Still Time to Register for the Celtic Retreat

 

22nd Annual Celtic Prayer Retreat
It’s not too late to join

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Don’t Miss Out – Register Before Midnight August 7th!
We’re counting down to the Celtic Retreat!  This year’s theme: “Celebrate the Newness”.Join us at Mustard Seed Village on beautiful Camano Island (Washington State) and enjoy times together in worship, prayer, meditation on scripture, creative activities, and the celebration of the Eucharist/Communion.

We’ll also have plenty of alone time for wandering the prayer trails, walking the labrynth, and relaxing quietly.  And of course, there’s always time for conversing, conspiring, and dreaming!

We will have programs designed especially for children and teens.  The younger kids will expand their imaginations with Kendra Long, and teenagers will explore igniting their own creative spark with Cindy Todd.

Only one week left to register for the event.

This is a great opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the company of fellow sojourners on The Way. Come just for Saturday, or join us the whole weekend for camping and more informal times of conversation, prayer, and meandering the prayer trails.
hauling.beams
Bonus – You get to see in person the progress
being made on the new building!

Be sure to register before midnight, August 7.
(Late arrivals are welcome to register the day of the event, however
we cannot guarantee enough prayer books and programs to go around.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of activities:
Friday

  • 6:00-8:00 pm — arrive and set up tents
  • 8:30 pm — evening prayers

Saturday – The Main Event

  • Breakfast on your own – coffee and tea provided
  • 8:30 am — Morning prayers for those who stayed overnight or who arrive early
  • 9:30 am — Registration and gathering (coffee and tea available)
  • 10:00 am — Preparing to Set Sail- decorating the altar
  • 10:30 am — Building together: lectio divina
  • 12:30 pm — Potluck lunch
  • 1:30 pm — Dreaming together – dedicating the pole barn
  • 2:00 pm — Working and resting together — walk the prayer trails, pray in the labyrinth, meditate amongst the trees, help us paint the mural, make boats for St. Brendan
  • 5:00 pm — Setting Sail into Newness – eucharistic service and sharing with Ryan Marsh
  • 6:30 pm –The Great Shared Feast – BBQ dinner (bring your own BBQ items & potluck salads)

Sunday

  • Breakfast on your own
  • 9:00 am — morning prayers, worship and feedback time
  • 10:00 am — break camp & prepare to go home.
Hope to see you there!

Find out more on our Celtic Prayer Retreat page

Transition Time

Transition Time

al.paulTom and I have just returned from Evangelicals for Social Action’s 40th Anniversary celebration. Tom had the privilege of participating in an hilarious roast celebrating the retirement of Ron Sider, founder of ESA.

It was a delight to share vision with the new ESA presidents Al Tizon and Paul Alexander. They also reminded us that change especially on this scale, is both scary and filled with possibility and promise.

This is a time of change and transition for Mustard Seed Associates too, not on the same scale as in ESA, but change none less that can be scary as well as offering new possibility and promise.

  • Mustard Seed House is in transition
  • Mustard Seed Village is in transition
  • Mustard Seed Board is in transition.
It is an exciting but challenging time and we appreciate your prayers and support throughout these changes.

What’s Happening at the Mustard Seed Village?

The 22nd Celtic retreat is coming fast. This year’s program offers new and exciting opportunities that reflect some of our transitions. Inspired by St Brendan, our featured Irish saint, who sailed into new and unchartered waters in the 5th century, our retreat has us sailing into new waters and exploring new expressions of life and faith. Our theme, Celebrating the Newness, has taken on a prophetic edge not just in the development of the new youth program, but also as we work with collaborators Ryan Marsh and Kendra Long to reshape and strengthen our existing adult and children’s programs.

This retreat will feature a new and experimental program for youth 13-18 years. Led by Cindy Todd, this progam will invite participants to explore their God given creativity and reflect on ways it can be used to create new sustainable models for life and faith.

For all of us, the afternoon will provide many active ways to express our faith from painting a Celtic mural for our new building, to walking prayer trails and our labyrinth. We may also get to make solar cookers and build boats to journey with Brendan.

For those that spend the weekend we offer extended times for quiet reflection as well as great times of fellowship and fun interwoven with a rhythm of morning and evening prayer. In the afternoon we will also dedicate our new, though still unfinished building, celebrating another step forward for the Mustard Seed Village.

We are especially grateful for those of you who contributed to Graham Kerr’s appeal which helped us raise the beams and begin roof construction. If you want to contribute there is still time to do so.

What’s Happening at the Mustard Seed House?

The Mustard Seed House is changing too. At the end of May we said goodbye to Ricci and Eliacin and their kids Catie, Gabriel and Elias who have moved to a new house in Shoreline. They have been an important part of not just the Mustard Seed House community but of the MSA team in the last 7 years.

Ricci and Eliacin played central roles in helping us rethink MSA as a community based organization. Together we experimented with the Quaker discernment process and integrated it into the life of MSA. Together we experimented with morning and evening prayers, which became our first MSA publication Light for the Journey.

It was Eliacin who encouraged me to start blogging and helped us connect to new networks in the Pacific Northwest. Ricci and Catie facilitated the expansion of the Mustard Seed garden into the productive ministry it is today. Ricci’s work with the MSA publications Waiting for the LightPrayers of a Difference Sortand A Journey into Wholeness has been invaluable. Their presence will be missed though their friendship will continue.

carroccinoAt the beginning of June we welcomed Michael and Kristin Carrocino and their kids Mirella and Caedmon to the Mustard Seed community. We are enjoying getting to know each other and exploring ways that this new community can express the purposes of God’s kingdom together. Mirella has already planted her first garden and Kristen has begun editing A Journey into Wholeness. Michael started work at the beginning of July as the new curate at St Mark’s Cathedral.

What’s Happening with the MSA Board?

In the last year we have said goodbye to four Board members: Coe Hutchison, Shonnie Scott, Paul Stephenson and Jill Alyard Young. All have served faithfully for at least ten years but relocation and new commitments make ongoing participation challenging. They continue to participate in the broader circle of Mustard Seed Associates however, providing valuable encouragement, support and advice.

New Board members Jonathan and Jennifer Campbell, Neil Gavin and J.Paul Fridenmaker, are stirring us to reimagine new possibilities for how we carry out our goals and live into God’s purposes for us. We affirmed the already existing MSA vision and goals but began discussing new ways in which these might be expressed. We appreciate your prayers as we discern God’s will for us for the future.

What’s Happening with Cascadia?

The cancellation of the Cascadia CCSP program for September because of lack of students was a disappointment for all of us. We are passionate about the need for sustainability education for university students and believe that this program will still come into being but for the foreseeable future it is on the backburner. The indefinite postponement of CCSP Cascadia has planted new seeds, however. Some of these are already beginning to emerge as new partnerships and collaborative relationships.

View every MSA venture as a collaborative opportunity”, Jonathan Campbell encouraged at a recent Board retreat, and as we look to the future we sense that collaborative partnerships will be key to our ongoing development.

What’s Happening with the MSA web?

breath.prayer 3Tom and I have both just read The New Digital Ageby Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, a challenging book that some describe as a guide to the future. It talks about how technology is reshaping war, peace, freedom and people. It is also reshaping faith, spiritual practice and discipleship. This encourages us to realize that our new developments on the web are vital to our journey.

The popularity of prayers, like this new breath prayer and resources like this post on creating spiritual resilience, shows the vital need for connecting followers of Jesus to ongoing resources that ground us in our faith.

Drying LaundryThere is also a growing interest in resources like Andy Wade’s series, Intentionally Ordinarythat stir our imaginations encouraging us to create new possibilities for life and faith for the future. We ask for your continued prayers and support as we reshape these areas of our ministry.

Pray for us in transition time

  • Pray for the MSA team and Board as we work together to discern God’s purposes for MSA into the future
  • Pray for the ongoing construction of the Mustard Seed Village and the finances needed to complete it.
  • Pray for our upcoming Celtic Prayer retreat and the spiritual renewal of all who attend.
  • Pray for the reshaping of the MSA website and Godspace which will continue over the next few months
  • Pray for Tom as he works on his new book Join the Innovation Revolution.
We pray God’s richest blessing on all of you over this next month.

An Invitation from Graham Kerr

Pole barn coming soon

Pole barn coming soon

Tom and I have spent an amazing day celebrating at the Mustard Seed Village on Camano Island a couple of weeks ago. A team of 11 volunteers raised and bolted 8×32′ beams to the fir poles already planted as foundations for our first building. But we need your help to complete it.

Listen to Graham Kerr as he shares his enthusiasm for this project.

My wife, Treena, and I have had multiple seeds sown in our spiritual lives, several of these were MUSTARD SEEDS.

Has this been the case for you?

We are close personal friends of Tom and Christine Sine. We have known them for almost as long as we have been Christians and that is now well over 30 years. Time and time and time again both Tom and Christine have blessed our lives with their multiple ways of serving the Body of Christ worldwide through Mustard Seed Associates.

If you find yourself with a similar harvest we want you to know that there is a way to save some of the seeds and to re-sow them in a very special piece of land.  Read the rest of Graham’s invitation and consider how you can join the Party

One Million and Counting

Celtic crosses

Yesterday the one millionth person visited Godspace. Exciting, amazing and uplifting.

Now I know that is not really one million different people as many of you visit several times a week. However I still feel it is quite an achievement. What began as a place for me to share my personal thoughts and ideas five years ago has become a go to place for those looking for resources for creative worship, prayers and out of the box spiritual practices that connect to their every day lives.

Many of you have told me about how your faith has been strengthened by the resources provided here. Others appreciate the ways your faith has been stretched and challenged by some of the issues discussed. Your comments and questions have stretched and challenged my faith at times too. I love it!

The blog has also provided an avenue for a growing network of writers and creative thinkers around the globe to contribute their ideas in a venue that gives them more exposure than they would otherwise receive. Our spiritual growth is grounded in community, not a community of like minded people, but a community of rich diversity. Increasingly, I want to provide an outlet for these diverse and enriching voices.

The question is: Where do we go from here? In the last couple of months at Mustard Seed Associates, of which this blog is a part, we have had numerous discussions about what this blog could and should become. First we want to upgrade it to get rid of those annoying ads that a free blog template attracts. We want to add a section for daily prayers, another for online retreat curricula and more publications that flow out of the blog series. And we want to make access to the existing resources a lot easier.

To move forward however we need your help. At Mustard Seed Associates we believe that every venture is a collaborative opportunity.

  1. First we need your input. What kinds of resources would you like to see added to Godspace?
  2. In what ways would you like to participate in the development of resources?
  • Would you like to write prayers, liturgies or blog posts?
  • Would you like to help with the new web development?
  • Would you consider financially supporting the expansion of this website and the valuable content it provides?

MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

I hope that you will prayerfully consider these questions and help us grow the mustard seed that is Godspace.

 

Christmas Greeting From Tom and Christine Sine

Christmas greetings (c) Christine Sine

“And God himself will choose the sign… A frightened woman in her time… Will bear a son and name him well… God with us! O come, O come Emmanuel!”

These beautiful lyrics from the song the Oracles by Steve Bell words were the focus of our Advent II Homecoming party this last week, a time at which we remember not just the birth of a child two thousand years ago, but the promise of a new world coming in which justice will come for the poor and hope for the marginalized. Tom and I love this season of the year with its expectant promise of hope and fulfillment. Each morning we light our Advent candles, sit in their warm glow, and listen to Advent music while we eat breakfast. We finish with scripture reading and prayer.

This year held many celebrations and festivals for us. In June we headed to Australia for Christine’s mother’s 89th birthday. In July we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and in August we celebrated together with many MSA friends, at our annual Celtic retreat, rejoicing at the beginning of our building for the Mustard Seed Village. The poles for our first classroom became the focal point for our fellowship In the afternoon their dedication drew us together again into our dreams and hopes for the future. We expect to have them in the ground and the concrete slab poured before the end of the year. This will house classes on sustainability as well as place for people to imagine and create new ways God can use their lives and communities to have an impact in the lives of others.

Celti Retreat 2012 - Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

Celti Retreat 2012 – Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

We also hosted a number of BBQs and other meals at the house, sharing hospitality with people from around the world and feasting from our bountiful garden produce. Tom’s Bacon and Tomato sandwiches are to die for.

Our participation in Wild Goose East in North Carolina, Wild Goose West in Oregon and Creative World Festival in British Columbia also gave ample opportunity for celebration. These festivals brought us together with a rich array of friends old and new, stirred our imaginations with inspiring talks and invited us to live out the kingdom in our everyday lives. More recently we celebrated with Mark and Lisa Scandrette and the Reimagine Tribe in San Francisco. We walked the streets where Tom grew up, reminiscing and soaking in the stories of how they are making a difference in the lives marginalized people in their city.

Return to our Senses - cover

My new book Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray is also part of the good news that God is still with us. It invites the reader to see prayer as far more than words. It introduces a rich array of experience that affirm God’s presence in every moment and in aspect of our lives. Today is the last day to order it from Amazon for a Christmas delivery, or download it for your kindle. This blog, Godspace which increasing focuses on how to reimagine prayer and spiritual practices for the future, continues to grow in popularity and is consistently listed in the top 100 Christian blog sites. The current Advent series has been particularly popular and enriching. I have certainly benefited from the posts and I hope you have too.

The Light for the Journey prayer page also grows in popularity with the addition of inspiring new content from John Birch, Bonnie Harr ,  Micha Jazz and other contemplative activists. My growing desire is to provide a place where others can share the creative gifts God has given them. Both Godspace and Light for the Journey provide those opportunities. We will further expand the authorship of both these venues in the next year so if you are interested let me know or sign up for the Godspace writers group.

Tom’s good news is the beginning of a new book on imagination and innovation. It is designed to enable readers to discover creative new ways God can use their mustard seed to be a difference and make a difference in response to rapidly changing times.  He is also blogging about the ideas from the innovative edge on the MSA web site.

As we race towards a fiscal cliff in the US, a slowing global economy throughout our planet and continuing bloodshed and volatility in the Middle East… thank God there is good news! We can in these uncertain times share this good news by how we live and care for our vulnerable neighbors locally and globally. We want to hear your stories of innovative ways followers of Jesus in your community make a little difference in your community. Can you send us your stories so we share this good news with people throughout our global village too?

Our MSA Team and Board are involved in the very ambitious task of refocusing MSA as a center for Christian imagination and innovation…to help us all discover how we can become much more of God’s good news in these tough times.  We are so grateful to God for Cindy Todd and the innovation she brings to our small team and Andy Wade whose tireless work makes our ability to communicate with you possible. Our growing circle of supporters and volunteers are constantly blessing in the midst of all we do. Please consider joining us in this venture. Your year end donation to Mustard Seed Associates will help keep this blog and the other ministries of MSA alive.

  MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

We wish you and yours a joyous Christmas and a new year filled by creative new ways to be a bit of God’s good news in times like these.

Tom & Christine Sine

Return to Our Senses Now Available on Kindle

Return to Our Senses - cover

Return to Our Senses

I am delighted to announce that my new book Return to Our Senses is now available in both paperback and kindle versions.

Check out the paperback version here. There is still time to preorder the book at a discount price of $15 including U.S. shipping. -All proceeds for sales go to support the work of Mustard Seed Associates.

The kindle version is only available through Amazon. You can check out the kindle version here.

Going Through Transition – Help from Walter Brueggemann

A journey into newness

A journey into newness

Tom and I have just returned from one of our quarterly retreats. These usually focus on our personal lives and the direction we sense God is nudging us into for the next three months. This time however I was focused on the transitions we are going through at Mustard Seed Associates. We are seeking to discern what MSA will become in the future, with new leadership at the helm. During the retreat I skimmed through three very helpful books which I will share about over the next few days.

The first of these was Walter Brueggemann’The Prophetic ImaginationBrueggemann has played a major role in shaping my theology in the past and I can that he will in this transition too. Though this is not a book about how to transition a ministry to new leadership, it certainly has a lot to say that can help in a situation like this.

MSA has always been a prophetic organization, challenging followers of Jesus to consider how the world is changing and how we as God’s people need to change to be more effective in the future. At its centre is a vision of hope, the belief that God’s kingdom of shalom is not only possible but is already breaking into our world and God calls us to be a part of that. We have always done a broad array of ministries – from Tom’s and my speaking and writing to networking and consulting and it is easy for us to look at the future and say – who can we find that can take over these tasks? It is easy for us to look at what we have done and attach the word forever.

As I read through Prophetic Imagination I realized that this will never move us into God’s future. The forever language is the language of kings and rulers who want to maintain the status quo. MSA has always been a prophetic organization and to continue to be prophetic we must be willing to let go of what has been and embrace the possibility of newness. Newness is only possible when we have the freedom to hope for something different and to allow for the possibility that everything can and should change.The question Brueggemann raised that really challenged me is: How can we have enough freedom to imagine and articulate a real historical newness in our situation? (44). Maybe beyond that, how can we allow others to have the freedom to imagine and articulate something that is totally new? Brueggemann goes on to say: The prophet does not ask if the vision can be implemented, for questions of implementation are of no consequence until the vision can be imagined.  At this point we are not wanting to ask the questions – how can we manage change – that could stifle any possibility of something new. Our question is What is God’s vision of newness for us as an organization?

The prophet offers symbols of hope for a new future. Change and newness do not spring into being in a void however. It is not accomplished by discarding all the symbols and accomplishments from the past, but rather it means to move back into the deepest memories of the community and activate those very symbols that have always been the basis for contradicting the regnant consciousness (66). Israel stood agains the regnant consciousness of the Pharaoh in order to bring a new reality into being because they believed in God’s promise to Abraham that this alternative reality was both possible and desired by God.

So my question for us at MSA is what are the “deep memories”, the DNA of our organization that God would draw us back to? Interestingly as I thought about this none of what we do came to mind. It is not our activities but our beliefs and our passions that make it possible to face a future of newness.

Here is my sense of what that is, though I realize this is not something that can be defined without the discernment of the MSA team, Board and even the broader MSA community.

  1. From Biblical hope to new design: the core of MSA is its desire to articulate and bring into being something of God’s kingdom dream of a world made new where justice does come for the poor, healing for the sick and wholeness for all creation.
  2. A spiritually discerning community that seeks together to discern the will of God for us as an organization and the implement it. Ministry flows out of spiritual discernment in community not out of “what we do well”.
  3. A questioning organization (or should I use the word prophetic) that calls others to question the status quo of the secular culture and inspires them to create new models of life and faith that flesh out something of what they hope God’s kingdom will look like. It is only when we question that our imaginations can be stirred and newness can come.
  4. We are an organic organization and see planning as a fluid process that flows out of our spiritual discernment and constantly allows us to be reshaped by the ways God speaks to us as a community.
  5. Praxis and academia are both important to us. We don’t just want to talk about change, we want to be a part of it, allowing it to shape who we are so that we can move along the journey towards becoming the people God wants us to be.

I wold love to hear your thoughts on this. Some of you have travelled with us in MSA for a long time. Others have recently joined the journey. What is it that inspires and ignites your passion? As we move into the future we want to make sure that we listen to all the voices through whom God would speak to us. We want to make sure that allow for all the newness that God wants to give birth to.

Looking for Partners.

Over the last few months many of you have told me how much you appreciate the content on this blog. Its popularity continues to grow as we post reflections, resources and liturgies from around the world. Some of you regularly use prayers and liturgies that are posted here in your church services and study groups. Numbers have used the series on Spiritual Leadership to guide your own leadership teams. Thousands view the meditation videos each year and dozens have already downloaded the Lenten guide in preparation for the upcoming season.

Many of these resources are available free and that is the way we want to keep it. I strongly believe that God has gifted me and the other members of the MSA team to serve the body of Christ in this way. However to make it possible for us to continue this into the future we need your help.

I would ask those of you who do regularly use Godspace resources to consider partnering with us in the ongoing work of this blog. Please prayerfully consider a small donation – either a one time donation of $25 – $100 or a monthly donation of $10 or $20 or even $50/month to Mustard Seed Associates.

I know that many of you face the same kind of financial struggles that we do at Mustard Seed Associates. And as you can imagine I have struggled with writing this post. But many of you have become like an extended family, and I know that part of being family together means sharing our needs and struggles. Please pray for us as we seek God’s wisdom and guidance in these challenging times.

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

Starfish at Esperanza Canada

The art of leading spiritually

The Art of Leading Spiritually

What does it mean to be a spiritual leader? Why do we lead and where are we heading? What was it that made Jesus leadership special? These are all questions that have revolved in my mind over the last few weeks as I have reflected on my own leadership and evaluated where I am at and where I need to grow into the future. Let me say up front that much of what I share over the next couple of weeks will, to a certain extent, be me thinking out loud. I want to grapple with important questions about why, where and how we lead and hope that you will join me in this journey.

Mustard Seed Associates is going through some huge transitions at the moment. In the next couple of years our team here in Seattle will probably double in size and we will also begin to establish the Mustard Seed Village community on Camano Island. Our Board is also going through transitions as we grapple with the new skills that are needed to move us into the future.

Mustard Seed Associates is a community not a program based organization. We see both our staff team and Board as spiritual communities that discern and carry out the will of God for our organization. We believe that everything we do should flow out of our involvement together as community. We also want to foster spirituality that draws followers of Christ into a deeper relationship with God not alone but as a community.  That is one of the reasons I am attracted to monastic communities and the liturgical calendar. Both of these provide tools that draw us into community with God’s people around the world.

The Mustard Seed team also wants to encourage innovation that enables us to create new ways to advance God’s kingdom purposes and engage tomorrow’s challenges. That kind of creativity only occurs in community.  In many ways MSA provides a networking hub for many expressions of faith and community. Shane Claiborne once described us as cross pollinators. We draw people together across generations, denominations and cultures connecting and equipping them to create their own models that can transform their cultures by both living differently and making a difference for God’s kingdom.

To be honest in some ways I am less sure now of what Godly leadership is meant to look like than I was 10 years ago partly because I realize that spiritual leadership is not a job but a journey. It is a journey into intimacy with God. It is a journey into the kingdom of God. It is also a journey into the company of others. Spiritual leadership is not about individual success, in fact I am not sure that it is about individuals at all. Spiritual leadership is about community, about enabling others to become the people God intends them to be so that together we can become the community of shalom that God intends us to become.

It is probably fairly obvious that my ideas on spiritual leadership look nothing like the secular model of leadership we so often applaud. Our modern idea of leadership, even of Christian leadership is often a very hierarchical model, based on power and prestige. Success is often judged by growth in numbers rather than in spiritual maturity. Sadly this is the model that most of us know and adhere to without even thinking about it.

So I hope you will join me in this journey of exploration and discovery as we discuss the whys, wheres and hows of what it means to lead spiritually.

Saying Goodbye to a Wonderful Year

Tom and I are just back from our quarterly retreat. As part of the framework for my reflection I have been reading Ruth Hayley Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. I was particularly struck by her thoughts on taking time to draw aside in order to notice the presence of God in the present moment – what she likens to Moses drawing aside to examine the burning bush and discovering that he is in the holy presence of God.

Learning to live in the present moment, being grateful for what it holds and giving thanks for how God has created, it is an art that draws us close into the presence of God. This enabled me to recognize the presence of God not just in the moment but in the whole of the year that has passed. And so I find myself kneeling in awe and reverence at the privilege of co-creating with the living God.

As we race towards 2012, Tom and I and the growing Mustard Seed team are overwhelmed by the generosity of God and the many good friends God has given us. This has been an incredible year for us and we have much to celebrate.

We have much to celebrate this Year

  • We began the year by launching our new website, which has enabled us to expand our written and video resources and begin publishing ebooks.
  •  It has even encouraged Tom to start blogging, and he now contributes a weeklymustardseedconspiracy post.  Our recent publications, Waiting for the Light: a devotional for Advent and Christmas and the video Lord Jesus Christ, Draw Close, have been particularly popular and are being used by many to prepare both for the coming of Jesus and for the in-breaking of God’s new creation all over the world.
  •  Godspace continues to blossom as a site for spiritual resources and I appreciate your comments and help in . This year we had over 200,000 visitors and were listed by some as one of the top 100 Christian blogs.  The most popular series was “Tools for Prayer”.
  • The daily facebook prayers are also growing in popularity as more and more people seek to connect daily to God through their internet interactions.

Camas Garden 2011

  • We facilitated four Spirituality of Gardening seminars, a brainstorming session on Recession Readiness, and several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House. We had the joy of sharing new ways to serve God in changing times with friends including those at Goshen College and AMBS in March, the Inhabit Conference in April, the Overseas Ministry Study Center in May, the Wild Goose Festival and Reformed Church Educators in June, and the Mennonite Laurelville Center in August. We also held creativity workshops at several churches, including Kent Covenant and Sanctuary Christian Reformed Church in Seattle.
  •  In August we held our 20th Annual Celtic Retreat, a milestone event that marked a new phase of the development for the Mustard Seed Village. Shortly after, we received an anonymous donation of $25,000 as a matching grant for the first building, and other friends responded to the challenge. Pole Barn imageWith $50,0000 raised we are still praying for the remaining $35,000 to build this pole barn classroom. Our gifted architect and friend David Vandervort is working on the plans, and construction will take place over the summer next year. Last week Tom and I gifted the first five-acre parcel of our 40 acres on Camano Island, valued at $120,000, to Mustard Seed Associates for this purpose.
  •  Last week Forrest Inslee, who heads curriculum design for our upcoming Sustainability Semester Away program, secured approval for accreditation by Northwest University here in the Seattle area. Our partners at Creation Care Study Program  (www.creation.csp.org) are circulating our curriculum proposal to the 30 Christian colleges they work with for approval.
  • If God continues to bless, we will launch the Pacific NW Sustainability Semester next September. What makes it distinctive is that students learn not only about environmental and other global challenges likely to confront us in the coming decade, they will also learn about new community-based ways of living that are more sustainable environmentally and economically. They will also learn how they can work with others in these turbulent times to create new sustainable local neighborhoods.
  • We are so grateful for our growing MSA team… Cindy Todd, Andy Wade, Forrest Inslee and Ricci Kilmer. We are also grateful for our generous MSA boardMSA Bursting and friends like Lindsay, Crickette, James, Nancy and Dennis who volunteer their time to keep MSA moving forward. Our most desperate current need is for a part-time administrative assistant for the MSA office.
  • We have shared hospitality and food from our garden at the Mustard Seed House with friends from Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Africa, Canada and the U.S.
  • The MSA team celebrated its own milestones this year. I celebrated my 60th, Tom his 75th, and Andy Wade his 50th birthday. We are grateful for God’s mercy and grace as we seek to grow our ministry and journey with Jesus Christ in these troubled times.

We wish you and yours a new year filled with compassion for the growing numbers of our neighbors locally and globally that are likely to be impacted by both the growing economic troubles in Europe and climate change everywhere.