January 17th, 2018

Mid Week Musing

This week, along with the students returning to Blacksburg, Radford, and Charlottesville, the staff prayed for my daughter, Rorie. She is loading and driving a truck filled with her belongings to a new city, where she now has an apartment and a job. For the young in particular, life does not stand still.

Life does not stand still for the rest of us, either. In a few weeks a dear friend will be moving to another state to begin a new job, a situation she had no idea she would be facing just 12 months ago. A year ago I did not think I would be saying goodbye to the neighbor who has become my closest friend. Another person in my prayers is considering what to do now that the adult child she moved to Blacksburg to be near has to relocate unexpectedly. Yet another person is in the midst of a decision about when to retire and what retirement may mean. We may think the future is settled, but things happen, and future’s change.

In the midst of change, regular worship can be a constant. We may not know all the hymns from week to week, but we know we can gather and pray, confess our sin, hear the scripture read and proclaimed, and be—at least for a time—in the presence of the boy of the Christ before God. If you are still pondering resolutions for the New Year, why not make regular worship one of them. Life does not stand still, but the still small voice of God never wavers.


Peace, Catherine

This Weeks Scripture Readings
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
Mark 1:14-20

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There are still lots of ways to volunteer.

You can sign up on the website at blacksburgpres.org/toourhouse

January 10th, 2018

Mid Week Musing

Patterns are good things. They simplify life, providing templates for repeated tasks. They can also lead to traditions. When my kids were little, my daughter wanted every Christmas morning to unfold in the same way, which we learned the year we did not haul out a folding screen we used to block the view of the stockings from the hallway. “Where’s the screen?!” she asked that morning, and insisted we put it in place, despite being old enough not to peek.

For several years now the BPC Annual Meeting has followed the same pattern. The elders serve as liturgists, each one leading the portion of the service that matches (at least somewhat) their ministry. We’ll worship that way again on January 28th, and hold the meeting after the service. The 2018 budget will be presented, my terms of call will be voted on along with candidates for some open slots on the Session, and the new Nominating Committee will be elected.

Our democratic traditions are a central part of who we Presbyterians are before God. If you are raising children, be sure to talk to them about the Annual Meeting before that Sunday, and help them understand why we function as we do. Christ is the one and only head of the church. The pastor is a teacher and a helper, not a boss. Members are elected to take turns doing jobs that need to be done for three years at a time. Together we rely on Christ’s Spirit to guide us, as we care for each other and our neighbors and partner with God in the world.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51.

December 7th, 2017

Though we are enjoying Advent, plans are already in place for Adult Education this winter, and you might like to begin thinking about your next Christian learning opportunity.

During the first ten weeks of 2018, a traditional adult class will be offered on the Reformation. The class is built around an excellent video series called Reformation Roots. Each segment features interviews with major theologians and is about 20 minutes long, leaving lots of time for the class to discuss. I’ll kick this series off and attend as often as I can. Those who enjoy a traditional approach will want to consider being here Sunday mornings at 9:00 am.

Many of those who have built some trust in SHIFT groups would like to continue meeting, and two options are being offered. 1) A group can stay together and use the Reformation Roots material described above, or 2) A group can stay together and use the Feasting on the Word bible study curriculum for Adults, which follows the Lectionary. Groups can meet on Sunday morning or choose a week night that works for the group.

Brand new SHIFT groups are also being formed for those who were not able to meet in the fall. These groups will use the SHIFT Field Guide. Again, the group can meet on Sunday morning or choose another time that suits everyone. If you were in a SHIFT group but would enjoy a new group, you will have that option as well. Look for flyers and sign-ups in the Gathering Space and on the web page, and feel free to ask questions of Adult Education elder Jen Stewart (adulted@blacksburgpres.org) or Church Life Director Kendra Crabtree (kendra@blacksburgpres.org).

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading for the 2nd Sunday of Advent:
Isaiah 40:1-11; Pslam 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8.

November 22nd, 2017

Mid Week Musing

We are poised on the eve of Thanksgiving, a holiday sacred for being the day when families are most likely to come together in one place. It’s no different for those whose families are composed of friends, especially if the group has gathered over time. Memories of being at table together, eating, laughing, and sharing Susan’s recipe for corn casserole or Fred’s bourbon green beans remain with us even when the memory-makers are gone. Stories told around a table are their own kind of food. Hearts can be nourished along with bodies whenever meals are shared. It is no accident that the Lord’s Supper is a central sacrament of the faith.

My own table this year will be set for three. My sister will be gathering in Missouri at a table for 40. The numbers don’t matter if the company is good, and if the company is stressful, as is often the case, that becomes a shared experience, too. Movie moguls make good money off holiday films about disastrous family gatherings. One click online can take you to “25 Thanksgiving jokes that will get you through dinner.” The mess may be part of the magic, since the ties of family and friendship are always simultaneously memorable and messy.

Jesus was at home at table. It seems to have been one of his favorite places, eating and drinking with sinners, rich and poor. He was criticized more than once for his manners and his choice of table mates. To me that means even I am welcome at his table. My family mess, or work mess, my share of human chaos will never rule me out, and neither will yours. Jesus entered human life completely, not to change it, but to share it fully in all its messy reality. He is intent on making memories that heal, sustain and fill.

Whether your Thanksgiving table is relaxing or taxing, may Christ be in your midst.



Scripture Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46.



October 19th, 2017

MidWeek Musing

God’s blessings are very much on my mind today. We spent part of last night in the emergency room after a sudden severe pain in my knee rendered me unable to walk. I had been favoring that leg for a few weeks; my internist was unimpressed and suggested we “see how it goes.”  Last night it went. Today I’m waiting for a call from the orthopedist and wearing an “immobilizer,” a very accurate name for the device that is keeping my knee from swiveling—or bending!

A few years ago Barbara Ehrenreich wrote Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting on in America. For six months she lived on nothing but the income she made waitressing or cleaning houses. Make that “and” not “or.” She discovered that no amount of diligent work at one job allowed her to cover rent, utilities, groceries, and gas. Paying the bills required two or even three jobs, none of which offered benefits. She also wrote about her fellow waiters and waitresses, maids and housecleaners and the obstacles they faced, especially lack of healthcare. Though older than some of her coworkers, she had the general health of someone who had always had good healthcare and nutrition. Some of her workmates were chronically ill, yet not coming to work meant losing a desperately needed job.

I am writing this at home, not in danger of losing my job. I, too, have always had good nutrition and healthcare, a loving family and friends. I have been blessed with education and exposure to travel and beauty in many forms. My list of reasons to thank God and support the church that formed and nurtures my faith is long and growing, even as age brings its inevitable changes.  It is hard to imagine any life circumstance, including illness, that would prevent me from wanting to express deep gratitude for God’s goodness and life-giving love.

Tomorrow I will write a stewardship sermon that I’ll probably preach from the floor of the sanctuary (stairs are out for now.) My job will be to open the scriptures in ways that encourage us to share God’s limitless blessings through generous giving. Between now and Sunday I invite you to ponder you own blessings—giving particular thanks for that marvelous creation, the knee.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22.

October 11th, 2017

Mid Week Musing

Stewardship season is approaching, the time to give back to God for the blessings received through the church. As we think about what BPC means to us, those who are new or who come from other faith backgrounds may appreciate knowing who is leading our ministries.
BPC is led by the "Session," a group of elders you elect. The word "elder" in Greek is presbyteros, giving us Presbyterians our name. Elders are people the congregation trusts to guide the work of the church. Each spring, five elders are elected to serve for a term of three years. We refer to these groups as "classes" of elders, and stagger their terms to ensure continuity.
The elders lead BPC's ministries, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs. Names in italics below are filling vacancies until the next election cycle. Session meets every third Sunday of the month to pray and conduct the work of the church and anyone may attend Session meetings. Session minutes and church records are kept by the Clerk of Session; meetings are led (we say "moderated") by the Pastor. Here are the current ministry teams and lead elders:

            Adult Education, Jen Stewart

            Buildings and Grounds, Brain Smith
            Children's Ministry, Heather Polikoff
            Community Ministry, Andrew Warren
            Congregational Care, the Deacons
            Endowment, Brent Opell
            Fellowship and Hospitality, Peggy Kincaid  
            Finance Steve Drumheller
            Membership, Diane Wilson
            Peace, Justice Global Mission, Melanie Smith
            Personnel, Jimmy Ritter
            Stewardship Ministry, Dave Hayes, Elva Miller
            University Ministry, Ami Jo
            Worship, Jama Hayes  
            Youth Ministry, Susan Bailey
            Clerk of Session, Jack Call

The Session hires the staff and oversees their work. Here are the people who staff BPC's ministries:
            Pastor/Head of Staff Catherine Taylor serves full time.
            Director of Communications and Church Life Kendra Crabtree serves full time.
            Director of Youth and Children's Ministries Susan Hunter serves half time.
            Office Manager Sherry Ingham serves full time.      
            Interim Music Director Amy Cowan serves ten hours a week
            Music Intern Jonathan Elmore plays piano for rehearsals and worship
            Sexton, Viola Howery, serves half time.
            Treasurer Greg Campbell serves as a part time volunteer.
            Accountant, Alice Ledford serves part time.
BPC is also blessed by the ministries of Presbyterian Women and Men of the Church, and other groups who gather for service, fellowship, learning, and support.            
God works every day through these people and ministries, touching lives with God's grace and transforming love. You are one of those through whom God works. Dedication Day when we bring our pledges forward in worship will be November 5th. Please be in prayer about your giving to BPC.
Grace and peace,


October 4th, 2017

MidWeek Musing

In the wake of Las Vegas I’ve come to the conclusion that the United States simply does not have the will to do anything about gun violence. This despite clear evidence that stricter guns laws lead to fewer gun-related deaths in every state that has passed them. It is helpful to recall that the majority of gun deaths are suicides, not homicides, and that the total number of gun-related deaths is on the decline. Events like Las Vega, thank God, are well outside the norm. Even so, we are numbed and frightened by the sheer scale of the madness unleashed for no discernable motive by one man, who for reasons we will probably never know opened a floodgate of sorrow.

We need not be hopeless, though; an antidote does exist. It is not one that will end unforeseeable acts of senseless violence, but it is real and it is open to each of us. It appears in the scripture for this Sunday, and throughout the texts of both testaments of the Bible. The antidote is life in the Realm of God, whose power lies in vulnerability instead of violence.

Conversation about God’s defenseless power is not easy. It does not meet our need for simplicity. That may well be why numbers of people flock to churches that announce “God has a reason” for senseless events, a terrible, misleading lie.

God was in Las Vegas, but not in order to be in control. Control is a form of human power, the kind of power the gunman wielded. God’s power is the power of weakness, even helplessness. God suffered alongside the dying and the wounded, and is suffering with the wounded and the mourning still as they struggle to go on. If that seems useless to you as the news from Las Vegas continues to roll in, try to remember that God’s defenseless power is the single most powerful force for change on earth. Nothing will ever defeat it. Nothing.

We harness that promise by living as God’s people, by living as covenant people who treat others as God does, and by seeing the world and all that we have as God’s gift. Count on it: soon we will begin to hear stores from the Realm of God as they unfolded in Las Vegas, stories in which this or that person risked and sacrificed to save another,  stories of courage, of self-less love, and of the deaths that resulted from some of those choices.

Brothers and sisters, you really do have the option to live in God’s Realm, and choose every day what to serve: endless violence or its opposite: vulnerable, life-giving love.

Grace upon grace, Catherine

Scripture Readings: Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20; Psalm 19; Philippians 3:4b-14; Matthew 21:33-46.

September 27th, 2017


Peace Making and Global Witness Offering

On Oct 1st the Peace Making and Global Witness offering will be taken during the worship service. While BPC supports mission work in other ways, this special offering will go to support the PC (USA) World Mission Agency. The church supports over 130 mission co-workers in 70 countries. These partners-in-mission are involved with local national churches in many ministries that bring God’s love to a hurting world. Theological college professors, doctors, nurses, agriculturalists, communication specialists, nutritionists, elementary and high school curriculum developers, computer technicians, and more. The PC (USA) responds, as it is able, to requests from foreign national churches for people with skills to help these churches in their outreach and ministries.
The Offering also supports the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program that works in countries and cultures in conflict. For example, South Sudan, the newest country in the world, is torn with bloody inter-tribal conflict that has produced over a million internally and externally displaced refugees, most of which are women and children. In partnership with the Church of South Sudan and other religious bodies the PC(USA) co-workers, Rev.s Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather hold reconciliation workshops with opposing tribal leaders toward peaceful settlement of local and national conflicts.
Finally, 25% of the offering received on Oct 1st will go toward local programs promoting peace and reconciliation in our local area. The youth of BPC are asked to seek out which local non-profit they think supports the mission of Peacemaking in the NRV.
Please give generously, on Sunday Oct. 1, to this special offering designated specifically for Peacemaking and Global Mission of the PC(USA).

Scott Smith

Scripture Readings: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32.

September 20th, 2017

Have you noticed an uptick in stories and posts about the end times? Some people have been reacting to the sequence of fires in the American West, hurricanes in the Atlantic, and earthquakes in Mexico with messages of doom about the immanent approach of the last judgement. (This September 23, by the way, is a popular date among doomsayers, so go drink a milk shake and have chocolate for dinner.)

The spate of disasters has even produced some fairly good religious journalism. NPR broadcast a segment by Tom Gjelten in the wake of hurricane Harvey called “How Natural Disasters Test the Faithful” (September 4). Though he interviewed an array of pastors and named different understandings, he failed to mention one of the most important:  Human sinfulness. Should we blame God when people cover wet lands with concrete or developers build in known flood zones? When the inevitable happens in those areas, the suffering is not God’s fault, it’s ours.

The question of why a good and loving God allows suffering is called theophany. It is a question worth reading about, and well beyond the scope of this musing. But I do want to address the fear factor out there about the last judgement due, according to some, on Saturday.

My beloved professor of Christian theology wrote in his textbook Christian Doctrine that just hearing the phrase “the last judgement” tends to make us think of Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel, or other medieval pictures in which some are portrayed floating up toward the clouds while others are left roiling down below. “Why is it that those at the bottoms of such paintings are so much more interesting than those at the top?” he asks. “Is it because the ‘blessed’ are so sweetly, boringly passive, whereas something is at least going on among the ‘damned’?”

He goes on to say that in Biblical thought the judge is not one who rewards some and punishes others. For Christians the judge is Christ, and the end of history is something to be welcomed with joy, since it will be the day “when justice will triumph over injustice, love over hatred and greed, peace, over hostility, humanity over inhumanity, the kingdom of God over the powers of darkness.” On the last day the Creator, Reconciler, Savior, and Renewer will prevail—and that is good news not just for Christians but for everyone.



September 13th, 2017


The Lord spoke to Moses, “Go and tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of this land.”

Exodus 6:10-11, NRSV

If God expected Moses to face the powerful Pharaoh and to tell him to let the slaves go, wouldn’t God also expect us to express our faith-based conviction that our laws should not keep people from rising out of poverty and hunger, but rather should give them an opportunity to realize their God-given potential?
This Sunday you can act on your faith by signing the three post cards available with the bulletin or by writing your own letters in Hatcher after worship to our legislators. The cards instruct them to support full funding for programs that have proven efficacious, such as WIC, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Medicaid, tax credits, and international non-defense development assistance.
These letters are an annual event at BPC, called the Bread for the World Offering of Letters.  Bread for the World has helped to draft bipartisan legislation for more than 40 years in order to address root causes of hunger at home and abroad.  Churches from many denominations participate in this effort. 
Another option is to write a personalized letter online. Write to Congress Now: Act.
Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.  Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.  (Proverbs 31:8-9)
Express your own faith-based conviction by writing to Congress!
Mary Lee Hendricks

September 6th, 2017

Feed the Flock!


Once a month Blacksburg Presbyterian Church offers hospitality to the students of UKirk (Cooper House) by providing a meal for them to share. UKirk is the PC(USA) campus ministry at VT and is lead by Rev. Ginny Taylor-Troutman. They meet weekly on Tuesdays at 6pm at The Cooper House. Each week together looks a bit different but the common thread is a shared home cooked meal to start their time.

We call this Feed the Flock!

There are lots of opportunities for you to get involved with our University Ministries Team here at BPC and Feed the Flock is a great way to start! You can prepare something to drop off by 6pm or help with set up or clean up. If you have any questions contact Ami Jo, University Ministry Chair, at university@blacksburgpres.org.

Our first Feed the Flock is September 12th. If you would like to see how you could participate click link below and see what the needs are! And if you can't help in September there are three more opportunities throughout the semester!

Help for Texas Now

From PDA: A Texas National Guardsman carries a resident from her flooded home following Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

From PDA: A Texas National Guardsman carries a resident from her flooded home following Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Dear BPC Family,

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has put out a call for Hygiene Kits and Cleanup Buckets for Texas. Below is a list of needed items. If you can contribute any of these items, or money for shipping them to Texas, please bring it to church by next Sunday. The Bible Study group will create kits and pack the items for shipping on Tuesday Sept 5th, starting at 7:30 am. Feel free to come and help. Below is the list of needed items. Our neighbors need us.

Peace, Catherine


Clean-Up Kits (Value $75)

Photo by Kathy Broyard, PDA NRT

Photo by Kathy Broyard, PDA NRT

1 - 5-gallon bucket with resealable lid
5 - scouring pads
7 - sponges, assorted sizes
1 - scrub brush
1 - pkg. cleaning towels (18 reusable, like Easy Wipes)
1 - box dry laundry detergent, 50-78 oz.
1 - liquid concentrated household cleaner (like Lysol), 12 oz.
1 - bottle liquid disinfectant dish soap (like Dawn), 24-28 oz.
1 - 1 pkg. clothespins, 48-50 Clothesline, two 50 ft. or one 100 ft.
5 - dust masks
2 pair - latex gloves (like Playtex)
1 pair - work gloves
1 - 24 to 28 count roll heavy-duty trash bags (30-45 gallon, remove from carton)
1 - bottle insect repellent (pump, drops or lotion; not aerosol), 6-9 oz.

Please purchase all liquids in plastic bottles. Send only new, unopened materials. Put all items in the plastic bucket, packed securely to avoid damage during shipment, and seal lid with packing tape.

*Some local fast-food restaurants are willing to give pickle buckets (or other 5-gallon buckets with re-sealable lids) or offer them for a small fee. These can be washed out and used for the cleanup buckets.

Hygiene Kit (Value $15)

1 - hand towel (Approximately 16" x 28", no fingertip or bath towels)
1 - washcloth
1 - wide-tooth comb (remove from package)
1 - nail clipper (UPDATE: nail clippers with metal files or emery boards attached are now accepted; remove from package)
1 - bar of soap
1 - toothbrush (in original packaging
10 - Band-Aids or other adhesive bandage strips

Please do not add toothpaste to the Hygiene Kit. Toothpaste which has an extended expiration date will be added to international Hygiene Kit shipments just prior to shipment. Seal all items in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure.


August 23rd, 2017

No doubt many of you made a point of eclipse-watching. For the littlest folks among us, a near total eclipse visible in Blacksburg was probably a first. Sharing firsts with children is one of the joys of life. That’s one of the reasons why BPC has established a tradition of celebrating faith milestones in our children’s lives.

This coming Sunday will be Milestone Sunday. As in the past, the bulletin will be designed for kids, with rubrics they can understand (”Telling God we’re sorry” instead of “Prayer of Confession”) and pictures indicting times for prayer and song for kids who can’t yet read. Rising First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Graders will be called forward for recognition and given gifts to signify that we, the adults who promised to raise them in faith, delight in watching them grow.

We will also be baptizing tiny Brynn Stewart. Having a baptism on a day for celebrating our children couldn’t be more appropriate. It was not something we set up; the Stewart family schedule determined the date—with a big dose of the Holy Spirit thrown in. It will be a joy to come up with words about baptism for the bulletin that will be easy for the children to understand. A child’s-eye view of baptism will likely teach the rest of us as well. So come to worship on Sunday prepared to see as a child sees, and let your heart listen for the sounds of the kingdom of God.


Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings: Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20.

August 16th, 2017

Dear BPC family,

The following statement was sent out to the Church on Monday from the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness. It offers concrete suggests for how to proceed in faith and hope. Peace, Catherine

Statement on Charlottesville

Saturday was a horrific, tragic day in the annals of the United States of America. Peaceful protestors were confronted with violence. A young woman lost her life simply for daring to say no to racism. A hate group gathered to spread its toxic message and committed an act of terror.

The Office of Public Witness, alongside many Presbyterians, is outraged, shocked and saddened by the violence that engulfed the beautiful town of Charlottesville. But we are not defeated nor deterred. We are determined to move forward so that our country can continue to journey toward racial progress and inclusiveness.

So, what can we do?

We continue to pray for justice, comfort, forgiveness, repentance, unity and faith which produces endurance, patience and grace.

We continue to stand boldly in the face of hate and white supremacy and condemn the white nationalist, KKK, alt-right, Nazi, and any racist groups or individuals who are responsible for the spread of racial hatred in this country.
We mourn with those who have lost children, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, daughters and son to violence.
We continue to work to create a country where our history of racial inequality is replaced by equal opportunity and fairness for all Americans.
We stand tall as witnesses to our faith in a God who overcomes division and promotes unity, healing and peace.
We continue to promote an understanding of our common humanity and the value of all human beings.

We continue the long, slow journey towards justice for all.

This is a day which demands a call for mourning and lament, protest and outrage, prayer and peace. The legacy of racial and ethnic hatred must end. Our children deserve a better message and a brighter future of tolerance and peace. As people of faith we offer ourselves in service to a God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”. (Nehemiah 9:31; Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:5; Psalm 86:15; Joel 2:13)

Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28.

August 10th, 2017

Whenever we do memorial services, we offer the family a reception in the Fellowship Hall. More and more this relaxed time for greeting and condolences takes the place of formal visitation in people homes or at a funeral parlor. Offering hospitality is central to living the gospel, and being cared for the by the Church in time of loss is especially meaningful.

The responsibility for pulling receptions together falls under Congregational Care, which maintains several teams of two who rotate the responsibility for organizing receptions. Just now the number of teams has dwindled, creating a need for at least two more teams—or one team of two and one person who can pair with Deb Call, a veteran of organizing these events.

All that is required to recruit folks to bring food on the day of the reception: cheese plates, crackers, cookies, brownies, fruit, nuts, vegie trays and other finger foods along with ingredients for punch. Some team leaders use technology such as Sign up Genius to organize the event. Others just get on the phone or send emails to make sure a variety of plates will be supplied. Whatever the method, people love to respond to concrete needs, and there is never a dearth of offerings. Sexton Viola Howery will set up tables with a few days’ notice. Team leaders then get to church early enough on the day to lay clothes and place items, and do clean up or make sure it’s been assigned.

The only other requirement is flexibility. Death does not happen according to anyone’s plans or schedule, although generally funeral and memorial services take place on weekends when family members are able to travel. Families and I together estimate how many people might attend, and Sherry Ingham is ever ready to provide help. If you think being on a reception team might be a way for you to give to BPC and its people, let the Church Office know. Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33.

August 2nd, 2017

MidWeek Musing

For the past three months as visiting preachers were led to my study, I’m told their first words often were “It’s so clean!” Kendra was quick to tell the truth: “Only because Catherine’s gone.” So if you want to see a clear desk top, come by quick. I am back and delighted to be shuffling papers and books, making calls, and scheduling catch-up visits.  

This first week back from sabbatical has been filled with hugs and welcomes alongside meetings and conversation about what’s needed to rev up for the program year. I return enriched and deeply grateful to staff, elders, deacons, guest preachers, and pastors who covered worship, visitation, administration, and care. In the coming months I promise to share the many things I learned by being away for a time.

One of the purposes of a sabbatical is to help congregations experience what it means to be the body of Christ together. The Peaks Presbytery sabbatical guidelines put it this way: “It is an opportunity for the congregation to reflect on the whole nature and meaning of ministry and the place of the congregation in that ministry; to renew and strengthen congregational lay leadership; and to continue to grow in faith.” That certainly appears to have been the case this summer. Five of us entered the great cloud of witnesses. So many came together to celebrate the gift of their lives in worship and fellowship. There are simply no words to thank you for the ways you have supported each other and demonstrated what it means to the Church.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading: Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21.


July 26th, 2017

You've probably been hearing about Shift over the last several months here at BPC. There was a sermon series during Lent, an Adult Education class on Sunday, May 14th, and the July Newsletter cover was all about our role in the church during these changing times. If you are interested in reading these materials you can pick up copies in the Welcome Window in the Gathering Space. You can also buy or borrow a copy of Tidsworth's book, Shift: Three Big Moves for the 21st Century Church. They are located at the Welcome Window as well.

All of this has been done leading up to the beginning of our Shift Small Groups! You have the opportunity to join a small group on Sunday morning at 9am or on Wednesday night from 5:30pm-7pm. On Wednesday night their will be childcare and a simple dinner provided for a small fee with groups running from 6pm-7pm.

Today's episode is the final episode in this season of At Heart. Here are some thoughts from Catherine as we gear up for the Shift Experience, where Mark Tidsworth, author of Shift, will be leading a half day workshop, for anyone who wants to participate (childcare provided), on August 26th to learn more about the three big moves of the 21st century church. Not sure about signing up for a Shift Small Group? Participating in the workshop may help you decide.

At Heart, A Podcast by BPC

We hope you enjoy the next episode of our new podcast.

New Name Tags Are On The Way!

We're getting new name tags! They are magnetic, attractive, and easy to use. IF you have a pacemaker, we will make you a name tag with a clip. Name tags are being made for first grade and older. We are excited and hope you will be, too!

Front of Name Tag

Magnetic Backing

Clip Backing

The prayer list can be found here.

Jeffrey will be preaching this Sunday and he's going off the Lectionary texts for the week that were sent out in Monday's email. Below are the texts he will be using.

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 46; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-36.

July 5th, 2017

"God bless to us our bread, and give bread to those who are hungry and hunger for justice to those who are fed.  God bless to us our bread."

My family sometimes sings these words at the table before a meal.  It is a paraphrase of a very old prayer from Latin America, put to music for the Iona Community by John Bell. It expresses succinctly the hope and prayer we show through our Cents-Ability offering, that hunger offering which we collect at BPC, without fail, every month on the third Sunday.  Sometimes that Sunday falls on another important liturgical day, as happened in 2017, when the day for Cents-Ability fell on Easter Sunday, the same day we emphasize the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. 

Every month I try to make sure that some sort of announcement or information is given regarding Cents-Ability.  No other special offering recurs so frequently. and no other special offering is expected to fall on the same day as another special offering. This aspect of Cents-Ability always reminds me that, for those who are hungry, there is no schedule, no coordination with other needs.  A family can’t say, “This week I need to pay for heat; next week I will pay for food.” A hungry person cannot just take a break from food while they get their finances together in order to afford it. And thus, we who have the capacity to help cannot take breaks either; the offering comes around again regularly to remind us that the need is always there. 

The above prayer reminds us that there are different kinds of hunger and different ways to address it.  As Kristin Tennant says in a post about this prayer, “Some people need bread, some people need to be woken up to care about the needs of others…Is your hunger for bread or justice?”  The conclusion is that if you aren’t hungry for bread, you should be hungry for justice.  If we are blessed with plenty of bread to meet our physical hunger, we should let that strengthen us for recognizing where lack of food means a lack of justice, and for discovering ways to address that injustice.  Cents-Ability is one way to respond to that injustice.  Our hunger can lead us to more.

To a man with an empty stomach, food is God.  — Gandhi

Sarah Windes

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