On this coming Day of Pentecost it is fair to ask: “what is the church becoming?” I also think that it is equally fair to answer, “No one really knows.” At least no one can describe the church becoming one particular thing and going in one singular direction. So, beware the marketers of easy ideas about the church. Some would say, for example, that the church has no future with confessions of faith. It is true that large numbers of those both inside and outside the church are questioning such statements and finding them often puzzling and sometimes aggravating and senseless. Yet, across the globe, in other parts of the world, there is real excitement that the Presbyterian Church will be voting to include the courageous words of the Confession of Belhar in its Book of Confessions. Many would say that the church is on a steady, inevitable decline that is headed to death. Again, beware of easy views. Indeed our Presbytery showed a net loss of members again this year. But at the same time more than 20 percent of our congregations did show an increase in membership. And the fellowships and new worshiping communities of the Presbytery that are not yet “counted” in the official membership tally show increased numbers gathering in worship.
Some might say that the connectionalism of the Presbyterian Church is no longer viable. I would be living in a state of perpetual denial if I didn’t recognize the way connectionalism, the traditions of deciding and gathering, and the wide wisdom of the church are challenged every day. Yet, the payment of per capita, the way we “pay” for being Presbyterian, exceeds 95% in our Presbytery and mission partnerships, the coming together of congregations to do common work together, involve more than 80 per cent of our congregations. We connect and we are connected. We also connect with Presbyterians across the earth. As we prepare for the visit of another delegation from Zimbabwe Presbytery, twelve congregations have eagerly agreed to welcome delegates as preachers and as Presbyterian sisters and brothers from the global church. Funding for mission has been strained in our denomination. Yet in the last few months, when Presbyterians heard that world mission’s work was threatened, enough special giving was received to assure that for the next year there will be no mission co-worker positions eliminated. All congregations struggle in their ministries, but some churches, for example, those who have engaged in New Beginnings, have found new purpose and energy and are claiming a new future. And they are excited. In different ways congregations are finding that their ministries are unique and incomparable in their neighborhoods and communities. These churches are small and large; their services of worship are traditional and contemporary; they are located in the mountains, the plains, the suburbs and the city. There is no singular description of them, except, about their churches and their ministries, they are feeling excited. There is excitement in some others. It is true that fewer people are entering ministry but those who do are showing real excitement about serving in creative ways and places that, in many cases, will require multiple ways of earning a living.
Frankly, their excitement is what I am experiencing in the church. We don’t know exactly what we are becoming but we know we are moving, growing, changing, reaching toward something that we dare to say is part of the work of the Spirit. It is a difficult, depressing, fearful, confusing time to be in the church. But it also, at the very same time, is great to be in the church today. It is amazing to experience the vast diversity of the church. It is astounding to try to keep track of the variety of ways that it serves. It is a privilege to be serving as leaders. And in this work and within our church, with you, I am excited.
A Journey to the Mountains for the Next Ministers’ Communion
Don’t miss the next Service of Communion for ministers which will be held at South Park Community Church in Fairplay on Wednesday, June 15th beginning at 11:30 a.m. We will be hosted by South Park’s pastor, Kenny Shaw. Also if you are interested in going the day before the event and staying in Stan and Marty Jewell’s home in Buena Vista, please contact Stan at 720-209-6700 or click here to email him.
Joining us at this event will be our Zimbabwe Presbytery delegation, Tinashe Chemvumi, Kuraone Mutimwii and Mike Chiwanda. This the concluding event for their entire delegation visit and I genuinely hope you can make the time and effort to join together. Kenny is also making arrangements for us to have lunch at a favorite local restaurant or, maybe, saloon. It should be a great time together!
Click here to RSVP by June 13th or call the Presbytery Center at 303-777-2453 . If you would like to car pool, please indicate your desire when you call with your reservation.
Have you made your breakfast reservation? That’s right there will be breakfast treats waiting for you on May 16 at 8:00 a.m. at the Presbytery Center. At 8:30 Matt Syrdal will provide a glimpse of what WilderSoul is all about and what the special event on August 20 and 21 will offer. Join us simply to learn more. And who knows, you may decide to take the step to be part of this time? To register or for more information, click here or contact Matt by May 12th.
The 2016 Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation Summer Pastors’ School
This outstanding event will be held June 5 – 11 at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. You can register now (through April 20) and save $25 on your fee. To register, or more information, click here or call 888-244-6714.
The Developmental, Risky, Experimental, Adaptive Mission (DREAM) Grant
This grant opportunity is being offered by the Presbyterian Mission Agency in order to encourage dreamers, risk-takers, pioneers and trailblazers. This grant is designed to encourage the birth of new ventures through congregations and presbyteries rather than to support the expansion of existing program within congregations. An initiative may receive a one-time grant of up to $10,000. For the purpose of this grant, new is defined as an initiative that was created no earlier than January 1, 2014. Proposals need to be received by the Office of Mission Program Grants no later than June 1. Applications are also available from this same office. Columbine United Church received a $10,000 -DREAM Grant last year for its Neighborhood Hubs project. Your church may be able to receive one this year!
For Your Time of Prayer, Please Remember ….
- Westminster Church as it enters its time of work and discernment in the New Beginnings process;
- Ashley Seaman Taylor and her husband, Dwayne, at the birth of their twins, India Olivia Hope and Oliver Leon Everett born on May 2;
- Bob Hampel at the death of his wife, Carolyn; the grieving family and friends of Bud Everitt; and Betsey Muldrow at the death of her husband, Bill;
- Peggy Marshall as she continues in rehabilitation following surgery;
- Our Zimbabwe Presbytery Delegation as they prepare for their journey and time with us beginning May 18;
- The whole church and all congregations as we mark together the Day of Pentecost this coming Sunday!