Cover artwork created by Joanna Bornowski. Used with permission.
Pastor Jessica Goad shares her perspective on the journey of discovering a new identity.
A feature of the church as a family with voices from every generation.
uncovering our centennial anthem
Written by Glenda Hill, an advocate for awareness of social justice issues.
400 W. Aspen Avenue Flagstaff, AZ 86001 www.flagstafffederatdchurch.org
“Courage” by Joanna Bornowski.
Written by Maria de Jesus Guillen, community leader with Northern Arizona Interfaith Council, an advocate for justice in the immigrant community.
An interview with Maggie Jobin and Madeline Mayorga, advocates for love and service.
Used with permission. Read more about her artwork in the Pieces of Our Tapestry column. Find her artwork on jbornowskiart.wordpress.com or on Instagram at j.bornowskiart.
is a quarterly public a tion of F la g s ta ff Federated Community Church which emphasizes discipleship and spiritual formation, featuring the personal experiences of faith and life of our congregants. Federated‟s vision is to be a family
of Progressive Christian faith seeking awareness, challenging injustice, loving and serving with courage. Affiliations include the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), Interfaith Power and Light, Earth Ministry, Eco-Justice Ministries, More Light Presbyterians, Reconciling Ministries Network (UMC), and United Christian Ministry (NAU Campus). on courage
living out Progressive Christianity
“A question mark is always a good and fitting place to begin.” What do we uphold as our identity of the past? Where do we see ourselves in ministry five to t the very core of my being, I am a learner. I seven years from now? Why do we come to have a great desire to learn and through that church? What does it mean to be a courageous learning, I have a great desire to improve church? Who is our family of faith? How do we continuously. In fact, the process of learning is seek awareness? What does it look like to much more interesting to me than its outcome. challenge injustice? How are we called to love and serve? Through all of these questions, we Although I have always been this way, I am just now starting to discover this characteristic as were seeking our identity. Grounded in the identity we have carried through the past and a strength and claim it as part of my identity. I have always been more interested in the question inspired by our dreams for the future, we developed a vision statement as a proclamation of and its full breadth of answers or responses who we are and who we want to be: We are a rather than coming to one single conclusion. It fascinates me that there is always more than one family of Progressive Christian faith seeking awareness, challenging injustice, loving and answer to a question—each person will have a serving with courage. unique response even when it may seem like a rather bland This journey of discovering is yes-or-no question. not over, there are still more questions to be asked. (There are I remember a moment in my always more questions to be childhood: I was asking an asked!) In February‟s worship annoying number of questions series, we began to ask some and my parents were becoming deeper questions: What does it frustrated. I had way too many mean to be a family of faith? questions, and they didn‟t have How are we to seek awareness? enough answers. My mother, Where are we to challenge trying not to “blow a fuse,” injustice? Who are we to love asked if I could please stop and serve? And what does it look asking questions to which I like to be courageous in these responded, “But, Mom, how am I supposed to tasks? This issue of Kaleidoscope continues on learn if I don‟t ask questions?” this journey of discovery, continues to ask and I met everything with a question. answer questions of our new vision statement. There is much courage involved in asking In the feature article, we look at the various questions. Just by asking a question, you ways people of all generations have experienced relinquish certainty; you uphold the reality of Flagstaff Federated Community Church as a mystery; you become vulnerable to possibility; family. In the three advocate articles, individuals you relent in humility to the limitations within our explore what it could look like to seek awareness, capacity to understand. Asking questions is the challenge injustice, and love and serve—all with willingness to take bold risks in the process of courage. Our youth help us to discover more discovering one‟s identity or the identity of one‟s about what we mean by Progressive Christianity. community. As you embark upon this newest issue of Last fall, Flagstaff Federated Community Kaleidoscope, may you embark upon this journey Church asked a lot of questions of itself: What do of discovery WITH COURAGE! we value? What do we believe about God? about Jesus? about the Holy Spirit? about Scripture?
Every year, the Presbytery of the Grand Canyon encourages each church to honor one of its members, 70 years of age or older, for outstanding voluntary and supportive service to the church and community. Federated has upheld this tradition and honored many of our members over the years. This year, Ed Gilman received this award. He has served on the Worship and Music, Social Action and Outreach, and Buildings and Grounds Teams, as well as the Board of Trustees. He has served as an usher, the usher coordinator, and a Communion server. He has made a million pots of coffee and never hesitated to set up tables for fellowship. He has also come into the church during the week to do various projects, such as painting or supervising contractors or just coming to say, “Hello!” He maintains at least one of the garden plots around the campus and always attends workdays to assist in doing things around the property. He has even been seen shoveling snow! He is also the person who takes the items from the grocery cart in Rees Hall to the Flagstaff Family Food Center: Food Bank and Kitchen. When he walks into this church, he is always willing and ready to do anything. There was one Sunday morning this past January when he came in to set up the coffee and he realized that it was already done. He turned around and asked if there was something else he could, and sure enough he took down two Christmas trees before worship started. It was commented how interesting it was that a Jewish man was taking down our Christmas trees. The ways Ed serves within this family of faith and gives of his time, talent, and efforts to the church says much about his character and his sacrificial commitment to Federated.
Rachel Davis, our former Church Administrator and Director of Discipleship Ministries, has moved on to work at Coconino County as a County Planner. Rachel and her husband, Brittain, joined the church in 2008, and Rachel started working with the church shortly after. She began as the Administrative Assistant seven years ago, when their son, Ari, was only six months old. Soon after, she was promoted to Program Director when Karen Appleby retired. As part of the church‟s staff team, she worked with six Youth Leaders, five Administrative Assistants, four Bookkeepers, and two Administrators. She has worked with over 100 nominated volunteers! She was instrumental in installing solar panels on the building. She created the new tradition of an endof-summer All-Church Camp at Mingus Mountain. She oversaw countless maintenance projects to keep our old building ready for use. Most of all, she held a consistent presence for Federated in a time of uncertainty and transition, reminding Federated of all it could be. During her time here, Rachel has been an invaluable staff member. We celebrate and give thanks for her tremendous service to this community, and we look forward to the Davis‟ continued presence at Federated.
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JUNE MARY TOWLE HARMON GLENDA HILL HARRIET BROWN DONNA GAIL MICHEL GWEN SHORE MISTY CLARK RUTH ANN LEWELLEN KEN PINKSTON
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JULY EVERETT WALTER RENEE HENRY OWEN MILLER FRANKY CRAWFORD JIM FREDRICK NORM PIH ETHAN HENRY ELIZA JAMES ED GILMAN SAMMIE BITER CHARLIE ROCKOW
Marilyn Laird was just recently honored as a 50 year member of P.E.O. (which stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization). According to their website, the P.E.O. Sisterhood is made up of women who “celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.” Congratulations Marilyn on your outstanding achievements for women!
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AUGUST BLAIRE SCHENCK REBECCA CAUTHEN GAIL BROMGARD LOLITA MEDINA STELLA TUCHSCHERER
ow does one develop awareness? My personal journey starts with growing up in rural Iowa, where there is not much diversity of any kind. But my local church had mission speakers who brought the outside world to us. When I went to university I began to be aware of, and make friends with, people who are different from myself: ethnicity, sexual identity, language, economic and educational status. From there I went to teach in Santiago, Chile, which was another terrific learning experience. Santiago is a huge city. I think everyone should experience immersion into another culture, learn a new language, and experience change. Sometimes those opportunities are offered. Sometimes you have to intentionally search them out. In Chile I met Gene. We came home, got married, had children, and became involved in community. In addition to college classes, I joined United Methodist Women and League of Women Voters in Pennsylvania and participated in local organizations that provided activity and new experiences for children in the community. These all provided awareness of issues that needed attention at various levels: local, state, church and/or government. As a member of League of Women Voters, I first started learning about issues of water quality and what happens to our garbage and run off from mines. I learned how to find more information and how to approach local officials or business owners to discuss their role in a problem. Reading is another source of education and now, of course, there is the internet with information and updates from an even larger body of issue-oriented organizations. How do we choose which social justice issues to work on, as an individual or as a church? It starts with knowing there are problems. Sometimes we see a problem and seek out information, to learn more about root causes, or solutions that have been tried, or if there are organizations in the community already working to address that specific problem. Sometimes we read or see an opportunity to learn about an issue we had never considered a problem to be addressed. For example, when we moved to Iowa, we saw advertised the consecration of a Church and Community worker in our district of the United Methodist Church. We found that Judy was beginning work in the Hispanic community. This led to a project called Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) serving the immigrant community in providing free legal services specific to immigration. As a result of volunteering with JFON we became aware of all of the problems with the immigration system and laws as well as the injustices that are perpetrated on immigrants. The more I learn about people who are marginalized for reasons of who they are, the more I look for ways to share that knowledge with others. Thus, in 2010 Gene and I taught a class here at Federated called â€œClaiming the Promiseâ€? which led to Federated becoming a member of Reconciling Ministries Network and More Light Presbyterian. Identifying with these specific organizations is a concrete way to show that we welcome individuals of all sexual orientation and gender identity into our fellowship. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information I receive in my email and I try to sort out what to share. Gene and I recently had a visitor who has been very active in the Reconciling Network of United Methodist Church. Sue has worked for many years to change the discipline of the UMC to include ordination of gays and lesbians. As part of a long conversation about support for divisive issues in general, she reminded us that providing opportunities for education (awareness) about an issue is the first step toward challenging injustice. In addition to providing awareness, we need people who seek justice, who take up the job of forming an appropriate response. What can we DO besides being aware that there is a problem? DOING takes many forms: sharing knowledge, providing material assistance, writing letters to or meeting with people in authority to change a bad situation to one that is better for everyone.
For the 100th Anniversary of our Federation, we commissioned a beautiful composition written by Ben Vining entitled “Unity.” The lyrics are featured below, and Ben talks about his inspiration for the piece. When I was young, my parents regularly took my sister and I to Federated services. At the time, I don‟t think I really understood the significance of the religious aspects of the experience, but I did know it was a place full of friendly, supportive people. I also knew every week Pastor Jed Schenck offered insight on how to be the best person you can be and how to live a full life, while doing as much good for others as possible. When I entered my teens and drifted away from regularly attending church services, these were ideals that nevertheless stuck in my mind and that I still try to live up to every day. Even though I am not a religious person today, I strive to be a person of whom Pastor Jed would be proud because those are ideals that should be present in whatever belief system to which you subscribe. As a nonreligious person and as a member of the LGBT community, religion is often a difficult subject among my peers and friends. Too often, I see conservative churches pit their ideology against the far left‟s so-called “social justice movement” and vice versa. Eventually people on both sides of the equation begin to see this is as an “us” versus “them” issue. Fortunately, Federated presented me with the solution early in my childhood: staunchly rejecting the notion of “us” and “them,” instead boldly proclaiming their belief in “we” all of us, as a community, as a human race. Their support of and interest in people‟s lives does not end at the cathedral‟s doors, nor is it even selective to the members of the church itself. Take me, for example: though I do not regularly attend services or necessarily consider myself a member of Federated, Pastor Jessica Goad didn‟t even hesitate before asking me to write a piece summing up the church‟s 100 years of history. I recognize the deep level of trust she placed in me when asking me to take on such a significant project; so when I sat down to begin putting together my thoughts for the piece, I knew that I had to convey the profound level of respect that I have for a church that uses its religious values the right way — to encourage and guide everyone to become the best human being they can be, regardless of the insignificant detail of being strictly Christian or not — and for a congregation made of people progressive enough to demand and inspire such visionary leadership. I was looking for a text that would sum up my feelings about Federated, and I eventually stumbled across Psalm 139. It was then that I realized I wanted the piece to be a dialogue from the church itself to its community members. The “I” speaking in this psalm is Federated, and the “you” being spoken to is the community of Federated:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. As much as Federated has done for all of Flagstaff during its 100-year history, we must not forget that it is us, the people of Flagstaff, who built Federated in the first place Where shall my wandering soul begin? and make it what it is today. Everyone must carry with them How shall I all to heaven aspire? and live up to the messages preached by Pastor Jessica and A slave redeemed from death and sin, Pastor Jed before her, because a church is only as good as How shall I equal triumphs raise? the actions it inspires in its community. And in my How shall I all to heaven aspire? experience, the community of Flagstaff consistently lives up Or sing my great deliverer‟s praise? A brand plucked from eternal fire, to the high bar set by Federated‟s teachings. How shall I all to heaven aspire? And so the piece I composed for Federated is intended A slave redeemed from death and sin, to honor the church, to thank its wonderful community Where shall my wandering soul begin? members for welcoming me as one of their own, and to How shall I to heaven aspire? remind them to continue their good work, spread it Where shall our wandering souls begin? wherever they go, and pass it on to future generations, Lead a life worthy of the calling encouraging them to be even better. To which you have been called, I was truly honored to be given this opportunity, and I With all humility and gentleness, look forward to returning to Federated in the future. Thank With patience, bearing with one another in love, you for 18 years of support and for everything you‟ve done Making effort to maintain the unity of the spirit for Flagstaff. In the bond of peace.
Our vision statement begins with, “A family of faith…” During our visioning process this past fall, may people described Federated as a family. It is who we are and who we are called to be. When the church functions as a family, it opens its arms to everyone—at all stages of life. This article features members of our family in these various stages and how the church has been a family to them. First, we have Ari Davis, a child. Then, we have various voices from our youth. After that, we feature Hannah Parish, a young adult and college student at Northern Arizona University; Janel States-James, a cradle member who now has youth attending Federated; and finally, Shirley Ardrey, long-time member of this family. May you be inspired to continue making our church more and more of a family of faith! he church is family and friends and helpful and wonderful. A happy memory is having Easter egg hunts and playing in the big front yard. Some of my favorite people are James (Rockow), Evan (Merriman), Aria (Kuhlman), Kyle (Henry), and Maggie (Jobin). Having a prayer pal is a special time just with them. Being in Mom's office at the church was like our family room. I felt pleased in worship because of children's time with Pastor Jessica and answering her questions. Children's Church feels like a playdate and I learned about my favorite Bible story: Moses. I helped with tables and chairs in Rees Hall. I love God so much and I see God in my heart and in my head when I am at church.” ~Ari Davis
ne evening during Youth Fellowship, the youth sat down to share how the church has been a family to them. “The first time our family came here, the church felt like a family…This one felt right,” said Cat Swanson. Charlie Rockow shared about Shrove Tuesday and how the youth have the opportunity to work alongside and serve others in the congregation. “I feel like I am most in the family when I‟m helping out with pancake suppers or Youth Sunday.” The youth shared about how the church is a family where everyone knows their name. “It‟s just really welcoming… You walk in the door and people know your name,” Madeline Mayorga shared. Several youth shared about connections with their Prayer Pals. Charlie said, “I felt like I was in the family when we did Prayer Pals one year. It gave me someone to talk to in the church. I still talk to my first prayer partner, Connie Kim.” Madeline added, “I had Maggie Jobin as a Prayer Pal. She is really sweet. I had her as a confirmation mentor, too… I went over to her house…then she taught me how to meditate. It was really nice to have a different perspective from someone who has experienced a lot more than I have. I know that anytime I could e-mail her or go talk to her…almost like a mother relationship.” The youth also shared how the church is a family that helps bear the burden of dark stuff in life. When Chance Couillard, an eighth grader at NPA committed suicide, two of our youth were very close to him and were deeply affected. Both expressed how, after it happened, they didn‟t want to come to Youth Fellowship but their parents forced them. “It was really hard,” said Naomi Coy, a long-time friend of Chance‟s. “But when I got here it felt like everyone was a support system. Somehow everyone knew about it and was asking me if I was okay and told me they would be there anytime if I wanted to talk.” They both felt better after coming. At Youth Fellowship, there‟s nothing we would rather be doing than supporting each other and helping to carry those heavy loads. That‟s what a family does. Then the youth shared how Youth Fellowship is a family for each of them. Youth Fellowship is a family when they come back from breaks and talk about how things are going; when they have fun conversations; when Youth Fellowship makes them feel better at the end of the day; when they share highs and lows. “We have great memories, and not so great memories. That is family right? We endure those highs and lows together... Everyone is bearing it with you.” This is what we do as a family, as a church and in Youth Fellowship.
ntil August of 2016, I had lived in the same zip code for my entire life. Then, my freshman year of college rolled around and it came time for me to leave my comfort zone-- the physical location in which most of my immediate family, my elementary, middle, and high schools, my childhood homes all reside. Granted, my move was only a threehour drive up north, but it symbolized something monumental for me in growing up. It meant that for the
first time in my life, I was presented with the challenge of building a support group and “home base” of my own, completely from scratch. From the very first service I attended at Federated, I felt I was welcomed into the church family. Pastor Jessica made a point to immediately reach out to me immediately, and all who I had met at the church remembered my name, asked questions about my studies, and made an effort to make me feel like I had a place in the community. The women‟s group which meets once a month for hikes and get-togethers, as well as those who have reached out to make connections, have truly become the support group I was missing upon first moving to Flagstaff. Federated is a family, not just because we declare ourselves a family in our mission statement, but because the church welcomes all with open arms and no questions asked. I did not need to carve out a spot for myself, but instead those already at the church had a spot waiting for me. Since becoming apart of the community, I have had a constant stream of support in ways that I never had even considered possible in my first year on my own in a new city.”
~Hannah Parish s an adult, it‟s clear to me that the family you grow up in is always with you, fundamental to who you are and in some ways who you will be in the world. As a kid, I‟m pretty sure I wasn‟t aware of this; it‟s only as I get older that I can see the continuing influence of my childhood in action. Similarly, growing up in this church, I wasn‟t aware of how Federated would behave much the same way, as a fundamental influence. But in retrospect, I can see how attending Federated tied me to my family in ways that would not have existed without the church. It was something we did together, much in the way of ritual. We always sat in the same place and we sat in the same order. I shared a hymnal with my dad, my brother with my mom. My dad and I played Hangman while we waited for the service to start, even when I was in high school. And we always waited for my dad to finish talking to absolutely everyone after service before we could go home. These seemingly small things became powerful reminders of my family even when my family moved on, as though they are integrated into my person. I still feel connected to my family here, and if I attend services without my kids, I sit where my family used to sit, in the light of the east windows where it always feels like Easter. Our family took its place in the context of other families, and by extension, the church family. I had my school friends, but I also had my church friends. They were important to me then, and in some ways, I would say they are equally important now. They are a block in my foundation, even though I haven‟t seen most of them for years. It‟s a blessing to see the same thing happening for my own kids and to know that there is something formative and powerful for them at Federated. They, too, have their church friends and a community of loving people helping build their lasting foundation. They, too, have a place they like to sit (on the other side of the sanctuary). So for me, Federated is family past, present and enduring, and I‟m pretty sure that when my children are grown and gone, I won‟t quite know which pew is calling me.” ~Janel States-James
he church is an extended family, and this becomes more obvious as we grow older. During our early years, our nuclear family centers on our children and spouse. When the children spread their wings, a new phase opens—a new space. The other church members are our brothers and sisters and this is especially consoling when our siblings pass away—thus creating another space to be filled. The children in our church are like grandchildren surrogates and it is a blessing to watch them grow into fine adults. The church becomes a teacher of the faith in the adult Sunday School classes that enrich our lives and comforts us. It teaches us as our own parents taught us. We share and care through the ministries just as families care for one another. The church is the space of sharing love, and we have a sense of loyalty to our leadership and an appreciation of all they mean to us.”
ustice is a moral principle that inclines one to act and judge, respect truth, and give each other what one has a right to. It is in the absence of these concepts that one can find injustice. Human beings have dealt injustice since the beginning of civilization. We are not immune; at some point in our lives we will find ourselves on both sides of justice. We can be the perpetrators or the receivers of injustice. Injustice must be corrected to advance the human condition. If we fail to correct it, then we are being unjust ourselves. Too often, people try to avenge injustice, and innocent people are caught in the crossfire of vengeance and greed, and end up losing their humanity in the process. This is why it is so important that when we are working to correct injustices, we do it with temperance and balance our need for justice with our responsibility to be compassionate with one another. This is especially true for many immigrants who come to this country looking to regain the dignity that was lost in the overwhelming injustices they were exposed to in their native countries. This has caused people to take justice into their own hands by means of terrorism, organized crime, vengeance and kidnappings, creating an instability that affects us all. When we do not have the space to act with temperance, all we have is an eye for eye. Injustice is soul-crushing; it takes the breath out of a person. When someone is at a loss for breath, they live in anxietyâ€”one must have air to live. Losing breath is a sign of coming death, it means one is tired of fighting and can no longer see the horizon. This is how injustice works: people strive but their efforts do not yield results because our societies are structured to manipulate the real needs of people to their own selfish benefit. We must cast light on these systems. We ask ourselves why there is so much pain and suffering, especially violence against the innocent; so much discrimination; so much injustice; so much deception; so much corruption of all types. Yet, it is there that one can find God. God wants humankind to feel limitless love for peace and reconciliation. God is a God of forgiveness, of liberation, of salvation. God is grace and life. What does this mean? Well, everyone, but especially we as Christians, must have the motivation for goodwill towards others because we have the responsibility to act and make important moral decisions. Our current reality demands that we act conscientiously and with responsibility, knowing that all free and conscious acts have a moral dimension. The Christian community, its leadership, and humankind, in general, cannot ignore the pain and isolation. We have to resist our desire to withdraw into ourselves and resist the decision that we cannot forgive or forget. We have to show love and compassion, like God showed for us. This compassion produces healing and comfort and forgiveness. To overcome injustice, pain, isolation, and our own resistance to it, is to overcome the corruption that impedes our ability to implement the common good, peace, justice, and political goodwill. There are so many individuals who model this for us, but especially Jesus Christ, who taught us to love another like brother and sister, to forgive and be forgiven, to fight with love for truth and honesty. Jesus Christ was treated with great injustice, yet he gave his life for us to forgive us our sins. We must also look within ourselves to demand justice with compassion and temperance. Through my work with Northern Arizona Interfaith Council, I strive to help my community demand justice. I help identify immigrants in the community who want to learn how to go to the powers that be and develop relationships based on trust. Through this relationship building, we start to imagine what is possible together. We start to learn together and develop the ability to become active participants in the world around us, all the while creating the space for political goodwill in those who have the power to address our needs. This is not easy work because sometimes the people we have before us, or the institution they represent, have caused much harm and therefore would be considered our enemies. Sometimes, they are the ones implementing the systems who suffocate people. Many would justify us rebelling and acting out or retaliating in violent ways. Yet, we must have the courage to see Christ in our enemies. Not easy, I know; but that is what it takes if we truly want to advance the human condition, if we truly want to get to the heart of challenging injustice.
May God protect us and guide us to make the decisions that best advance the common good. Through that guidance, may humanity find the courage necessary to meet the demands of justice and freedom through temperance and compassion.
I began the first of this series as an experiment. What is it to combine two seemingly different things into one? It‟s fascinating to me: the meditative way painting brings up layers of thought as one applies layers of paint to the canvas. As I painted, I contemplated what it is to be masked or unmasked. The qualities we choose to present the world while we hide others. It is only in our minds that some of these masks can be flaws. The impulse or desire to show the true multifaceted version of what we are can be frightening. It takes courage to be vulnerable. I believe the knowing and understanding of our fullness comes like layers of paint; discovering the next layer only when we are ready to integrate. I have also come to understand that when we evade our true selves, we evade the responsibility gifted to us by the inspiration from which it came. An animal‟s instinctual nature, its connection to the earth, is sought after by many; most often those looking for deeper meaning in their lives. There is a chameleon-like nature that exists within us all in an attempt to please what we perceive is the outside world: other humans separate from us. Our beauty resides not in what we believe other people see as beauty, but in the true expression of our being fully unmasked in the world. If we can come to a point where each expression of our existence (thought, spoken word, actions etc.) is seen as art –the flow of beauty through us into the world—I believe we all would become unmasked. Vulnerability, in all its enchanting glory. As beauty is allowed to flow more and more, we embody it, stepping into our full potential of incredible self-expression; and we begin to notice more of the beauty surrounding us. The particular painting titled “Courage” is named for an African saying when someone sneezes. It roughly translates to “be like the rhino and have courage.” It took courage for me to show this connection I believe the world has with animals and our own animalistic nature. We all have our masks but through this series, I am dropping my own layers. I now understand I was not combining two different things but showing the deep connection between two of the same things. I was always one to think that deeper meaning behind art wasn‟t necessary. As the art flowed through me, I couldn‟t help but understand that this was not my work. It is simply the beauty I perceive but lack the words for verbal expression. “Courage” 2015 Joanna Bornowski. Portland, Oregon. 503.730.2785
aggie Jobin and Madeline Mayorga have been dear friends at Flagstaff Federated Community Church for many years. They met through our church family. Madeline has known the people of Federated as long as her grandma, Tish Bogan Ozmun, has been bringing her, “since I was potty trained…itty bitty!” Maggie remembers this fondly. “I moved here fourteen years ago,” she says. “My husband, dear George, was already in early dementia, so I had very few friends. Going to church was second nature to me... We tried one other church, but this is where George felt at home. So we just started referring to [Federated] as our second family.” Maggie and Madeline got to know each other better through the Prayer Pal program. What is the Prayer Pal program, you ask? “A younger and an older person in the congregation are paired up and you keep in touch, so you know what is going on and you pray for each other,” Madeline explains. It is an intergenerational opportunity for people in the congregation to get to know each other better. Through this program, they really began to share a loving relationship with one another. Maggie explains, “We don‟t see each other that often now, but [Madeline] showed her great love for me when she asked if I would be her [confirmation] mentor. It is easy to overlook old ladies… She made me feel very important.” When Maggie was asked how she had shown love to someone at the church, she paused, “I have to think about that.” But Madeline quickly interjected, “When you agreed to be my mentor for confirmation!” The two women continue to reminisce about all the ways they experience and share love as part of our family of faith. Maggie spoke about Ari Davis. “Little Ari comes up and gives me a hug... That looks like love.” She continued, “Very often I sit pretty much alone. Often Carmen or another friend may sit up there but it looks very loving to me when someone joins me.” Madeline adds her thoughts, as well, “Everyone is super welcoming when you are there but also outside of church. I see Eliza, Nina, or Ethan at school and they always make sure to say, „Hi‟... There was one day I was crying in the hall and Nina came up…and sat there with me. We are not always the best of friends but they are definitely there when you need them.” Maggie, too, has experienced this familial love outside the context of Sunday morning worship. “Well, of course, PB&J.” PB&J is the name for a group of ladies who meet at the church every Friday morning to fellowship while folding bulletins, preparing mailings, and setting up the Sanctuary for worship. Maggie explains that these women have become her very good friends. “I don‟t drive any more, [but] I am almost never without a ride. I am very grateful for that.” Then, the discussion moved to service. Throughout the conversation, Maggie frequently mentioned the limitations she feels with her age and her discouragement that she can‟t help more. So, we asked her, “Was being a confirmation mentor somewhere you felt called to serve?” Maggie responded, “Yes! It is no secret that I am 94. That‟s old! Often old people become a shadow. People don‟t think they are a full person anymore, which I hope isn‟t true in my case.” Maggie continues to explain that serving one another is, “helping each other. The world is so full of strife and war, which I do not understand.” Madeline talked about loving and serving as courageous actions, “It is easy to jump on the bandwagon with what everybody else is doing… I think it takes courage to step back and be the only person standing there and saying, „No.‟” At the end of the interview, we asked each of them to share how they could love and serve with courage in the coming month. Madeline shared, “There are little things you wouldn‟t think about that come up. Like, today, I gave a friend a ride home when her brother would not… I guess that is a little thing. But with Evan passing away there are a lot of fundraisers to help his family with funeral expenses, so maybe I could help support people in that.” Evan Wissen, a senior at Flagstaff High School, died of unknown causes after being found unresponsive on the bathroom floor. Maggie shared her recent experience with a man who lives near her and often gives her rides. “[He] recently told me he was gay. I know he has been married twice and that he lives alone now, but that is a really good example… He has been a good friend to me and I will absolutely be a good friend to him. That‟s a heavy one, but it‟s there. You don‟t always realize it: On any street there is someone [who is] lonely, wondering if they should say or not say.”
I remember a quote from an old John Wayne movie, filmed out in Monument Valley, „Courage is mounting up in the morning and knowing you may not ride back again in the evening.‟
When you see a path that you know is for you, start! You don't have to know what all the steps are. But you have to start! You will learn a lot along the way. And be sure to have fun and get to know new people.
I read this once, that it takes courage to pray to God and ask Him what He wants you to do. You‟ve got to be prepared for the answer that you get because it takes courage to follow through and do what God has called you to do. Another part of courage is to help a stranger in a strange land. It takes courage to help someone who‟s different than you, who has a different racial background or a different culture. It‟s very hard to help people like that, it takes a lot of courage. I remember one time, I had to go face a family of an employee who was fighting a fire with me. The family was really scared he had been part of the fire crew that had died, but he wasn‟t. It took a lot of courage for me to face that family. It also took a lot of courage to take responsibility for the crew that had died. I had to face lawyers and answer some very serious questions. That took a lot of courage. The morning Ken Bean passed away, I spoke with him on the phone. I have never said goodbye to someone like that, and that was really hard. Ken‟s death was really emotional for me. After that, Jane was telling me that I should go talk to Pastor Jessica about it. It was really hard for me to go talk to her. I had to write a letter at first because I couldn‟t face her. It was really hard to open up in that way. It took a lot of courage for me to do that.
My take on courage is that it comes from fear. Courage is mental resolve overcoming the emotion of fear. It‟s kind of like strength in weakness; to have a strength, you have to develop it from a place of weakness.
Progressive Christianity is a form of Christianity characterized by a willingness to question tradition, an acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice, as well as care for the poor and the oppressed and environmental stewardship of the Earth. n our brainstorming session for this issue of Kaleidoscope, we wanted to delve more into the subject of Progressive Christianity. What does it mean to be a Progressive Christian? We posed this question to the youth recently at one of our regular Sunday evening Youth Fellowship gatherings. As a staff, we felt that the youth set a good example for the rest of the church in living out this Progressive Christian faith. Let‟s learn from them what Progressive Christianity means. “We don‟t shout at people they are going to Hell,” said James Rockow almost immediately after the question was posed. Snickers emanated from the group. I encouraged them to dig a little deeper. “We embrace everyone in our church,” piped in Charlie Rockow. “Even those who are not Christian like Ed Gilman,” added James. “That raises a good point. If we say everyone is welcome, do they have to be a Christian?” asked Sammie. A resounding and emphatic NO quickly sounded from the group. “You could be an atheist and be welcome,” interjected Nina. “Let me see: we have two Muslims, a Jew, and a few atheists. Is there anybody else?” asked James. I piped in that I had found it neat we had Marzaan, a Muslim, lead the opening prayer in worship on Earth Sunday. I saw this as a teaching moment and went on to explain the reason we affirm this diversity is not because we are a hip, liberal social club but because we take seriously Christ‟s call to love all members of God‟s family radically. Sammie asked what else does it mean to be a Progressive Christian. “It means you are growing in your faith,” said Kelsey Swanson. Madeline Mayorga added to Kelsey‟s statement by saying, “I think it means letting your understanding of the world around you grow as the world/you grow.” “It means we have to accept more Conservative Christians as being part of our family, as well,” chimed in Brady McClaskey. I echoed Brady‟s statement by saying that even though we will be unapologetically teaching a progressive theology as a church, we will always allow space for more traditionally-minded individuals. Like us, they are trying to heed Christ‟s call in their life. This led us to a bit more pointed question: What does it look like to be a Christian? Brady answered “to live each day with love.” Kelsey said it meant, “Following God‟s call.” In typical goofy fashion Nina asked, “What is God‟s number?” Without missing a beat James replied, “867-5309.” Sammie then asked all the youth why a progressive faith matters. “It is God‟s true ideal of what He wants people to do. He wants people to be accepting and not like, „I am Christian and you‟re not, so you are not good.‟ Being accepting is like the main point of Christianity,” answered Charlie. I told the youth I had another question, one that was more challenging. I said, “A lot of these values we talk about are kind of universal. Like „treat people nice‟ and „be kind.‟ What is different about that than being a secular humanist? Why have a faith at all? Why the Christian perspective? “Because God tells us to live this way,” replied Nina. “It gives it a purpose and a community of likeminded people,” added Aspen Cosner. Our volunteer leader, Al Wood then asked what a progressive Christian church looks like. “It means having a rainbow flag in the window,” said Madeline. Al pressed more and asked why that mattered. James responded, “Because the stereotypical Christian church is one that does not accept gay people and we have to say that God says otherwise.” Al then asked the youth if everyone had to believe the same thing to be considered a progressive Christian. The youth responded once again with an emphatic NO. “So what do we all have in common?,” pressed Al. Brady stated confidently that “we are all here in pursuit of something greater than ourselves.”
Top photo: The youth pose after a fun Youth Sunday on April 24, 2017. The youth led a very inspiring worship on Earth Sunday. Below: The youth roast marshmallows. For many of our youth this school year has been especially rough. Some of them lost classmates; some of them watched friends struggle with drugs and depression; all of them felt the stress of repeated shooting threats at Flagstaff High School; many of them wrestled with transitioning from middle school to high school. Whatever it was all of these youth carried something. We decided it would be good to do a closing ritual during the last Youth Fellowship of the semester. We gathered outside in a circle around a small fire pit. We gave each of the youth an index card on which they could write down the things they have carried this year and would like to let go of. We gave them a little while to think and write. When they were done writing, I asked them to come up one at a time leaving their card in the pit saying, "I leave this here." After everyone had put their card in the pit, I told them that as a community we give all these things up to God. After all our index cards had been reduced to ashes, we roasted marshmallows.