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Feature Articles 2012

December 2012

Lena Lopez Schindler

Lena Lopez Schindler celebrates that social networks for The Windfall Thrift Store in the South Perry Neighborhood are close and personal.

Spencer Grainger

Spencer Grainger’s commitment to serve his neighborhood brings him in daily contact with children from many different cultures.

A thrift store and a children’s center partner to help them serve families in the South Perry neighborhood.

Tom Carter New director of the Human Rights Education Institute, Tom Carter, believes the way to solve problems is through communication. .
Mike Robinson Mike Robinson brings his life experiences to his teaching, and caring, whether in a middle school, church or prison.
Melissa Cloninger

Melissa Cloninger, Second Harvest Food Bank, said 25 percent more people were accessing food in their network in 2012.

Day of Tolerance - GU

Gonzaga’s celebration of International Day of Tolerance brought students and community leaders together.

Joel Williamson The Oak Tree is a new approach to faith life designed to draw people concerned about social justice to an examination of their activist life.
Rob Bryceson

The City of Spokane has contracted with First Covenant Church at 212 S. Division to serve as a warming center for homeless men.

Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving Faith community leaders share how their faiths give thanks for diversity during the 2012 Interfaith Council Thanksgiving Service.

Christmas Bureau donations makes its coordinator Judy Lee more aware of the meaning of Christmas.


Loss of identity sets up a sense of solidarity with the world’s displaced

November 2012

Naseen Shah

Fair Trade items from Kashmir will be sold at the Jubilee International Market benefit families of craftsmen struggling in Kashmir.

Kim Harmson and Denise Attwood Two Spokane women share reasons to support Fair Trade a win-win strategy to create micro-enterprise locally and abroad.
Charles Williams Charles Williams, works with Neighborhood Networks to tutor grade school through high school students at the South Perry Learning Center
Lopez Family Mariachi Jésus Lopez and his mariachi band—five of his six children—bring a flavor of mariachi as music ministers for St. Joseph Catholic Church
Sister Clarissa Gloeckner

The Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho, contributes artifacts to the “Essential Idaho" exhibit and reflects on their past and future role in the church.

Pyper Duncan

Shalom Ministries’ Dining with Dignity program at Central United Methodist Church in downtown Spokane is reorganized with new staff and purpose.

Referendum 74 clergy

The vote Nov. 6 on referendum 74 decides whether voters will uphold the State Legislature’s vote for marriage equality, conversations will continue in the faith community.

Bishop James Waggoner

Bishop James Waggoner, Jr., shared reflections at the 2012 Diocese of Spokane Episcopal Convention in October at the Cathedral of St. John.

Article Ganesh Himal will launch “The Power of Five” to raise funds for the Girl Child Education Fund of the Association for Craft Producers (ACP) in Nepal.

Catholic Charities has new orientation program to help young undocumented immigrants apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.


October 2012

Rick and Jere Gillespie

Rick and Jere Gillespie, retired from teaching, continue to be activists for peace and environmental movements in their simple lifestyle.

Bob Runkle Bob Runkle Director of Trinity Group Homes, transforms his passion into help for adults with mental illness, by expanding the number served.
Occupy Spokane Rally Occupy Spokane rally and march brought Spokane PJAL, environmental and progressive groups together to mark the anniversary of the movement.

Jo Hendricks, one of The Fig Tree founders and editorial writer from 1984-2006, died in September at the age of 99 years.

Sheryl Kinder-Pyle Newly installed Executive Presbyter, Sheryl Kinder-Pyle expects to lead the church through re-structuring in the organization of the presbytery.
Myrta Ladich Myrta Ladich participated in the Interfaith Peacebuilders trip to Israel and Palestine meeting with people working for peace in the region.
Box for Family Promise Box City

Family Promise Box Cities in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene will spring up on October 12, to raise awareness to homelessness.

Anita Held

Anita and Heiko Held are establishing a Healing Room MInistry in Zambia for young people who grew up in orphanages.

Anne Martin, Spokane Smart Justice Smart Justice Spokane launched a campaign to promote reforms in how law enforcement agencies and courts handle non-violent offenders.. 

Quaker leader delves into key issues faith community addresses nationally

Faith Action Network urges congregations to learn about ‘wage theft’

Assistance convent sisters received during fire is reminder of goodness.

September 2012

Spokane Falls Powwow

Powwows build cohesiveness and community and promote respect, honor and dignity as people listen to and experience prayers, ceremonies, speeches and humor.

Pat Munts Pat Munts, WSU Spokane County Extension, tells how community gardens increase the fresh food available in the city and area.
Dick Boysen Spokane Guilds' School seeks to reach more children with disabilities by finding a new location says, Dick Boysen, director for 35 years.
Sikh Solidarity - Baldev Singh

Area community encircled the Sikh Gurudwara to express solidarity and caring in August, led by The Rev. Todd Eklof.

Sister Laura Michels Sister Laura Michels works with Gonzaga University students as coordinator for the liturgy and as a chaplain to two sports teams.
Rabbi Tamar Malino Rabbi Tamar Malino serves both Jewish FamilyServices, particularly senior citizens, and the Reform Congregation Eman-El.
Bethany Mahan Volunteers at Northwood Presbyterian Church gather twice weekly to help elementary school children in an after-school homework club
Ben Cabildo at Unity in the community Unity in the Community celebrates Spokane's cultures for the 18th year with 125 community groups in Riverfront Park.
Service honoring work of Swami Vivekananda

Methodist summer community has become site for interfaith unity and respect. In 2012, it celebrated the work of Swami Vivekananda more than 117 years ago.


The Hate Studies Institute, Gonzaga University, announces the award winners - the Kootenai County Task Force and the Rev Happy Watkins.


The 2012-2013 Directory of Congregations and Community Serviceshas been published and is being distributed.


June 2012

camp swimmers

Area church camps offer more than a summer of building community and leadership in the midst of nature and fun activities.

So Yi Duek Angell of RockyRidge Ranch Rocky Ridge Ranch farmers Gary and So Yi Duek Angellwork a sustainable farm through Community Supported Agriculture.
Rev Ivan Bush A “Martin Luther King Jr. Way” street sign, is now on a street sign post, as the new $3.8 million  Spokane street project officially opened.

Teen Aid, began the Success Shop to help disadvantaged people gain skills as entrepreneurs.

Kathy Dugan, SHIBA The State Health Insurance Benefit Advisors (SHIBA) has 43 volunteers available to counsel people in congregations and community centers
Jackie O'Ryan, FAN

Jackie O’Ryan seeks to help Washington’s congregations build a stronger, interfaith voice to advocate for poor as FAN co-director

Mark Young Mark Young has helped make many presentations sharing stories to raise $5.3 million for the Cottage in the Meadow, in Yakima.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gonzaga graduation

Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenged Gonzaga graduates to respond to God’s call to collaborate with God and make the world more hospitable

Gretal Comwell Better Living Center (Adventist) in Spokane buys and develops new community garden in Airway Heights to help underserved community.

The Fig Tree, World Relief, Refugee Connections, and Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington translate Directory

Pingala Dhital will speak on her experiences as a Nepali speaking refugee resettling in the U.S. for
World Refugee Day on June 20.

May 2012

Brian Estes

Brian Estes brings a different face to farming promoting urban farming, community gardens and farmers’ markets as parts of urban food production.

Trish Newton Five congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane are helping educate children in a Haitian village so they can rise out of poverty and help their community.
Robin Leiserson The Haiti project of the Spokane Episcopal Diocese has inspired tithing for many, especially for Robin Leiserson and Tracey Waring, as they share their stories.
Mustafa Mahmood

The Iraqi Student Project (ISP) brought Mustafa Mahmood to study at Gonzaga, where he is share about their families, communities and religion, as well as studying.

John Olson - Chef Gus John Olsen—Chef Gus—knows good food makes things happen, like Jesus gathering people to hear the Sermon on the Mount, telling stories and then feeding them.
Second Harvest volunteer

Second Harvest’s new Asuris Northwest Health Volunteer Center provides a safer and more ergonomic setting for volunteers to sort and box food donations for distribution.

Celtic Altar St. David's Episcopal St. David’s Episcopal Church offers Celtic worship at 11 am, Sundays, an alternative spiritual approach that gives flexible doctrine and artistic expression.
Mona Martin, Christian Dance Academy

Prophetic dancing in worship helps bring healing,and raises self-esteem attests Mona Martin of the Christian Dance Academy.

Jan Martinez

Women come to Christ Kitchen’s Bible study and workdays to assemble cooking mixes, and to help prepare food for their restaurant and catering business.

John Roth

John Roth, a Holocaust educator speaking at the 2012 Yom Hashoah, challenged people to risk to speak up and speak out when values are in danger.

GU Interreligious Peace Panel Center for Global Engagement, the Religious Studies Department at Gonzaga organized a recent interreligious dialogue on “The Role of Religion in World Peace.”

Author, Wendell Berry, offers food for thought about mindsets that frame values

Internship gives hope for new journalist that she can make a difference.

April 2012

John Osborn

John Osborn, physician-conservationist, applies principles he uses to diagnose and treat sick people to heal the environment.

Steve Bernard and Geoff Arte Central Valley High School teachers, Steve Bernard and Geoff Arte, will be honored for teaching about the Holocaust at the Yom HaShoah, April 19, 2012.
SPEAR program Project SPEAR (Summer Program for Enrichment and Recreation) continues in East Central neighborhood after church closed with support from the sale of their building.
We've Got Stuff

New Life Community Church in Rathdrum program, We've got Stuff, helps North Idaho service programs with needed household items.

Geshe Phelgyte The Venerable Geshe Thubten Phelgye (Gesh-la), a Tibetan Buddhist monk is Gonzaga University's first visiting global scholar.
Catherine Reimer

Catherine Swan Reimer, native american educator and therapist, will speak on "Wisdom in Native American Traditions" at the Ministry Institute April 14.

Michone Preston

In 25 years, Habitat for Humanity-Spokane has built 210 new homes and rebuilt 25 homes for low-income families in Spokane County.

Marilee Roloff

Stories and comments shared at the benefit breakfast and lunch for the Fig Tree uplifts the many credible ways the faith community contributes

Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt's faith grew while in captivity six and a half years in Colombia. She shared her experience as part of the Gonzaga University Presidential Series.

March 2012

Trish McFarland

Trish McFarland, Director of the YWCA, finds her most meaningful work in sharing stories and classes with the program Alternatives to Domestic Violence.

David Williams Temple Beth Shalom’s annual Kosher Dinner, March 11, welcomes the community to build relationships, educate people and dispel prejudice.
Deb Abrahamson Deb Abrahamson, SHAWL society, who helps Spokane tribe to monitor Superfund Dawn Mine cleanup process, was honored as 2012 Watershed Hero.
Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark led a semester-long study abroad at Minzu University of China in Beijing last fall for 19 Whitworth University students.

Newport Supper

Four Newport churches join in Lenten soup suppers and worship for six weeks of dialogue at each other's churches.

Ryan Kerrigan Peak 7 Adventures, faith-based, non-profit ministry, serves underprivileged, at-risk inner-city, urban and rural youth on rafting trips and outdoor adventures.
Kristi Burns, Life Center

Life Center Church in Spokane reaches around world to awaken their own congregants involves worshipers in community and global ministries.

Watershed Heroes, Deb Abrahamson, and Mary Verner, were honored by the Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Sierra Club Upper Columbia Group.

The Fig Tree’s annual Benefit Breakfast, Wednesday, March 14, and the Benefit Lunch, Friday, March 16.  Both events are at Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University.

Fig Tree editing team that meets third Fridays, fourth Mondays and fourth Thursdays will have a hole to fill as Nancy Minard, who also writes editorials, moves .

February 2012

Robbie Paul

Robbie Paul, director of Native American Health Sciences at Washington State University, knows health and healing involve more than medical and prescriptions.

MLK Jr Day Marchers More than 3,000 who rallied at Spokane’s Convention Center and marched to Riverpark Square on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day were “not afraid and would not be bullied,”
Don Weber, St. Aloysius, GU St. Aloysius Catholic Church on the campus of Gonzaga University, open 365 days a year for 100 years, has given people the opportunity to enter and pray.
Dale Cockrum

Eastern Washington Legislative Conference, a panel of three regional church leaders reflected on their churches’ statements on economic justice

Julia Stronks Julia Stronks political science professor at Whitworth University, challenged participants of Eastern Washington Legislative Conference to act.
Dan Morrissey

Local leaders explore ramifications of income gap at the 2012 Eastern Washington Legislative Conference workshop on the state budget

Paul Benz Advocates give briefings on current issues before the state legislature and concerns about the increasing numbers of people in poverty
Jessie Dye

Workshop raises issues before legislature toregulate toxins in products used by children and also water use issues.

Amber Waldref Workshop warns of impact of moving coal through Spokane and Eastern Washington from Montana to ports near Bellingham and Longview, WA, bound for China.
Rev. Stephen Thurston Rev. Stephen Thurston, National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., challenged people to join in the effort to challenge the pharaohs of today to “Let my people go.”

World Relief and Lutheran Community Servicesseek to raise awareness, and curb the spread of human trafficking in the Inland Northwest

The Fig Tree’s annual Benefit Breakfast and Benefit Lunch in March provide half of budgeted donations for the year.

As we once-young weather history, may we share the need to persevere

Educating and empowering women improves lives in the next generation

January 2012

Jerusalaem Peacemakers Jerusalem peacebuilders employ common, ancient religious traditions to draw people into their efforts to build peace in the Holy Land.
Happy Watkins

“This is a time to stand up and make a statement,” is the theme the Martin Luther King, Jr., planning committee chose for 2012.

FANWA logo “Render Unto Caesar: Reclaiming Our Prophetic Voice” is theme for the 2012 Eastern WA Legislative Conference, Saturday, Jan. 21

Many Inland Northwest communities plan Martin Luther King, Jr., Day events - Yakima, Pullman, Coeur d'Alene, Ellensburg, Lewiston

Pam Emery Family Promise Hosting homeless families overnight in their church buildings through Family Promise changes attitudes of people in Spokane congregations
Madelyn Bafus Interfaith Hospitality Network in Spokane recently changed its name to Family Promise to reflect the national program’s name,
Kevin Finch Kevin Finch, who created Big Table as a ministry of community and support for people who work in the restaurant industry, will speak Jan 18
Jeff Conroy Jeff Conroy, St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene, draws agencies into collaboration through new project for warming shelter
Poet Michael Gurian’s oratorical poem on Eva Lassman will be read at Shabbat Shira—Sabbath of Song at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 3, at Temple Beth Shalom
Julia Stronks Julia Stronks teaches politics, law, gender and government at Whitworth in the framework of understanding what it means to do justice

New labyrinth at Country Homes Christian Church is an active experience to give each walker a path on their journey toward spiritual growth.

The first Community Toy Store, First Presbyterian Church, offered families an opportunity to purchase toys at 80 percent.

Just peace, prayer and common witness keep the church relevant from message of the Rev. Olav Fyske Tveit, World Council of Churches. 


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