Good Sam Blog

From the Rector: God’s Love Is Constant

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

This has been a roller-coaster week, hasn’t it? At first, we saw measures and changes to our daily lives introduced on a daily basis. Now it seems that the response and reaction to the spread of COVID-19 occurs almost hourly. While our lives have been disrupted, and many of us feel as though they’ve been turned upside down, there are a number of things that are constant, things to which we can anchor our lives during these unpredictable times.

God’s love for us is constant and never-changing. God’s love for us expressed in Jesus does not fluctuate like the stock markets; it is consistently given to us with no strings attached. Another constant is the relationships we have with our families, friends, neighbors, and, in particular, our parish community. Your response to requests, participation in online services, financial generosity, and offers to help others in need have been remarkable, and they have been a great blessing to me.

Today the bishop directed all parish churches to be closed through Easter Day, April 12. While that announcement distresses me greatly as your priest and pastor, it is necessary in order to slow down the spread of the virus. We will have Sunday services and all Holy Week services and Easter online. I’m going to be working with the clergy, staff, and altar guild about ways you can celebrate these events in your home as you watch online. I will send out a pastoral letter over the weekend outlining how we can stay connected and continue to do the work of this parish over the next few weeks.

Although the building is essentially closed for public gatherings right now, the work of the church continues. The staff is meeting and planning, the office is operating, leaders are meeting, parishioners are reaching out to one another, and the worship life of our community continues. Of course, we’re doing that differently and in new ways, but the work we do in partnership with God here in this place continues. Over the next couple of days, I’m going to work on additional ways to keep us connected and in touch with one another, and will be asking some of you to help with those initiatives. Watch for those, and please do read the communications that come from the parish.

Some have asked how I’m coping with all of this. To be completely honest with you, I’ve had a few sleepless nights lately. However, what has been helpful to me during all of this is really simple.

  • Before—and I emphasize before—reading or watching the news in the morning, I get coffee, find a quiet place, pray or just stare out the window, and usually give attention to Abi, our lab, who just can’t get enough attention. Begin the day with a centering practice of some kind; perhaps morning prayer or contemplative prayer. Read Scripture, especially the Gospels and the Psalms. For those new to the Episcopal Church (and some others who have been around for a while!) this would be a great time to explore the riches of The Book of Common Prayer. Meditate or practice yoga. The possibilities are endless!
  • Make a list, either mentally or on paper, of the things for which you are grateful. Gratitude for what we do have can help us frame and put into perspective what is going on in the world around us.
  • Stay in touch with others. Staying connected with family, friends, neighbors, and your parish community is vital. Use this as an opportunity to get acquainted with neighbors you don’t know or reconnect with friends. You might want to consider joining a group that is meeting online—a community service group, our women’s and men’s groups, youth group, or a special interest group.
  • Take care of yourself physically. Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather! Take a walk, work in the yard, enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in our part of it. Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, take a nap. Our physical well-being has a direct impact on our emotional/spiritual well-being.
  • Find ways to serve others. If you need ideas, reach out to me. Our Faith in Action Commission is meeting next week, and we may have additional ways to serve to share with you next week.
  • If you have time on your hands, learn about or explore something you’ve always wanted to know about but didn’t have the time. Although I’m pretty busy right now, I want to do some more research on greenhouse gardening.
  • Make the worship of God a priority. For Christians, this should go without saying, but one good thing that can come out of this is restoring the corporate worship of God to a central place in our schedules. Worship is not only for our comfort and encouragement, it is one of the ways God’s Spirit works in our lives to transform us.

Know that I am praying for all of you daily, and that our parish leadership stands ready to serve you in any way possible during these times. Since we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day earlier this week, I leave you with this blessing:

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.

May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.

May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen.

With love for all of you,
Fr. Steve+


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From the Rector: Good Samaritan to Close for Two Weeks

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
 
Today the bishop directed all parishes in our area to close for services and activities for two weeks in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some things you should know today:
  • On Sundays March 15 and 22, one service at 10:30am will be broadcast on Facebook Live. You do not need to have a Facebook account to view the service. There is additional information and a PDF of Sunday’s bulletin linked below.
  • All activities, the Wednesday night Lenten programs, are cancelled through March 28. It is possible that we will offer the Wednesday night sessions on prayer on FaceBook Live. Watch for details.
  • We will be offering Morning Prayer and Compline at various times throughout the next two weeks on Facebook Live. I will publish a schedule over the weekend.
  • Over the next two days you will be receiving a phone call from one of our parish leaders. They’re calling to check in to see how you are doing and share ways we can keep connected during this time. Please don’t hesitate to let them or me know if you are homebound and in need of groceries or supplies.
I know these are difficult and uncertain times for all of us. As Christians, we rest in God’s promise that God is with us, even in the midst of trying times. When you feel alone or discouraged or fearful, I encourage you to offer your feelings and thoughts to God in prayer. Our tradition has a number of wonderful prayers that can help shape your own prayers. We’ll be sharing those with you over the next few days. Because our baptism ties us inextricably together as One Body in Christ, we are a community called and empowered by the Spirit to care for one another and our neighbor. We are all together in this, and I think there is a great deal of comfort in knowing that.
 
If you need help or assistance, or you just want to talk or pray with someone, don’t hesitate to reach out to the clergy or others in our parish. Your leaders have risen to the occasion in a remarkable way, and I want to assure you that our worship and ministry together will continue, although in a different way for a little while. Remember that the church is not the building—we, wherever we are and no matter the circumstances, are the Church. As the great hymn reminds us, the Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, who promised to be with us forever.
 
With love for all of you,
Fr. Steve+

Instructions for Facebook Live

You don’t need to have a Facebook account to view our online services. Simply click here to view the church Facebook page. The service will go live at 10:25 am and play near the top of the page.
 
 

Instructions for Online Giving

Since we won’t be passing the plate in church on Sunday, visit our website for instruction on how to give remotely. Online giving requires you to create a profile in our giving management system. You can also send a check to our secure post offce box.

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Youth Leading Collection for Hygiene Kits

During Lent, the youth are planning to run a multi-week drive for items for “Personal Hygiene Kits/Blessings Kits” to give to the Sammamish Police Department who distribute them to homeless people they encounter. Since we are now cancelling Sunday activities for two weeks, please continue to collect any of the following items and bring them to church when we reopen.
 
Here’s the list of each weekly item:
  • Week 1 (March 1): gloves, adult sizes
  • Week 2 (March 8): soft food, like chewy protein bars, peanut butter packets, or fruit cups
  • Week 3 (March 15): travel-sized hygiene products, especially toothbrush and paste, but also soap, shampoo, and others
  • Week 4 (March 22): $10 Orca bus card or hand-warmers
  • Week 5 (March 29): Wet Wipes (travel packs) and small tissue packs
  • Week 6 (April 5): Socks (white cotton tube socks are best)

The youth will purchase water, garbage bags, and 2-gallon Ziplocs to add to the kits, which they will assemble and then deliver to the Sammamish Police Department.


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Facilities Committee Keeping our Building Clean

Your Facilities Team met Tuesday evening and developed a Coronavirus Action Plan, with the objective of strengthening the cleaning protocol for Good Samaritan. We used guidelines issued by King County Health and the CDC. You’ll notice a few changes when you arrive for worship:

  • greeters will direct you to a hand-sanitizing station
  • ushers will wear gloves to hand out bulletins
  • all hymnals/Bibles/paper items will be removed from the pews
  • the Welcome Desk will be relocated in the Narthex and used for a prayer request area
  • the restroom doors will be propped open to minimize surface contact
  • Coffee hour will include host/server pouring (no self-serve), use of paper cups, individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes for the children.

Behind the scenes, the pews will be cleaned before and after the service and the Prayer Corner will be used exclusively for 8:30 service (meaning no individual prayers during 10:30 service). There will also be more regular cleaning, and the sanctuary will be locked afterwards to minimize any exposure. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Facilities Team.

—Tom Ehlers


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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 Rector: You’re Invited into Lent

In the Ash Wednesday liturgy of our Church, the Presider says the following: “Therefore, in the name of the Church, I invite you to the observance of a holy Lent.” For many centuries, and still to this day in some parts of the Church, an invitation to Lent was about as exciting as receiving an invitation from the dentist for a root canal! All that talk of fasting, prayer, penitence, discipline, and figuring out what to give up for Lent that won’t be too overbearing or inconvenient. I remember breaking the Ash Wednesday fast at a restaurant near the parish church I served in Chicago after the service. I was talking with a server at a restaurant in Chicago about Lent (I still had remnants of ashes on my forehead, which, on my forehead really stand out!) and he said to me, “Oooh, I grew up in church, and Lent was always absolutely the most horrible time of the year!” Somewhere, somehow, someone missed the point, don’t you think?
 
As the early church grew and developed, the liturgical year came into being as a way of recalling, celebrating, and learning from the life of Christ. In time, the period before Easter was set aside as a time of preparation for the great celebration of the Resurrection. In fact, the word “Lent” comes from a word which means “spring.” Beside our deck there are several dozen blooming crocus plants, announcing to the world that spring is right around the corner. They also announce to me that it’s time to prepare the flower and vegetable beds, plant some seeds in the greenhouse, and start the pruning of the rose bushes. That’s what Lent is really all about—giving attention to the soil of our souls so that God can bring new life, new growth. Therefore, I invite you to prepare for the new thing God wants to do in your life.

Prepare the Soil

We’re offering several ways to prepare the soil of our heart this year:
  • On Sundays, the adult formation offering and the sermons will be geared toward finding ways to be more open to God’s work in our lives.
  • On three Wednesday nights during Lent, March 11, 18 & 25, we’ll explore how prayer is an essential part of our Lenten preparation work, and the different ways in which we can pray.
  • During the week, you can engage in a fun spiritual practice called Lent Madness.
Serving by giving of your time and resources is “heart work,” too.
  • The youth are collecting items for personal hygiene kits,
  • Issaquah Meals will prepare and serve dinner on March 14, and
  • we’ll collect the Good Friday offering that goes to support the social ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
Often, it’s helpful during Lent to think about what to subtract so there’s more space to just relax or enjoy time with family, friends, or yourself. I read an article over the weekend on the spiritual discipline of doing nothing. In our culture, doing nothing really is a spiritual discipline.
 
Whatever you decide will be helpful to you during this holy season, I encourage you to be intentional and consistent. After all, Lent is about responding to God’s invitation to the full and joy-filled life Jesus promised us. You’re invited!
 
Hoping you’ll RSVP “yes,”
Fr. Steve+

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Baptismal Font Q&A

The Liturgical Arts Committee is grateful for the generous gifts given towards the new bronze baptismal font. Your deep generosity shows the bountiful abundance of our thriving congregation. Our conversations, several questions have come up which we’d like to address here.

Why do we need a new baptismal font?

Like Episcopal congregations all across our diocese and the country, Good Samaritan has historically placed a high value on liturgical arts. The reredos, stations of the cross, and hand-painted banners were created by members of our congregation. Thousands of hours of time and talent were spent adding these elements to our scared worship space. It follows that we put the same care and value into choosing a new baptismal font for our church.
 
Holy Baptism is the full initiation of a person into the body of Christ. It is an entry point to a new relationship with God, a new role within the community of the church, and participation in the principle act of Christian worship: Holy Eucharist. As people enter the nave, the font is the sacred object that expresses who we are and what we are about: an invitation to experience the abundant living waters of Jesus Christ. The font will say to all who enter our sacred space: We take what we do here seriously, and we are here to serve our community for generations to come. The font draws us toward the altar and the ritual completion of our journey–hands outstretched receiving the body of Christ. The path from the baptismal font to the altar is a symbol of our Christian pilgrimage toward God.
 
It is time to complete our space and path from Baptism to Eucharist. We are almost there.

What goes into creating a new baptismal font?

The committee spent nine months researching and creating a liturgical vision for our worship space which would draw the worshiper’s attention to the two great sacramental acts of the Church: Baptism and Holy Eucharist. Many hours were spent by committee members in conversation and discussion, visiting artists’ studios and looking at metal samples.
 
Upon visiting Classic Foundry, whom we chose to create our baptismal font, we were in awe of the care and reverence that each artist showed in their work. The manager of Classic Foundry, Ion Onutan, visited Good Samaritan, which led him to design this beautiful bronze baptismal font which compliments and strengthens our existing altar and sanctuary. We feel his design encompasses our vision and our needs to permanently and formally complete our sacred sanctuary space.

Why not a prefabricated baptismal font?

The Liturgical Arts Committee, Fr. Steve, and the Vestry chose not to go with a prefabricated baptismal font due to its short-term life. Prefabricated baptismal font materials and design do not match up the high quality of Classic Foundry’s craftsmanship, and the designs out in the marketplace do not match the aesthetics of our nave. The materials and construction are not strong nor do they represent permanence. They may cost less, but the money saved would lead us back to our current font problem of having a temporary fixture that has broken numerous times over the years.
 
A custom designed font meets all of our needs. The strong bronze bowl has a hidden drain for easy cleaning. The hidden retractable wheels in the cherry wood base allow for mobility. The cherry wood matches the wood of all the altar furnishings. The durability of the bronze will allow generation after generation to experience baptisms, and all who enter will be welcomed into our sacred space with the sense of God’s permanence, beauty, and mystery.
 
We have faith that Classic Foundry’s team of highly skilled, experienced sculptors, artists, and engineers will bring our vision to life. Good Samaritans will be invited for a tour of the foundry to experience first-hand the creation process.

Why does the proposed baptismal font cost $20,000?

The cost of the new font includes the design, the casting, the construction of the base, and the installation. Bronze was chosen because it is a natural element and one of the earliest metals known to man. It represents strength, durability, and longevity, just like our congregation.
 
The current font was never meant to be permanent. The new font, made of bronze and wood matching our altar furniture, will serve our community of faith for many years to come.

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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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