September 29, 2019
The trend in the past few years has been one of church closings among the mainline churches in the United States. Statistics show that the median age in the United States is 37, and the average Presbyterian is 65 years old.
In 2015, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas, voted to allow a group of African immigrants from the country of Ghana to use one of their spaces for worship. “This is one of the decisions I believe we do not regret ever making,” said one of the ruling elders.
On June 2, 2019, Grace Presbytery’s leadership commissioned pastor Martin Osae to lead the new Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship. The Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church is a vibrant immigrant congregation that brings diverse gifts that have rekindled the spirit of worship within the presbytery and the hosting congregation as well.
As exemplified by the Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship, new immigrants bring numerous gifts to the life of congregations around the nation. They bring a newness of life to their host congregations and presbyteries. The inclusion of the Ghanaians and other immigrant congregations brings a new and fresh flavor to the everyday life of the larger congregation. They bring a sense of liveliness that is in contrast to most of the mainline host churches.
The new immigrants bring newness of energy in worship and service to God’s people. On June 2, during the commissioning service of pastor Martin, the worship service time lasted a little over two hours, and we saw the energy that the African immigrants bring. The offering time lasted over 15 minutes as the Ghanaian Presbyterian Fellowship Choir treated us to an African-style offering where folks danced and sang to the front of the sanctuary to present their offerings.
Finally, the new immigrants bring a newness of expression of faith. The new immigrants are innovative, creative and outward going about their faith in Christ and as disciples of Jesus Christ. This will enhance the more prevalent inward traditional form of worship to become one that is outward-focused as it shares the loving presence of the risen Christ to the surrounding neighborhood.
Rev. Princeton E. Abaraoha, Field Staff African Intercultural Ministries, Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, September 29, 2019, the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Today’s Focus: Gifts from New Immigrants
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Lord, help us to be the church that you have called us to be — the church that embraces new things you are doing in our midst. Show us how to share your love through service to others, even to the stranger, and let our service and love be what will draw others to you. Amen.