Letter of Thanks

Dear Friends at Phinney,

The Sunday we celebrated the 35th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood was such a lovely morning for me. Heartfelt thanks to Pastor Bryon, Pastor and Preacher Anne, and all those who prayed for me and expressed such kind wishes. I am so grateful to this wonderful congregation for your warm welcome to the Episcopalian in your midst. Thank you and bless you all.

Sallie Shippen

PRLC Refugee Action Team Update

We are in the final discernment process for our partnership with the refugee resettlement program. Part of that process is seeing where the volunteer support is in our community for such a partnership with a refugee family and their needs. Please go to the Phinney Ridge Facebook group to access the volunteer/donation survey ASAP so we can ascertain our abilities to support a refugee family with our resettlement partner, or use this link here to access the survey.

Pastor’s Page: The Way Is Made by Walking It

In the sermon for Ascension Day I noted that our parish community is getting younger.  We suddenly have an influx of new babies.  It’s a beautiful sight.  I always marvel at the joy and mystery of new birth and signs of new life.  For me, it is a sign of God’s handiwork.   We rejoice with these new parents and families and pray for them in their times of change and transition.

Other changes are afoot as well that are not welcomed with such delight.  Some of our beloved friends in Christ have died.  Others are moving from Seattle.  There are more “Farewell and Godspeed” blessings scheduled than I care to think about.  These changes cause us to grieve.

On top of that, some staff members are moving on from their positions to new vocational adventures.  After serving for several years as Children and Family Minister, Nancy Monelli will be taking courses to become a Spiritual Director and devote more time to writing.   After 32 years at Phinney, Valerie Shields is retiring from her position as Organist and Minister of Music.  We also bid farewell to Diane Figaro, who has led our Youth and Gospel choirs over the last year.  Changes and transitions provoke joy and sorrow and are met with all kinds of feelings.  With no small amount of fear and trepidation, we worry about the future while simultaneously embracing hope for new futures.   The process of saying good-bye is a process filled with the complexity of grief.  Our feelings intensify when many changes are all happening at the same time.

And God is with us through it all.  Maybe even more importantly, God speaks in time of change.   Some of scriptures most cherished stories tell of the relationship between God and God’s people in times of change and transition.  The Bible presents them as journey stories.

Abraham and Sarah leave their home to journey toward a new promised land.  The Israelites take forty years to journey from slavery to God’s promised land.  Once they enter into the promised land, a settled life doesn’t last too long.   There’s a time of exile and return.  Jesus spends forty days in the wilderness, calls disciples to follow him, and finally turns his face toward Jerusalem and the cross.  Even after the Resurrection, Jesus returns to the places he lived before the Ascension.    Finally, Pentecost launches a new movement of the Spirit that extends beyond Jerusalem and into the world.  The church has been on a journey ever since.

In these journeys, God never abandoned God’s people and, in fact, wrestled with them and loved them through it all.  God spoke to them, blessed them, delivered them and saved them.  Most of all, God loved them and spoke to them, not as individuals, but as a people.

I think that’s the best news of all – we are not alone.  We journey together.

A few years ago, my wife Britt walked the El Camino de Santiago in Spain.  It was quite a journey, almost 500 miles over the span of some thirty days.  Along the way there were sorrow and joys, changes and chances, and more than a few surprises, but never a sense of isolation.

Those who have walked the Camino like to say, “The way is made by walking it.”  Maybe that’s a good motto for the church, especially in times of change and transition.  God’s voice isn’t as clear when things are settled.  The church is always on a journey together and the Spirit surges along the way.

Pastor Hansen

A Note on the PRLC Tower

Have you ever looked for PRLC from afar, and found it easy to locate? That is thanks to our very distinctive tower, the one for which this newsletter is named. It is a symbol that marks this building as a house of worship. What also stands out, especially from closer up, is the attractive brick work on many of our outside walls. But these days the tower is looking a little worse for wear…

It has been a long time since our tower and some of the exterior walls (especially on the weather-beaten south side) have had any maintenance, and they are overdue for cleaning, sealing and (in the case of the top of the tower) painting. We have been given a quote for this masonry restoration work (of about $80,000), and hope to get this necessary project done at the end of summer so the tower and stone work is well protected before the rainy season starts. While there are some designated funds for building maintenance, we are looking for member support for at least half that cost. If you are able to help, please mark your gift “Tower/Masonry”. Thank you in advance!

Please feel free to ask me if you have any questions.

Kirsten Olshausen, Parish Administrator


Update on the Open Children and Family Minister Position

As you may know, our Children and Family Minister Nancy Monelli has resigned. We are glad that Nancy and her husband Roy will continue to be a part of our faith community as Nancy pursues a different vocational direction.

A team of members has formed and will be meeting this summer to discern our current needs and create an updated position description. If a new staff person is not in place before fall programming begins, Pastor Van Kley will steward our faith formation ministries. We will keep you posted as news becomes available. If you have input about this search, please contact Pastor Van Kley.

Thank You from Retiring Organist Valerie Shields

It is difficult to form an expression of appreciation that fully covers my 32 years of wonderful experience with PRLC.  There are so many moments, associations and partnerships, times of shared worship and caring for one another, and bonds of friendship that will always lovingly fill my heart and mind. 

Two examples of this bounty given to me by the PRLC community were what we most recently shared: the banquet in my honor on June 22 and Sunday worship on June 24, my final day as Phinney’s staff organist – feasts I will remember all the days of my life.

The Friday banquet was overflowing with so much heart, care, beauty, love, music, great food and fun. What a wonderful evening of celebration!  Nancy Winder and Dianne Carlson and the many people who helped them worked together to create this extraordinary evening.   Your written and spoken words touched me deeply.   I appreciated the lighthearted interludes.   John and I are overwhelmed by your most thoughtful and generous gifts.  

On June 24 PRLC celebrated the feast day of St. John the Baptist.   Being a part of the service’s worship once again had me “lost in wonder, love, and praise”.  The instrumentalists, and the choir led by Beth Ann Bonnecroy, added such rich beauty.  The congregational singing was powerful.  The preaching, presiding and blessing offered by Pastors Hansen and Van Kley were gratefully received.  These are cherished moments such as I have been privileged to receive throughout my tenure.

As I leave my role in PRLC’s ministry, know that I will carry you in my heart, pray for you and remain a part of the PRLC family.   I thank God and this community for countless blessings.  Peace and love to each of you and thank you for all that you have given to me through these many years together.

With deepest gratitude,


A Farewell Thank You from the Vicar

It is hard to believe a year has gone by already! And what a blessed year I have had with you all here at Phinney Ridge. You have taught me so much and allowed such deep experiences and relationships to form. Thank you! Some of my highlights of this year include participation in The Way, Lunch & Lectionary, Theology Pub, CDC Chapels, BFJ nights, Worship leadership & preaching, the Food Bank, Adult Forums, Women’s Circles, participation in the Women’s March and Pride Parade, the Refugee outreach, alongside all of the one-on-one coffee times I’ve been blessed to have with so many of you. You have been gracious and flexible in my training this year. You have allowed me to better understand what “intentional liturgy” means and come to deeply love it, making me feel like I’ve truly come home. You have invited me to learn by reflection of sermons, email responses, and pastoral care visits with you. I continue to be humbled by Phinney’s great love and care for the neighbor through your advocacy in marches, parades, and outreach services which stand as voices in the wider community of Seattle. You have stretched me and provided space for clarification on theological issues and staffing dynamics, as PRLC had some major staffing changes/adjustments/juggles this year. I’ve even learned how to chant the Psalms and Great Thanksgiving from such talented musicians as Valerie and Beth Ann! Bless you all! I look forward to hearing how you continue to serve your neighbors, especially the refugees of Seattle through the newly formed PRLC Refugee Action Team. May you persist in caring and loving the widow, orphan, and foreigner through the Refugee Action Team. PRLC is blessed deeply by two talented and caring pastors, a wonderful staff, and a Council who has a healthy transparent communication and leadership style. You continue to impress me AND bless me. Thank you Phinney! I have fallen in love with you and will deeply miss you. Thank you for being my final step towards ordination and being so supportive of this journey.

~ Your sister in Christ, Vicar Pam Gompf