Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Incoming bishop brings breadth of experience


By Rachel Pritchett, synod communicator

VANCOUVER — Incoming Southwestern Washington Synod Bishop Rick Jaech
brings a breadth of experience in ecumenism and conflict resolution to the office.

A recent period of his 26-year ministry at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in
Vancouver was devoted to facilitating dialog between Christians, Jews and Muslims, an effort that left a lasting imprint of sensitivity on members of his flock.

“It was a great time of learning about each other’s faith traditions,” he said in a conversation in his office at the church, a quiet oasis located in an otherwise busy web of thoroughfares in East Vancouver. Jaech, pronounced Jake, is a member of the Greater Vancouver Interfaith Association.

Beyond that, the tall 63-year-old has served for the past four years as the bishop’s representative to the ELCA’s Lutheran Ecumenical Relations Network, a group devoted to Christian unity and inter-religious awareness. As bishop, he hopes to continue ecumenical work in the synod and at the churchwide level.

“I am thankful that the ELCA is very active in ecumenical and interfaith dialog,” he said.

His work earning a master’s degree in conflict mediation led to his writing the book “Transforming Church Conflict.” Many know Jaech best through his workshops on turning seemingly insurmountable conflicts into valued growth opportunities, another skill set he will be able to call on in the next six years.

Jaech said he is looking forward to getting to know the pastors and members of the synod’s 88 congregations and worshiping communities.

He plans to continue starting and supporting new mission starts.
“That will be a priority of mine,” he said.

And he hopes to work with congregations to discover ways they can collaborate on efforts instead of working alone, or “to help all congregations work cooperatively to build their ministries.”

Jaech grew up in West Seattle, the son of a Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod parish pastor, Emil Jaech, who himself served as the widely admired president, or bishop, of the Northwest District of the LC-MS between 1968 and 1980. The elder Jaech helped develop close working ties with other Lutherans and was a founder of Consultation to Clergy, the group that offers personal and professional support to pastors and other church leaders.

A graduate of West Seattle High School, the younger Jaech was among dissident students and faculty at Concordia Seminary of St. Louis, Mo., who walked out over a theological rift in the 1970s to form Concordia Seminary in Exile (Seminex). He actually received his master of divinity degree from Seminex at The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. More about that historic walkout from the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod seminary is at Jaech was ordained as an LC-MS pastor in 1975, but a year later joined the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, which helped to form the ELCA.

His first call was to the Mission District of San Francisco, where he established a Spanish-speaking congregation of immigrants and imperiled refugees at St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church. He had learned the language by immersing himself in study in Mexico. He served that congregation from 1975 to 1986, and during that time also worked to improve their living conditions as director of Lutheran Latino Ministries.

“Seeing the faith of the Latin American people really trusting in God even though their lives were turned upside down was very inspiring to me,” he remembered.

There is little doubt that Jaech will look wistfully over his shoulder at Beautiful Savior as he makes his way to Tacoma. He called members there “a wonderful gathering of people.” They help the homeless through Winter Hospitality Overflow and the local Y.W.C.A. They assist refugees through Lutheran Community Services Northwest, advocate with Faith Action Network in Olympia, and consider themselves acelebrating church in which all are welcome to Christ’s table.

The incoming bishop and wife Satya Lamparter Jaech, a psychotherapist and meditation instructor have one son. Nicholas, 20, is a political-science student at the University of Washington.The family has a long history of service at Holden Village.

As for his new calling, Jaech said, “I’m confident God has many blessing in store for us, and I very much welcome people’s prayers as we begins this ministry together.” All are invited to his installationat 3 p.m. Sept. 14 at Trinity Lutheran Church of Parkland. Jaech can be reached at

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Young Adults in Global Mission: Planting Seeds

By the Rev. Sigi Helgeson, Family of God Lutheran Church of Bremerton

“Let go of the plans for your life that you may be clinging to, and allow God to work in your life and show you His plans for you.”

After traveling for 12 hours flying over the Pacific ocean and having a stop over in Hong Kong, my sister Kathy and I departed for Malaysia. As the plane landed in Kota Kinabalu, in the province of Sabah Malaysia, my heart raced to get through customs to see my son, Patrick, who had been living there for the past nine months. I could not wait to see the country that he had come to love, the colors, the smells, the landscape and mostly the people of this beautiful place on the island of Borneo in the South China Sea.   

It was indeed a magnificent sight to behold. All that my son had told me about this place came to life much as I had imagined. Although I was surprised by how modern and civilized the city was and our hotel was quite elegant overlooking the harbor in KK. There was much traffic and hustle and bustle in the city but as we drove out into the countryside one could truly savor the beauty of the rolling hills the green jungle like terrain and tropical flowers. 

After arriving, we traveled to the newly built school at Grace Center on the outskirts of town.  We met the teachers, all young adults who welcomed us in their small office they shared and offered us tea and treats from their own meager supply. Then we moved into “David Hall” named after a young man, (whom I will say more about later) where the kids were assembled cross-legged on the floor to receive their awards for academic excellence. It was the last day of school before a two week vacation.    

It was hot that day, 90 degrees-plus with humidity, but inside was even hotter as the electricity had gone out and there was no air conditioning or fans. We sat inside a sweltering room for almost two hours watching the kids delight at their awards and enthusiastically sing songs and perform dances despite the heat. We had brought some little gifts, stickers and bracelets, for the kids that we gave out after the assembly and found that we had many instant friends. These nearly 200 children are given an education that they would not normally receive as they are immigrant children primarily from the Philippines and Indonesia who are not recognized by the  Malaysian government.

Patrick went to teach English and many of the children amazingly spoke to us practicing their English and spoke quite well! The other amazing thing to me was how close they were to their teachers. Hugs were given out freely and some of the children were crying that school was out and they would not be seeing some of their teachers who were leaving to go back home. Clearly they loved their school and teachers. I could see why my son fell in love with this place and teaching here.  

Later that night we returned for a barbecue and got to meet the director of Grace Center, Pastor Barnabas, a Korean pastor who saw the need for a Christian school in this primarily Muslim country to reach out to those children who would not be able to go to school due to their lack of citizenship. Barnabas shared his vision with us that all of these children receive an education and learn about Jesus. He started with one school and about eighty children.  Now they have two schools in two locations and over 200 children! I asked him about funding and how he raised the money to keep things going. He answered simply and without hesitation. He prayed. Through prayer God answered with the resources they needed. Truly we were standing on holy ground in the new school that God had provided for.    

Then Barnabas gave us a tour and showed us a memorial to the young man “David” who was part of the group of Korean Christians who began this ministry. Unfortunately he died in a drowning accident and it impacted the whole community. Barnabas pointed to a verse on the memorial. Unless a seed is planted and dies in the ground there is no growth.” He attributed much of the amazing growth of this ministry to this young man’s untimely death. 

As I pondered what he said I thought about the many young adults who were there teaching in the school because they felt the tug of the Holy Spirit, the call of God upon their lives to “die” a little to their selves, to give up a year or two from what they would otherwise be doing, or in Patrick’s case take a “gap year” and volunteer with Young Adults in Global Mission. I wondered what seeds were being planted and what harvest would come from it?  Already the relationships built with these children have impacted both them and their teachers. These relationships forged in their young lives will be remembered for a lifetime.   

Who knows what God may do through these Young Adults in Global Mission who serve not only in Malaysia but all over the world in places as remote as Madagascar. I can only imagine what God has been doing through each of the 70-some YAGMS. What an impact they are having globally that will also play out in each local setting. 
As I sent my son off for a year of global mission with a mixture of both anxiety and anticipation, I never imagined what growth would occur in him. I have watched him grow in his ability to manage difficult and somewhat overwhelming situations: living in a foreign country, learning the language and adapting to his surroundings, making friends with many of the people there, not only Christian but having many Muslim friends as well, the love he has for teaching and for his students. I am grateful for the many people who have cared for him during his time there. His country coordinator Peter, Pastor Barnabas and his family and especially his teacher friends, Aril and Nelson who took Patrick to their Kampung ( village)  and housed and fed him over the Christmas break where he lived with their family. What an awesome experience! Being able to see it for myself was a sacred moment an opportunity I will forever be grateful for.  
The Young Adults in Global Mission is one of the best kept secrets in the ELCA and I think we need to change that! It is a great opportunity to learn, to serve, to plant seeds and to grow! Who knows perhaps God may be calling you? Could you be the next Young Adult in Global Mission? Or as I wondered could God use even an “older adult” like me? What seeds will you plant?   

“Selemat Pagar”-  Blessings,  Pastor Sigi
Pictured: Top, Patrick Cudahy, rear, and the students of Grace Center, along with his mother, the Rev. Sigi Helgeson, in blue. Second, Helgeson and the students.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Summer Arts Day Camp almost upon us
St.. Mark’s by The Narrows Lutheran Church of Tacoma again this summer hosts its Summer Arts Day Camp for youth, this time focusing on Asia. The camp will be at the church from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 12 to 16. Youth entering sixth through 12th grades are eligible. Tuition is $85; scholarships are available. The registration deadline is July 28. To get a form, contact Danielle Lemieux, youth music director, at or go to

Mark your calendars for gift-planning retreat
A gift-planning retreat will be offered at the Alderbrook Resort on Sept. 27 and 28. The retreat is for congregations that have existing endowments or may want to consider starting one. Participating congregations will be expected to send a team of three to five people. For more details, contact Director for Evangelical Mission, the Rev. Dr. Melanie Wallschlaeger.

Come learn about African mission
The synod’s Global Mission Committee invites all to a fall gathering of ELCA congregations with mission connections in Africa. The African Mission Summit takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 5 at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church 2650 148th Ave. SE, Bellevue. The special guest is the Rev. Anna Eva Makyao, a Lutheran pastor from Tanzania. Participants will have opportunities to share what they are doing with others. Worship and learning will take place, too. Registration including lunch is $10 at

Deaconess J term scheduled
The Deaconess community of the ELCA plans a J term course for those discerning that path toward service. Titled “Diaconal Ministry: History, Formation and Spirituality,” it takes place Jan. 13 to 17 at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Columbia, S.C. On-campus housing is available for $25 a night. Also, an online version of the three-credit course takes place from Jan. 6 to 13. Early registration is advised. Contact Sr. Krista Anderson at or 615-208-7713.

Worship this Sunday at Little White Church


My idea of a good summer's Sunday is to worship at the Little White Church at Elbe and hop on the nearby Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which goes a short distance to Mineral, where there's a new locomotive museum. Read more at Throw in a hike and a picnic and another memory is made.

The Rev. Mary Sanders of United Lutheran Church of Tacoma leads worship tomorrow, July 21, which starts at 2:30 p.m.

Did you know the 18-by-24-foot church is in "Ripley's Believe it or Not" for being the smallest church around? 

Go to for directions. And don't forget to buy a brick to pay for the new steeple tower now in place. You can contact me for a form at

The Rev. Mark Woldseth preaches on Aug. 18. Worship services also are slated for Sept. 15 and Oct. 20. Of course, the Little White Church is part of the Southwestern Washington Synod.

— Rachel Pritchett, communicator

On a cure for callosity

By the Rev. Kim Latterell, Creator Lutheran Church of Bonney Lake,

A good Doctor warned me that I was at risk of coming down with a horrible case 
of callosity. 

It sounded so awful I ran to look up its symptoms and outcome. Just 
as I feared, the good Doctor was right. I was at risk. You could be at risk too. I discovered that callosity is the condition of being hardened, calloused, unfeeling. 
After listening to the news, reading article after article exposing our inhumanity towards one another, including family, friends and strangers, the stories can overwhelm my heart and crush sensitivity, so much so, that the heart risks losing awareness of its own hardness. With so much hurt in the world, it becomes tempting to withdraw into a shell for the sake of self-preservation, for the ability simply to fall asleep without succumbing to night-terrors. The better response seems to be to shut out all such news or to armor, medicate and distract oneself because active caring and actual engagement for the sake of others can bring such suffering too close for comfort and comprehension.

Somewhere in the background of this world’s existence there must be a terrible rift that cracks at the very foundation of our life together; a brokenness so deep creation itself groans and weeps in dismay; unless it too has succumbed to callosity.   

And the cure? Wool over the eyes or a shield around the heart is no lasting cure. Human effort and energy can seek to address the symptoms of callosity by attempts to alleviate pain and suffering, lessen loss and sorrow, or end vengeance and strife. But the necessary medicines for human suffering cannot be laid as bandages upon the outside of the heart. 

Such attempts at reform begin at the wrong place, putting cart before horse. The cure, at its root, comes first from a heart changed from the inside, and from the gift of new eyes that refuse to see suffering, hopelessness and despair as the final outcome. Hope that constant, compassion that is continuous ultimately become the only lasting antidote for callosity. What is needed and promised is a Christ-like, Christ-given love and commitment to serve all in need. A key verse that has shaped my ministry throughout comes from a letter to the young Christians of Thessalonica (2:8): So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.  

At last, the best medicine of all for what ails us!

Special concert July 27 for North Kitsap organist


Here's the obituary for MaryBeth Myrvang, longtime organist for Poulsbo First Lutheran Church. A special organ concert will take place at 3 p.m. July 27 at First in her memory. MaryBeth had a lilting quality to her playing, and was always willing to show the kids at First how the organ worked. She loved music. — Rachel Pritchett

MaryBeth Myrvang passed away June 20, 2013. She was born in Bremerton to Edward and Ruth (Johnson) Sterneman on Nov. 11, 1929. She grew up in Silverdale and graduated from Central Kitsap High School in 1947. She attended Whitman College majoring in music.

She married Loyd on March 21, 1950. They moved to Kahlotus, Wash. and lived in the one room school where Loyd taught for two years. They moved back to Poulsbo and lived in the same home over 57 years.

She was an active member of First Lutheran Church and served as the organist for many years. She was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Loyd. Survivors include children: Constance (Denis) Stenwick, Michael (Lynn) Myrvang, Cheryl (Mike) Tague all of Poulsbo, Penny (Dave) Barta of Goldendale; sisters-in-law, Lenore (Bob) Ley of Poulsbo and Lila (Gary) Morris of Hansville; 21 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
A special thank you to Country Manor caregivers.

A memorial organ concert will be held at First Lutheran Church July 27 at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the organ fund at First Lutheran Church of Poulsbo or charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Stone Chapel of Poulsbo.

Youth groups roll up their sleeves to serve communities

Youth groups from congregations throughout the 
synod put service above self in a variety of 
expressions during the 2013 Synod Day of Service 
in May. The efforts were supported by the Synod Youth 
Committee, Here’s a 
short list of some of the projects:

More than 40 young people from five churches 
hacked down blackberries at the Wilderness Park in 
Pousblo, and used tarps to haul the unwanted 
brambles into trucks. They also removed downed 
trees and trash, pictured at top. The park had become a hang-out spot where people 
were getting into trouble. “While we were working, several joggers and walkers stopped 
and thanked us for making the park safer for them and their 
families,” said Paul Davis, youth director at Poulsbo First Lutheran

More than 50 young people under the direction of Ingelaurie 
Lisher, associate in ministry at St. Mark’s by The Narrows 
Lutheran Church of Tacoma, helped feed the hungry in Vancouver,
Wash. The large group representing seven Lutheran churches
spent many long hours repacking thousands of pounds of food
at the Clark County Food Bank, pictured
Group-building games, devotions, dinner and worship at Messiah Lutheran Church were part of the life-giving event, according to Lisher.