September 2022

Looking to the Future


“ thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead...”

Philippians 3:13


     Is there a future for First Lutheran Church of West Seattle? Certainly, without a doubt! But, what kind of a future will it be? To some extent that depends upon you.

     Over 62 years as a pastor I have seen many congregations in a condition similar to FLCWS today: long-term, continued decline in worship attendance, no Sunday School,   no youth program, because there are too few youth, no regular fellowship opportunities,  no regular Bible studies because the few that attend are those who need it least, and no  coordinated outreach to the unchurched in the community. I have seen only one congregation in that condition that has been revitalized. (That congregation had declined to fifteen worshippers; it now has about 350). I hope and pray that FLCWS will be the second to be restored.

     Now, forgetting what lies behind, strain forward!

     Join with me in looking to the future. A very significant date is approaching, 11 September. On that Sunday, at 12:00 noon, you have the opportunity to return to the basic themes of our Christian faith. This is also your opportunity to invite friends, relatives, and neighbors who do not worship, to join with you. Invite them to “come and see” They can be introduced to what you affirm to be the foundation of your faith.

     Your response to this invitation is crucial to the future of FLCWS. The more members who attend, the greater, I think, the possibility of a renewal to be. The more non-churched, the more certain I will be that a vibrant rebirth is beginning.

     IMPORTANT:  We need to know how many will be present so that adequate space is prepared. Please call the church office and tell the office manager the number of people that will be in your party. There is no deadline. Anyone is invited to come, up to the last minute. However, the earlier we have the names, the easier it will be for those who have the responsibility to make preparations.


Yours in a common Lord,

Neal Snider, Interim Pastor


P. S. I will be available in the classroom at approximately 11:45 to share cookies & coffee with you, and to make a few introductory comments.



PRESIDENT'S Janine Douglass


“Praise and thanks and adoration, Son of God, to you we give.

For you chose to serve creation, Died that Adam’s heirs might live.

Dear Lord Jesus, guide my way; Faithful let me day by day

Follow where your steps are leading,

Find adventure, joys exceeding!”


This hymn, #469 from LBW, text by Thomas Kingo, is often sung at the end of the liturgical service and serves as a reminder that we can fully put our trust in God to provide in all decisions.

     Our council, staff and interim pastor have been busy over the summer, tending to the needs of the church. At long last we were able to come together as a church family and community to remember the life and ministry of Pastor Ronald F. Marshall and to mourn our loss. True to form, Pastor Marshall had specific instructions regarding the details of his memorial service, and had written the sermon himself some years ago. The challenge for us now is to discern the best possible way to move forward, adjusting to our interim pastor, and calling a permanent pastor beyond that. Transition periods can be especially tricky, however, I believe that if we collectively remain steadfast in our faith and diligent in our studies of the scripture we have reason to have hope in the outcome. Our hope has always been, and will continue to be, in Christ our rock and redeemer. Pure and simple.

     Our mid-year congregational meeting occurred at the end of July. Committee reports were provided.  Pastor Snider offered a challenge to our congregation: to be warm and inviting to others; to encourage in-person attendance on a regular basis at the Sunday liturgies and Christian education in order to nourish our spiritual life; and to work together with the ELCA as we search for a permanent pastor.  

     We had some staffing changes in our parish office over the summer, with the retirement of Sonja Clemente and the hiring of Justine Tucker. Job descriptions were updated to reflect current job duties and office hours. We pray God’s blessing on them both as they make this transition.

     Finally, we signed a new contract with the Tilden School for the next school year. It has been a wonderful and longstanding partnership and we wish them the best in the coming year.


Please pray for our Pastor in his duties, and for discernment within our council and committees as we navigate the call process.





Giving from Our Gifts 

     Paul charges the believers in 2 Corinthians 13:5 ‒


Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test.


     Self-testing can be the greatest challenge because if we are both the tested and the proctor, we can “cheat.” We can justify, we can rationalize our answers, and no one will know the difference. That is why we must allow the Owner to be the proctor as we examine and test our ways. Are we passing the test, if He is grading our stewardship?

     Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts. God reveals His perfect and infinite love for us most visibly in His Son, Jesus Christ. A steward makes God's love visible by imitating Jesus.

     Keep in mind you will not be remembered by what you have kept for yourself. You will be remembered by what you have given to others

         Mariann Petersen, Church Council


Volunteer Opportunities


September is a great time of year to review areas where we need additional volunteer help. Please consider giving your time in any of the following areas of service at First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.

     Nursery Attendant ‒ The nursery has been cleaned and refreshed! We would love to see it staffed for the 10:30 Liturgy on Sunday mornings. Do you or someone you know have a passion for working with children ages four and under? This could potentially be a paid position (small stipend per occurrence) for the right candidate. Please let Janine Douglass or Larraine King know if you are interested, or have a candidate in mind.

     Verger Class ‒ Dean Hard is putting together a class for new vergers. A verger’s role can range from assisting in procession, supporting acolyte functions, worship assistance, etc.  Those interested would learn about how to assist with the worship service in a variety of ways. Two members of the church have expressed interest, but we could use more. Please reach out to Dean if you are interested or have any questions.

     Service Team Assistance ‒ We have held several in-person events since the beginning of the year and are in need of extra assistance. Sonja Clemente has agreed to be the coordinator for our service teams. Watch for details in the future regarding how you can be involved with reception assistance including: baking, setting up coffee/tea service, room setup, room cleanup and kitchen duty. Other service team duties in the past have included Christmas decorating and serving Easter brunch.

     Gardening Assistance ‒ Do you have a green thumb? Do you love to work in the dirt? We currently have a need for an individual or group to water the trees near the church parking lot and parsonage. In addition, there is a need for weeds to be pulled from the courtyards. If you’re interested, please check with someone on the council facilities committee (Larraine King or David King).

     Flower Signups ‒ The signup list for procuring altar flowers for the Sunday Liturgy is posted in the hall outside of room C. The information is communicated by Maxine Foss to the Flower Lab, the florist we use exclusively for uniformity. After the service, people can opt to gift the flowers back to the church, hopefully to be shared with one of our homebound members, keep the flowers, or gift one and keep one. Participants usually receive a bill from the florist within a week or two of the contribution. If you haven’t already done so, please sign up! There are still a few openings through the end of the year.

Janine Douglass, President




After 34 years serving as our Parish Secretary, Sonja Clemente has announced she will retire as of September 1st.  We will miss her depth of knowledge for the job tasks and her attention to detail.  We are thankful for her willingness to serve these many years and we wish her much happiness in her retirement. Sonja looks forward to spending time gardening, traveling and enjoying her family. Pictured below with her final official pay check.



Janine Douglass, congregation president and retiring parish secretary, Sonja Clemente.




Reminder If you are behind on your pledge for 2022, please make every effort to get caught up.  This summer’s giving is behind budget and a new pledge season is right around the corner.  Thank you!

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Justine Tucker, our new Parish Office Manager. Justine came out of early retirement from United Parcel Service to join our staff on a part-time basis. When you call or stop by the church office, be sure to introduce yourself. Her office hours are: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9am-2pm and Fridays 9am to noon.   



The church library continues to be updated. Come in and take a look at the new books which have been added to the collection. Following is a short synopsis of some of the books you may want to check out!


The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton:  Preston Clearwater has been a criminal since stealing 1,600 pairs of aviator sunglasses from the army during the Second World War. Now on the road in North Carolina as a member of a car-theft ring, he picks up Henry Dampier, an innocent 20 year old Bible salesman. Clearwater immediately recognizes Henry as the smart but gullible associate he needs.

Eli by Bill Myers:  What if Jesus had not come until today? Who would follow Him? Who would kill Him?

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer:  When a meteor hits the moon and knocks it closer in orbit to the earth, nothing will ever be the same. Earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions. And that’s just the beginning. (This is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.)

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist by Daniel Taylor:  Jon Mote – grad school dropout and serial failure – has been hired to investigate the murder of his erstwhile mentor, Richard Pratt, a star in the firmament of literary theory, Feeling unequal to the task, Mote skitters on the edge of madness, trying to stifle the increasingly threatening voices in his head. His only source of hope is the dogged love of his developmentally disabled sister, Judy, who serves as cheerleader, critic, and moral compass. (This book is the 2016 Book Award Winner in fiction by Christianity Today, as well as a Gold Medal winner for 2016 by Illumination Book Awards.)

The Good Priest’s Son (Fic Pri) by Reynolds Price:  Flying home to New York after a much needed getaway, private art conservator Mabry Kincaid learns that his downtown loft has been devastated by the World Trade Center attacks. Unable to resume his normal life, he flies south to North Carolina to visit his aged father, a widowed Episcopal priest. Mabry is compelled to explore his tormented relationship with his father and a world he fondly remembers but has long since abandoned. Back in New York a week later, Mabry faces his old life, which lies in ruins before his eyes. There, he must once again confront change and uncertainty – and a daunting disease that may prove fatal. This is one man’s journey to come to terms with two familiar worlds that have been radically altered.



Personal Safety Nets: getting ready for life’s inevitable changes and challenges (362.4 Gib) by Dr. John W. Gibson and Judy Pigott:  Are you prepared for an unexpected accident or illness? A transfer, move, or deployment?  A major job change or retirement?  Divorce and its aftermath? Crises for your parents or children?  A disaster in your community? This book will show you how to intentionally create a personal safety net made up of those plans, systems, resources, and especially people who strengthen your life. You will not only read stories of real people with real problems but also find tools, examples, knowledge, and hope to help and inspire you.

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s continuing debate over science and religion  345.73 Lar by Edward J. Larson: In the summer of 1925, the town of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the 20th century’s most contentious courtroom dramas: the Scopes trial pitting William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against Clarence Darrow and the ACLU in a timeless battle over science, religion, and their place in public education. That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day. (This book received the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1998 and is the single most authoritative account of a pivotal event whose combatants remain at odds in school districts and courtrooms.)

What This Cruel War Was Over: soldiers, slavery, and the Civil War 973.7 Man by Chandra Manning:  Letters, diaries, and regimental newspapers take the reader inside the minds of Civil War soldiers - black and white, Northern and Southern – as they fought and marched across a divided country. Manning explores how the Union and Confederate soldiers came to identify slavery as the central issue of the war and what that meant for a nation in tumult.

Hipster Christianity – When church and cool collide 261.109 McC by Brett McCracken: What happens to the church when our concern with appearances equals or outweighs our concern for sound doctrine or faithful practice? In this probing book, Christian journalist Brett McCracken examines an emerging category he calls “Christian hipsters” – an unlikely fusion of the American obsession with being “cool” and the realities of a faith that is often seen as anything but.

I Told Me So: self-deception and the Christian life 241.673 Ten by Gregg A. Ten Elshof: Socrates famously asserted that the unexamined life is not worth living, But Gregg Ten Elshof shows us that we make all sorts of little deals with ourselves every day in order to stave off examination and remain happily self-deceived. Most provocatively, he suggests this is not all bad! This book is a wonderful example of philosophy serving spiritual discipline. Ten Elshof’s discussions are erudite, biblical, searching, and laced with soul restoring wisdom.

Fire Road: the napalm girl’s journey through the horrors of war to faith, forgiveness & peace  959.704 Thi by Kim Phuc Phan Thi: More than four decades ago, her excruciating pain was exposed in a photo that made headlines around the world. Only now is she fully revealing the depth of her scarring – to both body and soul. Left for dead in a hospital morgue, Kim miraculously survived – but her journey toward healing was only beginning. When the napalm bombs dropped, everything Kim knew and relied on exploded along with them: her beloved home and Vietnamese village, her country’s freedom, as well as her childhood innocence and happiness. Kim’s coming years would be marked by agonizing treatments for her burns, incessant physical pain throughout her body, and being handled for political propaganda. In this stunning first-hand account of struggling to find answers in a world that only seemed to bring anguish, Kim ultimately discovers strength in someone who had suffered himself, transforming her tragedy into an unshakable faith.

These selections can be found on the new book shelves.



Mariann Petersen, Janice Lundbeck, Robert Schorn, Kim Lim, Melanie Johnson, Holly Petersen, Leah and Melissa Baker, Felicia Wells, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Kyra Stromberg, Peter Morrison, The Rev. Douglas & Paula Lindsay, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kari Reiten, Yuriko Nishimura, Karen Granger, Angel Lynne, Nick Karlson, Paul Sponheim, the Ceaicovschi Family in Moldova, Richard Patishnock, David Ruberg, Judy Berkenpas, Nicole Coile, Holly Finan, Phyllis Drakulich.

     Pray for our professional health care providers:  Gina Allen, Janine Douglass, Jane Collins, David Juhl, Dana Kahn, Dean Riskedahl and all those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Joan Olson, Bob & Mona Ayer, Gregg & Jeannine Lingle, Robert Schorn, Nora Vanhala, Martin Nygaard, Lou Landino.

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Shelley Bryan Wee, our interim pastor the Reverend Neal Snider, our choirmaster 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 September.  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 Emaus in the Skagit Valley, that God may bless and strengthen their ministry.  Also, pray for our parish and its ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints:  Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist; and Saint Michael and All Angels.

     Pray for this poor, fallen human race that God would have mercy on us all.

     Pray for this planet, our home, that it and the creatures on it would be saved from destruction.

A Treasury of Prayers


O God, who in thy Son did come among us, and in him will come again, of thy mercy grant us not to shrink from thy presence, but to rejoice in it.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

[For All the Saints IV:383 altered]