Member Spotlight: Jonathan Liao

We are a Christian organization deeply rooted in the community, and we are so happy to promote and celebrate the accomplishments of those we know and love. As such we want to offer our ongoing encouragement and warmest congratulations to our own Jonathan Liao.

Mr. Jonathan Liao will perform with the Oregon Sinfonietta on May 15th.

Jonathan Liao performs May 15 at 3pm with the Oregon Sinfonietta.
Jonathan Liao performs May 15 at 3pm with the Oregon Sinfonietta. See the concert flyer for more details.

Mr. Liao is an engineering student at the University of Portland and an award winning pianist. As a senior at Camas High School he was the WMEA (Washington Music Educators Association) 2014 Regional’s Competition Winner, and in May 2014 was invited to play as one of the ‘Ten Grands‘ piano soloists in Benaroya Hall, Seattle.

This year, as the 2015 Chamber Music Society of Oregon Concerto Competition Winner, and will perform Mozart Piano Concerto no. 24 with the Oregon Sinfonietta on May 15, 2016. A flyer for the concert can be viewed here.

Jonathan shared his thoughts with us regarding his upcoming Chamber concert: “Music transcends all forms of language and expression. It’s not something that can be described or easily understood. Music is something where creativity can be readily applied and tested. But it’s also a chance to demonstrate discipline and patience. My goal is pretty basic; it’s to share my music and talent with others. But I especially look forward to sending a message to my own generation: I’ve noticed that fewer and less of my peers study music or take it seriously. I hope that as an engineering and computer science student, my dedication to my performances shows the potential that music has to offer.”

The CMSO is a non-profit organization that is devoted to promoting musical opportunities for persons of all ages. The Oregon Sinfonietta is a full symphony orchestra of community musicians, conducted by Dr. Donald L. Appert. The Orchestra presents a series of four free concerts each season. The Oregon Sinfonietta traditionally offers a superb selection of classical music, as well as outstanding performances by young musicians, winners of the yearly CMSO Concerto Competition in performances of full concertos, and world-class soloists.

In addition to his musical excellence, Jonathan Liao is an accomplished science and engineering student who has interned at HP and Siegner and Company. He also gives back to the community. His volunteer efforts include working to relieve homelessness and hunger. He in an Eagle Scout and has donated time and energy at the Camas Church assisting with building repair and sharing his talents at the piano during worship.

Messy Church Training with Lucy Moore

In April, our Messy Church team had the opportunity to attend a training run by Messy Church founder Lucy Moore.

Members of our Messy Church team pose with Lucy Moore at the Portland area training.
Members of our Messy Church team pose with Lucy Moore at the Portland area training.

Lucy Moore, who works for the Bible Reading Fellowship in England, recognized the need to create an all-ages friendly kind of church. And Messy Church was born!

There are now thousands of Messy Churches in more that 30 countries. Messy Church is about sharing Christian community.

As people of faith, we know that the teachings of Jesus help us build good communities, care for each other, and recognize the presence of the Spirit in our lives. Team members Vicki Duchesneau noted at the training that at Messy Church, ‘recreation is re-creation, a place where joy is a fruit of the Spirit.’ Lauralee Harkins notices this joy, too, sharing that what she likes best about Messy Church is “seeing the joy and delight in participants who are reluctant to leave each evening.”

We know faith touches people at the deepest levels and changes lives. Knowing this, what a blessing it is to have ways to share our faith with others! Little Leaguers share baseball, Soccer players learn soccer, Dance teams teach dance, and at Messy Church, we get to talk about how to love our neighbor and the love of God.

Messy Church training in Portland Oregon, led by founder Lucy Moore, was attended by Messy Church teams from Oregon, Washington, and beyond.
Messy Church training in Portland Oregon, led by founder Lucy Moore, was attended by Messy Church teams from Oregon, Washington, and beyond.

The training was an all-day event. We listened and participated in order to deepen our understanding of how to do Messy Church, as well as to gain a sense of direction as we move forward with our own Messy Church.

There are now thousands of Messy Churches around the world. But in the United States, Messy Church is still growing. Our church has been one of the first, we have been celebrating Messy Church for a year and a half! There is another Messy Church in Yakima, and the Messy Church in Eugene, OR, is now in its third year. What an inspiration our established Messy Churches were to messychurchwebmany.

Last October,  there were clergy from our conference who were curious about Messy Church who came to see our Messy Church in action. What a joy to see church teams at the training who had visited us then, and now had assembled teams to try their own!

Thank you to our marvelous team and our marvelous congregation for your support of Messy Church! Volunteer to help if you can, more hands make the work lighter. By giving your effort to Messy Church, you are truly living the call of Christ to make disciples of all nations.

Going Deep: Discipleship as Learnership

A Christian person is not born Christian; he or she chooses Christianity sometime during their lifetime. ‘Christian’ is not a default birth setting. Though Christian people can be baptized at birth—and we believe the Spirit works in us from that very day—Christianity is a faith that we as Christian people choose.

We become believers by faith. Christianity is not a default setting, nor is it a static state. We do not ‘arrive’ at Christianity like arriving at Grandma’s house, or scaling a cliff. We ‘arrive’ at Christianity in the same way that we ‘arrive’ at the starting line of a marathon, or in a school building ready for a first day of school. Christians are learners.

Curious by Jesse Millan 2009 flickr
Curious by Jesse Millan 2009 flickr

From the very beginning we are a people who know we don’t know. We are a people who have had only a taste of faith—sometimes powerful, sometimes minuscule, but oh so amazing! And from this taste we commit ourselves to a lifelong practice of learning more.

Unfortunately, the word ‘discipleship’ is too often used by Christians to suggest that our ‘arrival’ into faith has landed us at the end of a journey instead of its beginning. We can fool ourselves and think that we are now so holy and so knowledgeable that there is nothing left for us to say or do.  Too often we seem ready for retirement—resting on our laurels—when instead we have only just been born into our faith!

But here is something really important to remember. A disciple is a ‘learner.’ That means that the Christian faith of ‘Discipleship’ is truly a lifelong journey of ‘Learnership.’ When we become Christian, we are filled with the power of the Spirit. We are in that very moment empowered and loved and fully invited to participate in the learnership that deepens our relationship with God. Learning, indeed, is not just the next step of our faith, but the ‘always and ongoing’ step-after-step that is the ongoing practice of our lives in Christ.

At our church we are experiencing important core changes. We are moving to deepen our strength and stability in order to reclaim our place as a vital part of our community. Our stability to this end—our core material strength—does not arise from our own energies and efforts, but from the power of the Spirit within us.

That Spirit calls us deep into a relationship with God that will be the work of our lives. As we learn to follow the call of God, we are transformed, molded, and loved. We become the ‘us’ God always intended for us to be. We, with Christ at our heart, learn to live an authentic, honest, and true life of faith.

Discipleship is learnership. If you are not attending a regular group that gathers in faith, please find a way to do so. I cannot stress this enough. Christian people gather together, share together, pray together, and learn together. That is what they do. Especially if you are new to the church or new to the area, you need a community for learning and belonging in faith.

There are a number of groups that already meet together, and our most recent group is still developing. This group has a ‘Mysticism & Prayer’ focus and meets Tuesdays at noon at the church. For this group we will follow great Spiritual teachers starting with Julian of Norwich. Are you interested in learning more about this or any other group? Please let me know.

I invite you. Walk this walk of faith with Christ. Let us walk this walk together. I cannot begin to share the depths to which God has invited me into relationship since I first opened my eyes to God. In prayer, in hope, in love…God is there. By Christ and in the Spirit we are invited. Begin the journey. Arrive at the beginning–your true life in Christ.

Blessings to each and all of you,

Pastor Richenda


Milestones of Faith

Spring is upon us!

The tulips and daffodils give rise to the promise to the colors and vibrancy of Spring. It is the season of beginnings, of lambs and kids and tulips pushing out of the bulb and into bloom. The year of seasons is begun again.

Milestone by TimGreen Flickr 2009 CC BY 2.0
Milestone by TimGreen Flickr 2009 CC BY 2.0

Churches have seasons just as everything does. As our church moves into a season of renewal, we have the opportunity to renew our own hearts as we travel the paths along the way. We can wonder, what are we called to do and how can we deepen our faith as we prepare for and undertake this new season’s journey?

One way to ponder a renewal journey is to think about milestones. A milestone is a marker for the traveler. It can be used to mark progress along a road, mark directions at a crossroads, or mark the center of a location. The Romans, who built geographically straight ‘Roman roads’ across Britain, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, erected a monolithic milestone right at the center of the empire. The idea was that this center stone marked the place where ‘all roads’ led.

Milestones can be found along many road and pathways, they can be made of wood, stone, or concrete. Milestones are so prevalent that have also become part of our collective imagination. We don’t just talk about milestones on roadways, but as representing a journey more abstractly. Such as the journey of growing up. We recognize a first birthday as an important milestone for every baby, and obtaining a driver’s license is a much anticipated milestone for every teen.

Faith has milestones as well. For those who grew up in church, many of these happened early: our first prayer, our first bible, our first youth camping trip. For those who grew up outside the church, these first milestones may be less easy to pinpoint–the first time we heard a perfect musical chord and the hair stood up on the nape of our neck, the first time we awoke half dreaming and with a sense of tremendous spiritual wellbeing. A wellbeing that leads us to seek scripture and ask, what is God?  Or, perhaps, the beginning of our Spiritual journey has not quite happened yet.

StackofStones by JeffEaton Flickr 2008 CC BY-SA 2.0
StackofStones by JeffEaton Flickr 2008 CC BY-SA 2.0

As I reflect on this, my heart tells me that no matter where your starting point, nor where you are in the journey right now , here in the season of Spring fresh promises lie ahead! We have the opportunity to step out, to discover and share the love of the Spirit in brand new ways as we discover new milestones together with others. We are invited to be learners of practices of faith and power that people have explored for centuries, practices like prayer, fasting, song, and study.  There are milestones of faith.
And these milestones mark the journey as we grow. We pass each of them with wonder, such as when we experience the overwhelming Love of God for the first time; when we learn the joy of service to others; and when we discovering the love, care, and passion of a vibrant faith community.

Where do we start? I believe we start with ourselves by looking again at the opportunities of a journey of faith together. We are invited to look again at the milestones that deepen our own learning and experience. If we lean in to renew our own journey, our way forward becomes a way of welcome and a way of joy.

This Easter season we are invited to step anew onto the path ahead. Our conversation will center on Christianity as a journey of Heart, Courage, Faithfulness, Willingness, Hope and Love. And on Pentecost, we will explore the gift, also, of Spiritual Power.

On our journey through Lent I challenged each of us: “empty yourself of everything that is not God.” Over the next few weeks we now ask, “what does it mean to be filled?”

Blessing to each and all of you,
Pastor Richenda