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Humans of Messiah

As part of her senior project of Nathan Hale High School, Ms. Lydia Miller took up the challenge of interviewing many of our members and asking them deceptively simple question, "What does Messiah Lutheran mean to you?" On this page you’ll see what our very own members think makes Messiah so special to our community and what this church has done for them in their own lives.

MIKE BOOMHOWER

“[Messiah]’s been an important institution in my life. It provides a focus… It’s like a mechanical object that’s made up of many parts- they go together and then it runs properly. So each of the things is different, at church… but if they come together right you have a functioning institution. You can enjoy each of them for its own purpose.”

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MARY

“I’ve passed the building for years, and received brochures about Messiah’s Bible study. Each time, I thought ‘What a great idea for a mailing, and what an important service to the community.’ I kept meaning to stop by.

Then, on Christmas Eve 2015, my mother was hospitalized. 
Mom was a devout German Lutheran and church organist. At age 24 she met and married her Catholic co-worker (later my Dad), and converted to Catholicism herself. Because Mom left her beloved Lutheran community to marry and raise a Catholic kid who happened to be me, it felt meaningful and important to pray for her in a Lutheran church. I hurried to Messiah just in time for Christmas Eve service. 

Afterwards, Pastor Lassman invited any visitors to introduce themselves. 

I stood to give my name, and instead heard myself telling everyone about Mom in the hospital, and how she was Lutheran, or used to be. 

Then I burst into tears.

The congregation moved closer to me, circling the wagons. They listened to me with the direct steady capable look that I remembered from my long-deceased German relatives. These strangers looked all ready to go help my mother, to make her chicken soup or knit her a sweater or whatever it took.

Pastor Mankin had lovely Mrs. Lisa and Baby Maggie waiting for him to come home. But that Christmas Eve he said ‘Where is she? I'll go right now.’

Well, Mom was 3,000 miles away.

‘Then I’ll call now and find a Lutheran Pastor to go see her.’

Mom was delighted by that heartwarming story; thank God, there was time to tell it to her before she died. The story of that kindness still makes me cry. My atheist ex-Christian friends say, ‘Do pastors DO that anymore? That only happens in movies.’ And, they are right. Just about.”

 

STEPHANIE & CURT COLBERT

Curt: “It would be pretty hard for me to not serve the church [such as ushering, church council, reading passages] in some way since the church serves me so well.”

Stephanie: “[Messiah] has been a place I can call home.”

Curt: “And rather than be like a second home, Messiah is really part of our home.”

Stephanie: “When something goes wrong here, we all feel it… You don’t feel alone when bad things are happening in your life.”

Curt: “People here really step up rather than step back.”

Curt: “I’ve met genuine, really close friends here at Messiah. I consider everybody in the congregation to be family, but beyond that, I’ve gotten to know so many people through various things that I think I’ve made more friends at Messiah than I ever have at work… you’re closer, you’re sharing the faith and getting to know people through their faith…”

ANN MELVIN

“Apart from work, and that’s usually a smaller circle of people, most of us aren’t thrown into situations with people who have a whole range of opinions and backgrounds. The church does this for you. You talk to people with different backgrounds and ideas, but yet what they all have in common is their love for God and the knowledge of their salvation…”

“A lot of people, when they think of church, think ‘who’s the pastor?’ They don’t really think about the doctrine and the teaching that transcends the immediate context of the church. One of the things I’ve always felt is important is when you go into a Lutheran church you know you’re going to hear the gospel. It’s going to bring you back to what’s really important… and knowing that you’re in a community of people who are different but all united by the same faith. It’s just a very positive and uplifting experience. While nothing’s perfect and you’re always going to find something to quibble about, there's so much opportunity for your own personal growth, for service, for the ways that you can impact and get involved with other people’s lives- it’s a very important community builder.”

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JAN GRANT

“I was Lutheran probably before I was born… I’ve been in LCMS forever, that’s closest to Luther, I think. We listen to what Luther said because he was a very, very learned man. He was a true, faithful person to the Bible.”

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CHRIS ZAKIAN

“I had been going to a community church with my wife for a while, she was brought up baptist, so she wasn’t really used to the traditional liturgy… we didn’t really feel at home [at the community church], it was large, over a thousand members. We never really met anyone, it wasn’t like a family. We actually stopped going for a while, and we went on vacation in Hawaii. It was Sunday, and I was walking along the ocean in Makena, which is a region along the beach there, and I heard a house church singing in the morning. I had just been praying, and I was listening to Psalm ninety-something about the ocean and the waves and everything, and I heard the people singing and I said, “oh Lord… I miss this.” and then the Spirit said to me, “well, you should go to Messiah.” ‘Cause I knew it was there, and I said, “okay, but I don’t think my wife is going to like that. So if you get me up for church next Sunday when we get back, I’ll go.” And that next Sunday when we came back I actually got up at six AM, and if anyone knows me, I am not an early riser. That’s the first time I went, and my wife was still sleeping, but then I brought her next week. And that’s how we came here.”

 

JILL PETRO

“Even though Seattle has that reputation for being stand-offish, this kind of felt like instant acceptance. I remember, specifically, Bob and Martha when they were doing the superintendent [work] and teaching all the preschool Sunday school, they had invited Carter [my son] to come, and we thought “oh my goodness, he’s only eighteen months old!” and Bob was like, “no, no, he can totally do it.” It just opened our eyes to how much acceptance and love, really, for our family that they had.”

“We always loved the children’s programs… we had Pastor Lassman and usually whatever Vicar we had involved. We had them doing a lot of plays, they were just so flexible. I could come that morning and tell Pastor Lassman, “alright, Pastor, you’re Peter today!” and he’s like, “okay! What are my lines?” and they just took it and ran with it. It was a way for the kids to visually see, you know, favorite Bible stories.”

“A few years ago we went to Pastor Lassman’s AIC (Adult Information Class) class and I learned so much I just did not realize...It explained so much as to why I believed what I believed, and the answers to all these questions that I had never known the answers to. I remember that first fifteen weeks thinking, “why didn’t we [my husband and I] go fifteen years ago?…. ‘cause the fire just burned so bright. We, for both of us, we couldn’t wait, you know? Thursday night we’d go home, we were just fired up all the way home, we’re talking about what we learned in class, could not wait to get to Sunday, and could not wait to get to Bible study afterwards to hear Pastor pull in what we had just learned Thursday night… We went to the next AIC and the next, until he retired- I mean we just kept going.”

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JOANNE ESTERGREEN

“We are a church that believes in grace. We don’t believe that you have to act a certain, exact way in order to be saved, because we know that that doesn't work. If Jesus needed your help, we wouldn’t call Him God… We accept you with whatever baggage you come, because that’s how God accepts you. We have no right to judge, and we’re not gonna. We’re just gonna speak grace to you.”

“I remember years ago: In a state hospital, where I worked in the coag lab at the time I was a tech 2, and I was the only Christian, pretty much, in the group. Suddenly they started talking and their concept of God came up, they were having the God conversation! They were sitting there going, ‘yeah, I think I’m pretty good, God will love me. When I die I’m gonna go to heaven ‘cause I haven’t killed anybody, and I don’t do drugs. I’m pretty clean, I’m a pretty good person… What do you think, Joanne?’ And I said, ‘Well, I think that God is like, perfect. And if you’re gonna come before Him, you’re gonna have to be perfect, and He knew this. And He knew that you wouldn’t be able to be perfect so that’s when He sent Jesus: to die on the cross for you, and for me, and for all people, that we could come to know Him.’ They had never thought that God might require more than just as good as you thought you were.”

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DAVID

“I was working at a place that gave me Fridays off, so I would come to my son’s preschool and be a parent volunteer on Fridays. I walked the neighborhood with the little kids one day and we walked through the lower drive way there and… it helped me discover what they call, ‘Seattle’s best kept secret.’ Susie and I had been deliberating on where we'd send our firstborn to Kindergarten, so my mind was in a seek-and-ye-shall-find state and the discovery was a welcome, timely epiphany.”

“When you’re working with love as motivation, which I think is happening here, you can do more, and people know that and share that understanding. So it’s not like, “oh darn, we haven’t gotten to this like we meant to.” Somebody is keeping the spirit of that intention alive, and that’s part of the reason that [Messiah is] a great thing.” 

“[Messiah] brings us into the Word every week. Especially in the context of being around all of the saints. Pastor Mankin and Pastor Lassman have just both been wonderful, and done everything I could ask for them to help me grow my faith.”  

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ANONYMOUS PARISHIONER

“I was invited to Messiah for an Adult Information Class (AIC) offered by Pastor Lassman in a mailing offering. I acted on the second mailed invitation and consider it a blessing. The AIC classes demonstrated his desire for deep and true understanding of the Bible. I appreciate the dedication to the sharing of the Word and adherence to an absolute understanding of the Word. I enjoy being with people of faith and am an active participant in church functions and Concordia offerings. It has been fun and rewarding.  Pastor Mankin is a scholar as is Pastor Lassman so we at Messiah have much to be grateful for. Messiah welcomes the Wedgwood community to share our church functions with our open invitation. I accepted and I hope you do, too.”

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DAN LASSMAN

“It would be very, very interesting if you could sit down with every person that’s ever visited this church, and after they’ve come here maybe one or two times, ask them: ‘what did you think? What spoke to you? Did you feel spiritually fed when you walked away?’ I think that’s an important thing. So for me, my first experiences here is almost breathing a sigh of relief because I finally walked away from service with my heart full. Feeling spiritually fed in a way that I hadn’t been, even though I had been attending a Lutheran church [before Messiah]. Mostly because of the approach that Messiah had to scripture and to Law and Gospel being taught equally.”

“As far as the congregation at Messiah, the one thing that has been common through the whole 30 years that I’ve been here, and that is it’s a very welcoming congregation and I felt that from the first time I came here as a visitor. And I like the fact that they have people from all walks of life, all stages of life: small, small infants up to people in their 90s, and I really enjoy that… Messiah, to me, offers anybody that comes here to worship an extended hand of friendship and a genuineness toward everybody that walks through the doors. And a true interest in them as people… so if I had to describe the congregation here, I would just say: Christ-like. It seems like it’s always been that way.”

“Well, I’ve been blessed. My family… they have been such a blessing in my life, probably other than my faith, It’s been the biggest blessing to me because of the support that I’ve always had within my family. Messiah offers me that same support and that same blessing in my spiritual life as well as my earthly life… Messiah as a church, they’ve always made me feel welcome and that I always had that kind of support.”

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HEIDI WITT

"[Messiah] refreshes my week… It’s like I’m reminded of my faith, cleansed of my sins, and I can start fresh. If I’m not here on Sundays that goes missing and it’s not good for me. It’s what helps me know that I’m loved, accepted, my sins are forgiven, I’m going to enjoy the Lord’s grace and go to heaven, some day.”

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DAVID MILLER

“I started out going [to Messiah] when I was young. I made a lot of friends in Sunday School and enjoyed going. Over those years through high school, there were some times there was a little bit of a lull in my attendance. Then when I left to go in the military and in my twenties  move around a lot, I always missed it. I missed going there, and I always thought about Messiah and how they were doing. I knew mom and dad still went there, of course. I do recall a lot of times when I’d come back home, I didn’t come back right away but I knew I wanted to and I knew I would eventually. I missed it, I missed Messiah when I was away from it.”

“One thing that stuck in my mind that Pastor Lassman used to always say is that you can’t build your faith unless you hear the Word, so that’s what made me want to go all the time… it’s made my faith stronger. I want to go to church, I want to hear the Word, I miss it if I don’t.”

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LESLIE MILLER

“I met my husband David… and he had grown up Lutheran, and we decided that we wanted to get married, and to have kids. He had stated that he wanted to bring his children up into the Lutheran church. So we attended the AIC (Adult Information Class) class with Pastor Lassman… It all made sense to me and I got baptized and confirmed… and became a member of the church and we brought up our kids Lutheran.”

“[Messiah] is familiar and comfortable. [I remember] when my daughter sang Jesus Loves Me in the back of the church. Mrs. Viets was excited that I didn’t tell her to be quiet. It was completely silent, it was so cute. It just seems like home at Messiah.”

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PASTOR TREVOR MANKIN 

“That’s my job: I care for the souls of God’s people. I consider myself to be an under-shepherd in the church. Of course Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but I am more like what we call today a ‘sheep dog’. My job is to follow the sheep and when I see them going astray to help them get back into the flock, and when I see predators coming to chase them away, to keep the flock from being dispersed.”

“Being the pastor here, it’s my world… my order of importance in life goes God, my family, and the church. It’s the third most important thing in my life and it is my passion and my greatest joy, simultaneously. Like today I got to visit one of our older members who’s sick and unable to attend church anymore and I told him, because he kept thanking me, and I said, ‘you know, it’s really my privilege to get to be the pastor.’ I feel so blessed to be able to work with God’s saints.”

“The one thing I would like people to know about [Messiah] is Pastor Ernie Lassman. I had spent 5 years with him as a fellow pastor and one year with him as his vicar, and he is a remarkable man. He drove me crazy sometimes, but that’s how all families work. But he has such a passion for ministry, and such a passion for teaching, and I miss him every day.”

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