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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

Pastor's address from May 2018 Life Together newsletter

As Messenger House closes,
is there a way to go forward?

Dear Bethanians (and North Kitsap County),

Neighborly greetings to you on a sunny April day. I am writing reflections I shared with our congregation this morning in worship, reflections arising from the article in the Kitsap Sun (4/20/18) reporting the closing of Messenger House Care Center on Bainbridge Island. The facts reported in that article leave me deeply concerned for the Bainbridge community. Messenger House

  • provides 96 beds for skilled nursing care;
  • employs roughly 75 full- and part-time
    employees;
  • has most of its residents covered by
    Medicaid;
  • has provided good-quality care; and
  • is located on a 6-acre campus of some
    historical significance.

This report leaves me wondering what will become of this property, but moreover what will come of our community’s ability to address the skilled nursing care needs of our island, especially given our aging population. I am grateful for the facilities that bring health and dignity to those who require (or prefer) assisted living – I know about these facilities because I visit them often. Bainbridge Island Health and Rehab services those in need of skilled nursing care, but its facility is limited.

What Bainbridge Island is left to ponder is where our frail and elderly might now reside as they require skilled nursing care. This question is compounded by the reality that so many in this population are resource deprived and will look to Medicaid to assist them, a program whose reimbursements challenge all providers, especially for-profit enterprises lacking staffing. No one wants to see our elderly needing to move away from the community where they have lived, where they likely have family, and where they have communities of support (congregations, friendship circles, Island Volunteer Caregivers, etc.). I visit parishioners in facilities in Poulsbo, Silverdale and Bremerton, many who are displaced from Bainbridge Island due to financial constraints. They find good care, but they are not at home, among friends.

This is more a lament than offering a solution. My prayers are extended to the residents and staff of Messenger House, as well as their families. At the same time, however, I wonder if we cannot somehow imagine a creative strategy moving forward, as an island community of care and compassion, maintaining this historic and beautiful property, and serving the neediest of our residents.

What if, a consortium of funders (Bainbridge Community
Foundation, the city of Bainbridge Is land, the Bainbridge Island land Trust, our faith communities) purchased theland to place it in perpetuity in the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, with the condition that it be used to serve the long-term care needs of our community. What if, we explore options to manage the facility, looking perhaps to non-profits to provide such expertise. What if, we advocate for more appropriate (higher!) reimbursements form Medicaid. What if … because if not we will lose a resource critical to the health and well-being of our community.

Pastor Paul

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