Something about Hope

Tom Sheffield, Presbytery Pastor

      Read Acts 19 again and you find conflict and confusion reigning supreme.  There is so much conflict and so many moments of confusion for the young church and its apostles that it is hard to keep track of it all. With such turbulence what will happen to this church?  And how should the leaders lead in such a time? But as the next chapter opens, this description of Paul’s work is provided: “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.” {Acts 20:2, The Message)

       It is another time of conflict and confusion and once again we are not sure what is happening in and to the church.  And we also are not always sure what to do or say or how to lead.  Everywhere in the church that is true, in congregation after congregation (did you think your church was the only one?), with minister after minister (really?  You thought you were the only one who didn’t know what to do?), in presbytery after presbytery (You see, we aren’t the only place!) and in meeting after meeting of the Presbyterian Church (I know, you thought they surely have the answers, but they don’t!).  So what do we do?  I think we do what Paul did.  I think we give encouragement to one another.  I think we try to lift spirits.  I think we charge one another with “fresh hope.”  Frankly, it is time to give up moaning.  It is time to set aside thinking and even acting like God has abandoned us.  It is time to look more deeply into our church and see how the Spirit is acting.  It is time to believe with all we are that God has given us a great mission and everything we need to do that mission.  It is time to claim hope again.  

        Your Presbytery Council has been talking, discussing and working on all of these issues, both the problems that we face and the hope that we are given.  In coming weeks and months you will hear more about their work which may impact ministry in the Presbytery with “fresh hope.” But the call to give constant encouragement, lift spirits and charge one another with fresh hope is something we each and all are called to do. How can you do that?  Let me suggest a few ways:

1.    Let’s look to each other as companion workers.  We are not here in this presbytery by accident.  We are here at this time to be in ministry with one another.  We can reach out to one another, remember one another, pray for one another, depend on each other, trust one another and truly take care of one another. 

2.    Stop complaining about the Presbyterian Church.  We all know there are problems in the PCUSA.  It is time to help not by criticizing but by affirming and loving the church.  It is time to start recognizing the good and right that are present in our church.   To do that let’s ask where God’s life is present in the whole church.  Tell churches and Sessions what we are finding. Celebrate the faithfulness, courage, and vision that are persistent in the church. Celebrate its traditions and celebrate its willingness to respond with new energy and creativity.  

3.    Make use of the instruments in our Presbytery that lead to mutual ministry.  See how your congregation can be part of a mission partnership or covenant community.  Discover what task forces are doing and how you might be part of their work.  Step forward and ask for other churches to join you in the possibility of shared mission or mutual ministry.  Participate in one another’s events.  Come to some of the events offered by the Presbytery.  See all the opportunities that are provided by the PCUSA.  Consider welcoming an emerging ministry or fellowship of the Presbytery into your building.  Review the Presbytery Vision statement and share it with congregations.  As it says, “We are going far.  Together we are going deeply, broadly, inclusively, and globally.”     We are a connectional church.  I think it may be time to act that way.  

4.    Let us believe with all our hearts that the congregations we serve or the congregations we attend are gifted by God for ministry.  

As I said, we will be sharing more ways to encourage “fresh hope,” but for now I invite us all to accept that invitation and become ruling elders, teaching elders, candidates and inquirers who encourage one another, servants who lift one another’s spirits and leaders who know how to offer the gift of hope.             

Our next Service of Communion will be held on September 23 at 11:30 a.m. at First Avenue Church.  Tim Mooney is our host pastor and also is providing music for our time of worship together.  Join together for this time of sacrament and fellowship.  Following the service of worship we will be moving to a near-by restaurant for lunch.  RSVP by Tuesday, September 22 to or by calling 303-777-2453.

During September we are celebrating several significant ordination anniversaries:

Larry Grimm    Ordained on September 14, 1975     Celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of his Ordination

Marquita Melting    Ordained on September 20, 1980    Celebrating the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of her Ordination

John Anderson     Ordained on September 22, 1985    Celebrating the Thirtieth Anniversary of his Ordination

David Heil     Ordained on September 23, 1990    Celebrating the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Ordination

Robert LaFollette   Ordained on September 25, 1960   Celebrating the Fifty-fifth Anniversary of his Ordination

Lance Grothe   Ordained on September 28, 1980   Celebrating the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of his Ordination

      We give thanks to God for these servants of Christ and Christ’s church.  May we all continue to pray the words of the ordination prayer: “Fill them with Holy Spirit, so they may have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, and be faithful disciples always.”

In your prayers please remember James Fouther who had knee replacement surgery on August 31.  James asks for prayers also for the congregation he serves, the United Church of Montbello.

Celebrate the recent marriage of Kira Stringer and John Anderson.  Kira is the associate pastor at Wellshire Church;  John is pastor of Milliken Presbyterian Church, in Plains and Peaks Presbytery.  

Clarke and Pat Vestal ask us to pray for missionaries and other followers of Christ who live and serve in areas under attack of ISIS forces.  

May we also pray for the refugees making their way across Europe as they seek lives of peace and hope.  

For those whose lives have been destroyed along with homes and wilderness beauty and those who bravely fight fires in the West.               

Upcoming in our life as other opportunities for common ministry.  Please make note of them and plan to attend … the trip to Chapungu Sculpture Park on September 19 as part of our marking of the ten-year anniversary of our partnership with Zimbabwe Presbytery …  the September 29 book study of Zenzele which will be led by Russ Kane at Central Church at 7:00 p.m. …. the day-long workshop on human trafficking, sponsored by the Presbytery’s Mission and Ministry Work Group, on Saturday, October 3 at Wellshire Church from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. … the service of ordination for Greg Allen-Picket at Wellshire Church on Sunday, October 4 , at 2:00 p.m. …  the Time of Discernment for ministers and those considering ministry as a Commissioned Ruling Elder or Minister of Word and Sacrament on Saturday, October 24 at the Presbytery Center… the next Presbytery Assembly on Tuesday, October 27 at First Church, Englewood.  Among the highlights of this Assembly will be a pre-assembly event focusing on racial dialogue, led by the Racial Ethnic Diversity Work Group, the recognition both at dinner and in the meeting of Judy Franconi’s retirement and also a celebration of our partnership with Zimbabwe Presbytery.  Three delegates from Zimbabwe Presbytery will be present with us….the Leadership Retreat with Corey Schlosser-Hall on November 13 -14.  It will be a highlight you will not want to miss. For more information about many of these events go to and to the Presbytery’s Facebook page.  

And looking further into the future, we are planning for a Ministers’ Epiphany Luncheon on January 6, 2016 at the Holiday Inn Select.  More details will be forthcoming but I hope you put this time to be together on your calendars now!  The cost of the luncheon will be between $20 and $25 for a full-course meal at the hotel.