May 2014


Fighting Depression


This year May 29th is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord. On this day we will hear again the words from Luther’s 1534 sermon on Christ’s miraculous ascension into heaven, forty days after his resurrection from the dead:


“David preaches beautifully and wonderfully about the power and fruit of Christ’s ascension. Do you want to know, he asks, why Christ ascended? I shall tell you. He ascended on high in order to lead captivity captive [Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:8]. The words are concise. But in these few words he comprehends heaven and earth and all that is in them…. But what sort of captivity… is this? Indeed not like the captivity…. of the hangman…. [for] Christ has nothing to do with that…. His concern is with everlasting captivity before God…. Sin that is unfettered is aggressive and free-roving; it becomes my master and takes me captive, not only terrifying and depressing me, but also driving me from one act of idolatry to the next…. [But] Christ’s power and might over sin are now given to those who believe in him [to help] them resist sin…. That means, you will still be anguished by sin and evil lust, but no longer will they be able to control you” (Luther’s House Postils, 2:118, 119, 120, 121).


Hold on to that promise, for in it is power from on high to help you fight depression down here on earth. Alleluia!

Pastor Marshall


What a Relief to Read Luther


Kierkegaard’s Love for Luther’s Sermons


By Pastor Marshall


As we noted last month, Kierkegaard loved Luther’s long 1522 sermon on Matthew 2:1-12 about the magi adoring the Christ child (Luther’s Works 76:71-180). He believed it was “worth reading again and again, especially the first part” (Kierkegaard’s Journals 3:2485).

     Toward the middle of that first part of the sermon, we read: “[Let] natural philosophy go. If you do not know what power the stars, stones, wood, animals, or any creatures possess – which knowledge natural philosophy contemplates when it is doing its best contemplation – then be satisfied with what your experience and common sense teach you. It does not matter whether you know all this or not. It is enough for you to know that fire is hot and water cold and wet; that in summer different work must be done than during winter; how to attend to your fields, animals, home, and children. That is enough natural philosophy for you. Then think about how you can learn Christ alone, who will show you yourself, who you are, and what your ability is. In this way you will know God and yourself, which no natural philosophy ever learned, as Saint Paul teaches [in 1 Corinthians 2:8]” (LW 76:78n23).

     Kierkegaard, no doubt, took these word to heart, since he later argued that “it is an imperfection in earthly life that basically a person cannot entirely, cannot thoroughly make himself understandable to others; [but] on closer inspection one will surely be convinced that it is a perfection, since it suggests that every individual is religiously structured and is to strive to understand himself in confidentiality with God” (Kierkegaard’s Writings, 24:92).
     May we learn from Luther, as Kierkegaard did, that the only way to come to terms with ourselves in any meaningful way, is through Christianity.


President’s Report… by Larraine King

Anthems glorious, hymns victorious, raise we to our paschal King.  Bonds are broken, heaven’s open; sing, o ransomed mortals sing!          Christ is risen from death’s prison, healing in his wings to bring. This is the third verse of hymn # 155, the last Easter hymn in LBW.  They start at number 128 and make a wonderful Easter daily devotion.  There is something very unique about the marriage of text and tune that inspires prayer and praise. 

     The first quarter giving pledge report shows that of the 45 members who pledged their giving for 2014, 19 members have exceeded their pledge by $12,141; 17 have met their pledge; 9 members gave $2,070 short of their pledge; and 14 members, who did not pledge, gave $4,885.  Statistically that is a net increase of $7,875 over giving during the first quarter of 2013.   I am always a little reticent to celebrate, but these are fantastic numbers!  Thank you to everyone who so faithfully supports the work of the church.  That is probably the best first quarter we have ever had.  That being said, while we have started strong, we must keep at it if we are to finish strong.  So please remember to fulfill your pledged giving in the months to come.

     The treasurer’s report for the first quarter also shows excellent numbers.  Our year to date incoming funds are $63,311 against a budget projection of $61,626; total expenses of $61,064 against a budget projection of $63,225. 

     The total yield on the endowment fund ($160,124 as of March 31, 2014) for the first quarter of 2014 is 2.06% or $3,237.  Some investments yielded between 3.6% and 9.5%, while others were lower.  Differing economic conditions mean that the performance of the investments will fluctuate.  Currently we have 63.1% invested in stock funds, 28.9% invested in bond funds, and 6.5% in real estate funds with the remaining 1.5% held in the cash fund.  While we like to encourage the membership to remember First Lutheran in their estate planning, donations can be made to the endowment fund at any time.  We regularly use part of the income from the fund for the general operating budget of the church, which is the reason we established the endowment fund in the first place.

     New vinyl thermal double pane windows have been installed in the parsonage thanks to the expertise of Alex Ceaicovschi.  He was able to get the windows for a great price!  He also had the help of Cristian Clemente, Andy Nelson, and Ken Hovde, who gave their time and labor to complete this project.  These new windows should make a real difference to the fuel efficiency of the parsonage.  The other building project of note is the complete repainting of the parish hall, courtesy of Tilden School.  The entire ceiling, beams, pillars, and walls have been repainted, really sprucing up the room.  Stay tuned for other coming improvements.

     A couple of events to consider supporting – the annual West Seattle Food Bank auction, “Instruments of Change,” will be held at the Hall at Fauntleroy on Friday May 2, 2014; and the “Taste of West Seattle” will also be held at the Hall at Fauntleroy on Thursday, May 15, 2014.  Both are great events and worthy of our support.  Even if you cannot attend, consider making a special donation to help with the work they do in the community.   Thank you to everyone who contributed to our food drive for the Food Bank during the months of March and April.  Looks like we have come very close to meeting our goal of 800 items donated.  That is super.  In addition to the usual non-perishable items they also need baby food, formula, diapers, pet food, and books for adults and children.

     At this Easter season, let us remember how blessed we are that our Savior loved us so much that he gave his life and redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil.  Earth rejoices; all its voices glory to the Father sing!  Praise the Savior, laud him ever, Son of God, our Lord and King!  Praise the Spirit, through Christ’s merit life eternal see him bring! (V.#4)



Stewardship                                               Budget                     Received

                  Month (March)                              $22,636                    $24,185

                  Year to date (Jan-March)              $61,626                    $63,311













Wealthy Lovers


I washed my hands today. You probably did too. We all do it, repeatedly, even in our homes, with a sink and running water, both hot and cold water. That puts us in the very top percentages of wealthy people in the world. I am reminded of how wealthy I am every time I turn on a faucet─ any one of the many faucets in our home.

Incredible how many millions of people have to walk over 30 minutes to get to a water source, wait in line, get their water and then bodily lug it back to their dwelling. Often the source is miles away from where they live. And even then it may not be healthy water. So, turn on the water faucet and be reminded how wealthy you are!

Luke 17:7-10 reminds us that our obedience to God is dutifully to love him and serve our neighbor, especially those in need. Here, Jesus reminds us that, “[W]hen we have done all that is commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Or as Alvin Reuter memorably put it, “Lovers never ask, ‘What is the least I can do?’” May our stewardship show what wealthy lovers we are!

                                                                                                           Bob Baker, Church Council


Stressing Noah’s Drunkenness:

The New Aronofsky Movie

By Pastor Marshall

March 2014


I agree with Richard Roeper that this new movie on Noah, starring Russell Crowe, may well be one of the most dazzling and unforgettable Biblical epics “ever put on film.” And I also agree with Daren Ruecker, that next to the recent Coen brothers film, “A Serious Man” (2009) on the Book of Job, this Noah movie is one of the best Biblical films ever. And so I highly recommend it. (I was there on opening night at the Southcenter Mall to see it.)


Filling in the Gaps. At the center of this spectacular cinematic retelling of the catastrophic flood in Genesis 6-9, are the stunning elaborations of Genesis 9:21 and Genesis 6:4. Both of these verses are underdeveloped in the Bible. The first has to do with Noah falling down drunk and naked. The other has to do with the Nephilim. By going after these two verses, Aronofsky reveals his principle of Biblical interpretation: Don’t change what’s on the pages of the Bible, simply add to what’s missing from them. Aronofsky follows this principle fairly well except in three cases.


First in Genesis 7:13-16, he changes the text to allow only one daughter-in-law on to the ark as well as an arch-evil stowaway, Tubal-cain (Genesis 4:22). Secondly he excises Genesis 8:20 on the post-flood animal burnt offerings – which would have linked Noah to his forefather Abel and his animal sacrifice (Genesis 4:4). And third, he changes the reason for the rainbow in Genesis 9:15 from God promising never again to destroy the world by the waters of a flood, to his affirming of Noah’s love for humanity and the renewed propagation of the species (Genesis 9:7).


Noah’s Drunkenness & Uncertainty. Aronofsky elaborates Genesis 9:21 on Noah’s drunkenness to explain why it happened. He links it to a huge confrontation on the ark between Noah and his family over whether or not God wants humanity to have a second chance after the flood to live better lives. After some time of uncertainty, Noah decides that God doesn’t want people to have a second go at it. Everyone else in his family disagrees with him.


This ambiguity or uncertainty that Noah confronts is not in the Genesis account. But it is found elsewhere in the Bible. Remember how confused little Samuel was when God was talking to him (1 Samuel 3:1-10)? Remember how mixed-up Jeremiah was over what God meant by promising to protect him from his enemies (Jeremiah 1:18, 20:7-8). And remember Saint Paul’s words about seeing everything only dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12)?


Once Noah is set clearly against his family (Matthew 10:36), a life and death struggle ensues in the ark over this disagreement – and Noah loses. As a result he is alienated from his family which depresses him, and he also figures that he had disobeyed God which throws him further into despair. So he gets drunk the first chance he has – he who at the beginning of the story was nothing but righteous (Genesis 6:8; Luther’s Works 2:54). This is the main plot of the movie. And in it the themes of human wickedness and divine wrath and mercy are explored – ideas which are well worth our attention. Luther also knew of some such contest:


[The disobedient] charged Noah with blasphemy and lies. “Stating that God is about to destroy the whole world by the Flood,” they maintained, “is the same as saying that God is not compassionate and not a father, but a cruel tyrant. Noah, you are preaching the wrath of God! Has not God promised deliverance from sin and death through the Seed of the woman [Genesis 1:26]? God’s wrath will not swallow up the entire earth. We are God’s people, and we have outstanding gifts of God. God would never have granted us these gifts if He had decided to proceed against us in such a hostile manner.” In this manner the ungodly are wont to apply the promises to themselves, and because of their reliance on them they disregard and laugh at all threats (LW 2:53).


This is what the fierce Tubal-cain character does in this movie. But for Christians these themes are not resolved until Christ dies for us (Romans 5:8-9) – but for Aronofsky, as a lapsed Jew (Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, “Noah: A Midrash by Darren Aronofsky,” and Christopher Orr, “God’s Will vs. Man’s Will in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah,” The Atlantic, March 2014), he limits himself to what the Jewish tradition has to say.


Those Nephilim Giants. In Aronofsky’s hands, the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4 serve two purposes. First these otherworldly giants build the huge ark – which in the Bible is left unexplained (Genesis 6:14, 22). And secondly they fight off the evil masses from forcing their way on to the ark when the floods come – something which the Bible doesn’t report on (Genesis 7:21-23). One of the most grizzly scenes in the movie is of people fighting to make it to the last mountain top as the waters of the flood relentlessly and ferociously rise faster and faster. (The only other place I’ve ever seen this depiction is in my family’s 1880 Norwegian Bible.)


Vegetarianism. Noah is part of the dwindling good clan, descended from Seth (Genesis 4:25-26, 5:3, 29) – who were vegetarians. For not until after the flood did God allow his people to eat animals (Genesis 9:3). But those evil clans descended from Cain (Genesis 4:11, 15) were meat-eaters, in defiance of God’s law (Genesis 1:30), according to Aronofsky. And so, again according to Aronofsky, the reason the animals were preserved on the ark was because they, unlike people, still acted righteously, as they did in the Garden of Eden. Why God wants to save the animals (Genesis 6:19, 7:3) isn’t explained in the Bible. Aronofsky also has Noah sedate the animals into hibernation so they don’t kill each other on the trip in the ark. And Luther would seem to agree at least in part: “[These] wild animals [all enter] the ark miraculously [having] had a premonition of the wrath of God and of the awful catastrophe that was about to take place” (LW 2:75).


Geysers & Cloud Bursts. When the flood waters break loose in the movie, water not only pours down from the skies, but geysers shoot up from the ground, left and right. Water is gushing forth from everywhere. I thought this was made-up by Aronofsky until I reread in Genesis 7:11 and 8:2 about the “fountains of the great deep bursting forth.” So I’m indebted to Aronofsky for pointing out what I had missed over and over again after many readings of Genesis over the last fifty some years!


Realistic. While conservatives will complain about the divergences from the Biblical account in this movie, liberals will not take kindly to all of the realism and literalism in it: Noah is a real historical person and not some fictional character. The ark is a real boat in this movie. All the animals fit in the ark. And the flood covers the entire world – and we get to see of picture of it from outer space! I agree with Luther on this that the Biblical account isn’t mythical or metaphorical but realistic and literal. I also agree with him that from a strictly rationalistic perspective, the entire story of Noah and the flood seems “exceedingly stupid” (LW 2:71)! But from a faith perspective, that, of course, is not the case.





Romans 5.12

Monthly Home Bible Study, May 2014, Number 255

The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall


Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as a congregation in this home study. We will study alone then talk informally about the assigned verses together as we have opportunity. In this way we can "gather together around the Word" even though physically we will not be getting together (Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)


We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851 Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous book.... [because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a prodigious scale" (For Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved in the Bible" (Opening the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans, however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW 30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW 29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW 25.261). Before you study, then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall, Making A New World: How Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12).


Week I. Read Romans 5.12 noting the correlation between the two words death and sin. What does sin have to do with death? On this read Romans 6.23 noting the word wages. How is it that we are paid with death for the sins we commit? On this read Genesis 2.17 noting the words day and die. Why is death the punishment for sin? On this read 1 Corinthians 15.26 noting the category last enemy. What makes death our enemy and therefore a fitting punishment? On this read John 11.35-36 noting the words wept and loved. How does love bring about weeping? On this read Romans 13:10 noting the line love does no wrong to the neighbor. What does this imply? Well, when harm comes upon those we love, we are upset – and death is the worst harm that can come. So death is a robber that distresses those who lose loved ones. So saying that death was our punishment when we sinned was to dissuade us from sinning. Read also Hebrews 9.27 noting the correlation between death and judgment. That also makes death scary – for who wants a strict, permanent punishment? We would like to put that off as long as possible. Wouldn’t you agree?

Week II. Read again Romans 5.12 noting this time the word spread. What causes sin to spread throughout the world? On this read Ephesians 2.3 noting the phrase by nature. How would this spread sin around everywhere? On this read Jeremiah 13.23 noting the words change and accustomed. So is it impossible then for us to act contrary to our natures? What then? On this read Romans 7.18 noting the line I can will what is right but I cannot do it. What does this mean? On this read John 8.34 noting the words slave and sin. So if we’re enslaved to sin by nature, is that what spreads it all over? On this read Psalm 51.5 noting the words conceive and sin. This means sin is passed on genetically – it’s in our DNA. Was it always like this? On this read Genesis 1.26 noting the line in our image. How was this godly nature destroyed by a simple act of disobedience? Doesn’t nature trump action? On this read 1 Corinthians 5.6-8 noting the words little, leavens and whole. So the counter-intuitive can happen: a single misdeed can change us for the worst and permanently.


Week III. Reread Romans 5.12 noting again the same word spread. Following up on last week, could a single good deed then reverse our natures back to their original godly states? Or are we stuck? On this read Romans 7.24 noting the words deliver and me. This means that a change is possible, but it isn’t something that we can bring about. On this read Colossians 1.13 noting the words delivered and transferred. Why can’t we do this for ourselves? On this read Romans 5.9 noting the words saved and wrath. But still, shouldn’t we be able to do this? On this read 1 Peter 1.18-19 noting the line without blemish or spot. So because we are not pure, our actions cannot reverse our nature, in the way that Christ’s actions can. How does his purity managed this reversal? On this read 2 Corinthians 8.9 noting the interplay between rich and poor – that when the rich becomes poor, it enriches its own newly acquired poverty, so that it then can alter the un-enriched poor, that is, sinners enslaved to sin. Do you buy into this? If so, why?


Week IV. Read Romans 5.12 one last time noting the two words one man. Who is this man? On this read Romans 5.14 noting the line the transgression of Adam. Why did Adam’s sin affect us all? On this reread this same verse noting the words not and type. What made Adam of this unusual type? On this read Genesis 2.17 noting the word die, and 3.5 noting the word knowing, and 3.7 noting the word naked. How do these three words distinguish Adam as a different type of person? First note that he was immortal, second that he was obedient rather than being obsessed about knowledge, and third that he was without any shame regarding his human nature. But all of that is lost when he disobeys, is cursed, and expelled from Paradise. Then death settles in, knowledge becomes an obsession, and we suffer from shame over who we are. What does this mean? On this read Ephesians 2.3 noting the line children of wrath. Read as well 2 Peter 2.14 noting the line accursed children. On how to become children of God again, read John 1.12 and 3.5.




A Year of Growth and Blessing


“Another year has reminded us once again of the Lord’s faithfulness to His people.”  This is the theme of a brief address given by K.P. Yohannan, founder and director of Gospel for Asia.  I took a half an hour and watched the video message summarizing their work for 2013.  It was inspiring, frightening, and amazing, and quite an education about an area of the world that is so in need of the Gospel message as well as practical help with daily living.

     One of the ways that Gospel for Asia assists citizens of the subcontinent of Asia is by building clean water wells.  Much disease and misery is normal in their villages because there is not clean water to drink and no sanitation facilities.  They also sponsor schools for young girls to teach them how to read and write.  Over 90% of the women are illiterate.  Because illiteracy is so prevalent, they have 320 film teams, made up of local resident volunteers who speak over 18 dialects, who go from village to village sharing the Gospel through movies that they have produced in other areas of the countries they serve.  There is also a ministry to the “untouchables,” the lowest class in Indian society, where in the last 3 months of 2013, the local citizens established 9 new churches, averaging 100 members each.  Another part of the outreach of Gospel for Asia to the slum dwellers in India is the creation and staffing of Mission Stations, where over 67,000 children have been enrolled.  There they are fed, clothed, and educated by a staff of over 4000 local Christians.  They have graduated 2050 from these centers, hundreds of whom go on to spread the Gospel in their home villages.  Over 9000 women’s fellowship centers have helped educate more than 1.3 million local women about childcare and family issues.  There is also practical assistance offered to the more than 46 million widows.

     These statistics are staggering.  Just considering the 90% of the women who can’t read or write is more than overwhelming to me, not to mention all of the children and marginalized people in their society who live on the street and have nowhere to call home.  Add to this the threats of death, murder, imprisonment, danger, and poverty that these pastors and missionary workers face on a daily basis, and it is almost too much to think about. 

     But the focus of their work is on the hope of Christ – the only hope is to know Jesus Christ and why he died for us – that is what gives meaning to the work that Gospel for Asia does, and why they are able to accomplish what they do with joyful and grateful hearts for all that is contributed to their work.  They especially appreciate the gifts of animals, as that helps families, and they in turn share extra animals with their neighbors and friends, who then widen the circle, and share with their neighbors and friends, in an ever enlarging circle.  The other program that is helpful is the purchasing of sewing machines.  The recipients of these machines are given lessons on garment construction and learn how to make clothes for themselves, their families, and their friends.  This then can grow into a small business that helps them earn money to live. 

     So keep Gospel for Asia and the people they serve in your prayers.  Keep donating money to this work.  And when there is another bake sale to raise money to buy animals for the local people, know that any amount you give helps save lives and spread the Gospel!

                                                                                    ─Larraine King, Extended Ministries


May Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, May 24th

The book for May is American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile (2009), by Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), former editor of First Things. This book is about living out the Christian life in the USA. At the heart of his proposal is this contrast: “America is our homeland, and, as the prophet Jeremiah says, in its welfare is our welfare [29:7]. America is also – and history testifies that this is too easily forgotten – a foreign country. Like every political configuration of the earthly city, America, too, is Babylon. It is, for better and worse, the place of our pilgrimage through time toward home. Until the human pilgrimage reaches that destination, which I expect is no time soon, we cannot help but, through our tears, sing the songs of Zion is a foreign land” (p. 26).

     A copy of this significant book is in the church library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss this matter of living out our Christian life in less than favorable circumstances.

NNOUNCEMENTS:   Pastor Hinderlie's grandson, Peter Hinderlie, was ordained as a Lutheran minister on March 21, 2014, the fifth generation in a row of Hinderlie pastors. He will be serving at Valley of Peace Lutheran Church in Milnor, North Dakota. Peter's father, John, was Pastor Donald Hinderlie’s (our 11th pastor, 1959-1973) oldest son.

WEST SEATTLE FOOD BANK suggested donation for May is bar soap. 

SUMMER HYMN SCHOOL is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, June 25th through the 27th.  Mark your calendars and watch for updates. 

Compass Housing Alliance needs bath towels.  We are still collecting them this month.  Donations can be left at the office.

WEST SEATTLE HELPLINE’S “Taste of West Seattle”, Thursday, May 15th at the Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Ave. SW, from 6-8:30 pm.  Tickets can be purchased online. 

Easter Wednesdays: Hearing Martin Luther’s Easter Sermons. At our Midweek Eucharist and Vespers on Wednesdays, during the season of Easter, selections from Luther’s Easter sermons will be included. In these sermons there is much to enrich our celebration of Easter, so that the great fifty days of the season may become a time of faith renewal.

     If you are unable to attend on Wednesdays, but would still like to read over these selections, they are available through the church office.



I think this student paper by one of our members is well worth your attention. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have.           Pastor Marshall



The West Seattle Helpline:

My Senior Project at

Sealth High School


Cristian Clemente

Seattle, Washington


December 2012


Poverty. What is poverty, who is responsible for it and how can individuals help on a local level to get rid of it?

Poverty, by definition, is the opposite of wellbeing. It is the inability to satisfy one's basic needs because one lacks income to buy services or from lack of access to services.

Which people are poor? Racial and ethnic minorities, women, children, and families headed by single women are particularly vulnerable to poverty and deep poverty. Also people with disabilities have a tendency to be poor. According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, more than 46 million people today in America are living below the poverty line – far more than the size of our largest state.

Who is responsible for poverty? Basic ethical issues behind this debate continue unsettled. Is society responsible for the well-being of the poor? If so, at what cost to the rest of us? Are the poor to be held in any way responsible for themselves? How far must poverty go before society is morally bound to act to help them?

Responsibility. But should the government be responsible for helping poor people? As a result of trying to answer these difficult questions, in addition to ever changing attitudes towards poverty, many methods have been tried to solve this social crisis. From the early part of the 16th century to the modern day, poverty laws passed by Parliament in England changed from a system of punishment (being sent to the poor house because you’re poor), to a system of governmental support and protection. Also during this time economic systems changed from the barter style economy to the early days of capitalism. Throughout this time frame, authorities asked such questions as, "Who exactly should benefit from laws that are passed?" and "Who is responsible for the care of people in need?"

Religious Groups. And others were asking if the Christian church and other religious organizations should also be responsible for helping the poor according to governmental principles. I don’t think so because our government has no right to dictate how a church should help people, and in the US we also have laws separating church from state. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." If a church were to support a charitable organization it should be free to follow its own guidelines laid out in the Bible:

1.      In the story of Jesus and the rich young man, the young ruler's wealth makes it hard for him to follow Jesus and attain the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus comments on the young man's difficulty:

“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 19:23-27)


2.      Furthermore, Saint Mary sings that God has “shown the might of his arm: and has scattered the proud, in the conceit of their hearts. He has pulled down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich has sent empty away. (Luke 1:51-53)


Solutions. So how is poverty approached in the US today? In the book by Alice O’Conner, Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U. S. History (2002), I learned that studying social problems will lead to a solution has long been a belief in America. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to solving the poverty problem.

For well over a century, social scholars have studied poor people in the hopes of creating a knowledge base for informed social action. Frustrated by what they call a contradiction of “poverty amidst plenty,” social scientists often charge that politics and too much thinking are to blame. Unfortunately all of this historical analysis to better understand the political, ideological, institutional, and cultural reading don’t do a lot to relieve the problem.

Action. What it takes is action. Welfare programs available in the United States include: Medicaid, Food Stamps, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Head Start, Work Study, and Medicare.

Social Security is also considered one of the welfare programs in the U.S. Two programs that I’ve seen work at school are FAFSA and the Free or Reduced Lunch Program.

In 2009 we saw the largest yearly increase in the US poverty rate since the US Government began calculating poverty figures back in 1959 when poverty rate was at 33%! In 2009 they brought about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since its enactment in February of 2009, $778.6 billion has been paid out:


          ·         To fight hunger Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);

          ·         Neighborhood Stabilization Funds to keep people in their homes or rapidly re-house them;

          ·         The Act increases funding for the Community Services Block Grant by $1 billion;

          ·         The Act increases the Weatherization Assistance Program by $5 billion to help low income families save on their energy;

          ·         The Act increases job training funds;

          ·         The Act provides increased income support for Unemployment Insurance eligibility, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income and new resources for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and,

          ·         The Act provides tax breaks to working families.


So is the state, then, finally the one responsible? Washington State has a poverty rate that is 2% less than the national average of 11.5 %. The national average rose from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 15.1 percent in 2010. And the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) oversees the social services provided to the citizens of Washington State.

Local Communities. But what about local neighborhoods and their communities – how can they help? The West Seattle Helpline started in 1989 with one man’s vision – Mr. Dick Rhodes (1926-2003). His business of operating the exquisite Queen Anne Thriftway grocery store, daily reminded him that people were in need. In 1988 he got together with a few people in the West Seattle Branch of the Seattle Public Library, and pledged some money to start the Helpline. Since its opening on April 19,1989, the West Seattle Helpline has been funded by many individuals, businesses, and churches within West Seattle. They have only one paid employee and are staffed primarily by a corps of volunteers who care about the needs of their neighbors. The last five years they have been helping out over 3,000 clients yearly – when their greatly expanded clothing bank is taken into account.

Since 1983 the West Seattle Food Bank had been in operation in a couple of different locations. On May 1, 2007, they started distributing food from their new offices custom built for their operations on the corner of 35th and Morgan Street. Shortly thereafter the Helpline moved their offices into the same building. The West Seattle Helpline serves the community by distributing information, money and clothes to those working families who have fallen behind on their bills.

Individuals. What about individuals? Well, in my case, for my senior project, I am studying the West Seattle Helpline. I will meet with my mentor, Pastor Ron Marshall, the Helpline executive director, Tara Luckie, and my high school counselor, Jol Raymond. Pastor Marshall is one of the founders of the Helpline and has been on its board for over twenty years. He’s also finishing up a book on the history of the West Seattle Food Bank.

I will also make a poster and write my outline for my report, and then finish it up in written form. My plan is to put in over 25 hours of volunteer time with the Helpline. I will also be interviewing people who work in the field. I have been curious about poverty and this report will help be understand it better.

I also hope my report will increase awareness of the problem of poverty in our community. I hope that my peers at school who need assistance will learn about how to get help with paying their bills and getting clothing from the Helpline.



Alice O'Connor:  Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth Century



(edited by the Rev. Ronald F. Marshall, 4-22-2014)









This great feast of the Easter Season, the Ascension of Our Lord, follows Easter by 40 days.  On Thursday, May 29th, the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 11:45 am in the chapel.  Study Luke 24:50:      Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.



The Visitation

Saturday, May 31, 2014


    Holy Eucharist will be celebrated on the Feast of the Holy Visitation, Saturday, May 31st, in the chapel at 11:45 am. 

    On this holy day we give thanks to God for the blessed words between Saint Mary and Saint Elizabeth.  We also give thanks for the honor paid Saint Mary by the still unborn Saint John the Baptist, when he moved in the womb of his mother, Saint Elizabeth. 

    To prepare for this festival, study Luke 1:39-47 and Isaiah 11:1-5.



"Thank you all for your generous donations at the bake sale on March 30th! You made it a huge success for the Sunday School students. You gave an amazing $308 so the students may begin to plan some big animal purchases to help families and support the missionaries of Gospel for Asia. We hope you enjoyed the treats! It was great fun to see such wonderful support. 


Thank you!"

Gina Allen, Education Chair, Church Council



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Mariann Petersen, Nora Vanhala, Natalie Nesvig, Mary Goplerud, Holly Petersen, Michael Nestoss, Donna Apman, Cynthia Natiello, Leah Baker, Agnes Arkle, Clara Anderson, Peggy & Bill Wright & Wendy, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Cameron Lim, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, Max Richardson, The Jones Family, Kyle Bogie, Anna & John Bertelsen, Kurt & Jenny Alfano, Robin Kaufman, Rosita & Jim Moe, Dean Herrick, Asha Sagmoen, Dano, Karen & W. Erick, The McGinnis Family, Dave & Sheri Wheeler, Sandy & Ron Weiss, Mark Sponheim, Sandee, Christine & Kristophor Marshall, Delores Grenier, Isabella Wain, Brian Mangan, Ginny Montgomery. 

    Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Clara Anderson, Agnes Arkle, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian, Vera Gunnarson, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Olive Morrison, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy Wright.

    Pray for those who have suffered the death of a loved one:  Pray that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:  Pray for CJ Christian and family on the death of her son, Carey Christian.  A service is planned for Saturday, May 3rd, at 11:00 am, in the Nave.

    Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Brian Kirby Unti, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our deacon Dean Hard and our cantor Andrew King, that they may be strengthened in faith, love and the holy office to which they have been called.

     Pray that God would give us hearts which find joy in service and in celebration of Stewardship.  Pray that God would work within you to become a good steward of your time, your talents and finances.  Pray to strengthen the Stewardship of our congregation in these same ways.

     Pray for the hungry, ignored, abused, and homeless this May.  Pray for the mercy of God for these people, and for all in Christ's church to see and help those who are in distress. 

     Pray for our sister congregation:  El Camino de Emmaus in the Skagit Valley that God may bless and strengthen their ministry.  Also, pray for our parish and it's ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints: St. Philip and St. James, Apostles; Monica, mother of Augustine, 387; and John Eliot, missionary to the American Indians, 1690.


A Treasury of Prayers


Dear God, I know you are infinitely holy and overflowing in all perfection; and so I should love you. I know that in love to me, lost in sin, you sent your only Son Jesus Christ, to suffer death on the cross that I might rise in glory. Bless me now, O God, that your love may be the motive of all that I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

                                              [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 1:44, altered]