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Sounding Board - newsletter excerpts and letter to the editor


How do we as the body of Christ build bridges instead of walls? How can we lead the way in this world and in our communities with people who are very different from us, and whose values and choices we do not share? I presume God still loves us all. Can we? If so, how do we do that as the church when we will clearly disagree with decisions and leaders. Even within our family, let alone church families, there will be sharp disagreements. In order to love each other, do we go silent on anything political?

I suppose we will have to live with the question. There is no single answer, and it is an ongoing challenge. If God continues to love us all in spite of our differences, then we are to try to love our neighbor just as Jesus said. Our capacity to love will be stretched, as Jesus’ arms were stretched out in love for us.

God came down to earth to show us how to live and how to love. He shared his theology, interpreted Scripture, taught, healed, forgave, extended grace and loved. He addressed hard questions and told stories.

It is an important time for us to follow Jesus and live into his ways. The world needs our way of building bridges, listening and valuing differences. As the church, we could be an example for others.

The Rev. Helga Jansons
Director for Evangelical Mission,
Eastern Washington Idaho Synod - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Ain’t it funny how we change or what God does to us when we aren’t looking?

In my early teens, the most important thing in the world was hunting and fishing with my Dad. Without consulting the game regulations, I could recite the day when grouse, bear or deer season opened and in which district. I knew how many fish I could take in any given water and, in our back yard, tried to learn to lay down a fly line like a gentle feather. I received my first rifle at age 10 and shooting sports became as necessary as breath. The Boy Scout rifle team, small bore competition in college, followed by large bore and pistol competition when I became of age. These were things I cut my teeth on. God or church, hmmm, not so much.

I’m sure my parents believed in God and the resurrected Christ. We just didn’t do much with it or talk about it. I do remember a few Easter sunrise services. Mainly, we had to get up in the pitch black darkness and go stand somewhere where it was freezing cold. Being in teeth-chattering cold waiting for a bump on my fly rod seemed normal, but this?

I was recently confronted with the question, “What is most important in your life today?”

As I thought about this, I was surprised to discover that catching the most fish or bagging the biggest buck or skiing the best line weren’t so consuming any longer.

Instead, I found that God was in my life. Yeah, I know, He’s been there all along just waiting for me to notice. Well I have noticed and with that I realize that what’s important to me now is love for God, for my family and my friends and my neighbors. It’s not that I want simply to be good to them or nice to them, though I believe that’s important.

My desire is to love them in such a manner that they become comfortable in loving their own family and their own friends and most importantly, God, who gives us all life today and the promise of life for all the tomorrows forever. May God bless each of you with an overflowing love. My, the changes we experience.

Lee Bratcher, moderator
Open Door United Church of Christ
Deer Park


The ice glistens as the setting sun attempts to cast its warming rays upon the beach.

Winter has its hold on the beach and the sun is too far away.

Sometimes our lives can feel as abandoned as the beach may. 
Yet the beach knows what we can easily forget in our sadness. 
The sun has not gone, it has only traveled a bit farther. At the end of each and every day the sun returns to let us know we are cared for. 
Some days will be cold. Some days will be dark. Some days will be sad. 
And at the end of every day the sun will check on us. 
We are forever watched, forever loved.

Mark Boyd
Managing director of N-Sid-Sen Camp and Retreat Center on Lake Coeur d’Alene


I love the story of how All Saints’ Church got its name. They began praying together in 1944 when the Hanford Project was in full swing. People had moved here from all over the country. Everyone in that first congregation was from somewhere else. So when they began to discuss what to call this new church, the first ideas were names of beloved churches they had left “back home”: St. Paul’s, St. Peter’s, St. Mary’s and so forth.

In the end, they decided not to choose between them. They became “All Saints’,” in the hope that everyone who came here might know themselves welcome—that whoever they were, wherever they came from, and whatever gifts they brought with them, they could be embraced and become part of this community of faith as well.

That was more than 70 years ago, and there have been many changes since then. We built a church building, then added onto it, then expanded again. Membership has ebbed and flowed, but now includes more than 500 souls. We have expanded opportunities for worship, learning, fellowship and sharing within our community. We have become over the years an “established” congregation.

That eagerness to welcome and connect has remained part of our identity—who we are and who we want to be. It keeps us striving to be better disciples, better neighbors.

The Rev. Jane Schmoetzer
All Saint’s Episcopal - Richland


As I reflect on the many blessings of this past year, one that comes to mind is The Fig Tree’s Resource Directory. What would we do without it! I can only imagine the degree of organization required to keep this directory even close to organized and accurate.

Also you publish the monthly The Fig Tree. Again a rich medium to keep many of us in touch with what is happening in our area for the good of others.

The Upper Columbia Conference Adventist Community Services appreciates this stellar work for our community.

Patty Marsh, director
Adventist Community Services/ Disaster Response

Copyright © January 2017 - The Fig Tree