Northwest Passage April 2017

Northwest Passage


Our forty day Lenten journey comes to an end today.    Some of you may be participating in a prayer vigil or are gathering tonight for Easter Vigil.  Holy Saturday is one of those important days in the church year that, in my opinion, doesn’t receive enough attention.  When I was kid, growing up in the Lutheran church, Holy Saturday wasn’t the day you got ready for Easter.  It was a special and solemn day.  After the lights were extinguished on Good Friday, nothing was allowed to happen in the sanctuary.  It became the tomb, and those doors were not to be opened until we knocked on them Sunday morning and carried in the light.  Holy Saturday taught me, from an early age, about the in-between time.

Writer and artist Jan Richardson writes these insightful lines in “Seen: A Blessing for Easter”

“…the emptiness
will bear forth
a new world
that you cannot fathom
but on whose edge
you stand.”1

The practice of keeping Holy Saturday forms us into people who can wait with hope.  Even when we can’t see what is next. Even when the worst has happened. Even when we stand on the edge of something we cannot fathom.  Of course, waiting is not easy.  We’d prefer to get right to the fullness of joy without the pain of death.  We’d rather avoid all the unpleasantness of Holy Week.  We like to rush ahead to the glories of Easter morning.  My friends, it just doesn’t work that way.  Holy Saturday reminds us of that – this is the valley we walk to get to Resurrection.

In the past few days, you have participated in the story of Jesus’ last week.  This is important if Easter is to be meaningful, because “hope without remembrance leads to illusion”.    You have moved from joyful feast, to uneasy foreboding, to awful death.  We pause on this day to remember and to wait believing God’s promise of new life and transformation is trustworthy.  Some of you may be in this in-between time in your personal or congregational life.  Today we say with the psalmist “I wait for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning.”2  We wait with hopeful expectation because we are Easter People.  And Easter People know that God sometimes breaks all the rules.

Easter Blessings to you, my partners in ministry!
Rev. Kara Markell

2 Moltmann, The Crucified God, p. ix.


Regional Minister, Sandy Messick, having undergone reconstructive surgery on March 15 to complete the healing from her breast cancer and treatment back in 2012, has been on medical leave.  Sandy shares the following update:

Dear Northwest Family,

Thank you for the love, cards, and prayers you have sent my way. I am now 4 weeks past surgery and healing well according to my surgeon, though I have a ways to go. I am hopeful that I will be able to return to work part-time around May 1 before jumping back in more fully mid-May. In the meantime, I am grateful for all who have stepped up to take on responsibilities, especially our wonderful staff and Acting Regional Ministers and retired ministers. I pray that each of you will have a blessed Holy Week and Easter celebration.

Sandy Messick, Regional Minister


Again, if you have regional minister needs during Sandy’s medical leave, please contact Amber Saladino, Office Manager, and she will direct you to the person who can best assist you.  (


Care, Inclusion, and Justice for All

The 2017 Easter Special Offering will be taken in most congregations on April 9 and 16.  As you  walk through the Lenten season and prepare for celebration of resurrection, take a little time to consider and share the many ways the many ways your gift to the Easter Special Offering will be utilized far and wide in support of the General Ministries of the church. General Ministries serve across the U.S. and Canada and around the world. General Ministries are partners in ministry serving through far-reaching and unique organizations.

The website of Disciples Mission Fund has prepared a great variety of material designed for individuals and congregations to learn with and use in church and in the community about how their Easter gifts are used: There you will find stories and resources that offering to the Disciples Mission Fund have made possible– a reflection from a student at Texas Theological University; Disciples Volunteering connecting ministry partnerships for disaster recovery; stories and minutes for mission from Global Ministries;  the National Benevolent Association’s Mental Health Affinity Group  stories; and much more.

As was stated in the Disciples News on March 8, “A gift to the Easter Offering goes a long way to bring wholeness in the world. From children in Lesotho to people dealing with mental health issues in the U.S. and Canada;  preserving history to communicating about the Church today, the Easter Offering supports most of the general ministries of the Church. “

Thank you for planning to review and use these important stories and messages as you prepare for Easter this year.


“Talking Stick” is an electronic forum/platform where retired NW clergy can:

  • engage in dialogue, debate, stimulating conversations
  • share materials/resources (articles, books, blogs, original writings, pictures)
  • offer personal information, prayer requests, care for one another
  • encourage engagement in issues of justice, advocacy, inclusion in our world.

The talking stick, also called a speaker's staff, is an instrument of Native American democracy used by many tribes. Talking sticks are a contemporary Northwest Coast art form with great symbolic importance. The talking stick may be passed around a group or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.

In a tribal council circle, a talking stick is passed around from member to member allowing only the person holding the stick to speak. This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard, especially those who may be shy; consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the "long winded" don't dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to interject. Talking sticks have high ceremonial and spiritual value.   - From Wikipedia

Retired ministers in the Northwest Region are invited to join the group and share postings and enter into dialogue. - - Marvin Eckfeldt


Congratulations are in order for retired minister Rev. Tom McCormick who on March 24 was given "The Lifetime Achievement Award" by the RA Long High School in Longview, WA. He was inducted into their Hall of Fame for his work with medical ethics as a member of the faculty of the University of Washington Medical School.  Congratulations!

Do you have some congregational news you’d like to see shared in the Northwest Passage?  Don’t hesitate to send us the details so we can highlight it in Community Connections!