Last Sunday – 03/03, after having attended the conclusion of Seattle First Free Methodist Church, which is my parents and brother’s church home, I was so impressed with Pastor Craig’s step-by-step, liturgical meaning of the charge given immediately prior to the sacrament of Holy Communion that I decided to follow these members of my family of origin to their Samaritans meeting. Wow! I am glad I did.

Now, first I should scope back to indicate that in my work as a boundary dispute litigant and the attendant frustrations that attend to assisting people in their fight with neighbors, I have found my own church homes.

The first, the Magnolia Lutheran Church with its incredible woodwork which most impressively includes what I have come to call the “Resurrection Jesus” – a cross carving of Jesus which appears to be that of Jesus coming up victorious from the depths of hell with cup in hand to give a blessing as if he were some sort of svelte Buddha.

The 8:15 service at Magnolia Lutheran is very intimate and without the music which is included at their 10:00 service.

If I want music, on any particular Sunday, I then am (again) off to Magnolia Presbyterian for their 10:30 service.

Just as with the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church has good sermons, but as I just intimated, what really takes it next level is the music. Pianist Robert Jones is a master throughout the sermons and he also provides phenomenal postludes after the Benediction – i.e. final words to ‘go out and serve with God’s Grace.”

Well as happenstance would have it, last Sunday the Lutheran Church’s main pastor was back in Chicago and his back-up had some sort of car issue to serve as a hang-up.

Notably, we did our best to work through the program and I even did my best to offer some comments about the three readings as a means of some sort of sermon. Bottom line though, our church experience concluded fairly promptly.

Would I redirect to the Presbyterian church alone? Well, no. They had a service “field-trip” of sorts lined up with Magnolia’s United Church of Christ to feed the homeless and admittedly I wasn’t sufficiently moved by the Holy Spirit to plan my participation the previous week, nor did in the moment feel sufficiently compelled to find out where this service event was going to take place either.

So, I opted for getting a bit of a snack from Magnolia’s Petit Pierre Bakery. Smartly, at least so I believe, I generated one box of “sumptions” – i.e. “sumptuous & scrumptious, portions of food – for my parents and brother who lives with them – who I knew were readying for church and another for my wife – who unaffiliated with any faith tradition – was digging into our taxes – a task nobody finds at at all sweet nor savory!

At any rate, after having our breakfast snack, I accented to their invitation to got to their Church and am glad that I did.

Ok, now returning to the story of Deana Porterfield.

SPU’s new president gave us a three-part presentation which she deftly mapped out broadly at the beginning of her comments. These were specifically: (a) her history – a curriculum vitae of sorts; (b) her call to serve as President of SPU; and (c) her leadership vision for SPU.


First, in that she was introduced as a triathlete, the Samaritan’s speaker last Sunday took a moment to discount her accomplishment by mentioning that it was merely a sprint triathlon a number of years back in Santa Barbara, California.

She went on to mention that along with her husband Doug – who had been sitting next to her until she took the microphone from the podium to give her remarks – she had 2 grown children and 5 grandchildren all under the age of 8. Good start … Family First!

She then went back to relate that she had been adopted into a home of evangelicals who while she was in middle school divorced. At that time, each of their religious participation waned, but they insisted that she yet be involved.

By God’s Grace during this period of chaos in her life, she was approached to sight learn and play music – at least the chord progressions – at her Church. This did two things … it gave her something to do and served to spark her interest in music.

In turn, this interest in music lead her to an opportunity which was never a part of her contemplation – higher education. Her hometown was Watsonville, CA – the same hometown of Martinelli’s Cider – and she wasn’t originally destined to go much further.

See, young Deana’s father had not graduated from Highschool and her mother was a beautician. Upshot, she originally believed that graduating from Highschool was perhaps going to be a stretch. To consider going to college was – at least among her family – pure ‘crazy talk.’

But, that all changed when she was joined a field trip sponsored by her music department to Texas Tech during homecoming. WOW … Epiphany! “If this is what college is about … I’M ALL IN!!!”

She related that she did get into Texas Tech, but ultimately went to pursue music further at Azusa Pacific University (“APU”), which as an aside is this year celebrating its 125th Anniversary. See [HERE].

At this point in the President Porterfield made mention about her connection with Doug, but the author is unclear if she knew him while yet in Highschool or if they met on campus at APU. Regardless, it was clear that Doug was in higher classes than Deana while they both were attending APU. Doug’s musical ability surpassed hers.

Deana quickly related in accord with her Seattle Pacific University bio her ascension through the ranks to become the second highest administrator at APU as well as the fact that she ultimately secured her Masters in Organizational Management from APU before going on to The University of La Verne [See [HERE]] to secure her Ph.D. in that same discipline. In 2014, she was called to Rochester, NY to preside over Roberts Wesleyan and Northeastern Seminary. See [HERE].


President Porterfield in moving into the second part of her comments prefaced the same by indicating that each year she seeks to identify a verse from the Bible to serve as the theme. This year that verse is …

I am doing a new thing!

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    Israel’s Creator, your King.”

16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
    the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
    extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. (Emphasis Added.)

Isaiah 43:15-19 – New International Version

Dr. Porterfield indicated that when a new opportunity to lead a Christian school quickly goes out to the presidents of all the other Christian schools throughout the nation. So, naturally she was in the know about the opportunity to lead SPU.

Her immediate thought was: “Man! Whoever goes to SPU … really needs to be called!”

[Unknown to the author at the time of her comments who wondered if this had anything to do with the SPU campus shooting in 2014 [See [HERE]], has through research come to recognize that this must be more systemically related to the school’s 38% drop in enrollment over the past decade generally attributed to SPU’s hiring prohibition of members of same-sex marriages and the pandemic.]

Nevertheless, in line with the bible theme she had chosen, she started to reflect on distinctions. This got her asking herself to examine the difference between the questions: “Do you not see it?” and “Do you not perceive it?

Continuing, she remarked, it’s easy to see ‘a big check coming in from a donor to the school.’

But what isn’t as easy to see, yet must be instead be perceived are intangibles like: ‘The great people who come on board the her mission as hires’ and ‘the pulse of the student body.’

Well, ultimately Dr. Porterfield was called to SPU and regarding the last comment she said what is so wonderful is that students on campus here are actually approaching her to solicit the prayers for and with her in her leadership role.


OK, I know … this “Spiritual Warrior” language may a bit over the top.

Nevertheless, this author believes that there is something to it which warrants its use, albeit certainly not self-assigned, by President Porterfield.

Lord don’t leave us. Don’t let our pilot light go out. Let it grow from 1 to 2 to multitudes.

Seattle is one of the most unchurched places in the nations. And SPU has not always received best light from the press. But, soon after she came, our new SPU President was approached for a story by the Seattle Times … oh boy! But, it worked out just fine. See [HERE].

After some further brief expressions of her view that we are involved in Spiritual Warfare which President Porterfield acknowledged her desire to develop more fully through future authorship on her own blog platform, she concluded with some comments about her inauguration itself.

This was a moving event for which she gave some personal insights also best left for her to share more publicly as she deems appropriate save for perhaps one observation.

As someone who started her faith journey many years ago as a troubled soul in a divorcing family through music, she provided the music director a song that she wanted performed – “He Will Hold Me Fast.” See [HERE].

And she concluded her remarks by saying that with the a slight pronoun turn … “If you had checked in on Friday [03/01’s Inauguration], you would have thought SPU was the most vibrant campus in America.”

What was that turn of pronouns?

On the last refrain of “He Will Hold Me Fast” everyone sang out “He Will Hold … US … Fast!”

Now, the author readily admits that he wasn’t at the inauguration, but here’s what came up on his feed as he closed out his comments. Listen & See [HERE].

God was at the President Deana Porterfield’s Friday, 2024.02.23 Inauguration … listening too!

Photo Credit: The Falcon. See [HERE].