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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Note from the Rector: Fr. Brian Is Moving On

Since the first of the calendar year so much of what we’ve done in our preaching, formation, planning, and conversation has been centered around the theme Journey with Jesus. Last week, The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers touched on this theme in her talk on “Becoming Beloved Community” and expanded our vocabulary to include thinking about this journey in terms of a labyrinth. A labyrinth, you know, has a beginning point and a destination, but the way is never linear! There are twists and turns, and often the way forward is surprising. As I reflect on my four years (as of June 15) as your Rector, I remember the twists and turns and many surprises we have encountered in our journey together. We have done good work, and I am grateful and hopeful for our future as a parish.

One of the surprises in our journey together occurred two years ago, when Fr. Brian Gregory came to serve as Curate. (For those who don’t know, in our tradition, a Curate serves for two years as a priest-in-training.) Not only did he bring years of expertise in youth ministry, but his beautiful family, as well. Kelly, Ellsley, and Westin have become dear to us all, and made their own mark on the life of this parish. Another surprise was that we had the honor and privilege of hosting his ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests. He has done good ministry here among us over the past two years. He has been a particular blessing to me as a trusted colleague and friend.

Most of you are aware that Fr. Brian and Kelly have been in discernment for quite some time about the possibility of serving the Lord in Guatemala. Last Sunday I announced that Fr. Brian and his family have come to a decision; they will be leaving the States in mid-August to serve at least one year in Guatemala. I will leave it to Fr. Brian and Kelly to give you the details of what they’ll be doing—as a start, you can read Fr. Brian’s letter to the congregation here.

Fr. Brian’s last Sunday with us will be August 4. He will preach and celebrate at both services that day, and the vestry is planning a celebration to express our gratitude. I will lead us in a brief commissioning service that day, and we will send them on their way with our thanks and blessings. Stay tuned for more details. I will also be making an announcement soon about how we can continue to support Fr. Brian in the work to which God is calling him.

In the meantime, the vestry leadership and I will be in prayer and discernment about staff leadership for our children, youth and family ministries. As I stated on Sunday, the vestry and I are fully committed to reaching and serving families with children and youth, which makes up the vast majority of our community demographic. I will keep you updated as we move along in this process.

Please keep Fr. Brian and his family in your prayers as they prepare to move to Guatemala, and for our parish as we continue on our journey to become the Beloved Community that God desires for us!

Blessings, Fr. Steve+


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The Gregorys in Guatemala

by Fr. Brian Gregory
 
Back in March, I discussed in a sermon that my family and I were discerning a call to serve God and God’s people in Guatemala. Many of you heard the announcement last Sunday that we will be leaving in August to follow God’s call to ministry Guatemala. Our nearly two years of discernment have involved countless people (including members of the Good Samaritan community), much prayer, and difficult decisions. In that time, we have not been able to shake the sense of call we feel to step out in faith to serve. We will be working 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.
 
These past two years have been a joy—not only for me in my ministry, but also for my family as we have gotten to know you all and share life with you. Good Samaritan has been an incredible place to begin my ministry as a priest in the Episcopal Church. I am grateful to each and every one of you for your welcome, your care, your commitment to Jesus and his church, and to the work of formation and service to which we are all called.
 
Together, we have made great strides towards being a church that welcomes, is prepared for, and walks with children and youth to encourage their growing faith. And yet, there is work still to do to become the church we hope to be. There is tremendous potential at Good Samaritan to be “home” for a great number of families in our community. As Fr. Steve will tell you, the work we have done over the last two years will continue after my family and I are gone. But that work will need to include you. Fruitful ministry is never about one priest or person; fruitful and sustainable ministries are shared by many people. It is my hope and prayer that you all will be among that number who will carry forward our ministries to children, youth, and families.
 
We will miss Good Samaritan and all of you dearly, but we are excited to discover all God has in store for us in this next season of life and ministry. We also look forward to sharing these next few months with you, as we all begin to close this chapter of our life together and move towards the places God is calling us.
 
Please keep my family and me in your prayers.
Fr. Brian+

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