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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.

Called to Come Alive!

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

This week, as we welcomed our new parish nurse and social worker, these words from Howard Thurman rang in my ears. Sang in my ears. In our church and in our world, there are many needs. Sometimes, when I survey the landscape of need, I get overwhelmed or discouraged. Sometimes I feel guilt and shame, inadequate. Why? In part, because there are so many needs. But mostly because I am looking in the wrong direction. I focus on the needs rather than the one who can supply our every need. I focus on my inadequacy rather than God’s sufficiency.

Read more: Called to Come Alive!

A Day of Gratitude and Welcome

This coming Sunday our church family will host significant celebrations of leadership on our church staff for very important ministry areas.

We will give thanks to God during the 10:00 a.m. worship service for Donna Barrickman’s ministry and have a more informal opportunity to send her into retirement with our love and appreciation during the reception after worship in the Ministries Center Court. In her 27 years on the church staff as Membership and Communications Manager, Donna has welcomed more than 1,200 new members and coordinated 108 New Member Orientation classes! For many of us, Donna has extended the first word of welcome as we came through the doors of BMPC.

Read more: A Day of Gratitude and Welcome

Life in Community

This coming Sunday will be a day of great celebration as we kick off a new program year and enjoy our annual Rally Day picnic on the front lawn following the 10 a.m. service. After summertime comings and goings it will be a joy to be together in greater numbers again, to share a meal and fellowship, and to learn about many programmatic offerings and service opportunities planned for fall. Children and youth will have the opportunity to greet one another and meet their church school teachers, and the picnic will include all kinds of fun activities for all ages, as well as good food and fellowship. Rally Day is the celebration of being called into the community of the church together.

Read more: Life in Community

Memories and Sacred Spaces

When I was 14 years old, I became a member of the First Baptist Church of Rhodhiss, N.C.

I was baptized by immersion into the chilly waters of the small metal pool that had welcomed thousands of people before me into Christian communion. As the pastor quoted scripture, I caught a glimpse of rust stains around the drain at the bottom of the pool. An oil painting of a river bank covered the wall behind me. It had once been the pride of the Sanctuary. Only a faint glimmer of its former exuberance remained. The artist’s work was faded and cracked. Years of dust had accumulated on the thickest brush strokes, and the canvas was peeling on all four corners. The state of the painting, and the whole baptismal array, dismayed many. For me, it revealed the tattered elegance of a space worn out by faithful service.

Read more: Memories and Sacred Spaces

Sharing the Story of Mission

Do you remember that camp song, “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love?” I grew up singing that song every year at camp, on church retreats, in Sunday School. There was something about the images in that song that really struck me as a child – especially the verses.

Read more: Sharing the Story of Mission

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