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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.

Join us in Supporting the 300th Anniversary of the Presbytery of Philadelphia

2017 marks the 300th anniversary of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. I am still getting used to the frequent refrain in this part of the world where we are privileged to find the first university, the first library, the first mint, the first zoo, the first hospital, even the first volunteer fire company in the United States.

So it should be no surprise that Philadelphia is home, not just to the oldest Presbytery in the country, but some of the oldest Presbyterian congregations as well.

It is hard to imagine that just a few miles away from Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church there are churches twice as old as we are! For half the life of this Presbytery, our congregation didn’t even exist.

Read more: Join us in Supporting the 300th Anniversary of the Presbytery of Philadelphia

Learning Life Lessons

This week our middle school students took the Urban Plunge into the Youth Initiative program at Broad Street Ministry (BSM) in Philadelphia. There we took part in new and different worship services, discussions about poverty, racism, and the bible, and experienced many different work sites where we served in diverse ways.

Read more: Learning Life Lessons

A Taste of the Kingdom of God

This week I experienced my first Fourth of July in the greater Philadelphia area. I went to a cookout in Glenside. Everybody knows the right foods for the Fourth: hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, lots of fresh fruit and luscious vine-ripened tomatoes, not to mention chilled beverages. Well-fortified, we made our way down to the parade. Glenside has a hoppin’ parade; the streets and lawns were lined with people, old and young in a dazzling array of reds, whites, and blues. I saw one girl with a star shape braided into the hair on the back of her head. I don’t know how you do that, but I was impressed. For one afternoon, we all seemed proud to wear our country on our sleeves, our backs and even woven into the very fibers on our head.

Read more: A Taste of the Kingdom of God

Good News in Overwhelmed-ness

“Like trying to take a drink of water from a fire hose.” That’s how I’ve described these first few weeks of my life and work here at BMPC. Maybe it’s because I came from a small congregation in a rural part of the country. Or maybe it’s because in a church this large, there are a lot of systems and programs with which to become acquainted. Or maybe it’s because I’ve gotten lost more than once and somehow ended up in the Sanctuary basement. Regardless of the reason, I’ve felt the strong urge to nap every time I come home for lunch.

Read more: Good News in Overwhelmed-ness

How do you tell the story of God's love?

As each child runs past me, I read the same question written across the back of their VBC T-shirt: “How do you tell the story of God’s love?” This week as we’ve been learning about Jesus’ parables and the ways he described God’s love to the world, and while we’ve been learning those parables, I’ve also seen the story of God’s love told in the actions and the work of our camp’s participants.

Read more: How do you tell the story of God's love?

Calling Disciples

One thing that pastors have to get very good at early on is telling their “call” story. This is an essential element in determining as a larger church whether or not that particular person should become a pastor. And so every time an aspiring pastor meets with their Session, their Presbytery and their potential first congregation, they are asked to tell the story of their “call” to ministry.

Read more: Calling Disciples

Our Daily Breath

We made it! We made it through the May sweeps of Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations and confirmations and all the end of school year events… Weddings. Pentecost. Things are winding down for the summer, and you can almost hear sighs of relief.

Read more: Our Daily Breath

Summertime Worship Rhythms Begin

Last summer we got so much positive feedback about our sermon series based on the Old Testament stories we teach our youngest children, we are doing a reprise with the New Testament! In the summer, preachers and congregants come and go, but the series provides a continuity of theme. Again, with artwork adorning our bulletin covers from the curriculum of our four and five-year-olds, we hope that worship will be a truly intergenerational experience as we explore the treasured Bible stories from the life of Jesus.

Read more: Summertime Worship Rhythms Begin

Thank You

I am continually filled with gratitude during this season of transition. In fact, a spirit of thankfulness has filled each of the past six years in my ministry at BMPC. The first sermon I ever preached in the Sanctuary on Thanksgiving weekend was on the theme of cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Now, as I am preaching my last sermon in Bryn Mawr, I feel the same sense of gratefulness.

Read more: Thank You

We Sing as Love

This Sunday, May 21, at 3:00 p.m., nearly 200 singers and 38 orchestral musicians will combine forces under the leadership of two of the world’s greatest choral legends, Anton Armstrong and André Thomas. Dr. Armstrong is conductor of the famed St. Olaf Choir, arguably one of the greatest choirs in the world and certainly the finest college choir in America. Dr. Thomas is renowned for his arrangements of African-American spirituals and composer of dozens of works, including a new Mass in gospel and jazz style. You will hear two movements from that Mass this Sunday.

Read more: We Sing as Love