Preview of the NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 Issue
Hope in a child
A call this Advent to educate and care for the vulnerable children of the world
by Alonzo Johnson
As a pastor, I’ve had the chance to work with a lot of young people, some of them really struggling to survive. For many of the youth I’ve worked with, it’s a creative arts and education ministry that has turned the tide.
Mark (not his real name, of course) was one of those kids.
He was born into poverty but was full of potential. Witnessing violence and deprivation no child should ever see, he wrestled with whether to stay in school or join a gang. Our arts ministry told him that his intellect and talent made him more powerful than any gang affiliation ever could, but the streets told him differently, and sometimes he succumbed to the world of illegal drugs. Whenever I saw him on the street corner, dressed in “colors” and standing with gang members, I pulled over and took him home, risking both our lives.
Eventually, Mark chose us over the dealers.Continue reading
Is there hope for PC(USA) evangelicals today?
A personal reflection on the state of evangelicalism in the denomination and what lies ahead
By Jodi Craiglow
Bill’s Facebook message stung me like a slap in the face. “Vote for Dismissal short version: 412 votes were cast; 274 required for 2/ 3 majority . . . vote was 266 for dismissal and 146 against. Motion FAILS. Time to assess and prayerfully go forward.” His congregation’s months-long process of prayer and discernment had, in one round of ballots, come to a screeching halt. And that put him, as a member of the pastoral staff, into an especially precarious position. Although they lacked the supermajority required by denominational polity to be dismissed, the simple fact remained: most of the congregation didn’t want to be a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) anymore.
Bill, of course, isn’t his real name; denominational politics for a pastor can be treacherous waters, to say the least. And Bill is not alone.Continue reading
The art of rehabilitation
Prison programs tap inmates’ creativity to spark transformation behind walls.
By Hans Hallundbaek
When Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “There’s no place like home,” she surely wasn’t thinking of the place that’s “home” to Shaquan Dunkin. In fact, to Dunkin and roughly 1,600 other men, this “home” is more often called The Big House. It’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a fortresslike maximum-security prison 30 miles north of Manhattan. Surrounded by watchtower-topped concrete walls and miles of razor wire, Sing Sing is where many men will spend 10, 15, 20, or more years of their lives—even if they get out of prison eventually.
It’s the last place you’d expect to find Munchkins, wizards, and flying monkeys.Continue reading
Hope for seemingly hopeless times
by Patrick David Heery
The November/December issue of Presbyterians Today is an issue about hope. We thought our readers might need a pick-me-up after our September/October issue, “Our Hurting World,” whose cover my wife tells me looked like something out of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead. Now, on Thanksgiving and as we approach Advent, we discover again our living hope in a child that promises to remake our world—and us with it.
I’ll be honest, though. I haven’t been feeling very hopeful lately.Continue reading
by Joelle Kopacz
If you’re considering what the future holds for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), you’re not alone. Type the phrase “future of the PC(USA)” into Google’s search engine, and you’ll get more than 28 million results—and mixed opinions.
However, according to a recent Presbyterian Panel Survey, there is much to be hopeful about! And a lot of that hope is concentrated on mission and our church’s role in society.Continue reading
Shaping calling and commitment
Office of Public Witness fellowship motivates seminarian to be a ‘Pillar of the Church.’
By Pat Cole
Daniel Williams’s fellowship at the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Public Witness helped form his pastoral calling—as well as his passion for supporting the Washington, DC-based ministry financially.
After graduating from college in 2012, Williams spent a summer as a fellow at the Office of Public Witness.
“It helped me to put policy, service, and public life into theological categories and to think theologically and with my faith about these things,” Williams says. “I don’t think advocacy in the life of discipleship is something that I had ever thought about.”
Today Williams is a student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas. He expects to graduate in May and to seek ordination.
Like most seminarians, he has limited financial means, but his deep commitment to the Office of Public Witness has inspired him to make monthly gifts in support of it.Continue reading
► Read Presbyterians Today’s new blog,
“One Church, Many Voices”
Reawaken the beauty and spirituality of Advent with moving, poetic reflections and vivid, original watercolor art. Daily Scripture readings, prayers, and meditations for each day of the Advent season.
A beautiful series of daily Lenten reflections, paired with a short, ancient form of praise and petition called a breath prayer, to explore what holiness means for Christians today.
An easy-to-read, in-depth handbook that puts loads of vital ministry information on dozens of subjects at your fingertips. This one-stop reference is ideal for congregations, presbyteries, and individuals looking for creative ways to improve their ministry.
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
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.