Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our Mission and a bit of History

In one of my classes this semester, Principles of Management, or LIS 404, or simply 404 (we librarians speak in numbers on occasion), we've been talking about planning and strategic management. More specifically, we've been talking about an organization's mission or vision. Back in the '90s it seemed that every organization, non-profit and for-profit was formulating a mission statement. Caused me to roll my eyes and groan, especially when it comes to a for-profit businees whose mission is to, well, make money! I think that formulating a mission or vision statement forces a for-profit business to think about their objectives and goals (besides the money part of it), and provides the organization with a goal. Why are we doing this? Non-profits do this too, but they're usually founded with a goal in mind in the first place.

Where am I going with this?

Back in the beginnings of this organization, in 1903, a notice was placed in the Messenger, "calling attention to the proposed organization, and asking for suggestions and cooperation from all associations of NewChurch women." (Rice, 2) On November 17th of that year, a letter was sent to every New-Church society in the United States, "It is proposed to ask the Women's Associations of the various New Church Societies to become members of this National Alliance in order that they may met as an organized body at the yearly meeting of the Convention for the comparison methods of church work, care of the sick and needy, entertainment and hospitality." (Rice, 2)

In 1904 the By-laws were presented and voted on. Article II of the by-laws reads:
"A yearly conference up on the work of women's organizations of the New Church: the promotion of intelligent methods of work within the Church for the recognition of the field for New Church influence outside of the Church organization." (Rice, 6) A bit different from how it reads today,
"The purpose of the Alliance shall be to promote the life of charity among the women of the church through spiritual development, practical service and fellowship with women in the world at large. "(Rice, vii)

Rice, Ethel V. A History of the Alliance of New-Church Women. National Alliance of New Church Women. 1992.

So, that's our mission or goal. How do we do this?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Proyecto Hispanaya Mission

[Rev. Carla Friedrich of the San Diego, CA church has sent me a lot of information about Proyecto Hispanaya. The 2010 Mite Box will go to San Diego for their efforts to assist Proyecto Hispanaya. The photo is of the Mexican ministers involved in this project. ]

The Proyecto Hispanaya Mission:
We are a group of people with a humanitarian philosophy and a common purpose in
donating our time and experience to Proyecto Hispanaya, A.C. (Hispanaya Project, non-profit).
We offer people who do not have the economic resources various services such as: medical
health, family counseling, moral and spiritual counseling, and vocational training.

We began offering services in the medical field such as general health services, drug abuse prevention and treatment, and OB/GYN services by Dr. Josefina Camacho Valdés, who is also a certified homeopathic doctor, and surgeon. Reflexology treatment and therapeutic massages are offered by Manuel Martinez Zarzosa, who is certified in reflexology.

As part of our family counseling services we offer prevention and treatment for domestic violence, individual, and group counseling. Psychological counseling is conducted by Rubén
Cado Palacios, Clinical Psychologist and Department Coordinator for the organization, and
Jesus Zarzosa, Educational Psychologist and Criminologist. The moral and spiritual guidance is coordinated and offered through Rev. Hugo Cambrany Diaz.

Computer repair and maintenance is part of the vocational training that is offered and Tony
Fernandez, who is a certified computer technician will be the instructor and coordinator of this

The music lessons are coordinated by Sabino Martinez Zarzosa, CPA and current president of our association. Sabino was the founder of Camerata de la Universidad Autonomade Baja California (Chamber Orchestra of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California) and is a member of the Ensamble Musical y Voces "Laudate Domine" (musical ensemble and voices
"Laudate Domine") where he plays the violin and viola.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Proyecto Hispanaya - a mission

Teaching life skills - Proyecto Hispanaya San Diego, CA mission.

[From Rev. Carla Friedrich of the San Diego Church - the 2010 Mite Box]

Here is a bit of information on our existing/ current outreach to Mexico so far. Blessings and thank you for all you're doing.

PH (Proyecto Hispanaya) consists of a Clinic and Learning Center providing health education and psychological support to school aged children and families (family planing and anti-violence education, drug and alcohol prevention and education, etc also Swedenborgian Studies in the Ralph Junge Center, the future library and classroom ...) PH is registered in Mexico as a non-profit VS a traditional "church" though devotion is a part of their daily practice.

First, WE ARE NOT ALONE in our efforts. We join a Consortium of other new church organizations (General Church & The Lord's New Church) and other generous individuals who help in various ways to support the efforts of the new church group there in Tijuana (and hopefully beyond) Just like us, they struggle to grow and reach others with the treasure of life-giving and life-healing teachings we have been gifted.

The effort of that group is on-going for over 20 years. Swedenborgian Church of San Diego (Convention) has entered the picture in small increments and involvement has grown over the last three years as awareness grows. Our outreach to Mexico is often truncated and extremely limited due to time restraints, limited funds stalling construction, and health concerns of the director.

[Proyecto Hispanaya, AC] includes worshiping together, some new church lessons/ instruction. As an ordained minister, I am able to officiate rites and pr0vide the sacraments of the Lord's Holy Supper. I also try to provide pastoral care and encouragement.

The San Diego Church continues to companion with the new church group in Tijuana.
[Director of Proyecto Hispanaya] Jesus Zarzosa and family worship with us when his health and time permits. Our congregation involvement grows as our relationship with that group grows and in ways which are most meaningful to the congregation and useful to the Mexico group.

Recently the musical group we partnered with helped provided the necessary funds for an IRON GATE, a necessary and finishing touch on the Clinic. We pray often for our sister group and the good which the Non-Profit does in Tijuana working with children and families and try to support them practically by fundraising concerts and collecting. More than a year ago, the prayed for them as we tried marshal energies in the form of letters, phone calls and influence to free a member of that group from a federal prison when he had been "rounded up" in a routine sweep after a shoot out between the Mexican Police and the Mafia there. This could have turned out very badly but had a happy ending for which they praise God and the power of Prayer in community.

Proyecto Hispanaya, AC does strive to remain an independent new church enterprise - within their specific cultural context.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mite Box 2009

The New Church of the Southwest Desert was the recipient of the 2009 Mite Box award. Rev. Sky Paradise (L), Suzanne, Barb Boxwell - Mite Box Chair, and Linda pose for the camera.

Sky says, "Hello everyone...My sincere thanks to all the women of the alliance for the generous gift you have bestowed on the New Church of the Southwest Desert this year. We are most honored to be able to use these funds for our children's room and library.
Sky Paradise"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thank You Letter from Kei Torita

[This is a thank you letter from Kei Torita in Japan. We neglected to read it at our annual meeting.]

Dear Nancy, Jeannette, and Women's Alliance people,

Thank you very much for your letter and gift. This year your gift came early and thank you for that too.

Jeannette, in your letter of March, I read that you and the alliance people prayed for my friends who had experience the earthquake in the Northern part of Japan last year. Thanks to your prayers, they were all right.

I used to write letters pretty often to a woman who lived inthe Southern part of Japan. She felt insecure and needed my support very much. She is now getting well and married to a blindman about whom I wrote to you last time. I have been tape recording New Church books for him. Now I am reading Swedenborg's Thought by a Japanese author. This book will take a long time but I am glad that he is enjoying listening to those tapes. He sends me back his comments by tape. He is a good acupuncturist. I am translating Helen Keller's Introduction to the True Christian Religion and the first half of it was published in the small periodical of JSA (Japan Swedenborg Association) in April. The latter half will be published in the fall.

I am visiting an elderly lady at a nursing home in the hills every once in a while and I am visiting this week too.

I was asked for conducting a cermony before building a house. And I did it for a New Church lady just a few days ago. In Japan usually a Shintoism priest does that according to that religion and he prays for safety of the whole building procedure. This was my first experience of doing this kind of ceremony but I was glad that the lady was pleased. Also, it was a good opportunity for ministry to those attending the ceremony.

Thank you again for your letter and gift. I am encouraged and helped by both. I hope you have a good convention and Women's Alliance meeting in Olympia, Washington. God bless you all.

Sincerely, Kei Torita

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pre-Convention Conference Call

Pat (our secretary), Jeannette (our out-going treasurer), Barb (Mite Box chair), Jenn (Communications chair) & I (President) met via conference call on Saturday morning. It's always funny trying to get used to talking to more than one person at a time and trying to figure out voices. Conference calls a great though. We get a lot accomplished and you can have a meeting in the comfort of your home (and maybe even in your pajamas! ;-))

We discussed:
  • A program for our annual meeting and luncheon. This is something that was done many years ago and got phased out. We're trying to revive it.
  • How to integrate "newbies" into our meeting.
  • Changing the fiscal to a calendar year to be voted on next year.
  • Ideas for Mite Box 2010.
  • A funeral for Round Robin.
  • A Google website for Executive Committee members to share documents.
It was a good meeting and we're all looking forward to being in Seattle. Except for Jeannette who can't attend! We'll miss her!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blanket is Finished!

Do you remember my long saga about the blanket for my neice, Chloe? Well, it's finished! I finished it a few days after the semester ended. I gave it to her on Saturday. She really likes it!

Convention in Seattle!

Are you thinking about attending Convention in Seattle? I am! I've never been to Seattle and I'm really looking forward to being there for a few days. The University of Washington campus is beautiful!

Visit the Swedenborgian Church website for information about Convention. You can download a PDF of FAQs about Convention this year. Our luncheon is scheduled for Friday.

The Executive Committee will be meeting via conference call on June 13th at 9AM.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Annual Appeal Letter

The Great Knitting Accident of 2008

by Nancy Little

In November of 2005 I started to knit a blanket that was intended to be a baby blanket for my not-yet-born niece, Chloe. Today as I write this, Chloe turned 3. Is that blanket finished yet? NO! In mid-December I took out the blanket and decided I was going to finish it. I told myself that if I just kept working on it I'd finish it by Christmas. Just knit a row or two every day, that's all it would take, then I'd be done with it.

The very next day, I had what I refer to as “The Great Knitting Accident of 2008”: a mistake so bad I hadn't a clue how or the skills to fix it myself. If there were such a thing as a knitting 911, I would have called them right away. I was in way over my head. I was in deep doo-doo. The nearest knitter I knew of that could get me out of this jam lives an hour and a half away. I was on the verge of tears. I might have actually been crying. I was threatening to pull it all out. My husband (a very patient man and the son of an avid knitter), was pleading with me not to pull it all out. I put it aside for a week and meditated on the blanket.

What do I do now? I was wondering. And then, at some strange hour of the night (this is often when I get answers), it came to me, “Pull it all out. Start over. Crochet a blanket. You are a crocheter, not a knitter.” So the next morning, I pulled it all out. Three years (give or take months of not working on the blanket) were pulled out and wound on my new yarn winder (thanks to Trevor). I've started over, crocheting, using the very same yarn and maybe it'll be finished by Chloe's 4th birthday. I'm also enjoying working on the blanket much better this time around.

Going through this whole process of pulling out the blanket and starting over got me thinking about how, so often in life we just keep plugging away using the same method, and not getting the results we want or expected. Yet we're just convinced that we “have to do it this way”. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Last summer at our annual convention in Bridgewater MA, I had an opportunity to talk at length with Rev. Jenn Tafel, who was awarded last year's Mite Box; and Rev. Sky Paradise, the recipient of the 2008/2009 Mite Box; about their experiences with starting new churches. It was so great to sit down and chat with both of them. I've known Rev. Jenn since she was 5 or 6 and I was a baby-sitter at convention at Wellesley College in 1980. I'll let you do the math. I met Rev. Sky at Fryeburg New Church Assembly in 2006 when she was still a student at SHS and came to FNCA to fulfill her camp experience requirement.

At convention, I learned that Rev. Sky had a very similar experience to my “pull it all out” knitting experience. She first went to El Paso, TX with plans to start a church there. After six months of effort using a certain method of church planting, she was not getting the results she expected. After a “near meltdown” and lots of praying she “pulled it all out” and went to New Mexico. Things are working out wonderfully in New Mexico. She had almost 40 people at her first service in April. The community has contributed greatly to growing her church. Rev. Sky takes very little credit for most of this and says that it is the Lord at work. The Swedenborgian Church of the Southwest is the 2009 recipient of the Mite Box. When you have a chance, visit their website:

Have you had that kind of experience too? Sometimes there's a huge sense of relief when you realize that you don't have to continue doing it like this. This past year I lost my job; let go of all of my financial goals; did some “soul-searching” and decided that this was an ideal opportunity to take some time off and revisit the idea of grad school. As I write this, in a little more than a month I'll begin courses in a Masters in Library Science at Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Is starting grad school in my mid-40s scary to me? A little. But I LOVE a challenge and I'm confident that it will lead me on a wonderful journey. Am I willing to “pull it all out” if it's not working? You bet!

In past years, the Women's Alliance has mailed this fundraising letter to hundreds of women and got very little response. Last year at convention, the Executive Committee decided to print the fundraising letter in the Messenger and eliminate the mailing, thus saving hundreds of dollars in postage and printing costs. So, we too, as an organization, are “pulling it all out” and are starting over.

When you make a contribution to the Women's Alliance the money goes directly to support new churches, such as those in Lansing, Michigan and Silver City, New Mexico. We also support the youth league; our summer camps; Kei Torita in Japan; and the Swedenborgian House of Studies. The Woman's Alliance has a long history of donating to our church programs. Will you please help us continue this long tradition and send in your donation today?

Checks should be made out to: North American Alliance of Swedenborgian Women and mailed to our treasurer

Jeannette Hille
4240 Larch Place N.
Plymouth, MN 55442



Email Address:________________________

Member Church/Society Affiliation: ___________________

Total Amount Donated: Dues ($5.00):______ General Fund: _____ Mite Box:______

Nancy Little is the President of the National Alliance of New Church Women. She lives in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts with her husband, Trevor Woofenden. When she's not crocheting so much that her hand hurts, she's catching up with friends on Facebook, updating her blog as well as the Alliance blog (, and generally enjoying her time off until grad school starts in late January.