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Education impacts generations at synagogue

Adie Goldberg
Adie Goldberg by educational display.

After more than 20 years helping people in crises as a way to promote her commitment to tikun olam—healing the earth—Adie Goldberg wanted to walk with families through the ongoing cycles of life.

Having advised other people to follow their dreams, she decided to leave her practice as a psychiatric social worker to become education and youth director at Temple Beth Shalom three years ago, shortly after the temple’s Cowen Education Building was completed.

Last October, the Temple’s Sunday school and Hebrew school were recognized among the top 50 of 620 U.S. and Canadian Conservative Jewish affiliated schools for meeting “rigorous standards” in curriculum development and family education.

South Africa exchanges expand perspectives on race, tribes

Participation in recent exchanges at the University of Pretoria challenged two Gonzaga University faculty with insights from South Africa’s struggle for change that are helpful is developing strategies for better race relations and tribal understandings in the United States.

Bob Bartlett and Raymond Reyes

Raymond Reyes and Bob Bartlett

Bob Bartlett, director of Unity House, went as a visiting lecturer from Aug. 8 to Sept. 14, 2003, expecting to make a spiritual connection with his African-American roots—the land and the people.  He was surprised that South Africans saw him through their racial lens as “colored,” rather than black, questioning his identity as African American.

Raymond Reyes, vice president for diversity who went from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31, 2003, sought to learn what tribal cultures have in common.  He found similarities and differences between South African and Native American tribes.
“Once Africa touches your soul and heart, you will never be the same.  I am still trying to process and integrate what happened to me spiritually there,” Bob summed up the impact.

Both are convinced that adding the South African university to Gonzaga’s study-abroad programs would give students at both universities life-defining experiences like those they had.
“For  our students to live as a minority would be a lesson in itself,” Bob said.
The doctoral programs at Gonzaga and the 30,000-student University of Pretoria have a cooperative relationship that grew from Pretoria’s interest in the ethics component of Gonzaga’s doctoral program in leadership studies.  Ties developed under a three-year grant for faculty, administrator and student exchanges.

Holy Names sisters nudge people to find values

In Coeur d’Alene, two Sisters of the Holy Names formed Wisdomworks, a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization providing retreats and workshops for retirees, women and business people to integrate their spiritual longings and give meaning for everyday life.

Rosemary Thielman and Roberta Lamanna
Sister Rosemary Thielman and Sister Roberta Lamanna

Retreats for seasoned adults, women and business
Retreats for “seasoned” adults—the fastest growing population in society—help people face ageism and isolation.

Retreats for women provide tools to recognize their gifts, and time for personal reflection, small group sharing and large group prayer and ritual.

Workshops on corporate spirituality and spirituality in the workplace help people find meaning in life where they work.


125-year-old church celebrates commitment to city

WestminsterBanners on the bell tower of Spokane’s oldest Christian congregation, Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington, proclaim the church’s belief that “God is still speaking.”

To prepare for their 125th anniversary, members have been sharing oral histories, recalling being a big downtown church, a family-oriented church, a musicians’ church, a community-service church and a preaching-and-teaching church for thoughtful intellectuals and for poor, disenfranchised people downtown.  They remember youth groups, potlucks, marriages, baptisms and memorial services—living through the context of different historical times.
As they celebrate the anniversary with a May 16 organ concert and historic tour, and a May 23 worship service, luncheon, chamber orchestra concert, art show and historic exhibit, Westminster  reaffirms both its legacy and its dreams of being a church that serves the city and the world.

First Congregational Church—which changed its name when it merged in 1893 with an earlier Westminster Presbyterian Church and again in 1961 when it voted to become part of the United Church of Christ—was chartered May 22, 1879, in the home of Henry and Lucy Cowley.  They came from New York State to Lapwai as missionaries among the Nez Perce Indians along with Henry Spalding.
While many missionaries fled the region after the Walla Walla massacre, the Cowleys moved to Spokane Falls to work with the Spokane Indians, arriving in 1874 and starting a school for children of the Spokane and settlers.

Hannah Joss and Pastor Andy Castrolang

Long-time member Hannah Joss,
who was the first woman president
of the church council when the
church turned 100, converses
with the Rev Andy CastroLang

A report on the church’s buildings written by James Montgomery for its 100th anniversary history said the organizational meeting included H.G. Atkinson, general superintendent of Homeland Missions for the Northwest.  Henry was to serve two years as acting minister, and R. G. Williamson was to be the deacon of the church, which had 10 charter members, including Enoch Selquawia and his wife from the Spokane tribe.

As a downtown pastor, Andy, who participated in Leadership Spokane, believes her role is “beyond serving just my flock.  It is also important for me to connect with downtown pastors and to work with city leaders, the business community and the medical community.  I bring to them concerns of the church.  
“As a downtown church, we need to know what is happening in the city council, the university district and at Lewis and Clark.  We are a neighbor downtown,” she said.  “We are also a global neighbor.  In July, seven teens and four adults from the church will go to Managua, Nicaragua, to volunteer for two weeks.”
For information, call 624-1366.

Search for oldest church finds near tie, older in region

The region has many “First” churches and many without “first” in their names.  
When Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ said it was the “first” congregation organized in Spokane, The Fig Tree did some research.  A brief survey of the region put its “first” in a wider perspective.

CowleyWestminster’s claim is verified in bronze at “Inspiration Point” by the Howard Street Bridge in Riverfront Park.  The point established 30 years ago for the World’s Fair commemorates the contributions of Christian pioneers on seven bronze plaques in the sidewalk.
Predecessor congregations of both Westminster Congregational UCC and Central United Methodist were established in 1879—Westminster in May and Central in November.

Mel Finkbeiner, archivist, found in the Methodist archives at Central United Protestant Church in Richland, that Central United Methodist Church was established as First Methodist Episcopal Church in November 1879.  The Rev. Samuel Havermale, presiding elder of the Walla Walla District, came to Spokane in 1875, lived in a house on what is now Havermale Island in Riverfront Park and by 1879 started the first Methodist church in Spokane.

According to an article by Hazel Barnes in the Nov. 22, 1969, Spokane Daily Chronicle, eight to 10 people gathered in a one-room frame building on the corner of Sprague and Washington to form the church at Spokane Falls in the Washington Territory.  Brother Havermale had preached his first sermon here to a white congregation Nov. 14, 1875.Central United Methodist later developed from the merger of First Methodist Episcopal and Vincent Methodist Episcopal churches.

In the Inland Northwest, there were other, earlier congregations established. 

Before them, there were many followers of Native American spirituality—who had no necessity for founding dates.  The faith of many of the indigenous people led them to see similarities with the imported Christian faith in its varied styles and to welcome its representatives—or  not.  

Where adherence to faith became confused with power and relationships failed, divisions took their toll in real and spiritual religious conflicts.  Congregations have come and gone.

Students fill bags with potatoes at food bank

Three high school students plunged into a bag of potatoes, helping the Second Harvest Food Bank in Spokane sort food during the April 4 to 7 spring break Plunge Inn of the Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Spokane Parish Services Office.

They spent three hours two afternoons bagging more than 2,000 pounds of potatoes into five-pound sacks, said Marian Taylor, assistant volunteer manager at the food bank.  Plunge Inn provides students a chance to experience and understand life for low-income people in Spokane.  Participants from Eastern Washington parishes stayed overnight at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes adult education building. 

McCormick Anger, Rochelle Brodeur and Mark Burgaard are from St. John Vianney in Spokane Valley; Jill Cain, from St. Agnes in Ritzville; Katie Sharkey from St. Patrick’s in Walla Walla and Lisa Trenter from St. Mary’s in Spokane Valley.

Mornings and afternoons, they worked at St. Margaret’s Shelter, the House of Charity, Habitat for Humanity, Second Harvest Food Bank, Volunteer Chore Services, St. Vincent de Paul and Spokane AIDS Network.  Evenings they discussed causes of poverty and homelessness and imagined possible solutions.
For information, call 358-4273.

Jill Cain and Rochelle Brodeur
stuff potatoes in sacks
at Second Harvest Food Bank

Green sanctuary congregation finds kitchen waste hardest

Starting with a nucleus of people interested in environmental issues, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Spokane progressed through its denomination’s process to become a Green Sanctuary Congregation.

That national program grew out of the Association of Unitarian Universalist Churches’ seventh principle: “respect the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.”
“Our concern is not just for our physical environment, but also for our social and spiritual environment,” said Stan Grant, who helped organize the Green Sanctuary project to make the congregation more aware and involved.

Drawing people with a range of beliefs, he said the congregation includes many political, social and environmental activists.

The church organized programs, speakers and workshops and studied practices related to waste, recycling and utilities.

Compost“We worked hard, but since becoming a Green Sanctuary congregation, we have sat back a bit, perhaps relaxing more than we should.  If we do not keep informed and involved, it’s easy for such a project to fall by the wayside,” said Stan, who has been in the congregation for five years.  

Jane Cunningham adds to compost

Interfaith representatives lead CROP Walk

CROPAbout 225 walkers in the combined Spokane-Cheney CROP Walk on Sunday, April 25, raised $23,456 in pledges for the walk that supports Church World Services hunger and development projects and for local food banks and Meals on Wheels.

Representatives of local Episcopal, Unity, Baha’i, Presbyterian, Jewish, Catholic, United Church of Christ, Buddhist, Hindu, Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Unitarian, Methodist, Community of Christ and Friends congregations, and the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship led the walkers into Riverfront Park and then back along the Spokane River to Greene Street Bridge, returning to Gonzaga’s Martin Centre.

Sponsored by Gonzaga University students, several boys from Morning Star Boys’ Ranch walked.  There were also several students from Spokane Falls Community College.

Marie Cuc, a Guatemalan living in Spokane who has lived among the poor, reported that hunger is growing in Guatemala since the “bottom fell out of” the coffee market:  “I am grateful to see so many people concerned about hunger and to see your energy to walk for people in need.”

Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties organize jointly

A new, 17-member tri-county community organizing alliance will hold its Founding Assembly at 7 p.m., Monday, May 17, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Sunnyside.
Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties are forming a broader alliance with Russell Shjerven in Yakima serving as the organizer. 

About 20 organizations will attend the event as observers, considering membership.
Six of the 17 members are churches:  St. Aloysius and Faith Lutheran in Toppenish, St. Joseph Catholic and Christ Lutheran in Yakima, First United Methodist in Pasco and Community Unitarian Universalist in Kennewick.  There are also labor unions and education associations.

Their five issues for action are:
• voter education and registration;
• urging local school boards and city councils to hire local workers and use apprentices for local projects;
• research in rural and agricultural communities to keep family farmers and agricultural industries in place;
•  cooperation with the Spokane Alliance and Portland’s Metropolitan Allliance for the Common Good to reduce the prices of pharmaceuticals, and
• involvement with local school districts to create parental participation in reducing the high dropout rate and improving WASL test scores.

“After Mass, we are responsible to make the world a better place,” he said.  “That’s why I taught English for two years at Heritage College to Hispanic and Native American women, the first generation in their families to earn college degrees.
His first organizing project was to  work with immigrants on citizenship education.
Engaged with people of different faiths and different social and economic backgrounds, Russell believes “our job is to be in the world and among the people God created.”

For information, call 945-7343 or contact rshjerv1@earthlink,net.