Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2017

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Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches @2017

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Evergreen History

Nominating Committees?

Last weekend the Black Caucus of Evergreen went on a road trip! About a dozen folk squeezed into a van at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Baptist Church’s parking lot and made their way to Calvary Baptist Church in Spokane. They were greeted by several members of Calvary Church who treated us (yes, I joined them, only I flew because I had an unexpected appointment earlier in the day J) to a scrumptious barbeque dinner! On Saturday morning (after more food), we shared…a history of Evergreen, what churches were doing in outreach to the community. We “toured” the house where every Saturday Calvary Church feeds lunch to 75-100 honored guests. The Seattle folks got back into the van after lunch (more wonderful food, enough to take some home with us) and made our way back to MLK parking lot and home. An Evergreen “moment”! Part of the Evergreen story!

The Black caucus plans more such adventures!

On Saturday morning when sharing was happening concerning Evergreen, I was reminded of one of the “unintended” consequences of our Evergreen structure. We have no “nominating committee.” In many/most organizations like Evergreen the real power resides with the nominating committee, it is who the nominating committee knows which makes a difference about who gets the leadership nod in many groups. Our caucus system has dispersed the work of the nominating committee, so that each caucus works out how members of the Executive Committee will be selected. With each caucus naming two people to the Executive Committee and naming officers when it is a caucus’s turn to name an officer, it means the work of nominating leaders is the work of all the caucuses rather than one small “representative” group. It is shared power at its best.

Further reflection on this brings me to the Executive Committee. Although we have had some folks with a great number of years on the Executive Committee we have always had extraordinary service from all who have served. And the relationships built and maintained by that service is astounding.

We have made it a practice at Executive Committee meetings to always ask a question at the end, either “what have you learned in today’s meeting” or “how do you see God at work?” Many times in response has been the group working together and the meaning the meetings have for the participants. Since at least one of our participants is almost always on the phone, I think this makes another “Evergreen” moment/story. There is a commitment and “sum greater than its parts” about our work. The Spirit is there and we are blessed. Thank you to the current Executive Committee and to all who have served over our eight years!



June 2, 2011

Where does the time go! June already, even though it is cool outside! But then we have been blessed not to have the scorching temps that the east coast has had or the tornados and terrible winds, now hitting even Massachusetts.

The last post was about consensus. I want to write a bit further about our caucus model. The benefits of the caucus system were not known early on. One of the best unintended consequences is that we don’t have a nomination committee for Evergreen. Each caucus acts as it needs to put forth nominations. Talk about sharing of power! Most often in organizations the nominating committee is the real place of power. Without one in Evergreen, power is more dispersed and shared. The caucus system allows this and each caucus handles nominations in its own way. In fact, each caucus is organized in its own way!

The quorum, across Evergreen is that at least one person from each caucus must be present in order for us to do business. For all people groups, this says, if we don’t show up, it means that the organization cannot go forward. The rules say we can only get along with everyone present! That is a real shift for people of color, it means ownership in a way that is not usual in American Baptist circles anyway.

In addition our caucuses help us reach consensus. Early on in our life, we learned that consensus building as a whole group beyond the Executive Committee (total 7 people) was almost impossible. The caucuses allowed us immediate smaller groups! And that meant that at Association Board meetings caucuses could have some real conversations. I’m convinced that at times conversations happen that just would not happen if the group were ethnically mixed. This is especially true as it relates to conversations about money or anything of importance. Within the relative safety of the caucuses some concerns can be voiced where otherwise they would be silenced or rationales would be put forward. Does it mean that sometimes decisions must be slowed down? Yes! So far that hasn’t been a bad thing. It has helped us all come to more reasoned decisions and decision making.

Exactly how this all works does need to be experienced. It is rather difficult to put down on paper (or out on the web in words) the complete experience. The Euro caucus in particular has had difficulty in understanding why “separating” helps us come together. In my opinion, that has to do, in large part, because the Euro caucus has not dealt deeply enough with our white privilege. While we think we might allow all others in a larger group to participate, we are usually unaware of how we dominate the conversation and the agenda. Our “giving people time” to respond, does not translate for the other caucus groups. It is indeed by our meeting separately that the Black and Asian (and prayerfully one day other caucuses) have their voice.

We are learning, we have not yet arrived.


By-law Development

May 19, 2011

Once again, I find that regularly posting a blog has escaped me! I am surprised that it is already May 19! Time flies when you’re busy, I guess.

The last blog spoke of our mission statement. I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a little bit about our option to make decisions by consensus. When the by-laws of Evergreen had been written (by a lawyer) and we were reviewing the document (to take as much “lawyer-ese” out of it as we could J, we came across the article that read: “all decisions will be made by majority rule unless otherwise noted in these by-laws.” We had called a meeting that was held at the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church. I can picture us, scattered about the pews in the sanctuary, everyone with a copy of the by-laws, paying attention, noses in the copy. There was a “dumb-filled silence” after reading that article. I interpreted the silence for myself as a “do we really want to make decisions that way?” Several eventually voiced their wondering. And a quiet conversation ensued about what else can we do? What are our options? Folks took the assignment to figure out what else/how else we might move ahead. On February 22, 2003, we adopted our by-laws, calling for us to do our work by consensus. Let me make it clear, the by-laws were affirmed by consensus! That part of the experiment had begun.

We had also adopted by-laws that called for caucus groups to be our structure. This is instead of some kind of geographical representative structure. But it guaranteed voice and understanding to people who otherwise did not feel that they had voice and understanding. We started by making sure that we began a rotation of the chair by the African-American caucus group, not the Euro-American caucus group.

Real genius was experienced when we put our consensus decision making and our caucus structure together. When we are even in mid-size groups (our Association Board, for instance), consensus is gained in caucus groups and brought back to the group as whole. This makes great sense and also lets those less familiar with consensus work, figure it out in the “comfort” of their caucus rather than in the unwieldy larger group. This works particularly well for the caucuses of color. In the relative safety of their caucus groups they can say and figure out things in ways better for them than ever could working in the group as a whole.

Evergreen acknowledges that it is something a lot easier to experience than it is to describe. If you have the opportunity, there is a standing invitation to come and see!

Our Annual Meeting is October 14-15, 2011 at Seattle First Baptist Church!


The Vision Committee

April 26, 2011

Wow! Time gets away from me in doing these blogs. I was busy early last week then took more personal time at the end of the week because a friend was visiting, and the blog was not done!

I promised to talk about mission statement and structure. What I really want to talk about though, was the good work of that New Region Task Force assigned by American Baptist Churches of the Northwest. They were an unbalanced group, with one locally church ordained African-American, two Asian-American laymen, and the rest Euro—American. We became aware that the group was out of balance with Seattle Baptist Union (SBU) which at the time had about half African-American congregations, the other half, Euro-American congregations, with a few Asian churches thrown in! So, after the first year, the Task Force decided to call together a “Vision Committee” to do three things:

They proposed, since SBU’s make-up was what it was, that the Vision Committee should have 4 representatives from the African-American churches, 4 from the Euro-American and at least 2 from the Asian Churches. Only the Euro churches met to choose their representatives and they specifically chose representatives who were predominately lay people (Chrystal Cooper, Larry Sims, Heidi Cleveland and Rev. Curtis Price). The one clergy was an associate pastor at the time they chose him. The African-American representatives came from interested groups and parties and 2 of the 4 were very faithful in their attendance, being as I recall at every meeting (Rev. Dana McClendon and Rev. George Noble). The Asian representatives were one layman and one clergy (Dr. Akira Ishimaru and Rev. Romero Macalinao). They met at least 2 six hour Saturdays and several other evenings. The first task was to come up with the Mission Statement. Although it was edited up until and even at the Covenanting Convention in May of 2002. They did the work well. It continues to serve us today.

Being a culturally diverse people who are one in Christ and who value the liberties of our American Baptist heritage, the Evergreen Baptist Association will build bridges between communities; provide resources to equip member churches to share Christ and teach God’s word; and translate our unity to the world.

They also proposed the structure that gives us what we call our “caucus” system. The structure includes an Executive Committee that has two representatives from every caucus and a quorum at every level that includes at least one representative from every caucus be present in order to do business! When people of color hear this about our structure, they say “Wow, you are really serious about wanting us to help make decisions!”

One of our gifts was having the time for this unique group of people to do their work and they did it prayerfully and well. Many times I’ve been grateful for how God worked with this group and continues to work with us each step of the way.


The Evergreen Story: Beginnings

April 14, 2011

Last week I was at General Executive Council (GEC) meetings followed by a special Design Team meeting for the launch of a new missional initiative by American Baptist Churches—watch for the launch at the Biennial. My intention is to add to this blog about weekly, but it has been much longer than that, since my last post. Thanks to those who are reading this, I hope you find it helpful to learn more about Evergreen Association.

There is on the Evergreen web site a history of Evergreen, but I think it important to tell some of the poignant stories of Evergreen, which is what I hope to do in these next few blogs. Evergreen is blessed as an organization, especially blessed as an American Baptist Region because of our beginnings. We were born out of the controversy surrounding acceptance of gay/lesbian/transgendered/bisexual peoples in American Baptist life. The American Baptist Churches of the Northwest in an effort to keep people at the American Baptist table made a decision at their 2000 Biennial Convention to restructure the region. The subsequent meeting held in December of 2000 was to ask Seattle Baptist Union (SBU) (an already existing organization of American Baptist Churches in Seattle) to form a new region. There was a caveat that any church in SBU could opt out of the new region and any church in the greater ABC Northwest could opt into the new region. That started the Evergreen journey. It was blessed at the beginning to be given this gift of invitation to churches, very few of which were actively engaged in the controversy, to form a new region. This was a gift of a clean slate, an empty place, in which to build something new. This gift allowed us to begin with renewing relationships and work slowly toward organization. The gift of time and a blank slate on which to create something new is a rare thing and one that helped Evergreen become what it is today. The task force asked to begin the new Region worked slowly. Although they began meeting in January of 2001, it was not until May of 2002 that the name Evergreen was proposed as a name—all that came before then just did not fit or were too close to names already in use. Although the name is geographically based because Washington is the Evergreen State, it calls forth a wealth of other possibilities for us.

In the next blog I’ll reflect on how we came to our mission statement and caucus structure.


The Evergreen Story: Preface

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sometimes we understand God’s hand at work just because of the confluence of events. I started this blog to get out the “message” of Evergreen Association’s Leader Retreat. As I neared the “end” of the report, I realized I had started something that was just too good to abandon. I was scared about what that would mean, but continued to plow ahead and have easily found things to lift up.

Last night, one of my colleagues from Tuesday’s cultural competency training event reminded me that we had agreed to go to Pacific Lutheran University to hear Tim Wise, an author and activist. What a treat! There were many lessons to take away from that 2 hour event, but the primary one that I shared with Stacy on our ride north was that I must “tell the story.” The story of Evergreen needs to be told, and perhaps the best way to begin telling it will be in these blogs.

As it happened, when I came into the office this morning (yes, I’m finally getting myself into the office, rather than working out of my condo—thank goodness for healing bodies, especially feet!), I picked up an old Christian Century that hadn’t made it to my condo. In it was an article on preaching by William H. Willamon, in which he said, “Preaching is so difficult that no one can do it without being summoned. Few of us preachers mount a pulpit on Sunday morning because we are naturally good at it and enjoy mouthing off before a crowd. We got put there.” (Christian Century, February 8, 2011, page 11). I want to say amen to that and that I feel the same way about telling the Evergreen Story, mostly because in my opinion it is a story with many voices and I am only one. However, one thing I learned last night, is that (whether I like it or not) I have been called to tell the story. I can more easily name some of the past wrongs by my culture (white, middle class, American Baptist), although I’m also bound to miss some (the culture is my lens), and I can invite other voices in and will on occasion even quote others. I am summoned to this task.

So the Evergreen Story, by Marcia Patton starts with this apology, not a good way to start, but where I must start. I am surprised more often than not that I am in this position, doing the work I’m doing. I was raised in Temperance, Michigan - a white, Anglo-Saxon protestant community. Really, no kidding! A Catholic Church did not come to Temperance until I was in high school! And, if there were non-Christians in Temperance, they kept such a low profile I was totally unaware of them. There certainly were not people of color. I saw people of color every now and then when we drove the 5 miles or so to Toledo Ohio to shop. But usually we shopped at the nearest shopping center; we rarely went downtown shopping where we’d be more likely to meet people of color. So, I am not one that can say my childhood friend led me to this place. My best friend as a child was a Catholic! And she had a small hand in leading me where I am by her own faith and actions, but I can’t claim any childhood proclivity to the work today. I did not have to overcome, I was raised in privilege. It has taken too long for me to acknowledge that. I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters; my Dad worked swing shifts at the coal-burning power plant, he held a job with that company until he retired at age 62; and my Mom stayed home. She eventually went to work around the time I went to college. Mind you, my family didn’t have a lot of money, but my parents were buying our home and I never remember being hungry. I do remember eating a lot of homemade bread and hating the powdered milk of the days my Dad was on strike one year, but hunger, no. We had land for a garden and froze vegetables that I still yearn for occasionally today. I am privileged. I am a straight woman, never married. I sometimes say that the single life is more confusing to folks than even homosexual marriage. But I know that while the single life is misunderstood by some, it has not caused me the hurt and pain that many gay, lesbian, transgendered, and bisexual people experience. I am privileged.

I will in subsequent blogs tell the Evergreen story, through my understanding and my lens. I am determined to do it justice and will with God’s grace and yours. This is the longest blog so far, I’m sure there will be more to come. Please respond as you are led and able.


Marcus Walker and Difference Makes a Difference

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sunday was the memorial service for our colleague and friend, Marcus Walker. The tributes were touching, meaning filled and funny! Thanks to Lauren (Marcus’ wife), his sons and family and friends for putting together such a wonderful tribute for someone too soon gone from our midst. The Burton Church Choir sang marvelously, to so many! Yet, somehow, I want to expect Marcus to still be around…

Yesterday, I spent the day with ecumenical colleagues over in Spokane doing a training event. The majority of the audience (well, all but one) were United Methodist pastors. We were presenting a seven-hour workshop called “Difference Makes a Difference.” It is a second level (after an introductory seven-hour workshop) on cultural competency. In this workshop, we review skills introduced at the first, then go deeper into the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity. I worked with a United Methodist and two Lutheran colleagues.

I was reminded of how Evergreen must engage in this work, and how we seek to do so regularly in our meetings. I was also led to reflect how we can still minimize our differences. We must continually seek to be sure that we take the time to know ourselves and gain insight on how others do work, so we can creatively use the gifts and skills of everyone in Evergreen. This is an ongoing task. It is a part of jigsaw puzzle.

Marcus Walker is a good example of being/doing the unexpected. Many at his Memorial commented on the seeming inconsistency of being a Baptist Minister and a playhouse director. But truth be told, I see no inconsistency in that, I want to say, yes and why not?! Marcus was gifted in such a way that he clearly made an impact in both those worlds, toward God. One of the skills noticed was how Marcus could call out the best in others and support others in what they were doing. God knows how to use our gifts. We, too, must learn to do so.

As we learn to do this within Evergreen, it is will be a gift to share with the world. The world generally knows and affirms a “conformed” way of doing things, one that rarely sees the “different” gift as acceptable. We will be challenged to learn this acceptance in Evergreen and more challenged to share how to share it with the world. First we must work to make sure within Evergreen that we both listen to all the voices and affirm the various gifts and talents among us. It means that things will not always been done in ways we expect. We may all be surprised at times. But we serve the God of surprises! Let us prepare to serve our God well.


Advocacy Days and Sacred Action

Friday, March 18, 2011

Greetings readers, a happy post St. Patrick’s Day to you! I didn’t post yesterday because I was attending the Interfaith Advocacy Day in Olympia, Washington. I will admit that I’m a reluctant attendee at these events. But, after I go, I always feel it was time well spent. In addition to the time for conversation and presentations among those attending, I was part of small delegations to my State Senator and to the Speaker of the House. Both individuals are working hard to make sure that our state budget does not do away with important programs for those with the least in our state. They understand that the budget is a moral document and are working hard to make sure that what can be done will be done.

They both said that one thing that helps is for the voter in our state to understand the choices that are being made. Evergreen is working on developing a statement on Sacred Action for Justice. Going to Olympia and meeting with representatives is one way to do that, but we can also bring things like our state’s budget to our classrooms in our churches. With the Bible in one hand, and things like state and national budget’s in the other, how can we help our legislators do their job better? How can we be better citizens when we are asked to cast our vote, especially those times we may be asked to vote for taxes? My State Senator also indicated that she is willing (other than during the legislative session) to come to local churches and meet with groups of people. What would it mean to invite legislators to come and share how their faith and their work for us meet? How do we help our church members also be good citizens? We need to take our Christianity with us wherever we go but we do not always prepare our people to do so. Please receive this as ideas for your consideration.

Grace and peace to you,


Japan Earthquake/New Annual Meeting Schedule

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We continue to be concerned for the people of Japan. I’ve sent information to all Evergreen Pastors about how Japanese Baptist Church in particular is dealing with this disaster and also from the ground information from our Missionaries there. You can always donate to relief efforts through One Great Hour of Sharing.

This blog started because of the work of the Leader Retreat in February. So what does all this mean? Will it all make any difference in the way Evergreen does things? The simple answer is yes and no. Some things will be different. There is a lot of “buzz” in our meetings these days about needing to take a hard look at the schedule of the Annual Meeting. We need both better interaction between caucuses and some of our caucuses are still in the learning phase of figuring out how to do business by consensus. I anticipate that come this October our work will be different than it has been the last several years. Our intent is to turn some things around. We will still have wonderful worship and important words from a guest speaker/preacher but the rest of the day will have a different feel.

The Building Bridges Day is coming fast. Register today. We were quite intentional in asking Eric Law to be with us. His plenary on Grace Margin Conversations is one answer to our Leader Retreat. I want to encourage you to look over the offerings and sign up today. Just today we are adding a workshop as Ray Schooler will be in the area. Ray works for International Ministries and will share how to help your church connect with International Ministries.


Telling the Evergreen Story Narrative

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good day to each one reading this. My return flight last night was cancelled, so I had to take a later plane, which meant returning in the midst of the wind and rain! However, ABSW had a good visit with the ATS team and are looking forward to the preliminary report from the team today.

I’d like to turn our thoughts to the fourth “edge” or “mission priority” narrative from the leader team that met last month. This one is on “Sharing the Evergreen Story.” The small group offered this narrative:

“The Evergreen Story and current events are on the internet, in the newspaper, on facebook and twitter and whatever new thing is coming along. A good quality production video of Evergreen is on UTube and available on DVD.

People in Evergreen have conversations with lots of people wherever they are about Evergreen.

There are young adults and teenagers involved in the life of Evergreen, they are at all events and meetings.

More churches/organization are using consensus in their decision making process. Creative ways of power sharing (such as caucuses) are being developed and used. More churches are using Kaleidoscope Bible Study, Respect Communication Guidelines, Mutual Invitation in the life of their churches.

Annually congregations are added to the Evergreen family because we are planting church—especially Hispanic/Latino(a) and Native American churches. More congregations are joining Evergreen because they are embracing the benefits of associating with American Baptist Churches and Evergreen.

Every church has an Evergreen Storyteller who keeps the Evergreen story before the congregation with the result that more people are attending events and understanding the relationship between the local church and Evergreen Association.”

What does this inspire in you? How do you connect with the Evergreen story? What is your Evergreen story? We’d like to start by publishing more Evergreen stories in our Newsletter. Do you have something to share? Please contact us through the contact page or directly to me at marciaeba@comcast.net


Reaching Beyond Our Borders Narrative

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A blessed Ash Wednesday to you. As we enter into Lent (whether or not you are a member of a congregation that “practices” Lent), I commend to you this time of reflection and action on our spiritual journey and what Christ has done for us and how Christ has shown us life.

I am really writing this on “”Shrove Tuesday” or Mardi Gras, but since I’m leaving very early tomorrow morning to go to Berkeley to participate in the ATS visit at American Baptist Seminary of the West, I thought it better to post early than not at all because it is Ash Wednesday. It being such a day has nothing directly related to the post for today, because I am continuing the “painting” of the inside of the “jigsaw puzzle” of Evergreen. This posting is sharing the narrative of the “Reaching Beyond our Borders” group.

As Evergreen explores becoming a change agent by reaching beyond our borders we will:

1. Successfully interface with community partners in a variety of projects, learning from their strengths and impacting the community

2. Form closer bonds with ecumenical and interfaith partners, learning to better understand their viewpoints in order to enrich our own.

3. Be more intentionally active in social justice issues, including ongoing work on the Call to Sacred Action which will be a foundational part of our identity.

4. Increase our understanding of our denominational milieu and individual differences/similarities in Regions

Action Items:

1. Continued present on Church Council of Greater Seattle and other ecumenical councils as appropriate

2. Encourage churches engaged in the Missional Church Learning Experience

3. Annual Mission focus, possibly including trip/offering

4. Annual local one-day project for all churches to be involved, example: “Christmas in April”

Once again, we are called to “increase our way of being”. What does this offer to you? What questions does it raise for you?


Equipping Congregations Narrative

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yesterday I shared the narrative the leaders created about our mission priority of Building Bridges. The instructions for the narratives were to share what the group’s vision for what is happening with the particular mission priority in the future. Today, I’d like share the narrative created by the “Equipping Congregations” group.

As Evergreen we will enable our churches to do “needs analysis and gift inventory”.

Evergreen will sponsor seminars or webinars on helpful topics by supplying information or persons.

Evergreen will offer webinars on American Baptist Polity and Baptist History.

“Building Bridges” seminars will be offered as webinars in the future.

This clearly puts several ideas before us and challenges me to upgrade my technology capacity! What does it inspire/challenge you to do?


Building Bridges Narrative

Monday, March 7, 2011

Computer problems as well as other concerns led to my not posting for a few days. Thanks to those who are reading regularly. I want to continue the description of our virtual “jigsaw” puzzle. We’ve outlined the four corners, our core values: Unity, Cultural Diversity, Acceptance and Shifting Perspectives and the four edges, our mission priorities: Building Bridges, Equipping Congregations, Reaching Beyond our Borders and Sharing the Evergreen Story. The next assignment at our Leader Retreat was to meet in four small groups and develop “narratives” about each of these mission priorities. The narratives were to describe what Evergreen would be like 3 to 5 years forward because we had paid attention to these mission priorities. Starting with today’s post, I’ll share with you over the next 4 posts the narratives as they came to us from the participants at the leader retreat.

The first one dealt with “Building Bridges.” Evergreen churches build bridges that carry the message of who we are and accepts the message of who others are. Those bridges open the door for the creation of relationships. Relationships begin through participation in Evergreen that lead to an increased number of people being involved, and intentional intergenerational connections. Those relationships result in support of one another through acceptance, understanding and sensitivity to our cultural differences. So that more people now live and tell the Evergreen story.

What do you think? How will you work with us to build bridges? What does your church do to build bridges? We’d love to hear your feedback, you can use the contact us page or email me at Marcia@ea-abc.org.


Mission Priority: Sharing the Evergreen Way

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I have been considering the jigsaw puzzle of Evergreen Association that the people attending our recent Leaders Retreat worked on. We have the outline almost finished because we have the four corners of the puzzle, our core values: unity, cultural diversity, acceptance and shifting perspectives. We’ve also looked at three of the four “edges”, our mission priorities: Building Bridges, Equipping Congregations and Reaching Beyond our Borders. Today I’d like to reflect a bit on the fourth edge, mission priority, “Sharing the Evergreen Way.” This is not only an edge, it may become a motto or tag line for us.

Sharing the Evergreen way, is simple and complex. Our consensus and caucus work makes us unique in a lot of cultures. Our determination to work toward making every voice count means we are doing things differently. Our business and our play/work times have a different flavor and sense than whatever was before. We don’t want to say in any way that we have arrived, but we are on a collective journey that is interesting and fun and has the sense of God’s blessing. So we’ve begun to call it “the Evergreen Way.” I’ve written before in these blogs about the “call of God” to do this work, a significant part of that call is the sense that we need to share what we are doing as widely as possible, outside the Evergreen constituents, in particular with the wider American Baptist family, but also in the wider Christian world and because we believe God calls all Christians to witness to the wider world, too. So “sharing the Evergreen way” is an expression of our calling. Please let me be clear, it is one way of witnessing and sharing Christ. We do this because of God’s call, not because of pride or an arrogance that we think we are doing everything right (we know better than that). So we don’t call it “God’s way” although we believe that God is guiding us, but we call it the Evergreen Way, in the hopes that by sharing what we do and who we are, we can make a positive difference for the world. Won’t you join us?

Please share your thinking about this growing puzzle. Either through the contact us on this web site or directly to me at Marcia@ea-abc.org


Mission Priority: Reaching Beyond Our Borders

Monday, February 28, 2011

The American Baptist Seminary of the West board meetings were started by a learning session with the Rev. Eric Law, founder and director of Kaleidoscope Institute and Kristina Gonzalez from the Northwest United Methodist Church conference office. The training event and meetings were good. I returned home, to celebrate yesterday with Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Baptist Church, their 34th Anniversary. Dr. Manaway from Tabernacle Baptist Church preached. The music from both churches and Daystar Church was outstanding.

I’ve been unpacking or building the jigsaw puzzle of Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches. We began by looking at the four corners of the puzzle, our core values: unity, cultural diversity, acceptance and shifting perspectives. In the last few postings we have turned to the “edges” of the puzzle, our mission priorities: Building Bridges, Equipping Congregations, Sharing the Evergreen Way and Reaching Beyond our Borders. I’ll tackle “Sharing the Evergreen Way” on the next posting, I want to say a few words today about “Reaching Beyond our Borders.” One of the things that I don’t think I’ve mentioned in these postings is how those of us gathered (the Evergreen Leadership) felt called to our work together, that is how we felt that Evergreen was called to do some specific things. We shared that feeling and sense of wonder of God at work in us and through us. This “mission priority” of the call to share what we have learned, and to work together outside of Evergreen is certainly a part of our call. It is seen and understood in our desire to make a difference in the wider ABC family but also to the community and world at large in terms of justice issues and spreading the good news of God’s love and grace. ABC/USA is the most ethnic diverse denomination in the US. The US will in the next 20-30 years be as diverse as the ABC is today. We must learn to work with that diversity well. If the church does not lead the way in this work, then we will have failed God. If all our work is done within the Evergreen we haven’t done what we have been called to do.

Thank you for reading these postings and please respond via our “contact us” web page. May God bless you in these days.


Mission Priority: Equipping Congregations

February 22, 2011

Our consideration in these reflections has been the “jigsaw” puzzle we worked on at our Leader Retreat, February 11 and 12. I have reflected on the four core values (the 4 corners of the jigsaw puzzle), “unity”, “cultural diversity”, “acceptance” and “shifting perspectives”. Yesterday I began the process of reflecting on the edges of the puzzle, our mission priorities. I considered first the mission priority of “Building Bridges”. Today, I want to reflect on “Equipping Congregations”. This mission priority, like Building Bridges, comes straight out of our mission statement, “to provide resources to equip member churches to share Christ and teach God’s word.” I remember that the Vision Team spent awhile on this provision of the mission statement, both to have it there (lots of affirmation) and to have it speak correctly of what we were supporting congregations to do. It is no small task for the local congregation or us in our work to help churches in every way we can. Just this morning the Ed Team met to put together what we call our Building Bridges Day. Eric Law will be with us this year, sharing with us in plenary session about “Grace Margins.” He’ll share considerations for having those harder conversations we have in our churches. I’m sure everyone will find something worthwhile in the presentation. The next weekend, the Missional Church Learning Experience will have their third round of meetings toward making a difference in their neighborhoods. This is just an example though, of equipping churches. I’ve also spoken of the unintended consequences of Evergreen. One example of this is when a local church has decided to do their work by consensus, too. We are always doing the work of equipping our congregations and yet there remains much to do!
Tomorrow morning early, I will fly to California for American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) Board training and meetings. I’m going early enough to be there for BLT and PCBA Board meetings, too. ABSW has sent off its material to ATS for their accreditation renewal, always an important time in an education institution. We will also be doing some cultural diversity work in our training. It should prove to be an interesting time in Berkeley. I’ll be making this trip with my crutches and boot. I’ve appreciated your prayers and concerns and continue to rely upon them. I won’t be posting to these reflections until next week. I look forward to your responses.
Grace and peace,

Mission Priority: Building Bridges

Monday, February 21, 2011

Greetings to you on this President’s Day, a day to keep our President in prayer and remember that leadership comes at a price. I’ve spent the last four reflections on the core values of Evergreen, the four corners of our “Evergreen Jigsaw Puzzle”—unity, cultural diversity, acceptance and shifting perspectives. After you find the corner pieces in a traditional jigsaw puzzle, you find the edge pieces. The edge pieces in reality are mission priorities. The leaders that gathered agreed that our four mission priorities were: Building Bridges, Equipping Congregations, Sharing the Evergreen Way, and Reaching Beyond our Borders. Today, I’d like to reflect briefly on “Building Bridges.” This mission priority is taken directly from our mission statement, “we will build bridges between communities”. And we have strived since our beginning to build bridges, between churches, between caucuses, between various people groups, between ourselves and ABC, between ourselves and the neighborhoods or communities we serve. It is a mission that clearly continues to call us to not only to build bridges, but use them to interact with others and be sure they are two-way bridges, letting others in as we seek to understand and serve others. It is necessary to build bridges with others, it is not a solitary task, but one to do with the other and others.

In subsequent reflections I will share some thoughts on the other mission priorities of Evergreen. Thanks for checking in and sharing with us your ideas on this work, which you can do on the “contact us” webpage.


Core Value: Shifting Perspective

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blessed Sabbath to each and everyone, may you know God’s blessing a new. I have returned from ABHOW meetings. The theme was “ A time of Stewardship” and there, of course, was a fair amount of reflection on the ramifications of stewardship. ABHOW is a not-for-profit corporation and keeps track of the variety of ways that it gives back to the community. Its benevolence is over twice what it would have paid in taxes if it were a for profit company. Of course, this stewardship gives back to the communities in a way that could not be possible if it were a for profit company. Their “Affordable Housing” arm continues to grow, especially in Washington. It was a good meeting.

I have been reflecting on the work we did at our leader retreat. We considered Evergreen as a jigsaw puzzle, with the corners being our core values. We’ve already considered three of the corners, “unity”, “cultural diversity” and “acceptance.” Today, I’d like to reflect a bit on the fourth, “shifting perspective.” Another way of saying this might be that we are ready and willing to be transformed and we believe we have been called to transform our world, through the love and grace of God. We do hold as a value that we are learning new ways of doing things and we are called to share these learnings outside our doors. It may be that people will tire of hearing of our adventures with caucuses and consensus, but our value is that what we learn can help others. We are a learning organization!

I’ve also been prayerful about the Birdsall family as they celebrate Steve’s life these days. It is always hard to lose a child, we keep Dick and Arlene, Steve’s wife Polly and their two children in prayer. And I am also prayerful about Marcus Walker and his family as we continue to pray for the miracle.

God’s grace and peace to you.


Core Value: Acceptance

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Well, freedom has many different definitions and realities. While I am free from the knee scooter, I am not free from my “walking boot”. The good news is that it is finally living up to its name, as I am to “walk” on it (not a regular shoe), putting just ½ my weight for 2 weeks, 75% for 2 weeks and then working up to 100%. Next appointment is six weeks away! Crutches are my new friends. I can take the boot off at night, that’s freedom of sorts, too. Thanks for all your prayers and continuing prayers, as I still cannot drive (boot is too big).

I’ve been explaining our “Evergreen Jigsaw Puzzle”. We’ve looked at two of the four “core values”, making the four corners of the puzzle, unity and cultural diversity. The third corner, those of us at the leader retreat, agreed is “acceptance.” Acceptance means that all people are “accepted”, and all opinions are accepted. During the retreat when we would self select groups or do some work, time after time, people would say, “well, I agree with what has been said, but also…” The sense that everyone counted was apparent in our work together and it is apparent in our work at Evergreen. Our consensus decision making as well as our caucus structure both support this “acceptance” reality. The growing edge again is the need to listen for and affirm the differences among us so that we use these to best do our work. There is a story line that goes with this “core value”, it is the storyline of “Every person”, an organizational archetype, that describes how we usually operate. Acceptance is a primary characteristic of this archetype, we tend to live it out in Evergreen.

I won’t be writing for a few days, as I am leaving for American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW) Board meetings. I will pick this up when I return, adding to this site on a regular basis. Your response is appreciated, please use the “contact us” page on this website.


Core Value: Cultural Diversity

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today, I should be released to begin to put weight on my right foot, six-weeks after surgery. It feels like a day of freedom for me. It is none too soon, as I am headed to American Baptist Homes of the West Board meetings in Oakland tomorrow evening.

The participants at the Leader Retreat last weekend affirmed four core values, the corners of our virtual jigsaw puzzle that is Evergreen. Yesterday I wrote about the first corner of “unity”, today I would like to address the second, “cultural diversity.” These core values are a part of Evergreen whenever we meet. Cultural Diversity is apparent in our structure, with our caucuses and our quorums which call for representatives of all caucus to be present in order for us to do business. We also are very intentional about making sure that the chair of Evergreen moves from caucus to caucus. I think it is also apparent because nominations come from the caucuses rather than having a separate nominating committee. It says that we put some power in our cultural diversity. Our challenge is to express this value by lifting up the differences of our cultural diversity. One of our growing edges is to be appreciative of our differences, not just giving lip service to the diversity, but truly listening to the unique-nesses among us and using them to spread the love and grace of God.

Those of us who gathered at the Leader’s Retreat are anxious to know how our work will be received by the rest of the Evergreen family. We hope you will respond to these notes with your questions, clarifications, suggestions and reactions. You can do so by sending your responses on our contact us page.


Core Value "Unity"

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you know God’s love and grace.

At the Evergreen Leaders Retreat, we worked on our “virtual” jigsaw puzzle, creating a picture of Evergreen Association today and the future. We first agreed on our foundational pieces, the corners of the puzzle, our “core values”: unity, cultural diversity, acceptance and shifting perspectives. Today, I want to reflect a bit on the “unity” core value. All our core values are present when we are together. Unity is a core value of ours, it is seen most in our decision making process of consensus building. Unity doesn’t mean that we agree exactly the same on everything. It does mean that we are glad to share that we agree on the important things and are willing to live and work with each other because of these things. We believe that God gives us this gift of unity, it is not ours but God’s gift to us. The more we exercise our gift and understanding of unity, I’m convinced, the more God blesses us. It doesn’t mean we all have to agree with each other, but it does mean we listen for the places and points where we can come together. It means that when we understand God’s call to a particular work or ministry, we can work together to make it real and make it happen. Our mission statement ends with “translate our unity to the world.” I believe that the world sees the church/Christianity as divided (especially Baptists?!). Yet, I also believe one of the things the world is seeking is a sense of unity, of partnership or “brother/sisterhood”, so our call to share with the world what we experience is not an afterthought, but a call to share our faith, our walk with God, with others, particularly as they have need.

Your response is welcomed. You can respond at the “Contact Evergreen” page of this website.


Leader Retreat Report

Back Row: Judy Gay, Bob Sittig, Walter Heyman, Frank Lowe, Chris Boyer, Bob Fukano, Middle Row: Yosh Nakagawa, Herb Tsuchiya, Clem Winbush, Doug Holmes, Jon Peterson. Front Row: Micky Holmes, Perla Belo, Jeff Woods, Marcia Patton and Ken Curl

Sunday, February 13

The Evergreen Leaders Retreat ended yesterday afternoon. The group worked hard and we were pleased with what was accomplished. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Woods, Associate General Secretary of ABC/USA was our facilitator. One of the many tools he shared with us was to look at our organization as though it was a jigsaw puzzle. Have you done a jigsaw puzzle recently? Usually, assuming it is a traditional puzzle, you begin by finding the corner pieces. They are foundational to the puzzle. Jeff said, that our core values are foundational to our work. Our core values permeate all we do, each time we meet you can “see” our core values. We started our time agreeing that two of our values are “unity” and “cultural diversity”. After a series of exercises we agreed that the other two corners are “acceptance” and “shifting perspective”. I’m going to be more regular about posting on this site and do some reflection on these four foundational core values over the next 2-4 weeks. I’ll then share with you our thinking about the Evergreen Storyline and the edges of our puzzle, which are our mission priorities, and then share with you the thinking that came out of our retreat about our vision for Evergreen in the future.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in knowing more. Look for further information here and in the Evergreen Newsletter.