Too often we hear about something that is successful for another church and, when we look into it, our immediate thought is “that won’t work here.” We often reject what it is before understanding why it works. Why it works is about inner connection, not surface trappings.
Glory Banda was born in Malawi. She was also born deaf. Soon after her parents realized their child couldn’t hear, her father divorced her mother. Glory’s mother, desperate and brokenhearted, returned to live in her parents’ home. A child, who should have been a blessing, became the source of grief and pain.
Hunger is at the heart of being human. People hunger for food, for love, for belonging and for Christ himself. Feeding the hunger of humanity is why the church exists. Presbyterian churches around the country are working to creatively nourish and sustain those who struggle with food insecurity, malnourishment and poverty.
It was just another Sunday morning in the Cornhusker State. The faithful entered Southern Heights Presbyterian’s sanctuary, filling the cavernous room with chatter before the start of worship. The bell chimed and the chattering — as well as the rustling of coats, worship bulletins and those flipping through the hymnals and marking the hymns for the day — subsided. The Christ candle was solemnly lit, leaving a flickering flame to aid in prayerful contemplation. The prelude broke the silence. It was time to stand for the Call to Worship. Now sit for the Confession. And back up again for the singing of the Gloria Patri.
I’d been on the job for about three months when it came time for the joint planning meeting with the session and deacons. It was my first call to a small congregation in a medium-sized building. I was old enough to remember what church was like back in the ’70s, when vacation Bible school was a community event and Christmas and Easter meant extra chairs around the perimeter of the sanctuary. The church to which I’d been called didn’t even fill up on the big holidays.
A call to action was extended to members of First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, Florida, in early 2017. Following the encouragement of the 221st General Assembly (2014) “to continue the long history of support in public education,” the church took steps to partner with a local elementary school.
Él era un hombre de pocas palabras. Mis visitas a menudo consistían en un monólogo que yo elaboraba cuidadosamente en torno a preguntas veladas, con la esperanza de que él ofreciera detalles de su vida sin agitarse. Pero sus respuestas eran cortas; unas pocas palabras enunciadas con una voz grave que se volvía más fuerte si estaba molesto con el tema.
He was a man of few words. My visits often consisted of a monologue I carefully constructed around veiled questions, hoping he would offer up details about his life without getting agitated. But his responses were short — a few words uttered in a deep voice that got louder if he was irritated by the subject matter.
One of our core beliefs as Presbyterians is that the more people involved in a decision, the more likely we are to figure out where God is leading us. That’s why so many teaching elders and ruling elders are attending General Assembly. It’s also why Presbyterians spend so much time in meetings. We believe that many cooks only make the broth tastier.
Many questioned whether it could be done. As the Church was weighing in on issues of racism, immigration, fossil fuels and the stormy political climate in Washington, two women took a step in faith and made history in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston decided two were better than one and became the first co-moderators for the General Assembly at the 222nd General Assembly (2016).
“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.” — Psalm 9:9