November 14th, 2018

Kendra has put together a Gratitude bulletin board in the Gathering Space. On it are some of the “treasure” cards filled out last Sunday during worship. Before you journey to your various Thanksgiving meals next week, you might want to take time to read some of what fellow disciples are most thankful for at church.

Meanwhile, here is a poem about having a holy awareness of life’s gifts by Anne Sexton from her book The Awful Rowing Toward God. 

Peace, Catherine

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning,
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.


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Scripture Readings for November 18, 2018
1 Samuel 1:4-20
1 Samuel 2:1-10
Hebrews 10:11-25
Mark 13:1-8


Gingerbread Bakers Needed

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The 14th Annual Gingerbread Potluck is December 5th from 5:30-7pm. We need several volunteers to make gingerbread. You can pick up a copy of the recipe from the Welcome Window in the Gathering Space or click below. Please put all gingerbread in the freezer in the kitchen by Sunday, December 2nd.

November 7th, 2018

Throughout my career in ministry I have written blurbs for weekly emails, newsletter articles, letters, brochure copy, prayers, and sermons on stewardship. Throughout I have tried to say things that are compelling, that will convince people to let go of fear and experience the peace that comes from generous giving. During all this time I have been learning about giving myself, doing better sometimes than others at following my own advice.

Here at the end of my formal career is my last such invitation, for invitation is the right word. Life in Christ is an invitation to live freely and confidently before God. Confident that God is at work in the world despite what seems contrary evidence in the news. Confident that Christ’s Spirit is moving even now in ways unseen but invincible. God is generous and we can be generous, too. Before long generosity becomes its own positive feedback loop, in which we give without fear that giving will cost us, and instead experience an even deeper sense of security.

That may sound preposterous just now, when so many are worried about the divisions and incivility in our national life. But such has always been the way of the world; believe me: you will always have the option to live in a world of woe.

Generosity is the hallmark of the citizens of God’s realm, the only permanent reality. Such citizenship is wildly, wonderfully freeing. It’s also life giving—of course it is—because it is Spirit-filled and Spirit led. So let us enjoy our true citizenship to the fullest. Let’s give now and always.

Grace upon grace,

Catherine


Scripture Readings for November 11, 2018
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
Psalm 127
Hebrews 9:24-28
Mark 12:38-44

October 31st, 2018

If you were not with us last Sunday, you have a treat in store. There is a treasure chest in the Narthex. It’s filled with photographs of people engaged in ministry with BPC. The theme for this year’s stewardship campaign is “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” from Matthew 6:21, so the photos are all heart-shaped. As I said in last Sunday’s sermon, they are not pictures of people “doing church activities.” They are pictures of belonging to God and each other. That is the true treasure of BPC.

The stewardship ministry team is hoping you will stop by the treasure chest and take time to look at the photos. You may well come across one of you or a family member. The team hasn’t discussed it yet, but it occurred to me that at the end of the campaign we should invite people to take home pictures of themselves. But what interests me most is the heart-shaped basket beside the treasure chest. It’s there for you to drop in a card saying what you treasure most about BPC. Thinking about that is a helpful way to discern if our giving to the church is in keeping with the gifts we receive here.

The statements on the cards dropped in the basket so far are what we might expect:: “The outreach’, “The cloud of witnesses who help me develop my faith in God”, “The wonderful music”, “The diversity of mission projects”, “The fabulous artwork”…What would your statement be?

Toward peace, Catherine


Don’t forget to set your clocks back 1 hour on Saturday night!


Scripture Readings for November 4, 2018
Ruth 1:1-18
Psalm 146
Hebrews 9:11-14
Mark 12:28-34


During worship on All Saints Sunday, November 4th, we will read the names of BPC members and loved ones who have died in the past 12 months. To submit a name, please call the Church Office, 552-2504, or email Office Manager Sherry Ingham at sherry@blacksburgpres.org by Wednesday October 31st. Please provide help with pronunciation.

October 24th, 2018

At a called meeting last Sunday, the Session appointed an outstanding five-member Transition Team to guide BPC through next steps surrounding my retirement. They are Martha Dillard, Dave Hayes, Peggy Kincaid, Chris Lawrence, and Heather Polikoff.

The Transition Team’s first task will be to search for an interim pastor, a job that can begin right away. They have scheduled their first meeting, and will doubtless keep the congregation well-apprised of their activities and progress. Be on the lookout for communications, and perhaps a page on the church website where you can stay up to date with their activities. Meanwhile, if you or a family member knows of a skilled interim you’d like to recommend, please give the name to any member of the Team.  Most importantly be in prayer for each of them. Despite other commitments they have said “yes” to an important job at an important time in the life of BPC.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings:
Job 42:1-6, 10-17
Psalm 34:1-8 (19-22)
Hebrews 7:23-28
Mark 10:46-52


Necrology

During worship on All Saints Sunday, November 4th, we will read the names of BPC members and loved ones who have died in the past 12 months. To submit a name, please call the Church Office, 552-2504, or email Office Manager Sherry Ingham at sherry@blacksburgpres.org by Wednesday October 31st. Please provide help with pronunciation.

October 18th, 2018

Many people have worked diligently to prepare for this Sunday's Smyth Lecture Series. The series was established in 1982 to honor the ministries of former pastor Ellison Smyth and wife Mary Linda. The intent is to bring nationally and internationally known scholars and church leaders to Blacksburg, and the list of those who have been included over the years is impressive. The visit this weekend by John Philip Newell continues that tradition. His work in the field of Celtic Christianity has played a significant role in the world-wide reemergence of Celtic worship, liturgy, music and prayer. In addition to being a scholar, Newell is a poet, composer, author, theologian and member of the Iona community. We are expecting many guests from around the region to travel to Blacksburg to hear him preach and speak.

Steve and I have fashioned a worship service in keeping with Newell's topic. The hymns and other music come from the Celtic nations of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The contributions of cellist Ben Wyatt and tenor soloist Brain Thorset are reason enough to be present. The two evening lectures will also take place in the context of worship, with an opening hymn and opening and closing prayers. Our thanks to the volunteers who will be on hand to help visitors find their way in the building. We could use a few more people to greet at the doors, so if you are willing, let in the Church Office know. Most of all be sure not to miss Sunday worship and two lectures that promise to deepen your practice of faith.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings:
Genesis 1:26-31
Luke 6:27-36


BPC Was on the News!

Catherine did an interview with WDBJ-7 late yesterday afternoon about the Habitat groundbreaking. Click the link to watch the segment that aired last night.


Habitat for Humanity Takes on Big Project

October 10th, 2018

NRV Habitat for Humanity is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on our old property! That’s right, they are close to starting construction on the land we gifted to them for low income townhomes. The first stages will be leveling the land (which has quite a slope to it) and dealing with the drainage. Seeing this long-dreamed of project begin is very exciting.

With all this happening outside our door, instead of hosting our own Fallapalooza event, we’ll be supporting the Habitat Groundbreaking Festival on October 20th from 1-4pm. A portion of Church Street will be cordoned off and a stage setup for musicians. We’ll host a pumpkin carving station and offer support in other ways, including opening the building for restroom access. If you would like to help with the event, please contact Kendra Crabtree, at kendra@blacksburgpres.org. The formal Ground Breaking Ceremony is scheduled for 3:30pm. We anticipate it being a large event.

Some of the plans include pumpkin rolling, assembling bird houses, a sledge hammer challenge, drive a nail challenge, and bobbing for apples. There will be booths where you can see the town house plans, and learn more about Habitat’s mission. Many other churches and community members will be sponsoring a number of booths and games.

So bring your pumpkin or buy one at the event to support the project. Come enjoy the fun and learn more about Habitat, while giving thanks to God for what our gift has made possible.

Peace, Catherine


 Scripture Readings:
Job 23:1-9, 16-17
Psalm 22:1-15
Hebrews 4:12-16
Mark 10:17-31

October 3rd, 2018

In just a few weeks we will be hosting the Reverend Dr. John Philip Newell as our 2018 Smyth Lecturer. Newell is a renowned faith leader and scholar, and the office is already getting phone calls from out of town folks who plan to come to Blacksburg to hear him speak. We will be selling several of his books and hosting receptions after each of his evening lectures. He will also be our preaching that Sunday morning and will have lunch with the Creation Care Team after worship.

We want to be well-prepared to be good hosts and offer a warm welcome to our many visitors. Volunteers are needed to help the visit go smoothly, including people to usher, direct cars both nights, greet at the doors, give directions inside the building, sell books, guide folks to the book signing, and help with post-lecture receptions on Sunday and Monday nights.

Many hands make light work. If you are available to help, please sign up below. We look forward to Dr. Newell’s time with us and the new learning and fellowship that will result.

Peace, Catherine


Smyth Series, October 21-22

To see what volunteer opportunities there are please click the link below. If you have trouble signing up or if you have any questions please contact Kendra Crabtree, kendra@blacksburgpres.org or call the church office at 540-552-2504.


Scripture Readings
Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Pslam 26
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16

September 26th, 2018

We are coming up on the last of our Global Missions Sundays. All are invited to a free lunch after worship for any who wish to stay, prepared by PJGM team member Ranae Gilly. It will be set up at the far end of Fellowship Hall. A brief presentation will be offered to give you an idea of what is happening with our global mission partners.

These Sundays have been a great build up to World Communion Sunday on October 7th, when we and Christians in many other nations around the world will along be feasting at Christ’s table. Steve and I have picked wonderful world music, and, as in prior years, the country of origin will be listed in the bulletin for each piece.

We have a tradition here at BPC of inviting worshipers to wear clothing from around the service that Sunday. If you have exotic garb from your own travels, or a snappy scarf you can drape over your shoulders, feel free to wear it to worship and be prepared to share where it came from. Ironically, much of our everyday clothing is made in Vietnam or Bangladesh; we wear world garb every day. But World Communion Sunday is a good day to dress in the colors and traditions of our global neighbors. So dig into the chest of closet, sew up that seam, and join in celebrating the wondrous diversity of God’s people.

 

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
Psalm 124
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

September 19th, 2018

Remember a few weeks back when we shared the news that the church has purchased a new digital piano for the choir room? This Sunday Steve Lawrence will introduce it after worship.

We are planning to roll the piano into the hallway off the Gathering Space, where Steve play and let us hear some of the different instruments the piano can voice, including harpsichord, organ, and strings. It shouldn’t interfere with fellowship (or cookie munching), but those who want to come over for a closer look (mind your cookie crumbs) can ask Steve questions and learn what our newest musical instrument can do.

The first digital pianos were specialized versions of 1980s synthesizers. Synthesizers could produce a staggering array of sounds, including acoustic piano. That led to the digital pianos of today. Our instrument has a computer that allows Steve to program various options—none of which I have the expertise to describe. So come and meet the instrument on Sunday, and let Steve fill you in.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
Proverbs 31:10-31
Psalm 1
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37


BPC Feed the Flock - UKirk

Once a month, BPC provides the meal for UKirk's weekly Tuesday gatherings. The next one is October 2nd. We would love for you to participate by providing a dish or element for the meal.

Click the link below for more details and to sign up!

Can't help in October? The November meal needs are on there as well and it's the Thanksgiving meal on November 13th.

If you have any questions, contact University Ministry Chair, Karen Watson at university@blacksburgpres.org

September 12th, 2018

WEATHER PLAN

Currently, Hurricane Florence is expected to bring us heavy rainfall and high winds starting this weekend. As with any severe weather that could affect Sunday School, Worship, and Youth Group, we will make a decision by 8am on Sunday Morning.

While we don’t expect to cancel, on Sunday morning you can check the website, Facebook group, and your email for information.  


For the next three Sundays we will be emphasizing global mission in worship. As last year, we are not going to lift up the primary places where BPC is involved overseas: Guatemala, Malawi and Bangladesh. Instead we are looking at three themes and how they impact people everywhere. This week’s theme is education. The following week we’ll consider disaster relief, and the emphasis for the final week will be advocacy.

As ever when we plan things far ahead, the Holy Spirit is way out in front of us! The Lectionary scripture for this Sunday (education) reads “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” The disaster assistance theme is falling the week immediately after a major hurricane makes landfall in the US. The emphasis on advocacy comes in a week when the Lectionary text has to do with Jesus approval of all who do deeds in his name.

I look forward to opening up these themes in the weeks ahead, and discovering what God will disclose.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
Proverbs 1:20-33
Psalm 19
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

September 5th, 2018

When I discovered the Enneagram in 2011 I had no choice in the matter. I was sitting in a classroom with 25 other souls, all on different paths, with the same ultimate goal: to be as prepared as one can be to enter into a life of service to others for the sake of love. I simply would not be the person I have become (and am becoming) without the Enneagram. It has informed how I understand myself in ways I could not communicate otherwise, which, wouldn’t you know it, is indicative of the Enneagram “type” I discovered I am.

What sets the Enneagram apart from other “personality tests” is there is no actual test. The greatness of the Enneagram lies in the responsibility of the individual to the journey of self-awareness. After the fear of really looking at your true self comes the joy you discover about the image of God in which you were made.

 But what exactly is the Enneagram? Well, I’ll let Suzanne Stabile, co-author of the book The Road Back to You (which we will be using in this five week workshop,) tell you:

“Ignorance is bliss―except in self-awareness. What you don’t know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships―and even keep you in the shallows with God. Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you’re stuck in the same ruts?

The Enneagram is an ancient personality type system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired, both positively and negatively. In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you will also start to see the world through other people’s eyes, understanding how and why people think, feel, and act the way they do. Beginning with changes you can start making today, the wisdom of the Enneagram can help take you further along into who you really are―leading you into places of spiritual discovery you would never have found on your own, and paving the way to the wiser, more compassionate person you want to become.”

Kendra Crabtree
Director of Communications and Church Life at BPC

The Enneagram Workshop will take place on 5 consecutive Mondays, 7-8:30pm, in Westminster Library at BPC starting September 10th. If you wish to join us grab a copy of the book and email facilitator Kendra Crabtree at kendra@blacksburgpres.org.

The study guide will be provided.


Scripture Readings:
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
Psalm 125
James 2:1-10 (11-13) 14-17
Mark 7:24-37

August 29th, 2018

The term “politically correct” has always made me cringe. Ways of speaking about others that fit their experience of themselves are respectful, not “politically correct.” We use appropriate terms for people we admire (mom, dad, teachers, mentors, friends) because they matter to us, not simply to be “seen as” speaking correctly. People we know less well ought to matter to us too, enough for us to use the terms they prefer.

So I cringed yesterday while reading Anxious to Talk About It, Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Racism. The author was writing with compassion about people who feel frustrated (and perhaps embarrassed) for not knowing the current words for various groups, especially when the preferred terms change. It was not a perspective that had occurred to me, even though I struggle myself at times to keep up with preferred terms. A major emphasis of the book is helping people see other points of view and stick with conversations that make us cringe, enough to honor each other by staying engaged.

The class on the book began last Sunday, and copies ($20) are still available, a small price given the racial tensions around us today. Those who don’t want to read the book, you are still welcome to come and take part in the conversation. I look forward to learning more myself about how to stay engaged and live up to my faith in the One who breaks down barriers.   

 

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
Song of Solomon 2:8-13
Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9
James 1:17-27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

August 22, 2018

With all that is going on in the world, have you been thinking about getting involved in a mission or want to support a new cause?   The Peace, Justice, and Global Mission Ministry would like to empower you to get involved and can provide financial assistance to help you get started!

We (PJGM) recognize and want to encourage the “shift” that is happening in BPC as members of the church shift their identity to disciples of Jesus, worshiping together.  The PJGM budget is increased so that, as BPC-based disciples feel led to participate in acts of Peace making, Justice building, or other acts of bringing the Good News of God’s love to others, we will be able to encourage them with a small financial support. We have developed the PJGM Disciple Identity Grants to support activities such as:

  • gas money to attend a rally, 
  • buying materials for letter writing or poster making,
  • giving a little extra support to an international project you are passionate about
  • or simply putting together an encouraging “care package” for someone

As an example, PJGM donated $100 towards the expenses for the March For Our Lives: Road to Change Town Hall Meeting at the Lyric Theater that was held on August 2nd.  We believe that gun violence is a peace justice issue and has become a public health epidemic in America.  By supporting this event, the PJGM committee sought to follow Psalm 34:14: “Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Share your “mission” with us, we’d love to hear about it and support you, financially and prayerfully, if we can. To request these funds please provide a brief description of what you are doing, or hope to do, and send your requests to pjgm@blacksburgpres.org. We will then follow up with you.

Peace,

The Peace, Justice, and Global Mission Ministry


Scripture Readings:
1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43
Psalm 84
Ephesians 6:10-20
John 6:56-69

August 15th, 2018

Tonight at 7:00 the Adult Choir will reconvene for rehearsals. We have enjoyed various singers and instrumentalists through the summer, but as of Sunday the Choir will once again be leading worship each week. Look for young faces from the Virginia Tech music department and other students of every age, all of whom are welcome.

When the Choir gathers tonight they will be greeted by a new digital Kawai piano. The spinet the Choir had used for years could no longer hold its tuning, and was so loud a sheet of drywall had to be attached to the back to keep the choir from cringing! The new piano never needs to be tuned, can sound like a harpsichord or an organ, and can record what Steve plays, then play it back. That means he can record an accompaniment for the men to work on, while working with the women on something else. It’s also portable, so it can come down to the sanctuary when a harpsichord or other complimentary instrument is needed.

The technology for digital pianos has come a long way. The keys are the same length as those of our grand piano in the sanctuary (also a Kawai) and have the same “feel” when pressed. The smaller size makes them ideal for smaller spaces. Our instrument was paid for with undesignated memorial funds used with the permission of the family.

If you’ve been thinking about singing with the choir, plan to be here Wednesday. You would be especially welcome since some of our singers are still away on summer trips. And don’t be surprised one Sunday in September to find Steve playing in the Gathering Space after worship so we can all meet BPC’s newest musical instrument.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

August 8th, 2018

If you have a longer-term memory of BPC picnics in summers past, or if you would enjoy an outdoor gathering with your church family, we have the event for you!  On Sunday, August 26, at 4:30 pm, we are holding our End of Summer Shindig!  We will gather at Nancy and Rick Furr’s house on Southgate Drive (between the Huckleberry Trail bridge and campus).  They have a great flat backyard perfect for lawn chairs and lawn games.  So bring your chairs or blankets and gather for an evening outdoors with good food, good friends of all ages, and fun times!

At 4:30, those of us who wish will meet at the Furrs’ house and head over into the nearby Stadium Woods for a nature walk with Jeff Kirwan, who is a retired VT forestry professor who was one of the surveyors of the trees there several years ago, helping to discover that they were a few hundred years older than was thought.  Jeff is also experienced in and committed to leading young children in learning about big trees and how to appreciate and care for them.  Join Jeff to learn about an old-growth forest ecosystem.

After the walk (around 5:30), we will gather for picnic food and games on the lawn.  In the interest of conservation and sustainability, we are encouraging everyone to bring their own reusable dinnerware, including spoons and extra cups for ice cream.  (We will have some extra supplies for those who forget.) We will have some lawn games set up, but if you have a favorite, please bring it along!

This event is jointly sponsored by the Fellowship Ministry and the Creation Care Team.


Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm 130
Ephesians 4:25-5:2
John 6:35, 41-51


August 1st, 2018

Many of us have attended a wedding over the summer, and I get to take part in one for a dear friend this weekend. They are such happy occasions, full of good hope for the future that spills out over everyone. For those who have been or will attend a wedding soon, or those who appreciate timeless image, here is a 13th century Persian poem to enjoy.

Peace, Catherine

            A Moment of Happiness

A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden's beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.

Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1270)


Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Psalm 51:1-12
Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35

July 25th, 2018

Last Spring when we recognized teachers in worship, 56 people stood up. How wonderful that such a large percentage of the church is actively engaged in Christian education. The number who stood that morning could have been even larger, since some teachers were away that day. It takes a lot of us to support the classes and experiences for children, adults and youth that we offer at BPC. You can be one of those people, too.

 Preschool Classroom

Preschool Classroom

The main requirement for teaching children is to help them feel loved in this place by the adults around them and by God, not mastery of the Bible or a sense that your own discipleship is inspiring. No one should let such false assumptions get in the way of being with BPC’s wonderful kids. A solid curriculum is already in place; no one needs to come up with lesson plans or material on their own. The curriculum follows the lectionary, so what happens in the classroom is reinforced in worship. Teachers rotate responsibilities, so it is possible to be away if need be.

 Some of our youth

Some of our youth

We are looking for mentors for our confirmands, too. The requirement there is a willingness to spend time with a young person and share how being a person of faith has impacted your life. The confirmands will make faith statements to the Session in the Spring, and it is always moving to hear each mentor introduce the young person they have come to know. This year we’ll be looking for five or six men and women to partner with our Middle Schoolers. PCUSA has an excellent new confirmation curriculum this year that we’ll be using.

The life of faith is all about relationships. What better way to get to know each other and our children than in the classes and gatherings where we pass on our faith? Below is a list of the classes we offer. Please take a look and ask yourself if you have love to share.

Preschool, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Middle School, High School, Confirmation, and Youth Group.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 11:1-15
Psalm 14
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21

July 18th, 2018

I am now a gosling. A member of the Wild Goose Festival tribe forever. It doesn’t take long to see why more people flock to this festival every year. You are there and so you are family. The Wild Goose Festival is an art, music, and story-driven transformational experience grounded in faith-inspired social justice that takes place annually in Hot Springs, NC during the hottest month of the year. To really understand all that it encapsulates is to experience it.

Over the course of two and a half days there are over 400 presentations to choose from. From the Main Stage, I heard Barbara Brown Taylor, Jen Hatmaker, Peter Enns, Diana Butler Bass, Otis Moss III and the Trinity Church of Christ in Chicago choir. In the Living Room Tent I learned the history of the Evangelical and Mainline traditions, and where they began to diverge from one another, and how not to repeat the mistakes of our history. And I heard from Lisbeth Melendez-Rivera, the Religion and Faith Program’s Director of Latino and Catholic Initiatives for the Human Rights Campaign, about the history of the church and Puerto Rico, her home. It was like drinking from a fire hose. And those are just a handful of workshops and presentations that I was able to take in. I ran into friends from years ago and made new ones as I camped under the stars by the river.

Wild Goose is a place for all. There is art all over the camp ground to remind you of your worth. There is a spirit of truth and authenticity that, I believe, makes it a thin place. A place where your connection to the divine on earth is so palpable you can simply cannot miss it. At the Main Stage was a large weathered board with Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese painted on it. I will leave it here for you.

Kendra Crabtree

Director of Communications and Church Life

 

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear blue air,

are headed home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

July 11th, 2018

The Health department has given us a go-ahead on the work in the kitchen with the understanding that there are still some hoops to jump through. Headstart has to provide some needed certificates and a Building Official and Fire Marshal need to do a walk through. The certificates exist and we have regular inspections anyway, so we don’t expect obstacles.

We’d like to have one more work day, Monday July 16th, to get things out. Demolition can then begin—though we’ve learned by now not to announce dates! With the delay we may not get the kitchen finished before Headstart reopens, but everyone will work together no matter what. The result will be a refreshed, workable kitchen that meets the needs of all-comers, and that’s something to celebrate. 

Summer is the time for staff to do a little renovating, too; we are all taking continuing education of some sort. I took mine in April and spent a week as a General Assembly Commissioner in June. Kendra is at the Wild Goose Festival now, along with church members Sarah Windes, Scott and Melanie Smith and Elva Miller. She’ll be back in the office next week. Susan Hunter is heading to Montreat all next week, and Music Director Steve Lawrence is heading to England on Friday to sing in a choir then take a short vacation. By the end of summer we and our surroundings should all be refreshed.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings
2 Samuel 7:1-14a
Psalm 89:20-37
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

June 27th, 2018

Serving as a Commissioner to the 223rd General Assembly was an extraordinary experience. Picture men, women, college and seminary students and high schoolers gathering from every state and territory of the US: 538 Commissioners and 183 Advisory Delegates from 173 presbyteries. Then picture us with our various colored name badges and piles of documents filling the sidewalks and meeting rooms of an urban civic center and six adjacent hotels. The St. Louis civic center was so huge that one day I took 12,000 steps just walking from my hotel room to meetings and meals!

Every day was packed with worship, prayer, singing, hearings, debate, overtures, amendments, votes and shared meals at which the business of the assembly was often the ongoing topic. Mix that with seeing old friends from seminary and pastor colleagues from other towns while walking down almost any sidewalk or hallway. We would shriek, hug and hurry off to the next appointed gathering.

I have always been proud to be a Presbyterian, and this week made me even more grateful to God for our faithful company of witnesses. We debated many hard topics: immigration, whether to divest from companies that profit directly from business in the Gaza strip; the debtors prisons that arise when people accused of a crime but not yet tried have no money to post bail; the policy of separating children from their parents at the border (where it is not now, and never has been, illegal to present oneself to ask for asylum.)  These were only a few of the high-profile topics we as a church choose to act on or study. It was intense. It was moving. I cried during some part of each day—usually worship. And it was an incredible privilege.

You have an opportunity to hear more soon. PCUSA stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson, will be preaching and speaking at the next meeting of Peaks Presbytery, Saturday August 18, at Trinity Ecumenical Parish Church in Moneta. The other Peaks Commissioners and I will give our report. Given the size of our presbytery, it’s relatively close by should you want to attend and hear from our Stated Clerk and have your own micro GA experience. I will never forget mine.

Peace, Catherine


Scripture Readings:
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
Psalm 130
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43