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Churches plan cooperative worship, action in Hillyard

By Kathy Dellwo

For 97 years Hillyard has had a community gathering the first weekend of August. In the past, it has included a Sunday Worship in the Park, planned and led by one neighborhood congregation.

This year, four neighborhood churches came together on Sunday, the last day of the three-day Hillyard Festival, to celebrate Worship in the Park.

Hillyard event

The Rev. Cary Peden

The Rev. Betty Krafft of St. Peter Lutheran suggested to festival planners that she would organize several churches to plan the service.

So on Sunday Aug. 5 four churches put signs on their doors: “Gone to the Park.”
The sounds of music and laughter as people gathered for the 10 a.m. service filled Hillyard’s Harmon Park.

It takes many caring people to make the Hillyard Festival happen, said Desi Bucknel, who has been the coordinator for six years. She was excited with the community involvement in the setup, a breakfast raising funds for the food bank, the traditional parade, motorcycle show, skateboard competition, booths and worship.

Three pastors joined Betty in planning and leading the worship—the Rev. Greg Luce of Minnehaha Covenant, the Rev. Cary Peden of Fellowship Church of God and the Rev. Mark Wheeler of Lidgerwood Presbyterian.


Hillyard Festival choir

The choir included people from all four congregations.

After Betty welcomed people, there was prayer and singing.

Four community leaders were recognized for their contributions to the Hillyard neighborhood. They are Barb Stout and Sean Mock of the Minnehaha Neighborhood Council, Paul Hamilton of The Market housing nonprofits in Hillyard and Mike Fagan of the Hillyard Neighborhood Steering Committee.

Several people dramatized the story of a house built on the rock rather than sand. Children were rain, wind and floods. One man fell. One man stood like a rock.

Greg’s sermon was about a God who takes “our want-to-get-away fright” and turns it into “come on down”—The Price Is Right phrase—based on story of Luke 19:1-10.

He believes “we need to serve the entire community not just an individual congregation.”
He said he “was thrilled” to find support in Spokane for living out this value: “There is only one church in Spokane, and it belongs to Jesus. We need each other.”

Greg, who is involved with the Greater Spokane Association of Evangelicals, said the organization encourages the churches to come together in worship.

He said Worship in the Park “exactly what we should be doing.”

Greg believes “Catholic” means “we are one Church with many church ‘families’ and a variety of ways to express our love for God. God has a big heart and enjoys our different ways of worship.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, Holy Names Sisters Carol Lee and Bernadine Casey and Father Tom Caswell at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Hillyard exemplified that thought as they developed interchurch connections.

Father Tom met with several other Hillyard ministers for lunch once a month to share ideas of how to encourage caring community in the neighborhood.

Betty Krafft

The Rev. Betty Krafft helps lead worship.

Sometimes they had a Saturday evening ecumenical worship service.

Mike and Marge Brewer of St. Patrick’s were active in those events as part of their expression of loving and caring for their neighbors. They have been active for 53 years in the Hillyard neighborhood.

Today, Greg said, he and other pastors in Northeast Spokane share goals to:

• demonstrate unity in Christ by understanding and accepting different ways to worship;
• serve the community in a tangible way,

• create opportunities for people to respond to the Good News of Jesus, and
• learn more about the people in our community.

Greg, who previously served First Covenant Church in Spokane and taught at Snoqualmie Middle School for four years before returning to Spokane and ministry in 1995, told of partnerships churches are building with the community.

For example, his congregation hosted a “Night Out Against Crime,” sponsored by the Minnehaha Neighborhood Council. Many neighbors came, along with people from Block Watch, the police and the fire department.


Crowd joins in worship at Hillyard Festival.

A few days later there was a picnic under their big Sycamore tree for members of Minnehaha Covenant Church and the Slavic Church of Mercy, which shares its building.

His church also works with Cooper Elementary School to serve neighborhood children.
Five years ago, they started a program called Bus Stop. The church was experiencing vandalism and had boarded up some windows.

One day they decided to take the boards off the windows and made signs inviting youth to have some free cocoa, cider and donuts before their school bus arrives each morning.
“It has made all the difference in relations,” Greg said. “Now while waiting for their bus, children can come under an outdoor shelter and have a place that welcomes them.”

There are as many as 30 middle school youth at one time. They have had no vandalism since they started this ministry.

The church also has an after school program called JAM Club—Jesus and Me—from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Wednesdays. Of the 25 first to sixth graders who take part, few belong to the church. District 81 honored the church with a thank-you ceremony three years ago.

Greg said that he is “grateful to be of service to the community and to do so in Jesus’ name.”

For information, call 483-2552 or 487-4843.

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