Homeless winter shelter planning in works

Thank you for the very timely article on homelessness in Columbia County (“Columbia County’s hidden homeless problem,” Nov. 26). The night before it was published, a small group of concerned residents of the St. Helens area met at Plymouth Presbyterian Church to discuss the possibility of running a winter shelter on the coldest nights.

The next planning meeting will be held at Plymouth Church on Monday, Dec. 10, 7-9 pm. We are committed to working together and with local agencies to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors. If you have ideas or resources, or if you simply want to know how you can help, please come to this meeting.

The Rev. Marilyn Allen

Pastor, Plymouth Presbyterian Church

Atheists ruining Christmas

In the Nov. 22 Oregonian, there was a letter to the editor written by Kenneth Puckett. In the letter, Kenneth said, “I disagree completely with the atheist standpoint, but they have the same right to freedom of speech that I do. If they want to set up a display next to a nativity scene, I say let them.” I think maybe they can learn something from us by doing that.

I agree in part with his letter, but I ask why do the atheists always seem to win? They had the Ten Commandments taken out of the courthouses, kids in school can’t say the words of Jesus, or God in Christmas programs, and the list goes on.

Why do the leaders of this country let them bully us? The atheists are winning. I say if they don’t like this country, let them go to some other country. This is why Christians came to this country so they wouldn’t be persecuted.

For me, church and Christmas are very important. Going to church out in the country, five and a half miles to church with a horse-drawn bobsled was exciting. The people coming to church had bells on their horses ringing. I remember this one Christmas, I was about 13 years old, it was a beautiful calm, cold night with a bright shining moon, you could see for miles. I could have gone into the church where it was nice and warm, but maybe I would never see a night like this again. With a few big snowflakes falling gently, dancing down from the heavens, and the sleigh bells ringing. Then the thought came to my mind, this would be the song we would be singing tonight, “Silent Night.” Then, years later, as I thought back, there must have been a night like this in 1818 when a pastor in Germany by the name of Joseph Mohr wrote the carol “Silent Night.”

This is what I want for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to have a chance to go to church on Christmas Eve. I want them to be little angels. I want them to be wise men. This is what we still need in this country today, wise men that won’t give the atheists what they want. I can only pray for the atheists as they will never know the feeling I had that Christmas night so long ago, on the steps of that country church.

This last fall I was back in North Dakota. I walked through the cemetery, into the church and sat down in the same pew we used to sit in. I could see the big pipe organ and hear the music that my father-in-law played for 46 years in this church.

When I came back from the Army, I got married, bought a farm two miles from this church where my wife and I were baptized and confirmed. My wife took over playing the big pipe organ off and on for 21 years before we moved to Oregon. When my father-in-law would open up the big pipe organ at the end of service, it would rattle the windows.

I think of the big Christmas tree with lots of candles, 30-some kids singing their hearts out, and when it was all over, here came the sacks of candy. Then the trip home in the bobsled with bells ringing — what a Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Clarence E. Nickel

St. Helens

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