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December 2014 News Events

Organists organize carol sing and walk

The American Guild of Organists (AGO) in Spokane is starting what it hopes will be a new Christmas tradition for people to involve families and friends.

They are sponsoring the first annual Downtown Spokane Christmas Walk and Carol Sing from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 26, beginning at Central United Methodist Church, 518 W. Third.

Two other downtown churches will share in hosting the event, which will feature “hearing beautiful organ music, enjoying Christmas decorations with family and friends,” said Carolyn Payne of the AGO.

After singing carols at Central United Methodist, people will walk from 4:30 to 4:45 p.m. two blocks west to Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington St.

Then at 5:15, the people will walk two blocks to Central Lutheran Church, 512 S. Bernard, for more singing, organ music and refreshments.

Parking is under I-90 across from Central United Methodist.

For information, call 535-7145 or email the

Local group plans consultation on UN goals

The United Nations Association (UNA) of Spokane and Gonzaga University’s Center for Global Engagement are holding a Community Consultation from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6, in Room 101 of Gonzaga University’s College Hall.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Mark Kadel, director of World Relief Spokane, will give an overview of issues, such as affordable housing, transit systems, food production and refugee concerns, followed by small group discussions.

“The United States, other UN member states and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are preparing Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and seek input from our community,” said Stacy Taninchev, coordinator.

As the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015, this effort will engage countries in setting their own national targets.

Other participating organizations include the Center for Justice, Futurewise, Refugee Connections and World Relief.

For information, call 313-3610 or email

Events reflect on themes of Advent season

The Dec. 17 Coffee and Contemplation session at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center features a spiritual discussion and prayer for people across denominations with Carolyn Terry on “The Gift of Wait Time: How do we learn the value of waiting in the midst of a fast service culture?”

Carolyn was an Episcopal missionary in the Philippines for five years, and a public school and Christian educator for adults and children for 50 years. 

Fr. Armand Nigro, SJ, and Sister Sharon Borgiomo, FSPA, will lead an Advent Weekend Retreat on “Walking with Mary through the Advent Season” Dec. 19 to 21.  It includes guided sessions on mysteries of the season.

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, will lead a Weekend Retreat for Men and Women Jan. 23 to 25 on “How to Listen When God is Speaking: A Guide for Modern-Day Catholics.”

These events will be held at the retreat center, 6910 S. Ben Burr Rd.

For information, call 448-1224, ext. 109 or email

German Christmas service is Dec. 21

The annual German Christmas Service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 21 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 316 E. 24th Ave.

The service will be given in German and English and will be officiated by Pastor James Stern.

Traditional German Christmas Carols will be sung before and during the service by the Concordia Choir.

A reception will follow the service at the Deutsches Haus at 25 W. Third.

For information, email

Fig Tree’s year-end goal is to raise $7,500

As The Fig Tree’s 30th anniversary year, 2014, draws to a close, it is sending out it’s annual year-end donation notices, inviting readers to renew their sponsorship or become sponsors.

“The end of the year is when we receive the most donations beyond our Benefit Breakfast and Benefit Lunch,” said editor Mary Stamp.

This year, The Fig Tree’s year-end goal is to raise $6,500 more from individual sponsors, plus $1,000 more for bulk sponsors.

“Beyond that, we also welcome people to consider three- to five-year pledges to help us reach the goal of $30,000 to $50,000 a year to cover the cost of additional staffing,” she said. 

“With donations received and pledges, we received $10,000 beyond the annual benefit event goal of $20,000, and we plan to reach out to invite some major donations during 2015 and beyond.”

The Fig Tree is also gearing up for its 2015 benefits and has begun to recruit hosts for tables.

“We welcome people to call us about hosting a table or reserving a place at a table,” Mary said.

The Fig Tree recently sent a letter to congregations that receive bulk orders of the print newspaper to distribute to members after worship or at events.

“We seek to learn how they are using the copies and the stories that we share, what stories they have to share and whether they would like us to visit and share our story,” Mary added.

The Fig Tree is also recruiting volunteers to help write, edit, deliver, plan events, and do mailings, displays and office work.

During 2014, The Fig Tree received several grants:  $1,000 from Sisters of Providence for the 30th anniversary, $250 from the Catholic Foundation for web development and $3,000 from the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for capacity building and volunteer recruitment.

For information, call 535-1813 or 535-4112, or email

Diocese chooses Fr. Michael Savelesky as administrator           

Father Michael Savelesky has been elected administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane by its College of Consultors.

He will be in charge of the diocese until a new bishop is selected, reported Eric Meisfjord, editor of The Inland Register.

“On Sept. 20, the transfer of Archbishop Blase Cupich from Spokane to the Archdiocese of Chicago was announced. The See of Spokane became vacant on Nov. 18, when he was installed as the Archbishop of Chicago,” he said.

Church law requires the College of Consultors to meet within eight days to elect the administrator. The College of Consultors is a group of seven priests, selected by Bishop Cupich from the Presbyteral Council.

There is no formal liturgical ritual to install the administrator. After accepting election as administrator, Fr. Mike made a profession of faith to the College of Consultors.

He will govern the Diocese of Spokane until a new bishop is appointed by the Pope and takes canonical possession of the diocese.  He exercises the administrative authority of a bishop, but cannot initiate new policies, programs or ministries, nor substantially alter existing ones, Eric said.

Fr. Mike was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Bernard Topel on Aug. 4, 1973.  He served as director of deacon formation, rector of Bishop White Seminary and editor of the diocesan newspaper, the Inland Register.  He has been pastor of St. Patrick and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in Walla Walla, and of St. Peter Parish and then Assumption Parish, in Spokane.  He has also been vicar general for internal matters

He presently is the diocese’s moderator of the Curia, pastor of the parishes in Rosalia and St. John, and administrator of the parish in Cheney.

For information, call 358-7340.

Author reports on ‘Black Spokane’

The Gonzaga University History Department has invited Dwayne Mack to give an evening presentation on “Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the Barbieri Courtroom at the Gonzaga University School of Law.

In 1981, the City of Spokane joined other American cities and broke a significant color barrier by electing James Chase as its first African American mayor. His election was one of the visible achievements of the civil rights movement in Washington State and the Inland Empire.

His story reveals previously neglected histories of civil rights activism, African Americans in the Pacific Northwest and everyday struggles for justice.

Dwayne’s program traces the history of African Americans in the Inland Empire and highlights ways civil rights activism in Spokane was unique to the region and part of larger, national civil rights struggles.

Dwayne, the Carter Woodson chair in African American history and associate professor of history at Berea College in Berea, Ky., is the author of Black Spokane: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest, published this year, and of articles on African American history.

Sponsors are Gonzaga’s History Department, Unity Multicultural Education Center, Faculty Senate Speakers’ Committee and Office of Diversity, Auntie’s Bookstore and the Center for Justice.

For information, call 835-5211 or email

NAACP elects Rachel Dolezal

The Spokane Branch of the NAACP recently elected Rachel Dolezal as its president, succeeding James Wilburn, who served two years.  Rachel, former director of the Human Rights Education Institute in North Idaho, is a professor in the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University and serves on the Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission.

For information, call 443-4884 or email

Published by The Fig Tree, 1323 S. Perry St., Spokane, WA 99202
509-535-4112 / 509-535-1813


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