Lessons From a “Chicken Bus”

Lessons From a “Chicken Bus”

Writes Maggie today,

“I witnessed such poverty. Not in a neighborhood or particular area as I am used to seeing. Everywhere. Poverty. Houses made with corrugated tin, scraps of wood, concrete blocks or some sort of combination. Dogs roamed, bones poking through their mangy coats. Cows grazing on any spot of grassiness, some healthy, some severely underfed.”

Maggie Sebastian, a member of Condon UCC, continues to write about her experiences in Guatemala. She is currently in an immersion language program at a school in Xela (Quetzaltenango). Later this month she will join the Providence Hospital Surgical Mission Team as their chaplain. Read the rest of her offering here.

A view from the bus of homes in Guatemala.

A view from the bus of homes in Guatemala.

The Need Continues

The Need Continues


The need continues…

Because we did not worship last week, we will take up our regular second Sunday offering of non-food (and food) items for our local pantry this coming Sunday. The list of needed items is at the bottom of this email.
List of Needed Items:
paper towels
laundry soap
dish soap
body soap
household cleaners
No Ruins: What Would Jesus Do?

No Ruins: What Would Jesus Do?

tourguideOur own Maggie continues to write about her experiences in Guatemala. She is currently in an immersion language program at a school in Xela. Later this month she will join the Providence Hospital Surgical Mission Team as their chaplain. Writes Maggie,

“I confess that, standing there while our guide, a former guerrilla and resistance fighter, told the peoples’ story, I felt helpless and embarrassed.  American and Canadian companies are the primary villains in this story. And Totonicapán is not the only department suffering.  While fighting these huge conglomerates is going to take more than I am able to give at this moment, I will find a path.  In the meantime, I purchased two small items in support and solidarity.  Now I need to ponder what would Jesus do?” Read her entire piece here.

Member Arrives in Xela

Member Arrives in Xela

Maggie's bed.

Maggie’s bed.

Maggie arrived in Xela (also known as Quetzaltenango) yesterday afternoon. She settled in with her “middle class” host family. She has a spartan room by American standards. The whole family gathered around the kitchen table to meet her upon her arrival.

 She blogged last night before bed from the comfort of her room. (Find it here.) She has a few photos in the post. (If you click on the photos, you can see larger versions of them.)
As I ramble about this huge parsonage alone except for my furry companion, I look at those photos of a Guatemalan middle class family and realize that phrases like “middle class” have very different meanings in different parts of the world. Though Maggie and I sometimes struggle at times we are quite wealthy by the standards of the most of the world.
God of Guatemala & Oregon: Remind us that all we have was given to us by you. Remind us that we are called to be good stewards of what you have shared with us. Nudge us, push us, shout at us if necessary in an effort to get us to live more simply so that those in Guatemala and other places in this country and beyond have their share of the world’s wealth. Amen.
posted by Pastor Tim Graves
Climate Change: What Would Jesus Do?

Climate Change: What Would Jesus Do?

Boonstra-281x300The Rev. John Boonstra will facilitate an interactive sermon, “Climate Change: What Would Jesus Do?”, this Sunday, February 9 at 10:30 at the Condon United Church of Christ. Rev. Boonstra’s ministry is focused on environmental justice and climate change. The public is encouraged to participate.

“We have a biblical mandate to care for the earth and all of creation. John will help us to unpack what the Christian response to climate change ought to be,” says Tim Graves, pastor of the Condon UCC.

The Central Pacific Conference of the UCC encourages congregations to be first responders to the climate crisis. Boonstra’s leadership in worship this week is the first step in defining what the role of the Condon congregation will be. 

Rev. John Boonstra is a UCC clergyperson working on environmental justice and climate change ministry. He formerly pastored Bethel Congregational UCC in White Salmon.  Prior to that, he served for 17 years as Executive Minister for the Washington Association of Churches.  He has also done ecumenical staff work and held leadership positions for the National Council of Churches in the USA and the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

His spouse, Rev. Vicky Stifter, pastors Riverside Community Church UCC in Hood River. He has three daughters, 27, 15 and 8 years of age.

Member Heading to Guatemala on Surgical Team Mission Trip

Member Heading to Guatemala on Surgical Team Mission Trip

Condon United Church of Christ warmly invites the community to its 10:30 a.m. service on January 26 where Rev. Maggie Sebastian will be preaching about her upcoming mission trip to Guatemala.  Sebastian, who works as a Clinical Chaplain, at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, will be the chaplain for a surgical mission trip to Hospital Hilario Galindo in Retalhuelu, Guatemala February 28-March 8 this year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 5.35.50 PM“I am very excited by this opportunity.  I feel lucky to work for a faith-based organization that encourages and supports its employees to participate in events such as this trip,” said Sebastian.   “The mission of Providence is to ‘reveal God’s love to all, especially the poor and vulnerable through compassionate service.’ We strive to do that on a daily basis, and will get to do that on a global scale through this trip.”

The trip is organized by Providence Health International working with their partner in Guatemala, Faith in Practice.  The team will consist of about 30 Providence employees including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, translators, chaplain, and support personnel. Working with staff at Hilario Galindo, the team will perform about 50-60 general surgeries in five days.

Rev. Sebastian, who is the wife of Condon UCC’s pastor, Rev. Tim Graves, has worked for Providence for about two years.  Prior to the surgical mission trip, she will be in

Guatemala for about three weeks at Spanish language school to improve her language skills for the trip as well as her ministry in Hood River.

For more information, contact the church at 541-384- 3681.  To find out more about Providence Health International or Faith in Practice, please follow the links at the Condon UCC website www.condonucc.org.

Beginning to Explore the Gospel of John

As we begin our exploration of the Gospel of John (in Bible studies and in worship), we will be talking about ways in which it has been misused for hatred — specifically anti-semitism and anti-Judaism. We will also look for ways in which the original writer may have been biased in writing the gospel.

I recommend folks watch this short video from the Living the Questions study series. The video features Amy-Jill Levine, Jewish New Testament scholar and author of “The Misunderstood Jew.”


Cut in Food Benefits Spurs Pastor to Take the SNAP Challenge

Cut in Food Benefits Spurs Pastor to Take the SNAP Challenge

Pastor Tim Graves is eating differently this week. He’s eating on the equivalent of the food stamp benefit. He wrote about the decision in the November newsletter following the cut in SNAP benefits that went into effect on November 1. (Read “Opening Our Hearts to the Hungry.“) He is also blogging about the experience on his personal blog.

For information about the ramifications of the food cut on rural communities, listen to Food Stamp Cuts Leave Rural Areas, And Their Grocers, Reeling. For information about the cuts, read Slashing the Food Stamp Program.

Recent posts about the experience:
Opening Our Hearts to the Hungry, Condon United Church of Christ website
SNAP Challenge, um, Maybe Not Today 11-19-13
SNAP: Getting Serious, Getting Anxious 11-20-13
SNAP: The Veggie-Noodle Balance 11-21-13