Matthew 25

Is yours a ‘healthy’ congregation?

Theologian Emil Brunner famously stated, “The church exists by mission, just as fire exists by burning.” This didn’t quite sink in until I heard Darrell Guder, former dean and missiologist at Princeton Theological Seminary, put it more clearly for me: “The church does not exist primarily for the benefit of its own members. Instead, it exists for the benefit of those outside its walls.”

Answering God’s call

John Etheredge has answered God’s call to become a long-term volunteer serving with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Ghana.

‘Off to a great start’

As of Friday morning, 79 congregations, five presbyteries and one synod — Lakes and Prairies — had said yes to the Matthew 25 invitation, agreeing to become more actively engaged in the world by working on one or more of three focus areas: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty.

Former presbytery executive amazed at Miami church’s turnaround

“Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6 The Scripture so eloquently phrased in Psalm 150 graced the bulletin cover as we celebrated the 38th Anniversary of New Life Presbyterian Church (Iglesia Presbiteriana Nueva Vida) in Miami on the last Sunday in April.  The church, located on Coral Way, is served by the Rev. Heidi Arencibia. I was honored to be the guest speaker for the service celebrating “Thirty-eight years of life by the grace of God!” (1981-2019).

The Great Commission, Matthew 25 invitation go hand in hand

During her nearly nine years as pastor of Washington Shores Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Fla., the Rev. Erika Rembert Smith has placed the Great Commission at the front and center of her vision for the congregation. Now that the church has joined the more than 70 congregations and mid councils to embrace the Matthew 25 invitation, Smith sees efforts to “make disciples of all nations” bearing fruit. “I see Matthew 25 and the Great Commission going hand in hand,” she said. “We are trying to move beyond the walls of the church and engage the community around us — because when we do, we see the needs of the people.”

Make a joyful noise

To celebrate Intercultural Church Day, worshipers at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville Wednesday were invited to sing verses of well-known hymns — “How Great Thou Art” and “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!” among them — in English, Korean and Spanish, as well as in the “language closest to your heart.”

‘Petra’s Pier Picnic’ tackles world hunger

In her latest book, “Petra’s Pier Picnic,” author Phyllis Vos Wezeman introduces readers to a 9-year-old girl who is excited to go fishing with her father to celebrate her birthday. The crowded pier provides Petra a chance to use her new fishing pole. Her interactions also open her eyes and her heart to the needs of hungry people in the world. The book, for readers ages 10 and under, is illustrated by Chicago artist Oscar Joyo, who is originally from Malawi.

Presbyterians’ presence felt in famine-stricken countries

It’s considered the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet today. In 2018, the United Nations estimated that 14 million people in Yemen were on the brink of starvation. UNICEF estimates that 1.8 million Yemeni children suffer from acute malnutrition.  Thirty thousand die each year. Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) responded to the crisis with funding geared toward providing long-term solutions to hunger and poverty in the mostly Islamic nation. PC(USA)’s Special Offerings ministry asked Presbyterians to help Yemen and three more famine-stricken countries, and they’ve answered the call by donating more than $150,000 to date.