FigTree Header 10.14



Review all 2022 Benefit videos

To advertise in print or online
Click here
Share this article
Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

Stories Bear Fruit:  Sustenance for the Journey testimonies for The Fig Tree Deepening Our Roots Breakfast on March 12:

Ann Frerks, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Cheney:

Ann Frerks
The Rev. Ann Frerks

Congratulations to The Fig Tree and thank you for bearing fruit.  I liken your mission in our community to an experience of my own in Nicaragua in a small village devastated by Hurricane Mitch. 

When asked what the people ate each day, one man said:  “For breakfast, we have beans and rice.  For lunch, we have rice and beans.  For supper, we have rice and beans mixed together.”

One afternoon as I was trying to get some time away, a boy about 10 years old, whom I had observed to be a nuisance, sought me out.  He had in his dirty hands something very unusual and precious.  It was an orange.  I watched him peel it, annoyed that he was invading my space.  Then he pulled off the first section and offered it to me.  It was sweet and juicy, and somehow transformed me and the way I saw this boy.

The Fig Tree is that unusual and precious fruit offered to others that can, through the stories of diverse people, transform us all.


Scott Cooper, director of Parish Social Ministries with Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Spokane:

It is crucial that we surprise people with what faith can actually do.

Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper

Theologian Megan McKenna has observed: “All stories are true.  Some of them actually happened.” She goes on to say: “All stories are about you and me.”

I find that particularly true about The Fig Tree.  Its stories are all about you and me, whether our names are actually featured.  They are also all true, not merely in the journalistic sense—we hope, at a minimum—but certainly in a broader, community sense. 

They transmit elements of what it is to belong to a community, not just any community, but one that is aware of itself and inclines itself toward the common good, knowing that getting to that elusive place called “the common good” is a life journey with twists and turns, recognizing prophets are not called to be successful.  They are called to be faithful.

We are blessed to have an organization dedicated to that journey, journeying with us.  Most telling, I believe we will rarely, if ever, know the fruits of these stories.  Inspiration can lie dormant for many years before sparking new growth. 

The Fig Tree is about planting those seeds, providing regular applications of water and sunlight—I’ll avoid the temptation to extend the metaphor as far as fertilizer—and waiting in hope that is not naïve, but considered and genuine. 

We are grateful for these stories, for the seeds and fruit they provide.  Remember, “all stories are true, some of them actually happened, and all stories are about you and me.”


Virginia de Leon, now a freelance writer in Spokane, former religion writer for the Spokesman-Review:

Virginia de Leon
Virginia de Leon

I’ve been a newspaper reporter now for more than a dozen years and one thing I’ve learned working for newspapers in Seattle, Spokane and other communities is that news, sometimes by its very nature, can often be overwhelming.  Sometimes reading the news, and especially gathering the news, can often be a paralyzing experience for me, because the solutions aren’t always present, the problems of the world feel so enormous, and I am too little, too weak, too insignificant to make a change.

That’s where The Fig Tree can make a big difference.  The goal of those who work and volunteer for this publication is more than just presenting news.  It’s also to connect people, to share ideas, to stir compassion, to foster respect, to open dialogue and to seek solutions together.

With that in mind, I quote Eudora Welty, an award-winning writer and photographer from Mississippi.

This is what I think journalism should be about and what I think The Fig Tree tries to do every month:

“My wish, my continuing passion would be not to point the finger in judgment, but to part a curtain—that invisible shadow that falls between people, the veil of indifference to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”


The Rev. Happy Watkins, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church and co-organizer of the annual Martin Luther King Day events:

When I think of The Fig Tree, I think of the lady who started it.  I was on the Spokane Christian Coalition Board.  This lady who came up with a dream to start a newspaper about people in

Happy Watkins
The Rev. Happy Watkins

action, faith people in action, I think of this lady—on a small scale—as a David facing a Goliath of journalism, as a Rosa Parks who stood up when others sat down, as a Martin Luther King who had a dream.  Twenty-five years later that dream is flourishing.

The first Psalm says it adequately:  A fig tree is like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth its fruits in season.  Its leaves shall not wither and whatsoever the fig tree doeth shall prosper.

I continue to support Mary Stamp.  She’s everywhere, in the community, in all the activities, in the home and she writes accurately.  I thank her for her presence.

I don’t know who wrote this, Confucius, Aristotle, Plato or it could have been Redd Foxx.  I think that this speaks eloquently of her and all of us:  “Work to make a difference until making a difference don’t make a difference no more.”