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Pastors' Column

Each week one of our pastors or staff members writes a column observing what is going on in our congregation, the Church and the world, and offering reflections on the Christian life and faith. Through this series of columns, we hope to connect your and our story to the enduring story of Christ; to offer pastoral reflections on our ongoing congregational life and mission; to report on news of the Presbyterian Church and Church universal; and to invite further reflection and deeper discipleship. We welcome your comments and suggestions. In other words, our words here are an invitation to continue the conversation.

The Language of Service

This past Monday I had the great privilege of participating with my ten year old son, Owen, and about 20 other BMPC children in a day of service organized and led here at the church by my colleague Rachel Pedersen. It was a wonderful day of games, conversation, laughter, and service for these children and the adults who volunteered their day in service to our children.

Read more: The Language of Service

The Excitement of New Beginnings

Because our sons are out of the nest, I admit I miss that back-to-school ritual of meandering through a crowded office supply store, along with scores of other families, to fill our basket with the shiny new binders and pens and all the rest of the stuff needed for the learning that a new school year promised. That shopping trip made me remember how I always loved the fresh beginning of returning to friends and the rhythms of a new school year. Now all I get is the bill from a college bookstore far away!

Read more: The Excitement of New Beginnings

Benediction

Over the course of the summer, our Summer Sunday School students learned about the different parts of worship.  We sang the doxology (with bell accompaniment), wrote our own call to worship, collected an offering and more.  During our last class, we learned about “Benediction.” As a class we discussed why we end worship with a blessing. The Benediction is a special blessing that connects us to God while we are apart from one another. Looking around the classroom it was an especially poignant conversation knowing that students were preparing for a new school year. How do we send people to begin something new?

Read more: Benediction

Connecting Face-to-Face

Over the past several weeks I have heard stories of the saints who have come before us in this place who gave generously to fund the mission of Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church. I have heard stories of our relationships with mission partners from all over the world. I have heard stories of faithful members of this congregation who have inspired the entire church to take on projects and adopt new perspectives on issues and needs in West Philadelphia shaping BMPC’s outreach priorities.

Read more: Connecting Face-to-Face

The “Re-“ Factor

As one of my pastor colleagues responded recently to a question I had asked, “We’re deep into August here.”  That’s one way of saying that we’re experiencing the calm before the storm.  We haven’t begun our full fall program yet, and the vacation Bible camps, youth mission trips, summer camps at Kirkwood – all of those – are now part of the summer’s history.  It’s a time when pastors fill in for one another to allow much-needed vacation and study-leave time away.  August is a good month for those things.

Read more: The “Re-“ Factor

Camp Kirkwood 2015

“The impact of camp is not program or facility but people…long after games and adventure are forgotten, campers will remember their counselors.” –Lloyd Mattson, The Camp Counselor

I believe there was an essential reason that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16). There is something about getting out of our usual routines and surroundings that helps us to get in sync in our walk with Jesus. Disconnecting from our cell phones and other devices also enables us to connect with God in a fresh way. When we are clear of distractions and renewed in our faith, we can also forge relationships that last a lifetime.

Read more: Camp Kirkwood 2015

Why I Love Bible Study

I’ve been engaged in some form of Bible study for more than 30 years. Ever since I attended a small study group for young mothers at Selwyn Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC in 1978, I’ve been hooked. I’ve regularly participated in Bible study since then because I often find it difficult to understand scripture on my own. Too often, I’m left wondering, “What’s the point? What does this really mean – especially in the context of today?”

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Urban Plunge 2015

What do serving hot meals to seniors, cleaning up Central Park, and sorting clothes at a homeless ministry have in common? The Middle School Urban Plunge in NYC! From our mission base at Brick Presbyterian Church, this year's middle school mission trip has taken place in the city that never sleeps, with our group of youth tirelessly serving a number of organizations.

Read more: Urban Plunge 2015

Settling in at Bryn Mawr

How are you settling in? This is the question that we are hearing again and again these days as we meet so many folks from the congregation. It is hard to really express how much more smoothly this transition to this new call, this new city, and this new life has been for our family compared to what it meant for us to move to Egypt just a little over two years ago in the midst of the 2013 revolution.

Read more: Settling in at Bryn Mawr

Giving Thanks for Church Pillars

It’s a common expression to describe a highly involved, deeply committed church leader as a “pillar of the church.” Derived from an architectural feature, the idiom translates easily. A vertical column upholds the building; people called by God to special roles in the community of faith uphold the congregation’s witness as a supporter and stabilizing influence.

Read more: Giving Thanks for Church Pillars