PACE February 2018

 

Photo: (c) iStock.com / marekullasz (#484416138)PACE Monthly Newsletter for February 2018

Online Edition

 

 

 

 

iStock 000043282422SmImpossible as it seems, in a few short weeks we step into a new season of the church year: Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent falls on February 14 this year. Yep Valentine's Day. Keen observers will have noted that that means Easter falls on April Fool's day this year. Maybe the universe is playing with us. Perhaps it is a good reminder that love and things deemed foolishness by this world's standards can work together to save the world.

Included in the lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday are these words from Joel, which offer a familiar, tender portrait of the God who draws us in, towards her:

"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart …. Return to the Lord, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and relents from punishing."

As biblical scholar Wil Gafney points out, "this core description of God is foundational in Judaism and is repeated throughout the scriptures - in Exodus, Numbers, Nehemiah, Psalms and Jonah. All of these use forms of the Hebrew root rhm, meaning womb, to express God's tender love, often translated as "merciful." Rahum is the deep love that springs from the womb, no more separable than the heart is from heartache." *

It is to that same God that we turn as Lent begins. Lent has traditionally been a season of fasting and self-discipline which can sometimes slip into moralism and a false sense that we can and should earn God's love by our own scrupulous efforts. God's deep tender love for us need not be - cannot be - earned, it is always already given.

But paring away superfluous things and focusing on essentials can ground us in the God/Love in whom we live and move and have our being. Perhaps this will be your path for Lent this year, finding something to let go of to make space in your life. My own Lenten discipline will once again include fasting from social media (for me that includes Facebook, twitter, and Instagram) and watching how my attention, energy and focus shift, opening up space for more immediate contact with the people I care about and with the Holy.

Perhaps for Lent you will want to be intentional about creating space for encountering God with renewed daily prayer, meditation, or study. You are invited to join me for weekly gatherings to study together Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan's book, "The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Last Week in Jerusalem." Borg and Crossan present a fresh vision of Jesus, offering himself up in commitment to the powerless and in protest to power without justice and wealth without concern for the poor. A vision that challenges, inspires, and invites us to follow!
We'll gather in the Circle Room, 7 - 8:15 pm, Wednesdays February 28 and March 7, 14 and 21.

 

* The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, "Commentary on Joel 2:1-2, 12-17," www.workingpreacher.org

Northwest Housing AlternativesFor February and March our 2 Cents a Meal special mission will be the Annie Ross House for homeless families.

  • In 1986 Northwest Housing Alternatives bought the Queen Anne style house at 2400 SE Willard Street across from Milwaukie High School. The house was remodeled to conform to fire and safety standards to accommodate five families with children. Families can stay at the house up to one month. If the family cannot find or afford safe permanent housing by then, they may move into one of three transitional homes on the Annie Ross campus or other long term housing. Our Church worked with NHA by donating land to build the Swan House and the Madrona House on our former property several years ago.

    It can happen overnight, an unexpected layoff, a medical emergency, or an eviction. Families become homeless or have their housing stability threatened without warning. Low wages and sky rocketing rent costs are causing more families to be one bad break away from being on the streets. NHA would like to rebuild the Annie Ross campus. This would include:

    28 units of new affordable housing

    A completely new and expanded Annie Ross emergency shelter for homeless families

    An operations center where people in need can receive services.

So far NHA has raised 96% of the funds needed to make this dream a reality. Our 2 Cents a Meal donation will help in this rebuild and assist families to have shelter and the support needed to live resilient, healthy, independent lives.
Annie Ross Roberts was known as Milwaukie's "First Lady". She was the daughter of an Oregon pioneer family and was born in 1868. Annie was one of the first teachers in Milwaukie. Her philanthropy and community work included helping Chinese laborers and Armenian refugees and assisting low income children. Annie lived in a home on what is now Lake Road. She died at age 91 after years of assisting others.

HandsThe 2018 Budget

2017 was a remarkable year. Because we had to raise over $75,000 for a new roof, we projected a $15,000-plus deficit for 2017. But what happened? Revenue almost exactly equaled expenses - a major accomplishment. Now we face a similar scenario for 2018, again projecting a $15,000-plus deficit. Fortunately, the Budget Committee (my gratitude to all the members), in addition to diligently analyzing and interpreting the numbers, has come up with a series of specific actions to reduce this potential deficit.

One reason for the 2018 deficit is the unfortunate fact that we had been underestimating the total benefits in Pastor Jeanne's contract. Therefore, we had to make up back pension payments for 2016 and 2017. We all share the blame for this oversight, but the problem has been rectified by providing the appropriate funds from the 2017 Contingency Fund. This still leaves that fund with over $20,000. The pension contribution and all other benefits are now built into the 2018 budget, making it higher than we had budgeted initially.

Our Music program is a large part of our budget, but working with the music team we have agreed on compensation and appropriate cutbacks. I am confident our music program will continue to thrive and remain a vital part of our worship experience. The music team, the entire choir and the chimes choir are all wonderfully dedicated and creative.

Our financial situation is solid - we have a contingency fund, we have $15,000 invested in Nicaragua (that principal can be claimed if needed), we pay no mortgage or rent, and we receive income from renting the church. Yet we still must try to end yearly deficits if we are to be solid and solvent for the long term.

I am extremely optimistic. I strongly believe we will end 2018 with no deficit. I have immense faith in this congregation. That faith is not misplaced - it is based on my experiences here at Kairos-Milwaukie. The Budget Committee has excellent ideas for the new year and several members have indicated their willingness to significantly increase their giving. But this effort will require generosity on the part of ALL of the congregation.

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