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.
A 3-year-old I’d baptized as an infant was coming back to visit after his family had moved to a different state. There, unconstrained by family tradition, his grandmother and mother found a church with a good kids’ program and a band. They occasionally come back “home” and join us for worship.
The last 22 years of my ministry I spent in governing body work — six years as a presbytery executive, which included synod leadership, and 16 years in General Assembly work. I have a pretty good knowledge of the working plumbing (polity) that holds our denomination together.
Iona, an island off the coast of Scotland, was home to a medieval monastic community. By the early 1900s, the community was long gone, and the buildings were in ruins. George MacLeod, a pastor in a working-class dockside congregation, was frustrated by the men being sent to him for internships from the seminary. They had head smarts but were unable to connect with the men on the docks and the families in his community. So he devised a plan. During the crushing years of the Depression, MacLeod brought together unemployed tradesmen and young seminarians and sent them to rebuild the monastic quarters and the abbey chapel. Working, praying and sharing in everyday life, they rebuilt not only a historical landmark but also a spiritual community that continues to have global influence today.
It’s your birthday. The phone rings. While it could be a family member or a friend wishing you well on your special day, the last thing you might expect to hear is a 99-year-old man on the other end of the call singing “Happy Birthday” to you.
Christians often sing “Amazing Grace” without understanding what it is like to actually be blind — either legally blind with diminished vision or completely blind. More importantly, what is it like for those who are blind when they come into a church? How are they treated? How are they incorporated into the worship service?
Evelyn Baker and her husband, Gareth, decided that they’d worked long enough. At age 62, Gareth Baker retired from his job as a Presbyterian pastor and the two of them set off on an adventurous retirement, camping around the country and living in their RV full time. However, after four years they were ready to settle down again. The question was, where?
“Take hold of the life that really is life.” — 1 Timothy 6:19