Making Meetings Meaningful

“Ineffective meetings, unclear objectives, and lack of team communication result in wasting two out of every five work days per week” – Microsoft survey of 38,000 people in 200 countries, 2005

We all know what it’s like to be in a meeting that is poorly run, and none of us wants to be accused of running a meeting like that!  But most of us have never been formally trained in meeting facilitation. Fortunately, there’s help.   If you want to up your skills to be a better moderator, to run effective meetings – this webinar and workshop is for you.  Our facilitator is a nationally known trainer in meeting facilitation, who is also very familiar with how we do things in the Presbyterian Church.  Your time will NOT be wasted in either the webinars or the workshop.


This combination online and live course gives participants the skills and confidence to design and lead productive meetings. It demystifies the art of facilitation by providing an easy and practical method which participants can use to help groups more efficiently and effectively generate information, sort and make sense of gathered information, and act on information to make better decisions in a variety of settings. It is grounded in the six core competencies used by the International Association of Facilitators to certify professional facilitators around the world.

The course is appropriate for clergy, church elders and deacons, staff professionals, project leaders, volunteers, and members at all organizational levels who need to run effective meetings and achieve meaningful results.

When does the course meet? 

There will be 7 one-hour webinars on Wednesdays at 2 PM, starting September 4th, plus an in-person workshop on the Friday of our Fall leadership summit, October 25th.

What does it cost?

Presbytery is underwriting this workshop.  Cost for participating is $500, which includes all webinars, a manual of handouts, and an assessment at the in-person workshop.   Scholarships for up to $250 of the cost are available from the Commission on Ministry for pastors or session moderators who would otherwise be unable to attend.   Registration is available on the NWC website.  Deadline for registration is June 25th and is limited to the first 16 registrations. 

The dates and sessions are:

Seven Webinars:  (Wednesdays at 2 PM PDT)

1.      Wed, Sep 4 – Introduction to Facilitation Competencies

2.     Wed, Sep 11 – Planning a Meeting – Purpose, Scope, and Workgroup/Committee Set up

3.     Wed, Sep 18 – Facilitation Tools and Methods

4.     Wed, Sep 25 – Agenda Building

5.     Wed, Oct 2 – Meeting Facilitation – Logistics and Meeting Management Tools

6.     Wed, Oct 9 – Addressing Disruptive Meeting Behavior

7.      Wed, Oct 16 – Meeting Follow Up

One in-person workshop:  Friday, October 25th,  9 AM – 4 PM at Calvin Presbyterian Church, Shoreline.

Ruth Nicholson

Ruth Nicholson

More information:

Read full description of workshop and webinars. 

Facilitator: Ruth Nicholson, Nicholson Facilitation & Associates, LLC

Limited Registration: Registration will be limited to the first 16 participants.

Remembering Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett

Remembering Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett
by Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall
Executive Presbyter, Northwest Coast Presbytery

Friends - I write with the sad news that our brother in Christ, Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett died Saturday (May 11, 2019) in Dubuque, IA at age 86.  Please pray for his beloved spouse, Venita, and his family, friends, colleagues and all of us as we grieve his death, celebrate the resurrection, and remember how much his life inspired so many people. 

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett (left) and Rev.  Dr. Walter Soboleff , great Tlingit Pastor, Elder, Scholar and 2nd Native Alaskan ordained as teaching elder in the PCUSA, for whom the Sealaska Heritage Institute's Walter Soboleff Building in downtown Juneau is named.

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett (left) and Rev. Dr. Walter Soboleff, great Tlingit Pastor, Elder, Scholar and 2nd Native Alaskan ordained as teaching elder in the PCUSA, for whom the Sealaska Heritage Institute's Walter Soboleff Building in downtown Juneau is named.

Henry grew up in Metlakatla, AK.  He attended Sheldon Jackson College, sensed the call to ministry, and served several congregations in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Seattle.  And he taught and mentored seminarians at Dubuque Theological Seminary for many years.  Several of our pastors have been mentored or encouraged by him along the way!  

One of my fondest memories of Dr. Fawcett was his role in bringing together Alaska and North Puget Sound presbyteries in 2013-14 when he was serving as Moderator of Alaska Presbytery.  During a shared Presbytery meeting in Bellingham, WA in March of 2014 he opened our meeting together, officiated at the installation of our new presbytery's Moderator, Rev. Kurt Helmcke and then led us all in singing "It is Well with my Soul".

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett installing Rev. Kurt Helmcke

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett installing Rev. Kurt Helmcke

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett singing “It Is Well with My Soul.”

Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett singing “It Is Well with My Soul.”

Henry, we remember that it was well with you soul.  Thank you for your amazing life and the way you shaped so many to serve with a healthy soul.  Thanks be to God for our brother and colleague and friend!  

Reception at the Heritage Center at University of Dubuque:

When: Monday, June 10, 6:00pm
Location: Heritage Center on the University of Dubuque campus
Begins with a 6:00 p.m. dinner, followed by time for informal sharing.

Memorial Service at First PC in Dubuque, Iowa:

The Rev. Dr. Henry Eli Fawcett, age 86, peacefully moved from Bethany Home in Dubuque, Iowa to his Heavenly Home early on May 11, 2019. A Witness to the Resurrection and Celebration of his Life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Dubuque, Iowa on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to University of Dubuque Theological Seminary Student Scholarship Fund 1342. Complete funeral arrangements are pending at the Egelhof, Siegert & Casper Westview Funeral Home and Crematory, 2659 JFK Rd.  

When: Tuesday, June 11th, 2019, 11:00am 
Location: First Presbyterian Church
Address: 1648 Iowa St., Dubuque, IA

Remembering Rev. Dr. Henry Fawcett
by Rev. David Dobler

Henry Fawcett was a Tsimshian of Metlakatla, a loyal friend, and a devoted pastor.  In his early years he was raised in the traditions of his tribe and the incomparable setting of Southeast Alaska.  He loved the sea and he loved people.  His father was an elder in the Presbyterian Church

Sheldon Jackson School in Sitka became a second home, and Henry cherished the relationships formed there as well as the education on which he based his later theological training.  He was a loyal and engaged alumnus, serving with distinction on the Board of Trustees.

Like many in Southeast Alaska, Henry fished salmon from childhood. He was energetic and able, and became a young captain, striving always to be the

‘Highliner’ of any opening or season.  Boats were not just for fishing, however, and Henry grew up with Presbyterian elders who fished for the commercial season, then scrubbed down their fish holds and used their fishing boats to travel the waters of Southeast Alaska as fishers of men, preaching and teaching in remote villages and camps.

Henry’s skill as a mariner and ability to navigate led to his crewing on the maiden voyage of the newly launched mission boat “Anna Jackman”, built on the East Coast for service in Alaska, and making passage through the Panama Canal.

As a young pastor, and with newly married wife VeNita, Henry served congregations in the upper Midwest, far from the sea, but he maintained friendships and ties with his people in Southeast Alaska as well as a growing circle of Native American Presbyterians.  He became involved in wider ministries and judicatories within the Presbyterian Church and was one of that group of determined Native Americans who conceived, promoted, and were successful in bringing the Native American Consulting Committee into the life and workings of the General Assembly and its agencies, and then to the synods and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church.

Henry was an early champion of Theological Education by Extension, and of the office of Commissioned Lay Pastor, as ways to make theological training available to persons unable to attend seminary and to rural and ethnic congregations who did not fit the traditional pattern of Presbyterian ministry.  Henry would recall that much of the evangelical work in Southeast Alaska was done by laypeople.

The title ‘Teaching Elder” was dear to Henry, and he was one of distinction.  He was a champion of education--theological education, especially--particularly for Alaska Natives and Native Americans. He taught at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, at Cook School, at summer camp meetings and church retreats, at workshops for new pastors, presbytery meetings, elder training sessions, and village Vacation Bible Schools.  He was a preacher whose faith and words touched the heart.  If Henry was asked to preach on Easter at a ‘vacant’ church, he would insist on coming for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter, for how could you preach the Resurrection without the Passion, and how could you visit the people if you only met them on Sunday morning? Time and people were holy.

And Henry loved to sing.  As a trustee, at the Sheldon Jackson College baccalaureate service he would lead the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer—the Mallotte setting, of course.  As a young mariner he had listened to the radio broadcasts of boats sinking, the last word of a man lost to the sea, and the story and words of  ‘It is Well With My Soul’ spoke to Henry, as ‘deep calls to deep’.  He had known danger, loss, and “sorrows like sea billows”, and through it all he knew that his Saviour would never leave or lose him.

Henry Fawcett, Tsimshian of Metlakatla, child of God, servant of Christ.  Well done, good and faithful servant. Rest in peace.

PC(USA) Special Offerings


The four churchwide Special Offerings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are a collective witness to Jesus Christ's love for the whole church. One Great Hour of SharingPentecost Offering, Peace & Global Witness Offering, and Christmas Joy Offering play an important role in defining what it means to be a connectional church. Over the years these offerings have provided ways for individuals and congregations to join together with each other and in partnership with other Christians in responding to a variety of concerns.

  1. 2019 Special Offerings Calendar

  2. Here's Help

  3. Go 4 for 4

Learn more.

Tall Timber Cory Summer Camp

Special invitation from our friends at Tall Timber:


We at tall timber want to welcome you to have the best experience of your summer, where you will be seen, heard, and known by our wonderful staff and your Creator in a stunning setting, set apart for you. It is our hope that Jesus and the story of Scripture will come alive in new and exciting ways while you are here. We also want you to be able to take this experience home with you and find a supportive community where you can grow deeper in your own faith walk and connection with Christ. Come experience a week to remember at Tall Timber this summer! 

Dave Saugen
Executive Director

Rev. Larry Emery of Metlakatla PC receives grant to study significance of Herbert Hoover’s and then President Warren G. Harding’s visit to Metlakatla in 1923.

Update from Rev. Larry Emery on April 23, 2019:

I am pleased to announce that I received an email yesterday confirming I had been awarded a travel grant from the Hoover Foundation. I will use the grant to go the Hoover Presidential Library and do a study of a Tsimshian totem pole and legend that had been presented to Hubert Hoover after his visit to Alaska with President Harding in 1923. He was serving as the United States Secretary of Commerce at the time. Both Hoover and President Harding in 1923 visited Metlakatla. The Tsimshian artist whose pole and account of the legend Hoover was given was Eli Tait. His account of the legend behind the pole might be the earlier version of this legend in existence that wasn't filtered through and anthropologist. I will also be looking through pictures to see if this pole ever sat on the mantle of the White House!

This is the story of Hoovers’ visit to Metlakatla and his connections with the people here. I will let you know more details as they become available. I hope to publish the results of my research.

Here is more about the Hoover Foundation:

Northwest Coast Presbytery: Summer Opportunities 2019

Summer Opportunities.png


As you, your mission teams and youth ministry plan toward summer we want to share some opps in NW Coast Presbytery for camp, service and learning. 


SLAM Trips offers a cross-cultural mission trip for youth groups, college-age groups and families, all within an indigenous paradigm.

We plan all of the details, provide all of the resources, and work throughout the year to help you prepare your group to visit! We operate on a 4 year programming rotation that provides new content for your group to engage with each year. Although the teaching and activities change yearly, our heart for reconciliation and relationship remains consistent.

Slam Trips will focus on community service projects and not Vacation Bible School’s. Our desire is to see students come as learners to our culture, and with a servant’s heart. And we don’t believe you can be a very good learner if you’re doing the teaching. So, we will focus the energy of your groups in the direction of service projects, spiritual formation and cultural immersion.

Tall Timber summer camps  are always a highlight providing an environment where kids are able to disconnect from the noise and distractions of their daily lives and reconnect with themselves, their friends, and God.

Tall Timber summer camps are always a highlight providing an environment where kids are able to disconnect from the noise and distractions of their daily lives and reconnect with themselves, their friends, and God.

Campbell Farm kids.jpg

Campbell Farm runs a youth program during the summer months, supporting our young people to learn about sustainability and farming.

3/11: Update from Matt McCoy—Some of the things I've learned this year

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, and as we transition into the season of Lent (a season of preparation leading up to Easter), this seems like a good time to pause and capture some of the things I’ve learned this year so far.   Before I begin, let me define two terms: 

When I use lower case “c” church, I mean our new worshipping community here in Bellingham.

When I use the upper case “C” Church, I mean the Church historic and universal. 

Clear on that?  OK, let’s go... 

I’ve learned that when we create hospitality for people experiencing homelessness who are in a program of recovery, we cannot be hospitable to people who are experiencing on-the-street homelessness.  The Lighthouse Mission Guests who have been coming to our worship services are in the most advanced clean and sober recovery programs, they have access to support, and they are working very, very hard.   It’s not wise for them to spend a lot of time with people who are still in the midst of on-the-street homelessness, and making that distinction has been helpful for all of us.  So when I write “homeless-in-recovery” you’ll know that I’m talking about people who are engaged in relationships and training that help them reengage with life.  

I’ve learned more about how much architecture matters.   Having a conversation with people who are different than me about the connection between architecture and worship has led us to start worshiping once a month at the chapel in Saint Paul’s Academy.  There are three reasons why the Saint Paul’s Architecture has been a great fit for us  First, the youth and the homeless-in-recovery folks in our community prefer to meet in a “traditional church architecture” building.  They like the traditional architecture, as it helps them feel connected and included in the Church.  I found that interesting, because me and my buddies really enjoy worshipping in my living room, and I think many church planting folks incorrectly assume that traditional church architecture is automatically alienating to people.  

Second, we need a gym.  Play is such an essential part of being human, and we need a space where we can get to know each other, connect with each other, and worship in ways that are native to youth.  

Third, and not insignificantly, because I’ve been the Chaplain at Saint Paul’s Academy for the last three years, I already have the keys and the alarm code and everyone knows each other already.  It’s one less “new thing” in a season full of new things.  And the rent is super cheap. 

I’ve learned that graphic designers are the storytellers of the current generation.  Let me tell you a brief story:  When we had a youth led worship service this summer, I wrote out the worship plan and it looked kinda like this: 

I. Call to worship

II. Prayer

III. Dinner

IV. So on and so forth, you get the idea

After the service, the youth were disappointed that the service wasn’t more organic, they reflected that it felt stuffy and it felt like any other worship service except we were outside.  And so when I inquired as to why that service (involved dinner, teenage music leaders and preachers, and scripture reading involving actual goats) felt stuffy and inorganic, their reply shocked me:  The order of worship looked boring.  They saw the order of worship in black and white, with Roman numerals, with weird terms like “order of worship” on it, and just basic terms for things, and they hated it.

Well, that’s an easy fix.  We have an incredible graphic designer in our midst, and so now our our order of worship looks like this: 

However, the connection between graphic design and storytelling is bigger than just a great looking worship plan.  A friend of mine who is an advertising executive told it to me like this:  "Matt, demonstration leads to engagement, and engagement leads to understanding, so if you want me to understand what your church is about, you have to demonstrate in a way that I can engage with.”  Our worship plans need to tell the story of our worship time together in a way that people can engage with.  So does our website (still working on that one).  So does everything else. 

In the last few months, as I’ve been more sensitive to listening to the connection between graphic design and storytelling, more than once I’ve heard people say that getting a graphic designer was a critical step for them to be able to tell the story of their company/nonprofit/church to their audience.  

I’ve learned that we value active engagement and uncommon friendship.  At a meeting in February, this church let me know that they didn’t like the structure very much.  I had become so focused on our church’s mission being guided by the youth, the homeless-in-recovery, and the disabled, that I was inadvertently structuring the church in a way that kept people in their demographic bubbles.  But I want to pop those bubbles.

Look, our current religious culture affirms that we will intimately and profoundly meet Jesus when we are in friendship and discipleship with people who are similar to us.  And while this New Worshipping Community also considers this to be true, it’s only partially true.  We also will intimately and profoundly encounter Jesus while in friendship and discipleship with people who are different than us.  For us, uncommon friendship on the path of a common discipleship is a vital way that we worship Jesus.

And “active engagement” really matters.  We’ve had preaching from teenagers: 

We’ve had people writing songs for us to help connect to the Gospel: 

When we needed ashes for the Ash Wednesday service, we lit a fire and burned the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday service: 

And we happen to have some middle schoolers who are interested in learning how to cook as well: 

Discipleship is going to be very, very hands on.  

I’ve learned that we need to engage with questions that people are asking.  In order to help everyone connect with a worship service, we’ve framed each one around a particular question.  For example, during Ash Wednesday the question was “Where is Jesus when life is hard?”  And the preacher for that service was one of our friends who’s experiencing homelessness and is doing incredible in recovery, and his story of finding Jesus in the broken places in life is incredible. 

I’ve learned that we need space to connect at the end of each service.  We added a small group discussion time after the sermon, so people could process some of what is happening during the service.  I never thought of anything like this before, and I absolutely love it. 

After the sermon, but before the last song, we get into small groups and engage more deeply with whatever the question is for that particular worship service.  We get to hear and be heard, see and be seen, learn from each other, and pay attention to what God is doing in our lives. 

I’ve learned that the rate of coherence for this group is going to be incredibly slow.  There’s all sorts of cultural reasons why we don’t all naturally hang out with each other.  And it’s going to take a long, long time for us to be formed into a community.  Another opportunity for me to cultivate patience!  Ahhh…. 

I’ve learned that the youth have a lot to teach all of us about Christian community.  Do you ever feel like other people don’t understand you?  Do you ever assume that your way is the best way, only to later discover you were wrong?  Do you ever want to share deep, real, important things in your life with other people but don’t always know how?  Becoming friends with people who are young is a great way to learn!  Seriously, I’m a better friend to everyone because of my friendships with the youth.  

I’ve learned that the homeless-in-recovery have a lot to teach us about how to lean on Jesus in the hard times.   Do you struggle with anxiety?  Are the hurts from your past sabotaging your life in the present?  Do you have a family member who is making terrible decisions and don’t know what to do?  Due to the very intense nature of their recovery, these friends of mine have a lot to offer anyone struggling with the broken places in their lives.  

I’ve learned that people with disabilities can help us redeem our sense of time.   Do you want to be more mindful, in the moment, and/or fully present?  Are you constantly in a hurry and don’t know how to slow down, take a day off, or relax?  Do you need constant entertainment, stimulation, or distraction?  My friends with disabilities has a lot to offer anyone who have an unhealthy relationship with time.  

And, of course, all these friendships are more multifaceted that what this email could encapsulate.  I playfully described things in a utilitarian sort of way so that I could highlight that we experience Jesus when we pursue a common discipleship with uncommon friendships.  And that is because it’s a friendship, which means it’s reciprocal, which means I receive from them.  I know a lot of people who know what they want to give the homeless; I know a lot fewer people who know what they have to receive from people experiencing homelessness.   

For your love, care, prayers, support, I am very grateful.  Thank you.  

Matt McCoy

Praying for New Zealand


Our hearts break for the victims, families and Christchurch, New Zealand community in the aftermath of mass shootings at two mosques, that left 49 worshippers slain and 20 injured. At this tragic time we look to God for comfort and strength — and wisdom in responding to this sickening act of violence. Give us the grace to hear your truth and be healed through your mercy.


Read the full prayer online.



Please join us for an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre followed by a teach-in about combating Islamophobia in our communities.


“Connecting Activism and Advocacy to Combating Islamophobia and Hate,” by CAIR-WA Executive Director Masih Fouldai

“The Roots of Islamophobia,” by MAPS-AMEN Executive Director Aneelah Afzali

Other guest speakers include local interfaith leaders and elected officials.


Muslim Association of Puget Sound - MAPS

17550 NE 67th Ct, Redmond, Washington 98052

Learn more online.


Read the full statement online.

Rev. Jean Kim's new book

Message from Rev. Jean Kim (HR):

Dear friends,

I just crossed the threshold into the New Year of 2019. I left all my pain in the year of 2018. But carried amazing grace of God and all of you with me in my heart and soul on to the New Year.  Last year without your prayers, love and support I couldn't have made it.

I wish you an abundantly blessed New Year with good health, many dreams come true, and piling up tons of gratitude throughout the year.

In love and forever gratitude,

Jean Kim


The revised and updated English version of “Hope in Color Purple,” is being published and is selling them. My life stories are weaved in with the homeless stories. I am humbly announcing that the total profit from the book sale will support homeless missions.

See the attached publicity flyer.

Kaleidoscope Academy @ FPC Snohomish

Kaleidoscope Academy is a community outreach ministry of FPCS and we are excited to have a new Biblical scholar coming on our staff.  Felipe Ocampo is a recent Th. M. grad from Princeton Theological Seminary with experience doing research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Kaleidoscope Academy has invited him to teach a four week class on Discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls which will be offered on Tuesday evenings from 7-8 PM, Feb. 5-26 at First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish. 

Felipe has two primary passions, music and Biblical studies.  As a musician, he is offering classes in guitar, ukulele, banjo, drums, and piano.  As a multi-lingual person, he is offering classes in Spanish and German, and can offer instruction in Biblical Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.  As a Biblical Scholar he is offering a class on Ancient Israel for homeschool students and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  And as a fun-loving guy who enjoys dancing to stay in shape, he is teaching a class on Latin American Dance.

Dead Sea Scrolls class information

Kaleidoscope Academy Classes Winter 2019

1/3: Update from Matt McCoy—Once-a-Month public worship service

January 3, 2019 Update from Matt McCoy:

This Sunday we’ll be starting our once-a-month public worship service.  Details are on this invitation

We’ll start our time together with some reminders that it’s God who invites us to be the church, then we’ll eat together, and then we’ll continue worshipping together in a way that is lead by the youth, by people experiencing homelessness, and by people struggling with disabilities. 

Maybe you’ve got a child who is discovering they have gifts, and you and/or your child would like to try using those gifts in a worship service.  Our worship services involve the youth in every level, from preaching to music, from art to prayer, from dancing to silent contemplation.  If so, I’d love to hear from you.   

Maybe you’d like to make a friend with somebody who’s experiencing homelessness, in a setting where the boundaries are clear, the worship is real, and the food is good.  Many of us know what we want to give the homeless, but the real fun begins when we discover what we have to receive from the homeless, and we’re able to start walking together in friendship.  If so, I’d love to hear from you.    

Maybe you have someone in your life with disabilities, and you’d like to worship in a setting where your special someone is loved, their experience of life is cherished, and they’re integrated and included in the life of the community.  If so, I’d love to hear from you.     

Maybe this connects to you in some other way that I can’t even imagine.  If so, I’d love to hear from you.  

Maybe you know someone who would want to be a part of this.  Maybe as you read, this New Worshipping Community sounds like something that would be a good fit for someone in your life.  Please feel free to forward this along, as I’d love to hear from them.     

If you’re interested in learning more, and you’re already connected to a church, please maintain that connection.  We’re not looking for people to quit their existing churches in order to join this church.  We’re creating space for people to maintain their Sunday morning church while helping us discern the mission for this new worshipping community. 

If you’re interested in learning more, and you’ve never been to a church service before, I think you may be pleasantly surprised.  One of the kindest compliments I’ve ever received after one of these worship services was from a friend of mine who is not a Christian who said, “Look, I disagree with you about who Jesus is and what the Bible is, but at least now I get why you do this whole Church thing.”  

12/31: Update from Matt McCoy—Christmas at the Lighthouse Mission

December 31, 2018 Update from Matt McCoy:

As we approached the end of Advent, we continued to put ourselves in the Christmas Story by playing Follow the Leader.  On Friday 21 December, we went to the Lighthouse Mission and spent the afternoon putting together gift bags.  These gift bags will be handed out to the Guests at the Mission at the conclusion of the Christmas Eve service.  

I love entering the Christmas Story through working alongside our friends, getting to know each other, and helping share the love of Jesus with people in a physical, practical way. 

On the one hand, it’s merely the classic gift items at a homeless shelter:  socks, soap, deodorant, hat, gloves, candy canes, and a handwritten note all wrapped up in a gift bag.  But on the other hand, it’s a way to help the Guests at the Mission know that we see them, we care about them, we love them, and we want them to get something meaningful for Christmas.  And it’s a good opportunity for us to stop and be reminded that this is a very hard time of year for Guests at the Mission, because they tend to feel the pain of being separated from their family and friends even more than usual.

We all have difficulty navigating the hurts, issues, and frustrations of being a part of a family and being a part of a community.  Packing these gift bags is a good reminder of what really matters.  

After we finished up, we put all the gift bags in a van to store them until Christmas Eve…

**Note:  We spent the Christmas Eve service at the Drop In Center at the Lighthouse.  There’s no photography in the Drop In Center, so I’m afraid I won’t have any photos to show you, but here’s a brief description.***

This is a strange King, and this is a strange Kingdom.  Instead of Jesus coming in power, Jesus emptied himself and came as a baby.  Instead of angels announcing the arrival of Jesus to the important and powerful people, the angles made their announcement to foreigners and shepherds, a very disrespected occupation in those days.  Celebrating Christmas Eve at the Mission is a beautiful way to play follow the leader, as we worship Jesus among people foreign to us, among the disrespected, alongside those on the margins.  

We started off by lighting the advent candles, and giving a brief explanation of how the wreath represents the world, and the lighting of candles represents the coming of the Light of Christ.  We sang some Christmas carols, and then Hans (the Executive Director for the Mission) shared the Christmas Story with us.  

Then it was Open Mic time at the Mission, and the Guests had the chance to share what they were thankful for, where they’d seen Jesus this last year, and what they were hopeful for.  The folks at the Drop In Center have a hard life, and the things they shared reflect the challenge of their circumstances.  And, in the midst of their pain, they find God.  It’s a good lesson for all of us in the midst of our own struggles.  

As a father of three inquisitive and interactive children, I’ve received all sorts of negative feedback when it comes to attending worship services.  Like, I’ve heard it all:  This Church is boring, I don’t understand your preaching, what is the point of all this?, why are we even here?  One of the things I love about the Christmas Eve service at the Mission is that, even if they don’t necessarily want to be there, they can immediately understand that this is a thing worth doing.  This is a service worth being a part of, and they’re woven into a Christmas Story that is bigger than themselves.  It’s a good lesson for them, it’s a good reminder for me, and it’s a great way to celebrate Christmas. 

O come Immanuel…. 

3 Bellingham Congregations Imagine Experiments Together with Al Roxburgh

“Where are they now?”  These words are often the start of a story about someone who has had their 15 minutes of fame and then disappeared completely from the news. Do you remember the books that were handed out at the Verge conference last year, in 2017?  I began to wonder, “Where are they now?”  One was Alan Roxburgh’s book “Joining God, Remaking Church, Changing the World: The New Shape of the Church in Our Time.” [ Here’s what happened to my book: Like many of you, I took a copy and was interested in what Roxburgh had to say.   He acknowledges that the church is in a time of change.  The old structures are “unraveling” and new ideas are emerging.  What hasn’t changed is God.  God is still at work in our churches.  And God is already at work “ahead of us” in our neighborhoods. Roxburgh invites his readers to get out there and see how God is at work. Sounded interesting, but then I put the book back on my shelf last fall and didn’t think about it much after that. 

But not everyone put the book on the shelf.  Wondering “Where are they now?” it turns out that several churches took the book to heart.  Our brothers and sisters in the three Bellingham churches – Birchwood, First, and St. James- read the book, and took it to heart. As Pastor Doug Bunnell writes,

“The Roxburgh book is the most hopeful book that I have read in a long time. It seems to take a very realistic view at where we are but hold tight to the faith that God is doing something.”  

They then invited the author, Alan Roxburgh to visit with their pastoral leadership.  That led to a follow-up visit this past month where the church staff from the three churches had several hours with Alan talking about the kind of leadership needed in this new time of the church.  That was followed by an evening session with him and many of the session elders from the churches, where he further unpacked lessons from his book.   The pastors from the three churches are planning to meet in 2019 to encourage one another as they put Roxburgh’s ideas into practice for themselves and their churches in unique ways.

Pastor Greg Ellis from Birchwood summarized what he learned this way,

“Roxburgh's book brought several things into focus at once: 

·      how the Church has been trying for decades to fix itself by applying the latest and greatest marketing, entrepreneurship, or organizational development ideas...

·      how God is subtly at work elsewhere--in the lives of our neighbors...

·      how we followers of Jesus are called out to discover these myriad creative ways the Spirit of God is out ahead of us in our neighborhood.”

Reading and pondering this book has already led to experiments – small projects designed to listen to our neighbors.  Pastor Doug Bunnell describes his experiment this way,

“This book finally challenged me to do something I have wanted to do for a long time, set up a book group with my neighbors. We have hosted parties for 15 years, but last year we invited people to our house for a weekly book study and over 10 began to show up regularly. We read 3 books over this past year, and we are excitedly looking forward to starting again in January with a 4th book. This has been a wonderful chance to listen to my neighbors and learn their stories. God is good all the time!” 

Does that pique your curiosity?  Have you been doing something similar?  Or maybe it’s time to dust off the book, give it a read, and then give me a call. I’d love to chat with you what you are learning from those in your neighborhood.

12/18: Update from Matt McCoy—Advent in a Barn

December 18, 2018 Update from Matt McCoy:

For younger children, this Advent I’ve been talking about playing Follow The Leader.  

I’ve enjoyed framing what we do through the game Follow The Leader, as it’s helped younger kids latch onto the reason why we do the things we do around Advent. 

For last Sunday’s Advent Service (16 Dec), we took a Reformed Advent Liturgy and played “Follow The Leader” with it, so that we could locate ourselves in this story as best as possible.

Our Gathering Music (Latin enthusiasts would call this a “Prelude”) was a guitar, a cello and a clarinet.  

We then lit the Advent Candles, and ate a dinner of tortilla soup together. 

I asked the classic Advent questions, “What are you waiting for?  What are you hoping for?” And as we sat with those questions, we read our Old Testament reading.  We looked at the prophecy in 1 Kings where we get the oft-quoted prophecy “The virgin will give birth to a child, and his name will be Emmanuel - God Is With Us.”  We talked about how King Ahaz didn’t want to wait on God or hope on God for help with the coming invading army, and how Isaiah gave him, and us, the prophecy of Emmanuel in the context of God’s amazing grace to a stubborn king.  

Since this prophecy was fulfilled in a barn, and since we were playing follow the leader, we moved our service out to the barn. 

We sang some Christmas carols, and read in Luke 2 about how the angel appeared to the shepherds.  We made sure to notice that when this prophecy was fulfilled, that the first people to find out about it weren’t the kings and queens and rulers and scholars, but the outcast and overlooked shepherds.  

And so, when I play follow the leader with Jesus as my leader, I notice over and over again that the Holy Spirit shows up to people who are outcast and overlooked.  I then asked the advent questions again:  “What are you waiting for?  What are you hoping for?” 

Talking about waiting and hoping with middle schoolers, and friends who are experiencing homelessness, and grownups trying to play follow the leader, is always fun.  But doing this in a barn, in the dark, in advent, with farm animals, living into the Christmas Story, was spectacular. 

We then came back inside and celebrated Communion.  Here is how we wait.  Here is where we find hope. 

Afterwards we hung out for a bit, and decorated some gingerbread houses.  

We’re very much looking forward to Friday afternoon, as we continue to play Follow The Leader by putting together some gift bags for the Christmas Eve service at the Drop In Center at the Lighthouse Mission!  

Sunday, December 16 Worship Service

Keeping up with Collide


“On your worst days, in your biggest mistakes, do you know what God calls you? He calls you Beloved.” -Bob Goff

We had the absolute joy of welcoming well over a thousand of you to our Always event last weekend and what God did there exceeded even our highest hopes and boldest prayers. There were crazy fun elements like a parade (complete with balloons, cheerleaders, a drum line, tandem bikes, and banana costumes…) and sweet moments like a break for cookies accompanied by cartons of milk with colorful straws. There was singing and laughing and tons of cute photo ops. But what was truly incredible, is that women walked away from that night having collided with Jesus in a brand new way.

The message of the night was this: You are Beloved and it’s out of that truth that you can love the world around you. Even on your worst days, God calls you His daughter and asks you to view yourself that way, too. It can be so difficult, can’t it? With a world constantly shouting at us that we’re not doing enough, not performing well enough, not looking good enough… to hear ourselves described as Beloved feels almost unbelievable. But Jesus tells us something different. He looks right at our mistakes and failures and disappointments and calls us not only enough, but Beloved.

At the event, we got to place a medal around the neck of each woman, symbolizing their identity and giving them a tangible reminder that they are seen, set apart, and made with the capacity to love the world. So take these words as your virtual medal: The God of the universe knows you and His name for you is Beloved.

Read the full update online.

Cyclical Cascadia October 2018 Discerner Gathering

From Rev. Paul Kim, New Expressions Catalyst ( or 404.519.5873):

Oct 29th, 15 people gathered for the very first Cyclical “discerner gathering”. Our friends from the Vancouver area joined us, as well as people in our region. We definitely sensed something amazing was forming. It was an evening where people felt safe to share their hopes, vision, and discernment. We engaged in dialogue with one another and in the midst of mutual consultation there was definitely a sense of our thoughts and our hearts being formed more succinctly for what God is doing in our lives. 

Brandon Bailey was our ‘specialist’ for the evening. He asked us questions around the topic of “what do we do?” He shared that some of the first questions we should ask are: who is God, what is the church, what is our mission, and how do we see Christ in it all? It encouraged rich dialogue and excitement. Participants were eager to learn more, formulating greater thoughts and allowing God to stir the pot even more. 

Our next Discerner Gathering is Nov 26th, 6pm at Beardslee Public House. We hope that more will join the process of discerning and being with people faithfully seeking to engage in dialogue, discern, and dream together. 

Where we've been and where we're going!

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October 19, 2018 Leadership Summit Executive Presbyter Report

Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall

Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall

I am honored to be in the service of our Creator with you as we engage, equip, and encourage one another as we follow Jesus, our Lord and Savior who said to his followers in John 10:10 “I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  At our combined Exec Board, COM and CPM Retreat last January, this scripture set our theme.  As we consider this abundant life, let me share with you some of the most important developments in our ministry over the last year and where I see us moving in the coming year. 


Renewed Commissioned Pastor Development Process:  Janice Smith has been the architect of this and COM the steward of providing a robust, developmental pathway for people with a pastoral calling become prepared and equipped to do so in a way that honors our reformed theological identity and values.  We get to celebrate Kevin Riley being commissioned to serve Mt. Baker PC in Concrete, WA later in the evening.   Thank you Janice.


Renewal is afoot in congregations like Calvin PC.  I hope you will take the time to read the Exec Board’s budget narrative for their proposed budget.  In it there is a short testimony of the renewal of mission and focus happening at Calvin PC. After several years of working through healing from the past and confirming their denominational home, Pastor Neil Trainer said about a year ago, “It feels so good for our staff, elders, and deacons to be unified in our vision and all pulling in the same direction. More than ever, we know who we are, why the Lord put us here, and why we do what we do.” Thanks be to God. 


New Expressions are taking next steps and discerning God’s call.  In Collide, I think we may be witness to a Book of Acts style movement of God’s spirit. 

In addition, Rev. Matt McCoy gathered a discernment team this year to inquire whether God wants a new expression of the church to be born.  Their early sense is that this expression of the Church ought to be led by the people it is called to serve--young people, people who are homeless and people who have disabilities.  Praise God!

To undergird and support these advancements we have made several infrastructure improvements of important yet unsexy things like databases, technology, and liaisons. 


And tonight as we gather, we witness that God has assembled a team of people who will help catalyze the initiatives we discerned in 2016.  Two years ago, these initiative were just a generative seed of what we believed was God’s will—that NWC Presbytery stretch to pursue 1) Village Ministries, 2) Congregational Renewal, and 3) New Expressions of the church.  Today, we are positioned to pursue these initiatives with a full team of people to give them life:

Janice Smith and Nettie Covalt (Nettie started in August as SE Alaska Cluster Coordinator) —Village Ministries

Paul Kim started in August as Cyclical Catalyst to catalyze New Church Expressions

Amy Delaney just started this month, as Studio E3 Catalyst for Congregational Renewal.


At the request of Sitka PC, last February we formed a commission to walk alongside the church as they celebrated the completion of 130 years of ministry and are now considering options for the Sitka PC Facility.  Then in July the Trinity United PC session asked us to form a commission to assume session governance and operations of Trinity United PC.  And in October, the Edmonds PC congregation asked the Exec Board to consider assuming primary stewardship of their facility as the session continues focus on their worship, fellowship and mission-life together. This was not foreseen at this time last year.  Because of this activity your Exec Board is forming a real property development team to partner with congregations at their request to exercise good stewardship at the completion of ministry or shifting of ministry emphasis.   

Now what is next for us! 

Out of this combination of activities we articulate our future focus like this: 

“We are in the middle of one of the richest periods of new ministry development. Several congregations are vital and healthy. Some are renewing their mission and focus. At the same time, existing ministries who have served well for so long are reaching the completion of their present life (such as Sitka First PC). “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:29) that we continue to E3 (Engage, Equip, and Encourage) the vitality and health of existing congregations and ministries, stimulate God’s economy through renewal and new expressions, and faithfully steward the end of life as it has been known, holding fast to our knowledge of the resurrection and that end-of-life is never end-of-story.”

As your Executive Presbyter seeking to help execute the priorities set by the board and you I think of it this way:


The executive board proposed a 2019 budget in order to pursue this future. And we are proposing to invest more than our income.  Why? Why would we do that? 


Window of Opportunity!  We have a moment in this era of Christ’s church where so much is growing and so much is shifting to seize a window of opportunity. God has blessed us with the vision, the people, and the resources to leap.  We have been given a big vision for the renewal of Christ’s church in our time, it is our responsibility to grow worthy of this calling to which God has called us.  To seize this window of opportunity!

As we do that, I am recalling 2012 in the former North Puget Sound Presbytery.  It was the first time that as a presbytery we budgeted to spend more than our income in faith to take a leap.  We sensed God calling us to help start Tidelands, Wellspring, and call an Associate EP for Korean Ministry.  That year through God’s grace we came out in the black, even though we were quite sure we wouldn’t. 

So the next year we leaped again. Then we merged with Alaska Pby.  Then we leaped again.  Then we merged with CW Presbytery.  And we leaped again.  Every year since 2012 we have become a little bolder planning to spend more than our income; and every year since 2012 God has increased our collective assets through one means or another.  It seems that God is finding a way to get God’s resources to fuel God’s abundant life.

Given where every one of us were in 2013…5 years ago…it is hard to imagine where we might be in 2023. Given where we were in 2013 It is not hard to imagine God might lead us to a new place through faithful stewardship of this window of opportunity.  May God in Christ do more than all we can ask or imagine, from Yakama to Yakutat and every place in between!  Thanks be to God.

10/17 Update from Matt McCoy

Have you ever been on a long hike that involves a lot of elevation gain? The kind of hike where you get to a ridge, and you know you have a long way yet to go, but you want to stop and grab a drink of water and take stock of where you’ve been before setting onward? I love those moments of stopping, looking around, absorbing the beauty of where I am and who I’m with and marveling at how far we’ve come. This feels like one of those moments to me.


We’ve had a big year, and we’ve got another big year ahead of us. But before this next transition point comes and goes, I wanted to pause and take stock of where we’ve been. Like a long hike, we’re standing at a ridge, and I want to gather everyone together and capture this moment. If this were an actual ridge, I’d be pulling my camera out of a sweat and rain soaked ziplock bag and taking a picture of everyone. Today I’ll just tell the story.

In October of 2017, Denise and I felt like we were ready as a family to lean into the desire we’d been feeling to connect our love of the church with our love of the people in our lives. In order to help us with that, we put together a discernment team of 12 people. And in order to paint with some fun colors, and hear from voices different than our own, of those 12 there were three who were experiencing homelessness, two who are teenagers, and one who is not connected to a faith community. So very cool.

This discernment team met for the first time in February, and the commitment was to meet once a month for a year. I wanted us to be in physical spaces that felt more natural and comfortable to the people in our lives, so we met in a school, in a homeless shelter, in a hospital.

In June I wanted us to feel both inside a church and yet feel like an outsider, so we met in a church that nobody except me had been inside before: Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church (thanks Father Michael!). I asked the question, “Who will be the guides that will show us what the Kingdom of God is like?” The discernment team responded by asking me who I was already connecting with, and start there. That gave us the clarity to start with the Youth, the Poor and the Disabled. I observed that our method of discernment, which is the centuries old Ignatian style “conversation and contemplation” is fantastic but is also alienating to the youth, my friends at the Lighthouse, and the disabled people I knew. We need to embody what we want to discern, so we decided to put together three discernment worship services.

In August we met at our house, and had a service that was lead by the youth.


In September the service had to be cancelled at the last minute due to the flu bug hitting the Lighthouse Mission pretty hard, so once everyone got to feeling better we had a game night instead.


Coming up the last weekend of October we’ve got our third discernment worship service, and I’m over-the-moon excited about it. We’ll be exploring forgiveness, and reading the story of the reckless, runaway son (you might know it as the prodigal son, but most people don’t know what a prodigal is). It’s a little different, reading this story alongside people who have actually run away and lost everything, and then praying about forgiveness.

Then in the first week of November we’ll have our last discernment team meeting as a gathering of 12. We’ll get together to pray, to reflect, to eat and laugh and bring this spectacular season to a transition. I am so very grateful for the time, energy, attention and are that this discernment team has shown me this year.

And then what?

Then it’ll be time for this transition to the next season of this New Worshipping Community, which is why I wanted to pause today to take stock of where we’ve been.

Once we’ve had a chance to integrate the wisdom we’ll glean from the last discernment worship service and the last discernment team meeting, we’ll let you know what comes next. At this point I’m thinking it will likely look like a once-a-month Sunday night worship service with a focus that sounds something similar to this:

Cultivating a New Worshipping Community whose Mission is discerned and guided by the Youth, the Poor and the Disabled.

You see, we still don’t know what the Mission of this New Worshipping Community is, and we probably won’t know for awhile. The rate of coherence for this community is going to be incredibly slow. And besides, these three groups of people aren’t the Mission themselves. Rather, the Mission will be discerned as we worship Jesus together, as we grow in friendship together, and we discover how we might join the Holy Spirit in what’s already happening around us.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with us, wherever you are, and in whatever capacity you’ve been a part. Soon we’ll be putting the cameras back in the sweat and rain soaked ziplock bags, as it were, and moving onward. But just as we all huddle together to take a picture before that transition happens, I wanted to capture this moment on email together with you, and say thank you.

-Matt McCoy

Recovery Efforts - Presbiterio de San Juan

Everett First PC wanted to give a small amount toward the huge recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.  Shirley Morrow at Everett First connected with Michelle Muniz who is helping to guid recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.  Here is a very helpful report about the recovery with ways you can help!   And if you want to connect directly with Michelle you can reach her at 

Michelle Muñiz, Disaster Recovery Coordinator / Coordinadora de Recuperación de DesastresPresbiterio de San Juan

Read more.