Listed below are our special, seasonal events highlighting social justice and community in our congregation and around the world, along with other relevant Brethren news.
Ernie Bolz Memorial Service
Ernie, 77, of Wenatchee, Wash., a retired pastor who served on the former General Board of the Church of the Brethren, died on May 4 in a hiking accident in Oregon. He pastored three congregations, most recently Ellisforde Church of the Brethren in Tonasket, Wash. His term of service on the General Board ended in 1999. The accident happened when Bolz “was hiking the Rogue River Trail in southern Oregon with his good friend Dean Hiser,” said an email from Debbie Roberts, a leader in the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Northwest District. “They were three days into a six-day hike when Ernie stepped on a weak area of the trail and it gave way…. Ernie was a pastor, friend, and so much more to many of us, and we will be in grief and shock for some time. Our prayers go out to Sharon, and their two children, Justina, and Chris, as well as his extended family, church families, district contacts, and all who loved him.”
District-wide Spring Zoom Event Saturday, March 6th from 10 AM – 3 PM
Danger & Opportunity: What does it mean to live our values today? This past year has brought us an abundance of challenges and crises.
Some we’ve never experienced—a global pandemic disrupting almost every part of our lives. Some have been with us all too long—a reckoning with white supremacy and the drive towards meaningful social justice and equity. In moments of crisis, we find ourselves faced with both danger and opportunity. Danger both in what has been lost and in where destructive decisions might lead. Opportunity to build something different and to bring alive new possibilities in the world.
Our values can be the compass steering us through these uncertain waters of crisis. Where do our values steer us today? What will it mean for us to live those values individually/collectively? Join us for a day of honest conversation and spiritual exploration. With song and celebration, creativity and authenticity, we’ll consider together what this moment holds for us. Featuring a panel discussion with Ben Green
moderated by Debbie Roberts & Howard Ullery
…and an afternoon of discussion, music, and creativity.
All are welcome, and attendance is free. Please register for this Zoom program at http://www.cobpacificnorthwest.org/event/2021-spring-event/
The Light of Hope Returning Choral Concert
Tonight, Dec. 21, at 6:00 pm! Don’t miss “The Light of Hope Returning”, an American folk solstice oratorio of the Christmas story from WomenSing and Elektra Women’s Choir, with music written by Church of the Brethren and Los Angeles Master Choral musician Shawn Kirchner (whom many of us know and love), and animated by Kevork Mourad. The music and artistry will be an extraordinary experience for the whole family! You can view the trailer by clicking on one of the links below.
It can be found on both Facebook and You Tube.
An Appeal for Discerning Financial Giving at Ellisforde
Dear Members and Friends of the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren,
We are in the midst of probably the most discombobulated time Ellisforde has experience in most of our memories, with these months of COVID 19 which have forced us to be apart for the past 7 months, with the exception of the month of July. Our finances have dipped at times, and with regular reminders in our weekly Reflection/Check-In, remained somewhat stable at other times. Although some churches in our valley have taken a different tack, we discontinued meeting even outdoors because we felt the need to model good health practices by avoiding even the smallest possibility of spreading the virus which has proven so costly in terms of illness and mortality. We have seen that it’s often difficult to remember to give when we are not meeting in person. As the end of the year is approaching and we need to schedule our yearly Church Council Meeting – probably by Zoom this year – the Leadership Team would like to appeal to you to prayerfully consider your financial support as we complete this year and move into the next one.
In our peace church tradition, Ellisforde has a unique ministry of compassion, peace, and justice that is vital and underserved in Okanogan County, before the pandemic, during these difficult days while we’re in it, and into the future. As one of three historic peace denominations, the Church of the Brethren has a long history of service for the cause of peace through such programs as Brethren Volunteer Service, the post-WW II Seagoing Cowboys who brought livestock to war-torn Europe, the Heifer Project, On Earth Peace, and other national and international ministries. Members of our church have played significant leadership roles in these efforts, as well as in our local involvement in the Tonasket Food Bank, whose weekly offerings of food have become even more important for many during these challenging times, in the Tonasket Collaborative Network, in city government, and in other local efforts.
As well, in the light of what has felt like governmental repression for immigrants, we became a place for meetings to support the cause of justice and fairness for all and have coordinated communication with our own members who serve as leaders in the Hispanic community. As part of that effort, we hosted information sessions with Justice Northwest whose mission is to support immigrant rights in the courts. And we responded to the threat of government harassment of our Latinx brothers and sisters by creating a space of sanctuary in our church to shelter persons who feared for their safety. Quite out of the blue, our small congregation received the Omak Chronicles’ 2019 Church of the Year Award. How this came about we don’t know, but it indicates that somehow we have had an important impact in our county.
We seek to reflect the love and teachings of Jesus in both our words and actions, and to reflect the openness of Christ in his acceptance of all persons. Our mission is to live out the truth that compassion and kindness for the most vulnerable among us is the deepest law of life. Please prayerfully discern what you might give to our ongoing ministry as we prepare for our end-of-year meeting. While we continue to stay safe by staying apart, your checks can be sent to our treasurer, Miriam Caddy, 16 Orchard Loop S, Tonasket, WA, or, you can bring your offering to the church and slide it under the office door.
With gratitude for all that you bring to our ministry, in the spirit of living peacefully, simply, together,
The Leadership Team of Ellisforde Church of the Brethren
Representative of Ministry Support Team (Kathy Swedberg, Sandy Brightbill, Alisa Weddle)
Temporary Suspension of In-person Worship
For those of you who were not at worship last Sunday, we had a lengthy conversation regarding whether or not to continue meeting in person, given the continued explosion of Covid 19 in Okanogan County. We have the highest number of cases in our state, and though we are following protocol of wearing masks, keeping our distance, cleaning the mic after each use, and singing quietly to ourselves, many businesses, churches, and other groups are not following these precautions. We agreed that to keep ourselves the most safe and to be a witness to others in our wider community, we should stop meeting in person for the month of August at least. After this month we will re-evaluate. Most of us feel safe in the way we have been cautious, but we still feel the need to make a public statement through our decision, in our concern that others are not practicing caution and wisdom during this vulnerable time.
So I will return to writing a reflection and check in each Monday, delivering it to the porches of those who don’t have email. Please let me know if you know of emails that should be included, and/or you or others you know of have needs this month.
Peacefully, simply, safely together,
Anne Frank Book Study
Friends of Ellisforde, Whitestone, and PNWD Church of the Brethren,
We are beginning our book study of Anne Frank’s book, The Diary of a Young Girl. We will go for 6 weeks, each Thursday until the end of May. I am including the zoom and telephone links below. If you would like to join us and I don’t already have your name on my list, or if you’re not sure I have your name, please email me and I will send a set of themes/questions to consider. You are invited to join to contribute your own thoughts, or join to hear others contribute. Either way, we will appreciate your presence.
Here is the link:
1) with a telephone (cell phone or landline both work)
—– quick instructions: call 1-253-214-8782, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again
—– back-up option: call 1-301-715-8592, then enter 236 009 838# when prompted, then # again
—– second back-up option: call my personal phone at 703-618-4948
2) with a computer or smart device (computer, tablet, smartphone, etc)
—– quick instructions: click https://zoom.us/j/236009838 and follow on-screen instructions
I look forward to connecting with some of you this evening as we discuss this remarkable diary.
Ellisforde & Whitestone Lovefeast, Alone
April 9, 2020
An Outline for Love Feast this Thursday, Together Alone.
Read the following aloud by yourself or with your family members.
Love Feast is the part of our tradition where we re-enact the event of Jesus’ final week with the disciples, in a meal, in washing each other’s feet, and in sharing communion together. Jesus strongly stressed to his disciples, who were arguing who might be the greatest, that he was among them as one who serves. And throughout our history we have taught our children that the way to be great is to serve. And so we do that through this service of eating together, washing each others feet, and breaking bread and sharing the cup together. Each year we remind ourselves that whenever the community gathers around the love feast table we are reminded of the relationship of all disciples to one another.
This year in the midst of COVID 19, it is difficult to be separated from those we love, some of whom we might be worried about. But just as Jesus is present with us in Spirit, so too are we present with each other in Spirit. If it helps to call out the names of those we wish were here next to us, let us do that now.
We will have a chance to participate in Love Feast together once it is deemed safe for us to gather again. In the meantime, we can participate together, alone, in this service as a reminder that Jesus was alone in his spirit through much of the last week of his life, but that he also trusted that God was with him and that his beloved friends, though flawed, loved him and were loved by him. This is a chance for us to feel some of the distance Jesus may have felt, and to be comforted that this present distance is not the end of our story, nor was it the end of his.
God, who brings us together in sickness and in health, bring us together now. God, who calls us to serve in creative and imaginative ways where there is need, call us into imaginative ways of serving now. God who is always with us, as close to us as our very breath, may we feel your presence now, as we participate in this Love Feast service together, alone. Bring us wisdom and grace during this isolated time, that following the directive to stay in our separate spaces will not only offer our communities, our nation, and the world earlier recovery, but will give us a sense of those who also feel isolated and sometimes divided. May we be strong. May we be courageous. May this Love Feast inspire us to continue the work of Jesus in our church, in our community, and in our world, together, alone, until it is safe to be otherwise.
In the name of Christ we pray,
The love feast begins with a period of examination. In the Church of the Brethren we cite Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24, calling for reconciliation before offering gifts to God, and Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 about the dangers of participating in the love feast in a thoughtless fashion.
Take a moment to read these passages aloud.
Footwashing or Handwashing:
Remember a time when you were moved by being given something you did not expect. Remember another time when you gave to someone else that which they did not expect.
Read John 13: 3-17
Wash the feet or hands of those who are with you. If you are alone, wash your own hands in the spirit of offering your body to receive cleansing, forgiveness, and comfort.
Love Feast Meal / Agape Meal:
The love feast meal recalls the meal Jesus shared with his disciples, symbolizing the sharing of life.
Remember a time when you realized the profound gift of being in relationship with others, whether through an action or simply by being together in the love you share with each other.
Read John 15: 9-17
Have a simple meal prepared that you now will eat (bread and soup, a simple one-dish meal, etc.), in gratitude for your relationships and what you mean to each other.
The Bread and Cup:
Prayer: Our God, as we prepare to share the bread and the cup, may we remember that Jesus did not turn anyone away from his table, and tonight, in our hearts neither do we turn anyone away from our table. Remind us that regardless of our judgments of ourselves, we are welcome; and regardless of our judgments of others, they are welcome. When we break the bread and drink from the cup, may we become the holy community who manifests your love in the world. Amen.
Remember a time when your actions or those of others symbolized the holy community called to offer love to a sometimes unloving world.
Have some bread available to eat in one bite, and some juice or wine available to drink.
Read I Corinthians 11: 23-24
After reading take the bread and share it with your loved ones, or eat it by yourself.
Read I Corinthians 11: 25-26
After reading, take a small cup of juice or wine and drink it.
Prayer to Go Forth:
Through this Love Feast service, may we be ready to serve others in your name, O God, to share your depth of love for us in ways that are creative and courageous in this unpredictable and challenging time. May our spirits be filled with loving kindness, and may we live and work in such a way that all will be well.
Bless us as we end this time, together, alone,
PNW District Discernment Event
Our Pacific Northwest District Spring Discernment Event is March 7-8, at Camp Koinonia, in Cle Elum. Make plans now to join us as we talk about the future of the church and our district, and enjoy fellowship together. For those who have attended the Spring Event in the past, the event is a bit different this year as the focus will be on the future of our small congregations and our district. We will begin at 6 pm on Friday, Mar 7 with dinner, and conclude Saturday afternoon, Mar 8. Leadership will come from Gregg Carlson, a professional church life consultant with a church consulting organization called Convergence, who will engage us in a process to help guide discernment for the District while also providing a model and insights applicable to local congregational life. A survey is now available to fill out that will help with our discussions that weekend, and the results will be compiled and presented at the event. The best results for the District will come when as many people as possible respond to the survey and share their insights. You do not have to attend the event for your survey to be helpful so please fill one out whether or not you are planning to attend. You can download it or bring a paper copy to church tomorrow or next Sunday. Convergence would like to have all the surveys by Feb 28 in order to have time to compile the results by the time we meet in March. It is easy to fill out the survey online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PNWBrethren.
We have funds to help with your registration. To register for this March Discernment Event, go to www.cobpacificnorthwest.org. Since this event is closer to us than usual district events, I hope that many of us will gather for this important time together.
Online Coffee Talks
This Thursday, February 20 at 9:30am and Tuesday, March 3 at 9:30am, the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy and Intercultural Ministries will co-host two online conversations regarding our Looking Back to Live Forward: Black History 2020 online series at blog.brethren.org.
In the coming months, we will have a series of online coffee talks to share conversation and resources around various topics related to Intercultural Ministries. If there is a topic that interests you, please email or call and let’s talk further.
Reconciliation in Southeast Asia
On Sunday, January 12, the Ellisforde Church of the Brethren had a worship service that featured Vietnam Veteran, peace activist, and musician, John Jones, who shared about his work of reconciliation in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
John described his travel to the area where he had served as an infantry soldier from 1968-1969. Joining him in his travels was Don Super, who is also an Okanogan County Vietnam (Laotian) veteran who had a unique perspective of the war, coordinating information for the CIA during that time. John shared a video during the church service that he made on his iPhone, featuring Don and himself during their 2019 trip to Laos. The video presented information that centered on their desire to help repair the damage done to the land and the people during the war years. Literally tons of unexploded ordinance are still a hazard for villagers who are trying to farm the land or anyone who accidentally comes across these lethal devices.
John described the unfathomably relentless bombing that the US government unleashed on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, particularly along the Ho Chi Minh trail, to cut off the supply routes from the North Vietnamese Army. Laos and Cambodia were secretly heavily bombed during those years, which is sometimes referred to as the “Secret War.” In response to the years of constant bombing, hospitals, schools, temples, and actual communities were built in underground caves. As the video shows, Viang Xai Cave Complex and surrounding underground facilities can still be seen today, although the need for them has long passed.
John, along with former pastor Ernie Bolz, started a local chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The mission of this organization is to promote non-violence, and John and Ernie worked with area youth on the issue of conscientious objection. One of the remarkable recent breakthroughs with these efforts is congressional support for UXO (unexploded ordnance) and the COPE Project, an organization whose mission is to help people with mobility-related disabilities move on by providing access to physical rehabilitation services in the Lao PDR. When presenting their cause to the US Congress UXO Caucus and the organization Legacies of War, representatives from Legacies of War used John’s video to help educate legislators and were granted 37.5 million dollars in support of the cause of removing unexploded ordnance. The official organization producing the film is “Hippies on Vacation,” which is also the name of the musical group that includes John Jones, Reed Engle, Andy Jones, and Nick Braman.
The presentation at the church was one where a large group of musicians helped sing the songs that were meaningful to all.
The event was well attended, with a few other veterans, and many curious community members who asked questions after the presentation. Many stayed and shared appreciation and admiration for John and Don’s journey, their project, and the network of organizations and efforts that were presented. Those wishing to donate to the continued efforts can go to the Legacies of War website.