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30th is time to thank predecessors and look to future

An anniversary is a time to say thank you to those who have made the milestone possible.

As Pia Hallenberg of the Spokesman-Review said when interviewing me, it’s a sign of success that The Fig Tree’s print circulation remains the same. 

Given that many people who were part of the publication in the early years—organizers, advertisers, sponsors and readers—have passed away, moved away or directed their interest elsewhere over the 30 years, the consistency in circulation is a credit and a sign that The Fig Tree continues to reach out to be viable and valued.

Some of the original founders—Holy Names Sr. Bernadine Casey, Jo Hendricks and Carl Milton—as Mary Ann Farley, SNJM, said at the Benefit Breakfast and Benefit Lunch, are celebrating our 30th anniversary “in eternity.”

For Sr. Bernadine Casey, SNJM, work with The Fig Tree was a gift of love.  Calling her “Sister” to us meant more than her vocation as a woman religious.  She was a member of our family.  She said when some thought she should quit editing in the last few years, that she continued, because “The Fig Tree is life giving.”

We often recognized how each issue was ultimately the work of God, as what people said in articles she wrote and articles I wrote often intersected and interacted.  That happens among articles even today.

Sr. Bernadine embodied an ecumenical spirit, aware that we have many gifts, but one spirit, God’s loving presence with us.  Her childhood in the only Irish Catholic family in a Seattle neighborhood with Protestant and Jewish families, and a black family embedded her ecumenical commitment.  She said, “people are people,” and she valued those ethnically and religiously different from her.

On Jo Hendricks’contribution, we note that there have been some influential women journalists, but few made their debut as editorial writers at the age of 70, beginning in the first issue, and continued into their 90s, as Jo did.

She brought a consistent, resolute voice on issues people of faith hold in common.  Jo didn’t hesitate to connect the call to heal the world, to make peace, to eradicate poverty, to care for the vulnerable and to protect the environment with the words and traditions of faith.  Prophetically, she tied faith to paradigms, paradoxes, oxymorons and caveats of unfolding history.

Her more than 20 years of editorials provided an overview of what happened in the world, nation, state, region and community—a history of caring related to the issues of the day.

Carl Milton, a physics teacher at Lewis and Clark High School, was a teacher in his home, church, friendships, ecumenical commitments and interest in the world.

He connected ideas and issues.  He questioned, listened and reflected on the relationship of science, religion and history.  As a scholar, poet, artist, mathematician, professor, joker, performer, philosopher, storyteller, musician, mentor, spiritual guide and friend, he knew how to pique the curiosity of students and keep our mailing sessions lively.

For him, living a Christ-like life was what faith was about.  That meant not holding in “contempt or disregard any human person for any reason at any time,” said his daughter Ruth Michaelis.  His daughter, Yaya Senklip, is featured in the benefit video telling of Carl asking her to design the logo.  The video is at “The Fig Tree - Empowering People 2014” at

Everywhere we go, every moment with a person here or anywhere else is a special encounter, an opportunity to learn and teach.  Whether here or far away, we are called to be God’s presence to make a difference in someone’s life. 

Some organizations continue to find ways to support our media.  One is Emmanuel Family Life Center, which houses our offices at 631 S. Richard Allen Ct.  Several years ago, we covered the dream of the Rev. Lonnie Mitchell, pastor at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, to expand the Richard Allen Enterprises complex of low-income apartments and community services by building the center.  We covered the dream, the progress on the dream, the ground-breaking, the construction phase, the opening and the presence of this community center in East Central Spokane. We have an affordable office there, a place for volunteers and staff to work.  It helps make The Fig Tree possible!

With that base, we look to future years.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © May 2014 - The Fig Tree