January 2018 Letter

Happy New Year! As we begin 2018 together I want to give you an update on where we are in this interim period between Pastor Ted retiring and your calling a new Pastor. In short: we are exactly where we need to be! So far we have accomplished quite alot! Since I happily joined your ministry here in Port Angeles I’ve kept in close contact with our Presby-tery and you will be pleased to know that our Executive Presbyter, Cory Schlosser-Hall, along with our Committee on Ministry (COM) Co-Chair Amy Delaney, and COM liaison, David Eekhoff, as well as our own Transitional Ministry Team (TMT) who I continue to meet with regularly. We all agree that we are exactly where we need to be in this process.
From the beginning, we planned for this to be about a two year transitional process. There are many changes, both overt and subtle that happen for a congregation after a long term (37 years!) and much loved Pastor retires. Just having a me in the pulpit, in the office, at your hospital bedside, and generally around is a huge change. To hurry the process is a shortcut that in the long run endangers the “success” of the next Pastor.
In light of that we’ve been careful not to hurry, or to be too slow in this transitional time. We are learning together how to welcome change, how to adapt to new ways of doing things, and to new perspectives. This is not simply a time of pressing the pause button until the new Pastor is hired. We’re actually doing very important work as a congregation becoming stronger, more adaptable, and sure of our mission and ministry. Working with such a mature and spiritually dynamic congregation is a pleasure. My hat’s off to you and I look forward to continuing this transitional journey with you!
As we go forward here’s an abbreviated look at what’s ahead in terms of calling a new pastor:

December Letter

Advent has arrived! We love this lovely time of the year leading up to Christmas! In many ways this is the best season of the year….even with it’s shopping and bak-ing craziness! The decorations, the lights, trees and music fill us with warmth and anticipation for Christmas day to come! We look forward to unwrapping gifts, set-ting our holiday table and to the joy of sharing it all with family and friends. Ad-vent is our entry into it all and we welcome it….it announces that Christmas is coming!
But, as Christians, Advent of course isn’t just an entry into a holly, jolly Christmas Day unwrapping a pile of gifts. For us it’s an entry into gratefully reflecting on Christ’s first coming to earth as a baby; and an opportunity to remember that we are people looking forward to Christ’s second coming! We get so caught up in man-ger scenes complete with shepherds and wise men marveling at the sight of the Christ Child that we forget that we’re also people looking forward to Christ re-turning on a cloud in the sky. In Advent we seize the opportunity to remember that we’re people with great hope because of all Christ has done for us in his first coming, and that we have a firm hope for the future because he has promised that he will come again! We have the joy of remembering that yes! the Light of the world came on a dark night long ago in Nazareth, but that he will absolutely come again into our dark, and chaotic world bringing the complete fullness of the light of his presence to us all!
It’s been said so many times, but it’s true: Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s not forget that. The real gift we are celebrating is God’s Christmas gift to us: his son, Jesus Christ. He is our true and certain hope, our only source of true peace & joy. He is the one and only Lord of our life in whom we celebrate and put our faith in every day of the year.
Blessings & Peace as we await his return,
Pastor Wendy


November Letter

As my sister and I drove to and from our family reunion in Louisiana we noticed how very much we depended on our Iphones to direct us. Siri (Apple's intelligent personal assistant) kept us going in the right direction, navigated us around traffic jams and construction, gave us weather reports and any other information we desired along the way. We wondered how in the world our parents managed our yearly Louisiana road trips without Siri. That they had to depend solely on road signs and maps practically put them in league with the first settlers who came out west! Ha!
Seriously though, having Siri serve as our GPS for our trip down south was a blessing. Siri never steered us in the wrong direction, she was always spot on, completely reliable and trustworthy.
Being the diehard church lady that I am, of course I was drawing correlations between the ways we faithfully followed Siri and how much easier our life would be if we followed Christ that way. There were many times on the trip when we turned to Siri to get our bearings in a storm, in the dark, out in the middle of seemingly no-where with miles of desert stretching out to the horizon. Siri's voice broke through the unease, the sometimes sense of lostness reassuring us, orienting us; God is like. Each time I turn towards God his Spirit brings relief, brings peace, and I had opportunity to experience it on this trip.

october letter

As I’m recovering from my double foot injury (yikes!) I’ve been reminded of how much a pastor needs a congregation. Before becoming a pastor I don’t know that I thought much about the pastor needing the congregation beyond our being nice to him or her. Now, as a pastor my tendency is to evaluate myself on whether or not I’m meeting the needs of the congregation, on my “performance,” not on whether or not the congregation is meeting my needs.
But, in these days of elevating, icing, and trying to hobble around on two broken feet God’s refreshing in me how very much a pastor needs a congregation. Needs a congregations care, prayers and love. As I’m healing I’m finding God not only healing my feet, but bringing healing to what amounts to a reluctance to receive, and it’s you, this congregation’s love & care that are ministering to me, teaching me a good lesson on receiving in rich abundance.
And, for you I’m immensely grateful. Your notes, cards, messages of care, and warm embraces are all such gifts of love. Thank you! Thank you!
As you help me relax into this lesson of receiving I’m awash with gratitude to be part of the Body of Christ. I’m experiencing the joy of being part of the the Spirit’s life & work in this congregation. The reality of the Spirit of God indwelling each & every one of us; moving us into one anothers lives, binding our hearts together in love & unity is capturing my full attention. The reality that we receive the Spirit and share the Spirit of God with each other is what I’m experiencing with you and it’s truly a beautiful thing!
It’s a beautifully awe-inspiring thing and we all are part of it! We all are both giving & receiving. We receive from God, and from each other. We give to God and to each other. In a world that holds individuality, and independence as the high-est values the Body of Christ values very different things: weakness, vulnerability, dependence and inter-dependence.

September Letter

It’s back to school time! As I hear talk of fresh haircuts for the kids, back-packs and school supplies; and as I see Sunday School classrooms getting fresh paint, supplies, decorations and curriculum I’m reminded of what a huge blessing it is to nurture grow-ing children! It takes so much time, resources, patience (!) and commitment but, the results are beautiful!
We can readily see the fruit of all the efforts of parents, schools and our church in the lives of our young people. Not only do we have star students, musicians, artists, and athletes among us, but more importantly we have young people with a growing faith. We saw this demonstrated most profoundly, and movingly in our Youth Led worship service. Our Youth didn’t perform for us, but as Spirit empowered, gifted people they led us in what many said was the “BEST” worship service they had ever attended. That didn’t happen by accident but as Kate Haworth pointed out in her sermon is a result of consistent, faithful participation in the life of this congregation.
Church and Home are the primary places where matters of faith in Christ are taught, nurtured and grown and Kate was spot on to identify the importance of making church, Sunday School and Youth Group a priority. It was in those places where she learned about faith, and how to practice it lessons that she is now able to live out on her college campus.
Our Youth Led worship service was a most beautiful display of young people who have learned, and are continuing to learn as Evan Cobb powerfully preached, the invaluable importance to be like “Mary,” worshipping at Jesus’ feet.
We are grateful for having our faith challenged and stirred by our Youth. This church has taken the time and effort to be part of nurturing their faith, and in turn we had our faith deepened by them. Thanks to our preachers, and to all of our outstanding wor-ship leaders: Hana Kildall, Sirreea Zimmer, Katie Cobb, Brittney Sofie, Leah Haworth, Adam & Emma Weller, and Gunnar Peterson. We are honored for your leader-ship and for the ways you help nurture our faith.


August Letter

“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God's new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”
― N.T. Wright, (Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense)
Whenever I think about our being Temples of God I’m totally filled with wonder & awe! Temples of God…. Us. We who are so ordinary in so many ways house God?! It really is astonishing. Shocking even when we take into consideration how completely ill-suited we are for such an arrangement. Do we actually need convincing that the all powerful God, Creator of the entire universe might find better optionsthan us for a holy temple? I think not.
But, scripture’s pretty clear that God has opted for us. That those who put their faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, are indeed God’s chosen habitat. Now that’s not to say that we don’t need a bit of renovation. It’s a bit like we’re God’s “fixerupper” house project. God purchases us, even though sin has done it’s damage, moves in, and sets to work on re-building us into his holy temple. Instead of bringing in new flooring, cabinets, paint, tiles, counters etc., to fix us up with, God’s Spirit brings God’s: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, Goodness, Gentleness and Self-Control . God’s Spirit builds into us all of those elements renovating us from top to bottom, gradually but steadily making us brand new. Just like with any “fixer upper” house project it’s amazing to see the transformation!
As we learn more in our summer sermon series about God’s Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, Goodness, Gentleness and Self-Control being concretely built into us I hope & pray that we’ll together experience it as the miracle renovation work that it is! That we’ll experience a renewed sense of astonished gratitude that God really and truly chooses us to be his holy Temples; that he’s made our lives holy ground by the presence of his Holy Spirit in us, the “places where heaven & earth meet. ”
You & me!! “places where heaven & earth meet.”
Amazed & Grateful along with you,

July Letter

Many of you have heard of eHarmony an on - line Christian relationship service right? I’ve heard (no I do not have personal experience here!) that it’s a great way for singles to find compatible long - term relation- ships. The founder, Dr. Neil Clark Warren who is a clinical psychologist did extensive research on relationships and found that: “ the most fruitful marriages involved highly compatible people while the marriages that ended involved people with core differences that were too difficult to resolve over time. ” His research and clinical work led him to creating eHarmony, a way of matching people on - line based on compatibility . Today eHarmony boasts that 438 people get married as a result of their compatibility matching . That’s pretty awesome! Compatibility is important. Not just for marriage partners, but for congregations and their Pastors as well! As we move forward toward calling a regular installed Pastor we’re happy that our denomination (PCUSA) has a way for us to make a compatible match through a web - site they developed: The Church Leadership Connection (CLC). In the not too distant future we’ll be signing on to the CLC with the hope of being “ matched up ” with a Pastor who’ll be most compatible with this congregation! It’s an exciting adventure we’re embarking on and I want you to know as much as possible about it!

June Letter

“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
― John Calvin

Indeed John Calvin you were quite right: we are surrounded by so much to: “ make us rejoice! ” Perhaps it’s especially true in Port Angeles where we’re graced with majestic mountains on one side and lovely blue waters on the other. Everyday I thank God for the blessing of being in this lovely city....and for a time to be part of this very special congregation. YOU cause me to rejoice and here’s some reasons why: The All Church Retreat last week - end! WOW! It was such a beautiful time of fellowship, fun and food! Sheri & Paul Stutesman & Cindy Sofie cooked up meal after meal of the most scrumptious food! Katie Cobb & Leah Haworth led us enthusiastically in songs around the campfire where we were also wowed by Kate Weller’s spectacular ability to sing tongue twisting lyrics! It was so fun to see Isaac Mayo & Micah Hay race gleefully around together Sunday morning before Dan Cobb & Randy Schuchardt led us in worship. Todd Haworth delivered a great sermon while I listened joyfully holding baby Isaac Hay. I could get used to that! The whole week - end of games, a crackling fire, the loveliness of Lake Crescent and the SUPER good company of everyone there made for the Best Retreat I’ve ever been on! Thanks to all who made it happen and for Loretta Chapman to bunk with!


Our Annual Camp David All Church Retreat
Is right around the corner and I want to encourage you to COME! This will be my first Camp David Junior Adventure and I’m so excited to “retreat” with my church family: YOU! This is going to be an awesome time of playing games, (I’m bringing Bananagrams! Don’t know how to play this super fun game? I’ll teach you!) we’ll feast on ooy gooey smores, we’ll sing around the campfire, have grand Pinecone battles, and eat epic food provided by our very own resident chefs: Paul & Sheri Stutesman! Our Youth will entertain us with commercials like they did at Celebrate the Children, and lead us in foot-stomping, hand-clapping camp songs! We’ll dabble in arts & crafts, drink hot chocolate, sit around & gab to our hearts content, or just lean back dumbstruck & be-dazzled by our Artist God’s massive art project called: The Olympic Peninsula! Now why in the world would anyone want to miss all that and more?!? Well, the truth is we do find reasons to say “no” to fun & relaxation. But, I’m here to tell you that it’s really to our own detriment. Being intentional about making time for time away is super important.

Here’s what the experts recommend:

April Letter


“Gather gladness from the skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter's robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins

I love the way that Hopkins depicts the earth itself as coming out of the dark days of winter to celebrate Easter! We can relate with his imagery as we move ever further out of this time of Lent & towards Easter Sunday. But, we’re not there yet. Still in Lent we find ourselves in a time of grappling with darkness, a time of intro-spection, delving into the dark recesses of our hearts, finding those things that we may wish could stay hidden, but which Christ calls us to confess, to bring into the light of his presence. Christ calls us to this Lenten work not as a punishment, or to shame or cause us to despair, but so that he can transform our darkness into light, enabling us to truly arrive at Easter celebrating what he has done in us.