Mother’s Tree at All Saints

Mother’s Tree at All Saints

Thank you to the community at All Saints, Hillsboro for contributing this reflection and sharing the history of the Mother’s Tree.


Mother’s Day at All Saints has always been a joyous occasion, highlighted by a potluck brunch prepared by the men and children in the congregation. 

For some, however, the occasion is bittersweet. The remembrance of mothers – and mother figures – who have passed away, led to moments of private sorrow and grief that no amount of celebration could overcome.

Two parishioners channeled these feelings into creating the Mother’s Tree Contemplation Garden in the All Saints back yard, a peaceful and serene place to honor those memories.

Melissa Knotts (who was mourning the passing of her mother Libby, a beloved member of the parish) and Alice Liddell teamed up on the concept, which included a decorative bench, a dedicated area of flowers and trees, and a plaque honoring important women in the lives of church members, be they mothers, grandmothers, aunts or influential mother figures.

Melissa and her sister Mary Beth generously donated the bench and Alice (with husband Blaine) provided flowering trees. Names to be engraved on the plaque, as well as donations towards the project, were coordinated by parish administrator Steve DeSanctis.

Several other parishioners, including Scott Smith, Jack Thornton, and Barb and Charlie Hopewell donated money, time and talent in installing the bench, planting, and upkeep of the area. Our former rector, Rev. Karen LaJoy Smith, held a blessing ceremony at the groundbreaking.

The beautiful plaque created by Award Specialties in Hillsboro will be mounted nearby, with room to add names every year around Mother’s Day.

COVID-19 Information Page

As we continue to monitor the situation with the COVID-19 virus, watching for signals from national, state, and local officials and listening carefully to leaders in our neighboring states and dioceses, the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon is committed to do all in our power to slow the progress of the spread of this virus.  

To provide a central source of information for our churches, we have created a COVID-19 Information page on our website. This page will be updated frequently with news and resources for the churches of our diocese. Please check back regularly for pastoral instructions from Bishop Michael, information on participating in online worship, and other helpful links from The Episcopal Church. 

Click here to go to the COVID-19 Information page.

Building Bridges

The Golden Gate Bridge

By the Rev. Andy McQuery, Associate Rector at St. Paul’s, Salem

A relationship is a bridge between people. Sometimes the gap is narrow, like a woodland creek easily spanned by a couple of planks and a length of rope, constructed in a matter of hours. And sometimes the distance is vast, requiring lots of thought, skill, hard work, and most of all, time. But, like a well-designed and carefully built bridge, a good relationship can bear a lot of weight and stress, even if it takes some effort to maintain. Famously, the Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being repainted, a never-ending struggle against the corrosive effects of the ocean air.

I knew this about ministry, even before I was ordained. But I see more clearly now that “relationship” is not just knowing someone’s name and more-or-less getting along. The bridge metaphor signifies a connection, a bond, and an exchange: traffic goes in both directions. What bridges do is get people across some sort of divide.

So as I approached the end of my initial commitment as curate of St. Paul’s, I saw it wasn’t just that I knew church members’ names and found them a likeable bunch: relationships had developed which, like a bridge, make it possible to go from once place to another. And so, after prayer and reflection, I asked if I might be able to stay, so that— paradoxically—we can keep going.

There isn’t a lot of bridge-building in our world right now. In fact, there’s a lot more energy for erecting walls. Regardless of fraught matters of public policy, I find the metaphor revealing. One structure helps people connect, the other tries to keep them apart. A while back I saw a religious Op-Ed on border security pointing out that even heaven has walls. How sad, I thought: the author never noticed that the gates are always open (Isaiah 60:11; Revelation 21:25).

Our culture far too readily promotes division over political difference. But partisan divides are not the only problem: we must confront racism and a host of other –isms, as well as the growing crisis of social isolation and disconnection. As Christians, we should be in the metaphorical bridge-building business. Bridges connect people who are otherwise separated. They don’t make distances shorter or gaps disappear—the rivers of the world still mark all kinds of boundaries. But they make it possible for people on both sides to go from one place to another. Like the tenacious, salty winds constantly threatening the Golden Gate, our political climate is actively corroding the structural integrity of our relationships. Let’s work together to maintain our existing bridges, and build some new ones, too.

Evangelism and Neighborliness

The $1,000 grant from the 2017 Pentecost Offering allowed St. John the Divine to explore growing their community and the call Jesus makes to us all to love our neighbor. They requested the resources to have a parish conversation about evangelism and to increase their connection with their neighbors.

Using the funds, they purchased and installed a referral center outside by the church doors, built a Little Free Library, and made the church entrance area more attractive. In addition, they purchased five copies of the book A Lasting Impact: Seven Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow by Carey Nieuwhof to lead the conversation exploring evangelism and mission.

St. John the Divine hosts a Food Pantry twice a month, one of the few pantries open on Saturdays, which means a lot of working people attend. Food Pantry volunteers now can provide referrals to other services posted on the new outdoor bulletin board. The entryway has been made a more inviting and functioning part of the neighborhood through the addition of a Little Free Library.

The parish received $1,000 from the Pentecost Offering Grant,and spent $537 on the outside bulletin board and display holders, $186 on the Little Free Library, and $500 on the retaining wall, soil, and bulbs for the entry way around the church sign. The congregation appreciated the efforts so much that they helped finance the extra funds needed to complete the grant-supported project. Encouraged by the impact of these actions, St. John the Divine now plans to make further improvements: build a prayer box where requests for prayer can be left, add more flowers, and repaint one side of the sign.

 

The 2018 Pentecost Offering Grant cycle is now open for applications. Funds to support the grant will be collected by churches on the day of Pentecost, May 20, 2018 as one of the diocese’s canonical offerings.

Becoming Beloved Community: Lostness

From the Rev. Marianne Allison, chaplain at William Temple House and associate priest at St. Gabriel the Archangel, Portland.

“My colonial credentials are impeccable.”

I heard myself saying that often as I was first getting to know members of an Indigenous Theological Studies cohort I had joined at Portland Seminary. The program was run by Native Americans and First Nations Canadians. We came together to learn about decolonizing the church, and decolonizing ourselves–colonized and colonizer both. As one of a white minority in the cohort, my awkward remark telegraphed my self-consciousness about Mayflower ancestors on one side of my family, and slaveholders on the other. Not to mention, my coming from a church of empire.

My new friends passed over the remark. So what?, they were saying, implicitly. We’re here together now, and we all come from somewhere that will inform our experience. Let’s just start where we are, and walk together.

In this first act of hospitality, I was being shown the way of love, and I recognized it as the way of Jesus. And so, I stepped into this community that became for me, beloved.

It was an experience of scales falling from my eyes—a way of appreciating difference in others I had never known. I remember feeling a vague irritation in class one day that we we weren’t allowed to watch an assigned movie in our own time. Yet watching it together, I learned more from someone’s laughter, or tears, or wisecrack, or story shared that the movie brought to mind, than I possibly could have by focusing on my own reaction. And the humor! How much vulnerability, humility, and story – how much of Christ – was revealed in it.

In time too, we came to share what we were working out, each of us on our own. There was no forced march—just a quiet expectancy, a trust bestowed on each other to do it, for the sake of the community. I came to see why my proffer of ancestral baggage had been met with respectful silence. It was a disconnected fact. It had no context in the rest of my story, in who I would be to them, and who we would be to each other. I felt seen. I felt forgiven. I felt saved.

My friends love Jesus, although they’re not big fans of “Churchianity.” And they revealed Jesus to me as healer of broken Shalom, as the shepherd come to bring his lost sheep to himself. “Lostness,” to them, is purely relational. It is being lost to each other, to Jesus, to the whole community of creation. We are all lost—the colonizer and the colonized. And so we come together, each broken in our own way. We observe and absorb our differences, and we begin to make sense of them together, by practicing the way of love.

A mentor in this community once said this about the essential task of mission: “Joy comes from the community being together with Jesus. It is bringing in each lost person to share in the joy, to add their piece to the tapestry, or to bring it back.” This is beloved community, as it was shown unto me. I am humbled, and grateful for it. How can I not want it for others?