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30th Anniversary Dinner features ecumenical leader


The Fig Tree will celebrate its 30 years of publication during its Anniversary Dinner at 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 30, at the Whitworth University HUB Multipurpose Room.

Michael Kinnamon
Michael Kinnamon will speak on April 30 at Whitworth University to help The Fig Tree celebrate 30 years of publication

Long-time Fig Tree reader Michael Kinnamon, educator on, author about and leader in the ecumenical movement globally and nationally, will speak on “Telling Stories of Belonging Together: Ecumenism as a Movement of Communication.”

Michael is now visiting professor in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Believing that ecumenism is more about relationships than about dialogue and documents, he finds that The Fig Tree conveys in its stories relationships that give rise to reconciliation.

The program of the 30th Anniversary Dinner will include an overview of stories with a liturgical dance, music and reflections on The Fig Tree story, its life today and future directions by Mary Stamp, editor, who co-founded the publication in 1984 with Holy Names Sister Bernadine Casey.

A 1967 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, Mary participated in the World Council of Churches graduate study semester near Geneva, Switzerland, with 60 people from 40 countries in 1969-70, establishing her ecumenical commitment.

Mary has worked for daily, weekly and monthly newspapers writing human-interest features, covering Palouse agricultural and historical stories, and starting a similar ecumenical newspaper in Fresno, Calif.

The board of the Spokane Christian Coalition invited her to form a Communications Committee with Sister Bernadine.

“The goal was to facilitate communication among congregations to build cooperation and understanding, and to inspire people through stories of how people live out their faith in this region,” said Mary.  “Starting as an entrepreneurial effort with little funding was a venture in faith.”

The Fig Tree drew a few national denominational grants and began developing its base of support through advertising and sponsors.  When there was a transition in the leadership of the coalition, which had become the Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries, The Fig Tree committee opted to become an independent nonprofit so it would have an independent voice in covering religion.  It incorporated in 2001 and has grown steadily since.

Over the years, hundreds of people have served on the staff or as freelance writers, editors, web designers, board members, interns and volunteers, and more than 1,000 individuals, congregations, nonprofits and businesses have been advertisers. 

As the ecumenical council became the Spokane InterFaith Council, The Fig Tree absorbed some of the programs, such as the annual Resource Directory: Guide to Congregations and Community Resources and the Eastern Washington Legislative Conference.  Malcolm Haworth joined and continues on the staff as directory editor and ecumenical coordinator.

As websites became important, The Fig Tree began publishing online, as well as in print.  Lorna Kropp is webmaster.

Holy Names Sisters have consistently been part of The Fig Tree communications ministry before and since Sr. Bernadine’s death in 2007.  Sister Rose Theresa Costello has helped with archives and mailings.  Mary Ann Farley, SNJM, is moderator of the Board of Directors.

The Fig Tree is selling tickets for $50 for the buffet dinner, speech and program.

For tickets, call 535-1813 or email  Board members also have tickets.

Copyright © April 2014 - The Fig Tree