August 14, 2020

When I wasn’t flying my little low and slow airplane, locating, and marking targets and controlling airstrikes by the fighter aircraft, I lived within the confines of the extensive barbed wire enclosure known as Pleiku Air Base, South Vietnam. A break with my Chaplain friend, Methodist minister, Jim Hunt was welcome. Even when things were shut down, Jim could get a pass from the base, a vehicle, and an exemption from the “off limits” status of the shanty town “Pleiku City.”

When we arrived at the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) compound, two-year old Susie Long would run to me to be picked up, like my own two-year old, Elaine, ten thousand miles away. On Sunday afternoon, the C&MA wives served iced tea and cookies and hosted an informal hymn sing. After the hymn sing, Charlie Long, the lead missionary, pointed and said, “You four are a male quartette and you are going to sing at my church tonight.”

The “Tin Lanh” (Good News) church had a roof, a dirt floor, spaces for non-existent doors and windows and crude benches. The Montagnard (Mountain People) Jarai and Raday tribes men wore various pieces of clothing and the bare-breasted women wore the usual three-or four-feet wide swath of cloth wrapped around the body from the waist down to the ankles. Everyone was barefoot. Dogs walked up and down the aisle, women nursed babies and people talked with little attention to proceedings up front. When we four completely out-of-place white guys sang, they were polite and attentive, although they understood nothing. When Charlie Long, all six feet four inches of him, with curly blond hair, stood to speak in their language, they absorbed every word.

At the end of the service, everyone together belted out, “When the Role is Called Up Yonder” in Jarai, Raday, a little English and a little French simultaneously. Musically, it was a horrible cacophony, but I could imagine God looking down and smiling, “very nice joyful noise unto the Lord.”

The four of us and others got together and sang when we could. Someone said, “Christmas (1965) is coming. How would be for us to do something a little more organized for Christmas?” I offered, “I could get some music.” Another said, “I know a guy who could direct our singing.”

Bill Dubois, my choir member friend at First Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne, responded promptly with easy Christmas music. When we got together, I said, “I have the music. Who is the guy you said could direct our singing?” The one who had made that suggestion looked at me and said, “You’re it.”

I could not believe how dumb I was. I sang well and had a pitch pipe but had zero directing experience. I was trapped. At one of our “whoever can show up” practices, the Chaplain came to lend moral support.

After the practice, Chaplain Hunt wrote a letter to Nancy including, “Dale is organizing a Christmas chorus to sing two numbers for our service on Christmas Eve. It appears the music will fall somewhat short of Handel’s, “The Messiah, but there will be a good spirit.”

The Christmas Eve service went as planned in the “Chapel,” the room between the bar and the mortar bunker. The Protestant Chaplain was a Methodist, the so-called Choir Director was a Presbyterian, the organist was a Catholic, two of the singers were Catholic, one singer was Jewish and the other seven singers were of various unidentified lineage and pedigree. Who cared? Somehow it was not bad enough to quench the guys’ enthusiasm. They were already talking about Easter music.

Bill Dubois came through quickly again with more difficult music and we planned a more ambitious presentation. We cancelled more scheduled practices than we completed, due to the unavailability of people. We seldom got a majority of the people together at the same time.

The Chaplain worked on the logistics of a sunrise service outside the Pleiku compound. The site for the service was Artillery Hill, also known as Monument Hill prior to the war. The hill, less than one mile from the Pleiku gate, was heavily protected by barbed wire. Inside were the 175 mm guns which could deliver ordnance onto targets 30 kilometers (18 miles) away with surprising accuracy. As a Forward Air Controller, I controlled a couple of practice artillery strikes for these guns. It was impressive to radio a

set of map coordinates to the gunners and in a matter of seconds see a large explosion on the target. Wow! The big guns provided a most unusual back drop for the Easter Sunrise Service.

The chapel on Artillery Hill was a crude structure consisting of a roof and walls. Inside were stone benches on a dirt floor. There were openings for doors and windows, but those luxuries did not exist. The base commander helped the Chaplain with logistics. He arranged access into the restricted area for the crown attending and provided buses to get them from the Pleiku compound to the hill. He encouraged others to attend the sunrise service and was himself present on Easter Sunday morning.

Our schedule was busy on Easter Sunday. The “choir” sang well for the Sunrise service on Artillery Hill at 6:30 am. Missionary wife, Irene Fleming, tromped vigorously on the foot bellows of the transported field organ. A surprisingly large crowd of the one hundred twelve attended the service and many expressed their appreciation for the music.

Later in the morning, back in the Pleiku “chapel” between the bar and the mortar bunker, we did it all again with ninety-one in attendance. It was the largest crowd assembled there to date. At the end of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” the choir built to a double forte climax and ended with a dramatic cut off. Following a few seconds of stunning silence, someone offered a quiet, but very audible comment, “Amen.” It was most appropriate.

Weeks earlier, while we were preparing the Easter music, the Public Information Officer, Major Neumann, learned of our efforts and wanted to make a recording of our music. He hoped to get it broadcast back in the states on The Armed Forces Radio Network. It didn’t seem likely to happen, but it surely couldn’t hurt to try.

On Friday, April 8, 1966, two days before Easter, we had our last practice. Neumann and his technician came to make recordings. On Saturday morning, Bernie Fisher, Medal of Honor recipient for his impossible, but successful, rescue of Jump Meyers, who crashed while As Hua Special Forces Camp was being overrun, took Neumann to Tan San Nhut Air Base in Saigon. On Sunday morning, Neumann and Bernie were back in Pleiku with exciting news. All three major networks, ABC, NBC and Mutual, wanted the tape for stateside release.

The big networks really intended to use our recording back in the states! On Easter! It was hard to believe! I told Nancy a few weeks earlier to find out which local station in Cheyenne carried The Armed Forces Radio Network. On Easter Sunday morning, April 10, 1966, she heard the announcement, “And now we are glad to present Easter music sung by some of our military men at Pleiku Air Base in South Vietnam.”

We sang it in Pleiku. Nancy heard it in Cheyenne. Christ the Lord is risen today. Alleluia.

-- Dale Amend
Saturday, August 15 | 7:30 am

Mountain Cathedrals “Corrales Acequias and Bosque Preserve” a reflection on Psalm 104

This month, we walk on land “set aside” near the Rio Grande River. In 2016, the Audubon New Mexico declared the Corrales Bosque to be an important avian habitat to over 250 species of birds, where 662 acres on the west side of the river host protections for owls, hummingbirds, sparrows, crows and Cooper’s hawks. Psalm 104 comes to mind, a place where…

“the trees of the Lord are watered abundantly… in them the birds build their nests…”

As Christians, we are called to be holy, to be “set aside” for God and in service to God. Through our service to God we are invited into relationship with God, with our neighbors, and with creation. In this way, we are all connected to the goodness of God’s creation.

So this is your invitation, to step into God’s restoring grace-giving presence, as beloved children, to walk into a creation that is God’s place of renewal and wonder. An invitation to practice the means of grace, sharing communion, reflecting on scripture, and walking in prayer… in God’s creation… or as Charles Wesley wrote an invitation to become “lost in wonder, love and praise”.

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures… they all look to you…
when you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.”

Join us Saturday, August 15th, 7:30 am at St John’s east parking lot. We will then travel to Corrales (but not carpool). San Ysidro Catholic Church (5015 Corrales Road) has allowed us to park in their lot, which is adjacent to the acequia. If you meet us in Corrales, please arrive by 8:00. We should be back to the cars by noon. The hike is level and roughly five miles. Do remember to bring a mask, snacks/lunch, sun protection and ample water.

Peace and grace,
Mike Furnish and Kelly Giese
Would you be interested in submitting a daily devotional for the Newsletter? If so, send an email to Pastor Pam at!

Please include the following items when writing a devotion:
A Focus Word or Phrase
A Scripture (it can simply be referenced)
The Body of the Devotion (one page is a good guideline)
A Prayer or a Spiritual Practice
With the Church currently closed, the prayer shawls have taken up residence with Hunt and Ann. They are actually quite comfortable in the coolness of their new home but they would love to be of comfort to someone in need of God’s love. Please contact Ann at or 768-7013 if you would like a shawl. If you call, the basket will await your visit in their courtyard. Blessings -
This Zoom genealogy class is for people who have amassed a lot of family information and are wondering what to do next. It will not teach introductory genealogy or memoir writing. Some of the types of manuscripts to be considered include ancestral reports, descendancy reports, biographies, and edited letters or diaries. Each class will be one to two hours long, depending on the topic. Weekly assignments will be given, and in six weeks, students will have all of the major parts of a family-history manuscript and an abbreviated version of the content. The cost will be $10 per person, which will go to the UMW. A minimum of 6 people will be required for the class; a maximum of 12 Zoom connections will be accepted. A preliminary Zoom tutorial will be offered if needed. Check out the complete syllabus for topics and dates. Enroll by emailing Regina Hunter at or Terri Link at
Sundays | 9:30 & 11:00 am
St. John’s will live-stream a worship service on Sunday morning at 9:30 am (Contemporary) on the Abide Facebook page and 11:00 am (Traditional) on the homepage of the website. We hope you’ll worship with us! (Pastors Pam and Kelly will lead, along with Shea Perry, Jim Ahrend, and Matt Greer). We hope that you’ll participate by singing and praying at home! Any questions? Email Matt at
Wednesdays | 8:00 am & 7:00 pm
Please join us on Wednesday mornings & evenings for a worship service of praise and prayer. This service will take place in the Memorial Garden of St. John’s on the west side of the building. This services is designed to be thirty minutes and will be led by Certified Lay Ministers Larry Luna & Joe Marshall. Please bring your own lawn chairs and sit six feet from your neighbor. In an effort to keep all of us safe and healthy, masks are required.
Saturday, August 29 | 5:00 - 7:00 pm

Let’s rally together for the need of others! On Saturday, August 29, 5:00 – 7:00 pm in the east parking lot of St. John’s United Methodist Church (2626 Arizona NE), the Missions’ Team will be collecting any of the following items for Silver Horizons and the Four Corners Ministry:

·     Any non-perishable food
·     Toilet paper
·     Paper towels
·     Facial tissues
·     Hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, men’s and women’s deodorants, toothpaste)
·     Bottled water

So, every time you go shopping this month or have products delivered to you, think about these two organizations and pick up some extra items. We’ll collect all these items on Saturday, August 29th!

If you’d rather give $$ instead of buying the products yourself, you can bring it that night, mail it to the church, or go to the St. John’s online giving. If you want the $$ split between the two organizations, write “Drive-in, Drop-off” in the memo field. If you’d rather it would go to an individual organization write either “Silver Horizons” or “Four Corners Ministry.”

The Missions’ Team thanks you so much for your generosity!!!
Finches5 (with apologies to VOCES8)
-- Bob McKeown
Hi there! I love showing you photos of what we are doing at the church, but what I think would be an even more amazing thing to share is a picture of you! Send me pictures and/or videos of you/your family/your pets/your garden/your cooking/etc with a short description.
Online Groups
The announcements below include using the program "Zoom" to group-video chat. You can find a tutorial on how to use Zoom HERE!
Summer is past, and as we get back to school? Our Solid Ground youth group will resume meeting every Sunday at 4:00-5:15PM with new games, discussions, and faith-building activities plus new features of the student led Soap Box and Top 5s. Log-in. at: (case sensitive).

While we are not yet allowed to sing together, stay informed about the activities of the Sonrise Youth Choir, including weekly Zooms on Thursdays at 4:00 pm (Jackbox games!!), and musical workshops in the Fall! Email Shea at!
Tuesdays | 7:30 pm
Wednesdays | 1:30 pm
Log in and have coffee (or tea) and chat with Pastors Pam and Kelly! Zoom link HERE.
Wednesdays | 6:00 pm
Wednesday Night Bible Club is still on! Grade school friends join us on Zoom to get your weekly Bible lesson, watch the So & So Show, and pray with your friends. This summer we are taking a Focus on Faith! Don’t miss it! Email for more information!
Thursdays | 1:30 pm -- Starting August 6th
Meet by zoom with Pastor Pam for a 30 minute spiritual practice every Thursday afternoon. We will explore different ways to pray, to commune with God, to nurture our spiritual lives with Christ through the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Space is limited, join the class HERE.
Fridays | 9:30 - 10:00 am
Susan Brumbaugh, staff mental health counselor at St. John's, is offering a FREE weekly gathering on FRIDAYS at 9:30 am to practice mindfulness meditation. Each 30-minute session begins with a brief welcome, a description of the focus (e.g., breath, body, senses, emotions, thoughts), a 15-20 minute guided practice, and an opportunity to debrief and share experiences.
Anyone is welcome--no experience is necessary. (And, yes! It's okay for Christians to meditate.) If you want to learn more prior to starting, the sessions will be similar to ones she leads and records on YouTube. Each session will be hosted on Zoom. HERE is the zoom link. Please contact Susan Brumbaugh,, or 505-506-6716, if you have questions.
Congregational Care Corner
The passing of Dick Donavan
St John’s heard this week that one of our long-time members, Dick Donovan, passed on to glory on August 7th. Dick and Marilyn joined St. John’s back in 1972. He was 89. Please pray for the family in the wake of his passing.
Stacie, John and Jack Ross are the recipients for the prayer quilt on display for August 3rd - 16th.

In lieu of tying knots, please pray this prayer (or your own prayer): “Father, we pray for safe travels and new adventures as Stacie, John and Jack embark on this new phase of their lives."

How we support you and your family in prayer during this difficult time? Prayers for health, employment, peace? Please send your prayer requests to the Prayer Team: or submit them on our website HERE.

It is hard to get out and many people shouldn’t. Is there something you need delivered from the store? If we are able to help, we have a few volunteers who would like to serve as Go-fers for people who need something but cannot get it on their own. Please pass any requests on to Jarrod at

The St. John's staff includes a licensed mental health counselor who is available to meet virtually (using a smartphone or computer) in a secure online platform during these anxious times. If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, counseling is available. Click here or contact Susan Brumbaugh at 505-506-6717 or for more details about session and cost information. Susan also has a Youtube Channel with mindfulness tips HERE.

Stephen Ministers are members of St. John’s who have gone through 50 hours of training to provide high quality, confidential Christian care to individuals experiencing a crisis or life challenge such as divorce, grief, job loss, hospitalization, relocation, or loneliness.

How does someone get a Stephen Minister?
If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, please call the office 505-883-9717 or email
  School at UNM will be starting soon in some form this year. It will be an stressful time for all students, so our opportunity to financially support Wesley House, for both the students who live there and those who participate in other Wesley Foundation programs is more important than ever.

 Please pray for the students and their leaders as they reach out to other students on campus as well. Please pray that Wesley House may be a place where all may find God's love and peace in these difficult times. Please give generously.
In accordance with the New Mexico Department of Health order, our facility will be closed until further notice. We will keep you apprised as things develop.

Your St. John's pastors and staff are still very much on the job, and are available to you during this time. Please reach out to us if we can help you in any way!
Office Administrator, Debbie Brown, will be answering the phone at St. John’s every weekday from 9:00 am-2:00 pm. Please call the office if you have any concerns or pastoral care needs. Debbie will get messages to Pastor Pam and Pastor Kelly. The office number is 505-883-9717.
Contact Us
(505) 883-9717
2626 Arizona St NE | Albuquerque, NM 87110
Office Hours (call only): Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Questions? Contact Shea Perry at