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It’s November. The air is full of politics across the United States, and the world will be watching to see whether the face of our country will change or will be one more edition of the same old, same old.
Presbyterian Mandy Manning, in Spokane, Washington, admits she’s “a little tired” of the attention she’s received this year as National Teacher of the Year, but it’s also been a welcome opportunity for her to share her students’ stories. Manning was awarded the title in April by the Council of Chief School State Officers. The honor was first awarded in 1952 and continues as the oldest, most prestigious national honor that focuses public attention on excellence in teaching.
The children practiced long and hard to sing their song on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. When the big day came, they clambered to the front of the sanctuary, listened to the first few plinks on the piano and watched for the nod to begin from their Sunday school teacher.
Fresh out of seminary, a pastor listens intently as the chair of the nominating committee drives around the countryside, narrating the history of a rural community that has seen better days. As she listens, she takes note of the sagging porches with faded and torn upholstered furniture. They pass sheep grazing behind a dilapidated barn, and the pastor silently reminds God that this was not what she had in mind when she said “yes” to tending the flock.
The holidays have been difficult for Christine Caton ever since her mother died — three days after Christmas. As an only child, with her father already gone, Caton experienced profound grief in losing her mom. The Christmas season only accentuated that grief.
The first church conflict I remember as a kid was over “bi-part” offering envelopes — a single envelope with two separate and distinct pockets, one labeled “current expenses” and the other “benevolences.” My father railed against them, arguing that they presented church members with a false choice. He called it “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Despite being part of the same church family, Hazel Pflugmacher and Jaquette Easterlin never met.
Throughout the month of October, The Gallery at West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, is showcasing the paintings, photographs and poetry of local artist, Andrew Weatherly.
For five weeks during the summer, nearly 50 youth in West Baltimore can be seen working on their reading and math skills, or they might be packing up for a day on a local farm or at an area museum. It’s all part of the Rosemont Community Interfaith Coalition, which is focused on ending the violence in the Maryland city by offering positive experiences and hope for youth.
Dusk descended onto the little village, but the sleepy stillness that usually followed was nowhere to be found. It was Halloween in Salem — upstate New York, that is, not the one in Massachusetts known for its late 17th century witch trials. As a new pastor, I’d been informed by my congregation that this night was not to be missed.