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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.

When Prayers Pierce

Recently in a staff meeting, one of my colleagues opened with a prayer from our Book of Common Worship. Drawing from ‘A Litany of Thanksgiving,’ she prayed, “For the young; for their high hopes; for their irreverence toward worn-out values; for their search for freedom; for their solemn vows; Thank you, God.”

Read more: When Prayers Pierce

Reconnect: Kirkwood 2017

It takes a while to connect with the traditions and overall “quirkiness” of Camp Kirkwood, but once you do, you’re hooked! Each morning, our middle and high schoolers stumble out of their bunks and charge down to the “Coop” for breakfast. When stomachs are full and tables cleared, our frazzled cohort makes its way to “BOBS,” where we begin our day with worship. Camp songs blare, hand motions fly, and spirits rise as we prepare our hearts to hear God’s word. For the first time, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming a different BMPC associate pastor to preach every morning. Campers have a unique chance to build relationships with pastors they see from a distance on Sunday mornings. 

Read more: Reconnect: Kirkwood 2017

Connecting in the Wilderness

It was the second day of this year’s high school mission trip to Crownpoint, NM. There was no Wi-Fi, sparse cell reception, and absolutely zero chance that I would be checking my overdue work emails. To my delight, our young folks were content with a weeklong break from their preferred social network. I was not. The busyness so many of us pack into our daily lives followed me all the way to the deserts of the Navajo Nation.  

Read more: Connecting in the Wilderness

Support theVillage Backpack Collection

I loved the first day of school. I loved pulling out my new pencil box with perfectly sharpened pencils, admiring the brand new crayons still in perfect order. I remember organizing and reorganizing my backpack so everything would be ready.

It was the first day of first or second grade, when we were given a simple assignment to draw a picture from the summer. My crayons were at the ready! One of the students sitting next to me looked nervous. “I forgot my crayons,” she said as I let her borrow mine.

Read more: Support theVillage Backpack Collection

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