The monthly newsletter for the First Presbyterian Church of Spring Hill, Tennessee.
It was good to see Josh Hogan in church last month; he was on his way back to Hawaii (life’s tough!) after a stint in Iraq (OK, it is tough). It’s appropriate that Josh was here right before the July 4th weekend because it reminds us that our country requires a lot from us to maintain its freedom and its benefits; it’s a shame that the requirement can be so dangerous for the men and women who serve in the military. I personally don’t care for the recent tendency to call our service people “warriors”; I think it allows us the opportunity to distance ourselves from the sacrifice we ask them to make as if there were some kind of “warrior class” in American culture. We need to remember that the folks we send into harm’s way come from the same neighborhoods, schools, and churches as all of our children – maybe this will calm us down when we’re thinking about war.
We should be proud of being Americans on our nation's birthday, not in the heartless sense of "America, love it or leave it," but in the sense that there is something here among her people that makes America lovely. We celebrate with the humility that we have not achieved the highest goal, that there will always be room for improvement and that God has called our country to never be satisfied with injustice and poverty and cruelty. The shortcomings of our country should open our eyes to its need, but the grace of God should open our hearts for hope.
Christ would have us enter into the fray of discipleship aware of the pitfalls so that we won't become our own greatest enemy. He wants us to recognize that part of the battle of doing His work is the battle we carry on with ourselves to avoid having hubris close our ears to His words of grace that are our only hope. We are to do good works in the faith, and they may be a source of careful and humble pride but only in the One who made those works possible when God made us subjects of His empowering love. Then our works communicate to others the grace of Jesus Christ and those works themselves become an invitation to accept God's grace.
BTW, we were forced to get another copier because the old one was on its last legs and was going to be needing toner soon – an expense that we didn’t want to make with “copier death” immanent. The copier is not difficult to use, but it requires a little practice.
Yours in Christ,
The PW will have their Birthday Outing on July 13, the venue will be announced. The regular meeting will be on July 25 in Fellowship Hall. For those who made arrangements with Sarah Harris, don’t forget the matinee at Chaffin’s Barn on July 28.
Please remember our shut-ins: Alice Campbell, Billie Galloway, Liz Jacobs, and Jean Webster. Continue to lift up Marnie Pewitt and her family in your prayers as she struggles with cancer. Abner Alley underwent surgery in June for a very rare cancer, but the good news is it hadn’t spread and he should be fine.
We are having a cookout on July 24 in the place of the Fellowship Luncheon. Immediately after Worship we will gather in Fellowship Hall and outside to close out Vacation Bible School week and to join in a meal with the people who brought their children to VBS. Cookout food (hotdogs and hamburgers) will be provided, but we ask that you bring side dishes and desserts. This meal is the place of the Ice Cream Social, so you might want to bring some homemade ice cream to pick up the slack!
The following letter was issued following the General Assembly last month:
Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a new season in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as witnessed by the actions of the 222nd General Assembly (2016). The body of 594 commissioners who gathered June 18-25 in Portland, Oregon, elected Co-Moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston, and J. Herbert Nelson as the Stated Clerk. Both were historic, and both signal a new way forward for our church. The business decisions made by the body also were transformative for the 1,572,660 members and 9,642 churches of the PC(USA). The work wasn’t easy, and involved careful deliberations. Collectively, the body acted on nearly 100 overtures by discerning the will of Christ.
Among other things, we now have a new addition to our Book of Confessions – the Confession of Belhar. It is the first of our confessions that comes from the global south. And, the PC(USA) has a new Directory for Worship; and Child/Youth/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and Procedures. God is truly guiding us to be more faithful and just to all of God’s creations.
Much discussion has been taking place around the identity and purpose of the denomination, and this week the assembly voted to create a 12-member Way Forward Commission “to study and identify a vision for the structure and function of the General Assembly agencies of the PC(USA),” and a 15-member 2020 Vision Team to “develop a guiding statement for the denomination and make a plan for its implementation.”
To quote Stated Clerk-elect J. Herbert Nelson, “We are not dead ... we are alive, we are reforming and we are transforming this world, one person at a time.”
Looking outward, the assembly voted to engage in selective, phased divestment from fossil-fuel companies through the PC(USA)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee, and re-affirmed a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine.
Please know this is only a snapshot of the actions taken, and just a glimpse at where God is leading this denomination. Complete business actions can be viewed at www.pc-biz.org.
We are, brothers and sisters, in a new season. It’s exciting, but also a little scary. Yet in the midst of it all, take comfort that God is still guiding and controlling all – and we need not fear. God is calling us to hope, and to God be the glory!
VBS will begin on July 18 at 9:00; it’s going to be interesting since the Red Cross will be here that same day, but we should be able to work around one another. We want to thank the folks who have volunteered to teach and are donating money for snacks and items for crafts. If you are free any day that week consider coming by to help greet people or distribute snacks or help in other ways; even though the teacher slots are filled it’s always helpful to have folks around to point the way or help clean up. The hours for VBS are 9:00 until 12:00.
June's "Guess Who?" - Kathy Thompson
July's "Guess Who?"