Month: August 2020

New Expressions Fund Launches

New Expressions Fund Launches

For over a year now, you’ve heard your Mission Center Leadership Team talk about New Expressions of Community.  It’s been introduced through Chinook articles, during chats at Reunion, in sermons, and more. At our Mission Center Conference last November, we shared a vision for engagement in New Expressions of Community and also passed a resolution to help support funding of New Expressions. Since then we have continued to work on defining this new missional endeavor even further. After input and review from your Mission Center Leadership Team, Mission Center Council, and the New Expressions Team, we are ready to officially launch our New Expressions of Community Funding Support opportunity beginning September 1, 2020. There will be two cycles every year for Funding Support. They begin September 1 and March 1.

To read about the particulars & requirements for funding support, click here.

To view the Funding Request Form, click here.

In the recent Winter/Spring 2020 issue of the Chinook, I shared an article titled, “Your Invitation Awaits: LET’S RISK SOMETHING NEW!” To read that article again on our online Chinook blog, click here.

Those serving on the New Expressions Team include:

  • Sean Langdon, MC Invitation Support Minister (Team Lead)
  • Kim Naten, MC President
  • Donald Welch, MC Financial Officer
  • Richard Betts, Western USA and Baja Mexico Mission Field representative
  • Jammie Apodaca, Seventy
  • Roschell Farnsworth, MC Council
  • Gary Farnworth, At Large
  • Sara Churchman, At Large
  • Christine Campbell, At Large

As mentioned in the Chinook article, New Expressions is focused on creating Christian Community outside the context of congregational life. So, while someone who is a part of a congregation may begin a New Expression of Community and request funding support, it would not be affiliated with their congregation. To be clear, anyone who is a member of the church in the Greater Pacific Northwest USA Mission Center can begin a New Expression of Community.

For congregations wanting to explore ways of experimenting with Christian Community in the context of their congregational experience that would be Fresh Expressions of Ministry as outlined in the same Chinook article. Any congregations wanting to engage in Fresh Expressions of Ministry with grant support can apply for a Bold Moves Grant. Questions about the Bold Moves Grant program can be directed to the Bold Moves Committee Chairperson Steve Pomeroy (, 425-641-8876) or by going to

Please contact Sean Langdon (, 425-293-6366) or another member of the New Expressions Team with any questions and/or comments about New Expressions of Community. To explore opportunities for Fresh Expressions of Ministry in your congregation, contact a member of the Mission Center Leadership Team or your Leadership Support Minister. Seventy ministers are also a great resource for this as well!

Your Invitation Awaits: LET’S RISK SOMETHING NEW!

Your Invitation Awaits: LET’S RISK SOMETHING NEW!

Originally printed in the Winter/Spring 2020 Chinook

“Community of Christ,” your name, given as a divine blessing, is your identity and calling. If you will discern and embrace its full meaning, you will not only discover your future, you will become a blessing to the whole creation. Do not be afraid to go where it beckons you to go.” – Doctrine & Covenants 163:1

We are on a journey in Community of Christ. A journey of discovery. A journey that is constantly inviting us to re-examine who we are and where we are being called to go. For far too long we have relied on current, well-known, assumedly “safe” structures and ways of being in Christian community to define how we are supposed to gather as a people. But an invitation is before you! An invitation to risk something new! To risk fresh and relevant ministries within the context of our congregational structures. To risk and form new communities of Christian expression in the common spaces found in our local neighborhoods.

“Christianity did not begin with a confession. It began with an invitation into friendship, into creating a new community, into forming relationships based on love and service.” – Diana Butler Bass, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening

At Mission Center Conference 2019, we launched our vision for New Expressions of Community. In New Expressions, we explore the rhythm of God’s love in relational-based ministry that is beyond the norms and walls of congregational life. These expressions of community show up in living rooms, coffee shops, street corners, city parks, online, retreats, and so on. They may be focused on a specific population or open to anyone. It is living out and sharing Christian principles in the public and private spaces of our lives. It is breaking bread. It is sharing life. It is experimenting in ways that allow for people who have left religion, are in a place of transition and not sure of what’s next for them, or who never knew it in the first place, to have entry points for sacred, communal living. It is being open to the ways in which God is inviting us to join God and others in our communities. A New Expression of Community isn’t one that provides for life’s basic needs such as food banks, shelter minister, and so on. Those are important, missional endeavors for a congregation or a group to engage in, if they sense that the Holy Spirit is inviting them to do that work, but they aren’t what we are talking about with New Expressions. What New Expressions is, is ministry that is centered specifically on spiritually formed relationships with others and God in community. That’s it. You have now been hearing us for years say that relationships are what we are to be about. New Expressions is a way for us to explore that call.

“They reminded me that Christianity isn’t meant to simply be believed; it’s meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the presence of other people. They reminded me that, try as I may, I can’t be a Christian on my own. I need a community. I need the church.” ― Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church

As our mission center leadership have explored New Expressions of Community, we have heard voices of excitement and great hope. We have also heard voices of concern that this means we will reduce or stop supporting local congregations. Let me be clear, this is not the case. Congregations are still a powerful and important way to experience Christian community. We have also heard voices of indifference from those who do not see this as being a ministry for them since they focus their discipleship heavily in the context of congregational life. We understand that new Expressions won’t be for everyone. In fact, they are beginning because congregational expressions of ministry aren’t for everyone either. So, as I was reflecting on our Mission Center Conference experience, I sensed a need to provide a focus for new ministry in congregational life as well. A focus to help shape our path forward as we explore Christian community within the context of congregational life. Shortly thereafter I was visiting with one of our world church leaders about this and he offered the term “Fresh Expressions”. It is a term that he has begun using as well. So that while New Expressions invite us to explore Christian community outside of congregational life, Fresh Expressions encourage a new way of looking at ministry within congregational life.

With Fresh Expressions of Ministry, we experiment with worship, outreach, social, and witness ministries in the life of our congregations. So how can you explore fresh expressions of ministry in your congregation? In what ways can your congregation risk by giving yourselves permission to step out of the box and try something that might be radically new but incredibly welcoming to someone searching for a congregation in your community?

“Our journey into the future will continue through more congregations becoming willing to transform in response to new opportunities. It also will occur through starting new expressions of the church to model what we are talking about.” – Steve Veazey, “A Time to Act!”

The invitation is before us. We can turn it down. We can keep moving on and do what we have always done. Though, let’s be completely honest with ourselves, that hasn’t really been working for us either, has it? So… maybe… just maybe… we can leap into the unknown. Even baby steps into the unfamiliar. For moving forward, quickly or slowly, is still a step in the right direction. Whether our calling is focused in congregational life, being discovered in the other spaces of your community, or a blending of both, let’s move forward. Let’s collectively support each other in the varied ways we respond to God’s invitation. Let’s risk something new as New Expressions of Community are created, and Fresh Expressions of Ministry are explored! You have received your invitation. Will you accept?

To further explore Fresh Expressions of Ministry or New Expressions of Community, please contact Sean Langdon (, 425-293-6366) or another member of the Mission Center Leadership Team.

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Frustration

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Frustration

Have you ever listened to the same song for more than an hour? How about two? Currently, as I’m writing this, I’m nearly finished with hour three listening to the same song. I was up late, cleaning. (I’m a mom – it’s easier to clean when the kids aren’t actively making it dirty…) I started a youtube video while I cleaned, but just let it autoplay. I have no idea what route it took, because I missed a couple songs in the middle while I was vacuuming. But by the time I finished cleaning and sat back down, it was a reaction video to the song “The Sound of Silence” covered by Disturbed. It’s not a new song to me. I grew up listening to all sorts of folk music as well as music from the 1950’s and 60’s, including Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” But I had never heard this cover.

As the song played, it was immediately a Spirit-Filled Moment for me. I find the original song pleasant and fun to sing along to, but never have I felt moved by the Spirit when listening to the song. After the reaction video finished, I directly searched for the actual music video.

I was covered in goosebumps.

I cried. Hard.

I raised my left hand. NEVER HAVE I EVER naturally felt the urge to pentecostal-style raise my hand. It wasn’t until the end of the song that I looked at my hand in the air in shock (and WASP-y awkwardness).

I watched the again.

And then I started to get that itch that I’ve found something new and I needed to share it with someone. But this all started in the middle of the night, so I had no one to talk to. I turned, instead, back to reaction videos. And there are a ton available! Three hours later, I now know that there are a lot of opinionated people who seem to all really get something out of this video. People who were lifelong fans of the original and people who’d never heard of Paul Simon; nurses, metalheads, kpop fans, even pastors – all moved emotionally by this song. One woman (who had never heard the original) openly wept, and I cried with her. So I got my moment of communal connection, over and over again listening to this song.

Probably about an hour into this journey, Spirit-Filled Moment Level 2 happened. The lyric: “And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made…” abruptly resonated with my spirit differently. I have Moses on the brain because of an upcoming preaching assignment, and there was a sudden shift, like, the tenth time I heard him sing the line, and the neon god became a golden calf. At that point, I had to listen to the whole song over again… again… and I heard the pleas of the prophets. Paul Simon’s words: “Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you.” Phew! Is that not the desperate cry of the prophet to a people who are lost?

Somewhere along the journey, I heard a comment that referred to the Simon and Garfunkel version as the original message of hope to the audience, trying to call attention and redirect everyone. While the Disturbed cover represents the anger from having the message ignored. This was Spirit-Filled Moment Level 3 for me. There have been many examples this year of the angry and unheard prophets. When protest marchers took to the streets all over the Northwest this year, it wasn’t new anger. It’s now reached such a depth of frustration; that these protests still continue to be necessary, because the root problems are still not being addressed.

This song is Moses breaking the first set of tablets. This is the O.T. prophet banging his head against the walls of Jerusalem because no one is listening. But what happens next? Does the angst or anger stop the prophet? Does this song end with defeat? No. The words of the prophets were still out there to be read. The words of the prophets were still being whispered into the world. Moses goes back up the mountain! The work of the prophet continues forever. Don’t let the frustration stop you from speaking your soul’s truth to the world.

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Self-Love

Creating a Prophet’s Playlist – Self-Love

I haven’t finished my research on being a prophetic people yet, but I am completely convinced that the first step towards embracing the role of prophet is being grounded in our own giftedness. Understanding who we are, our own talents and skills – not in a way that boosts our egos or as social status, but recognition of ourselves as blessed uniquely within our community, and ourselves as blessing to the community. I get tired of the forced humility in our society that tells us we can’t acknowledge our own strengths, because it would be arrogance or boasting. Because if we’re living in community we all have a role to play, and we need to be able to confidently contribute.

To be confident in our own giftedness does require some work in exploring what those areas of gifts, talents and skills are. One thing to do on your own is the Gifts Discovery Questionnaire. It’s a simple survey, attempting to cover a long list of spiritual gifts. Not only is this a good first step in identifying your own gifts, but also looking at the gifts that you feel your ministry could benefit from learning. If you take this survey in conjunction with your community, you could use the results to create ministry partnerships, mentor relationships, etc. The one caveat I would put on taking this questionnaire is that taking it once is not enough. Our gifts and our call changes. Taking this survey once and assuming the answers will be true for the rest of your life is inaccurate and does yourself a disservice. I’ve taken it three times, and had different results each time – because each time I was in a different phase of my life and my ministry. Another way to learn about our own giftedness is to ask the community. I love affirmation circles, and they’re a great tool for people to share with one another the ways in which they see each other’s ministry at work.

To be confident in our own giftedness also requires practicing self-acceptance and self-compassion. And I say ‘practice’ because it’s hard work that takes personal effort. There are parts of ourselves that don’t measure up to standards. Society tells us we then need to change ourselves to meet the standards. Perhaps, instead, we change the standards. If we know the areas in which we can grow and flourish, because we have the solid foundation of knowing our gifts, skills and talents, we can create our own standard by which to measure and accept ourselves. Being our best self is a better standard than trying to reach someone else’s best. And for those moments when we can’t reach those standards, when we stumble, when we make mistakes, when we make the wrong choices – we practice self-compassion. We offer ourselves grace and forgiveness, because we are a child of God. If it’s a mistake you would forgive in someone else, you also must learn to forgive in yourself. Self-acceptance and self-compassion are not just about our thoughts or spirits. It’s also about our bodies. Our prophetic message of truth must be transmitted through our bodies – acts, speech, words written, smiles, hugs, giving, marching. We cannot be prophets without physical expression. Whatever gifts or limitations our bodies have, they are part of our identity as prophets.

And all of these are radical acts of self-love.

Do you take into consideration your own wants, needs and happiness? I think there’s this idea out in the universe that a prophet must give up everything in life except their calling to speak their truth – which maybe is why we resist the role of prophet. I’m sorry, but I will never be John the Baptist. However, I don’t think I’m supposed to be. I’m supposed to be me. If God created me, and calls me to be my best self, then the truth I’m called to speak must be part of who I am. A prophet is called to speak truth – that truth comes out of who the prophet is, at their core. A prophet cannot share their message and deny themselves. A prophet must be rooted in their own sense of self, calling, giftedness, and mission. A prophet must first love and accept themselves before finding the strength/assurance/voice to share their prophetic message to the world. We must practice self-love to find our role as a prophetic people.

When my daughter was in fifth grade, it was a dynamic year for her. There were so many ways in which she really shined in and outside of school. I think it all started with a teacher who made this song, “This Is Me,” the class’s theme song for the school year. Every student knew all the words to that song by heart. They discussed what the lyrics mean, and what it meant to them. It manifested in varying ways during the school year – decorations, assignments, bgm, presentations, etc. I chose the above video to include in the post because it gives some of the back story of how uncomfortable the singer, Keala Settle, was with performing the song. No one starts ready to declare, “This is me!” Even though she performs so confidently in the film, it was a process for her to find her place with this song – to believe the words she had to sing.

Everything starts with ourselves, which is why I think self-love is important on our prophetic journey. If I’m called to value the worth of all persons, I cannot devalue myself. Let’s start our path towards being a prophetic people by learning to love ourselves.

Statement on the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Statement on the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

From Community of Christ Announcements posted 8/6/2020

August 6 and 9 mark the somber 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. World Conference Resolution 1178, Nuclear Arms Reduction; and WCR 1303, Action toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition, encourage the church to denounce the violence of nuclear weapons and acknowledge the suffering they cause. 

We are grateful for the global hibakusha (survivors) who have courageously borne witness, often amid great difficulty. 

As a people dedicated to peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit, Community of Christ joined 189 organizations that signed a statement in opposition to nuclear weapons, making it one of the largest and most diverse interfaith proclamations against nuclear weapons to date. 

The signatories, coordinated by Faith Communities Concerned About Nuclear Weapons, remind us that we can act together from a place of determination, resilience and joy to make the world a different place. Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jain and indigenous voices came together on this statement.

Doctrine and Covenants 161:2a reminds us to: “Become a people of the Temple—those who see violence but proclaim peace, who feel conflict yet extend the hand of reconciliation, who encounter broken spirits and find pathways for healing.”

The church continues to find those pathways through its prayers and ongoing programs, Toward Jesus the Peaceful One; a series of internet lectures from Europe, Peaceful Humanity—A New Creation; and the Daily Prayer for Peace, among others.

Faith & Formation Videos: July 2020

Faith & Formation Videos: July 2020

Faith and Formation (which meets online on Wednesday evenings) has been viewing presentations by religious leaders, scholars and philosophers of various faiths and denominations to expand our personal and communal theological understandings. At the end of every week, we ask the important question: “What about this presentation was compatible or incompatible with Community of Christ theology?” Unfortunately, I cannot share with you the amazing discussions we had after watching the videos. But maybe you could also glean important lessons from these videos.

The videos we viewed in July 2020:

July 15: Diana Butler Bass “Jesus the Ingrate: The Subversive Power of Gratitude

July 22: Rob Bell “An Introduction to Joy

July 29: Hillary McBride “Body or Spirit: Why We are Both and Why That Matters

Join us Wednesdays* at 7pm (PT).

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*The first Wednesday of the month is prayer service.

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