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April 2024 Newsbriefs


Fig Tree celebrates 40th year with Gala, speaker

Following the Spring Benefit Events, The Fig Tree has shifted to organizing to celebrate its 40th Anniversary with a Gala that will feature keynote speaker Karen Georgia Thompson—story page 7. The Gala includes a dinner with three international dishes prepared by Feast World Kitchen, recognition of people who have made The Fig Tree possible, comments and reflections from regional faith leaders and an interfaith celebration.

The Gala will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Sunday, April 28, at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John, 127 E. 12th Ave.

Tickets for the event are $50 and sponsors may donate a suggested $250. There will be scholarships for those who request.

 "We know many have just gathered for our Spring Benefit fundraising events in person and online during March," said Mary Stamp, editor, "but this is a once-in-40-years celebration of The Fig Tree's influence locally and globally."

As part of its extended 40th celebration through the rest of 2024, The Fig Tree will scan issues from 1984 to 2006 to add to the pdf files it has of issues since then. Those copies will be available through The Fig Tree's online archive and Washington Digital Newspapers.

In addition, The Fig Tree will compile two books—one on its history and one with articles and editorials Mary has written.

"We seek sponsors to help make those projects possible," she said. "In addition, we have a major gift towards starting a long-term investment fund."

Spring is also the time for updating the Resource Directory and securing its support with ads and community partners.

Mary reported that benefit events have so far raised $35,400 towards its goal of $42,000 for benefit/spring donations. Benefit videos are online at—select videos in the menu.

To rsvp, call 535-4112 or email

Holocaust observance will be on May 6

The Yom Hashoah planning committee has set the Spokane Community Observance of the Holocaust for 7 p.m., Monday, May 6, at Temple Beth Shalom.

The theme for the writing and art contests this year is "Young Heroes of the Holocaust," using Holocaust educator Carla Peperzak as the role model.

The Art Contest will be completed before then, so select artwork will be displayed and the winners will be honored May 6.

Following the guidance of teachers on the committee, the deadline for the writing contest is after the observance because they teach the unit on the Holocaust later.

The 2024 keynote speakers will be the winners of the 2023 high school and middle school writing contests on the theme "The Dangers of Indifference."

The first-place high school essay winner was Lorelai Taylor of East Valley High School, and the first-place middle school winner was Bella Buckner, who is now at Gonzaga Prep.

The 2024 prompt for the art and writing contests notes that "the Holocaust was a manifestation of the worst of humankind, but the best of humanity was also evident. There were people who dared to try to help Jews."

One of those heroes was Carla, who was 16 when Nazis invaded the Netherlands. She worked with the Dutch Underground and saved more than 40 people.

Now she is 100 years old and lives in Spokane, where she is a Holocaust educator and where a Spokane middle school bears her name.

Contestants are to create art or write essays based on reading about Carla and other young heroes of the Holocaust.

For information, email


Expo 50th Anniversary is May 4 to July 4

Opening Ceremonies for the EXPO '74 50th Anniversary are on Saturday, May 4, at Riverfront Park.

The city of Spokane seeks to recreate the spirit of Expo '74 during the Expo 50th Celebration through various events that will take place between May 4 and July 4.

In 1974, Spokane was the smallest city in history to host the World's Fair. The environmentally focused event transformed the heart of the city and was a catalyst for sustainable growth in the region.

Businesses, organizations, and community members have come together to organize events in five categories mirroring the original key pillars: Expo Legacy, Environmental Stewardship, Tribal Culture, Recreation and Sport, and Arts and Culture.

The full events calendar is at

Adjacent to EXPO's Community Stage in Riverfront Park will be the EXPO Vendor Village, featuring local and international cuisine, unique handcrafted items, historic displays and interactive activities. There will be vendors on May 18 and 25, June 1, 15 and 22.

For information, call 625-6600, email or visit

Habitat fundraising lunch set for May 16

The Hope Builders Luncheon, Habitat-Spokane's largest annual fundraiser, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, May 16, at the Spokane Convention Center, 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Proceeds sustain affordable homeownership opportunities in partnership with modest-income individuals and families in need of a safe, decent and affordable place to call home, said Michelle Girardot, chief executive officer.

Since 1987, Habitat for Humanity-Spokane has been a leader in providing affordable homeownership programming and new construction in Spokane County.

For vulnerable families, this is an accessible path of financial flexibility that ultimately brings the stability to make forward-facing decisions, increase generational wealth and build equity for the future, she said.

For information, call 534-3553 or visit

Program begins building home for a vet

The national nonprofit, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) held a kickoff event to begin building a specially adapted home for Army Colonel Daniel Dudek, who was injured in Iraq. The event was March 23 at Shiloh Hills Fellowship, 207 E. Lincoln Rd.

In early 2007, he deployed as the brigade fire support officer for the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. On July 19, 2007, his Stryker was struck by an explosively formed penetrator, wounding him in the lower back and hips and killing the soldier next to him.

Danny credits regaining some mobility from his spinal cord injury to having surgery within an hour.

The home being built for him will feature more than 40 adaptations, such as widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower and kitchen amenities like pull-down shelving and lowered countertops.

HFOT, which has built 375 homes since it began in 2004, relies on contributions from donors and corporate partners.

For information, call 508-967-9057, email or visit

Fair Housing Alliance offers presentation

National Fair Housing Alliance and its partners, Abt Associates, Fair Housing Center of Washington and Northwest Fair Housing Alliance are offering a virtual public presentation on the Washington Homeownership Covenant Act Study, 10 to 11:15 a.m., Tuesday, April 2.

 The presentation will provide an overview and findings from the study. Those who register by April 1 will receive a link by email to join the event.

For information, email


Church history professor lectures at Whitworth

Han-Luen Kanzer Komline, professor of church history and theology at Western Theological Seminary, will lecture at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 18, at the Weyerhaeuser Center for Christian Faith and Learning at Whitworth University.

Her book, Augustine on the Will: A Theological Account, received the Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise in 2020.  Her scholarship focuses on innovative resources of Christian theology, drawing on early church writings for modern times.

For information, email

Gospel Explosion Finale is April 19

Mama Beans Gospel Explosion Finale will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, April 19, in the Seeley Mudd Chapel at Whitworth University.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Whitworth in ministry," said Stephy Nobles Beans, associate chaplain for diversity, equity and inclusion ministries, who is retiring in May.

"Starting the Gospel Explosion over 20-plus years ago has been a blessing. It has been amazing to have many from our community come and praise the Lord in song, praise, worship, dance and just having a good ol' time praising God," she said.

She asks that individuals and churches interested in attending message or phone her.

For information, call 879-8070.

Land Conservancy leads two April hikes

The Inland Northwest Land Conservancy is leading two hikes in April.

Mark Merhab, a hike docent since retiring from the tech industry in 2020, will lead a hike and discussion with an Eastern Washington University (EWU) environmental philosophy student, starting at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 20, at Palisades Park.

Hike docent Alana Livingston, will lead a hike at Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve starting at 10 a.m., Sunday, April 21. She will also be joined by an EWU student who will facilitate discussion. Alana brings expertise in edible and medicinal plants.

For information and registration, call 328-2939 or email

Wild & Scenic Film Festival will be April 25

The 10th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 25, at the Garland Theater offers an evening of inspiring films that celebrate the planet's beauty and the people working to protect it.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

"It's an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and be inspired to make a difference," said Katie Thompson of Spokane Riverkeeper, which is hosting the event and invites people to help underwrite it.

For information, email

Organists travel for Bachathon concerts

Bachathon, a marathon of four free 60-minute concerts with the American Guild of Organists (AGO) at four venues in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene starts 1 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at Whitworth Church, 312 W. Hawthorne, in North Spokane

The next concerts are at 2 p.m. at Messiah Lutheran, 4202 N. Belt in Central Spokane; 3 p.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 428 W. 19th Ave. in South Spokane, and 4:30 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 812 N. 5th, Coeur d'Alene.

Performers each play 15 minutes of organ music by Johann Sebastian Bach, then travel to the next venue to begin again.

The organist team are:

• James Tevenan, music director/organist at St. Augustine from 1995 until he retired;

• Janet Ahrend, who teaches organ at Gonzaga, Whitworth and Eastern Washington universities, and has been organist at local Methodist, Congregational, Catholic and Episcopal churches;

• Matthew Johnson, who earned a bachelor's in music and organ from McGill University in Montreal and is now working on a master's at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and

• Joseph Schubert, who retired after 36 years teaching choral music in public schools and simultaneously a church organist/music director. He is now interim organist at St. Augustine.

The pipe organs in each church are suited for Bach's music.

"Spokane is fortunate to have such exciting organs in the community," said Joseph.

AGOs in many communities are presenting Bachathons to celebrate Bach's 339th birthday on March 31.

"To make the opportunity to hear Bach's organ music convenient, we are offering programs in four locations," said Edward Hurd, Spokane chapter dean.

The second, third and fourth concerts will start while organists are on the road from the previous venues.

The Spokane AGO began in 1946 and has 38 members who offer concerts throughout the year and an Organ Academy with low-cost lessons.

For information, call 402-319-1716 or email or visit

GU sets speakers on 'Environmental Justice'

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Expo '74, the first World Fair with an environmental theme, Gonzaga University's Climate Institute is collaborating with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Washington, the Washington State Attorney General and Gonzaga Law School Center for Law, Ethics and Commerce to host an event from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, April 12, at Gonzaga Law School's Barbieri Court Room.

"Expo '74: 50 years of Environmental Justice in the Inland Northwest" will look at environmental justice work done over the last 50 years and explore the work that remains to be done in the coming decades.

Speakers are Brian Henning, director of GU's Climate Center; Jacob Rooksby, GU Law School dean; Vanessa Waldref, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington; Brooke Beeler, eastern region director for the Washington Department of Ecology; Marlene Feist, public works director, City of Spokane; Margo Hill, associate professor in urban and regional planning at Eastern Washington University; Jerry White, executive director emeritus, Spokane Riverkeeper; Cliff Villa, deputy assistant administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Casey Sixkiller, Region 10 administrator, EPA; Twa-le Abrahamson, executive director, Indigenous Rights and Reparation Foundation; Bill Sherman, assistant attorney general, Washington State, and Colleen Melody, civil rights division chief, Washington State Attorney General's Office.

The event is free and a livestream link will be provided for those to register.

For information, email

Art Salvage Reuse center moves

Five years after opening as a creative reuse center, Art Salvage outgrew its space. In October 2023, the program leased new space. It re-opened on March 15 at 610 E. North Foothills Dr.

Now Art Salvage has twice the space it had, allowing for more donations to be diverted from the waste stream and made available for makers.

They also have classroom space to offer classes in creative reuse, maker meetups and open studio sessions.

For information, call 798-9039 or email

Whitworth University offers preaching retreat June 24-27

The Whitworth Office of Church Engagement will present the Compelling Preaching Retreat for active and aspiring preachers June 24 to 27 in Leavenworth.

It will be a time of spiritual renewal to develop preaching skills through workshops, spiritual direction, quiet work/reflection time and worship.

Workshops will be led by Whitworth's preaching experts, including Mindy Smith and Mary Hulst.

This event is hosted as part of the OCE's Compelling Preaching Initiative.

For information, visit

'Prodigal son' and pope's astronomer speak

Fr. Ken Geraci CPM will discuss "Divine Mercy: Spiritual Warfare, Divine Mercy and Healing" from 6 p.m. Friday, April 5, to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center (IHRC), 6910 S. Ben Burr Rd.

Ken shares his experience as a prodigal son, leaving then returning to the church with questions—a journey of conversions, struggle, study and questioning from agnosticism to non-denominational Christianity, and back to the Catholic Church, where he joined the Fathers of Mercy in 2006 and was ordained in 2012.

The retreat includes a Eucharistic Healing Service.

April 26 to 28, IHRC offers an astronomy retreat, "Faith, Science and Beauty in the Stars," with Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, "The Pope's Astronomer" and director of the Vatican Observatory.

The observatory was established by the Holy See for astronomical research and outreach to advance scientific understanding of the universe.

As one of the world's oldest astronomical observatories, its roots go back to 1582. It stands at the forefront of scientific research covering the examination of the tiniest specks of interplanetary dust to the origin and structure of the universe.

For information, call 448-1224 or visit

Indigenous Roots names director

Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation (IRRF), located in Wenatchee, recently named Twa-le Abrahamson its new executive director.

Twa-le is an enrolled Spokane tribal member and descendant of the Colville, Coeur d'Alene and Navajo Nations. The mother of two daughters, she earned a degree in environmental studies with a minor in restoration ecology at the University of Washington.

She has been a social, health and environmental justice organizer for more than 20 years.

Twa-le and her late mother, Deb Abrahamson, founded SHAWL (Sovereignty, Health, Air, Water, Land) Society, a grassroots organization on the Spokane Reservation to empower and educate people to join in the oversight of toxic uranium mine and nuclear waste sites on the Spokane Reservation.

When she worked several years in natural resource management for the Spokane Tribe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the tribe for its education and outreach.

With Jeff Ferguson, Rachel Crow-Spreading Wings and Yvonne Abrahamson, Twa-le produced "InnerTribal Beat," a Native American news and music radio on environmental news in the Northwest.

Twa-le recently worked for the Washington State Human Rights Commission as a civil rights investigator and serves on the Washington State Office of Equity Community Advisory Board and the Indigenous Environmental Network Board of Directors.

The IRRF is an Indigenous-led nonprofit that supports the rights of the Earth, recognizing the intrinsic value of all species, ecosystems to ensure clear water and air, and return human activity to a balanced, sustainable level.

For information, email or visit





Copyright@ The Fig Tree, April 2024