Meet our new Vicar: Sara Funkhouser!

Sara Funkhouser

Thanks to your commitment and generosity, we were able to apply to host a seminary intern, or “vicar” for the 2020-2021 academic year. We have been assigned an intern from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA. Last month Pastor Van Kley, who will be Vicar Sara’s primary supervisor, spent two days in a Zoom conference with other internship supervisors and students. During this jam-packed event, Pastor Van Kley and Sara had time to get to know one another, begin developing Sara’s learning goals, and become acclimated to the unique expectations and guidelines that Wartburg holds for their students and host congregations.

While the COVID-19 situation has left many things unclear, we want to assure you that at this time, we still plan to welcome Sara to Seattle sometime this summer. She plans to remain with us for a full 12 month. At this time, we expect to rent an apartment near the church which we will need to furnish. If you have a lead on a rental space, please contact Pastor Van Kley. If you are spending this time down-sizing and re-organizing, please set aside any furnishings or other items we can use to create Sara’s home (dishes, utensils, appliances, furniture, etc.), and contact Pastor Van Kley to let her know what you have.

While so many things are uncertain, and while we’ve suffered many disappointments and cancellations, welcoming Sara is a wonderful sign of hope and new life still among us! Thank you for your commitment to the vicar program. Please pray for Sara as she finishes her semester and makes plans for her big move to Seattle.

Hello, everyone! My name is Sara Funkhouser and I am a candidate for Word and Sacrament Ministry at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, IA. I am originally from the Twin Cities in Minnesota and I am excited to get out of the Midwest and explore the PNW! I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, with a double major in Religion and English Literature and a minor in Interfaith Studies. I love cooking/baking and spending time exploring outdoors; I am definitely looking forward to seeing mountains and not just hills and corn fields. I also love reading and I look forward to hearing some of the recommendations that you all have for me! I am eagerly awaiting the day that I get to move to Seattle and meet all of you. I cannot wait to be a part of the Phinney community! 
– Sara

Financial News

April Numbers

Our financials are still surprisingly close to what was budgeted for this year, back before we’d ever heard of coronavirus. This is due in part to reduced expenses since the building closure, but much more importantly it is thanks to your faithful and sustained giving. The Holy Spirit is at work.

  April 2020 Year-to-Date 2020 (as of 4/30/2020) 2020 Budget YTD (as of 4/30/2020)
Tithes, offerings, and other income $80,096 $344,519 $347,405
Expenses   $92,958 $314,494 $312,302
CHURCH NET INCOME ($12,862) $30,025 $35,103

The Spirit: A Message from our Bishop

Last night I had a dream. It was a strange dream. I dreamed that an older man was crying because his wife had died. Out of concern and love, I hugged him. And then I stepped back appalled that I had touched him. And then suddenly I was in a text study group with several other pastors (you know how dreams go…) and they were angry with me for touching this man and getting too close to them … and then I woke up. And, as is often the case, it was 3 am and I lay in bed thinking about this strange world we are in where hugging is a nightmare and waking up and finding oneself alone is a relief.

First, let me say to you all, I hope you are doing ok. And if you are not, please reach out to your pastor, your deacon, your family, your friends, your congregation, this synod. We are Church Together – even, especially, in this time. Please know that even as we continue physical distancing, we are still in community. We are still Holy Community. We are still the Body of Christ in this world.

One way that the synod would like to demonstrate how we are Church Together is offering some relief to congregations for salaries. With this in mind, the synod has begun the NWWA Synod COVID-19 Relief Fund for congregations and ministry sites. The monies for this fund come from an anonymous supporter with matching funds from the synod. At the moment, we have approximately $41,000 in this account. Our hope is that this fund will work in two ways:

1. To distribute funds to those who need financial help towards salaries (particularly our most vulnerable ministries.)

2. Provide opportunity for those who are seeking a way to support others (financially stable congregations and individuals could make a donation to this fund to help support others who are in need). You can do this by donating online here: Please specify “Leader Support.” You may also send check made out to the NWWA Synod with “NWWA Synod Leader Support” in memo line and mail it to the Region One Office: Region 1 ELCA, PO Box 94432, Seattle, WA 98124-6732

If you would like more information the NWWA Synod COVID-19 Relief Fund, find the letter and application on our synod website here:

In this last month, I have been amazed and in awe of the many ways congregations in this synod have continued community with one another and in the world. As I have participated in worship services, call committee meetings, Bible studies, informational meetings, book studies, and more, I am so thankful for each one of you. Yes, this is hard. Yes, we don’t know the end. And yet, through Christ, we are in this together. We are Holy Community. We are Church Together.

While I cannot be present with you bodily for now, know that you are in my daily prayers, my heart, my thoughts. And even in these times when we are unable to exchange the peace of Christ by shaking hands or even hugging, know that the peace of Christ is with you. Today and always.

In Resurrection Hope and Joy,
Bishop Shelley Bryan Wee

A Note from Nicole

by Nicole Meyer

Happy Birthday to you!  Happy birthday to you!  Happy Birthday, Dear Church!  Happy Birthday to you!  Will you be singing this with me on the final day of May?  It’s Pentecost Sunday this year.  Pentecost is a historical, holy day that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit and celebrates the birthday of the church.  You can read the story in Acts 2 to discover that they were all gathered together.  There was no cake with candles, but there were definitely flames and the Holy Spirit was the gift; the biggest gift of all.  A cacophony of languages were spoken, yet all were understood.  

That first Pentecost was definitely not a typical party.  This year, our own celebrations look very different.  Maybe you’ve had a birthday party replaced with a Zoom date or car parade.  Some of the kids at online Sunday School marveled with me that they haven’t left their homes in over six weeks.  How unusual that they are making history by going nowhere! Spreading God’s love to our neighbors looks like staying put, to keep everyone safe.

So how will you celebrate Pentecost this year? Bake a cake? Wear red? Light a candle or build a fire? Fly a kite or inflate some balloons? Learn to say something in a different language? Whatever you do, or don’t do, the good news is that the Holy Spirit is with you, all around you and inside of you.  The church remains.  God’s power has no replacement  God’s love is not postponed.  As we creatively figure out life together apart, God stays with you; each of you.  May you know you are filled with the Holy Spirit, no matter where you are.  Happy Birthday!


Big Kitchen News

by Christina Sunstone

Have you ever thanked God for rats?

You might consider doing so now. It was earlier this year that we got the very unwelcome news that rats had found a weak spot around one of the drainpipes and had chewed their way into our Fellowship Hall kitchen.

It’s a long story, but I will make short: when the building closed in mid-March, member David Cress got serious about solving this problem, breaking up the concrete, opening up the floor, and tearing out a good twelve feet of cast iron drainpipe beneath the dishwasher – pipe so badly corroded it was open all along the bottom. It had been seeping gray water into the soil, enticing vermin with its delicious, sewer-y aroma, for no one knows how long.

As of press time, David has replaced the corroded drainpipe, welded improvements into the stainless steel worktable, updated the dishwasher mechanics, and (with the help of fellow member Ken Roscoe) poured a new cement floor over the drainpipe. Before the building reopens, we plan to give the whole kitchen a deep clean and a new coat of paint.

If not for those unwelcome rats, we might not have known about the mess lurking under the kitchen floor. So thank God for rats!

Our building turns 70 years old this year, and doubtless holds more surprises in store. If you would like to express your appreciation for our facility and for the work of our volunteers, we invite you to make a donation to our dedicated building fund. You can do this by check or online.

Outreach Assistance Grows along with Your Generosity

 by Patrick Meagher

It will probably not surprise you that we’ve seen an increase in outreach assistance requests in the past month. In a beautiful way, however, we’ve also seen many large gifts of support going into the outreach fund, and have increased our capacity to help to meet the increased demand. In a normal month, we can afford to help 5 or 6 households with rent help of about $250. In April, together we helped 10 families with rent help of $300 each! That’s 10 anxious households to which we brought a measure of stability and peace thanks to your generosity.

I received a letter of gratitude back from a man we helped in late March that really touched me. He explained how our relatively modest rent gift had actually stabilized his living arrangement to the extent he could have a parenting plan approved to restart visits with his young son. What a gift to both father and son to see each other during this difficult time, and he wanted me to be sure the church knew the impact we had. Thank you for your partnership in this ministry!

Financial News – May 2020

March Numbers
Thanks to reduced expenses and to your continued faithful giving (even when we could no longer worship together in person), our finances were in robust health at the end of March. Our income actually exceeded what had been budgeted. Thank you!

It is unlikely that this situation will continue in April, as we were closed for the entire month, and did not collect tuition payments from our preschool families. The financial report for April will be completed next week, and will be reported in the Wednesday email on May 13.

  March 2020 Year-to-Date 2020 (as of 3/31/2020) 2020 Budget YTD (as of 3/31/2020)
Tithes, offerings, and other income $75,446 $264,423 $234,734
Expenses   $66,110 $221,536 $229,634
CHURCH NET INCOME $9,336 $42,887 $5,100

Payroll Protection Program Loan
Last month Congress approved a Coronavirus Relief bill that included substantial relief to individuals and to small businesses, including churches. One of the features of this bill was the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which allows businesses to apply for payroll loans through the Small Business Administration. If the loan money is used as intended – to cover payroll costs –  the loan will be forgiven. This allows employees to stay on the payroll, rather than applying for unemployment insurance; and it allows businesses to hit the ground running with existing staff once they open up again.

Our Council Treasurer Todd Wathey worked hard to get a PPP loan application in for Phinney Ridge Lutheran on the very first day it was permitted. We soon received the news that we had indeed been granted the loan in full ($238,000). It was then deposited to our bank account, providing a much-needed infusion to get us through the next few uncertain weeks.

Can you Share your Stimulus?
The Coronavirus Relief bill includes another feature that could help Phinney. As part of that act, every American with an income below $99,000 will receive a $1,200 check from the Federal treasury within the next month.  A couple will get $2,400; most families with children will receive an additional $500 per child.

For many families that money will be critical to keeping them afloat. But if you are still working, or retired, and in the fortunate position to view it as a windfall: please consider sharing 1/4 of that stimulus with the church. This would come to $300 for a single person, $600 for a couple. 

If you are unemployed, please do what you can.  The state’s unemployment benefit will be supplemented by the Federal government by an $600 per week for the next 4 months. And of course you will also receive the $1,200 per person stimulus, hopefully allowing you to at least meet your pledge.

Please Continue to Give
From where I sit, in the Administrator’s chair, what has happened at Phinney so far has felt miraculous. We’ve invented a new way to worship and gather – practically from scratch. We have stayed connected using technologies we’d never heard of back in January. People have been fulfilling their pledges – and what’s more, they’ve been giving generously to our Outreach fund and to the Food Bank.

But we have to keep it up. The building is closed, but the church is not. Our expenses—and our ministries—continue. Thank you for what you have done so far. It is a blessing to be on this journey with you.

Christina Sunstone, Parish Administrator