Preview of the December 2014 Issue
Leaving . . . or staying?
Presbytery leaders step into a process of pain and grace as congregations follow different paths in deciding whether to leave the PC(USA).
by Erin Cox-Holmes
There’s a certified letter on your desk.” These words set the stomachs of presbytery executives churning and keep us up at night. The letter, from a clerk of session, gives notice that the church session has voted to enter a discernment process on whether to request dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Here in the Presbytery of Donegal that letter has arrived 13 times over the past decade. The outcome: 11 congregations have been dismissed to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) or the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). One had a deferred financial settlement approved in order to continue ministry in the presbytery with an innovative young pastor. And one split after a vote to dismiss failed, resulting in two thriving congregations.Continue reading
A unique glimpse into the lives of the LBGTQ persons who are now, at last, able to live into their call to ministry.
by Mieke Vandersall
Paul Mowry wanted two things more than anything else in the world: to be a dad and to be an ordained pastor. He came from a long line of Presbyterian pastors and had felt the call early on. He also knew he was gay and that he would not be able to answer this call.
I met Paul when he became a student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2005—at the age of 44. He had heard about Presbyterian Welcome and its community of LGBTQ future pastors, and for the first time he had hope that he too might be ordained. But, despite the thoughtful shepherding of his presbytery, he couldn’t shake this one fear: “It was so scary because I never knew when this issue would become red hot on my back—when someone might have a huge issue with me and my calling simply because I am gay.”Continue reading
Seasonal offering, year-round impact
Christmas Joy Offering enhances lives.
by Jessica Denson
Debbie Hamrick was born with poor hearing. But she never dreamed that her world would slowly diminish—the sounds once there for her, muted.
“I had about a 70 percent hearing loss,” she says. “If I was facing you, I could read your lips and enter into conversation. But as my hearing loss got more pronounced, and especially if I was in a group of people, my husband would have to repeat a lot of things for me.”Continue reading
Our Emmaus road
Amid uncertainty about the future of the PC(USA), we walk, eyes opened by Christ, to see the dying—and living—things in our midst.
By Patrick David Heery
On a one-way street in Indiana, Pennsylvania, sit two Presbyterian churches side by side, a sign of splits old and new. Every Sunday morning for the last 200 years, Presbyterians have followed the same sidewalk to worship the same God in two different churches. Once—and now again—denominationally divided, Graystone Presbyterian Church (which voted to leave for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church last year) and Calvary Presbyterian Church are part of a shifting landscape that has raised questions about the unity and future of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as well as most other denominations.Continue reading
One in Mission
‘A unifying call to love’
Focusing on our call as disciples can help us to heal rifts.
by Linda Valentine
In this season of giving and thanksgiving, disparate casts of characters regularly assemble around family tables to remember God’s blessings and celebrate being together. But experiencing joy at table—in the face of the long absences, occasional hardships, and quarrels that afflict every human family—is often hard.
And so it is this year, following the 221st General Assembly (2014), where momentous decisions were made that affect our denominational family. But attending to relationships continues to be critical as we seek to live as one community in Christ.Continue reading
Stability despite losses
by Joelle Kopacz
Do you grow weary of learning each year that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has lost more members? Did you know that the PC(USA) created more worshiping communities between 2012 and 2013 than the total number of congregations that left? Or that local mission spending increased $1.85 million, and other mission spending $5.6 million, in 2012?
Truth is, while there is decline in some sectors, there is growth in others.
Faith and Culture
My Struggle and the art of Christian reflection
Novel’s focus on everyday details can help readers come before God and attain personal growth.
by Jonathan Nelson
Given the option of reading a 3,500-page autobiographical novel, most people would undoubtedly pass. But Karl Ove Knausgaard might make them reconsider.
Knausgaard, a Norwegian writer, has written just such a novel, and it has garnered international acclaim. The six-volume My Struggle is a best seller in Norway that has been translated into more than a dozen languages (the first three volumes now published in English). The Economist has called Knausgaard “a literary superstar.”Continue reading
Bridging the gap
Student-run newspaper brings hope and opportunity to the homeless of Memphis.
by Emily Clark
For some, “street paper” may invoke images of discarded fast food bags or other debris. However, in many cities across the United States, the term refers to newspapers or magazines sold by homeless people or other poor people on the streets of a city. And in Memphis and other cities, those papers are enhancing lives.
The Bridge, the first street paper in Memphis, strives to “bridge the gap between homeless and sheltered,” according to the paper’s website. In its year and a half of existence, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit has trained more than 256 homeless individuals to be certified newspaper vendors, grown the paper’s circulation to 6,000 a month, and enabled the Memphis homeless community to earn more than $25,000 through sales.Continue reading
By Patrick David Heery
It was a brisk autumn morning as I walked back from worship to my dorm room, carrying a Bible and a study on the book of Acts. The streets of Ohio University were fairly deserted at this hour. A few students lumbered slowly after a night of intense drinking (Ohio University would soon gain Princeton Review notoriety as the number one “party school” in the nation). But as the campus began to come to life, with more students passing by, I instinctively flipped my Bible over, concealing the gold-embossed lettering on the cover.Continue reading
Why I belong
Presbyterians share what being Presbyterian means to them.
For several months now, Presbyterians have been writing to Presbyterians Today about why they are part of the Presbyterian family. A few were published in the December 2014 issue of the magazine. But there were many more moving responses that we didn't have space for in print, and here are some of the best.Continue reading
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
Presbyterian Today’s 2015 Lenten Devotional—Draw Near—contains Scripture readings, meditations, prayers, and reflection questions for each day of the Lenten season. Order now.
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.
What Presbyterians Believe 2
Volume 2 of Presbyterians Today’s new special issue and guidebook—What Presbyterians Believe 2—brings you even more of our most popular articles all about Presbyterian beliefs, worship, and practice.