Merle Andrews: My Church Family (In Memory of 1918-2014.)
I always think of All Saints Episcopal Church as my “church family.” Others have been members longer, but I am among the oldest. We came to the small church in 1952. Then our children were Jim 7, Arthur 4, and Elinore 15. In a few years, it was necessary to build our present church. Like any family, some move away, some go to college, get married, get new jobs, but some of us just stay.
I had the joy of Fr. Keiter’s Sunday classes; he was a great teacher and made the Bible come alive. And with joy, I served on the Altar Guild, Vestry, helped with Hot Meals, The Mustard Seed, St. Elizabeth’s Guild, and E.C.W. (Episcopal Church Women).
I was a member of the Vestry when Fr. Stephen Whitney-Wise came—my assignment was a church columbarium. When he found that he had five containers of ashes in his cupboards, he helped me plan for our inside columbarium by the altar.
I was never in the choir—you can thank me for that. Never taught Sunday School classes—the teachers were much better than I would have been.
My husband “Eddie” repaired items for The Mustard Seed and had charge of the “Track Rack” until he had to give that up.
When my daughter was a member of “Daughters of the King,” she remembers one of the jobs was polishing brass for the Altar Guild each week, serving at dinner at church, and making Palm crosses. To get son Jim to come to church at 15, we let him drive the car to and from church. Son Arthur was an acolyte, then in the choir. He had to get the Vestry, the Priest and our Bishop to recommend him for Seminary. He was ordained a deacon here at All Saints and Priest at the Cathedral. Most of his ministry was as chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital.
Drinking from the Saucer
(submitted by Merle)
I’ve never made a fortune
And I’ll never make one now
But it really doesn’t matter
Because I’m happy anyhow!
As I go along my journey
I’ve reaped better than I’ve sowed
I’m drinking from the saucer
Because my cup has overflowed!
I don’t have a lot of riches
And sometimes the going’s tough
But while I have my friends to love me
I think I’m rich enough.
I just thank God for His blessings
That His mercy has bestowed.
I’m drinking from the saucer
Because my cup has overflowed!
Craig Heverly: I Came to All Saints on the #75
The last ten years of my working life I drove a bus for TriMet. One of my favorite runs was the #75.
Driving a bus is a great learning experience. If you keep your eyes, ears, and heart open, you can learn a lot, some of it brutal and some of it full of grace and wonder. When you drive a route for a while, you begin to know your riders and to pick up pieces of their stories. And you begin to realize some of them are just barely making it through each day.
Driving the #75 on Saturdays, it became clear to me that a lot of those folks were getting off at 41st and Woodstock. And I soon learned they
were being fed at that church on the corner.
I try to keep my romanticism in check. Some of these people were probably hustlers, gaming the system. A couple were chronic whiners.
But most of them were just folks, trying to get by. And that church was
I am something of a fundamentalist — not one who takes the Bible literally, but one who believes in a few fundamental beliefs and actions that define us as Christians. Like: don’t kill; love one another; our lives are not our own; take care of the creation; and help the hurting and hungry. I remember thinking, “They’re not doing away with hunger and poverty, but those folks in the brick church are at least taking a whack at it. Their heart’s in the right place.”
So, when Judy and I were looking around for a place to worship, I suggested we try All Saints. I literally came to this community of Christians on the #75 bus.
Miriam Lain: Godly Play
I recently told the story of the Good Shepherd to the children in the Godly Play classroom. We begin with the box that contains the story. Parables come in identical gold boxes. The pieces for the stories are two-dimensional: felt and flat, painted-wood pieces. The materials reflect the symbolic, transcendent quality of a parable.
The children and I sit together in a circle on the floor and contemplate this gold box. I tell them that there may be a parable inside, since parables are more valuable than gold. They are presents, given to us a long time ago, but sometimes, even if we are ready, the lid stays closed. The night before, I had worried that the parable wouldn’t open for me, but in the morning I was grateful to find that it did.
We decide to look in the box, and what’s this? Something green! They are invited to wonder about the pieces I pull out of the box. You can’t always be sure of what you find. The children’s voices fall over each other as they wonder, some ideas silly and some serious. Right away they decide that the green cloth is grass. The blue piece could be a mirror. The black ones could be rocks, or a face, or shadows. And those brown strips look like a sandbox.
When we are finally finished building the setting, the children quiet down so the story can begin, “There was once someone who said such amazing things and did such wonderful things that people followed him…”The Good Shepherd shows the way to the good grass, to the still, fresh water (“I told you that blue piece was water,” comments one child.) and through the places of danger. The ordinary shepherd runs away if a wolf comes, but the Good Shepherd knows each one of the sheep by name, and would even give his life for the sheep.
After the story we wonder some more. Do the sheep have names? Are they happy in this place? Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been found? “Maybe the Good Shepherd is King David. He was a shepherd,” says one child. It may not be quite right, but I am pleased nevertheless pleased that she remembered about David. I put the pieces back in the box. We will rediscover the story another day.
Bev Curtis: The Power of a Meal
Much to my surprise, early last year I found that I was in the midst of a life altering change. Though I had been baptized, confirmed, and married in the Episcopal Church, over the years I had not stayed in a close association.. My three children as well as my husband were baptized at All Saints in the 60s and 70s, but as the years passed, I became an infrequent attendee. Early in 2011, I suddenly felt that I needed to return to my religious roots. The warm and caring congregation has extended an incredible welcome to me. I was initially and continue to be overwhelmed by the goodness and kindnesses that have been extended. Wanting to get involved in the parish, but wanting to proceed with some caution, I became a member of Beta, the St. Luke’s Guild, and the Prayer Shawl Ministry. The other opportunity I took advantage of was to be assigned to a dinner group. I feel as though I am getting my feet wet! Diversification is OK!
Our dinner group consists of seven parishioners, of all ages, each with different talents and interests. We enjoy each others company immensely. It seems that we are also good cooks! Our particular group generally is held in member’s homes. We have been meeting on Thursday evenings and generally spend three to four hours together. The evening seems to fly by as we have lots interesting things to discuss! The dinner groups offer a wonderful way to get to know people within the parish whom you might not have the opportunity to know other than a Sunday “hello”. Through the fellowship of the dinner group members one is also able to learn about the various ministries available at All Saints.
My dinner group has helped me grow spiritually as well as shown me that I am able to feel comfortable in a social situation as a single person. I thank my group for the gift of Christian love and support.
“Will you come and follow me . . . will you go where you don’t know, and never be the same?” So we sing together.
As a child in my dad’s Baptist Church we sang, “Where He leads me I will follow . . . .” Sensitive to this call, early on, it was dimmed by other priorities as years flew by.
It will soon be ten years since I relocated to S.E. Portland, a stranger, alone, no longer young. I knew I must find a church home, so began visiting several in this area.
I did not make an instant connection here at All Saints, and continued a rather intermittent attempt to find my “family.” Several months passed before I noticed an announcement in the Oregonian regarding a study of the life of St. Francis to begin at All Saints Episcopal Church. I decided to give Beta a try. Finally, after several months I felt safe to try church services. Gradually, asking God’s help, I became aware that I was learning to love in a deeper way, and to forgive on many levels, a profoundly different experience.
Life, in many ways, had taught that perhaps I could share God’s love in these “senior years” in ways that had not occurred to me earlier. Privileged to become part of our Pastoral Care team and Eucharistic Minister, I go—and “will never be the same.”
As I visit long-time parishioners, unable to attend Sunday services, or pray at bedsides with those whose faith is an inspiration to me, I am allowed to be “grown in Him, and He in me.”
That is how this song has become special to me. I urge you to look around. So many needs for a thoughtful word, a gesture of appreciation, kindness, affirmation to others on this journey. You too can grow in Him and He in you.
I grew-up with a belief in God. We attended a Christian church on Sundays, but that was the extent of my exposure to God. We didn’t read the Bible at home or talk that much about God. When I was in Sixth Grade we became involved with the Episcopal Church. My parents were very involved and I began to see “religion” in a different way. All through my adult life I was a strong church goer and involved in church activities. Many things were going on in my life. Vietnam was the biggest for my children and me. My husband was a Navy Seabee and did three tours to Nam. This had a profound effect on him which led to alcoholism which tormented him. I clung to God always praying God would take this monster in him away. I felt God did not listen to me, that I wasn’t good enough a Christian for him to answer me. After my husband died (suicide) I was full of guilt. I still continued to believe and worked even harder to be a better person that I thought God wanted. Slowly I could look back and see that God was protecting me and my children, but I still didn’t fully understand. Then after moving back to Oregon, I happened to come to All Saints. From that first day I knew I had found a community to be a part of. Then I attended my first Cursillo.
Cursillo changed my life! I felt a presence I had never felt before. Since Cursillo, God has led me on an amazing journey of service and study. I am so pleased to be a part of the new Daughters of the King, St. Clare Chapter, here at All Saints. I have also trained to be a LEM again and attend Bible study for the first time in my life! Pat tenBroeke does such an excellent job of guiding us through the books. Every day is a new journey with God. The first thing I want to do now is read my Bible. Even my neighbors see a difference in me. We talk about God and some even come and ask me to pray for them. Wow!
Love and Peace
Growing up in the United Methodist Church, I served as an acolyte, sang with the Children, Youth, and Chancel Choirs, played the organ, taught Sunday School and began the process of becoming a United Methodist minister. My church congregation voted to sponsor me and I began the first steps while still in High School. But, the call to the field of education was stronger, so I received my B.S. in Elementary Education and taught school for 38 years. Through the years of my educational career, my spiritual journey led me to the Roman Catholic Church. I was drawn to the sacramental life of the church especially the Eucharist. My life would profoundly change at that point. But, after a painful separation from the Catholic Church in 2004, I spent many months, bitter, angry, and convinced that I would not go back to the church, any church, ever. But, God continued speaking to my heart and the following spring after Easter, I realized that I needed to find another church home.
I came to All Saints in 2005, was confirmed in February of 2006, joined the Chancel Choir, became a Worship Leader, am the Webmaster, Family Choir Accompanist, and Church Treasurer. I became part of a wonderful Parish family who has embraced me, accepted me for who I am, and supported me on my journey of faith. This remarkable spiritual journey that I have been on since a child has always been a fullfilling part of my life, a journey filled with hope and love, but most importantly given me a greater purpose in my life. When taken individually, the segments of that life spiritual journey do not always have significance or profound meaning. Those segments, though, when put all together, show me the spiritual pathway that I have been on during my lifetime did not just happen by chance, but was part of a continuous development of faith. This was all part of the plan that God laid out for me and when I have been open and trusting with Him about that journey, it has led me to places I would never have dreamed I would have gone. As He closed one door, He opened another. What an incredible 65 year faith journey I have been on! I am right where God wants me to be.