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‘What glory’

Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia, gathers to thank God for needs that will be met through its $1.7 million Mission Build Campaign

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Daniel McCullough via Unsplash

LOUISVILLE — Members and friends of Second Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia, gathered for worship Sunday to celebrate the success of their Mission Build Campaign, which raised $1.7 million to construct or renovate four facilities stretching from across the street south all the way to the Dominican Republic.

Watch the service of celebration here. The bulletin, along with information about the church’s long-term mission partners, all of whom were represented in Sunday’s worship service, may be seen here.

“We look forward to what God will make of our partnerships in the years ahead,” the Rev. Dr. George Anderson, the church’s senior pastor, told those worshiping both in person and online. “Because of this campaign and because of the church’s response to the pandemic, we are now more than ever a church defined by its outreach beyond the walls of these buildings.”

The Rev. Dr. George Anderson

Anderson called his sermon for the occasion “What Glory,” using Isaiah 40:3-5 and John 1:14 as his preaching texts.

The Israelites wandering in the wilderness wondered aloud where God’s glory was. “It turns out God’s glory is all around them, but they have to learn to see it,” Anderson said. “God’s glory is seen in manna that prevents starvation and in water that prevents dehydration. God’s glory is seen in sustenance and hope, in the compassion of God who compelled pharaoh to set slaves free.”

“Be of a certain mind and heart and you’ll ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ at the pyramids and palaces, the creation of empires. I do,” Anderson said, describing a Buckingham Palace tour he and his wife enjoyed. “Be of another heart and mind and you’ll ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ at mountains and canyons and rivers and stars — the Creation of God. I do.”

“The essential glory of God is missed when you don’t see this,” Anderson said. “Unlike pharaoh, God is not satisfied with impressing us with creations like mountain ranges and a canopy of stars. … That majesty finds definition when we look down and see the manna on the ground and the water coming from the rock. To use Isaiah’s vision of the wilderness, God’s essential glory is seen in that pyramid being flipped on its head, when high places are brought down and low places of poverty and need and brought up.”

“We see God’s glory best when God’s Word high and lifted up becomes flesh among us,” Anderson said, “when [Jesus] teaches the masses and trains his followers to lead so that they on their own can bear witness to God’s compassion and grace.”

Photo by Silvia Brazzoduro via Unsplash

“Across the street, a house is going to be renovated. Down the street, the Presbyterian Community Center facility will be replaced by a bigger one. At Union [Presbyterian] Seminary, a dormitory will be renovated [into a leadership institute], and it will be much nicer than when I lived in it. In the Dominican Republic, a hospital much bigger than the clinic it is replacing will be completed,” Anderson said. “But God’s glory is not going to be seen in those buildings unless we see the ministries of compassion and grace that take place within them that will lift up those who are brought low.”

Then Anderson asked: “Do you have minds and hearts today to see God in needs met and lives transformed? If you do, what glory!”

The Rev. Dr. Brian Blount, president of Union Presbyterian Seminary, told Second’s members and friends that “your partnership and the seminary’s investment in continuing education greatly enhances opportunities for church and community leaders to grow and learn, and through that growth and knowledge, better position themselves to serve the church with the creativity, innovation and faithfulness needed in these uncertain times. Union Presbyterian Seminary is deeply grateful for Second’s support.”

April Turner of Presbyterian Community Center’s Pathways for Youth program called the PCC “a godsend,” helping her children navigate through school to graduation.

Marie Beebe, executive director of Family Promise of Greater Roanoke, thanked the congregation for providing families “sanctuary and a time of respite” since 1998. When renovation of its Alexa House is complete, “families can come together and stay as a family, have a safe place to lay their heads and enjoy delicious meals prepared by our cooks, and loving volunteers to encourage them when they’re in the most difficult time of their life.” Second Presbyterian Church “is providing hope for those who feel hopeless. Thank you,” Beebe said.

Francisco Beltre de los Santos of Solid Rock International, which is building the hospital in the Dominican Republic, told those in worship, “You don’t know how great the impact your support is for our area.” The hospital is being built about 40 miles from the Haitian border. “A lot of refugees from Haiti come stay in the area,” he said. “We’re going to provide service to them. … You are an instrument of God to bless my people. You have meant a lot to us. Thanks.”

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