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A wondrous change is taking place — a movement of the Spirit. Presbyterian congregations are reprioritizing the work of the Church, taking it from an institution of survival to a way of getting actively engaged in the community and making the world a better place.
A new level, a new devil. I couldn’t believe my ears when a young mother said this during a Bible study once. I rarely heard anyone talk so openly about the opposition that comes when you walk with Christ — even though our Presbyterian confessions speak of this reality. In the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 127 asks why we pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The answer: . . . since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare . . . .
When I was in middle school, my neighbor joined the Shaun Cassidy Fan Club. She got a great poster that looked like it had been signed by the pop star to hang on her wall. We swooned as we stared at it, sitting on her bed and listening to mix tapes. I wondered, as I stared and swooned, what it would be like to be such an insider, to be an actual member of the fan club and get special perks.
When leader Nick Pickrell heard that The Open Table KC, a worshiping community in Kansas City, Missouri, that gathers for dinner and fellowship, would receive a $25,000 1001 New Worshiping Community growth grant from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, he thought, “What? What!”
For the first time in its 120-year history, Endeavor Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Lake Erie has running water. Yes, you read that correctly. Running water.
There are two constants in life: change and Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. In Christ, we live and move and have our being. To be a follower of his is to be forever mindful of the cross, of death’s defeat — and of resurrection power. And, as Wendell Berry wrote in one of his well-known poems, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” we, the church, are to “practice resurrection.”
A quick search on the Internet leads to countless facts about shifting American diversity. For example, in 2007, Rodríguez and García joined the top 10 list of most popular last names in the United States. And, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, beginning in 2030, the country will grow more by international migration than birth within its borders.
I thought I was prepared for my first mud season in Vermont. I wasn’t. The pastor nominating committee tried explaining that New England’s unofficial fifth season wasn’t for the weak. (Or for a former Manhattanite, is what I think they were really getting at.) Was I ready for melting snow that turned dirt roads into Slip ‘n Slide? I was. Did I have good tires on my car? I did. What about boots? Did I own a sturdy pair? I didn’t.
He looked no more than 14 as he came forward to welcome me with a hearty handshake. Assuming he was a primary school pupil, I asked about his teacher. He responded, “Hello, ma’am. I am the teacher.” Still skeptical, I began a full-scale inquisition: How old are you? How long have you been a teacher? Which class are you teaching? And finally, are you really the teacher?
Presbyterians are known for doing things decently and in order. That’s why at meetings, one can hear phrases being pulled from the parliamentary procedural playbook, Robert’s Rules of Order: “Do we have motion?” “I would like to amend the amendment.” “Point of order!”