Pastor’s Page

The Forgotten Luther

Britt and I are excited to join several PRLC folks for a tour in Germany celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We will visit Wittenberg and other sites where the Lutheran movement took root. This will be my first visit and I trust it will be a great blessing.

I find myself in a place of gratitude during this 500th Anniversary year. For one, I am grateful for the witness of Christian unity. The way I read the history, the Augsburg Confession of 1530 was a document proposing the renewal and reform of the church in the interest of retaining its unity. Breaking away from the church was never Luther’s intent. Now, 500 years after the breach left by the Reformation, there is a remarkable sense of unity among Christians. The ELCA enjoys full communion relationships with several Christian traditions. In addition, Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue is now blossoming into ventures of shared ministry and prayer.

I am grateful, too, that this Reformation celebration gives us opportunity to look upon the past as instructive for today and the future. We rightly laud Luther’s remarkable theological contributions including the message of Christian freedom and the theology of the Cross.  Sometimes, though, we have forgotten other aspects of Luther’s reform flowing from the Gospel that affected society and economics.

Dr. Samuel Torvend, Professor of Religion at PLU, visited Phinney in early May to speak on this very topic. Dr. Torvend taught us about the “Common Chest” established by Luther in Wittenberg in 1522. Food and money and other goods were collected for the chest to serve the homeless, the poor, widows and orphans, the sick and unemployed, students and migrant workers. Here a vital link was made between Holy Communion and the call to justice. The equitable distribution of food and drink in the Eucharist (everyone is fed the same at the Communion Table) translated into equitable distribution for all in the neighborhood.

Luther’s reformation of the Mass celebrated and invited the work of God among those gathered to worship on Sunday morning and through those gathered to worship and pray. The Spirit’s work in Holy Communion flowed over into daily life. This ministry of the common chest honored God and critiqued the inequality of the social and political order of the day.

These studies around the social and economic reforms of the Reformation have often been dubbed the “Forgotten Luther” because it doesn’t get as much press as other aspects of the reforming movement. Reclaiming something of this part of the Reformation seems wise, especially as we seek to be practitioners of justice in a world made uneven by the specter of greed. Particularly meaningful here is how justice flows out of God’s gift of the sacraments.

Where is economic injustice and other forms of injustice today? How might we be good stewards of the mystery and make a lively link between liturgy and justice? Finally, as Dr. Torvend asked during his visit – do those who struggle with economic injustice make any claim on you?

Here are wise words from Luther in a 1519 treatise on Holy Communion:

When you have partaken of this sacrament, you must in turn also share the misfortunes of the fellowship … here your heart must go out in love and learn that this sacrament is a sacrament of love. As love and support are given you, you in turn must render love and support to Christ in his needy ones. You must feel with sorrow and dishonor all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing.

Pastor Hansen


Blood Donors Needed

Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church is working with Bloodworks Northwest (formerly Puget Sound Blood Center) to plan a blood donation event here at the church on Sunday, August 13th, and we need potential blood donors to stand up and be counted.  Specifically, we need at least 25 people to sign up by June 4 to demonstrate to BWNW that we can support a blood drive that Sunday so that they can plan for medical personnel and equipment.  We are hoping to make this a “community” event by inviting our church neighbors to participate.

Anyone who is in good health, at least 18 years old, and weighs at least 110 pounds may donate whole blood every 56 days.  Also, 16- or 17-year-olds who weigh at least 114 pounds may donate with a Bloodworks Northwest permission slip signed by a parent or guardian.

If you think you might be available on Sunday, August 13th, and might like to be a donor, please email Sally Thompson at, or let Christina Bogar in the office know before the end of this month.  Thanks for your attention, consideration and bravery.


Kaleidoscope Northwest Institute

Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church

July 30 – August 2, 2017

In a fast-changing and diverse world with increasing polarization, what skills do leaders need to practice in order to create more inclusive environment in which people of diverse backgrounds and experiences are welcome and no one person or group is disadvantaged?  In this foundational workshop, the Kaleidoscope Institute staff will guide participants through a practical and spiritual journey toward becoming and intercultural competent leaders in a diverse changing world.

Class time:
Monday:               1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Tuesday:              9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday:       9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Topics to explore:

  • What is culture, and why are there cultural differences?
  • Cultural differences and their impacts on our leadership
  • Power and privilege in multiracial environments
  • Theological reflection on multicultural leadership
  • Skill, models and processes for building inclusive community
  • Developing a spirituality for leadership in a diverse, changing world
  • Intercultural Sensitivity Developmental Theory
  • Small group ministries using KI skills and process

GracEconomic Registration Fee:  $300-$600


August 3-4, 2017

Building Bridges is a carefully designed and ever-expanding resource that empowers Kaleidoscope-trained facilitators to create courageous environments and encourage honest sharing of individuals’ diverse opinions, perspectives and experiences.  Dialogue topics include: Race and Children, Race and Privilege, Race and Gun Violence, Black Lives Matter, Stop and Frisk, Stand Your Ground, Constructive Political Conversations and more.

Class time:
Thursday:           9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday:                 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Participants will:

  • Experience a full dialogue process on race relations.
  • Learn how to provide hospitality and prepare people for dialogue, not debate.
  • Learn how to invite people from their church and neighborhood to come to an initial dialogue to achieve mutual understanding through deep listening.
  • Learn how to access the Building Bridges dialogue curriculum to continue their development as dialogue facilitators by participating in future KI webinars.

GracEconomic Registration Fee:  $200-$400

Register at:


Kaleidoscope Institute

PRLC Discernment Process

Discernment may best be described as an intentional process of making decisions through prayer. PRLC began a process of discernment some time ago to identify where God may be leading us in our mission and ministry. Discernment cannot be captured in a formula. The Spirit of God is too restless for that. We can, however, apply methods of discernment to sense the stirrings of God’s Spirit and listen for the living voice of God.

In one sense, all prayer is discernment. Prayer helps us pay attention to our lives and the movement of God in our lives. One practice I’ve found helpful is the Examen. Prayed at the end of each day, I can recollect the day and ask: “For what today am I most grateful today and for what am I least grateful today?” I have discovered that being grateful for even the crummy things helps me remember God’s presence in all things. Beyond individual discernment, the church is called upon to discern together.

Communal discernment has been practiced at PRLC for some time. It is most obvious in the parish council mode of making decisions by consensus. This model seeks the input and values the input of each person on council. By avoiding the “for or against” mode, there are no winners of losers, but a deep and profound respect for the other. A deep listening is experienced, too, in the WAY process. Here small groups approach scripture with open ears and open hearts to listen for the living word of God.

Building upon the discernment already present at PRLC, we continued to depend upon scripture and listening as primary ways to make decisions around ministry and mission. If you were at the April congregational meeting, you were introduced to the current state of our discernment process.  We rolled out “Four Windows” through which the leadership of PRLC wants to look upon it’s ministry now and in the future. This is the fruit of our discernment so far.

In one window, we want to look upon our neighbors and our ministry through the lens of justice. Where is God present and what is God doing through our neighbors in the margins? Here we desire to participate in welcoming and empowering immigrants in partnership with Lutheran Community Services Northwest and other organizations.

Through another window we want to look for God’s presence in faith communities other than our own. Originally, we imagined this window of ecumenism to be a partnership with another Christian church. However, the process of discernment led us to broaden our horizons and seek a closer relationship with our Muslim sisters and brothers and pursue a collaborative relationship with members of a local Mosque.

Another window is ministry in daily life. Along with Pastor Van Kley and other staff members, this will help direct our development of small groups, formation for children and teens, and help us imagine what it might look like for us to give PRLC members tools to help discern their mission in God’s world.

The fourth window looks out upon the neighborhood. We want to continue to strengthen our ties with our Greenwood/Phinney neighbors. What that means for us now is a strengthening of the relationship between the CDC (Child Development Center) and the congregation.

Your input and participation in this process is invaluable. Your staff and council are committed to pursuing God’s work through these windows. Each council meeting will include time to ponder these things and to dwell in God’s word. While the four windows are currently on the table before us, we remain open for the Spirit’s lead. The process of discernment never ends. For Christians, it is a way of life.

Pastor Hansen


Meet Your Congregation Council

Outgoing Council Secretary Marie Gehman

Marie Gehman, Outgoing Council Secretary

Our family has been part of Phinney Ridge Lutheran since 1988, when my husband David and I found a home where together we could worship and grow in our spiritual lives. What struck us then, and continues to be something we are proud to belong to, is the welcoming and multi-generational nature of this congregation.

Currently, I am a Simulation Specialist at Northwest Hospital, assisting in the training of nursing and medical staff using high-tech mannequins. I love to try new things, and so my work-life has also included time as a hairdresser, bookkeeper, elementary teacher, lab manager, and executive assistant. Over the years, I have lent my hands to service at Phinney as a Sunday School teacher, Council Treasurer, and Quilter; I have served on a call committee, as part of the original WAY team, and more. I am just about to finish a term on Council, with the last two years serving as your secretary. Time on Council gives such a wonderful understanding of the whole of the work here at PRLC. We all have our areas where we see our service, but being on Council reminds us anew of all the gifts our Phinney family brings to the table.

The Phinney community has been an amazing extension of our family, and I feel very blessed by it.