Whoever you are,
and wherever you are
on life's journey...

Sunday Service & Nursery Care
10:00 am

Sunday School Grades K-5
(no Sunday School on Communion Sundays)


Rev. Janet Matthews

Minister of Music, Wayne Lackman

 Office Hours:  Tues/Wed/Thu 9:30a - 1:30p




Sunday Service

10:00 am — 11:00 am

Please join our warm and welcoming community for Sunday service each week at 10 a.m.  ... Read More

Winter Feast for the Soul 2015
The Winter Feast for the Soul takes place every January 15-February 23, and unites people in their commitment to a 40-day practice of stillness. See the website for more information: http://www.winterfeastforthesoul.com/

The scale is in our favor — balance it anyway
— Youth Connection
Published: September 25, 2013, The Peninsula Gateway
Reprinted with permission

I said a fond farewell to Gig Harbor last week and moved into my dorm at the University of Washington. I’m thrilled to be starting my freshman year of college, but that I would someday get to attend a university was never really in question – not because of my grades or test scores, but because of the systems that have surrounded and supported me for 18 years.

I was raised in a healthy family and went to a good school, and with the help of government programs, I was able to strengthen my college application with extracurricular activities instead of working to save up money.

I am the product of a family, a school and a government that empowered me to be where I am right now. Where would I be without those systems?

This summer, I visited a place where systems have created disadvantages rather than opportunities. With the youth group from the Fox Island United Church of Christ, I spent a week serving the community of White Swan, a town on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

White Swan is the slum of the reservation; 43 percent of people there live below the poverty level. Alcoholism is pervasive, feral dogs and cats roam the streets, and vandalism is everywhere.

The youth group cleaned up a playground littered with broken glass, painted bunk beds at a homeless shelter, and worked on a farm that donates food to families in need.

We hoped that, in some small way, our work would improve the lives of the people around us. But it was impossible to ignore the insignificance of our contributions against the seemingly insurmountable poverty and hardship the community faces. There was nothing we could do to heal families with teens who litter and break windows, no way we could create jobs for people seeking employment, and no solution we could offer the alcoholics who lived in the shelter.

What created those conditions?

David Bell, the director of our mission program, explained:

In the 1800s, the federal government forced American Indian bands from across eastern Washington onto one reservation. Repercussions of their confinement still influence the economy today; the ruggedness and isolation of the reservation land make it a poor place for farming or commerce. White Swan has faced economic disadvantages since it was established.

But the impact the U.S. government had on the Yakama Nation is far more insidious than financial disparity: between 1860 and 1893, the government forced all Indian families to send their children away to boarding schools with the goal of making them assimilate into white culture.

Even after children were no longer forced into the schools, parents continued to send them until the 1970s; having themselves grown up away from their families, new parents struggled to raise their kids.

Thus, a century of boarding schools devastated a key system in White Swan – families.

I went to White Swan thinking my mission was to fix up a slum, but the town itself is not the issue. Rather, flawed systems – the federal government, the economy and the family – have created the cycle of poverty and hurt that has plagued the community for more than a century.

It’s hard to comprehend how the same institutions that have given me such advantages have damaged the lives of others so greatly. But I’ve realized that’s why I am in college, so that — someday, more educated and more influential — I might be able to change some of the systems.

All I’ve managed so far is to go on a summer mission trip, but I hope all of us who are born into situations of advantage make it our mission to change our institutions until they provide the same benefits to all people.

Anna Mikkelborg has written a monthly Youth Connections column as part of the Gateway’s outreach to Peninsula School District journalism programs. To learn how to contribute, call Editor and Publisher Brian McLean at 253-358-4150.

Dreaming Our Future
Church Retreat, May, 2013

Fox Island United Church of Christ

726 Sixth Avenue
P. O. Box 475 (mailing)
Fox Island, WA   98333
t. 253-549-2420
f. 253-549-2438

Upcoming Events

Jan 15

Winter Feast for the Soul

Jan 15, 12:00 am – Feb 23, 10:00 pm

If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be ...
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Feb 1


10:00 am – 11:00 am

On the first Sunday of each month we join in celebrating communion together as part of our ...
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Sunday Service

10:00 am – 11:00 am

Please join our warm and welcoming community for Sunday service each week at 10 a.m.  ...
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Feb 2

Joy of Grace Yoga & Meditation

9:30 am – 11:00 am

Please note:  This class meets all year on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to ...
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Centering Prayer

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

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Feb 5

Joy of Grace Yoga & Meditation

9:30 am – 11:00 am

Please note:  This class meets all year on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to ...
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The call to religion doesn’t always come with a dramatic pilgrimage

By:  Rev. Janet Matthews, Fox Island United Church of Christ
Reprinted with permission from the Peninsula Gateway. 
The original article can be found
December 4, 2013


Prior to ministry, I was a mental health counselor, although, as funding sources and insurance plans changed, I became a behavioral health counselor as well as clinical supervisor somewhere along the way.

I discovered my path toward ministry through a series of United Church of Christ pilgrimage retreats. Warning: be careful about going off into the woods with a group of people who are prepared to spend a weekend in prayer and meditation with a full 24 hours of silence.

Outfitted with Bibles, journals and books by spiritual masters, our task was to realize how we might bring a bit more light and love into the world.

Open to the grace of the Jesus that I came to know through the United Church of Christ, I served on boards and committees, taught Christian formation classes; led new-member orientations and facilitated women’s groups. It just wasn’t enough for me.

At the church, we say: No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.

I felt a yearning for a deeper commitment to my faith, thus the trip to Templed Hills in the woods. A plan emerged.

I did not immediately return home to pack up all my belongings to head for seminary. Instead, I finished the degree I was working on in psychology, applied for a fellowship, completed graduate school and worked in mental health as I remained curious about what might be next.

Years later, the door opened for me to enroll at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. That was followed by a call to my first church in rural Ohio and ordination.

As I share my story, I am reminded that God’s call is not always dramatic. There are stories in scripture like that of Paul, who, before he became Christ’s most faithful follower, persecuted Christian.

Yes, one day the disciples were fishermen, and then they left all behind to follow Jesus.

We have all heard radical conversion stories, from jailhouse to church or addiction to pastor. Stories that may be authentic yet aren’t the norm.

About writing, E. L Doctrow once said: “You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Faith, too, is often like having really good headlights. Sometimes we see just as far as we need to in the moment, whether we cross the Narrows, head over the pass or traverse the country.

God’s light shines foot by foot, mile by mile, day by day in life’s journey.

I look forward to the journey with you.

On Faith columnist Janet Matthews is the pastor at Fox Island United Church of Christ.