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March 2018 News Reports

Diocese and Synod are now sharing office space

As of March 1, the Eastern Washington Idaho (EWAID) Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) moved into shared space with the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane at 245 E. 13th Ave. The Synod office has been at All Saints Lutheran Church at 314 S. Spruce since the ELCA’s inception in 1988.

“I give thanks for the partnership our Synod has had with the people of All Saints. I am proud that their dedication to reaching out to the community of Browne’s Addition necessitated our move,” said Bishop Kristen Kuempel. “I look forward to a closer working relationship with our closest ecumenical partners, the Episcopalian Church, Bishop Gretchen Rehberg and her team.

“This is a challenging time to be the church. We can no longer afford to isolate ourselves behind denominational labels.  I hope by cooperating at the synodical and diocesan level, we will set an example for congregations to follow,” said Kristen.

Gretchen, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, said the Synod and Diocese will both have offices at Paulson House.

“As we share space, I am excited about the possibility for closer conversation and working with our full-communion partner by bringing the bishops and administrative staff into the same building,” she said.“We also have opportunity now for worship together.

“What is important is the move to a deeper relationship that can lead us into directions and ministries we don’t yet see,” she said.  

The synod includes 88 congregations with nearly 29,000 members within a span of 769 miles from the Cascades to Jackson, Wyo.  There are eight office staff with three of them full-time.

The diocese includes 36 congregations, two specialized missions and two bishops chapels from the Cascades to the Montana border, from Canada to the Oregon border and Salmon River in Idaho on the south.

For information, call 838-9871 (ELCA) or 624-3191 (Episcopal).

Fig Tree Benefits are March 9 and 14

The Fig Tree continues to recruit hosts, while hosts for 50 tables continue inviting guests to the Benefit Lunch, at 11:15 a.m., Friday, March 9, and Benefit Breakfast, at 7:15 a.m.,Wednesday, March 14, in Gonzaga University’s Cataldo Hall.

Speakers will address how The Fig Tree newspaper and Resource Directory reflect the 2018 theme, “Including Everyone: We Need Each Other.”

Addressing the theme at the Benefit Lunch will be Sima Thorpe, executive director of The Arc of Spokane; Hershel Zellman, retired physician who helps plan Temple Beth Shalom’s annual Yom Hashoah; Christina Kamkosi, program coordinator of Empire Health Foundation, which helped underwrite the Resource Directory in 2017, and James Casper, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho.

Speakers at the breakfast are Mark Kinney of Thrivent, a Fig Tree writer, advertiser and sponsor; Kristine Hoover, director of Gonzaga University’s Institute of Hate Studies; LaRae Wiley, principal at Spokane’s Salish School, and Bishop Emeritus William Skylstad of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

For information, call 535-1813 or 535-4112, or email

Holden announces spring ‘Art in the Cascades’

“Arts in the Cascades” returns to Holden Village, the Lutheran renewal center in the North Cascades, from Friday to Monday, March 23 to 26, exploring the relationship of art, the environment and the spiritual life.

Participants will consider what it means to be in the wilderness, engage with the natural world, channel their spiritual and creative energies, and express themselves through the medium of watercolor.

Kristen Gilje, a renowned artist and former artist-in-residence at Holden, will lead the immersion retreat with Holden spiritual director Heather Swanson and village naturalist Travis Houle.

There will be hiking and studio time for up to 20 artists with some drawing and watercolor painting experience.

“We will use art to deepen our observation and our interior emotional responses to invite the sacred into our painting time. Whether describing mountains and fog, snow, close-ups of wildflowers, or tree bark and rocks, we will use the unique properties of watercolor to explore the essence of what we observe and remember,” Kristen said.  “We will use simple drawing and watercolor techniques to pull it all together on paper.”

Holden Village executive directors and artists Peg Carlson-Hoffman and Chuck Hoffman believe “the arts can help give visual language to the unseen and form new ideas, new ways of being together and new ways to inhabit the future.”

“The arts harbor prophetic voices of our time,” they said.

For information, email or visit

Groups hold ‘Loaves and Fishes’ to educate

Earth Ministry and Save Our Wild Salmon are co-sponsoring Loaves and Fishes from noon to 2 p.m., Sunday, March 4, at Salem Lutheran Church, 1428 W. Broadway in Spokane.

The salmon-and-bread lunch offers a taste of Eastern Washington bounty while participants hear from farmers, commercial fishermen, Northwest tribal members and faith leaders about challenges facing the region’s wild fish, Native people and food producers.

The speakers—Salem pastor Liv Larson Andrews, wheat farmer Bryan Jones, commercial fisherman Ron Richards and Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment director Elliot Moffat—say the burden of recovering endangered salmon falls on everyone, but directly affects those at either end of the Northwest’s food production: farmers and fishermen.

“As people of faith, we are to respect the Earth and love our neighbors. We believe the interests of fishing communities, local farmers, native tribes and wild salmon can be served simultaneously. A dialogue on salmon and dams, barges and irrigation, and treaty rights and recreation is a step toward a more equitable, neighborly region,” said Leda Zakarison, a Justice Leadership Program intern with the United Church of Christ at Earth Ministry.

 “During Lent, we reach out across our communities to find connection in our shared journey,” said Leda, who grew up in Pullman.  “The gathering will bring together people with varied viewpoints and celebrate the life-giving waterways and farmlands that we steward together.” 

Conversation will focus on the health of the Columbia, Snake and Spokane River watersheds and communities that depend on them.

For information, email

When the Unitarian Universalist Church Board decided to be active in the Sanctuary movement, they realized there was a need for funds to help immigrant families with legal assistance. 

They raised $1,500 one Sunday morning in an offering, said Doug Huigen, who is helping organize the effort.

The church then appealed to the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, and received a grant to underwrite a concert-dance event of Latin music and make direct grants available to immigrant families through nonprofit organizations. 

The dance-concert will be held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 14, at the Southside Community Center, 3151 E. 27th Ave. 

Musicians are from The Milonga salsa and Mariachi Arriba Jalisco band that plays music for the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church’s Spanish Mass.

For information, call 951-8023.

Chorale Coeur d’Alene performs concerts

Chorale Coeur d’Alene, originally the “Northwest Sacred Music Chorale,” was founded in 2001 by Coeur d’Alene church musician and pianist Cynthia Marlette to bring the great sacred choral music of the ages to audiences in the Inland Northwest. Over the years the now 75-member chorale has held to that commitment.

Now in its 17th season, the chorale has performed choral masterpieces such as Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms’ German Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat, as well as spirituals, hymns and songs of praise.

Stan McDaniel, a church musician for 50 years who has led St. John’s Cathedral’s bell choir since 2014, became artistic director and conductor of Chorale Coeur d’Alene, which is not affiliated with any church, in 2015. He oversaw changing its name and broadening its repertoire.

 “REQUIEM!” this year’s Chorale Coeur d’Alene spring concert will feature Gabriel Fauré’s late 19th century “Requiem in D Minor” and Dan Forrest’s 2014 “Requiem for the Living.”

A 22-piece orchestra will accompany the chorale and soloists for the concert at 7 p.m., Friday, March 23, and at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 24, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 812 N. 5th St. in Coeur d’Alene.  The third performance will be at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 8, in Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, 1001 W. Sprague in Spokane. 
Stan said the Fauré and Forrest presentations differ from traditional Requiems by Mozart and Verdi.  The “Dies irae” (“Day of wrath”) text is replaced with scriptural or liturgical texts stressing humanity’s frailty and God’s unending grace.  The promise of redemption and eternal life inspire colorful imagery in sound from both composers. 
“Fauré moves from the emotional ‘Libera me’—‘Save me, Lord, from the prospect of eternal death’—to one of the most memorable visions of paradise in music, ‘In paradisum,’” said Stan, who has led St. John Cathedral’s Chorale and bell program since 2014.

Forrest cites imagery from the Hubble telescope as the inspiration for his setting of the “Sanctus,” he said.
The chorale rehearses Tuesday evenings at Peace Lutheran Church at 8134 N. Meyer Rd. in Post Falls.

For information, call 208-446-2333 or visit or

For International Women’s Day March 8

Congolese pastor is speaker

Pastor Marie Mwange, a Methodist minister from the Congo who immigrated to Spokane in 2016 from a refugee camp in Uganda, will speak at an International Women’s Day Celebration beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 8, at Fowler United Methodist Church, 3928 N. Howard St.

Marie, her husband Mayani Mugomwela and their six children ages six to 20, came to Spokane in August 2016.  Their son, Patrick, came to the U.S. earlier.  While in the refugee camp, she was ordained as a Methodist minister. Her family was able to leave the refugee camp early and move to Spokane because their daughter Christol had severe heart problems.

She will preach in Swahili with an English interpreter.

After the service, there will be a potluck and a freewill offering that will go to World Relief, which helped resettle Marie’s family in Spokane.  Her family has been coming to Fowler UMC since November 2016, along with three Central African families who were attending Central United Methodist Church before it closed.

She preaches and teaches for the African community at Sunday evening worship and a prayer service Saturday evenings.  Some of that group worship with Fowler and some at Covenant UMC.

For information, call 325-3242 or

434-6285 and email

Organizations gather items for homeless women

From Super Bowl parties to doctor’s offices, board rooms to congregations, people across the Inland Empire have been coming together to support women experiencing homelessness.

More than 40 “Mardi Bras Parties” occurred across the city to collect items that increase the dignity of women experiencing homelessness. The items included new bras and underwear, tampons and pads, bus passes and cash donations, said Mary Reinbold, development director of Transitions.

Hope House, a program of Volunteers of America, and Women’s Hearth, a program of Transitions, are the recipients of the donations.

“It’s incredible to see how the community came together to support and surround women experiencing homelessness,” said Fawn Schott, president and CEO of Volunteers of America.

Cheney United Methodist, Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ and St. Clare Ecumenical Catholic churches were among the participating faith communities.

Hope House has 36 shelter beds. Women receive food, a hot shower, clean and dry clothing, hygiene items, a warm bed, case management and resources..

The Hearth creates a safe space for women who have experienced trauma and homelessness, offering welcome, respect and community. It offers access to showers, phones, hygiene items and a weekly food bank. 

For information, call 328-6702 or visit

Yakima congregations learn of anti-Muslim ‘industry’

Twelve congregations and faith groups are sponsoring “Faith Over Fear: Standing with Our Muslim Neighbors in Yakima” at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 22, at Central Lutheran Church, 1604 W. Yakima Ave. in Yakima.

Aneelah Afzali, founder and director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound’s American Muslim Empowerment Network and Lutheran pastor Terry Kyllo of Neighbors in Faith tell of “the anti-Muslim industry.” Each year, anti-Muslim groups spend more than $30 million to make people fear Islam and their Muslim neighbors, threatening the nation and civil liberties, Terry said.

“We don’t have to live a divided, fearful future. We can build a future based on our shared values and vision for America,” he said.

Aneelah, a Muslim, interfaith advocate and community leader, was named Seattle’s 2017 Most Influential “Bridge Builder” by Seattle Met Magazine.

Terry, who is authorized by the Episcopal and Lutheran churches in Western Washington to do this work, received the Faith Action Network Interfaith Leadership Award in 2016.

Sponsors include the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod of the ELCA, Faith Action Network, Yakima Association of Faith Communities, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Church and Society Committee of Central Lutheran Church, Islamic Center of Yakima, Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, Unity Spiritual Life Center of Yakima, Between the Ridges and Englewood Christian Church.

The “Faith Over Fear Road Show” began in Western Washington and now seeks venues in Central and Eastern Washington.

For information, email

Spokane Gives offers options

For the fifth year, Spokane Gives, a month-long community initiative in April, shines the spotlight on the need for giving year-round by matching volunteer passion to needs, said Brian Coddingham of the City of Spokane.

There are volunteer opportunities during April for many interests. People can become involved by visiting, which provides information about volunteer options. Last April, 17,863 volunteers gave 104,687 hours of service, an average of nearly six hours per volunteer.

“Using the federal equivalent of $24.14/volunteer hour, the total is more than $2.5 million of economic impact volunteers gave to the community,” said Brian.

Since its inception, more than 51,000 Spokane Gives volunteers have given more than $6.5 million in volunteer impact in Spokane.

“The generosity and compassion of volunteers are why Spokane was the only city recognized by the Friends of National Service organization last year,” he said.

“United Way of Spokane County and other partners have given their time, talents and treasures the past five years to make Spokane the most compassionate U.S. community,” he added.

For information, email or visit

Group plans Poor People’s Campaign

The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane and local faith leaders are planning local events to coincide with efforts across the nation as part of the Poor People’s Campaign from April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. through June 21. Officially the campaign of 40 days of action starts on Mothers Day, Sunday, May 14, with a focus on Children and Women in Poverty.

More than 50 people are involved in planning in Spokane.  The next meeting is at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 15, at Bethany Presbyterian, 2607. S. Ray St.

For information, call 838-7870 or 408-593-9556.

March concerts include baroque, soul music

The Spokane Symphony’s second Baroque chamber concert, “Venice – the Magical City,” will be presented at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 17, at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington, and at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 18, at Spokane Valley Church of the Nazarene, 15515 E. 20th Ave.

The music, which was written for both sacred and secular settings by Venetian composers, including Albinoni and Vivaldi, will be conducted by Eckart Preu with Mateusz Wolski on violin and the Spokane Symphony Chorale.

The Fox is presenting the “Tower of Power 50th Anniversary 2018” performance at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 3, at the Martin Woldson Theater, 1001 W. Sprague Ave.

Tower of Power combines rhythm-and-blues classics, funk-soul and jazz for intergenerational music lovers.

In 1968, Emilio Castillo, whose parents are Mexican and Greek, founded the band with baritone sax player Stephen “Doc” Kupka.

In an interview in the February issue of The Black Lens in Spokane, Emilio said music gives his life meaning.  After years of involvement with drugs, alcohol and sex, when he was sober in 1988,  he sought a spiritual path, and started to pray.  Now the band, which includes Christians and Muslims, prays together.

Emilio said his life has changed profoundly, so when the band is not touring, he’s at home with his wife and children, and active in their local church.

The 10-member Tower of Power band includes saxophones, bass, drums, keyboards, trumpets, guitar and vocalists.

For information, call 624-1200 or visit