Join us at 4:00pm every Sunday
for our Celebration services
@ The Hillman City Collaboratory 
(5623 Rainier Ave S. 98118)

This Sunday at V&M

The Gathering: Getting Spicy

Reflection by John Helmiere

4:00pm Celebration @ The Collaboratory
(5623 Rainier Ave S. 98118)

This Sunday, we are getting spicy!  The brilliant, radical vision of life contained in the Sermon on the Mount, which Gandhi among others said shaped his ethics, calls on people to be like salt. To have flavor. To live spicily (is that a word?). To be distinctive. What kind of distinctive? The kind that is strikingly simple, shockingly loving, scandalously merciful, dangerously honest, and absurdly committed to being an instrument of peace in a world awashed in violence. It is easy to have strong opinions, it is another thing to take steps towards unity– unifying our vision for life and our actual life.

John will share a reflection that includes: Frederick Douglass’s take on July 4th, Kierkegaard on “the anguish of indecision,” and a story about the worst lasagna that anyone has ever eaten.

Our theme for July is “The Gathering.” Why do we gather and what promise and power does community have for us? We’ll look at different gatherings and gathering stories. This week we look at the gathering that happened at the Sermon on the Mount and the role of community in enabling us to live a unified life. Next Sunday (July 12th), John will interview Rev. Sam Osborne, the director of the Rainier Valley Food Bank who is also a pastor, about gatherings around food and service, with an eye toward the Feeding of the 5,000.

Ben will be leading the music this Sunday! Come at 3:30pm to rehearse the songs with him before the Celebration.

March in Solidarity with Charleston, Tuesday

V&M’ers are welcome to join a march in solidarity with the community in Charleston who was affected by white supremacist terrorism and people of color everywhere. The gathering is at 5pm/6pm this Tuesday at First AME Church. Speeches at 5pm, the march leaves at 6pm (roughly).  See the graphic above for more details. Email Kelle at rosekm@bardicgrove.org if you want to march with others.

This Week’s Fun Community Event

July 10: Shakespeare in the Park @ Seward Park Picnic and enjoy Much Ado About Nothing with fellow V&Mers.
Outdoor Movie Night

We had a great group come over last Saturday for outdoor movie night on the Helmiere’s back porch. Mark your calendar for the next one on September 12th! It’ll be an earilar showtime on the 12th since the sun will be going down sooner.


(in case you missed them)
Meet Olivia Smith

Olivia Smith is thrilled to be an Associate Minister Intern at Valley and Mountain Fellowship this summer. Four and a half years ago she had the pleasure of engaging with V&M when it first began to convene, and she is looking forward to reconnecting with the community. As an intern, Olivia will be exploring how her call to ministry, her passion for social justice and love for community that adheres to one another. V&M’s principles of deep listening, creative liberation and radical hospitality resonate with Olivia; she sees them as essential to doing God’s good work. Olivia grew up participating in a non-denominational Christian church in both Seattle and for sometime in Aurora, IL, where her father is a pastor. Olivia is approaching her senior year at Seattle University where she is a double major in Political Science and Spanish. She is heavily engaged in youth development in the local Seattle schools and also fills her time with family, friends, books and exercise.

Olivia has been placed with V&M through a program funded through the UMC that aims to help talented young people who are considering vocational ministry to get experience in vital congregational settings. Please take the time to welcome Olivia and show her some radical hospitality!

Financial Update and Thanksgiving
On track with the original plan to get V&M off the ground, this month (June 2015) is final month in which we are receiving financial support from the UMC seed grant that helped us get started. Over the past five years we have received financial support that decreased each July as part of a plan to give us time to mature. Each year, as we have deepened our commitment as a community and as individuals, we have become increasingly self-sufficient. To be clear, we did not do anything wrong– it’s just that we’ve reached the end of our scheduled term of support.  This is a time to give thanks for the huge investment from the UMC in getting us started! And for all those who have brought V&M close to a place of financial sustainability!

We have reached a strong position and have built up a reserve surplus, but with the loss of the support we do need to make an effort to make up for the ended support of about $1,900 per month.  If you have not made a pledge but would like to do so, you can do so at our online giving page, or you can contact our Treasurer Kelle Rose (rosekm@bardicgrove.org), our Financial Secretary Dick (dickburkhart@centurylink.net), or our Convener John Helmiere (john@valleyandmountain.org).

News from Annual Conference

*photo: Jenny giving a rousing (and successful) speech calling for divestment!*

V&M co-creators Jenny, Gretchen, John, and Todd are currently in Pasco at the 3-day annual meeting of ministers and lay leaders in the Pacific Northwest region of the United Methodist Church (UMC).  These annual conferences provide an opportunity for congregations in the network to celebrate together, build community, ordain new clergy, conduct some business, and act for justice.

Jenny has been leading the charge for fossil fuel divestment by the UMC pension fund (the largest church pension fund the country) and has succeeded in getting the conference to vote in favor of endorsing divestment!  Gretchen is leading advocacy efforts on anti-racist legislation following Charleston.  Todd is leading the music at the various services. John is not doing much of anything useful but he needs to be there anyway. They did show a long video about V&M and everyone seemed very excited by what we are doing together!

*photo: in front of the bakery where Antonio was killed*

Among the activities at the conference, there was a powerful service of confession and repentance for the mistreatment, abuse, and ongoing structural oppression (including the Doctrine of Discovery) that had been planned over the past year with leaders from local American Indian tribes. Also a resolution was passed to strongly press our state to include the tribes in the decisions being made around water management on the Columbia River. Yesterday a large group marched from a local Spanish-speaking UMC church “La Nueva Generacion de Dios” to the spot where an unarmed Latino man, Antonio Zambrona-Montes, was shot 17 times by police. The location of the killing was a few blocks away and we held signs, stood in the street, and prayed together.
V&M Summer Fun Events

*photo: the awards ceremony at the last Peep-a-lympics…. as someone awesome said, “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”*

Part of our mission is to build radically hospitable community. The truth is that’s pretty flimsy unless we hang out and have fun together. So put some (or all) of these events on your calendar and invite anyone you want! If you want to help with any of them, email john@valleyandmountain.org

June 27: Outdoor Movie Night at the Helmiere’s!  John wants Sharknado. Freddie is trying to dissuade him.

July 10: Shakespeare in the Park @ Seward Park Picnic and enjoy Much Ado About Nothing with fellow V&Mers.

July 15: V&M at Farmers Market  we are hosting the Kids Tent at the Farmer’s market, come make it live!

July 22: V&M Family Fun Night Kid-friendly night of games and BBQ at the Collab, 5:30-8:00pm
Aug 5: V&M Family Fun Night more of the above!
Aug 26: V&M at Farmers Market  we are hosting the Kids Tent at the Farmer’s market, come make it live!
Sept 4-6: Labor Day Weekend V&M annual overnight retreat 
Sept 12: Outdoor Movie Night at the Helmiere’s! Suggestions anyone?
Women’s Group Bonfire (Wednesday) + Summer Fun Schedule

A message from the V&M women’s group: “In our summer tradition, we are suspending the bi-weekly women’s deep listening group and spending every other Wednesday night through mid-September engaged in socializing, eating, drinking, adventuring, and sharing activities. These nights are informal and fun– no commitment necessary. Anyone who identifies as a woman is welcome and so are friends and visitors.  If we haven’t seen you in a while, stop by some night to catch up!” If you want to get on the V&M Women’s Group, email fhelmiere@gmail.com

July 15: Blueberries & Waterfalls! We’ll head out to Bybee Farms in North Bend to pick blueberries around6pm, followed by an excursion to nearby Snoqualmie Falls for a picnic. Carpools to be arranged.

July 29: almost-full moon night swimming in Lake Washington! We’ll meet by the swimming beach at Seward Park for a dinner picnic and some frisbee tossing and fun in the water around 7:30, and those who wish to linger until the sun goes down and the moon comes up will enjoy a full(ish) moon swim!

Aug 12: Opening night of the Skagit County fair! We’ll arrange carpools and leave as early as possible. I don’t really know what to expect, but the flyer indicates that there will be farm animals, a magician and hypnotist, animal races and carnival stuff.

Aug 26: Farmer’s Market Potluck. Meet in the park behind the library for a women’s potluck. Bonus points if your contribution is entirely sourced from farmer’s market that day!

Sept 9: Full Tilt ice cream/ beer/ arcade games night. Possibly transitioning to live music somewhere in the neighborhood.

Sept 23: Women’s Fall Equinox bonfire at Kelle’s house.

​* Note: we’ll be looking for a volunteer to “host” each women’s night, which basically means send out a reminder email, collect RSVPs, help arrange carpools if necessary, etc. Please email Freddie if you’d like to volunteer to lead one of the evenings.

Come to Celebration Early and Practice Sing

Love to sing? Our own Tiffani Jones has inspired the creation of a V&M quasi-choir!  Come 30 minutes before Celebration to rehearse the songs with the musicians and improve the quality and participatory feeling of our music!

Family Fun Days!

*Really gotta love this photo. Apparently balloon volleyball is big at senior centers these days! Family Fun Days can be for all ages*

Mark your calendars for two Family Fun Nights this summer at the Collaboratory: July 22nd and August 5th from 5:30-8:00pm.  We want to create a fun-for-adults-youth-and-kids space. There will be board games, balloon volleyball, cooking out, beer, music, and [your idea here]. This is a new experiment and we’d love some help with ideas and logistics.  People who love intergenerational fun, whether or not you are guardian of kids, are welcome!

Contact john@valleyandmountain.org to help.

Older News

Life Sentence Commuted

John here: Sometimes I wonder if any organizing work or activism amounts to any real change.  I just wanted to share this with you all who I know care about social justice, creative liberation, and people who are incarcerated.
3 years ago a group of V&Mers went to Olympia to speak on behalf of Larry Fisher, a man who’d been in prison for 15 years and serving a lifetime sentence for stealing $151 from a Subway.  Some of you on this list were there. Larry had committed two other minor offenses in the previous ten years and although they were minor and nonviolent, it was technically a 3rd strike due to the law that had just been passed here in Washington. He was sentenced to jail for life (technically 777 years, 77 months, and 77 days).  We’d learned about Larry and several other non-violent 3-strikers through our alliance with JusticeWorks a nonprofit working to undo racism against African-Americans in the criminal justice system.  The law is hugely disproportionately affecting black and brown bodies– although Larry happens to be white.  Our liberation is indeed bound up together.
After testimony (V&M brought nearly half the room), the clemency board voted to recommend that the governor commute Larry’s sentence.  They mentioned the importance of the support in the room.  The governor didn’t do anything for a while and V&M had several encounter groups where we wrote letters to the governor about the issue.  I lost track of it until recently when we started sending cards to people in prison.  It turns out that Gov Gregoire signed a commutation days before leaving office!  The proclamation is here.  His story is told there.  V&M is mentioned in it too, believe it or not.  On page two.  Larry is in jail for one more year.May we continue to take seriously the message of Jesus and the prophets of Love– visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, do justice, make peace.

Solidarity with Muslim Brothers and Sisters

Link to Seattle P-I article

The imam of a mosque in our area was kicked off a plane for using the bathroom in a “doubtful way” and has asked for faith leaders to support him in asking the airline to investigate the occurrence and other discriminatory reports.  John participated by speaking at a press conference calling for Delta and the federal transportation agency to investigate a growing list of reported complaints (and as-yet-unreported instances) of Muslims being ejected from planes for purely discriminatory reasons.  He called on Christians who claim discrimination when cashiers fail to say “Merry Christmas” to look at this case of religious prejudice and join in solidarity with Muslims who face this kind of treatment on a regular basis.

Tags: progressive church Seattle, social justice church, spiritual community, ecumenical, radically inclusive, diverse, multi-generational, lgbt-friendly, Hillman City, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, South Seattle, incarnational, missional church, prophetic, mystical, alternative worship, emergent church Seattle, emerging, process theology, liberation theology, integral Christianity, reconciling congregation, UMC, open and affirming, inclusive, open-minded, Collaboratory


5 Responses to home

  1. beacon hillite says:

    I just saw your article in the 12/15/10 issue of the South Seattle Beacon. This was the first I have heard about your fellowship. As a person who has been uninterested in traditional churches for pretty much my whole life, I have to say that I was pretty impressed and even a little excited about what you are doing. Celebrating creativity and working to stop injustice in the world are two of the most divine things that humans can do; I’m pleased to see that you have made this so important to your mission! Keep it up!

  2. Jud Hendrix says:


    You rock! Glad things are going well! I need to come hang you with you!

  3. Shira Nahari says:

    My Dear Brother-in-Peace John,

    I just read your incredible report of how you were beaten and arrested in Seattle recently.
    I intend to share it widely to enroll people in following your advice issued on the heels of this unprovoked abuse:
    · Listen deeply.
    · Get upset.
    · Generate Love.

    Among the recipients of your repoert will be the Mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn and some City council members.

    You are a sterling template for unconditional Love and I am very sure Jesus would be proud to call you a disciple! You are spreading His message in a very pure form by BEing Peace.

    Blessed be
    in Love and Light,
    Shira Nahari, Everson WA

  4. Polly Burns says:

    I have just read your account of the happenings in Seattle…as I prepare to visit the city. I was there in October when the Occupy protest began and spent time with protesters. I am only there two days this time…I will be holding you in prayer and I will be publicizing your report.
    God bless you and thankyou for your challenge
    Polly in the UK

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