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2010 Benefit speakers share how The Fig Tree coverage has impact on them and their ministries

Elisha Mitchell
Elisha Mitchell

The Emmanuel Family Life Center, in one of Spokane’s most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods, is pleased to partner with The Fig Tree. They are moving into suite 215, with other nonprofits and socially concerned agencies that will spread hope in the neighborhood and the greater Spokane area. 

It’s important to partner with The Fig Tree, because it elevates community.  At Emmanuel Center, we seek to strengthen lives and build community.  We have been courting The Fig Tree since our small congregation envisioned the center, which we built and gave to the community.

 The Fig Tree highlights stories of individual aspirations and achievements.  It spotlights passion.  When they do that, the community rallies around worthy causes and issues to respond with empathy and come alongside people with wise counsel, volunteerism, partnerships and money. 

As we provide access to resources that strengthen lives and build community, our partnership with The Fig Tree is a win-win proposition.  They spread hope and we provide resources to help keep hope alive. 

Elisha Mitchell - Program Manager, Emmanuel Family Life Center

Jason Clark
Jason Clark


As part Second Harvest’s 40th year, we are recognizing the people who have helped us over the years.  Many come from the faith community.  The Fig Tree has written many articles about Second Harvest’s work.  We are grateful to have that connection.  I believe it inspires volunteers to take action.  In 2006, we fed 196,000 people in the region.  I don’t know how many we will serve in 2010, but I am hopeful, because I am inspired by our volunteers.

We expect to do 150 mobile food banks this year.  It requires hundreds of volunteers.  We are grateful for The Fig Tree connecting us with the community and for its stories about changing people’s  lives and making things better.

Jason Clark - Executive Director
Second Harvest Inland Northwest



Peggie Trout
Peggie Trout


At Calvary Baptist Church, we appreciate The Fig Tree’s service to the community.  Our pastor for 36 years, the Rev. C. W. Andrews, remembers the inception of The Fig Tree 26 years ago.  He has supported it from the beginning.  He remembers the many stories of faith and encouragement it has shared with people.  It shows no partiality.  It gives everyone an opportunity to tell their story.  Many have been encouraged by its stories and information.

I know personally.  I was encouraged after the story about Calvary Soup Kitchen.  Many called and offered their support.  They said they were looking for a way to serve the community, and after they read the story, they knew serving in the soup kitchen was where God wanted them to be there.  That story encouraged some to live that faith they did not know how to bring to life. 

Peggie Troutt - Manager, Calvary Soup Kitchen


Madelyn Bafus
Madelyn Bafus

I have been interviewed twice by editor Mary Stamp—in 2008, about a stoplight Spokane Valley United Methodist Church uses to raise money for CROP to fight hunger and last December, about Interfaith Hospitality a homeless shelter for children and their families.  This network of 28 churches hosts families, who stay at night in their churches and receive help at the day center to find housing, employment and the services they need.  The average age of a homelessness person nationwide is nine years.  I believe every child has the right to be fed, clothed, educated and to be in their own home.

The Fig Tree writes about such issues, helping people know how they can help.  This gives hope in a world that doesn’t seem to care about “the least of these.” 

A short time after I was interviewed, I received a copy of the article to review to be sure the information was accurate.  This is doesn’t happen in mainstream media.  Sometimes, what is said and what was heard is not the same.  I know from this process that what I read in each issue is factual.  This gives me hope in a world that does not always honor truth. 

When I read The Fig Tree, I’m uplifted by the stories of people who care about others, who care about their community and who live their faith each day. 

Madelyn Bafus - Executive Director, Interfaith Hospitality


Deidre Jacobson
Deidre Jacobson

I am committed to volunteer with The Fig Tree because it is a voice of tolerance and compassion.  It allows me to explore and struggle with the shades of gray in my life of faith.  We live in a world that looks for easy, black-and-white answers.  It’s human nature to separate things into right and wrong.  As we experience the disruption of change and unknowns in life, we yearn to cling to something solid. 

There are absolutes, but if we look at history, more evil has been perpetrated in the extremes of intolerance than by the extremes of tolerance.  I don’t think extremes and intolerance are God’s way.  If this were so, why would God fills our lives with mysteries, with people and events and contradictions?  Wrestling with shades of gray makes us feel vulnerable, but it means we may see things in a different way five, 10, or 20 years from now.

Reading The Fig Tree presents a variety of viewpoints that challenge us to grow.    It does not tell us what to do, how to believe or what is right or wrong.  It challenges and inspires us to read stories of God’s work accomplished by human hands. 

For that voice to be heard loud and clear, we need The Fig Tree to keep speaking the voice of shades of gray and the voice of tolerance.  When we settle for news without  shades of gray, we put God in a box that fits our comfort zone.  God is bigger than that.  The Fig Tree challenges people of faith to wrestle with the mysteries that stretch us, unbalance us and force us to our knees in prayer.

Deidre Jacobson - The Fig Tree Board

Steve Blewett
Steve Blewett

A favorite Far Side cartoon shows a dinosaur at a podium in front of an audience of dinosaurs, saying, “We’re in trouble.  The climate is changing, mammals are evolving and we have a  brain the size of a walnut.”

When I look at the  popular media choices people make today, the peep-show journalism, the endless repetition of analysis and superficial discussion, and almost no significant, consistent reporting of what goes on in the world, I wonder if humans have fallen into that same dire strait.

As a journalism professor, active member of a faith community, a parent and father, I often hear people ask, “What are our choices?  What is the option?”  This is the option. The Fig Tree is authentic journalism that genuinely and consistently attempts to get at what is going on in the lives of people.  It is journalism that reflects and conveys what is going on in the community, and it attempts to create community.  At my table (at the breakfast), I’m sitting with my two favorite conservatives and my favorite liberal.

In the past year, I have gone through hard times losing my wife.  One of the things that has come out of that experience is the importance of community.  The Fig Tree creates community, through empowering people, who would not otherwise have voice, and empowering community that otherwise would not come together. 

As the Fig Tree has grown and matured over the past 26 years, it has had the support and assistance of many people.  Now it’s moving to a new point in its existence, beyond just being a newspaper into an interactive website, the empowerment project, the rural-urban connection project, peace journalism, doing workshops with people who would otherwise not communicate, and expanding beyond Spokane, literally internationally.  Helping The Fig Tree helps this community and communities beyond Spokane become what God and we all know we all should be.

Steve Blewett - Journalism Professor Emeritus at Eastern Washington University


The Fig Tree is an important source of information in the Inland Northwest.  Because we have it, we have way of framing the issues and what is going on in this world today that spreads hope and life.  It’s not that you can’t read about these stories in other media, but the way The Fig Tree frames the issues, the work and the mission and the ministry of people is unique.

The Very Rev. Bill Ellis -The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John; Fig Tree Board moderator