‘Renewal’ event at Valley Christian celebrates faith

Church members from varied denominations around the Pacific Northwest will be in Hood River Thursday through Sunday for “Celebration of Faith,” and local residents are invited to get involved.

Members of Hood River Valley Christian Church are working with the inter-denominational “Lay Renewal Ministries” of St. Louis, Mo., to organize the event, which will involve group meetings, worships, meals, and small groups to help church people build on their faith.

“It’s an opportunity to hear how God is active in lay peoples’ lives in business and in family life, and also to have an oppportunity to share how God is acting on your own life, for the building up of life in your church,” said Matt Ihle of Valley Christian Church, who is working with Pastor Dan Armstrong to coordinate the event and encourage his fellow congregants to attend “Celebration of Faith.”

“We hope it will be a focal point for our church body, but it’s always something we want others to share in,” said Ihle, for whom the event is a return to a formative past experience.

A similar renewal event when he was a Sumner, Wash., junior high youth, was a defining moment for Ihle, a Hood River resident since 1995.

“I still remember a witness from Pacific Lutheran University, and he was so cool,” Ihle recalled. “His faith was very real to him. Over that weekend I got to see what that faith looked like to a college student, and I was greatly affected.”

“I’m one of the few people in our congregation who has seen (a renewal event).”

Ihle said the celebration is intended as “a renewal of our body as a church.” Participants meet in small groups, including coffee hours at local homes.

Armstrong related the event to visiting friends in a home — refreshments, talking and story telling — as well as to a church retreat.

“Our ‘Celebration of Faith’ shares common elements,” he said. “Dedicated time with God and His people, a theme, prayer, worship, and a whole weekend for relaxation and conversation.”

Preparations for the event began when the church contacted Lay Renewal Ministries, and were connected to the Northwest regional coordinators, Tom and Gretchen Goer of Snohomish, Wash., who assembled the lay team that will come to Hood River. The visiting lay leaders, who come at their own expense, have themselves been through a “Celebration of Faith” as recipients.

“They come to share what God is doing in their lives,” Ihle said. “It’s similar to the old revival meetings, and they have the same goal, of people telling their stories, what it is Jesus does in my life.”

“At each opportunity, people can share, and there will also be specific ministries for youth and kids, and for worship and music,” he said. Ihle and his wife, Paula Lindquist, are parents of Luke, 9, David, 5, and Grace, 2.

Ihle said planning for the celebration has brought people into “new areas of leadership in the church.”

“People are responding and we are finding many latent talents,” he said. “One benefit is we are finding more people who are very capable and putting their gifts together for the church.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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