Absecon Presbyterian Church
The Christian Education Committee is proud to recognize the following graduates this year.
Bobby Hudak - E.C. Attales School
Rachel Suarez - Brigantine Middle School
Sam Burgess - Galloway Township Middle School
Cameron Lease - Davies Middle School
Jeffrey Hamer - Middle Twp HS, will be attending Salisbury State College
Valerie Soltis - Absegami HS, will be attending the Rutgers University to study Marketing with a minor in Dance
Kira Greenlee - Absegami HS, will be attending Temple to study Chemistry and Education
Riley Joseph Wolcott - Pilgrim Academy, plans to pursue Physical Therapy at ACCC or Stockton
Jacob S. Perry - Charter Tech School for Performing Arts, plans to major in Mechanical Engineering
Alex Wolff – Absegami HS, plans to study History at the University of Pittsburgh
Julie Bonneville - BS in Biology from Richard Stockton College, will be attending medical school in September at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences in St. Kitts
Justin Morgan - Liberal Arts degree from Washington College, plans to be a newspaper writer
Patrick Keener – Associates Degree from ACCC, plans to continue studies at Rutgers University in the Health Sciences field
Steven Jerue - MA in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware, has accepted a position with the County Executive's Office in New Castle County DE.
We salute all of you for your hard work and achievements at every level. We are proud of you and your accomplishments, and wish you many blessings in your future endeavors!
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND RELATED NEWS SUMMER EDITION
Hello, Summer Vacation! May we all have some fun adventures and recharge those batteries. Let’s come back rejuvenated for Rally Day on September 12th.
A sincere round of thanks to all the people who made the Sunday School a success. We could not have held all those classes, Mission Sundays, Family Worship Sundays, Calls to Worship, special events, and drama productions without our teachers, aides, musical leaders, substitutes, sponsors, and parents who bring their kids week after week. It was great to recognize our youth for their excellent attendance. Our youth leadership awards were given to Jennifer Thomas, Chris Hughes, Chris Gillis, Jeremy Wong, Sam Burgess, Bud Burgess, Mike McManus, Elisa Wong, Terri Villegas, Courtney Gras, and Annie McManus. We enjoyed a field day, canoe trip, Fishers of Men event, and made gifts and cards for our fathers on Father’s Day. We’ve been busy, and we’ve had fun fellowshipping together.
Current and Upcoming Events
I would be interested in hearing from any adult or teen who would like or organize and lead a mural painting project in the Sunday School rooms. Finding young painters will be no problem. Let me know if you are interested.
I am also hoping that a young adult will step forward to lead our young people and their families in praise and worship on Sunday mornings at the 9:30 service. This individual would be the rock of our praise band. We have some musicians willing to join in, but we’re looking for that leader who loves the Lord and wishes to lead us in praise music with anyone available to join in. If you know of any such young guitarist or keyboard player who would like to undertake such a leadership role, please let me know. We could jazz up our 9:30 service and give us a fresh new feeling. This could be a great way to attract some young families to our church and help our Sunday School grow.
May God be with you all this summer and may you be showered by His blessings.
In His Name,
2009-2010 Sunday School Attendance Awards
Layla McIntosh Chris Gillis
Gina Aviles Chris Hughes
Haley Gras-Pinkney Sam Burgess
Sarah Ramos Bob Hudak
Gianna Tanner Elisa Wong
JD Tanner Chris Harvey
Mikayla Houseworth Nick Hughes
Matthew Houseworth Courtney Gras
Lawson McIntosh Justin Hughes
Andrew Ramos Bud Burgess
Sal Gras-Pinkney Julianna Zamora
Jeremy Wong Mike McManus
Terri Villegas Annie McManus
Franklin Nale Kassie Little
Alexis Mazzatta Libby Little
Aspen Mazzatta Jacob Sabo
Jackson Harvey Nicholas Sabo
2009-2010 Outstanding Youth Leadership Awards
2009-2010 ADULT LEADERSHIP RECOGNITION
LIONS AND LAMBS SUMMER EDITION
We will be planning a beach day and a trip to the Cape May Zoo over the course of the summer. The dates have yet to be determined, but they will be announced in the Sunday bulletins for several weeks prior to the events.
Our bicycling event on the boardwalk back in May was cancelled due to inclement weather so we would like to kick off the new season with this biking event. We have scheduled our biking on the boardwalk event for October 19th. You’ll hear more about this in the September Good News.
Thanks for a great year. We look forward to a wonderful time next fall meeting with all kids from grades K-5 and their families on the first Sunday of every month. The Agape Lunch follows our program so food is always provided for a sit down meal between families and friends. For further information or to find out how to get involved in the program, contact Priscilla Schultheis. Have a great summer and we’ll see you in the fall.
All of our meetings, extra events, and mission projects have finally wound down for the year. Many thanks to all who participated in peanut-butter-and-jelly night for Sister Jean's. We have two main events going on this summer. The first is a dam-release, level 3 white water rafting trip, leaving either the morning or evening of Friday, July 9th, and returning on the evening of July 11th. Our reservation is booked for 13 people. Those involved can expect more information closer to the event. Our second trip is to Leesburg on July 18-23. The age cutoff for our church mission project has been lowered to 12. Many of our junior highers already have other plans for that week, but a few are planning to come down and help with building, trimming hedges, or other projects. We can coordinate transportation for those who want to come just during the day. There will be youth from the Leesburg church joining us as well.
Have a blessed and victorious summer!
Jim & Janna Beth
SENIOR YOUTH NEWS
A few months ago the senior youth group came to my house and potted seeds. WOW did they take off. I picked the strongest 2 of each type of vegetable. A few weeks ago we got them into the soil and put the chicken wire cover on. What ever is harvested will be taken proudly to the food bank. The seniors really did a great job!!
June 19th is our scheduled pool party. July 31st is our tentative date for surf lessons. August 21st is our tentative date for our ALMOST BACK TO SCHOOL pool party. I am also working on a kayak/paddle board day in EHT on Patcong Creek ($15/hr $40./4hr). That will be the end of July, beginning of August. And of course several trips to the food bank as needed.
Don't forget to check for updates on the bulletin board and on Facebook. Mission project pictures are up on the bulletin board now.
Enjoy the summer months…they go by so quick.
As always your comments/suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.
Karen Muldoon, Co-director
ABSECON COMMUNITY VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
Vacation Bible School will be held July 26-30 from 6:-8:30 p.m. this year. This is a chance for the children of our church to share in fellowship with other children from the area and to learn about our Lord in a fun-filled setting.
In order to keep costs down the VBS Committee is asking for donations of individual snacks and juice boxes to feed our hungry learners. A donation box is in the vestibule to collect the goodies.
This year our Christian Education Committee is offering scholarships for the Absecon Community Vacation Bible School.
If you would like to sponsor a child from our church ($10/age 4 through 5th grade or $30/6th through 8th grade) please contact Joe Marshall at 645-7061. Checks are to be made payable to the Presbyterian Church at Absecon with “VBS Scholarship” in the memo line.
Families wishing to apply for scholarships should contact Joe as well.
NEWS FROM THE CHRISTIAN READERS’ BOOK CLUB by Lucy Jerue
Here is your summer reading list courtesy of the Christian Readers’ Book Club. This is our lineup of titles for next season. Plan ahead and be ready to join in when we discuss these books:
September Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson
November Dearest Dorothy, are We There Yet?, Baumbich
January The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Shaffer
March Front of the Class, How Tourette’s made me Teacher of the Year, Cohen
May A Tale of Two Sons, MacArthur
PASTOR’S SUMMER VACATION AND GREAT SPEAKERS
Besides the eight days the pastor will be in Minneapolis for General Assembly, he will also be on vacation the last three weeks of August. The Sundays he will be away and the guest speakers are listed below:
August 15 – Rev. Gerry Reedell, our Parish Associate
August 22 – Rev. David Bailey, director of Ranch Hope for Boys; special music will be by the Holland Family
August 29 – Rev. Richard Ollinger, Pres./CEO, Cornerstone Christian Academy; special music by Sharon Neff
SUMMER SCHEDULE TO CONTINUE THROUGH SEPTEMBER 5
By the time you receive this Good News we will have finished our regular (winter) schedule and moved to one service at 10:00 a.m. through Labor Day. Come for one great combined congregation. We will have refreshments outside, weather permitting.
Sunday School does not meet during the summer, but we will have two groups of 40 Minutes Club. There is no Sunday breakfast, coffee hour, or chancel choir.
The nursery is open during the summer.
SUMMER USHERING FAMILIES
Our church families will be ushering and collecting this summer. I want to thank them in advance for their gracious volunteering to serve our church. God bless you all.
Yours in Jesus Name,
NEW MEMBERS RECEIVED JUNE 13
Join us in welcoming our new members!
Steve & Dawn Houseworth
440 Coventry Way
Galloway, NJ 08205
402 S Camelback Drive
Galloway, NJ 08205
FROM THE CHOIR LOFT….by Tom Sooy
The beginning lyrics to one of my favorite Irish songs are…
Oh, the summertime is comin',
And the trees are sweetly blooming,
Where the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?
And we'll all go together to pick wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather.
Will ye go, lassie, go?
Well, summertime is fast upon us and so are our Summer Worship Services. As in years past, we will begin with a hymn sing at 9:45. One treat of the summer is that the 4th of July is on Sunday this year! In addition to singing all the great patriotic hymns, we will begin the service with a mini parade of Revolutionary War soldiers, serving as a color guard for the original Stars and Stripes. The costumes and flag and rifles come to us courtesy of our own Roger Wolcott, a direct a descendant of Oliver Wolcott, who was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. I will also be delivering a message entitled, “True Patriotism.”
And this only starts our summer schedule! We have great Special Music for each Sunday.
So, while summer is the time to relax and “pick the wild mountain thyme,” it is also that special time of year to thank God for the blessings He grants us every day of our lives. So come, lasses (and lads) to worship each Sunday this summer. And until next time……see you in the Choir Loft.
NO JULY COMMUNION
Due to the pastor being away in July and other complications the session has voted to not observe communion during the month of July. Communion will be held again on August 1.
NOTICE: MISSING BADGES!
We are losing Usher Badges. I know how easy it is to forget to take them off and put them back after you have ushered. Please check your jackets and pockets at home if you have recently ushered. We have lost 3 in the last four weeks. Two others went missing about 6 months ago. These are expensive to replace.
Thanks for your help in keeping track of them. I really appreciate it.
PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY
We are excited about embarking on a new program/ministry and would like to share it with you in the hopes that we can encourage many to participate. The idea is one that began 10 years ago with a couple of gals from New England that wanted to create something special to give to church members that were going thru difficult times, regardless of the circumstances. Thus they created The Prayer Shawl Ministry. After individuals either knit or crochet a shawl, a group gets together, and each says a prayer for the intended recipient. These can be members of the church or friends that are in need of comfort or prayers or just a blessing or kindness. We will also be sewing laptop quilts.
If you can sew, knit or crochet we would welcome your talent to help in this ministry, and you can do it at home at your leisure. If these are not one of your talents but you wish to become involved, we can use that material you’ve had just sitting there in the drawer for years! After the shawls or quilts are made, we will have a gathering to complete them by saying a prayer for each tie placed in the quilt or each tassel put on the knitted shawl. If you aren’t able create a shawl, you might want to be one of the prayer persons, and participate in that way. The shawl is then ready to be presented to the recipient in a gift box along with a personalized card.
This is a good Evangelism effort on the part of our church, and we hope you will become involved. Patterns and instructions are available and you may contact either Alice Smith or Barbara Morgan or (for those with computers) Google “Prayer Shawl Ministry”.
STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE REPORT
At the end of May, we were under budget by $9,123.19; last year at this time, we were under budget by $7124.50. Thus, we exceeded last years underfunding by $2000. Our giving as reflected in these statistics has declined. Rental income was almost the same as in April mainly because taxes were paid in May.
As we head into summer and single Sunday services, it is important that we all try to keep up with our pledges so our bills can be paid from current income rather than dipping into our reserves.
Statistical Report for May
Budget for 2010 $222,419.00
Budgetary needs through 5/30/10 $ 94,116,00
Our giving through 5/30/10 $ 67,385.80
Investment Income $ 7,474.28
Rental Income (net) $ 10,132.73
Total $ 84,992.81
Amount under budget $ 9,123.19
Average weekly giving by month
January $3261.49 $3689.44
February $3059.14 $3150.85
March $3166.79 $3055.65
April $3069.19 $3355.50
May $2779.57 $2950.76
Gerald W. Hoenes
Stewardship Committee Chairperson
JUNE THANK YOUS
SUMMER HELP ALWAYS WELCOME
Help keep our church looking great this summer! If you have ½ hour or more maybe you could weed, water, trim bushes, etc. around our church and cemetery grounds. Just come when you can, leave when you must!
Thank you to all my helping hands who made the Strawberry Festival a great success. Everyone who picked, prepared, served, set up, and cleaned up did an outstanding job as always. Also, thank you to all who baked goodies to go along with the strawberries. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s effort.
Unfortunately we had to purchase strawberries this year because our event came at the end of the season. We still managed to raise $445. Great job!
I have a tentative date for a dinner cruise of Wednesday, August 11. I will keep you informed in the Sunday bulletin and the Presby Post, so please read them.
I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe summer!
Tina Brown, chair
SUMMER PICNICS AT MANSE AFTER CHURCH
As in past years, Pastor Cobb will be hosting a series of picnics at the manse after church on Sundays. The groupings are for everyone to meet with people they have something in common with. There is no agenda.
The pool and house will be open. You may visit, swim, play badminton, etc. Some Sundays Jack will set up the water slide.
All food will be provided (hot dogs, hamburgers, corn, deviled eggs, dessert, etc.) but if you would like to bring something special like fruit salad, brownies, etc., please let him know so we don’t duplicate.
Please respond by Friday (two days ahead of time) if you are coming so he can plan for food.
Picnics begin after church or around noon. They start when people get there, but Pastor frequently doesn’t get there until noon following worship. The dates are:
EVERGREENS PICNIC, WEDNESDAY, JULY 14th, 12 NOON
Weather permitting, Pastor Dave and Parish Assoc. Gerry will be hosting a picnic at Noon, in back of the manse.
See you there!
Praise for Him
THANKS FOR A GREAT YEAR
Many thanks to everyone who has helped me during another successful year of Agape Lunches. It is appreciated beyond words (that’s in case I may forget to say thank you).
In God’s (AGAPE) Love,
LUNCH BUNCH TO GILCHRIST’S OFFSHORE CAFÉ JULY 1
Lunch Bunch will be the last church activity of our pastor before he leaves for General Assembly on July 2.
Meet at the church at 11:30 or at the restaurant on the White Horse Pike & Cologne Avenue at noon.
PASTORS COBB & REEDELL TO OFFER TWO MONDAY TRIPS THIS SUMMER
Once again this summer there will be Monday daytrips. All you need is spending money and $3.00 for gas. We will leave at 10:00 a.m. and usually return about 3:00. The dates and destinations are as follows:
These trips need at least six people signed up to go.
PASTOR TO OFFER TWO MOUNTAIN TRIPS OVER THE SUMMER
Our pastor now owns a boat that runs and will offer opportunities to young people and adults to accompany him to the Pocono Mountains this summer.
The trips will offer swimming, tubing on the lake, boating, canoeing, hiking, and evening activities at your own expense. We will also have times of devotion and personal reflection.
Participants are expected to contribute $25 toward food, gas, and expenses. Special events like riding go-carts, miniature golf, etc., are at your own expense in addition.
These trips are separate from Pocono trips taken by the youth groups for white water rafting, etc.
The trips are limited to a maximum of ten people. Sorry, but we only have three bedrooms and one bath. We will leave at 9:00 a.m. on departure days.
UPDATE ON NEW JERSEY AVENUE PROJECT
As you may know, the City of Absecon has received several grants to upgrade New Jersey Avenue. A power point presentation on the project was given in Madden Hall on June 10. Invitations were sent to those with a direct interest in the project because of their location on New Jersey Avenue. I attended the presentation on behalf of the Church since we have a lot of exposure to New Jersey Avenue.
The project will be done in phases. One phase will be to create a paver walkway across U.S. 30 at Station Avenue to tie the railroad station to New Jersey Avenue. The curbing and sidewalks on the entire length of New Jersey Avenue from Station Avenue to New Road (Route 9) will be replaced. In from the new curb, there will be an 18 inch strip of brick pavers. From the pavers to the property line will be new cement. The road will not be reconstructed and/or repaved. Electric/telephone poles will remain as they are. (The original idea discussed several years ago was to put all telephone and electric wires underground, remove the poles and reconstruct/repave the road. This is not being done because of cost and the lack of grants).
Bump outs will protrude from the curb into the road at various places along the Avenue. This is to channel traffic away from parked cars. It is possible that planters and trash/recycling receptacles will be placed on the bump outs. From Station Avenue to the Municipal Parking lot, striping will be painted to designate parallel parking on the south side of the Avenue only. After the Municipal Parking lot, heading west on New Jersey Avenue to Wyoming Avenue, the parking will be on the north side of the Avenue with striping for parallel parking.
The direct effect on the church will be minimal. From School Street to Wyoming Avenue, we will have about the same width of walking area. Since the poles will remain, very little (a few inches) can be taken from the existing curb/sidewalk for widening the road. Some of the existing area of the sidewalks on the south side will be taken as needed to maintain a proper width for the road. Striped parallel parking will be marked from in front of the Stopfer building to half way through the end lot on the north side. A bump out will be constructed beyond the newly closed cemetery driveway with a paver walkway to get from the north to the south side of New Jersey Avenue.
Decorative lighting similar to that where the clock pavilion is located will be installed along the Avenue with one light every 75 feet alternating from one side of the road to the other.
The City has the funding in the bank but is waiting final approval before beginning the project. Once final approval is granted, they will go out to bid and then begin the project. We will probably not be impacted before late summer or fall at the earliest. You will be notified through the Good News and the Sunday bulletin if parking on New Jersey Avenue is interrupted during construction.
Gerald W. Hoenes
MARY JANE THOMAS RECOGNIZED BY ATLANTICARE
During National Nurses Week, May 6-14, AtlantiCare recognized many of their registered nurses, advanced practice nurses and licensed practical nurses. Included was our very own Mary Jane Thomas who received the Preceptor of the Year Award for her dedication to mentoring new nurses.
Congratulations, Mary Jane!
The church office will be open most mornings throughout the summer and will be closed for vacation August 30-September 3. Occasionally we may find it necessary to operate on reduced hours. Please call before stopping in.
2010 PICTURE DIRECTORY CREDITS AND PUBLICATION DATE
I thank all who have assisted with the 2010 picture directory effort, especially Kris Jenoriki and her team for handling sign-ups, Carol Thomas and her team for hosting the 5 Olan Mills photo days and updating family information, Gay Channell for typing and proofing the names, addresses, birthdays, anniversaries and hobbies, Dave Cobb for writing the historical page and message from the pastor, and my son Ken Marshall for assisting me with the most difficult Photoshop edits. I thank all photographers particularly Carol Thomas, Jim Maurer, Debbie Wong and Joe Marshall who submitted group and activity photos. Special thanks to Gerry Reedell for scheduling many of the group photos.
I hope to submit the finalized directory, postcard and church brochure proofs to Olan Mills in early July. The expected publication date is early October.
Chair, Picture Directory Committee
2010 PICTURE DIRECTORY: LAST CALL FOR MILITARY AND NOT AVAILABLE PHOTOS
If you haven't submitted your family member's military portrait, please do so on or before July 4th. Photos of spouses, parents, children and grandchildren can be submitted. On the back of the photo print in light ink:
Full Name, Service (eg U.S. Navy), current duty location including city and state, and their relationship to church member. Provide the name of the church member.
(Example: Bob Wolff, U.S. Army, Boot Camp at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, Son of Lee & Robert Wolff.)
IN OUR FATHER’S HOUSE
Leon Richtmyer – June 19, 2010
CHURCH FAMILY DIRECTORY UPDATE
Victor & Rita Abelson
613 Pelican Lane
Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Thank you for your prayers and cards. My good news is that I am cancer free and back on track.
* * * * *
The Morris family would like to thank the Deacons for the generous gift they gave us. It was very much appreciated.
Patti, Jim & Devin Morris
2010 FLOWER CALENDAR HANGING IN VESTIBULE
Our 2010 flower calendar is hanging in the vestibule. If you would like to purchase altar flowers for any particular Sunday of the year please sign up to reserve your date! The cost for a single urn is $25.00 or $40.00 or two for $40. Order forms are available in an envelope next to the chart to be filled in and returned to the church office with your payment. This will help the secretary know what you would like printed in the Sunday bulletin.
Do we have your email address? If not, email the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask to be added to our list of contacts to get weekly updates, announcements and information. You don’t know what you’re missing!
REMEMBER, DEADLINES ARE IMPORTANT!
“Good Morning” (Sunday bulletin announcements) – Noon Thursday
“The Presby Post” (That Friday email thing) – 9:00 a.m. Friday
“Good News” (Monthly newsletter) – 20th of the month
Articles are to be in writing and submitted to the office (via email preferred) by that day. Please keep in mind it may be necessary to edit due to space limitations.
4 Nancy Sooy 1 Don & Debora Wong
11 Sonny & Carol Kleiner 8 Dawn Duran
18 Lynn Adkisson 15 Jim & Barbara Maurer
25 Maria Correno 22 Roy Birkbeck
4 Gerry Reedell 1 Louise Speitel
11 Scott Sabo 8 Scott Sabo
18 Bob Hunter 15 Scott Sabo
25 Ginny Davenport 22 Bob Hunter
29 Joanie Hoenes
4 Dan & Barbara Hughes 1 Bob & Barbara Hudak
11 Ed & Karen Little 8 David & Naida Burgess
18 Don & Debora Wong 15 Janice Bond & Gloria Achamizo
25 Rob & Jaynie Perry 22 Jim & Maggie McManus
29 John Harvey & Russell Adkisson Jr
4 Chris & Nick Hughes 1 Kristin & Bobby Hudak
11 Kassie & Libby Little 8 Sam & Bud Burgess
18 Jeremy & Elisa Wong 15 Christina Bond & Elena Achamizo
25 Jake & Zack Perry 22 Michael & Annie McManus
29 Chris Harvey & Russell Adkisson III
DEACONS GUEST BOOK
4 Ginny Davenport 1 Irene Hunter
11 Naida Burgess 8 Jo-ann Weller
18 Carol Thomas 15 Jinny Wolcott
25 Carol Jorgensen 22 Pat Hudak
29 Ginny Davenport
40 MINUTE CLUB
4 K-3 Naida Burgess, Sam Burgess 1 K-3 Karen Little, Ed Little
4-7 Janna Beth Cobb, Jason Imlay 4-7 Barbara Hughes, Chris Hughes
11 K-3 Jennifer Platt, Irfan Bhatti 8 K-3 Tina Harvey, Debora Wong
4-7 JoAnn Sabo, Melvin Washington 4-7 Dawn Duran, Tina Brown
18 K-3 Sheila Mazzatta, Jeff Mazzatta 15 K-3 Lucy Jerue, Lynn Adkisson
4-7 Rita Abelson, Vic Abelson 4-7 Barbara Hudak, Kristin Hudak
25 K-3 JoAnn Sabo, Melvin Washington 22 K-3 Melissa Dischert, Fran Tanner
4-7 Jack Cobb, Kendal Cobb 4-7 Dirk Williamson, Desiree Williamson
29 K-3 Fran Tanner, Dawn Houseworth
4-7 Rita Abelson, Vic Abelson
4 Jennifer Platt 1 Bob Hudak
11 Kira Greenlee 8 Jennifer Platt
18 Dawn Lewis 15 Kira Greenlee
25 Alice Malfi 22 Dawn Lewis
29 Alice Malfi
4 John Harvey 1 John Harvey
11 NO VAN 8 Jose Achamizo
18 John Channell 15 John Channell
25 Vic Abelson 22 Vic Abelson
29 Ed Little
SO WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAKE?
“And God has put all things under Jesus’ feet and has made Him the head over all things for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” ~ Ephesians 1:22-23
By the time you receive this I will be immersed in General Assembly literature. I am on the committee for interfaith and ecumenical relations, and new articles appear on my email every day. We are voting on study papers about the relationship between Muslims and Christians, Seventh Day Adventists and Christianity, etc. I also have books about other hot topics – “Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality” and the Report on the Middle East Study Committee. I also get literature regarding groups on the “left” and the “right”, the form of government, and procedural issues that need to be followed. It’s really daunting.
But the real issue is “Will it make any difference?” In the 36 years I’ve been ordained the membership in the denomination has declined every year, and the statistics for Sunday Schools and youth programs are dismal. The denomination is facing a financial shortfall that will see many layoffs on all levels. Yet most of General Assembly will be tied up with interfaith relationships, culture wars like defining marriage, study papers, and procedural issues.
What will that do to help a declining church?
Quite a bit, actually. General Assembly is charged with defining who we are. Our lack of identity is a turn off to the general public. If you ask the average person what they think of the Presbyterian Church, USA they have no opinion. Sadly, our membership knows little about us. Tell me, is the Presbyterian Church traditional or progressive? Do we care more about justice or evangelism? Are we liberal or conservative? Is the church run by lay people or bureaucrats? What do Presbyterians think about the Bible, capitalism, mission, contemporary worship, etc? Where do we fit into this American society? Do we count for anything, or are we content to just be a “presence”?
If my going will help the PCUSA discover a new sense of purpose and identity, the trip will be well worth the effort. It is out of identity that we find our passion, our goals, our unity and our future growth. Without it we muddle along with mediocrity. And we decline.
By the way, what is true of the denomination is true of the churches. Indeed, the denomination finds its identity through the identity of the churches. So in the final analysis, the denomination can not be reborn until the individual churches are reborn. And reborn churches have identity. They are driven. They are not wishy-washy. They grow.
So I am going not so much to give identity to the denomination, but to get a new handle on how we can get a new identity here in Absecon.
As Tip O’Neal of Massachusetts used to say, “All politics is local. Nothing happens nationally until it happens locally.”
That means it’s really about us. Let’s make a difference.
Pray for me,
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