May 15, 2019

Where is God?  God is in the air. We may not see it, but there are signs above us, below us, and around us all the time. But maybe we take that air and atmosphere for granted. What better way to call our attention to air and celebrate the holy breath of God than to worship God out of doors, enjoying God’s good creation?  This Sunday, May 19, our last Sunday of the Season of Creation, we will get to do just that: feeling the breeze, looking at the sky, hearing bird song and chimes carried on the wind, exploring in scripture, song, and prayer, God in the air. We will also formally welcome the class of new confirmands as full members into the church during this special service.  Rev. Dave Cozad will be preaching.

Our outdoor worship will take place under a tent on the lawn outside the front doors of the church. Chairs will be set up under the tent for worshipers, but you are welcome to bring a comfy camp chair or a blanket to sit on if you prefer and sunscreen is encouraged for sitting out in the sun.  There is handicapped access to this area so all may take part. Everyone is invited to come in casual clothes or to bring casual clothes to change into for the picnic afterwards.  Please bring a main dish or side dish to share for the picnic lunch.  A food truck will be in the parking lot for a surprise dessert!  PLEASE COME BE A PART OF THE CELEBRATION.

If rain threatens, we will move inside the sanctuary for the service.

“The spirit of God has made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)

Jama Hayes, Elder for Worship Ministry


Scripture Readings for May 15, 2019
2nd Sunday in our Season of Creation
Finding God in the World: Air
John 3:7-8
John 20:19-23

May 8, 2019

The BPC Endowment Committee is responsible for managing Blacksburg Presbyterian Church's endowment by overseeing its investments and establishing policies about how the resulting interest income should be spent each year.  In conjunction with the Endowment Committee, a separate Manna Team is convened each spring to represent the congregation in discerning how to distribute the current year’s available endowment income.  The Manna Team allocates some funds to existing ministry partners on an annual basis, in order to provide support for initiatives that have traditionally been important to BPC.  Most of the available funds, however, are allocated to funding new three-year projects, for which groups of congregational members and the organizations for whom the funds are intended may submit proposals.  These three-year projects are intended to reflect the original intent and philosophy of the General Endowment – to support significant new longer-term efforts that seek to share Christ’s love with the broader community around us.

Previous recipients of three-year grants include BPC’s Malawi Committee, to support tuition and fees for OB/GYN student Griffin Sombani, Access to Community College Education (ACCE) in Montgomery County, to help make community college education affordable for students in our area, and Sojourn Center, to provide support for a fund-raising campaign to build a hospice house on recently donated land near Warm Hearth.

Chris Zobel, the chair of the Endowment Committee (endowment@blacksburgpres.org), will be very glad to answer any questions about this year's proposal requirements or about the review process.


Scripture Readings for May 12, 2019
1st Sunday in our Season of Creation
Finding God in the World: Dirt
Genesis 2:4b-22
Luke 8:4-8, 11-15

May 1, 2019

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Beginning this Sunday, BPC will be observing a Season of Creation in worship for the first 3 Sundays of May.  This is the fifth year that we have observed a Season of Creation. During this time, we depart from the standard lectionary, choosing Earth Care themes and related Scripture passages.  The planning for this Season is done by a couple members of the Creation Care Team, one or two members of Worship Ministry, and the worship and music staff.  You may have heard that this year, for one Sunday, we will be worshiping outside in creation on Sunday, May 19.  It takes some effort to move everything outside for Sunday morning, but this year the planning group decided we were overdue for experiencing worship in an outdoor setting after being an Earth Care Congregation for five years!   The experience of actually being in nature with all our senses while honoring, celebrating, and making new promises to protect creation cannot be replicated inside a sanctuary.  We chose this particular Sunday for our outdoor service because there was an  end-of-the-year picnic already planned for that day, so we thought it would be good to put them together into one outdoor event!  There will be more details to come on this, as we get closer to May 19. 

Our theme this year is Finding God in the World: Water, Dirt and Air.  Our initial inspiration for this theme came from a book by Diana Butler Bass: Grounded: Finding God in the World - A Spiritual Revolution.  In this book, she addresses the ways that God is present in the things of earth, such as water, soil and air, and shows that how we envision God in the world affects how we treat those things.  Each week, we will focus on an important element in the world where we find God: May 5 - Water; May 12 - Dirt; and May 19 - Air.  There will be sensory materials to reinforce these things - visuals, sound, and things to touch if you wish.  In addition, as we have in previous years, we will provide some ideas for ways to protect water, dirt and air, so that we can act on our commitment to love and protect God’s good earth.  

This coming Sunday we think about finding God in the world through water.  Dave Cozad will be preaching.  May 12, Dave will be out of town, and Sarah Windes will be giving the sermon, with the theme being dirt.  Please join us!

Sarah Windes, Chair of Creation Care Team


Scripture Readings for May 5, 2019
1st Sunday in our Season of Creation
Finding God in the World: Water
Genesis 1:1-2, 6-7, 9-10
Genesis 7:11-12, 17-19
Psalm 104:10-16
Rev. 22:1-2

April 24, 2019

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For the past four years, it has been my honor to organize the Presbyterian Women Sunday Worship for our church.  Since our group likes to involve as many people as possible, at times it’s a bit of a puzzle to fill all the slots with our amazing women while trying to focus on the worship theme, lectionary, and music. The women of our church are truly amazing! They are creative and loyal and most of all loving. They are ready to volunteer for the work at hand (“Let’s start a collection for the Children’s Home of the Highlands!”), willing to tackle almost anything (“Do we really need 72 cupcakes?”), and so capable at what they do (“How about organizing a reception following the next memorial service?”).  No problem.

For those of you who don’t know, if you are a woman and a member of the Presbyterian Church, you are a Presbyterian Woman.  Some of us choose to be active in the organization of PW through participation in Circles within congregations. A Circle is a small group of women who gather regularly for fellowship, Bible study, and mission.  Our church has three Circles.  Faith which takes the lead in organizing our Together in Service Missions, and Hildegard and Lydia, which focus on leading the Alternative Gift Giving Opportunities and the Winterlude Retreat.  

BPC PW is a member of the Presbytery of the Peaks, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The organization is incredibly involved in a number of mission and advocacy issues. For over 200 years Presbyterian Women have joyfully expressed gratitude for God’s blessings by sharing their blessings with those in need at home and around the world.  The annual offerings fund programs that provide education, safe housing, clean water, health care, help for prisoners, justice for women, and so much more.

On Sunday we will be collecting for the PW Birthday Offering. There will be more information about the 2019 recipients in the bulletin. Yellow envelopes will be in the Pews, or you may write “PW Birthday” on the memo line of your check.  Our church has a rich heritage of giving to these special offerings. God has been faithful to us and we are called to faithfully respond. Give as you have been blessed, generously and as led by the Holy Spirit.

Mary Harder

BPC’s PW Moderator


Scripture Readings for April 28, 2019
2nd Sunday of Easter/PW Sunday
Acts 5:27-32
Psalm 150
Revelation 1:4-8
John 20:19-31

April 17, 2019

I am jumping us ahead to the day of celebration but I had to share this beautiful video. Let us be reminded that this week, as is true for all of the Season of Lent, this is where we are headed.

O Radiant Light, An Easter Acclamation.


Scripture Readings for April 21, 2019
Easter Sunday
Isaiah 65:17-25
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Luke 24:1-12

April 10, 2019

Every year we put out a table with a variety of Lenten Devotion booklets for folks to take home and use as part of their Lenten practices. The table will be up in the Narthex for one more week so you can take a devotion guide to use during Holy Week if you haven’t had a chance to pick one up yet. In “The Saving Passion” booklet the author takes inspiration from Henri J.M. Nouwen who was a Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian. Below is the reading for Palm Sunday. We hope you will join us in worship this week for Palm Sunday.

 

The Peak of His Popularity

The great crowd…took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” John 12:12-13

Jesus drank the cup of life. He experienced praise, adulation, admiration, and immense popularity. He also experienced rejection, ridicule, and mass hatred. At one moment people shouted “Hosanna”; a moment later they cried: “Crucify him.” Jesus took it all in, not as a hero adored and then vilified, but as the one who had come to fulfill a mission and who kept his focus on that mission whatever the responses were. (Can You Drink the Cup?, 88)


It was perhaps the peak of Jesus’ popularity. A great throng that had gathered for the Passover festival accompanied him into Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna” to the promised Messiah.

However, Jesus was headed to Jerusalem not to receive the praise of people but to receive a crown of thorns. Five days later, another crowd would be shouting “Crucify him!” And their voices prevailed. But through it all, Jesus kept his focus on his mission – to defeat the powers of darkness, so we might live in his light and peace forever.

As we journey through life toward our final destination, it is tempting to seek the praise, popularity and wealth which this world offers. Following Jesus may mean ridicule and rejection. But what we accomplish for him and his kingdom will be eternally worthwhile.


 Scripture Readings for April 14, 2019
Palm Sunday
Luke 19:28-40
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Philippians 2:5-11
Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

April 3, 2019

Traditionally, during Holy Week, we set up the Prayer Labyrinth in the far end of the Fellowship Hall. This year, we are doing things a little differently. Susan Hunter and I have put together several prayer stations throughout the building. They are in the Prayer Room, Westminster Library, Hatcher Conference Room, the Gathering Space, at the font in the sanctuary and, yes, there is even one in the kitchen. There is a finger prayer labyrinth on the guide for you to use as well. You can pick up a guide in the welcome window, or click here to see it. At each station there will be further instructions. Some are interactive, like the station in the Prayer Room and the station in Hatcher. Others are to take with you and do like the station in the gathering space and in the kitchen. All are reflective and meant to guide you toward Jesus.

The stations will be up for the month of April. There is no rhyme or reason to the order on the guide so feel free to skip around. Do a couple each Sunday or come by the church during the week to move through them all at once. Do them one time or come back to them throughout the month. Our hope is that you will be able to take time to experience God through unique ways of prayer as we move through these final weeks of Lent.

Kendra Crabtree

Director of Communications and Church Life


Scripture Readings for April 7, 2019
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8

March 27, 2019

BPC has supported Drs. Les and Cindy Morgan in their work in Bangladesh as Mission Co-workers through the Presbyterian Mission Agency for many years. This week they sent out their last “Prayer for Bangladesh,” which they have sent weekly to their partners since 2009. Below is a note from Les Morgan about what they expect in the coming weeks and months.  Please keep The Morgan's in your prayers as they prepare to leave the place they have called home for 30 years and transition back to life in the States.

Drs. Les and Cindy Morgan

Drs. Les and Cindy Morgan

A Note from Drs. Les and Cindy Morgan, Mission Co-workers in Bangladesh:

"Next week we will begin preparing for our permanent departure from Bangladesh on June 21st, thirty years after our initial commissioning to serve here as missionaries.  Back in the U.S., we will continue serving through December to complete our final responsibilities as mission co-workers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We are deeply grateful for your having joined us in this ministry of intercession and thanksgiving. Your participation has helped us open our hearts to those to whom we minister and given us strength to persevere in the proclamation of God’s promised hope of healing. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."


A Prayer for Bangladesh (March 25, 2019)

O God of compassion and mercy, we thank you for having helped us see what you see, hear what you hear, feel what you feel, and love whom you love, in the slums, on the sidewalks, in the railway stations, in the hospital beds, and in the villages of Bangladesh.  We thank you for leading us…

To Rifat, a severely malnourished 3-year-old boy with a cleft lip and palate, in a Dhaka slum;

To Fatima, a fatherless, homeless 8-year-old girl abused on the streets at night by men and boys;

To Lassel, a 9-year-old crippled boy crawling on his knees to beg on busy city sidewalks;

To Miraj, a 12-year-old boy surviving alone on the streets of Dhaka since age six;

To Jesmine, a garment factory worker since age 11, who was given in marriage at age 14;

To Bilkis, a woman struck in the face by the father of her three children;

To Ramjan Ali, a father pulling a rickshaw in the city so that his daughters can go to school in his village;

To Rony, an addict living on the street who entered and successfully completed a recovery program;

To Sokhina, a young mother who almost gave up hope after a ruptured appendix then weeks in a hospital, but who recovered and went home to her children;

To Champa, a second-grader paralyzed in her legs after chicken pox, but who recovered and was able to walk and run again;

And to the many others for whom we have prayed together during the past ten years.

Lord, we thank you for giving us this opportunity to look beyond ourselves and open our hearts, in faith, to others.  For in doing so, we have glimpsed the depth of your love, the immensity of your grace, and the joy in heaven when your children turn their gaze towards you.  We offer this, our Prayer for Bangladesh, in the name of Christ Jesus, the Hope and Savior of the world.  Amen.


Scripture Readings for March 31, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Joshua 5:9-12
Psalm 32
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

March 20, 2019

Over the last two week the southern region of Malawi has been hit with devastating heavy rainfall and severe flooding. The Mulanje Mission Hospital (MMH) is located near the southern region and has been affected by the flooding. Though it is still raining in Mulanje it is believed the torrential rains are coming to an end and the damage is being assessed. Below you will find a note from Dr. Ruth Shakespeare, our mission partner on the ground and the medical director of MMH.  

Thank you to all of you who have been concerned for MMH during the recent floods, have been praying for us and have sent messages of support. We did have very heavy rains here, and severe flooding in some areas, but have been fortunate to only catch the edge of cyclone Idai and have not suffered the severity of damage seen in the far south of Malawi, Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe.

Nevertheless, there is considerable reparation to do to restore water and sanitation in the villages in MMH catchment area, and, to avoid the common aftermaths of such floods such as outbreaks of cholera, this must be done quickly. Some houses have collapsed, and crops have been destroyed, but our immediate priority is safe water and sanitation. 

We currently estimate that about 4000 toilets have collapsed, and 3 villages are in urgent need of new boreholes to ensure a safe water supply. It will cost $27 to provide the basic building materials for the community to rebuild a pit latrine. A new borehole and pump is a larger enterprise, costing $5300. Any help that can be offered will be gratefully received here, we will provide a full report on the work done in due course.

All Good Wishes from Mulanje,

Ruth

 

To contribute to the cost of the rebuilding after the flood you put a check in the offering plate or drop it off at the office. You can click the link below and donate online. Be sure to choose “Malawi Flood” in the drop-down box under giving type.

 Checks can be made out to BPC with the MEMO LINE: Malawi flood.

 And continue to be in prayer for the people of Malawi as they work to recover from this natural disaster.


Scripture Readings for March 24, 2019
Third Sunday of Lent
Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

March 13, 2019

For the month of March, Presbyterian Women is gathering items that the Presbyterian Children’s Home of the Highlands are always in need of. The list is below and you can put your donations in the bin by the elevator or the bin by the church offices. (Please take gift cards to the office for safety.) Contact Sandy Schlaudecker (spspas@aol.com) with questions. Take a moment to read just how important your donations are in making children feel safe in, what is at first, a strange environment.

When your mission is providing a home for children, you spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to meet their needs. Imagine for a moment that, for whatever reason, you can no longer live in the house you have called a home for all of your life. Something has gone very wrong with the people you love and who are supposed to take care of you, and you are arriving at a place you have never seen before and never dreamed you would be. Can you imagine the fear that causes knots to form in the pit of your stomach? What can anyone possibly do to make that child feel better?

Thousands of children have lived here since the inception of our ministry 100 years ago, and each of those children has faced those fears as they arrive at our doorstep. At that point we are there to meet their immediate needs. We want them to be met by smiling faces that will assure them that they are safe and that we will take care of them. As we try to gain their trust, we want them to know that this is a place where God’s love will blanket them and give them the opportunity to heal. Whether they are with us for days or years, we want them to feel that this is their home and that they will always be a part of the Children’s Home family.

 

 PCHH Supply List

  • Paper products (toilet tissue, paper towels, Kleenex)

  • Laundry products (detergent, bleach, fabric softeners, dryer sheets)

  • Nonperishable snacks (granola bars, Pop Tarts, microwave popcorn, etc.)

  • Personal care items (shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.)

  • Grocery gift cards (Wal-Mart, Food Lion)

  • Fast food coupons/gift cards (McDonalds, Wendy’s, Sonic, Shoney’s, Cracker Barrel, etc.)

  • Phone cards

  • Dish towels/pot holders

  • Food storage containers

  • Standard sized pillows

  • Standard sized pillow cases

  • Twin size sheets/comforters

  • Bath towels/washclothes

  • Beach towels for pool use

  • Softball equipment (gloves, softballs, bats)


Scripture Readings for March 17, 2019
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

March 6, 2019

Image: “Ash Wednesday Cross” © Jan Richardson   janrichardsonimages.com

Image: “Ash Wednesday Cross” © Jan Richardson

janrichardsonimages.com


On this Ash Wednesday, the start to the season of Lent, I offer you this poem from Jan Richardson titled, “Blessing the Dust.” I hope it speaks to you as you begin your journey through Lent this year.

BLESSING THE DUST

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons


Scripture Readings for March 10, 2019
First Sunday of Lent
Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
Romans 10:8b-13
Luke 4:1-13

February 27, 2019

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BPC is known as the “giving church,” and the Woodchucks epitomize that giving all year long! The Woodchucks began about 1998, led by BPC members Dr. John Lipsey and Dr Birch. They delivered about 5 truckloads of wood that first year. We now support 45-50 Montgomery County families by delivering in excess of 200 pick-up truck loads of wood each winter. Our mission is simple – to relieve the suffering of the poor by giving them firewood to keep their families warm.

The Woodchuck ministry has become an inter-faith group. We work year-round on Thursdays and Saturdays, and other days as needed. There is a varying core of about 10 loyal volunteers. There are 2 support jobs:  receiving calls from those requested wood and surveying wood. We gather and cut donated wood in the spring, summer, and early fall and split and deliver firewood from the late fall until it warms up.

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When I was first asked to help the small Woodchucks group, I thought, sure, sounds easy, we can help folks and get exercise at the same time! Later I realized how difficult, dangerous, and trying it is to do this: snakes, bees, ticks, hazardous equipment, heat, cold, bitter wind, snow and ice. I began to realize how much abject poverty there is in our community, how sick and disabled many of these people are, how these people cannot provide for themselves, and how much help they really need. Firewood is just the tip of the iceberg for what they need.

This work touches your heart when you see tears of joy while being told that because of this firewood, there will be enough money for their children to have Christmas presents. It makes you realize how much God has blessed us. I will do this for as long as I am able.

Mike Harvey, Longtime member of the Woodchucks

Want to participate in the Woodchucks? Contact Mike Harvey at M.L@harveybiz.com.

Letter from one of the Woodchucks clients:

To the members of BPC:

As I sit here in my home, warmed by my wood stove, filled with fuel provided by you, I wonder if you realize how much I appreciate what you have done in my life, not just right now, this Christmas season, but all winter long for a long time now, so long I’m not sure how long it has actually been. I’m humbled by the actions you have taken to help me with a need I could never repay. Your kindness and never failing to ensure I’ve had what I needed will never be forgotten or gone un-realized how much hard work is involved as I took care of this need myself for many years before my debilitating accident that took so much away physically from my life. God has kept me here through some things I sometimes wonder why I’m worth even being here. I have a story, as we all do. The older I get, the more I’m shown by the actions of others what I am able to do. I realize how much time I’ve wasted sometime when I’m actually still able to give back. In a large part because of you and the actions you’ve taken to help me has made me realize how much I can still do to help others and I have tried to do that. I can’t cut and load firewood, but there is so much I am capable of. I don’t mean to go on and on.

Thank God for all I have, there are so many with so much less. I now know my job is to look for those I can touch and I’m trying, with God’s help, to be a better man, and do what I can when I can. I will never get even with the blessings I receive. Thank you again for what you’ve done in my life, my humble prayers are with you. Thank you so much for the help and kindness you’ve extended to me. May God bless you all, as you have blessed me. With love and thanks.


Scripture Readings for March 3, 2019
Transfiguration of the Lord
Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12 - 4:2
Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

February 20, 2019

Members of the KnitWits

Members of the KnitWits

The KnitWits and Quilters at BPC have been meeting for many years. For the KnitWits, what began as a prayer shawl ministry to comfort those who were ill or experiencing loss or another difficult life circumstance has evolved over the past few years to include community outreach as well. Some of the organizations the KnitWits have worked with include Montgomery County Christmas Store, Blacksburg Cancer Center, Interfaith Childcare Center, To Our House, Women’s Resource Center, and Micah’s Closet. The group has knitted hats, mittens, scarves, shawls, lap robes, cowls, “knitted knockers”, bunny “buddies” for those baptized, and facecloth bundles for fund raising.

And it is a fun-loving group! One member stated, “I really enjoy our conversation, especially when we’re laughing and talking as fast as (or faster than) we’re knitting! And the best part is that we get to share something we’ve made with our hands with others in our congregation and the larger community.”  Another commented, “I especially love those who gather, the opportunity to learn new skills, and the responses of those who are gifted with shawls and other items.”  

The Quilters at their annual quilting retreat.

The Quilters at their annual quilting retreat.

The quilters were started after the building renovation was finished. One long time member says of the Quilters, “You can expect a wonderful fellowship of both BPC members and non-members who enjoy each other tremendously. We share, support each other, learn together and quilt.” The Quilters have served the church by making the banners in the Narthex, repairing other textile art in the church, providing art displays, and making and donating lovely gifts for the Advent Alternative Gift Fair for the past few years.

The KnitWits meet the 4th Monday of each month from 1-3pm in Westminster Library. The Quilters meet every Tuesday from 9:30am-2pm in the Fellowship Hall and pause at Noon to eat lunch together. All levels of ability are welcome in both groups!


Scripture Readings for February 24, 2019
7th Sunday After Epiphany
Genesis 45:3-11, 15
Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40
1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50
Luke 6:27-38

February 13, 2019

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. For some this may be the first time you have thought about it. Others, you’ve been planning something special for weeks. Either way it is an opportunity to celebrate love however it shows up in your life. The Salt Project’s post today is titled “A Brief Theology of Valentine’s Day”. I found the end to be particularly moving:

This Valentine’s Day, think of all the love in your life - the love you feel and the love you witness; even the love among the birds of the air! - as a glimpse of God’s care for all creation.  And if you’re especially perceptive (or especially mischievous), you can glimpse divine love in places likely and unlikely, common and uncommon. Even in a sweet little greeting card, an arrangement of flowers, or a “flavor map” embossed on a heart-shaped lid.

For if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, the truth about God’s love is that it’s all around    us, the Song of all songs, the Symphony of all symphonies, echoing everywhere.

To read the full post click here.


Scripture Readings for February 10, 2019
6th Sunday After Epiphany
Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Luke 6:17-26

February 6, 2019

UKirk group.jpg

My very first week in Blacksburg as a Freshman at Virginia Tech was overwhelming to say the least. I felt isolated and alone, even as one of 20,000 students here at Tech. I knew that I needed to a place of peace. I decided that I would try to go to church the following Sunday. I searched online, and Blacksburg Presbyterian Church was the first result. I followed google maps and walked to BPC from my dorm on campus. I walked in the side door of the fellowship hall, and someone, who had seen the look of confusion on my face, graciously ushered me to the Ukirk table outside the sanctuary without me even asking. That was the exact moment Ukirk started to shape my college life. Since that first Sunday morning, I have experienced unforgettable Tuesday nights, wonderful weekends away at Alta Mons, Montreat, and Massanetta, and countless other beautiful moments every day of the week.

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UKirk Weekly Gathering

UKirk Weekly Gathering

I have found that most college students live their lives week by week. Each week we have assignments due, homework to finish, quizzes to take, and studying for exams to complete. From time to time the “to do” list for each week can be overwhelming no matter if you are a freshman or graduate. But, for students in Ukirk we have a place of peace. Cooper House is our sanctuary. When we are all gathered, we create this holy place, specifically for us to be together. Our “to do” lists seem to melt away as we laugh, joke, eat, and pray for two short hours on Tuesday nights. At the end of our time together we discuss the concerns that weigh on our hearts, and together we celebrate the joys in our lives. Each Tuesday night, we all take one step together, down our walks with Christ.

Ukirk is a family, those who come for the food each Tuesday, stay for the people they meet. We become a community of friends that inspires hope and trust, builds our faith, and promotes positivity.

Thank you for all your support,

Catherine Long

VT Class of 2021

Business Information Technology Major


Scripture Readings for February 10, 2019
5th Sunday After Epiphany
Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13)
Psalm 138
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

January 30, 2019

The Presbyterian Women at Blacksburg Presbyterian have been holding a mid-winter retreat, or Winterlude, for 20 years!  In fact, the retreat scheduled at Camp Alta Mons for Feb. 22 and 23 is the 20th or 21st retreat in those years!  If you are a woman connected to BPC and you have never taken part, it is time you tried it out!  And if you have gone before, and just haven’t quite made up your mind this year, we hope you will decide to join us!

Why has Winterlude been so successful for so many years?  As a woman who’s attended almost all of those 20 years, here is my list of what makes it great:

1. It is a “retreat” after all.  There is nothing like a chance to get away from the usual routine and responsibilities.

2. What better place is there to connect with BPC women of all ages, and share our experiences and things we care about?

3. Alta Mons is beautiful, even in the winter.  From the wild turkeys that have been seen strutting by the pond, to the early daffodils which glowed in the otherwise gray woods last February, to the lacy ice framing the edges of the creek while the water rushes below, to the heart-pumping, leg-stretching hike to 45-foot styles falls, Alta Mons offers a chance to connect with nature.

4. The leader each year is a delightful person with good insights and passions to share.  This year, Pam Snyder, from Staunton, VA, is our program leader. You can read about her on the BPC webpage.  But here are some tidbits not on that page:  Pam is the handbell choir director at Second Pres. in Staunton; she is a Certified Disaster Preparedness Trainer; she has traveled to India, Mexico and the Caribbean with various exchanges and mission teams; she has 7 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren, and she’s been a human resources professional for 25+ years!  We found her because Janet Rakes has been friends with her since they met at a Synod Summer Gathering 15 years ago.

5. The specifically chosen focus of each retreat enables you to ponder your spiritual life, with the help of other strong faithful women, and consider how it applies in your day-to-day living when you’re not at retreat.  Here is Pam’s statement about this year’s theme: We are called to share God’s love with the world, by being God’s hands in the world.  We answer God’s call to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:8)

During our time together we will explore what the Bible has to say about God’s love and compassion and how grace pushes us to serve the least, the last and the lost of our world.  We will look at old passages through new eyes and relate them to current events.   The goal is to seek a deeper understanding of God’s call to love as He loves.  

6. If you pay close attention, you might sneak a turn in one of the rockers by the warm fire in the fireplace of the meeting room.

7. If you need some rest or quiet, or even sleep, there is built-in free time for just that purpose.  If you want to really relax, we have an awesome massage therapist on hand to provide massages for those who wish.

Remember to sign up by Sunday, Feb. 3, (that is just a few days from now) as Alta Mons needs to know how many to prepare for.  If you want to bring a friend or two, please feel welcome to do so!  Click the link below for more details.

Sarah Windes,

(Member of PW Hildegard Circle)


Scripture Readings for February 3, 2019
4th Sunday After Epiphany
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

January 23, 2019

Melanie and I went to the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) Lobby Day yesterday. The Rev. Pam Philips, from the UUC in Blacksburg was there too. VICPP is the oldest faith-based lobbying organization in Virginia. We went to both Delegate Chris Hurst and Senator John Edwards' offices expressing thanks for their efforts to help those in Virginia who are most vulnerable. Issues and bills that VICPP is supporting include; creating driving permits for people without documentation that will make our streets safer, increasing state minimum wage levels, getting rid of racially disparaging language in existing minimum wage limitations, expanding Medicare coverage to nationally established guidelines, and more. All VICPP positions can be found on their website www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org and their Facebook page

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We were so encouraged by the number of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people from other faith communities who showed up to participate in this day for advocating for those in our state who need support to help make their lives less of a burden. 

The newly elected Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, delivered an inspiring message, as the great, great, great grandson of one of the first African slaves who were freed in Virginia. He reminded us of MLK's quote that the "arc of history" is long and bends toward justice. I am really proud that BPC continues to support VICPP. We could all, individually, write letters and visit representatives on our own, but these occasions of "community" are so valuable to encourage like-minded and motivated people of faith who are volunteers. There are paid lobbyists, in suits, that have their own motivations but days like yesterday are the "payment" for volunteers speaking for the marginalized.

Thanks BPC for supporting VICPP.

Scott Smith


Scripture Readings for January 27, 2019
3rd Sunday After Epiphany
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21

January 16, 2019

Every year BPC hosts a week of To Our House by opening our building and providing a place to sleep, meals, and acceptance of the men (and for the first-time women) in the NRV who would otherwise be out in the cold. This year we are hosting February 2-9.

The mission of To Our House is providing thermal shelter and compassionate care to homeless men and women in the New River Valley, and to make available any resources that could help them reintegrate into society.

Homelessness looks very different in the New River Valley than it does in more urban areas. Individuals in our area who find themselves without housing often include those experiencing long-term unemployment due to the economy, facing foreclosure or eviction, or awaiting approval for government homeless-intervention programs or disability determination. Persons in our area who have no permanent home are generally less visible because they may temporarily live in motels or with friends. Many of the guests who have found shelter through TOH have previously lived in the woods, caves, storm culverts, a friend’s pickup truck, or a cardboard box.

Through the mission of TOH 85 guests have found more permanent housing and 63 guests have found employment. You see, To Our House is not just about providing a night of warmth but about building relationships with the guests to help them provide many nights of warmth for themselves.

We cannot host To Our House without the generosity of our faith community here at BPC in both time and resources. We need several volunteers each day to devote their time and lots of food to be donated. Please take a minute to see how you can participate in changing the lives of these men and women.

Signup on Sunday in the Gathering Space or you can sign up through the website at blacksburgpres.org/toourhouse.


Scripture Readings for January 20, 2019
2nd Sunday After Epiphany
Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 36:5-10
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

January 9, 2019

The history of Presbyterian Women dates back more than 200 years ago and one of the ways that Presbyterian Women are active at BPC is within something that we call Circles.  Circles are groups of women encouraging each other in their faith, growing through prayer and Bible study together, and working together in service.  At BPC we have several Circles: Lydia, Hildegard, and Faith meeting once a month. If you are a woman that made a New Years Resolution to grow in your faith this year, then joining a Circle might be a wonderful way to start.  Let me tell you a little bit about Faith Circle.  

When Jonathan and I started attending BPC in the Fall of 2005, I was a Flight Attendant for United Airlines commuting to Washington DC for my flights.  I was not very senior, so I flew a lot of weekends and couldn’t attend church regularly.  Sarah Woolsey reached out to me and asked if I was interested in joining the Youngish Women’s Bible Study that met during the week once a month.  This was a great fit for me and my first real connection to BPC. I am so thankful to Sarah for inviting me.  Faith Circle has traditionally either studied a book on faith or done a Bible study, as well as pray together and encourage each other in our faith.  

The Youngish Women’s Bible Study was asked by the Presbyterian Women to see if we would like to become a Circle and we changed the name to Faith Circle, taking the name from a book we has recently read- The Faith Club around 2010.  We are still a Youngish Women’s Circle with members in there 20s to 50s.  If you have been thinking about getting more involved, this is your personal invitation. Please join us tonight (Wednesday, January 9) at 7:30pm at the home of Linda Pospichal for dessert, drinks, and an exploration on children’s faith books- how is faith communicated to our children in literature? 

Can’t make it but would like to check out a Circle group? Be on the look out for February’s monthly meeting times and days for Lydia, Hildegard, and Faith.


Scripture Readings for January 13, 2018
Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

January 2, 2019

We are two days into 2019. It always surprises me when a new beginning just feels like the same old same old. I carry a great expectation that when one year ends I will shed all the quirks I encountered in myself over the year and will start fresh with a clean slate. But alas, my Christmas decorations are still up in my house, my fridge looks like a college guy lives in my house (sparse) and my laundry continues to pile up because, well, I just can’t. I guess there are new things that come with a new year, but I always find myself waking up the same me.

I can certainly look back and see the many transformations that have occurred in my life. I can pinpoint when my dreams changed. Or when I stopped being afraid of being me. Or when my relationship with my parents changed. I know when I stopped liking Dr. Pepper and when I started liking cauliflower. I know how loss has changed me and when people started to believe in me. You know the one thing these all have in common? None of them started or ended on January 1st of any year.

As much as I would love to have a set day, every year, when that thing I have been hoping I can rid myself of or the discipline I just can’t seem to make a routine of, would magically happen it’s not how life works. What matters is that we are attentive to the ways we move through the world, and do what we can when we can to show God to a hurting world.

We aren’t on a set timeline. We don’t know when things will happen in our lives. So we take the time to celebrate and the time to mourn and the time to dance and the time for silence when appropriate. Not just at the beginning of a new year. We take one step at a time everyday. In that step we do our best to honor God and others. New beginnings happen all the time. Let this new year be a reminder of all the opportunities for beginnings we have throughout the year.

Kendra Crabtree

Director of Communications and Church Life at BPC


Scripture Readings for January 6, 2018
Epiphany of the Lord
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12