This just in from our pastor in cool Alaska
"Present your prayers and petitions with thanksgiving…”
Our Alaska cabin is a “dry cabin.” That just means there’s no indoor plumbing. We have a pretty nice outhouse but the water we use must be hauled in or caught in rain barrels. Rain water is boiled for coffee or tea, washing dishes and hands, and is pumped to the outdoor shower. We fill several five-gallon jugs with potable water in town every week. A quarter buys about ten gallons.
We get along pretty well but it is inconvenient.
Living like this for a few weeks helps me realize how spoiled I am.
Many people haul water but not by choice. My grandmother (see picture) homesteaded a place outside of Nyssa. For the first year they hauled water from a ditch to their basement house. Yes, I’m spoiled.
In the words of an old hymn:
“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed;
when you are discouraged thinking all is lost;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend;
help and comfort give you ‘til your journey ends.”
Yes, our lives have been disrupted significantly over the past few months. There are many “unknowns” that shadow our lives. But let’s make time every day to turn off the television, quiet our souls and “count our many blessings.”
Stay negative and wash your hands,
July 31, 2020
Pastor Jim Hardenbrook
A few days ago I overheard two friends concluding their visit. I could tell they were very good friends and had enjoyed their visit.
One of them finished that visit with this “blessing”: Stay negative!
Six months ago that “blessing” would not have been a blessing. But right now it is. “Staying negative” means, “stay healthy.”
It makes me think about the power of words. They matter.
One of the most famous things St. Francis did not say is, “Preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” It’s cute but not possible or true.
Jesus “went about doing good” and used words.
The choice isn’t between using words or not using words. It is more a choice of choosing our words and our actions. Too many of us are using our words poorly or sinfully.
During this time of disturbing uncertainty those who follow Jesus can be positive lights in a dark and divided country by the words and actions we choose…even as we encourage people to “stay negative.”
You are loved and I hope you stay negative,
Pastor Jim Hardenbrook
A few days ago Pam and I were shopping for groceries. That particular store was going to require face masks for anyone shopping in their store the next day.
On our way out I stopped to visit with the persons at the entrance. I wanted to encourage them and ask about their concerns regarding what they might face the next morning. They were worried. Part of their concern had to do with what they had experienced that day.
Angry, abusive people might be a small percentage of their customers but those folks really stood out in the minds of these two employees.
That conversation reminded me of this quotation:
You be the one who lowers the volume and calms the situation, who smiles kindly, who says "I'm sorry" with no sarcasm, who shows them grace. You be the face of Jesus to them.
I look forward to the next time I ask the question of an employee at the door of a business and they respond, “Oh you wouldn’t believe how nice folks have been today!”
You and I can be “the face of Jesus” for someone today…or not.
Make your choice.
Dear Pastoral Leaders of the Greater Northwest Area of the IMU,
It has been a blessing to see churches in the Greater Northwest respond to COVID-19 with great caution, compassion and creativity. Suspending worship in person for three months has not been easy, but you have lived up to the circumstances and exercised great caution for the health and well-being of your neighbors. Many of you have developed the ability to offer worship online. Others send out printed newsletters and sermons every week. You've found ways to offer compassion by distributing gift cards, making face masks, offering food boxes, birthday celebrations, and graduation ceremonies in cars. His creativity has spawned prayer circles, study groups, and virtual children's gatherings. You have directed with abundant grace through a very difficult and limited time.
Still, it is not possible to gather for online worship in all the places where our churches are located. And it is not possible to organize summer camps safely. It is heartbreaking to be unable to hold the hand of a dying loved one or to gather and honor those who have died in a memorial service.
As your bishop, I have struggled all last week to know how best to lead, to meet the needs of so many churches and communities that you serve, facing such varied circumstances. The “curve” of new COVID-19 cases has increased since the restrictions were relaxed in relation to social interaction in most states in the month of May and after the weekend of “Memorial Day”. The impacts that major public protests for racial justice will have since George Floyd's death on May 25 are unknown. Health professionals are very concerned that we may be seeing the start of another spike that could threaten to collapse healthcare systems.
Despite serious reservations, effective immediately, I am easing restrictions on in-person worship and the closing of buildings that allow the transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of "Re-imagining our life together." This means that IF ...
THEN… the church can implement its plan to enter Phase 2.
In addition, in response to requests for clarification, the following amendments and interpretations are in effect during Phases 1 and 2:
On a case-by-case basis, district superintendents may approve the local church's plans for Phase 2 that include the following:
As congregations reimagine life together together and consider how and when to reopen, each congregation every united Methodist leader must consider alarming trends and the potential serious harm of opening too soon or without adequate preparation. As you reflect with other leaders in your church, take a broad and far-reaching view of the impact of your decisions and actions.
Research in the social sciences and health sciences is cause for caution. Twenty-one states, including the states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington in the Greater Northwest Area, are experiencing an increase in cases since opening and as a result of socialization over Memorial Day weekend . The impact that major public protests for racial justice will have on the spread of the virus is still unknown.
Testing practices and case tracking are inconsistent in our area and insufficient in some areas. Health care capacity is unevenly distributed across the area and is in danger of being overwhelmed if COVID-19 re-emerges.
People who provide essential services, people of color and poor people are disproportionately vulnerable to contracting the disease, having inadequate medical care and the financial strains that this causes. Decisions to accept the risks of reopening in the hope of reaping the benefits of greater individual freedom, social interaction, and economic recovery have the effect of privileging the most privileged and making the most vulnerable the most disadvantaged.
The expressions of urgency to reopen come from several reasons. Some are concerned about the church budget. Some are concerned about the economy. Some on the loss of members by a neighboring church that has been opened for worship. Everyone recognizes the emotional, mental, and spiritual need for human interaction, and sees it as the mission of the Church to gather people for support, prayer, encouragement, and comfort. Some hear the call to prophetic witness, action in the Church, and feel that this moment in history compels us to gather, organize, and take to the streets to advocate for justice and racial mercy. Christians face very extraordinary moral dilemmas in this complex time.
Physical health and economic health are mutually dependent interests. Health is not simply a progressive value. Economic stability is not simply a conservative value. If the pandemic continues to spread, the economy will not recover. If we jump-start the economy by encouraging businesses to open up and people to return to work before it is safe, this will increase the number of fatalities, and the economy will suffer again.
No church should simply align itself with one side or the other of the current political divide in the United States. Christians should be willing to be able to sacrifice now for a long-term outcome that will benefit the entire human family. Not just my family, my congregation, my city, my county, my state, the people who look, think, or vote like me. Loving neighbor as oneself means, acting now in a way that we try to address the goal of a complete spirituality and proclaim the healing of the house of God.
Some of you wonder about outdoor worship with facial covering and social distancing. What moral dilemmas might outdoor worship present? How do you assess the blessing of coming together as a faith community against the possible harm of exposure to the disease? What motivates the urgent desire to meet again? Is it to meet the needs of people in the church? Does it also serve the general public? What message is sent if people see the church gathered outdoors? Would such a meeting encourage people to continue to limit their social interactions, or could it give the impression that the danger is over?
“Re-imagining life together” encourages each congregation to set aside some customs and traditions that have served for a season, and to discover and experience new and different ways of congregational life. The urgent urge to meet again, to shake hands, to hug, to sing together, to break bread together at the communion table or at the food table, arises from a desire to return to the habits that make us feel comfortable, but perhaps at the cost of the safety of others. Could we think of COVID-19 as a season of "fasting" in familiar church ways and habits? Could this be the time when we check our church “closets” to see what is still fitting or working, what looks good and what is out of date, in poor condition or just doesn't fit anymore?
I know that leading a congregation is challenging during such a time of such threats to health and disruption of normal routines. I know that making the necessary adaptations to carry out the basic functions of the ministry is stressful and requires learning completely new ways of relating.
My first selfie videos in the COVID-19 season were recorded on my phone, held on a shelf by string and an elastic band. With patience and good humor (you have to laugh or you will surely cry) I have learned in a relaxed way, and I let what I am capable of producing be good enough.
I remember John Wesley's alleged last words: "
"Best of all, God is with us" in laughter, frustration, tears, and precious moments of holiness.
I pray that they may have the power to understand, together with all the saints, how wide and long, high and deep is the love of Christ; in short, that they know that love that surpasses our knowledge, so that they are filled with the fullness of God.
- Ephesians 3: 18-19
Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky
Episcopal Area of the Great Northwest
Read more and stay in touch with:
The Greater Northwest Area of the United Methodist Church
Fellowship with us in the Park this Sunday
Pam and Pastor Jim will be in the Fruitland City Park on Sunday morning, June 7th, at 9:00 a.m.
The weather won't be great but gather at the east gazebo so that we will have shelter. This will not be a service but rather a time to be together. Bring your own chair.
You will find Sunday's service on our website PAYETTE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH on Saturday night and for sure on Sunday morning. Look for the blue writing that says click here for services. It works great thanks to Jean.
Glenora asked me to let the Tuesday Morning Bible Study folks know that they will be meeting on Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. at Central Park in Payette. Please bring your own chair and plan to bring something to write on because we won't have a table. The restrooms in the library are open. Wear a mask if you like and we will have some available if you need one.
Besides Hailey Hershey's good news about receiving the awesome scholarship we got good news from Ed and Sharon Parsons this week. They are great grandparents again! Lisa's daughter Heather had a beautiful, healthy baby girl on June 2nd. She weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. and her name is Madison MIchelle White.
This just in from Laura and David Tompkins! Their son Stephen is engaged to Carrie Frates!
I have been blessed to answer the phone and bring in the mail for these past few weeks because people are calling to say thanks and sending thank you cards for the grocery gift cards we are giving away. I receive a few each time I work and it's the best part of my day! Bless your hearts for being so generous.
As always, call each other, pray for each other and stay well. I miss you.
It’s been an awful week for our country.
We surpassed 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus.
We, by video, watched a man die while being subdued by a police officer in Minneapolis.
Reports of nationwide violence have filled our conversations, the newspapers, social media, and television programs.
We find ourselves without opportunities to gather as a family of faith to comfort and guide one another.
I’d like to visit with you. So, tomorrow (May 31) at 9:00 in the morning (0900) I’m going to be at the Fruitland City Park. Join me if you are able. It won’t be a worship service although we might sing and pray. We will lament and encourage one another.
Bring a lawn chair and a mask. I’ll bring my own cup of coffee. If you can’t make it, stop and pray during that time.
Fruitland and Payette
United Methodist Churches
May 13, 2020
The historic and life-changing days of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect the ways our congregations “do business”. Here are two developments that highlight this reality.
Due to your generous giving and two $500 grants from the Sage District, over $4,000 worth of grocery gift cards were delivered to the Payette County WICAP Food Bank and the Fruitland School District Food Service.
You may continue to make donations to this outreach. Those funds will be used to purchase and distribute more gift cards through these agencies. The Payette Albertsons and the Ontario Waremart stores have been great partners.
Bishop Elaine Stanovsky announced today (May 13) that the order to suspend the closure of our buildings will be extended until June 15.
This announcement finds me with a mixture of disappointment and relief. We all long to gather for worship and fellowship.
However, it is very evident that we will not be able to gather in the same way we did back in March. Let’s use this time with gentle wisdom.
The audio recording and bulletin for the May 17 worship service will be available Saturday.
Care for you souls and bodies…and wash your hands,
Fruitland and Payette United Methodist Churches
April 30, 2020
This will be the seventh Sunday we will not be gathering in our buildings for worship, Christian education, prayer meetings, community activities, or faithful interaction. Suspension of services and building use will continue through May 30.
The Payette congregation now has a wonderful website (payetteumcchurch.org). Jean Hershey put this terrific tool together.
This Sunday’s worship service will, again, be recorded (audio only) and available on our congregation’s websites. The worship service audio recording and written resources will be ready by Saturday. Communion will be part of Sunday’s worship service.
Your generous response to our Grocery Gift Card mission has been amazing! The $500 grants are “in the mail” but your gifts to this project makes these grants look like “seed” that is producing an incredible “crop”. Thank you!
Among Sunday scripture readings is Acts 2:42-47. It is describes the church right after it was born. Read those six verses. Then do two things for me. What part of that description surprised you the most? How would you describe our congregations?
Care for you souls and bodies…and wash your hands,
PS – Thank you for responding to last week’s questions. Your answers are helpful and confidential.
Fruitland and Payette United Methodist Churches
April 22, 2020
Grace and peace to each of you.
April 29th will be the sixth Sunday we will not be gathering in our buildings for worship. However, I’m confident we will be reopening in the near future. We have a Task Force for each congregation looking at what it will take to reopen safely and faithfully.
We are teaming up with local agencies and businesses to provide grocery gift cards. Payette is working with WICAP/Head Start and Fruitland with the Fruitland School District. Albertsons and Waremart are our business partners. We are requesting a $500 grant for each congregation through the Sage District.
Here’s how you can be involved. I’d like us to raise at least $1,000 from each congregation to add to the grant proceeds. Pam and I have designated a portion of our stimulus check to each congregation’s effort. Please, prayerfully consider what you will do.
Here’s something you can do for me. Answer these two questions by text or email:
What has surprised you most over the past six weeks?
What do you miss most since worship gatherings have been suspended?
Be not afraid, turn off the television for a while, and go wash your hands. I love you.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
It so easy to be confused, scared and distraught these days. In the matter of a few short
weeks a pandemic has turned our routines up-side-down.
Our reactions are varied: rebellion; legalism; blame. You know how it goes.
For centuries, God’s people have found and used another way. It’s called lament.
There’s a whole book in the Bible titled Lamentations. At least a third of the Psalms are
laments. Lament is part of discipleship.
But what is the difference between lament and our basic self-centered bellyaching or a
descent into despair? Diana Gruver describes Godly lament like this:
1. Tell God what is wrong.
2. Tell God what you want done.
3. Express trust in God based on His character and past action even if you can’t yet see the outcome.
Worldly lament might use the first two but usually leaves God out of the equation. Godly
or sanctified lament always involves the last attribute.
Now, let’s try it considering your present situation. Open your Bible to Psalm 13. The
first two verses tell God what is wrong. How long will you hide your face from me? The
next two verses petition God for some action. Look on me Lord and answer. Then the
final verses boldly state the psalmist’s commitment to God. But I trust in your unfailing
Write your own prayer of lament using Psalm 13 as a guide. Put your pencil to paper or
your fingers to the keyboard. Faithfully lament and always conclude with a list of what
God has faithfully provided.
Don’t let that list simply include milk and eggs and paper towels. Thank God for the life
of Jesus where we find the ultimate example of how to live and think. Thank God for the
death of Jesus through which we are provided the forgiveness of sins and an example
of unconditional love. Thank God for the resurrection of Jesus in which death has been
Now, go wash your hands and face. Wear that mask when you go out. Love your
neighbor as yourself. Be not afraid.
Have a happy lament,
April 1, 2020
These historic and life-changing days of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect the ways our congregations are “doing business”. This will be the fourth Sunday we will not be gathering in our buildings for worship, Christian education, prayer meetings, community activities, or faithful interaction.
Both church buildings continue to be on “very limited use” status. The Payette congregation’s office days have been moved to Wednesday through Saturday.
The response to last Sunday’s worship resources has been encouraging. This Sunday’s worship service will, again, be recorded (audio only) and available on several formats. The recording will be ready by Saturday. We will continue to communicate with you through our email lists, Facebook pages, telephone networks, and websites.
We are still evaluating plans for Holy Week resources. Stay tuned.
I am impressed with the creative and thoughtful ways you are caring for one another. Please use this time wisely. Consider journaling, fasting, reading a Psalm every day, or limiting the amount of news you watch or hear.
Care for you souls and bodies,