. We deeply appreciate Arnie Mitchell, Dan Ritter, Brent Montgomery, and Rick Acevedo for moving this project along. The goal was to raise $40,000, and to date we have received $26,000 in gifts. Thank you to the many folks who have generously given.
• Sidewalks are being repaired or replaced. The north walk outside of Friends Center is almost complete, thanks to VOW (Volunteers on Wheels) and our building management team. This summer the youth house and office sidewalks will be redone.
• The cemetery looks great! Sexton Mark Thompson and the cemetery volunteers have done a remarkable job of caring for the grounds and ministering to the many folks who are connected to the cemetery.
• The church flowerbeds are thriving. Carol Sherwood has pulled together a team of folks to weed, mulch, and landscape. Each bed has been “claimed” by an individual who will maintain it throughout the summer.
Other good things in our community that are not so obvious:
• Teams of folks give their evenings to meet with the committees on which they agreed to serve. In the last several weeks the elders, stewards, trustees, cemetery, and nominating committees met to lean into the work before them.
• Our Yearly Meeting Representatives and our presiding clerk, Phil Smith, met to prayerfully lead eight small discussion groups on the topic of human sexuality.
• The search committee for the worship pastor position gave numerous hours to the discernment process as they listened to God’s leading for NFC during this time of transition.
With gratefulness I celebrate the many ways people minister in our community.