Archive for General

A Note from Stephen October

As you will have heard by now, at the September 19 meeting of the Session I shared my intention to retire as of January 31, 2018. And as I wrote to you in the letter sent the next day, my retirement comes with very mixed feelings. I am already learning that the process of retirement is much like a funeral. It is, for me, a process of letting go of a congregation and a ministry I have come to love deeply. It means the ending of a path of life, as a pastor, on which I have traveled for forty years. So as look to the future I am very conscious of what I am losing, and worried about being lost as well.
Now is a good time to learn from the trees, especially the ones whose leaves turn bright colors
before they drop from the limbs, as fall gives way to winter. The fall colors teach us to be joyful in the good gifts that God gives, even though we know they will not last forever. And over the years, we come to recognize that the colors of each fall are reminders that all things have their appointed time, and while every fall heralds the winter that is coming, so each promises the spring that will again burst forth to renew the earth.
I know what the privilege of being your pastor for the last 6 and 1⁄2 years has meant to me, and so I give thanks to God and to you for the crowning joy of my vocation as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). So whatever season my pastorate has meant for you: winter, spring, summer or fall, take heart in the knowledge that it has been but a step towards better and newer things that God has promised to this church and each of you. See, I am making all things new! (Rev.21:5).
See you in church!

A Note from Stephen September

The church, like our schools, begins its program year in September. As you will see elsewhere in the newsletter, a new year begins for the Chancel Choir and the Gloria Dei Bell Choir. Sunday School for all ages resumes. The Martha Circle begins a new Horizons Study on the Book of Hebrews. The worship services will be richer in music, scripture and prayer. Meanwhile, our ministries of compassion and outreach will continue. If I may quote myself from last September’s Chimes:
So happy new (program) year! The great things about God’s grace are that it lets us make a new beginning any time. It is always true, as we sometimes say as words of pardon in our Sunday services:
“To all and to each, where regret is real, God pronounces pardon, and grants us the right to begin again.”
It is well to remember that a year can begin again only if there have been years before it. And surely we would not even bother with a new program year if we were not hoping that what we do now will have a positive effect on the times to come. We believe that what we do today will make a better life and world for ourselves and generations to come. This is the real meaning of the word “heritage.” Our true heritage is the blessings that have come down to us through the years from those who came before us. The legacies we want to leave blessings that future generations will celebrate as their heritage.
This is why, even though it is still just September, I want to alert you to a very special day for First Presbyterian Church: Sunday, November 5. You will be hearing more about it in the coming weeks. It will be a day of celebrating the past, of reaching out to the future, and fun. We will have some very special visitors from the past and from the future. And oh yes, some serious eating. At this point, we are calling it Heritage Sunday, but the focus will be as much on the future as on the past. And the present will get its due.
In the meantime, let us continue being faithful to the heritage we have received, and we can be sure the future will be inspired to renew their faithfulness by the heritage they receive through us.
See you in church.