Lay Down Your Burdens

From this morning’s prayers (The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle)

This Is My Prayer To You

But as for me, this is my prayer to you, at the time you have set, O LORD:
“In your great mercy, O God, answer me with your unfailing help.
Save me from the mire; do not let me sink, let me be rescued from those who
hate men and out of the deep waters.
Let not the torrent of waters wash over me, neither let the deep swallow me up,
do not let the Pit shut its mouth upon me.
Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind; in your great compassion turn to me.”

Yesterday Rich taught from the gospel of Luke – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector. I had been meditating on it as well through the week. I am mostly Pharisee but I am also a Tax Collector that knows I need to lay my burdens down and continually pray, Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

We don’t like to talk about sin in our culture much anymore. Maybe the concept has been distorted and used to damage people rather than bring the life of acknowledging the truth and naming it. Naming it to a God that embraces and loves me no matter what. Extravagant love of the Tax Collector is just too much for me to accept. It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s unreal. Not only embracing and loving the Tax Collector once, but over and over again, all the Tax Collector does is name it, then comes life, then comes the unconditional love of God that washes my burdens away…the love that is always there, always extended…I don’t have a conscious sense of it until I stop, I name it, and I pray…

“Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind, in your great compassion turn to me.”

Then my heart is postured to receive, (as much as I am able) the depth of love and forgiveness the LORD has for me…
Lord have mercy on me a sinner…

The Next Few Weeks – BUSY

Tomorrow I fly to Texas to meet with a group to discuss the issue of women in leadership and the Vineyard. I anticipate a productive time and the beginning of some important friendships as we journey this road.
I get back from Texas and then it’s full steam ahead for the Turning Point Dinner/Auction. If you are in the area and want to attend give me a shout out. It is a blast and we have great auction items. More important the money we raise will support the next year of development, especially our work with immigrant youth-at-risk.
The week following the auction is the Off The Map Live event. I am doing a workshop at the event. Friday night, one of the mission groups of VCC, Global Support, is hosting a conversation on Poverty, Privilege and Power at the Vineyard. The Friday night panel will include Brian McLaren and Richard Twiss. This will be an engaging, interactive time to bring awareness to the issues of how the North American church relates to the church in developing nations. You won’t want to miss it! Sunday morning Brian will be our special guest at VCC. Fun times the next few weeks. I have to find a way to keep up with my course work at the same time. Challenging but exciting times.

Women in Leadership

Yesterday I was officially set in as the Area Pastor Care Leader of the Vineyard Churches in my area. Just over one year ago, the Association of Vineyard Churches sent this letter to the movement. Up until issuing this letter, the Vineyard did not have an official stance on women in ministry. The model that was passed from the founder, John Wimber was one of a pastoral couple. From my vantage point it seemed that most women leaders in the Vineyard “married” into their leadership role. Local churches were/are autonomous, making their own decision as to ordain or have women serving in senior leadership positions.

I was part of a planting team in the Seattle area in 1994. I was a single woman. In early 1996 I was ordained and recognized as the associate pastor of VCC. The lead pastor at the time, my friend and mentor, Jim Henderson.

In December of 1996, I married Rich. In August of 1999 Jim resigned and Rich and I together stepped into co-pastors of VCC.

My experience was different than most models I was seeing in the Vineyard for women. As a single woman I had been ordained and sensed a call to senior leadership. I was functioning in that position when I married Rich. The first two years of our marriage, Rich (who had pastored for thirteen years prior, spent ten years in a counseling practice and then married me, an active senior leader serving VCC) did not have a role in senior leadership. Rich can tell his own story. I will say, it was difficult for us to navigate the reversal (for Rich) of roles in the church. This is a longer story which someday we will write about. Suffice to say, Rich fully supported my role as the associate pastor of VCC and had come to a place in his own life of holding loosely before Jesus what might come of us ever ministering together. At the time we stepped into the co-pastor function of VCC we basically re-planted the church together sharing leadership. I did not marry into the ministry of senior leadership. I had never dreamed of being a pastor’s wife (there is nothing derogatory meant in that statement), over the years, I sensed I would be part of a lead pastoral team and for me that was not dependent on being married to someone serving as a pastor.

It has been a long, long road as a woman in ministry, even in my movement. Honestly, there were times we re-evaluated staying a part of the Vineyard because of this issue. I often felt marginalized and misunderstood. Last year when the AVC leadership passed the resolution to do everything they could to empower women at all levels of leadership I was thrilled.

About a month ago, the regional overseer for the Northwest Region, Dave Pardee, asked me to come aboard the regional leadership team as the APCL for our area. Yesterday, some of the guys and my friend Carol Allard prayed for me and welcomed me as their APCL. I am honored. I think that I am the first stand alone woman to serve in the leadership of the Vineyard beyond the local church. Looking back ten years, I could never have guessed this would be happening. I am thankful for the opportunity for women in the Vineyard and I am thankful to the men and women in my area who have cheered me on. My deepest thanks to Rich, his support and constant confidence in me is what makes all of this possible.

Turning Point Turns Two

Turning Point is turning two this month. Three and a half years ago our faith community leased a building. It took us a year to make the decision to take on a lease payment. During that year, as I would pray about the decision, trying to discern which way we were to go at that particular juncture, I came across John 1:14 in the Message. In that moment I knew we were to move into our host community and be the presence of Christ in whatever way we could. We have spent 3 ½ years making relationship in our host community. Out of our participation in the City we launched a non-profit, Turning Point. One year ago, a year’s worth of planning, praying and dreaming came to fruition. For my 50th birthday we hosted a dinner/auction for Turning Point. It was a blast. In the past year we have continued to see signs of the Kingdom and step into participating with where we saw Jesus. We have struggled, we have stressed, we have had great times laughing. Over the past year we have served our community in a numerous ways. Basketball camps have been one of the most rewarding. We have run 5 eight week basketball camps for co-ed youth living at poverty level. We were able to send two of the young women (age 15) to a week long YMCA camp on Orcas Island. These two young women are immigrants. They told me their experience at camp was something they would never forget. They are now going to be part of a youth leadership team to help get many of their peers (immigrants) to camp next year. There are challenges for immigrant children and youth that many American born children and youth do not face. It is common for the children of immigrants to be the main interpreters for their parents. At a young age they have to be the spokesperson for financial situations, medical situations and the like. We saw this firsthand as we helped the girls fill out enormous packets of paperwork required to attend the camp.

For the sake of shortening this post, one story around the camp situation. In August we were on vacation in Canada. My cell phone rang, caller unknown. I answer. Caller on the other end:
“Rose, this is Nahite” (not her real name)
Me: “Oh hi
Nahite: “Have you heard if our paperwork was approved”
Me: “No, I haven’t. I will be gone a week, but when I get back I will let you know right away.”
Nahite: “Okay, thanks. We are so excited, we really want it to work out.”
Me: “I am sure it will work out. I will call you next week.”
Nahite: “Okay, bye
Me: “Bye”

Two days later Nahite phoned me again. She had heard from some of the kids that she needed money for transportation to camp and back. I told her not to worry we would figure it out….

Nahite and Assianah went to camp had a blast…this was in August.
Today, my husband, a friend and I were having lunch. My cell phone rang. It was Nahite…
Me: “hello”
Nahite: “Hi Rose”
Me: “Hi there, Nahite, what’s up”
Nahite: “I just wanted to say hi.”

We talked for a few minutes and I will see her at homework factory next week….

This is just one of many, many stories…

This I do know. If VCC and Turning Point went away tomorrow…our host community would feel the loss. You see VCC has made this a reality. I serve and work with some of the most kind and generous Jesus followers anywhere. I am humbled and filled with gratitude for the way VCC has been faithful to look for signs of the Kingdom and step in to participate with God in bring healing to our world.

October 27th we will hold our second annual dinner/auction and celebrate Turning Point turning two.