All posts by Gift of Grace

Making a Fresh Start in 1996

Congregation 2
In 1996 Gift of Grace (then named Zion American Lutheran Church) became a Fresh Start Congregation. This is what launched us on our way. At that time the ELCA was having much better success with new starts than redevelopments. In the interest of good stewardship the ELCA was reluctant to invest time and money in redevelopments, investing instead in new starts. The North West Washington Synod took a hybrid approach. The thinking was since God called a congregation to do ministry where it was located perhaps the synod could create the conditions to make a redevelopment more like a new start. To that end they were willing to invest time and money toward a very specialized redevelopment, Fresh Start.

Gift of Grace was one of four Fresh Start congregations. Two of the other congregations were in places (suburbs) where the population was exploding. These congregations were relatively new (10-20 years old, I think). They congregations simply needed an energetic pastor dedicated to outreach whose path was cleared so that her or his efforts would not be thwarted by the typical risk-averse habits of congregational leadership. They were bound to grow. And they did.

The remaining congregation was like us: a faithful elderly congregation with few in attendance, located in a landlocked, urban setting, with a large building on which maintenance had been long deferred. The other congregation decided after a year that even with new pastoral leadership they did not have the will to continue. So they closed. They were one of the few congregations I had ever heard of closing at the time.

The Fresh Start program had several features intended to set us up for success.

1) The pastors were called to a three year term call by the synod, overseen directly by the Bishop (then, Rev. Don Meier) rather than receiving the usual open-ended call from the congregation itself. At the end of three years Fresh Start would end and the congregation could decide what it wanted to do about pastoral leadership.

2) It was stated from the beginning that the pastor would spend about 50% of the time in evangelism, which certainly included outreach.

3) The congregation leadership was expected to cooperate with the innovations the pastor might suggest.

4) The pastors would participate in continuing education emphasizing evangelism, and the synod would pay for it.

5) The pastors would be a cohort that met together monthly with the bishop.

This worked well for Gift of Grace. We received tremendous support from the synod, the bishop, and the Region 1, Director of Outreach. The meetings of our pastor cohort helped us glean best practices. The continuing education pushed me to be more daring. The directors of outreach for Region 1, first Dick Wendt, and then Red Birchfield, were extremely good coaches for me, especially supporting and challenging me in taking risks. Of all the things pastors need I think collegial support and challenge is among the most important. Few pastors are willing to accept it. It is time consuming and it means competition must be set aside, but it is vital.

In 1999, my synod call as a Fresh Start pastor ended and Gift of Grace officially called me as their own pastor. We give thanks to God for three years of support we received through the Fresh Start program. That program set us up for the 20 years of mission in Wallingford we are now celebrating


Second Annual Wallingford Chili Cook Off – October 4, at Noon!

chiliWe invite you to the Second Annual Wallingford Chili Cook Off hosted by Gift of Grace Lutheran Church at 2102 N. 40th St. (Wallingford) on Sunday Oct. 4, at Noon! Come and eat the best chili in Wallingford or be bold! Enter your best chili and let five judges (local Wallingford restaurant owners/chefs and a Gift of Grace member) taste and select the most delicious chili which we will serve at GraceFeast Sunday Dinners*. The First Prize Winner gets bragging rights and the prestige of his or her chili to be used in the GraceFeast recipe book and rotating menu (We’ll serve it about every 8-9 weeks). Continue reading Second Annual Wallingford Chili Cook Off – October 4, at Noon!

Gift of Grace is hosting a Church Bazaar

Gift of Grace is hosting a Church Bazaar. Come share a cup of cocoa and consider purchasing fair trade knitwear, coffee, chocolates, and olive oils for your gift giving this season. There will also be fresh baked goods, preserves, and handcrafted novelties. The proceeds from this fundraiser benefit the Fair Trade organizations and Gift of Grace Church through the matching grant “Matthew 25: Neighbors in Need Grant Program” with $0.50 on the $1.00 up to $5000 from Thrivent Financial.

 Bazaar Dates & Times

Friday, November 7th   3PM to 8PM 

Saturday, November 8th  9AM to 6PM

Sunday, November 9th  1PM to 5PM 

The Winner of the 1st Annual Wallingford Chili Cook Off

The winner of the 1st IMAG3084 (1)annual Wallingford Chili Cook Off hosted by Gift of Grace Church was Wallingford neighbor, Dale Levitzke! Out of 6 submitted chilis, Dale’s “Scorpion’s Kiss” Chili took first prize and will be the official chili recipe in the rotating menu for Gift of Grace’s weekly Sunday dinner, GraceFeast. This is a delicious, comfort food themed, homemade dinner for the neighborhood, served at Gift of Grace every Sunday at 11:45AM.

Beside the bragging rights, Dale won a gift basket with donations provided by Irwin’s Neighborhood Bakery & Café, The Bounty Café (aka Caffe Appassionato) and Fair Trade items provided by Gift of Grace. Chili Cook Off Judges included representatives from Chow Foods’ TNT Taqueria on N. 45th St., Tutta Bella Pizzeria on Stone Way, Irwin’s Bakery & Café on N. 40th St. and friends and members from Gift of Grace.

Come and taste “Scorpion’s Kiss” Chili at GraceFeast Sunday Dinner on Sunday November 16 at 11:45! Congratulations Dale!!

Holy Week 2014 at Gift of Grace

Holy Week Schedule
Dear Friends in Christ,
This is Holy Week, which we began Sunday by remembering Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, when the crowds hailed him as king of the Jews and spread their clothes and palm branches on the road like a red carpet to honor him. The mood quickly turned severe, so that the crowds were soon hollering for Jesus’ death.   Our worship continues for the rest of the week as described below. Although attending any one of the services is a fine opportunity to worship, ATTENDING ALL THREE will end up having a profound effect on you, one which might not recognize immediately, but which will occur nevertheless.   MAUNDY THURSDAY Our celebration calls to mind Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. We will move through the main parts of that “night in which He was betrayed,” including; Holy Communion, foot washing and the stripping of the altar, which leads us into the austerity of Good Friday.  

GOOD FRIDAY – better known as THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS A sparse and somber worship, including the reading of the Passion of Jesus, the great Bidding Prayer of the Church and the Adoration of the Cross.    EASTER SUNDAY better known as THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD. Our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection blends ancient rites of the Church with current cultural expressions of who we are & who we shall be by God‚s grace. Featuring original music and traditional hymns. Easter celebration begins with breakfast at 9 AM Worship is at 10:30, then GraceFeast brunch is following worship.  

SONOS Chamber Players

securedownload (2) securedownloadSONOS Chamber Players presented MOSTLY VIENNA on November 10, 2013 at Gift of Grace Lutheran Church

Performing music by Mahler, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Ferrenc  Singers: Dolores Holt, Susan Strick & Bruce Naftaly Violinist: Stephen Daniels  Cellist: Germaine Morgan  Pianist: Marguerite Margason

SONOS invites you to show your appreciation by making a donation to Gift of Grace in support of their outreach program, GraceFeast Sunday Dinner.


We share this chronicle to celebrate and rejoice in God’s work by letting you see some of the actual work and thinking that goes on in a congregation that believes it is faithfully doing its ministry but which simultaneously runs up against real world limits. This story shows how this congregation attempts to address the challenges. We, in no way, see ourselves as a small, poor, dying congregation. We see ourselves as a rich, vital, exciting community that is lifting up Christ for our neighbors in Word, Sacrament and service. That does not remove the limits. It simply encourages both us and the wider to church to attend to these limits in faithful and creative ways.

Below is a letter Pastor Fecher sent 10/16 to Gift of Grace about facing potential congregational closure:  Continue reading REJOICING IN GOD’S POWERFUL WORK AMID STRUGGLE: A RECENT CHRONICLE

Thanks for a great celebration!

We had a wonderful celebration on Easter. It was really lively to have all the seats full as we gave thanks to God for raising Jesus and bringing us in on his resurrected life! Many persons work each week to help this congregation worship. For Easter we take note that Kristie, Harold, Dale, Alex, Debra and others worked to make the pre-service breakfast and post service GraceFeast yummy affairs. The musicians worked hard to pull together an eclectic variety of music. Anonymous someones brought plants and flowers so the place was beautiful. (by the way, those flowers need to be thrown out and the plants planted. Could someone please do that?)

Last week we received money from a grant we wrote… a long time ago, $2000! The grant money is to help defray the cost of GraceFeast! Special thanks goes to Vivian and Laurin who primarily wrote the grant and to friends, Linda Fecher, Mary Reardon and Alex Ladaku who wrote personal testimonies to the value of GraceFeast for them.

Pastor Fecher will be “swapping pulpits” with Pastor Scott Kramer of Lakeridge Lutheran. It might sound illicite but it really isn’t. Fecher preaches at Lakeridge and Kramer preaches at GoG. The swap will happen May 6th. The purpose is to allow GoG to get to know a ministry neighbor in south Seattle and to allow Lakeridge Lutheran get to know GoG!

On May 20, Kira Elliot will preach and lead worship at GoG. Pastor Fecher will be in Berkeley for the seminary graduation of Valerie Carlson. Valerie is the 5th person to graduate from seminary, for whom GoG has been the sending congregation.

God has made us a rich congregation with a rich ministry. Let’s give heart felt thanks together that we are allowed to participate in God’s work on the corner of 40th and Meridian!