West Seattle Blog... » West Seattle religion http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 04:27:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Video: Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation’s new plaque, honoring present & past http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-weekend-scene-westside-unitarian-universalist-congregations-new-plaque-honoring-present-past/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/06/west-seattle-weekend-scene-westside-unitarian-universalist-congregations-new-plaque-honoring-present-past/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:31:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=275167

A joyful moment for Rev. Peg Boyle Morgan and her Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Gatewood before this morning’s service: Four years after they moved into the former Gatewood Baptist Church at California/Othello, they have installed a commemorative plaque in the church entryway – right next to the one the Baptists placed there 64 years ago:

WSUU had intended all along for the original plaque to stay; it was even mentioned in this WSB feature published shortly after they got the keys to the building in April 2010. Adding their own is also a nod to the WSUU past, present, and future, as the church celebrates its golden anniversary – 50 years – this year.

ADDED: Video of the dedication, above.

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Holy Rosary School celebrates its first century, and looks ahead http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/holy-rosary-school-celebrates-its-first-century-and-looks-ahead/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/05/holy-rosary-school-celebrates-its-first-century-and-looks-ahead/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 04:13:39 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=272380

(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)
For the second time in five years, a centennial celebration for Holy Rosary. In 2009, the church marked its 100th anniversary; today, the school. Students were part of today’s Centennial Mass, with a special guest, Seattle’s Archbishop J. Peter Sartain:

Honoring the past and looking to the future, the Mass was followed by a reception and events involving time capsules old and new:

That one was from a quarter-century ago, 1989; here’s some of what was inside:

Archbishop Sartain and Holy Rosary’s pastor Father John Madigan also presided as a new time capsule was placed:

This one is meant to be opened a half-century from now:

What’s in it? That’s supposed to be a surprise for the people who open it in 2064. Earlier centennial events included a group photo last November, featuring more than 400 students (see it in WSB coverage).

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Video: 20 years in the making, Pastor Ron Marshall’s book ‘Kierkegaard for the Church’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/video-20-years-in-the-making-pastor-ron-marshalls-book-kierkegaard-for-the-church/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/video-20-years-in-the-making-pastor-ron-marshalls-book-kierkegaard-for-the-church/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2014 06:05:12 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=265852 Existential philosophy and Christian faith might not sound likely to intersect – but when it comes to Denmark’s renowned 19th-century thinker Søren Kierkegaard, they do. Few know this better than First Lutheran Church of West Seattle pastor Rev. Ron Marshall, who has just published “Kierkegaard for The Church,” and gave us a show-and-tell the other day:

The book would be helpful both “for the educated layperson and pastors,” Rev. Marshall says. This Monday, 9 am-1 pm, he’s hosting an “open conference” about it at his church north of The Junction, open to the public, focused on the book and some of what you can hear him discuss in our video – which concludes with a shorter clip below, elaborating on who the book is for and on the Monday forum (at which you can buy a signed copy of “Kierkegaard for the Church”:

Behind the pastor and author in our clips is the Kierkegaard statue you can see at First Lutheran, by Northwest artist Dr. Rita Marie Kepner, dedicated when the church celebrated the bicentennial of the philosopher/theologian last year (WSB coverage here). As Rev. Marshall mentioned, First Lutheran commemorates him in November every year. Drop in Monday for minutes or hours and check out the statue, the discussion, the book.

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Video: West Seattle’s Tibbetts UMC donates big to ‘United in Blue’ pre-Super Bowl food-drive challenge http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/video/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/02/video/#comments Sun, 02 Feb 2014 23:24:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=263718

So many pre-game Seattle-vs.-Denver sideline challenges this week, hard to keep track of them all – but this one has a specific West Seattle component: Tibbetts United Methodist Church (WSB sponsor) joined in the “United in Blue” food-drive challenge between the UMC’s in Seattle and the UMC’s in Denver. In something like this, EVERYBODY wins, since it means more help for those in need. Betsy Wharton shares the video put together today for Tibbetts after its part of the drive (featured on the WSB Super Bowl page) brought in 770 nonperishable food items for local food banks! Money too, but that’s still being counted. Fun video – thanks for sharing; go, Hawks! (And go help your local food banks if you haven’t done so lately – online, you can donate to the West Seattle Food Bank here, the White Center Food Bank here.)

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West Seattle scene: Eastridge Church’s annual turkey giveaway http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/west-seattle-scene-eastridge-churchs-annual-turkey-giveaway/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/west-seattle-scene-eastridge-churchs-annual-turkey-giveaway/#comments Sat, 23 Nov 2013 18:32:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=256988

Just outside Eastridge Church at 39th/Oregon, it was the busiest morning of the year – volunteers and church staffers offering turkeys, groceries, coats, gloves, and Bibles to hundreds of people. The line stretched down 39th to Fauntleroy and eastward down the sidewalk in front of Trader Joe’s by the time the distribution began at 9 am. Eastridge does the same thing at the same time outside its Issaquah campus, and this year announced it planned to distribute 1,500 turkey/groceries/etc. bags between the two sites.

SIDE NOTE: At least two places in West Seattle are serving a free community Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday – The Hall at Fauntleroy (noon-3 pm) and the West Seattle Eagles‘ aerie (2-5 pm); more information in the Thanksgiving section atop the WSB West Seattle Holiday Events and Info Guide.

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West Seattle holidays: Eastridge Church sets turkey giveaway date http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/west-seattle-holidays-eastridge-church-sets-turkey-giveaway-date/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/west-seattle-holidays-eastridge-church-sets-turkey-giveaway-date/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 00:43:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=255461 Eastridge Church has just announced the date for its annual turkey-and-groceries giveaway. This year, between its West Seattle and Issaquah campuses, it’s increasing the number of turkeys to 1,500. Lori from Eastridge says they’re offering “a helping hand and a little hope this Thanksgiving” with the giveaway starting at 9 am Saturday, November 23rd, “no questions asked, nothing to fill out.” Eastridge is at 39th/Oregon.

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West Seattle weekend scene: Pet blessings, graced with sunshine http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-weekend-scene-pet-blessings-graced-with-sunshine/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/10/west-seattle-weekend-scene-pet-blessings-graced-with-sunshine/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 04:24:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=252005

It’s an October tradition for St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in south Admiral – the annual Blessing of the Animals in the West Seattle High School parking lot next door. Most of this year’s blessing-seekers brought their dogs; we did spot one cat, Yahzi Farouche:

This was the first Blessing of the Animals since Rev. J.D. Godwin took over as spiritual leader almost half a year ago. Below, Rev. Godwin blessed Pace the dog:

He was joined by Paul Dahlke from the Order of St. Francis. There was a special gift for the people who brought their pets today – this medal:

P.S. If you missed this event – Alki UCC Church usually has a Blessing of the Animals service this time of year too, and the church website says it’s at 10 am next Sunday (October 13th).

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Prayers for peace in Syria (and elsewhere) Saturday in West Seattle http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/prayers-for-peace-in-syria-and-elsewhere-saturday-in-west-seattle/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/09/prayers-for-peace-in-syria-and-elsewhere-saturday-in-west-seattle/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 20:06:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=162825 Thanks to Vince for sharing the announcement:

Holy Rosary Catholic Church in West Seattle has scheduled five hours of prayer this Saturday, September 7, in response to the call by Pope Francis for a day of prayer and fasting for peace for Syria.

All are invited to join in the Holy Rosary prayer service from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The church is at 4210 SW Genesee.

The service will coincide with a prayer vigil being led by the pope at St. Peter’s Square from 7 p.m. to midnight Vatican time. Francis has invited Catholics, other Christians, those of other faiths and non-believers to join together on Saturday to invoke the gift of peace for Syria and other areas of the world where there is conflict.

Both houses of Congress are expected to vote next week on whether to support U.S. strikes in Syria; a Senate committee passed a related resolution today.

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Local coalition goes face-to-face with councilmembers on ‘Nickelsville’ and other homelessness issues http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/local-coalition-goes-face-to-face-with-councilmembers-on-nickelsville-and-other-homelessness-issues/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/06/local-coalition-goes-face-to-face-with-councilmembers-on-nickelsville-and-other-homelessness-issues/#comments Tue, 18 Jun 2013 18:45:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=155128

(Photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
The two City Council members who did not sign last week’s letter calling for the Nickelsville encampment’s closure by September 1st were among three councilmembers who came to West Seattle last night for a forum on homelessness.

Their divergent positions on the matter were evident when all three – Nick Licata and Mike O’Brien, who weren’t part of the letter, and Tom Rasmussen, who was – responded to an audience question asking about “the plan” for the shutdown. We have that part of the discussion on video:

Ahead, the rest of what was discussed – what’s the city doing regarding homelessness in general, and what community members can do to help:

The forum was organized by the Westside Interfaith Network, a new name for a not-so-new coalition of West Seattle/White Center-area faith-based organizations. They say they invited the mayor and all nine councilmembers; the aforementioned three showed up, plus a representative for Councilmember Sally Bagshaw who sat on the panel but did not speak.

Many have been working to help homeless people and others in need – including people at the encampment – in their own quiet ways.

The goal of the event, moderated by White Center Food Bank executive director Rick Jump, was to try to find out from the councilmembers what the city is doing toward its stated goal of ending homelessness, and what community members/organizations can do to be most effective in helping.

“May we never lose sight of what really matters in life,” was part of the invocation delivered as the forum began with about 50 people on hand at Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s Pastoral Life Center.

A representative of Alki UCC was the first to ask a question. “You’ve kind of been in the hot seat lately,” she observed, “with the very complicated and challenging issue of disbanding Nickelsville,” she said to the councilmembers, going on to observe that “homelessness is increasing, it’s not going away. … We feel that the rise of homelessness, especially family homelessness, is a disgrace.” She read from a statement saying that she believes our area has the resources but apparently not the will. “Housing ends homelessness,” she said, wondering if every housing development could be asked to include a certain percentage of affordable housing. “If they wish to come into our city and make megaprofits off our resources, then they need to pay their way,” she went on, suggesting other cities required developers to do so, while ours does not. “What does it take” to do this? she asked the councilmembers.

First to answer, Councilmember Licata: “What it takes is political will, simple as that.” He also noted that the “public has shown the will to tax itself to build affordable housing …but the private sector has not stepped up to the plate.” He singled out South Lake Union, saying only 450 of 5,000 needed affordable-housing units are to be required. “… My goal this year is to get legislation passed that says 10 percent of new construction should have affordable housing in it.” Right now, he said, it’s less than five percent, but “… it’s something we need your help with.”

Next, Councilmember Rasmussen suggested “incentive zoning” regarding allowing developers to build higher. “(But) I do want you to know that the City of Seattle is doing a tremendous amount (to help with homelessness) … $30 million … no other city provides as much as we do.” But, he said, the city has other responsibilities too. He went on to say that people come here because of the programs offered – but there’s a limit, so “they end up being disappointed … so I think it’s important for our city and our state to do more for the people in our community who need help.” He spoke of talking with people he finds on the streets and asking what communities they came from, finding a way to see how they can be helped without leaving their communities of origin. While in San Diego recently, he said, he learned Seattle has “a reputation” as “Free-attle” because of the services that are available.

Councilmember O’Brien said that he understands the state constitution places some limits “on what we can do.” The council is now convening “national experts,” in the wake of “what happened in Lake Union,” to find out more about what can be done in the future, “what can developers afford.” He says “a lot of information, looking forward” will come out in the next six to nine months. “My hope is that by the end of this year through this process we’ll have a clear picture on what we need to perceive from a perspective of affordability …” as well as sustainability, and a clear picture on what tools are needed.

A representative of Calvary Lutheran Church was next with a question, asking about the countywide 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness – “how do you evaluate (the plan’s) effectiveness” right now? Where has progress been made? What impedes progress? What part can faith-based groups play?

Licata again brought up the issue of people being drawn here – not just in hopes of a “free ride,” but also in “desperate hope they’ll get a job … So they show up sometimes unrealistically and end up not getting a job, or getting a job and getting laid off .. so what can we do?” He takes that to the issue of housing, and needing “to get people off the streets at night.” So, he said, the Committee to End Homelessness has added that mission – trying to get those people “into shelter and move them as quickly as possible into permanent housing.”

Rasmussen: “Is there a limit to the number of people that we can help? If there are 2,000 people on the street every night, are we responsible (for all of them)?” He says that’s a question those who are concerned need to think about, and if so, how do we pay for it? Where do they live, where do they stay? “In community centers? Churches? Parks? (Tent cities)? Because that’s what we are wrestling with.”

O’Brien: He said “it’s hard to fault” those who come here because there’s a glimmer of hope for a job. “And if we decide we don’t have responsibility for that person – well, they’re still here. … The reality is, we live in a country, in a city, where people move in and out within borders. … At the end of the day, we have an ultimate responsibility for the people who are in our city … Everyone should have a solid roof over their head and not .. something they get kicked out at the end of the day.” But, he said, with all the various types of housing and shelter (including “Nickelsville”), “the demand exceeds the supply.” He also mentions the pilot program for safe parking for people who are sleeping in their cars, currently offering a handful. He says they need more parking lots, “because we’re going to go citywide.”

The next questioner, from OLG, asked about funding sources. O’Brien said the city has “done a good job” maintaining its Human Services budget through the recession, but “at the same time, when you look at the cuts from the federal and state level,” the end user is seeing that the services have been cut, and they don’t care if the city’s doing their part but others have not, if they are losing services. He says the city also keeps asking for permission to raise revenue, if the state will not give money – but “if those fail, how do we get creative in finding new revenue streams?” He said, “It’s a struggle .. there’s no easy answer.”

Councilmember Rasmussen picked up on that, noting that legislators are hearing from the city, but asked the church members on hand to talk to their counterparts at churches around the state, and ask them to make their voices heard too.

Next, a Peace Lutheran Church rep suggested that it’s less costly to prevent homelessness than to fix it. She mentioned the high poverty level of students at West Seattle and Roxhill Elementaries, and how many hundreds of families in our community are close to homelessness, if not there now.

Licata pointed out that the last housing levy set aside $4 million for rental assistance – one of the things that was asked about, regarding preventing evictions. He said the council increased its support for food banks by $200,000 in each of the past two years. “There’s a combination of how you use public funds and what you do with the private sector …”

The Nickelsville discussion (see above) ensued. After that, a question focused on transportation issues for those in need – the bus tickets and other help?

Rasmussen wonders where the money will come from. “I encourage you to contact your county councilperson and legislators. … ” and then he offered to be the contact person. O’Brien noted he’d heard a “technical question” about how bus passes are delivered, and said, “we need to be really thoughtful about how we deliver (them).”

The issue of eviction prevention – and foreclosure-related evictions – resurfaced.

42,000 homes in the city are under water, noted Licata. He said he is working with specialists and people from other cities about “possibly using a tool every city has – eminent domain – to buy down the principals. Until you reduce the principals of the loan, you’re just getting deeper and deeper … ”

Rasmussen says it’s frustrating there’s not more help with that issue, particularly for people whose problems are linked to issues including mental health, domestic violence, addiction, and more. He told a story about someone who was booted from his home because of his sexual orientation, but got help, got education, and got on his feet.

Brian Callanan, the West Seattle-residing journalist/broadcaster from the Seattle Channel, a fixture at many OLG events, asked some of the questions in the later going, from slips of paper on which attendees had written them. That included one about the city purchasing unneeded buildings to house homeless people. Licata mentioned it’s been done, though not enough for that to be “the” homeless solution.

An audience member said that while he’s impressed with the answers he heard tonight, he’s less impressed with the council’s history of action or non-action. And he said he’s sorry that Nickelsville will be disbanded because of its sense of community.

Next from the audience, a longtime volunteer/donor who has helped at Nickelsville exhorted the councilmembers to look at the people in the room who have helped too: “I want to hear from you … how are you going to use US … as a point of service so that we can help those who are less fortunate to us?”

Licata’s reply: “Two ways – the (safe parking) program,” which currently has three churches with 10 spots and is now looking to have 10 churches with 50 spots by next year – “if you can get your community to agree to host them, we have a system set up” to make that happen. Second, he said, “I’ve been meeting a lot with the people from Nickelsville to figure out what the next step is – they’re in agreement they may not find a single spot to put them all in … they are willing to break into smaller communities if your church has land, or private owners who’d want to lease land to a church, legislation in my committee now is talking about 5,000 square feet … you have a network that we do not have; you have members who are compassionate and passionate, and you have physical facilities that might be able to be used to help with the transition for people who are in the encampment.”

Rasmussen reiterated that churches can host campers, and he suggested they work with churches in other communities to make sure they are providing services and help in their communities – “why should a family have to move across the county or across the state to find a place to live, shouldn’t they be able to find help in their own communities?”

O’Brien said, “Those of you who have been working with Nickelsville, I want to thank you for that work … you never know who that one person is who maks that one little connection that provides that hope to get that person into a stable living situation where they can support themselves … Yes, we need (institutional solutions), but at the end of the day, we need (volunteers) too.” He reiterated a request for hosting cars or offering land to host an encampment, or to get a private landowner to lease land to a church so that it could become church property and host an encampment. He said he believes there will be encampment(s), whether called Nickelsville or not, after September 1st.

WHAT’S NEXT: The individual organizations involved in the Westside Interfaith Network continue their work and periodic meetings – next time one is announced, we’ll get it in the calendar.

Regarding the “Nickelsville” issue: On June 25th, there’s a formal public hearing on Licata’s encampment-related ordinance, which seeks to make more sites around the city potentially usable as hosts. Here’s the official notice with details. On Monday, July 8th, as reported here last week, the full council will consider the ordinance created from the seven councilmembers’ direction last week to get “Nickelsville” residents housing and services so the camp can be closed by September 1st.

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New spiritual leader for St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/new-spiritual-leader-arriving-at-st-john-the-baptist-episcopal-church/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/04/new-spiritual-leader-arriving-at-st-john-the-baptist-episcopal-church/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 01:13:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=149592 A year and a half after the departure of Rev. Peter DeVeau, West Seattle’s St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church has a new spiritual leader. Here’s the announcement we received today:

Saint John the Baptist Episcopal Church in West Seattle announces the appointment of the Reverend Jerry D. (JD) Godwin as spiritual leader of the parish. Rev. Godwin will serve as Priest-in-Charge beginning April 30, 2013 and deliver his first sermon in that capacity on Sunday, May 5, 2013 during services at 8 and 10:15 am. The appointment was made by the Right Reverend Gregory Rickel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia (Province VIII), following selection by the vestry of Saint John the Baptist.

Rev. Godwin has been Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, Texas since 2000, where he led a parish of nearly 2,000 members. As Priest-in-Charge, he will provide spiritual leadership for the congregation and prepare the parish for the process of calling a permanent Rector in three to five years. “What an exciting time we have ahead of us as we join hands in ministry – to discover, more and more, how God is calling us, in the power of the Spirit, to carry on the mission of his Son in our world,” says Rev. Godwin.

The community is invited to meet Rev. Godwin at two special welcoming events:

· Sunday May 5, 2013 – Eucharist at 8 and 10:15 am with luncheon reception following 10:15 service
· Sunday May 19, 2013 – Bishop’s visitation at 8 and 10:15 am with luncheon reception following the 10:15 service.

The church is on the northeast corner of California/Hanford in South Admiral.

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West Seattle Easter scene: Sunrise service on Alki http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/west-seattle-easter-scene-sunrise-service-on-alki/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/west-seattle-easter-scene-sunrise-service-on-alki/#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2013 17:37:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=146662

(Photo by Nick Adams for WSB)
This Easter Sunday began clear and cool, with early services including the traditional joint sunrise service on the sands of Alki Beach, organized by West Seattle’s three UCC churches – Admiral, Alki, and Fauntleroy.

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1 week till Passover, 2 weeks till Easter: Share event info! http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/1-week-till-passover-2-weeks-till-easter-share-event-info/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/1-week-till-passover-2-weeks-till-easter-share-event-info/#comments Sun, 17 Mar 2013 19:38:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=145154 With two weeks until Easter (March 31) and one until Passover (starts March 25), we’re working on our annual spring-holiday guide right now, so this is your invitation/reminder to send information about your event, service, etc., if you haven’t already – from egg hunts to seders and beyond. Getting the basics (what, when, where, who, weblink) via e-mail is our preference – editor@westseattleblog.com – just put the information in plain text in the body of your e-mail (no need for attachments, flyers, posters, etc.) and send it … thank you! Soon as it’s ready, you’ll see it in the line of tabs under the sunset photo atop our site; each of those tabs takes you to an inside section.

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Interim minister on the way for Fauntleroy Church http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/interim-minister-on-the-way-for-fauntleroy-church/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/03/interim-minister-on-the-way-for-fauntleroy-church/#comments Tue, 12 Mar 2013 16:14:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=144517 Less than two months after longtime Fauntleroy Church minister Rev. David Kratz‘s retirement, an interim minister is on the way. Judy Pickens shares the announcement:

Fauntleroy Church UCC has appointed the Rev. Eric Dale as interim minister, starting on Palm Sunday (March 24).

Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1981, he has served interim pastorates with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and most recently, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Elko, Nevada. He has also served as a campus minister. He received his M.Div. from the Pacific School of Religion in 1980.

Rev. Dale will serve the Fauntleroy congregation for 12-18 months, providing full pastoral care as well as guidance through the process of calling a “settled” minister to replace the Rev. David Kratz, who retired at the end of January.

Rev. Kratz had served at Fauntleroy Church for more than a quarter-century, as reported here during his final week on the job. The church itself is more than a century old, having celebrated its centennial in 2008.

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‘We’ve had a great run’: Rev. David Kratz’s final week as Fauntleroy Church’s pastor http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/weve-had-a-great-run-rev-david-kratzs-final-week-as-fauntleroy-churchs-pastor/ http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/weve-had-a-great-run-rev-david-kratzs-final-week-as-fauntleroy-churchs-pastor/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 19:03:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=138845

(First 3 photos by Ben Ackers)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The farewell party’s over. The final sermon has been said.

By week’s end, Rev. David Kratz will leave a job he’s had for 27 years – as pastor of Fauntleroy Church.

“We’ve had a great run,” he reflected during a recent sit-down conversation in his office at the church. While he mentions his age – 67 – without being prompted, he adds, “I’m not being forced out by the congregation, I’m not sick, just … it’s time.”

January 15, 1986, was his first day, and January 31, 2013 – tomorrow – is scheduled to be his last.

He’s been in Fauntleroy for two-thirds of his 40 years as a minister – a time of changes big and small.

(Rev. Kratz and family during last Friday’s farewell celebration)
Even before his 1972 ordination, he and his wife Lyn came to Seattle – arriving from Wisconsin in 1972, right after getting married, for his internship at another church. “It was a wonderful project, being half-time Christian-education leader in the church, halftime youth ministry to the community … We lived in this old house right across from Admiral Congregational Church on Hill (Street). That was kind of our introduction to Seattle; it was supposed to be a one-year thing and we stayed for two years.”

They headed back to the midwest, to St. Louis, where Rev. Kratz finished his seminary work, before heading out here again to be an associate minister in Olympia, followed, after seven years, by a pastoral role in Lewiston, Idaho, on the Washington border.

The churches where he served were not all UCC – the United Church of Christ, to which Fauntleroy belongs – but he has found it an interesting denomination. “It has taken some great progressive social positions – (such as) women in ministry, trying to work the racial divide … (and) it was the first national denomination that welcomed gay and lesbian people to be ministers, after being members.”

UCC member churches set their own policies, though, so while the national leadership “passed that in 1979, it was controversial at the time, and our church didn’t get around to being open or affirming until 1996.”

And that decision, the pastor recalls, followed work by a task force that brought forward a resolution in October of that year: “We had a meeting in the sanctuary, hired a parliamentarian – a lot of people were there, we had a spirited conversation … and then we voted, 80 percent or so in favor. That’s a good number, but it said there was a significant minority in the church who had difficulty (with the change) – (like) a woman who, when she left that day, said, ‘I’m against that decision but it’s my church and I’m not leaving’.”

Rather than a centralized imposition of policies and philosophies, Rev. Kratz notes, “That’s the way UCC works – they set a challenge or a vision and we pick it up when we can. It’s an intellectually curious and stimulating denomination – not dogmatic, welcomes creative thought – I’m proud to be part of it.”

For Fauntleroy Church itself – which celebrated its centennial in 2008 – another important journey during his leadership has been the remodel, completed in 2010. “$2.5 million – for a relatively small church, it was a big investment.” He says the main inspiration was to “get an elevator for people who had difficulty walking, getting up stairs,” many of whom had been part of the church’s “big growth spurt after World War II, all these families moving in.”

Families’ involvement in the church community also has driven the evolution of its long relationship with the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor). The church happened to have a gym, he explains, because community members decades ago thought the local kids “needed a place to play.” While the church and Y co-existed, they also “lost touch with each other” for many years, until moving “much closer together” in the past decade-plus and agreeing to their first lease in 2007, with the second one a year and a half ago including a seven-year commitment.

The talk of families leads us to ask about the changing face of the Fauntleroy Church congregation – or has it changed, in a time when so many churches are dealing with aging and shrinking flocks?

“It’s amazing that we’ve done as well as we have,” he smiles, adding that he was planning to mention that in what at the time of our conversation was his impending second-to-last sermon: “I’m going to say in (that sermon), when I first came here, we had three little kids, they were the only ones in the ‘children’s time’ on Sunday mornings. Now we have 60 kids in the church school [Little Pilgrim], 20 kids at church.”

(Rev. Kratz trying out a stepping stone, a farewell gift from Fauntleroy Church children)
On this topic, too, he gives praise to congregation members “who hung in there,” such as families with young children who reached out and welcomed new families into the church, and also “older members who were leaders for a long time (who) were ready to let go and allow young people to make decisions … This congregation has allowed new people to come in an didn’t have to browbeat them.”

At this point, Rev. Kratz confesses, “I often wonder if I stayed too long,” but acknowledges that he has represented stability through a “long transition” – a time that has seen many longtime church members pass away: “More than 300 memorial services, by an informal count.”

But it’s more than stability.

We ask if his spiritual philosophy has carried a theme, and he mentions a favorite sermon topic – to “think of God as embodied love … that’s what I think Jesus is all about … and what does that do to how we think about ourselves as children of God, and about (respect for) other people.”

That means respect for the community outside the church, as well. “The other thing I’ve tried to do, is to try to keep us open, keep the walls of the church porous, so instead of circling the wagons – a lot of churches feel like Christianity is somehow threatened or besieged – what we’re working on is trying to embrace the world and embrace our community.”

He offers several examples:

(WSB photo, October 2012)
“One of the things I’m proud of – we started the Fauntleroy Fall Festival. … It started after 9/11, (with the idea of bringing people together) instead of people locking themselves in their homes.” So the church banded together with other Fauntleroy organizations and businesses to launch what’s become an annual tradition. “‘Wouldn’t it be great if the church was an open place instead of a closed club?’ – that’s a big theme for me.”

Other ongoing outreach programs created at Fauntleroy Church include the Green Committee’s popular Recycle Roundups, inviting the community to drop off recyclables outside the scope of weekly pickups at home – an event that consistently fills the trucks of partner 1 Green Planet:

(September 2012 photo by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Explains Rev. Kratz, “That’s a way for us to say, how can we help people do things. Our job is to be a broker, and wouldn’t that be great if we find common values that people care about … if we find some ways for us and the community to work on those things.”

Right now, a homelessness task force is forming, in hopes of “mobiliz(ing) people … to organize a way to help provide for the needs of people.”

But he won’t be there to see how that takes shape.

He jokes that Fauntleroy Church, after his departure at the end of this week, will enter a time of “detox.” There is no successor waiting to take over immediately – that’s not how the process works, Kratz explains. An “interim search committee” has been interviewing people for a position that could last from half a year to a year and a half, someone who “is not going to be the settled pastor.”

That, he says, will “help people let go of me” and “think of what they want (the church’s) mission to be in the future.” Then a few months down the line, a full-fledged search committee will start looking nationwide for someone to take the permanent position.

Meanwhile, a “permanent sabbatical” is what Rev. Kratz sees ahead – even if it’s not more than “listen to the voice of God to challenge me to get off my duff and stop watching football games,” he laughs. But he envisions at least half a year to “catch up on my sleep and figure out what it’s like to not be a pastor any more.”

Not that he has any shortage of other roles to keep him busy – grandfather, for instance; his daughter, the only one of his three children who still lives in this area, is having a baby in March, the Kratzes’ second grandchild (their first lives on the other side of the country, in the Bronx). And husband to Lyn, who he says will continue her part-time counseling practice and part-time hospital-based social work.

Taking our leave, we ask Rev. Kratz to suggest a meaningful spot at the church where we can photograph him. He chooses a wall with the church’s motto: “Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

And now, he’s off to a new phase of his own life’s journey.

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West Seattle holiday scene: Living Nativity/petting zoo at ARK Park http://westseattleblog.com/2012/12/west-seattle-holiday-scene-living-nativitypetting-zoo-at-ark-park/ http://westseattleblog.com/2012/12/west-seattle-holiday-scene-living-nativitypetting-zoo-at-ark-park/#comments Sun, 16 Dec 2012 01:04:02 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=133510

A unique way to help tell the Christmas story to children – twin a Living Nativity with a petting zoo! That’s what happened at ARK Park in Arbor Heights this afternoon – with animals including a donkey and llamas.

This was a presentation of Arbor Heights Community Church – one of the churches listed in our lineup of West Seattle Christmas Eve/Day church services. See the list here – and please let us know if you have an addition or change!

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