Dr. Tom Nolen provides spiritual leadership to the congregation of Northminster Presbyterian Church.
Excerpts from his annual message to the congregation -
Shortly before his unexpected and untimely death at the age of 52, modern day mystic and celebrated best selling author on Celtic spirituality John O’Donohue published his wonderful book, To Bless The Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings. In this wonderful and deeply moving work, the master wordsmith and mystic writes Blessings on a variety of topics. I especially love the one, “For Equilibrium”
Like the joy of the sea coming home to the shore
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of God.
It occurs to me, when reflecting on the year 2019 and the life of Northminster Presbyterian Church that this loving action of ‘blessings the space between us’, is much of what we do for one another as Church. Spoken or unspoken; intentionally, or often perhaps unintentionally. Perhaps now almost automatically, though still with concerted effort, we are holding the sacred space between us.
What else do we have to show? Thanks to the on-going generosity of you, the committed members of NPC reading these words AND the careful, frugal, guiding hand of our tirelessly hard working Administrator, Mike Salvo, yes there is money enough for today, and probably tomorrow. As the financial markets continue to climb, so too the value of the NPC financial portfolio.
What else do we have to show? The church building is being used in a variety of ways, by more people nowadays, perhaps, then other, recent years. Three other congregations of diverse backgrounds and theological traditions and perspectives gather regularly to worship and praise God and our Lord Jesus Christ. And this in itself is a beautiful thing and an on-going witness—hopefully not of our financial desperation-- but rather of our Christian stewardship and hospitality. The old hymn comes to mind, “We All Believe In One True God” .
What else do we have to show? A small portion of the community comes to our church for an AA meeting; or a Al-Anon meeting. The health ministry of the Cascades Presbytery and presbytery’s Portland Urban Network, PUN, continues to offer a weekly Health Clinic every Wednesday morning, sadly now with Judy Hubbard, who retired last year. There are other, occasional events and gatherings from time to time.
What else do we have to show? For me, the most important, vital thing that we do is this “holding the sacred space between us” and being Church together. Loving one another, forgiving one another, nurturing one another, caring for one another. Though very small, we are very close and our love is powerful.
In the present, as we observe the world on fire, and a new superbug virus threatening the existence of life as we know it, and division and strife and war everywhere, while the masters in charge throughout the globe continue in impeach able behavior, we need each other and the Church now more than ever! Not only as a shelter from the storms around us, but to remind us and call us—to call one another—to be followers of Jesus Christ, and to model our lives on his authentic life. As John O’Donohue wrote elsewhere, “Either we are in the universe to inhabit the eternity of our souls and grow real, or else we might as well dedicate our days to shopping and kill time watching talk shows.”
It remains a joy and privilege to serve as your Pastor. I deeply appreciate your kindness, Love and trust. My sincere thanks goes out to each and every one who attends church, and those who wish they could tho cannot due to unkind circumstances. Each one of us has a special gift to share in giving and receiving the love of Christ within and among us. Thanks especially to those who share in the coffee fellowship leadership, and all the goodies; to Mark and his on-going Clerk duties, to Kerry working so faithfully in updating the sign; to Evie who keeps the home bound connected thru cards and prayers.
In the pages of this report you will read of the ongoing work of the church and the hopes for the coming year, spoken and unspoken. Thanks to all!!
In Christ’s name,
Pastor Tom was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. Following graduation from Albion College he attended Andover Newton Theological School, in the Boston area, where he earned the Master of Divinity in 1980 and the Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling in 1985.
Tom was ordained in the Congregational Church in 1980. He has served in the parish ministry throughout his career in solo and multiple staff churches.
The ministry took him from Boston to Wisconsin to California--north and south--and here to Oregon. In addition to his service to Northminster Presbyterian Church, Tom serves with Kaiser Permanente as a Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain. He also provides teaching, counsel and leadership support to others in the community around end of life issues and needs.
Tom is married to Lisa Nolen, who serves at the OHSU Foundation Together they have two fabulous daughters, Nina and Hannah. Tom's hobbies include gardening, singing, poetry, book collecting and baking.