Friday, June 21
The Presbytery of the Mid-South
Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri
The message was loud and clear. Rev. Carla Meisterman, pastor of Balmoral Church in Memphis, attended the 219th General Assembly (2010) and returned with a direct message: PC(USA) congregations need to be more racially and ethnically diverse. Saying is easier than doing. She tried to figure out why she was assigned to the GA committee dealing with diversity; growing a diverse church would be a challenge for Balmoral and Meisterman.
“But the Holy Spirit,” says Meisterman, “is alive and well. I didn’t know how we were going to meet the challenge but thought it was really important to try. Remarkably, God found a way to get our attention.”
Within a year, two radically different congregations presented themselves at the church door. Both congregations, one a Korean American Presbyterian Church, the other a nondenominational African American church, found homes in Balmoral’s 40,000 square feet. Sundays are pretty busy. At 8:00 a.m., Rev. Stanley Gates leads worship for 30 people in the Circle of Faith. At 11:00 a.m., Dr. Bong-Keun Park officiates worship for the 60 members of the Grace Korean American Presbyterian Church while Rev. Meisterman does the same for the 120-strong Balmoral congregation. Sunday school is a shared endeavor. They also share missions and ministries as well as upkeep of the building, choir members, audiovisual expertise, and coffee making.
“I have a member who is a former sharecropper,” Rev. Gates relates. “He told me, ‘I never thought I would ever worship with white people.’”
The Presbytery of the Mid-South serves 6,253 members of 48 congregations.
Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Jimmie Lancaster, executive presbyter
Lucy Cummings, associate executive presbyter
Audrey Toombs, administration and finance
Carmen Simmons, resident manager, Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center
Nelle Kennon, hospitality and food service director, Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center
Rev. Mary Allison Cates, director of campus ministries
Let us pray
Open our eyes, O God, to see your way. And if our eyes aren’t ready to see, open our hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Keep pointing us in the right direction. We want to answer your call, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.