Can you see this agapanthus popping up just like a disciple looking above and longing to know Christ? Lamentations 3: 25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Wednesday I co-led a Bible Study discussion on the Book of Lamentations emphasizing the hopeful last two verses of the fifth chapter. I left the study renewed because of the intelligence of the author of Lamentations and our combined insights. God had a plan all along even if we do not know about it or understand it. Lamentations is also a book about people who long for a God who seems so silent. But God is hungry to share with us, and God is hungry that we share who we are with God. Here is my epiphany: It is easy to share our deepest worries with God. We need to do that especially now. But, a sure sign of heart-friendship-lordship is our willingness to also share with God our greatest aspirations and our highest hopes. That’s harder to do. At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God. Then we find that God longs for us to be in an intimate relationship with Himself— to get us in touch with His kingdom and His purposes and not just ours.
Give Lamentations a sit down look.
Attached is the pre-recorded Bible Study from our General Assembly with an introduction; for ministers there is a wonderful overview of the Book of Lamentations with many insights for sermons that may come your way when you fall into the text with this tool.
Sara Core from First Central Presbyterian Church in Abilene is ready to be a Commissioned Pastor. She has officially completed her Certificate in Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary! Rev. Cliff Stewart presented her with this as they were filming FCPC online service for this coming Sunday. What does God have for her next? Look out; she’s extraordinary.
With the explosion of Covid-19 infections in Texas and listening to the Governor’s advice yesterday and today, this message comes our way from J. Herbert Nelson, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) who leads our denomination. Ministers working alongside the Session have planned creatively around the pandemic all along. Sessions decide next steps about reopening the church. Consider this voice as you make your decision.
Message from J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly at https://vimeo.com/427036866
Despite overall membership decline, some good news
Even casual observers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are likely aware that the membership of the denomination has decreased steadily for quite some time. However, not all of the news about the PC(USA) is bad news. Consider these findings from the recently released Comparative Statistics 2009.
- There were 20 new church developments in 2009.
- Membership increased in 13 presbyteries (North Puget Sound, Northwest, San Juan, Twin Cities Area, Midwest Hanmi, St. Andrew, Atlantic Korean-American, Boston, Eastern Korean, Eastern Oregon, Kendall, Sacramento, and Hanmi).
- The numbers of racial ethnic candidates for ministry increased.
- Investment income increased.
- Asian membership increased.
- There was an increase in Asian leadership (elders, deacons, and active clergy).
- The number of congregations without pastoral leadership decreased.
- There was an increase in the number of female ministers and the number of congregations with a female head of staff, solo pastor, or co-pastor.
Comparative Statistics 2009, released recently, is an annual publication of the Research Services office that tracks trends for the denomination in the areas of membership, ministers, and financial data for congregations. The resource summarizes this information for the denomination and often by synod and presbytery.
This year’s edition features an introductory easy, “Membership Change in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A): Trends in Gains and Losses,” by Jack Marcum, coordinator of Research Services of the General Assembly Mission Council. Referring to the overall membership loss for 2009, Marcum points out that many Presbyterians were working last year to increase gains or to reduce losses in membership. He notes that “one more gain or one fewer loss for every 34 members would have completely eliminated the net loss in 2009.” That certainly should give Presbyterians something to think about.