Screening Committees

We continued our Advent series, The World is About to Turn, on Dec. 13 asking how we have acted as “screening committee,” denying the worth of the people God might work through in our community or church?  How can we remain open to God at work among and through everyone we meet?  Read worshipers’ responses below.


Sometimes we made judgments about people based on what they wear, the car they drive, or the house they live in.  We assume that if they “have less” than we do that they have little to offer.  This results in missed opportunities for leadership.  It may be as simple as not inviting a new person to church because we assume they won’t be interested or have nothing to offer.  This results in many missed opportunities to share God’s love and abundance.

Not valuing differences, having an answer before the question is asked.

We reach out to all.  We are intergenerational.

From another church: Not supporting programs brought up by members to help the community provide more support.

There are many paths to enlightenment.  I encourage all to travel and celebrate all who travel.

I think we act as screening committees in our congregation when we are introduced to new ideas.

Sometimes we “screen” out of fear or maybe an idea sounds too big to carry out.  But when we have faith we can make big things happen.

Each individual has a power to spread to God’s love and work in our community.

By having some people’s opinion being more important than others by virtue of wealth, social skills, or occupation.

Having power is being acknowledged, accepted as a credible source of opinion or information, and being respected.  Sadly, it means that we’re judged by our appearance before our words are heard.

People are so quick to criticize what kinds of food are purchased using the SNAP benefit—“They” should not be allowed to buy….  Lack empathy.  Seeing SNAP beneficiaries as less than.

One of the things I love about Trinity is that we don’t screen—everyone is free and welcome to participate, lead, attend, contribute, benefit and share as they wish.  Encouragement is abundant as well as support when we need it.

Be honest, fair, and open minded.

In the church, I think each one of us has power.  Each time we welcome someone with a smile, help someone follow the bulletin, cook a meal, exhibit patience—we represent Jesus.  Now that’s what I call power.

Maybe by not listening to their message—by not recognizing who they really are.

We judge by outside appearance—thinking wrongly about a person’s potential to give and serve.  God can use EVERYONE to show his love.

Ignoring the homeless.  Blaming the poor for being poor.

Trinity is involved in helping our community here in Nampa as well as our world community.  How this is by being out working with the people whether one on one or being a part of a larger group to make people’s lives better.


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Voices Crying Out

This year at Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa our Midweek Advent series is based on the hymn Canticle of the Turning, based on Mary’s Magnificat.  This week we heard from Isaiah Chapter 40:

“A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” (Isaiah 40:3)

We asked members of the assembly to share voices they hear crying out.  People interpreted the question differently but the answers were wonderful to read.  Here is a sampling of responses:

Voices of the lonely, who feel isolated

Women who have been sexually abused

Refugees who need a new place to call home

Black Lives Matter



The Native Americans throughout the United States crying out to care of the earth

The women who have been brave enough to bring powerful males to be accountable for their actions

Women who have experienced harassment

Those without adequate food or fresh water

Those in war-torn areas

Those suffering from natural disasters

Those who have been treated unfairly

The newest generation of “Green” voices calling for us all to live simpler and sustainable lives, in reverence of the earth and its creator

We hear too many voices—so we need to pray for discernment to listen to those which speak truth and challenge us to live out God’s love in our words and deeds

The church active in the local community

Those in poverty

Those being persecuted

War-torn countries

Oppressed People

Warnings about climate change

Black Lives Matter

Political Prisoners

Mentally Ill


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Films and Transformation

This week my friend Rev. Karen Hunter and I will be presenting on Peace Camp for some potential new supporters.  Karen believes that being with people who are different than us, something we did a lot of at Peace Camp, is transformative, for both parties.  Transformation happens most often and naturally through relationships.  And yet I firmly believe that the arts, including films, can introduce us to other worlds, new people, and other perspectives that may change us, at least a little.  So, as we start making lists, as my mom is now, for the films we will see the week between Christmas and New Year’s, here are five movies I commend to you from this summer and fall:

The Big Sick – “Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Garkner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash.  When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectation, and his true feelings.” IMDB  This is the one Oscar-contender on my list, and for good reason.  Character development and storytelling are in fine form.  I look forward to watching this one again this winter.


Maudie – “An arthritic Nova Scotia woman works as a housekeeper while she hones her skills as an artist and eventually becomes a beloved figure in the community.” IMDB  Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke have long been favorites of mine.  They shine in this film based on a true story.  If you want to see an old-fashioned feel-good story, see Maudie.

Wind River – Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star  in this chilling murder mystery set in the icy backwoods of a Native American Reservation.  This film is important purely because there are not many films about life today in the  Mountain West or Reservations.  The cinemetagraphy is outstanding, allowing the landscape to be a character in the film.  Graham Greene, a favorite of mine from Dances with Wolves and Northern Exposure, also stars.


Marshall – “A black man charged with sexual assault and attempted murder of his white socialite employer.  A young Thurgood Marshall must mount the defense in an environment of racism and anti-Semitism.” Facebook  Chadwick Boseman and Josh Gad give great performances and have great chemistry as the team of lawyers.  I hope the song from the closing credits, “Stand Up For Something” by Andra Day is nominated for an Oscar.

Coco – “Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz.  Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events.  Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector, and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.” Disney/Pixar  Thankfully, the studio took its time and did this film right.  The storytelling, art, and music are wonderful.

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Peace Camp in Nampa

How did we end up with over one-hundred 6-13 year-old kids at the Hispanic Cultural Center doing yoga, thinking critically about the media, connecting with nature and learning about conflict resolution for four days?  I do not know, but the way all the moving pieces came together to create Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids is one of my favorite Summer 2017 stories.

Seven adults gathered at the United Church of Christ Church in Nampa in February.  Members of Southside Methodist Church knew about the UCC curriculum Peace Village and wanted to put on a camp in Nampa.  I had been invited through the Nampa Ministerial and invited my good friend and colleague, Grace Episcopal Priest Karen Hunter.  We met every other week for the next seven months and in the end the event included:

A team of awesome volunteer teachers who implemented the curriculum each morning.

Use of the beautiful Hispanic Cultural Center (in exchange for Karen doing some grant-writing for them).

St. Luke’s Hospital paid for two healthy snacks each day, provided by Create Common Good.

Two weeks out we had 12 kids registered so we put a two-day ad in the newspaper and the Nampa schools sent an email to every family in North Nampa, where the Hispanic Cultural Center is located.

Japanese Drummers from the Buddist Temple in Ontario, Oregon came Monday afternoon.

Naturalists from Birds of Prey brought raptors Tuesday afternoon.

Aztec Dancers came Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday afternoon included low-ropes course team-building.

A St. Luke’s nutritionist came Monday morning and taught the kids about mindful eating.

Mayor Henry brought us greetings in person on Thursday morning and even hid a rock with one of the Mindful Movement classes.

Two sister-ELCA Lutheran churches loaned us their vans so we could take up to 30 kids to Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge each afternoon.  I used one of the vans to pick up and take home 12-13 kids from Farmway Village outside of Caldwell each morning and afternoon.

Luther Heights Bible Camp had a day-camp cancel so I housed two college-age counselors who served as team leaders.  Two other counselors, working at a day-camp in Caldwell in the mornings, joined us in the afternoons

Around 20 adults and another 12 teenagers volunteered throughout the week.  The attendance at our review meeting this past Thursday blew me away.  Who wants to attend a meeting when something is completed?   Chairs in the room kept getting filled by 18 compassionate and dedicated adults who want to make next year’s Learning Peace: A Camp for Kids even better.

One more big THANK YOU to the members of Trinity Lutheran who volunteered their time and skills and those who sent texts of encouragement throughout the week.  I will end with the text I sent on Monday to an inquiring member who asked how Peace Camp was going.  “Crazy and fabulous at the same time.  The ethnic and socio-economic diversity is beautiful–a great portrait of Canyon County.  The teaches have prepared so well and the Luther Heights staff are the icing on the cake.”

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5 Years of Canning Classes

Press Release from Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa –

On Aug. 24, Trinity Lutheran Church (Trinity) will begin hosting its fifth annual Home Food Preservation Series, in cooperation with the University of Idaho Extension. The three-part series covers basic canning, pressure canning and freezing. In 2013, Trinity was given a Domestic Hunger Grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After the Harvest was a two-part grant proposal meant to extend the impact of Trinity Community Gardens Inc. Not everyone who receives produce from food pantries knows how to prepare it and once the harvest season ends, the produce goes away. Part One of the grant was a cookbook, completed in 2015, containing simple recipes, six ingredients or less, for produce grown in Southwest Idaho.  Part Two sent four Trinity members to the six-day Food Safety Advisor Training at Ada County Extension.  These Food Safety Advisors then led the labs at Trinity in late summer.  Each evening of the series at Trinity begins with a lecture by an Extension Nutritionist.  Then the students break into laboratories.  Over the last five years, Trinity has sent 13 people (eight Trinity Lutheran Church members and five community members) to the training in Ada County. Around 60 people total have taken the three-part series offered at Trinity in late summer.  This year the series will be Aug. 24, Aug. 31, and Sept. 7 from 5:45-9:00 pm.  The fee of $40.00 covers the lectures, labs, a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving Food, and a dozen pint canning jars with lids.  Enrollment will be limited to the first 20 paid applicants.  Scholarships are available.  Registration forms can be found on the announcement page of Trinity’s website:



Joey Peutz, Extension Nutritionist

After the Harvest is such an amazing program and strong partnership between Trinity Lutheran Church and University of Idaho Extension.  The After the Harvest volunteers are committed to their community and so motivating to work with.  It is a transformational experience to see a community learning together and working together.  On top of that it is just fun to teach and prepare home food preservation products with our community.”

Bambilin Beavers, Community Member and Food Safety Advisor

“Food preservation is one of those basic skills that can provide people the know-how to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families.  It can provide the autonomy to take part in their own health and well-being, and allow for a sense of accomplishment.”


*About Trinity Lutheran Church: a community of faith whose mission is to refresh the faithful and reach out with word and service to all others through the Holy Gospel. Trinity is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has been served by Pastor Meggan Manlove since November 2010.

*About Trinity Community Gardens Inc.: founded in 2008 by three advanced master gardeners, the original plot was planted in the backyard of Trinity Lutheran Church. The project has expanded to gleaning and a second plot on East Railroad.  In Dec. 2014, the gardeners published an English/Spanish book, Growing to Feed Many: How Trinity Community Gardens Inc. gets more food from less space.

*About UI Extension: helps citizens through research-based, locally relevant information and programs. They offer programming in 4-H and Youth Development, Crop Production, Food Preservation, Small Acreage and Livestock Management, Nutrition, and Horticulture. Clients learn through hands-on classes, workshops, trainings, office visits, phone calls and online resources.

* About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

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“Hidden Figures” and three more

I had my fill this past month in heartwarming, heartbreaking, inspiring and thought  provoking films.  It began with the wonderful Hidden Figures, the story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who served vital roles during the early years of the US space program.  I have two nieces and a nephew who are all mathematicians and I thought of them all, getting a clearer sense of the excitement they must sometimes experience and being thankful that they did not have to bear the prejudices of the extraordinary women at the center of the film.  Octavia Spencer, Taraji Hensen, and Janelle Monae were all wonderful.  The film’s only fault is making Al Harrison, played by Kevin Costner, a hero for the women as he fights against discrimination.  Reading background information it is clear that Harrison was not a villain but he was never a hero either.  Did the film makers not think I would enjoy the film if there was not a white hero? Continue reading

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Winter Break Movies

Between Christmas and New Year’s I saw six memorable films: Fences, Jackie, La La Land, Cafe Society, Lion, and Manchester by the Sea, unintenionally saving my favorite two for last.  It is hard to turn a play into a great film (the best example I know of is A Few Good Men).  I wish I had seen Viola Davis and Denzel Washington when they starred in the play on Broadway because their performances on film were powerful.   Continue reading

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