Mark Oppenlander is a multi-talented and versatile individual , whom I consider to be a special friend. His recent SEEDS article reflected on seventeen years of involvement with Good News Associates (GNA), starting with the discussion at Jan Wood’s dining room table about the shape this ministry would take. Mark reviewed his various roles with GNA during those years, including Secretary, Treasurer, and President of the Board (not all at once). He made it clear that he is still a strong supporter of GNA and would continue to follow its work closely. Since he is the son-in-law of the GNA Director, Jan Wood, it won’t be hard for him to stay in touch.
During the last ten years of Mark’s volunteer work with GNA (his “day job” is at Seattle Pacific University), he has been the first and only editor of SEEDS, a monthly publication posted on the GNA web site (Goodnewsassoc.org). In his article, Mark spoke about taking a break from GNA work and made it clear that he also wanted a break from editing SEEDS. Linked to the board decision accepting Mark’s request was its action inviting me to be the next editor of SEEDS. More about that in a minute.
As one who has written and submitted numerous articles to Mark for publication in SEEDS, I want to express the appreciation that all of us connected with GNA feel for his decade of work as editor. His position at Seattle Pacific is challenging and at times he must have wondered when he could find time to edit the articles he received, sometimes prompt us when we forgot we had agreed to write them, and frequently finding photos and illustrations that fit with the articles. All of us will miss his work as editor, especially me. We will pray for his discernment as he considers, “other-as yet to be defined-things” that he might be led to pursue. Knowing of his many talents, it will be interesting to see what those things might be.
About Your New Editor
My selection as the SEEDS editor came about in a surprising and puzzling way. We who serve in the GNA Associate role are invited to meet with the GNA Board during part of its annual sessions. Last June, the Associates heard about Mark’s desire to step down from the board and from his SEEDS editor role. Those who heard Mark express that desire knew he was serious about it and sensed that it wasn’t the time to twist his arm to continue for another year or more.
As for me it didn’t seem like the time to consider taking on any part of what Mark had been doing. As I reported to the board on my work as an Associate, I spoke of making a little progress in the gradual trimming back of my volunteer ministry work, especially the parts of it that involved considerable international travel. Meanwhile, I was surprised when during the board meetings I began to feel a nudge toward offering to take up Mark’s work as SEEDS editor, should the board choose to release him from this work. The June board meetings turned into a “meeting for clearness” as I asked other Associates and board members to help process the question of whether agreeing to be editor was a leading from God or just another crazy idea.
One reality in my life seemed to indicate this might be a bit crazy. As I wrote in a SEEDS article earlier this year, last December a series of medical exams made it clear that I had bladder cancer. Ten months later the cancer seems to be well under control, though the oncologist I saw earlier this month reminded me that I wasn’t “cancer free.” He seemed to be saying I fit somewhere in the category of remission. He is now holding off on requiring any further chemo treatments and is letting me resume my ministry travels to Africa and Haiti.
Look for Changes
In many ways I would have been happy had the GNA board’s discernment been that someone else should be asked to be the SEEDS editor. But they did ask me to do this and I felt clear in accepting. In the process, there were some changes in SEEDS the board decided should be implemented. One was that SEEDS would appear as a “blog”, no longer in the word processing format that had been used in the past. I was not much help in that discussion. I function OK in parts of the digital world, but had never dealt with blogs. Fortunately, there are several board members who are digitally savvy and who would have already known the hyphenated word Mark used in his last article– “click-bait.” It sounded to me like something one would do in setting a mouse trap.
The changes approved by the GNA board will not be dramatic. The purpose remains the same, to share ideas among the GNA “insiders”, supporters, and others who are interested. The minor shifts in direction are indicated in the mission statement that incorporates the board’s discussions in June:
The Mission of SEEDS
SEEDS is a regular digital publication of Good News Associates (GNA), an organization whose principal purpose is to assist those called into non-traditional Christian ministries. SEEDS provides a forum for those involved with GNA to reflect on the lessons being learned in their various ministries.
While my job as editor of SEEDS is to seek out material that might inspire and challenge our readers, I welcome suggestions about themes to explore and people who might be called on to write. As one who doesn’t spend time on the social media or in texting, I would prefer to hear from receive these suggestions by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a Personal Note
The accompanying photo is of my wife Raelene and I admiring the cake served to our extended family in August as part of the celebration of our fiftieth wedding anniversary. We used to think that only old people reached their fiftieth. We don’t feel old.