From the Pastor’s Desk

New Vision Statement for Wright UCC

Dear Friends,

Our Vision Team is proud to unveil our new Wright Church Vision and Mission statements based on the feedback we received from you. Our process began in February when we first met to discuss our hopes and dreams for our church. We, as a diverse committee representing a good cross-section of our congregation, offered our honest thoughts about how we see God leading us into the future. We learned about the process of writing good vision and mission statements and set to work. We developed a plan, wrote a questionnaire, sent it to you, offered several ways for you to give your feedback, waited and prayed, happily watched the return box fill, read every response carefully, compiled the data, met to discuss our findings, prayed, composed our new Vision Statement based on your feedback, and took it to the board of directors for feedback and approval. With the board’s blessing, we offer you the statement above. Thank you for your participation in this process. We are very excited to report your feedback from the questionnaire was very positive and honest. We see the areas that need improvement but for the most part, your responses indicate Wright Church is poised and ready for a very exciting future.

In the year I have served as your pastor I have witnessed us growing into this Vision and Mission. We are growing in our relationship with Christ and that growth has created many new ways we are able to respond with love to the needs of our community, inside and outside of our church walls.

I want to thank Jeff McElwee for his stellar leadership and dedication to this project. I also want to thank the committee for your honesty and hard work. You are a joy to work with.

Jeff will present this in church on Sunday. Come celebrate these accomplishments and our bright future.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Kathy

Vision Team:
Jeff McElwee, Chair
Dan VanderVeen
Joan Wenske
Robin Canning
Amelia McCown
John Wiskus
Kathy Abend

Our Vision

We are a Christ-centered church responding with love to the needs of our community.

Our Mission

We accomplish our vision through:

Worship

Our community gathers each week in Spirit-filled worship that inspires, energizes, and brings peace. Our eclectic music and liturgy represent our diverse, multi-generational congregation. For young and old, new members and old friends, our sermons are prayerfully created to bring life to the scripture and find its relevance in our world today.

Spiritual Formation

Our foundation is a meaningful relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. To deepen and grow this connection, we offer a variety of classes and groups focused on Biblical studies, spiritual formation, and meditative prayer practices for all ages.

Service

Following Christ’s example, we feed the needs of our community. We offer hot meals and a food pantry to those who are hungry. Together with the CBNA, Wright Church offers garden plots and education to anyone interested in growing organic vegetables and fruits for their families and communities. Our quilters make quilts to warm patients at local hospitals. Through outreach programs, we sponsor and support refugees and those re-establishing their lives after serving prison terms. We offer care to the sick and the elderly, and we financially assist several local and global missions.

Community Building

At Wright Church, we have a long history of building community with our neighbors within the Central Bench. By being an Open and Affirming community we work for justice for all who are marginalized by society. We invite all neighbors to join our community through our many programs: Quilters, Chairlates, Crafters, Lunch Bunch Book Club, and our annual Trunk-or-Treat.

Greetings from The Monastery of St. Gertrude!

This is Day 4 of our week-long silent retreat. If I were to receive a grade on how I am doing with my silence, (and thank heavens the sisters do not give grades) I would say I am doing better than last year but I still have much room for improvement. I am up here with Diane Claus and of course,St. Gertrudes I need to speak to her occasionally about such things as why we avoid taking crunchy foods, the names the sisters gave the pair of local mourning doves~Lonesome and LP, Lonesome’s Partner, and hints about how to get through the very long quiet evenings.

A week of silence is life-changing. For me I have come to love this place that is so steeped in prayer that it feels like free-falling into God’s love. God is so present here! I have had many epiphanies which will come out in my sermons for many months ahead. The one I will leave you with is this. The week started abruptly with a dream about the many ways I have sinned in my life. That was not incredibly pleasant, but very humbling and informative because some events I had not even counted as sin. I stayed there long enough to learn what must be learned and then it was as if God said, “But none of that matters. I love you and I trust you with the calling I have given you. Now go enjoy this surprisingly wild and joyful world I gave you.”

God is holding the same gift for you. The gift of forgiveness that leads to deep joy in knowing how much you are cherished and trusted. I will be back at Wright Church this Sunday to celebrate Holy Communion with you. I can’t wait!

Life is good. God is good. You are good.

Much love to you all,

Pastor Kathy

The Cross: A Lesson in How to Love

Dear Friends,

Yesterday morning we had a crew of people here to hang our cross back up on the wall. It’s up and the world feels right again. I haven’t been here all that long but I have beenThe Cross here long enough to come to love that cross and realize the significance of its presence in the front of our sanctuary. We took it down to have the sanctuary painted and during the time it was down nothing felt quite right in our church. That cross has helped me learn an important lesson about our spiritual health within this community.

We have experienced much change in the last nine months and the cross being down was simply too much for some people. While it was down we installed the projector and screen. I asked you to please let me know how you feel about the screen and I have heard from many of you. Many are very pleased with it and are excited to see all of the many ways we can use it in our worship services. Some people with hearing and vision problems report that the screen makes it easier to sing the songs and read the responsive readings. Some who sit in the back are having a hard time seeing the screen and many people are concerned about it covering the cross. Some would like the screen to go up during the sermon and not be up before the service starts.

To address the concerns we are working on placing a monitor in the back section. This will allow the people in the back another viewing option. When we hung the cross back up today we can see that the screen covers most of the top section of the cross, none of the horizontal section or the bottom. We are going to try rolling up the screen during the sermons and we could eliminate our announcement loop before church and lower the screen after church begins. These are the solutions we have come up with so far that we believe will help us with the challenges we are facing. The cross is helping us learn how to be in community together. We are expressing our thoughts and feelings in kind and caring ways and coming up with solution and compromises that place the good of the community before our individual desires. Who would have the guessed God could use a simple cross to teach us how to love each other and be in community together?

The irony is not lost on me and I stand in humble gratitude of how God continues to mold and make us into a strong and unified community of faith. We are in this together and God is working many miracles between us.

In other news, I am heading up to the Monastery of St. Gertrude’s for a week-long silent retreat. I will be gone Friday, January 26th through Friday, February 2nd. I am looking forward to spending seven days with God in the snowy mountains of northern Idaho.

Rev. Larry Etter will be preaching this Sunday. I feel so blessed to have Larry in our congregation. He is willing to offer us his sage wisdom, gentle encouragements, and preach meaningful sermons while I am away. Thank you, Larry.

Thank you for walking with me on the journey toward the heart of God. You are wonderful travel companions.
With much love,

Pastor Kathy

Meeting Dr. Gaylord Kambali

Dear Friends,

This Sunday during worship we have the privilege of welcoming Dr. Gaylord Kambali, a physician from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Dr. Kambali who became a refugee to Latin America, arrived in the United States as an asylum seeker, and is now a permanent resident of Boise. Stacey Shegrud, an active participant in the life of Wright Church, is bringing Dr. Kambali to us through her work with the Idaho Department of Labor. Stacey has been honored for her work in providing intensive support and career guidance and identifying their skills from their country of origin and aligning them with a career path in the U.S.

On Sunday we will have the opportunity to meet Dr. Kambali, hear his story of life in the DRC, the reasons he became a doctor, and how his work to help others caused him to have to flee for his life as a refugee. We will learn about the process he is working through to receive credentials as a physician in the U.S. and how we can help him.

I will connect his story to the story of The Good Samaritan, which Jesus offered as a response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, we are clear about our biblical understanding of how we are called to respond to the needs of the immigrant and refugee. Below is a summary of our General Synod 2017 Resolution on becoming an immigrant welcoming church.

Thirty-first General Synod of the United Church of Christ
ON BECOMING AN IMMIGRANT WELCOMING CHURCH Resolution of Witness 
SUMMARY
This resolution calls on the United Church of Christ and its congregations to become Immigrant Welcoming as it recognizes the ongoing struggles of refugees and migrants who come to the United States seeking safety, security, freedom and opportunity but instead experience suffering as they fear raids, deportation, and witness their families being torn apart. It further encourages the development of policies to facilitate this.
BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL RATIONALE
Our Jewish and Christian traditions honor the text from Leviticus 19:33-34 (adapted from 23 NRSV): “When an immigrant resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the immigrant. The immigrant who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the immigrant as yourself, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.” In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of those who will receive the kingdom: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat,
and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger you welcomed me…” Jesus also says (Mark 12:31, NRSV) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
This resolution is in keeping with the commitment of the United Church of Christ to provide an extravagant welcome to all God’s Children. As negative stereotyping of immigrants increases, becoming an “immigrant welcoming” church provides a critical alternative witness rooted in Biblical and theological principles the United Church of Christ deeply values.

Please join us on Sunday with your hearts and minds open to hear how God is calling us to respond to the needs of our neighbors.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Kathy

To Be Known and Understood

First reading
1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)

Psalm
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Second reading
1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Gospel
John 1:43-51

This week I am going to use all of the scriptures in the lectionary. Read them all! These passages pertain to our call to follow the deepest longings of our heart, otherwise known as God. Last week we renewed our baptisms with the splash of water and heard those cherished words from God, “You are my child, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This week we hear the stories of Samuel, Philip, and Nathanael who heard God’s call to turn and follow a new road, which leads to our deepest longings of knowing God, being known and understood. I will focus on the Psalm 139, my favorite Psalm, where we dare to consider the idea that God hems us in, behind and before, knows our every thought and action, is acquainted with all our ways, and still wants nothing more than to be close to us. Spend some time with these sacred texts this week and come to church ready to see God in a whole new way.

In God’s love,

Pastor Kathy