From the Rector: Various Updates

The Guatemala Mission Team arrived at Seatac last evening around 6 pm, all 11 of us safe and in good spirits. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you on March 29 at 9:15 am during the formation hour. We are grateful for your prayers while we were in Guatemala. Keep us in your prayers this week as we re-enter the daily routines of life here and catch up on some sleep!

Updates to COVID-19 Response

I want to give you some updates on our response to the COVID-19 virus. We are receiving daily communications from the King County health officials and will continue to follow their recommendations on gatherings and health practices for both the school and the parish. The Facilities Team will be reviewing our janitorial services to ensure that surfaces in our building are being cleaned in accordance with health official recommendations. The bishop’s office has been sending out regular communications to the clergy with up-to-date information. I’ll continue to follow their recommendations and advice, and I’ll reiterate here the consistent recommendations that are coming from health officials:
  • If you are sick, stay home. If symptoms such as fever, coughing, and headache persist, seek medical attention immediately.
  • If you are in a high risk category, avoid large gatherings. High risk groups include people over 60, those who are immune-compromised, and person with chronic underlying medical conditions.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cough and sneeze into the elbow or into a tissue. Throw away the tissue immediately after use and wash hands.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep as much distance between people, ideally maintain a distance of six feet or more.
  • Refrain from hugs and handshakes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often and at least twice per day.
These recommendations mean that for some us attending church services at this time may not be advisable. That’s a personal decision you’ll have to make. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and follow the recommendations of health officials and directives from the bishop regarding worship services. The school will remain open unless health officials direct us otherwise.

Community Assistance

As people of God, we put our ultimate trust in God and seek to serve others, especially in times like these. If you are home-bound and need food, supplies, or assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I encourage you to reach out to neighbors or acquaintances who may need help at this time, too. While taking precaution to protect our own health, it’s important to remember that our baptismal covenant calls us to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
 
For those of you who were not in worship yesterday, there are links to the bulletin and the sermon recording below. I encourage you to read the lessons, offer the prayers, and listen to the sermon. We’ll include the service bulletin in the E-News this week as well, and I’ll be having conversations with those who are more technically savvy than I about the possibility of live-streaming our 10:30 am service on Sunday.
 

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me via email or phone. It’s good to be back home, and I look forward to seeing you face to face soon.

Blessings,
Fr. Steve+


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From the Vestry: Priorities for 2020

In last week’s E-News, Fr. Steve introduced the following three ministry priorities that the vestry chose for the year: marketing and evangelism, youth and families, and missio (Latin word meaning “to send”). The vestry decided on these priorities after doing discernment around our call as a Christian community to “gather, transform, and send.” This week we want to give you a little more information about these three vestry priorities and the team members that are involved.

Marketing and Evangelism

This team will continue to build upon the vital work that was started by last year’s Marketing and Evangelism team. A primary goal of this group is to help grow Good Samaritan’s presence in the greater Sammamish area and invite those called by God to join with us in our lifelong journey with Christ. Good Samaritan is a safe and welcoming place for all people to gather, and as Christians we feel called to do our part in making it easier for Good Samaritan to be found by those seeking community. The team is currently preparing a marketing plan for the year, but a few actions that are expected include increasing the amount of signage and banners around the community, developing and implementing a social media plan, and building work groups to participate in community events. The goal for all activities is to let those seeking God that Good Samaritan is a place that welcomes them. We ask for your prayers and support in transforming Good Samaritan from a hidden gem into a shining beacon on the plateau.

This team includes Rick Tidball (leader), Amy Bowers and Brian Swensen.

Youth and Families

Youth and Families is the fastest and most consistently growing demographic of Good Samaritan’s congregation. There is a gap in how this segment is being served compared to the potential of how it can be served. High functioning families with busy and demanding schedules can find it difficult to carve out time to explore, grow, and renew their faith. The Youth and Families team will be looking for new ways and opportunities for these faith seekers and the congregation to experience a deeper sense of community, connection and belonging. We ask for your prayers and support in shaping Good Samaritan into a third place (outside of work/school and home) where spiritual and communal transformation can take hold.

This team includes Steve Foster (leader), Patrick Duff and Patricia Waltner.

Missio

As Christians, when we make and renew our baptizmal vows it is a call of action and support. To serve, seek and love Christ in each and every human being. Each week we ask God “to send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.” Nurturing and supporting one another not only within the walls that we identify as Good Samaritan Episcopal Church but also outside of them, in those spaces where life happens. That, in a nutshell, is what the Missio group has been tasked with undertaking. God is already at work within peoples lives at Good Samaritan. There are many current opportunities to engage outside of church such as; Issaquah Meals, Men’s and Women’s groups, Trunk or Treat, and the activities the Faith in Action (FIA) committee is developing, the list goes on. The need and opportunity to serve our community is greater now than seemingly ever before. The Missio team, along with FIA, will be partnering with other faith communities and organizations to engage out in the community and with the members of the congregation. We ask for your prayers and support as the Missio team continues to explore and discern the best paths forward in ways to participate in God’s grace.

This team includes Jim Martin (leader), Jane Harrell and Carol Stamper.

Please be on the lookout for more information about these three vestry priorities as the year progresses.

Yours in Christ,

Brian Swensen, Junior Warden
Rick Tidball, Senior Warden


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From the Rector: Send Us Out

In the Book of Common Prayer 1979 there are two options for the post-communion prayer. The second option concludes with a petition asking God to “send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.” That petition is a reminder that the vast majority of God’s work goes on outside the walls of the church building the other 166 hours a week!
 
On Tuesday afternoon I attended the retirement reception of one of our parishioners, Dr. Philip Ballinger. Philip, husband of our former deacon, Kathryn, is Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at the University of Washington and is retiring this month after over 30 years of service in university admissions and enrollment. At the reception, speaker after speaker spoke about Philip’s integrity and collegial spirit. What struck me most was the work he has done to increase fair and equitable access to higher education. During his time at UW, the racial and ethnic diversity of the student body at UW has grown dramatically. In reality, Philip has been doing God’s work—Kingdom work—in his career in higher education. It was evident, too, that the Christ-like way in which he approached his job has made a lasting impact on his colleagues at UW and literally around the world.*
 
Philip, of course, is not the only lay person in our parish doing ministry through their vocations. Week after week I hear stories about how people in our parish are living out their faith and making a difference in the world. Teachers who bring the values of our Baptismal Covenant into the classroom, managers who treat their teams with fairness and respect, parents who seek to instill Christian values in their children, volunteers who work with and lead in community service organizations, parishioners who are kind to their neighbors—this is what it means to be the Church sent out to do the work God has given us to do. Not just on Tuesday at the retirement reception, but almost every Sunday I hear what you are doing to make God’s love known in your everyday life. Your stories and your commitment to follow Christ throughout the week wherever you are inspires me!
 
At our vestry retreat last weekend, your vestry chose three ministry priorities for the year: 1) marketing and evangelism, 2) youth and families, and 3) what I will call, for now, “missio,” the Latin word for “to send.” We decided on these priorities after doing discernment around our call as a Christian community to “gather, transform, and send.” The send, or missio, priority arose as we asked ourselves how we were doing as a parish in preparing and inspiring one another to leave our corporate worship experiences to do God’s work in our family life, work life, social and civic life, and, yes, even in our parish life. You’ll be hearing more about these three priority areas of the vestry soon. Suffice it to say here that your vestry, Rector, and the Faith in Action Commission will give even more intentionality to how we can lead, guide, and support one another as we are sent into the world to do the work God has given us to do!
 
Excitedly,
Fr. Steve+
 
*Philip will be our guest speaker at the Seasoned Saints luncheon on March 9, at 12 noon, here at the church.  He’ll share more about his training as a Jesuit priest, his career in higher education, and the new project he’s working on with UW.

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Guatemala Dinner

Friday, February 7, at 6:30 pm

Join the Good Samaritan Guatemalan Mission Team for a Guatemalan-themed dinner and details about the work the team will be doing March 1-8. You’ll learn more about Safe Passage (the organization with whom we’ll be working) and Guatemala, and hear updates about the Gregorys, our missionary family serving in Guatemala City. The dinner and program is the team’s gift to the parish and an invitation to support the trip with your prayers and financial support. Donations received will go to directly support the work of Safe Passage. Reservations are required.
 
CONTACT: Lorene Ehlers
Come join us at this fantastic event!
Can’t go, but want to support the cause?
*Choose the line “Mission Trip (Waterfield Fund)”

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Reverse Advent Calendar

This year we’re introducing a new Advent tradition that is not only fun to do, but teaches little ones and reminds adults about the grace of sharing. Many advent calendars will contain a small gift or candy that is opened or received on each day of Advent, leading up to Christmas Day. The Reverse Advent Calendar focuses attention on sharing with those in need and the joy that comes from giving. You and your family is encouraged to purchase at least one or more of the items in week 1 and 3, bring it to church on the following Sunday for a blessing and distribution. In week 2, you’re encouraged to read and reflect on material about the ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and bring an offering on Sunday, December 15, to support their work.

Use the link below to download PDFs of the guide and the calendar, which you can attach to the fridge for easy reference!

Download the complete guide.

Download the calendar only.


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From the Rector: The Open Door

If you’ve been in a vestry meeting with me over the past four years, you’ll quickly learn that my “go to” resource for leadership and mission is Peter Steinke. In his book, A Door Set Open, he writes:

Mission is the expression of the church’s deep, abiding beliefs. Mission provides the major standard against which all activities, services, and decisions are evaluated…. It is about God’s love for the world, not about what I like or don’t like about my church. A major function of the congregation’s stewards is to be the creators and guardians of the mission…. They keep the mission alive (p. 78).

I remember sitting in a vestry retreat with Peter years ago in Dallas, Texas, hearing these words and how they washed over our vestry and me. The mission of the local church is rooted in nothing more or less than God’s love for the world. It still blows me away and, to this day, helps keep my work as a priest and pastor focused and grounded.

In September we began a three-month re-visit of our parish’s statement of mission, starting with reflection upon the question of “why?” Why do we exist as a parish? Simply put, and I hope this has been clear, we are here to invite each other and our neighbors to walk in Jesus’ Way of Love. Now we turn to reflect on the “how.” How do we as a parish and individuals go about walking the Way? What does it look like and feel like?

Weirdly enough, we begin our conversation around that question with the celebration of one of the church’s most loved and popular saints: St. Francis of Assisi. And, lest we forget, his spiritual companion and friend, St. Clare, played a very important role in his life, ministry, and legacy. I hope you can join us on Sunday as we reflect on what St. Francis and St. Clare can teach us about how to more faithfully live into our mission and walk Jesus’ Way of Love.

Arrf, arrf. (Translation: Our dog Abi sends her greetings and wants treats and to lick your hand and face and get treats on Sunday!)

—Fr. Steve+


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Saying Goodbye to the Gregorys

This Sunday, August 4, we will say goodbye to the Gregorys as they leave ministry in our parish to serve the people of Guatemala in Christ’s name. At the 9:30 am service, Fr. Brian will preach and celebrate, and I’ll lead us in a liturgy to acknowledge the end of Fr. Brian’s pastoral relationship with Good Samaritan and to commission the Gregorys to serve as missionaries to Guatemala. You are invited to write a note of encouragement and appreciation and place it in the large basket in the Narthex on Sunday, along with a financial gift or pledge to their mission, if you have not done so already. Notecards and envelopes will be provided just in case you forgot! A BBQ will ensue after the service, and you can go here to RSVP or here to sign up to bring food.
 
It really will be an emotionally mixed day for our parish and for me. Fr. Brian came to us as a freshly ordained Deacon in July 2017, and was placed in our parish as a Curate. (A Curate serves for two years in a parish setting as a priest-in-training, in case you are unfamiliar with the ordination process of the Episcopal Church.) We had the great privilege of hosting his ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests in February 2018. Fr. Brian has given a great deal of attention to our children and youth ministries, played a major role in our identity/vision/mission work, vastly improved our communication and online presence, led the youth mission trip last summer to Mt. Vernon, led us to establish relationships with La Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección and Primm Tabernacle AME Church, in addition to preaching, celebrating, pastoring, and doing the work of priest. I believe his ministry among us will have a lasting impact on our parish. His family has become dear to us, as well. Kelly initiated and led our women’s ministry, and we have been so blessed to watch Ellsley and Westin grow two years older and be a part of their formative years.
 
I have had the privilege of watching Fr. Brian grow in and embrace his calling to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. He has been a trusted colleague, adviser, and fellow presbyter. His love for our Lord and the Church has been a constant source of encouragement. I am grateful that God brought him to our parish. I am thankful, too, that the work we have done is not ended, but all part of the larger work we all do together for sake of the Kingdom of God. God will take the good work we have done together—Brian’s, yours, and mine—and multiply it in ways that we can never imagine this side of heaven.
 
Some of you have asked for some more specific information about the money we are raising to support the Gregory’s mission to Guatemala. The Gregory’s need $53,000 to pay for their living expenses while in Guatemala. This includes airfare to Guatemala, housing, transportation, food, medical insurance, pension contribution, repatriation, and any other expenses needed to support a family of four for a year. To date, approximately $43,000 has been raised in gifts or pledges, about $13,000 of that amount coming from our parish. Another $10,000 is needed to reach the goal, and I believe that goal will be reached before the Gregory’s leave for Guatemala. Your monetary gifts of support will be housed and administered by Good Samaritan, so whatever you give is tax deductible. You can write a check to Good Samaritan with “Guatemala Fund” in the memo line, or visit the Gregorys’ website to find out how to give online.
 
I ask for your generous support of their mission to Guatemala, and, more importantly, for your prayers as they leave us to serve the Lord in a different place.
 
With gratitude,
Fr. Steve+

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Faith in Action: New Focus Areas of Service

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
 
About a year ago, Fr. Steve called for the formation of the Faith in Action Commission. Our vestry endorsed this action, and several members of the parish began meeting to read, pray, and discern together how God might be calling us to strengthen and expand our outreach ministries. We discovered in our journey that many in our parish were passionate about the work we were doing, which has consisted of Issaquah Meals and the occasional seasonal project, and many were already involved in ministries not sponsored by our parish. We also came to understand that, as followers of Jesus, our call to serve goes beyond “doing for” to include also “being with.” In other words, the relational aspect of outreach is just as important than the actual action itself, if not more so.
 
In our discernment and planning, we realized very early on that we as a parish cannot do everything. We also came to understand that many in our parish are putting their faith into action everyday by participating in community service organizations, serving on the boards of non-profits, or participating in outreach ministries outside of the parish. Thus after months of discernment and discussion, the Faith in Action Commission has identified four new focus areas of service and outreach.
 

FAITH IN ACTION NEW AREAS OF SERVICE

 
THE GOOD SAMARITAN PRESCHOOL
Team Leader: Steve Foster
Our weekday preschool serves over 70 children and 60+ families. Most of the families served do not attend worship services at Good Samaritan, but we believe there exists a great opportunity to serve and engage with the children and parents of our preschool. Opportunities for engagement with the school include Blessing of the Preschool Staff and Students on September 8, Trunk or Treat in October, Carols and Cookies in December, and help with leading preschool chapel. Other possibilities include a multi-cultural fair, back to school breakfast, and a field day, all sponsored by the parish.
 
MENTAL WELLNESS
Team Leader: Tom Ehlers
The Human Services Commission of the City of Sammamish recently conducted a study in which anxiety and depression have been identified as a major health issues in our community. The FIA Commission wants to offer mental wellness resources and support to our parish and the surrounding community. This group is exploring a partnership with the local YMCA and other faith communities in Sammamish to launch a mentoring program for high school students. We also hope to offer an event series or forums dealing with stress for pre-teens, teens, and parents. The group is also working with our Communications Director to set up a page of resources on our website.
 
BECOMING BELOVED COMMUNITY WITH LA IGLESIA EPISCOPAL DE LA RESURRECCION IN MT. VERNON
Team Leaders: Terry Foster and Julio Richburg; Assistant Leader, Abby Pommer
We believe it is the work of the Church to engage in the work of reconciliation and build bridges between different races and cultures. La Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección in Mt. Vernon serves a predominantly Hispanic and migrant worker congregation in the Skagit Valley. By worshiping together, participating in cultural events, and listening to their stories, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of how we can build a sustainable relationship and serve the people of the Skagit Valley together. Opportunities to participate will include a Sunday visit to Resurrección for worship in the fall, participating in their celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe on December 12, and exploring how to support the day camp their parish operates during the summer for the children of migrant workers.
 
MISSION TO GUATEMALA
Team Leader: Terry Foster, assisted by Julio Richburg and Abby Pommer
Every Sunday we affirm that we belong to the Universal Church and the Communion of Saints, which means essentially that we here at Good Samaritan are part of what God is doing all over our world. We believe that global awareness broadens our horizons, opens our minds, and, in this particular case, helps us better understand the conditions and policies that have led so many to flee their countries and seek asylum in the United States. This group is planning a mission trip to Guatemala, possibly in the spring of 2020, to serve with Safe Passage and Fr. Brian in Guatemala City. An informational meeting is being planned for November.
 
These four areas of service were chosen not because there aren’t other equally valuable outreach opportunities, but because of existing relationships that could be strengthened or built upon. These focus areas also allow us the opportunity to best leverage our resources to match needs in our own parish and the community.
 
Please note that our monthly meal program, Issaquah Meals will continue on the second Saturday afternoon of each month. Steve Angelo can be contacted about participation in this ministry. We need additional cooks, food transporters (taking the food from the church to Issaquah Community Center), and food servers. Set up and clean up volunteers are always welcome.
 

STAY TUNED

You’ll be hearing more in the coming days and weeks about these proposed projects and relationships. There will be meetings scheduled for those interested in participating or gathering more information, and opportunities to sign up for projects will begin in August. All of these projects involve action items, but they are centered round the building of relationships with folks outside our parish and between parishioners.
 
Please ask questions and give us your input and feedback. Feel free to contact the team leaders of each of these projects or Fr. Steve. Watch for details about an information and feedback meeting to come soon!
 
Yours in mission and service,
 
The Faith in Action Commission
Megan Anderson, Tom Ehlers, Terry and Steve Foster, Julio Richburg, Abby Pommer, and Fr. Steve

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From the Rector: The Least of These

Jesus replied, “Whenever you did it for the least of these, you did it to me.”
 
We are all aware that issues related to immigration to this country and the situation at our southern border have been thrust to the forefront in recent weeks. For persons of faith and anyone of good will, the images and reports of conditions at immigrant detention centers, especially for children, are deeply disturbing. Issues regarding immigration in this country are not new. Chinese immigrants faced opposition and persecution on the West Coast in the 19th century. Irish and European immigrants in the early 20th century faced similar treatment. In recent years, our national conversation about immigration policies have degenerated into partisan battles, name-calling, and—let’s face it—the tendency of many in our country to treat and talk about immigrants in terms that are less than human. The fear of the “other” stretches way back into our human history, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. Remember when God confronts Cain for his treatment of his brother Abel? Cain responds to God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the writings of the New Testament answer that question for Cain and for us. Yes, we are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers.
 
For Christians of any political persuasion, when faced with any ethical, moral, or social issue, the final authority is the founder of our faith: Jesus. As trite as it may seem, we have to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” How would Jesus instruct us to treat immigrants, to talk about them, and yes, to talk with one another about the issue? If you’re unsure about how to answer those questions, read the Gospels. Jesus seems to be pretty clear on how we treat the stranger and the vulnerable. Jesus often excoriated religious and political leaders because of their mistreatment of the vulnerable. And, yes, it was political because Jesus spoke to the political authorities and leaders of his day about the unfair and inhumane policies directed toward persons who, despite their social class or racial identity, were not treated with the respect due to persons created in the image of the Living God.
 
I am not naïve. The issues related to immigration are complex. Our political leaders have tried (or not) to address these issues, and yet here we are. As Christian citizens, we have a moral obligation to engage in the conversation, to call for the protection of the most vulnerable and challenge our political leaders when policies and actions fly in the face of Jesus’ teaching. We also have an obligation to pray for our leaders, regardless of political party, and the many government personnel on our borders who go about their jobs with compassion and integrity. We are to pray, too, for justice and mercy for all people—not just those who look and think like us.
 
This week the bishops of the Episcopal dioceses bordering Mexico released a joint statement. I commend it to you. You can find it here. Join me tomorrow night, too, for the prayer vigil at CWU. However you decide to respond and engage on this or any other human rights issue, remember that whatever you do in serving the “least of these” you are doing for Christ himself.
 
In Christ,
Fr. Steve+
 
 

Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps Friday, July 12, at 7:45 pm (CWU Sammamish)

Plateaupians for Peace are organizing participation with Lights for Liberty to hold a vigil protesting the inhumane conditions faced by refugees along our very own borders. If you would like to join a group from Good Samaritan going to this vigil, contact Fr. Steve.

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Gregory Garage Sale

We’re having a garage sale to support the Gregorys in Guatemala!

Shop on July 12 & 13, from 8 am–3 pm

As you recently learned, Fr. Brian, Kelly, Ellsley and Westin Gregory have been called to missionary work in Guatemala with the Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala and an organization called Safe Passage, which works in the community around the Guatemala City garbage dump, providing hope, education, and opportunity for children and families living in extreme poverty. Good Samaritan has pledged to financially support the Gregory family during this mission.
 
As part of our support, we are hosting a garage sale in the sanctuary from which ALL proceeds will go directly to the Gregorys.

Get Involved!

There are three ways you can get involved in our Garage Sale: donate items, sign up for a volunteer shift, and come shop!
 
DONATE
Beginning on July 7, we will accept donations of clothing, household items, furniture, art, music, books, and the like for resale. We cannot accept donations before July 7 at noon.
  • Sunday, July 7 from 12–2 pm
  • Monday–Thursday, July 8–11 from 10 am–2 pm
 
Items we will NOT accept
  • Electronics
  • Paint or cleaning supplies
  • TVs
  • Smelly or Broken Items
  • Car seats
 
All items donated to the sale that are not sold, are passed on to other great organizations like the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.
 
If you would like to provide ongoing prayer or financial support for the Gregorys in Guatemala, visit gregorysinguate.com for more information.
 
 
VOLUNTEER
During the sale, we have many volunteers who help with all the work of the sale; hauling, setting up, working at the sale, tearing down and packing up the leftovers. It is a great time of fellowship for all who get involved.
  • Sunday, July 7 from 12-2 pm (Set up for the event—heavy lifting required)
  • July 12 & 13 from 7:30 am–4 pm (monitoring sale and accepting money)
  • ***Saturday, July 13 from 3–5 pm (Clean up after the event—heavy lifting required) We especially need Saturday volunteers!
 
MyGoodSam login will be required to sign up.
 
SHOP
Invite your friends and neighbors to check out all the beautiful items to sell!
  • Friday, July 12 from 8 am–4 pm
  • Saturday, July 13 from 8 am–3 pm

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