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Congregation steps forward with love and commitment

(From September 2018 Lifetogether newsletter)

Dear Bethanians,

We returned from vacation to find the church strong and busy being the church. Cell-phone updates and prayer-concern emails had kept me abreast of the Bethany news; I knew our community was well served in my absence with Pastor Sonja on call, with Pastor Shirley returning to the pulpit, and with Rachel’s dedicated presence in the office. Once again let me tell you how reassuring it is to have such support in place when a pastor is out of town. Thank you, not only to these three, but to our faithful community of faith.

Tuesday we took the light rail downtown from the airport and then went to visit Garrett Roe at Harborview. There I visited and prayed, and also learned that others had visited and prayed over the past week.

I arrived on the island in time to take a quick shower and then go to dinner at the invitation of Linnea Chu to talk over the funeral plans for Franklin. There I gathered with the Chu family, but also Pastor Paula Burchill was there from Silverdale Lutheran as we worked together on arrangements. This was such a powerful experience, I completely forgot about the Bethany Council meeting that night. Not surprisingly, I was forgiven my absence, with minimal teasing.

I learned that the Bethany community had organized to provide a dinner on Friday night for the many Chu family and guests who had come from out of town for the Saturday funeral. I think I heard that 18 people had prepared the meal. I was fortunate to take part in the meal, but even more thrilled to be part of a congregation with such love and taking such initiative to show our care.

Saturday was the funeral for Franklin Chu at Silverdale Lutheran Church, who themselves were the model of hospitality and welcome as 400 or so people filled their sanctuary. Before the service I stepped into their kitchen and saw a dozen people busily working to prepare for a reception for a man they would hardly have known. I thanked them and recognized the church at its best. Thank you to Pastor Paula and SLC!

Adding to this greater sense of church, or sense of greater church as it may be, Bishop Kirby Unti arrived to attend the funeral of a man who has served the church in so many ways, most recently on our Synod Council. We invited him to lead us in the Thanksgiving for Baptism liturgy, reminding us what bonds us together in life, in death, in eternal life.

At the graveside the committal was led by two pastors in Franklin’s family, United Methodists, I believe. The church has a broad and far-reaching message and expression. Such connections could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

Sunday, Sept. 16, Bishop Until will be at Bethany to visit our congregation and to preach from our pulpit. This is perhaps the last time he will do so, having announced his retirement at the conclusion of his term in August 2019. Come and celebrate our life together as the church, for there is so much for which to give thanks.

- Pastor Paul

 

Posted by Paul Stumme-Diers with

June/July 2018 Life Together, pastor's address

Dear Bethanians,

Our Lenten theme this year revolved around “Love Letters,” but I am wondering if that theme may not better lend itself to the season of Pentecost, and the growth and connections it celebrates. I say this because over the past week I have witnessed an abundance of notes and cards and letters being exchanged.

- Today, four thank-you cards were on the office counter, from recipients of Bethany Mission Endowment awards, and from those who benefit from our general benevolence outreach.

- This morning Sheila Jakubik, our preschool director, handed me a nice, homemade card from one of our preschoolers, an end-of-the-year thank you to Pastor Paul (with a ballerina on the front).

- Thursday, I received a poster from the Firefly Class, replete with balloons and the name of each child.

- Sunday, members of Bethany made over 40 communications with members of Congress concerning our support for assistance to those who are hungry and in poverty in our nation, through an offering of letters with Bread for the World.

- Last week, letters were sent out to architects, asking that they use their faithful imaginations to create a concept for affordable housing on the Bethany “South 40” property.

- Bella Fenner received a scholarship from the Interfaith Council, in large part because of the letter to the editor she wrote about gun violence in our schools.

- This is the season of graduations, preschool tonight and the high school this weekend, and so too, a flurry of cards of invitation and congratulations.

- This can also be the season when “Letters of Recommendation” are requested and written, commending those with whom our congregation is connected for places of education, employment, and awards.

And letters inform our faith, as heard last Sunday in our “Children’s Worship” the encouragement from Paul in Ephesians 4:32, as read by Howard Howlett, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

So, welcome to the season of Pentecost, when we live not by the letter of the law, but by the letters of love.

Love, 

Pastor Paul

Posted by Bethany office with

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