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.

Peace,

Catherine

September 13th, 2017

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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!
 
Peace,
Mary Lee Hendricks

September 6th, 2017

Feed the Flock!

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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

The prayer list can be found here.


At Heart, A Podcast by BPC

We hope you enjoy the next two episodes of our new podcast.

 

 

June 28th, 2017

At Heart: A Podcast from BPC

Before Catherine left for her Sabbatical she and I spent some time recording her thoughts on a number of topics. I have turned those into podcasts. A podcast, for those who don't know, is a radio program that you can listen to online and you don't have to tune in, you can listen whenever you want.

Today is the release of the first two episodes of the Blacksburg Presbyterian Church Podcast, At Heart. For the rest of the summer, they will be available here, on the website. They are short and sweet and meant to stir thought and conversation. Enjoy!

June 14th, 2017

This past Sunday I introduced our new intern during the announcements. I am excited for you to get to know Ginny, who will be serving with us through the summer and fall. Her focus will be on communication and technology projects as well as some curriculum development. I have also developed a personal and spiritual leadership curriculum that she will be working through. I am excited to have her join us. Below you can hear from Ginny herself and get to know her a bit more.

Kendra Crabtree
Director of Communications and Church Life


My name is Ginny Pearson and I am the new intern at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. I am a senior at Virginia Tech pursuing a degree in Human Development. I have a longstanding involvement with the UKirk Campus Ministry at Virginia Tech, which led my interest to working with the church this summer and fall. Through my position as a Student Leader in UKirk over the past three years, I have grown even more passionate about my own personal development and the need for faith communities.

I grew up in Madison Presbyterian Church, near my hometown of Stanardsville, VA. My studies of Human Development and my background with the Presbyterian Church led me to pursue an internship with Blacksburg Presbyterian. My faith is where I find meaning for all things in life, and shapes how I respond to topics such as social justice issues, human services, and education. I am hopeful that working with Blacksburg Presbyterian Church will help me grow in my faith, develop new relationships, and help me gain experience for my future. I have already felt so welcomed by this congregation, and cannot wait to see what the summer and fall semesters hold.

 

Scripture Reading: Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7); Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Romans 5:1-8; Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23).

The prayer list can be found here.

May 24th, 2017

Do you know about all the work that BPC supports through your contributions? This month Peace Justice and Global Mission Ministry is focusing on the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

This is how they define themselves:

“Our call is to be movers and shakers within the PC(USA) and beyond, encouraging one another to take seriously God’s call to God’s people to participate in God’s nonviolent work of love, peace, and justice in the world.”

Over the years they have helped lead the PC(USA) to take bold stances in the face of violence. By supporting nonviolent action in situations of conflict today, we follow our commitment to the Prince of Peace.

A bit of History –

  • In 1940 the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship started as a group that provided support to Conscientious Objectors to World War II
  • In the 50's PPF worked to oppose the development of nuclear weapons.
  • During the 60’s and the 70’s, members were doing draft resistance counseling and working to end the war in Vietnam.
  • In the 80s PPF was one of the founding organizations of the US-Soviet Bi-Lateral Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, leading the PC(USA) to become the first major church to endorse the proposal.
  • They were instrumental in encouraging the Presbyterian General Assembly to pass the document called “Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling, which initiated the annual Peacemaking Offering, and established the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the denomination.
  • In the 90's PPF work included the Jubilee 2000-Third World Debt Relief.
  • Throughout the last couple of decades, PPF has been committed to dealing with gun violence and landmines.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the denominational offices in Washington are among the most important partners with this work.

To learn more about their work, go to www.presbypeacefellowship.org where you will find detail on these areas of work and more, including,

  • Colombia and the Accompaniment Program
  • Israel/Palestine Conflict
  • Gun Violence
  • Becoming a Sanctuary Community

As always, PJGM would love more church members to join the ministry.


The prayer list can be found here.

May 3rd, 2017

The Baby Shop

Do you know about The Montgomery County Baby Shop?  Do you know where it’s located and who it serves?  This totally volunteer, donations-based project in our community, is located in the activity building of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 220 W. Main St. in Christiansburg. It’s just a stone’s throw from my house in Christiansburg and I was drawn to becoming a part of the volunteer crew knowing I could get there easily. I truly felt called to support this worthy undertaking by BPC and St. Paul’s and the Baby Shop has been a great fit for me.  It gladdens my heart to be able to serve my neighbor there and practice hospitality to all who walk through its doors.  And as more “customers” and new faces come into the shop every month it is even more rewarding to know the word is spreading about this valuable faith-based outreach in our community.  The clients that come in often express how grateful they are for the Baby Shop and I always hear those comments as prayers of thanks.
 
So, a few more facts: The MCBS serves low-income families in Montgomery County and Redford City. Clients must have at least one small child (or one on the way) and have to complete the short application and agree to meet the stipulations of the shop.  Approved families can shop at the Baby Shop once every two months.  They are given a list of items that they are allowed to get for each child. The list includes 2 dozen diapers, baby wash and lotion, baby wipes and several items of clothing, a used toy and children’s book. When larger items, such as strollers, cribs or car seats are requested we do our best to seek out those used items or in some cases purchase a particular item for a family.
 
And what do the volunteers do?  We spend time organizing the shop, (sorting clothes, packing up diapers, etc) and greet clients, take care of the minimal paper work and make sure clients and their families can find what they need.  Our goal is to give the shop a warm and welcoming look and to make the clients’ “shopping” experience as pleasant as we can. There is a small play area for children and sometimes volunteers entertain little ones while moms and dads select their items. Some of you had the opportunity to visit the MCBS about a year ago during Community Ministry month, and helped sort clothes and organize the clothes racks and bins.  Community Ministry at BPC continues to help support the Baby Shop with monetary donations to help stock the shop with new bottled baby care items and emergency items like porta-cribs/Pac’N Plays.
 
We have a group of about 6 regular volunteers from St. Paul’s and BPC who staff the MCBS on Mondays 10 am-Noon and Wednesdays, 2:00-4:00 PM.  But we can use more volunteers!  You can work a lot or a little in any given month.  And we can always use donations to help stock the shop.  Check out the Baby Shop website (https://www.themcbs.org) to find out the items we regularly need most.  New and gently used clothing and shoes for sizes 2T-5T are always in demand as are toys and books.  Consider stopping by the Baby Shop for a little tour.  Contact Melinda Winslow if you’re interested in volunteering or want come check us out.
 
Jama Hayes
Baby Shop Volunteer


Scripture Readings: Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-35; John 10:1-10.

The prayer list can be found here.

April 26th, 2017

My leaving for sabbatical next week has had little impact on the ongoing work of the church, which shows no signs of slowing down. The new elders have begun their training—we have a session tonight from seven to nine—and the MANNA team has met to begin the work of awarding grants from general endowment income. Small grants to agencies we have come to think of as “ministry partners” were approved by Session last Sunday night. Now MANNA is looking forward to getting requests for up to two larger grants for new initiatives.
 
Under the leadership of Endowment Chair Brent Opell, MANNA has put a lot of work into a new process for receiving requests. Brent will be making an announcement about it at the start of worship this Sunday, and there will be a full description of how to apply for a grant in the bulletin this Sunday and in the May newsletter. What excites me about the new process is that it puts church members in charge. I’ll leave the details to the write-up, but the ground-up approach encourages congregational engagement and excitement—which is always a good thing. No more than two large grants can be awarded in a given year, so not every request will be funded. The decisions are in the hands of the MANNA team, making it a meaningful assignment.
 
Every ministry in the church is invited to send a representative to the MANNA team, so if the idea of promoting, studying and praying about good projects to fund excites you, be sure to volunteer your time next spring. Strong leadership from the pews seen as that seen among the elders and on the MANNA team is one reason why BPC is thriving, and why I am not worried about good things continuing while I’m away.  I will hold you in my prayers this summer, and ask you to hold me and my family in your prayers as well.


Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4,12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35.

The prayer list can be found here.

April 19th, 2017

Over the 3 years since BPC’s Creation Care Team was formed, we have been working to encourage our congregation toward ever more earth-friendly actions and practices.  We also seek to provide information and education to help individuals and families adopt habits and make changes toward increased appreciation and protection of earth’s resources.  


In the process, we have found that the more we learn, the more there is to learn!  The more we work together on making changes, the more we discover that there are yet bigger changes we should be seeking to make!  It is challenging and frustrating, but we are grateful that we live in a time in which we can know how our planet is interconnected and how much difference individual action can make! We know that our faith in God as creator, savior and daily maintainer of the entire earth gives us hope and certainty that the earth is worthy of our care.


This Saturday is Earth Day. The first earth day was held in 1970! It has been observed worldwide since 1990.  In honor of that day in 2017, the Creation Care Team is offering an Earth Day Fair in the church’s fellowship hall after worship this Sunday, April 23.  Each of us from the Creation Care Team, with the help of the youth group and some others, will be leading an interactive booth about one of our areas of expertise, passion, or interest, something we would like to share with the rest of you. We are excited about this chance to share some really good ideas about little and big things you can do to improve your positive connection with the earth and all of creation.  


I hope you have seen the publicity.  Most of our booths will be family-friendly, with activities and information suited for children, youth, and adults, and they will all be hands-on to some degree.  A guide to the booths and their age appropriateness will be available at the door, as will snacks of protein and fruit to tide you over til lunch. In addition, child care for infants and toddlers will be available. If you have children who will need to use this, please take them down immediately after worship so the childcare providers will know of the need.


This Sunday is also the first Sunday of our annual Season of Creation in worship.  This Sunday our theme is Oceans.  If there is any “landform” that typifies best the understanding of the earth as a whole, it is probably ocean.  Whatever affects oceans, affects us all.  I hope you will join us this Sunday!


-- Sarah Windes for the Creation Care Team


Scripture Readings: Acts 2:14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31.

Prayer List can be found here.

April 12th, 2017

ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING OFFERING

A gift to One Great Hour of Sharing enables the church to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need around the world by providing relief those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and helping to empower the poor and oppressed. We will receive the offering on Easter Sunday, April 16th.  The offering distribution is 35% to Presbyterian Hunger Program, 32% to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and 32% to Self-Development of People.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program approaches hunger holistically with five tools:

  • Direct Food Relief combined with Root Cause Work
  • Sustainable Development
  • Advocacy
  • Intentional and Sustainable Living
  • Education

The Presbyterian Disaster Relief Program has reached people in crisis all over the world.  Examples include:

  • Tennessee Wildfires
  • 2016 Gulf flooding
  • Public Violence
  • Malawi Flooding and Food Crisis
  • Ebola Crisis
  • South Sudan
  • European Refugee Crisis
  • Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, Dominican Republic and United States

The Self-Development of People Program

  • Promotes Justice in the world
  • Builds Stronger Communities
  • Seeks economic equity

This ministry has enormous impact on so many lives around our country and our world.
Please plan to give generously to the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering on Sunday April 16.
 


Scripture Readings: Acts 10:34-43 and Matthew 28:1-10.

The prayer list can be found here.

Don't forget! The Prayer Labyrinth is set up in the Fellowship Hall this week!

April 5th, 2017

There was a day in the summer when I just couldn’t watch clips of the agony in Syria any longer without finding out how to get even just one family out of Syria.  I saw clips on TV of families walking and walking and imagined if it were me in that situation, would I have the courage to put some of my things in a bag, and head away from my life to escape bombs and destruction?  My children would be my motivation, I am sure. Would my children be brave enough to make that hike with us, experiencing fear of the unknown?  That was the day, when the TV shots got to me, that I promised myself I would find out how people get refugees to come to their town.

An active and dedicated group, the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership (BRP), is my answer to knowing that I am involved.  The group has grown, and the generous folks of Blacksburg have spent hours planning, hours volunteering, and the New River Valley people have helped us with funds.  The first family, a mother and father, and six children, arrived in October 2016. Amazing.  In two weeks, the father had a job, the kids were in school, and the family were our friends.  But their life had been so different.  Both the refugees and the Blacksburg folks had to adjust to differing ways of doing and seeing things.  We found translators who have dedicated themselves to enabling us all to communicate.  At first it was hard.  But we knew without saying it or needing to be told, that we were close to the least of them, close to the Spirit at every turn.

We now have two Syrian refugee families and four Afghan refugee families living in Blacksburg. We are getting to know their stories, and the stories are not easy. They include stories of relatives still struggling in their homes in Syria, still in camps in Jordan, and bombings that have killed members of their families since they arrived here.   Every night I give thanks that they are here.  They are safe, their children are in school, the men are working, and all are taking ESL.  They are so grateful, with the words of thank you on their lips whenever we see them.  It is not an easy thing to come to a new country.

BRP finds that at every turn there is someone to help fulfill a need. We are grateful for how loving and kind people are in our town.  People from Blacksburg Presbyterian Church are involved as friends of the families, as organizers, as funders.  We thank each and every one! But we need more volunteers.

This Sunday right after church some of us from Blacksburg Refugee Partnership will be giving a 30 minute presentation to update you on the families.  There will be a short PowerPoint presentation, to familiarize you with the families and the program and two women who are leading the volunteer work with three of the Afghan families will be with us to describe what they do and how you can help. We have photos to share, and I think you will see in their faces what we are feeling. We hope to see you there.

Janne Mathes, Serving on the Community Ministry Team


Scripture Readings
Palms:
Matthew 21:1-11; Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29.
Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Matthew 26:14-27.

The prayer list can be found here.