April 18th, 2018

BPC’s Creation Care Team has once again crafted a Season of Creation worship series. It will fall on the three Sundays from April 22 to May 6th (April 22 happens to be Earth Day). Volunteers from the Worship Ministry and Creation Care have met several times to pick themes and decide on scriptures, liturgy and visual enhancements for the services. Their work has created services that already promise to be powerful. The themes this year in order are Wilderness (4/22), Diversity (4/29), and Abundance (5/6).

All three themes this year evoke contrasts. Wilderness, in scripture and in life, offers welcome solitude but also danger. There are places on earth we humans cannot enter  safely, places we perhaps ought not to visit even if well-prepared. Variety and diversity lead us to consider the number of species facing extinction. Abundance evokes its opposite—scarcity, fear of which lies behind many destructive choices.

Each year the team has offered ideas for how to enjoy and protect the environment in our daily living. The invitation for the first week is to write a sentence or two about a place that represents sacred space or wilderness for you; you can submit a picture if you’d like. Why is it a favorite place for you and how can others find it? The descriptions will be shared for those who might want to make visits of their own.

Thinking about the themes has been a rich experience for me as I prepare to write the sermons. It has also led to scriptures that fall outside the Lectionary, always a good thing to do from time to time. I will be at Austin Seminary for continuing education the week of April 15-20. That means writing the Wilderness sermon before I go. I’ll be thinking of wild sacred spaces near and far, and invite you to do the same.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading
Acts 4:5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

April 11th, 2018

Throughout the year there is a quarterly art exhibit in Westminster Library. The exhibit is open to viewing during office hours and on Sundays. We host a forum with the artist during the exhibition. This coming Sunday, April 15th, directly after worship will be our next forum. Below is our current artists biography. We hope to see you there.

Richard Mallory Allnutt is a British-born photographer who lives in Blacksburg. He focuses primarily on portraiture, but his passions for aviation and the natural world also play a strong role in his repertoire. He has won several significant awards for his work, such as first prize in the 2016 Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine photography competition (Civil Aviation category), first prize in the FotoWeekDC International Awards Competition 2013 (Regional Focus category), ITVA-DC (stills section) and the prestigious Aviation Week & Space Technology photography competition. His images have graced the covers and pages of many books and magazines such as JazzTimes, Swing Journal, Smithsonian: Air & Space, and Brad Meltzer’s “Heroes for My Son”.

Allnutt's clients include, among others, Dom Perignon Champagne, Moet Hennessy, Nike Communications, Virginia Tech, Concord Records, Telarc and Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine. He has also worked as a set photographer on several motion picture films.

He divides his time primarily between Washington DC, New York City, Ottawa, Ontario and Blacksburg, Virginia.

Scripture Readings
Acts 3:12-19
Psalm 4
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24:36b-48

April 4th, 2018

Starting this Sunday, April 8th at 4pm in Hatcher, the Adult Education team has an additional learning opportunity for you that will be led by Anne and Greg Campbell about end of life planning. Below are some details on what will be covered.

Studies show that 80 % of Americans express a desire to die at home.  Despite this, 60% of Americans die in acute care hospitals, 20% in nursing homes and only 20% at home.  Advanced medical technology provided by well-intended medical professionals too often extends quantity of life with little regard for quality of life.  How do you know when to say “no, thank you” to efforts to provide you with treatment?  Who will make those choices for you if you are unable?  How will he or she know what you would want especially when your priorities may change with age and disease?  Will your choices at age 40 be the same as at age 85?

We will be exploring these questions during a 4-part series of classes starting this Sunday, April 8 at 4 p.m.  Each class will be an hour and a half.  Child care can be requested by contacting adulted@blacksburgpres.org.  Topics will be discussed in sequence, so you are encouraged to attend all four classes, but all are welcome, regardless.

We will be discussing what health care choices look like today, Advance Medical Directives, POST orders, DNR’s, “the conversation”, how to select your health care proxy and much more.  We hope you will join us!

Anne and Greg Campbell

Scripture Readings:
John 20:19-31
Acts 4:32-35

March 28th, 2018

The business meetings of PC(USA) churches always make me proud to be Presbyterian. I can remember sitting through after-worship meetings as a child as the congregation nominated and voted for officers or other matters. Those meetings were my first hands-on experience of democracy. Such an opportunity is coming up again for the children and members of BPC.
There will be a called Congregational Meeting after worship on Sunday April 8th for the purpose of 1) electing officers to the Class of 2021 and 2) gifting the land at the corner of Church Street and Hemlock to NRV Habitat for Humanity to be used for affordable townhomes.
I trust by now you have read many times about the project to build seven townhomes on the land across from our parking lot. The need for affordable housing in Blacksburg for families with lower incomes is great. Our gift of the land makes an in-town project possible for Habitat, who will sell or lease the townhomes. All seven townhomes will offer three bed-rooms. The two end units will be life-span units, meaning the master will be on the main floor. They will face Church Street with a parking lot behind and one exit onto Hemlock. They units will be designated “low-wealth” properties for 50 years, and Habitat will own the mortgages or be the leasing agent if any of the units are rented.   
The process has been unfolding for almost two years. Session began by discussing whether giving the land was in keeping with the mission of the church; and agreed it is. They then met with Habitat Director Shelley Fortier to discuss the project, and ultimately voted unanimously to proceed with the gift. Because PC(USA) churches hold land in trust for the denomination, Session then petitioned the Presbytery of the Peaks to approve the gift. The plan went first to the Peaks Presbytery Trustees. The Trustees then recommended that Presbytery approve the gift. The vote of the Presbytery took place, coincidentally, here in our sanctuary last November.
Meanwhile, Habitat applied to the Town of Blacksburg for special zoning. Hearings were held for neighbors and the plan went before the Planning Commission in January and, this month, Town Council. At each step the idea has met with enthusiastic support and gratitude that BPC’s gift can make the project possible. Habitat also applied to HUD for a federal HOME grant to pay for the majority of the build. Word that a grant of $800,000 has been approved came last week. It is part of the 2019 federal budget, however, so nothing is certain until after that budget is approved.
On our end, the final step is the vote by, you, the congregation to approve gifting the deed to Habitat, who need to hold the deed in order to receive the HOME grant. There are also some steps required by Virginia law that Greg Campbell will shepherd for us. The whole process has felt Spirit-filled and Spirit-fueled thus far! Join in with your presence April 8th, and if you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to share them. Let’s make meaningful memories for our children.


Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings
Isaiah 25:6-9
Mark 16:1-8

March 21st, 2018

All of a sudden a host of people seem to be moving. Church members Janice Woodard and Neal Boyd have just moved to The Crossings, leaving homes of long-standing. Letting go of all kinds of things that no longer fit or that they no longer need, they’ve down-sized into spaces more suited to their abilities, and into the hands of people prepared to help them with daily tasks. My neighbor Mary—the kind of neighbor you can laugh with or cry to—has spent the last three weekends emptying her house just doors from mine. She is starting a new life in a new town with a new job and soon, a new husband. I will be emptying her refrigerator for her in a few hours. And former BPC members Jonathan and Angela Anderson are moving back to Blacksburg with their three children in a matter of weeks, so Angela can begin her new faculty position, news that made my day when I heard it.

These comings and goings have confirmed for me that despite our best-laid plans, life is ever mutable. Some days we mourn the loss of things that were; some days we embrace the new—new settings, new starts, and new or even renewed friendships. Or we had best embrace it. Stasis is the only impossibility.

Jesus wondered last week if God might not take the looming cross away, but this week he is jumping on a donkey and moving into Jerusalem come what may. It’s a journey he is determined to take. Praise God that he did not opt for sameness, traveling away from Jerusalem instead of toward it. He could have done well as an itinerant rabbi and healer. Most of the disciples might have come along; after all, they were a traveling band already. Then nothing would have changed. Nothing.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading
Psalm 118:1-2; 19-29
Mark 11:1-11
Philippians 2:5-11


March 14th, 2018

A new season of adult education is about to begin. Have you considered giving yourself the gift of Christian learning? With TED talks and countless resources on the internet, attendance at Christian Education events is lower and lower across denominations. But a TED talk, a session at your computer, or a TV documentary cannot give you a key aspect of life in the body of Christ: relationship. Learning in community, hearing what other Christians have felt and thought, sharing laughter and frustration with each other can enrich the journey of faith immeasurably.

You know this, and have probably pondered getting to church in time for a class that interests you. Do it. God speaks to us through one another, and through the thoughts that come to us in interactions that seem quite ordinary, but are Spirit-filled. Let me urge the parents of young children in particular to get involved. Is there really anything you want to give your child more than the memory of you as a man or woman of faith?

A new class is starting up called the Bible from Scratch. It is perfect for anyone who wants to know the Bible better, or simply feel more comfortable with reading and interpreting scripture. And if you are already comfortable with these things, come and be a gift to others. Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

March 7th, 2018

 4th century silver coin with labyrinth

4th century silver coin with labyrinth

Last week Paul told his church in Corinth to give up the wisdom of the world and rely on the foolishness of God. Some people may think labyrinths belong on the foolish list. Why take a walk that goes in a circle to nowhere and back again? What good can it possibly do? Yet labyrinths have been used by many cultures for decoration and meditation for centuries and have a renewed place in Christian worship and prayer.

For the unfamiliar, a labyrinth is a maze pattern that can decorate objects or a wall, be traced with your finger or be large enough to be walked on a floor. Some cultures used labyrinths to confuse “evil” spirits and thus keep them from entering sacred places. For Christians labyrinths are prayer paths that clarify rather than confuse. You can take an issue to God in prayer on such a walk and listen for guidance, or simply feel God’s comforting presence.

The earliest known Christian Labyrinth is in a fourth century church in Algeria. Around the year 1000 CE they began to be built into church walls and floors, the most famous being that labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. They may have come into use as alternatives to making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, something not many had the means to do. Pilgrims could “walk” the labyrinth on their knees while praying.

Our canvas labyrinth is designed for walking and will be set up in the back end of Fellowship Hall for two weeks this year, from the fifth Sunday of Lent until Easter. We are adding some elements to help enrich the experience. Why take a walk to “nowhere” and back? Because God in God’s foolishness thinks “nowhere” is a fine place to meet. 

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading:
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

March 1st, 2018

Mid Week Musing

We are well into Lent now. Sadly, this is one of those years when I am not doing a good job of opening myself to Lent’s disciplines. There are signs of the Holy Spirit’s work all around me, yet I feel myself holding back. Why? The usual reasons. I’ve been busy with sermons, bulletins, funerals, visits, the Elder Nomination process, and—ironically—a retreat. Sunday through Friday in particular of late have been one big rush. When I’m not working It’s hard to find time in the day for Lenten reading, yah, yah yah.

I know full well, of course, that these excuses are thin. Yet I offer them in case you are in a similar place. In his sermon at St. Mary’s last night, Joe Racek, pastor at New life, offered some wisdom from Dallas Willard. Hurry, said Willard, is the enemy of God’s presence. Simply taking time to stop and look around you can open the heart to the nearness of God. Not only do I know this, I spoke about it at the women’s retreat. But knowing a thing and doing it consistently are not the same.

So, I invite you and myself to “begin” opening up to the gifts of Lent. The time between now and Good Friday is going to be the same no matter how we use it. Let’s slow down.


Peace, Catherine

Scripture Reading:
Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

February 21st, 2018

Mid Week Musing

Rob and I will be heading over to Luther Memorial Lutheran tonight at 5:30 for supper and staying to worship afterward. Not having to fix supper on Wednesday in Lent is a help. Being able to worship in other sanctuaries is even better, since ministers in particular don’t get many chances to worship outside our own churches.

The theme this year comes from the story in Matthew 25 in which Jesus blesses the followers who cared for him through their care for neighbors who were hungry, homeless, poor, sick or in prison. I was assigned the last slot, the one about those who are in prison. I been thinking about how to approach the word “prison.” I could concentrate on actual prisoners. The United States has 4.4 percent of the world's population, but a quarter of the world's prisoners. Americans are locked up for crimes—from writing bad checks to using drugs—that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. We also keep people in prison longer than other nations do. So the sermon could look at the forces that have led us as a nation to be so prison-prone.

But there are many other kinds of prisons, some of which I have spent time in. There is the prison of small-minded-ness. The prison of limited experience of the world beyond our borders. The prison of needing other’s approval, or the far more terrifying prison of living with someone it is dangerous to upset or annoy. There is the prison of only associating with people whose ideas do not challenge yours at all, and the prison of self-consciousness, which puts you at the center of a universe that is in fact not concerned with you at all. The metaphors go on and on.

Because Lent is essentially about liberation, looking at the prisons around us can be fruitful in many ways. If you have thoughts to share, just get in touch. Meanwhile, join me in walking the world thinking about freedom in new ways.


Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings for the week:
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

February 15th, 2018

Mid Week Musing

With my first service behind me, I would like to thank everyone for their generous outpouring of welcome and hospitality this past Sunday.  It was an honor to be a part of such an energetic service.  I am already impressed by the many programs that nurture this congregation and serve the community, and I am excited to share in these ministries.

For the past 33 years I have served two churches, Episcopal and Lutheran, as organist, choir director and liturgist, being guided for the most part by the Book of Common Prayer.   To leave that tradition is a bit daunting, but I remind myself that the role of music remains constant, regardless of the worship tradition.  Music illumines the word and unites us in common praise.  In the words of the hymn When in our Music God is Glorified,How often, making music, we have found a new dimension in the world of sound, as worship moved us to a more profound Alleluia.”  I look forward to exploring those dimensions with you!

I would like to personally invite each of you to be a part of the music ministry at BPC.  Our Children’s Choir, A Joyful Noise!, is open to students in Kindergarten through 5th grade and rehearses Sunday mornings at 10 am.  Our handbell choir rehearses at 5:45 on Wednesday evening and we are currently looking for additional ringers.  The handbell choir is open to high school students and adults; music reading is required.  The BPC Choir is open to high school students and adults and rehearses on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 and sings for the 10:30 worship service on Sundays.  New singers are always welcome!  For additional information, please feel free to speak with me after worship or contact me via email at Steve@blacksburgpres.org.

Steve Lawrence
Director of Music/Organist

Scripture Readings for the Week:
Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

February 7th, 2018

Mid Week Musing: UKirk


According to its mission statement, UKirk Ministry at Virginia Tech aspires to provide opportunities for “mission activities, locally and globally.” For decades, students have traveled widely, to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti.  They have traveled to New York City, Washington, Atlanta, Bay St Louis, Louisville, and New Orleans. And they have traveled to many places in our home state:  Richmond, southwest Virginia coal mining towns, Prince Edward County where public schools were closed to avoid integration, and Jonesville in Lee County.  They have served, advocated, lobbied, studied, discerned, worked, restored, and tried to be the hands of Jesus in the world.

Twenty years ago, the first chili cook-off was held to raise funds for these trips, which are a highlight of the campus ministry year for many students. In those twenty years, we have tasted many kinds of chili, some of which have won awards for “Spiciest”, “Most Original”, or “Champion”.  We have consumed untold pans of cornbread and enjoyed countless homemade desserts.  We have played trivia games and bid on silent auction items.  We have met students and members from the other congregations who labor in this mission field with us.


Please join us on February 11 at 5:30 pm, as we celebrate 20 years of doing mission together.  Bring your taste buds, your checkbook, and your heart for serving our Lord Jesus Christ, as we send our students out once again to do his work in the world.

Suzanne Sanford

Scripture Reading for the Week
2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

January 31st, 2018

With Our Hands: A Creative Spiritual Retreat


I can almost hear folks asking, “What does that mean?”  We are all given gifts by God, and we glorify God as we work, teach, play, and care for others. This creative retreat is another way to consider our gifts and honor God.  Our medium happens to be 3-D collage. 

Since the real purpose of this retreat is to spend time thinking about your faith journey, we will begin and end with devotions. WHO nurtures you; who do you nurture in return? WHAT brings you joy? WHERE do you look for inspiration? WHEN have you experienced stages of growth, challenge, stagnation, or faith-building? HOW do you express your gifts? WHY is that important? 

The bulk of the retreat on Friday evening and Saturday will offer Open Studio time in Fellowship Hall. Each person will choose from a variety of wooden cigar boxes. Then, layer upon layer of photos, words, paint, paper, and trinkets will come together to reveal some of what is important to you and your faith. A large selection of objects will be available, and you may bring small significant items to include in your piece. Some of us communicate well through words, song, or dance. This time, we will worship God with our hands. 

Visual arts allow creators and viewers to share memories, make associations, and find meaning. While there will be a ‘finished product’, the emphasis will definitely be on the process. So, ALL levels of artistic ability are welcome! 

Come to BPC on Friday, March 2nd at 7:00-9:00 PM and Saturday, March 3rd at 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. Age recommendation is 6th grade and up. Register at the Welcome Window in the Gathering Space. Cost is $15 by Feb. 25, or $20 at the door. Childcare will be available on Friday evening by request (by Feb. 14). Snacks and supplies provided, but bring your own lunch. At 1:00 PM on Saturday there will be a guided Art Walk around BPC which is open to anyone. Bring a friend!


Susan Hunter

Scripture Reading for the Week
Isaiah 40:21-31
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
1 Corinthains 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

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

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 3.01.13 PM.png

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.