Message From Pastor Erin

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A New Chapter

I’m writing today with mixed emotions; I’m feeling a certain kind of sadness about the closing of the chapter of Bethany’s life led by Pastor Paul, and at the same time, I’m feeling joyful as I imagine the possibilities of Bethany’s next chapter. I wonder how you’re feeling as we move into a season of transition?

No matter where you fall on the emotional spectrum, we are a church family, bound by the Good News of God’s unfailing love, and that is something that will never change, even when we do. The next chapter of Bethany’s life will offer opportunities for exciting growth and transformation, but it won’t always be comfortable—or easy. Nonetheless, we can be sure that God walks with us.

Over my January break, I read a guest essay in the New York Times by Rabbi Sharon Brous, entitled, “Train Yourself to Always Show Up,” (Brous, S. 2024, January 19. Train Yourself to Always Show Up. The New York Times, digital edition.) in which she makes the case that no matter how we’re feeling—exhausted, energized, sorrowful, or joyful—we should train ourselves to always “show up” for each other. Sometimes we’re the givers of encouragement and the holders of pain; and other times, we’re the receivers of comfort and grace. The gift of our presence model’s God’s love, alive and well among us. Rabbi Brous calls this the “Amen effect.”

It’s my hope we learn to practice the Amen effect, even when our instinct is to withdraw, or to keep a safe distance, just to see what happens during this season of unknowns. Our faith community isn’t complete without each of us being fully present and engaged as we’re called to be. Our engagement in the life of the church will strengthen our community and our life of faith. Our presence in this moment will shape our future together.

No matter how we’re feeling right now, mixed emotions or not, the invitation to “just show up” is addressed to all of us. Together we can share our burdens, and likewise, share enthusiasm and hope as we dream together about Bethany’s next chapter. I trust that God is already here with us, and will always be. And that is truly something to be joyful about—no matter what!

I’m here for you, through it all. My office hours are (generally) Tuesdays from 9:30 am -3:00 pm; Wednesdays from 9:30 am -1:00 pm; and Thursdays from 9:30 am -1:30 pm. I work from home on Mondays, and take Fridays as my Sabbath. I tend to email and return phone calls during office hours, unless it’s a pastoral emergency. While I always welcome drop in visits, it’s best to make an appointment if possible. 

Since mine is a three quarters time pastoral position, you’ll be hearing from other pastors and worship leaders one Sunday a month (with minor exceptions when I’ll be here for the entirety of the month). I’m so glad you’ll have the gift of hearing a variety of voices and learning new things—no doubt it will broaden our perspective and shape us as we grow. 

I am grateful to be walking with you during this season of transition. 

In Christ, 


PS: A copy of the essay I referenced is available on the table in the library.

Posted by Erin Grayson with

March: Come Away Fast and Pray

By Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers

“Going to God means tuning out the constant tumult crowding our heads in order to tune our hearts to quieter voices revealing God’s holy intentions for this time.”

Jim Wallis, Sojourners

A few of us Bethanians met and brainstormed further about Lent 2020, a conversation that led us to “recalculate” our Lenten plans for this year. It has seemed a particularly unsettling time with the political scene, the world climate concerns, as well as personal transitions and changes. (Meditations on transitions that have been submitted are being
posted on the bulletin board throughout Lent.) Thus, we embraced a theme calling us to enter more deeply into such considerations through the traditional disciplines of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. What we have shaped is around the theme “Come Away Fast and Pray.”

Our Midweek meditations on Wednesdays will focus on one word each week in a service of prayer, candlelight, scripture, and silence.

- Noon – Simple soup supper
12:30 to 12:45 p.m. – “Come Away Fast and Pray”

- 6:15 p.m. – Simple soup supper
7-7:15 p.m. – “Come Away Fast and Pray”

During the season of Lent you will see subtle changes in our worship space, helping to focus our worship with new perspectives:

- Baptismal font at center of assembly.
- Communion rails in place.|- Placing the lectern in what will be shaped into a more accessible location.


Lent also is about the “disciplines,” a word that for many has come into disfavor, but whose purpose is to allow us to listen to what Jesus speaks to the pain of the world. You are invited to enter into FASTING, PRAYER, and ALMSGIVING in meaningful and creative ways. Some prompting ideas:

FASTING (with thanks to Rachel Held Evans)
- Choose to make water you only beverage for 40 days.
- Do a 40-day purge of your stuff, removing one item a day from your home, donating the best of it to Goodwill or the Rotary Auction.
- Give up going out to eat and donate the money to Lutheran World Relief, Helpline House or North Kitsap Fishline.
- Fast by unplugging.
- Give up meat for 40 days, to be gentle on the earth (and body).
- Fast from cynicism.

- Join the Bethany community for midweek worship.
- Designate five times a day for prayer.
- Pray for “enemies” and “those who persecute you.”
- Pray for those who have asked for prayers; make a list.
- Pray for those for whom it is awkward to pray for.
- Pray for peace, in your heart and world

“Help us to pray for the things that break your heart.”

- Give to the helpers of your choice.
- Find a way to share with the “undeserving.”
- Tie a quilt on Tuesdays with the Bethany quilters.
- Gather your change for a noisy offering.
- Share with your children the importance of almsgiving and generosity.

Welcome to Lent: “Come Away Fast and Pray”


Posted by Pastor Paul Stumme-Diers with