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March 2023 Grapevine Monthly Newsletter


March 2023

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, ELCA

12513 SE Mill Plain Boulevard Vancouver, WA 98684



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Pastor’s Ponderings – What’s Next?

So we did it (!). We took another step and weighed in on how we prefer next steps to go in responding to the proposal from Prestige Development to purchase land for affordable senior housing. It was clear that we are to enter a new phase of gathering input, through the 50% of you responded openness to or desire for more information around “all the options”, and 15% more choosing other ways forward–whether through discernment or allowing the next proposed step to move forward in process with Prestige. What is not as clear is how you envision participating in what comes next, or what needs to be included under “open to all the options for land stewardship”? What is your willingness to research a land stewardship option to then put alongside other options and it feels to y’all that a better informed choice is possible. And what is your level of commitment to participate in exploration of what it means to be of God and for God as a congregation? The answers to these questions will become evident through how you participate in these next steps.

Remember when I said that whatever way the vote went, it would only be a step in the work we need to do? Yup, that’s right — and I wasn’t kidding! Comfortable to consider or not, we still have much to figure out about our purpose as a congregation, how we are going to live into that purpose on the next phase of our congregational journey, and identify the resourcing steps needed to move forward. That being said, there is no need for us to map out a fully detailed five or ten year plan when our world keeps changing. We just need to identify potential next steps to move us along so we might discover what’s next around the bend after that.

Though I more typically consider imagery of traveling a road on a journey, you might also think of it like this: imagine we are in the middle of a pond, standing on a rock, knowing there are other rocks we could step on scattered between us and the shore, but a dense fog has rolled in and we can’t even see one other rock. We peer through the thick mist and begin to make out the shape of another rock we can move on to, trying to slowly get closer to the safer seeming shore, and …. (this imagery is thanks to the coach leading a coaching/class I am participating in for a few weeks)

To continue forward, we don’t have to have everything figured out, but we do need to “soften our gaze,” so to speak (i.e., challenge our own assumptions and expectations grounded in former realities) so that we may see and become open to previously unconsidered possibilities.

Now back to your expressed desire to learn more about options. To move forward the consideration of “all” other options, we need to form a diverse team of “researchers'' who will split up the work of collecting information/facts on various options, maybe working in dyads or triads. And then by a certain date, yet to be determined by Council, have teams share with the rest of us what they found. I can envision the teams sharing about the option they researched through storyboard visual presentations or providing creative presentations “on mic” to make the case for their option. Getting as many detailed options detailed for consideration, so that when a vote forward in action is made, people feel informed enough to experience greater confidence about what best fits who we are as a congregation and how we perceive God wants us to show up in the world now, in 2023 and beyond.

And let’s not ignore the fact that a significant number of people, 32%, voted to not move forward with consideration of any changes to our current land use. What are those of you who chose this option envisioning as BSLC’s way forward in ministry and mission at this stage of its life? What is your level of commitment for shaping and participating in the work required if we are to revitalize our ministry? And how do we, as a fuller community of faith, take this into consideration with whatever we do?

So: I ask again, what are you thinking now? What possibility for land stewardship do you want to have explored? How committed are you to the work of being in this community of researching an option? What does “land stewardship” mean to you—or do we actually need to begin by exploring the meanings that concept holds? Share your ideas and questions with the council (which includes me!) and as your leadership team, we’ll work on shaping a way forward.

With you on this journey of discovery, Pastor Jean

Greetings from Helene Pihl, your Council President

Your council had a wonderful retreat on Saturday, Feb 18 at Open House Ministries in downtown Vancouver. We were treated with a presentation by the Volunteer Coordinator who explained how Open House Ministries takes care of homeless families. They were generous enough to provide meeting space to us free of charge.

Our retreat highlights included ice breakers, a hands on exercise and study of the building blocks of a healthy congregation, thoughtful discussion about our recent Congregational Meeting, a Kindness writing exercise, good food and plenty of coffee.

Your council invites you to mark your calendars for the following:

1st Sundays of the month: Council Member Meet & Greet in the narthex/entryway

5th Sundays of the month: Council hosts informal forums for you to learn what we are up to and have a chance to ask questions. (1st forum: April 30)

And last but not least: March 25 from 9-12–BSLC Cleanup–inside and out.

We invite you to bring yard tools, gloves, and elbow grease. Have a donut and a cup of coffee before getting to work!

Closer to the date, look for a signup sheet on a hall bulletin board to claim one of the jobs needing to be done, but even if you don’t sign up, please come to pitch in. No experience needed!

Your council representatives are here for you! Helene

Lent: A Season and a Practice

First from author and professor, Kate Bowler:

What is Lent?

Lent marks the forty days leading up to Easter, mirroring the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is a practice that began during the 4th century as a way to prepare Christians for the holiest days of the year.

During Lent, we ask God to show us the world as it is. We begin with the reality of our finitude rubbed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday— from dust we were made, to dust we shall return. Then, we walk through that reality in a kind of dress rehearsal. It’s the downward slope of God—the Great Descent, where the whole Church walks toward the cross.

Frankly, Lent is my favorite part of the church calendar because it is a time when the whole church is on the losing team. A time when we all get a minute to tell the truth: Life is so beautiful and life is so hard. For everyone.

Of course, the cross isn’t the end of the story, but this season of grief is carved out to acknowledge the reality of Christ’s sacrifice. And the reality of suffering that so many of our circumstances reflect too—our own pain and grief and despair. Easter is coming, yes. But for now, we sit in the ashes of our broken dreams and broken hearts, knowing that God sits here with us.

Many people practice Lent by giving something up—alcohol, meat, chocolate, social media. Some take up something new—a new prayer practice or swearing profusely like I did one year (you probably remember reading about this in Everything Happens for a Reason (and Other Lies I’ve Loved)).

But Lent is an incredible moment for the spiritual honesty we are practicing here. Together, we’re going to bless the days we have, while longing for the future God promised when there will be no tears, no pain, no email…. Kate

Kate Bowlder, coauthor of Bless the Life We Actually Have, in her intro to the discussion guide and the devotional for “Bless the Lent We Actually Have”

To frame Kate’s perspective: Kate experienced cancer’s threat to life in her thirties as a new mom. She’s been writing out of that reality ever since. She continues to live under the shadow of cancer, and yet she advocates for the looking for and celebration of what she calls “stupid joys” – those things and experiences that don’t matter to anyone else but for some reason delight your spirit and bring you joy.

Lent is meant to be a time of repentance, reflection, and recalibration in our identity as child of God. Traditionally the practice of Lent incorporates more intentional participation in worship, prayer, generosity, or service. Sometimes to shift focus from all that distracts us, something is given up and the experience of doing without becomes a reminder of all we have, whose we are, and how we are called to live lives overflowing from the identity of Beloved.

In the Narrative Lectionary we often hear familiar stories and teachings at less expected times, so we can hear them anew and from within their wider context. For the first week of Lent the scripture was Matthew 18:15-35. In his reflecting upon this section in scripture, one pastor wondered what it would be like if a congregation took a pledge to spend the season working to release (“give up”!) grudges instead of giving up chocolate, meat, or alcohol. What a difference might such an effort make in the life of individuals, let alone a community such as our own, if we’d all commit to something like that, even for a season?! It’s intriguing to contemplate.

How will you practice Lent this year? In whichever way you choose to observe this season, may you experience blessing in your practice.

Wednesdays in Lent

Worship at 6:30 PM with Holden Evening Prayer

Theme: "Bless the Lent We Actually Have,”

(inspired by, The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days, by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, 2023)

Blessed are… : March 15: …those who suffer

March 1: …the imperfect March 22: …those who feel alone

March 8: …the curious March 29: …those who mourn

Asset Mapping: relooking at available resources

As your pastoral leader, my role is to guide our process of discernment and discovery. I plan to offer several activities to facilitate this process. The next I have in the works is for us to “asset map(an asset is any resource, including skills and connections, available for use). We could play with the idea of being April fools together, and hold our asset mapping on Saturday, April 1, from 10:00 -12:00! Alternately we could choose to creatively come together on Sunday March 26 after worship, starting with potluck lunch! (Since surveys seem to receive at least some input, look for a link in the e-blast to quickly weigh in.)

Women of the ELCA Spring Retreat April 28-30, 2023 at Black Diamond Camp in Auburn WA

Speaker: Pastor Chavaleh Forgey of Christ Lutheran Church, Auburn.

Come and catch up with all your synod friends. It's been awhile since we've been able to gather together and we have a weekend packed with opportunities to visit and share, learn, worship, sing, and have some FUN!

March Madness!

Don't miss the opportunity to show your support for the work of the Mexico Mission Building Team by purchasing Building Stock during their March Madness fund appeal. Invest as little as $25.00 through a stock purchase to support this year’s build scheduled for late June.

On March 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th, look for a member of the Mexico Mission Build Team after worship. Show your appreciation of their hard work and support them by purchasing stock in this important mission!

Your support is very much appreciated!

Community Garden Sign Up

March 2nd 5-6pm

If you want to reserve a spot, please stop by.

In-Ground Garden Bed $40

Above Ground Garden Bed $30

We are Invited! Transgender 101

Tuesday, March 21, 6:30 pm

Mill Plain United Methodist Church

March is Transgender Awareness Month, and the Mill Plain UMC Social Justice team is pleased to bring Jackie Stone from the Northwest Gender Alliance to lead a discussion that covers the scientific grounding of transgender, intersex and nonbinary people, the importance of pronouns and the reality of personal experiences so that we may learn how to best create a welcoming, safe and respectful community for all. There is no fee to attend, but please bring a food item to donate to FISH Orchards food bank as part of Mill Plain UMC's Lenten Food Drive.

For those who would like to explore the topic further, the book Transgender: Theology, Ministry and Communities of Faith by Rev. Dr. Justin Sabia-Tanis is a great resource. If you would like to read this as a group study at BSLC, please let Pastor Jean know so she may connect interested folk. (Immanuel has already begun studying this book!)


  • Sundays -- Worship 10:00 AM

  • Sunday School – 10:30 AM 2nd, 3rd, 4th, & 5th Sundays

  • Antiracism study – 3:00 PM on Zoom (link from PJ–see below)

Jr. Choir 4:30 PM; Bell Choir 5:30 PM; Confirmation & Adult Choir 6:30 PM

  • Thursdays – Gather Bible Study 10:00 AM; 10:00-2:00 LWR quilting


  • 3rd Sundays – Council Meeting 11:30 AM

  • 3rd Thursdays – Peace & Justice 6:00 PM (sometimes by Zoom, other times in person, bring your own supper – see eblast prior to date for direction)

BSLC’s Winter Shelter: Last day of this season - Mar 14, 2023

Before then, please sign up to help with breakfast & the morning clean up, or to help set up, serve dinner, and clean up after: . There is also still opportunity to sign up to bring hot dinner meal for 18-20 hungry guests. Let’s give this season a strong finish! Thank you for all the ways you support this vital ministry

Lutheran World Relief -- Gifts of Hope!

You are invited to join in the work of LWR each Thursday, 10 AM - 2:30 PM. All are welcome. Come when you can, stay as long as you are able. Many thanks for your support, Your LWR Team


  • Anti Racism Study & Conversation Group – Sundays, 3:00 PM via Zoom

The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change by Michelle MiJung Kim. "The Wake Up is a powerful book that provides practical tips about showing up as our better selves in the fight for justice and equity. ..."—Portland Book Review. Interested? Request a link from PJ

Wednesday Morning Zoom Bible Study 10:30. The current study: Matthew. Request the link from

Serving Where Needed - Please consider how you will contribute to making the mission and ministries of BSLC run smoothly with your service. There are weekly opportunities to assist in making worship happen. There are committees, teams, and ministry areas with active history at Beautiful Savior you might want to reactivate, or join others already underway. Ideas or questions? Please contact one of your council members to share. Thank you for considering where you will step up in active support of the work of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church.

Special Request: Anyone with patience and experience in organizing a Mac mailbox (and let’s be honest, the filing system in general), please connect with Pastor Jean. She’s not been able to intuit the intuitive ways said to be natural with Apple and Macs, and is tired of “losing” or missing emails and files. It’s time to ask for help! Thank you

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