Paul’s Message: Time to Believe

“It’s time to believe what we know.”

I heard Rob Davies say this during the opening of last fall’s Bioneers Conference. During this presentation, spoken word was offered, accompanied by the Fry Street Quartet providing original music composed just for the occasion, under a big screen that displayed powerful images of both creation’s beauty and creation’s crisis. This presentation was intended to usher the audience into an experience that not only informs the mind, but moves the soul. It worked … and we need more.

The scientific community has spoken, and continues to confirm what we have long known: the creation is wounded. We know that it will require common action to heal. We know that changes in lifestyle and outlook are needed to build a sustainable future. We know these things. But knowing isn’t believing. Belief draws upon knowing, but is more than intellectual assent; it involves the soul. It involves tapping the deep waters of human identity and relationship to shape life that is in harmony with creation rather than at odds with it.

Over the past year, I have become more and more convinced that as we celebrate creation’s beauty and wrestle with its crisis, there is a need for proclamation that not only informs the mind, but moves our individual and corporate soul. I believe that we need the spoken word. We need original music composed just for this occasion. We need powerful images splashed across screens small and large. We need the kind of proclamation that draws upon science and spirituality, conversation and invitation, grace and justice, deep reflection and meaningful action. The focus of this needed proclamation is to call those who are unaware, educate those who are uninformed, empower those who are ready to work, nudge those who are reluctant, and strengthen those who are losing hope. I believe that we can do that. It leads to believing … living what we know.

When the church is at its best, it empowers individuals and communities to live faithfully in ways that bring peace, healing, and justice. When the church is at its best, it brings life like Jesus did. We at FPC are flawed and sinners like everyone else, but through God’s grace we want to be the church at its best. That’s why over the coming year we are going to work on growing in environmental ministry.

What’s environmental ministry? It’s ministry, rooted in a strong biblical foundation, that seeks to nurture a healthy and sustainable relationship with the creation that God has placed in our care. It’s ministry that seeks to bring healing to the wounds that we inflict upon the world. It’s ministry that seeks justice and wholeness not only for people, but for all of life.

The Session (the governing body of our congregation) has committed our congregation to this ministry. We believe it’s a natural calling for our church. We hope and encourage you to be involved. There will be opportunities small and larger to both learn and share, to be changed and to bring change. Take note of the lunch on May 6. Speak to me or a session member about what we are doing. And together we will make a difference, bringing belief based on what we know. –Peace, Paul

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  • Sabbatical

    Well my friends, this is my last point of contact with you for the next three months, barring unforeseen circumstances. I am taking a sabbatical this summer, granted to me by you (through a congregational meeting some time ago). Clergy sabbaticals are designed for rest, recovery, and restoration. It’s a healthy thing to do, of course, and the Presbytery of Utah recommends that congregations grant their pastors a sabbatical every seven years (serving the same church, that is). It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve been here in Logan for eight and a half years.

    The end goal for such a time is to provide pastors with opportunity for spiritual and mental rest and restoration, to help re-energize pastors, and to prevent burnout. Pastors have a fairly high rate of burnout, but providing time for spiritual, mental, and physical self-care is one of the best ways to prevent such things.

    It’s not only about rest, however. I’ll be studying and engaging in some healthy spiritual practices too. I will be worshiping at other churches each Sunday to experience the ways that other congregations praise the Lord, so that I might observe and consider new things for the ministry life of FPC Logan. I have a small collection of books I plan to read, including Canoeing the Mountains (a book about Christian leadership in uncharted territory) and One Long River of Song (recommended by someone at FPC), and a few others that I hope will inspire good preaching and pastoral leadership when I return. These readings will go along with daily scripture study. Due to the Covid pandemic I didn’t attend any continuing education conferences last year, but I plan to use part of this sabbatical time to so some individual continuing education. There is always something more for me to learn about my role as your pastor. I look forward to sharing some of this with you upon my return to First Presbyterian Church in September.

    Summer Worship—

    A reminder to you all that during the months of June, July, and August worship will be at 9am and 10:30am. If you show up at 11 you’ll miss half of the sermon!Masks will be required until Session determines otherwise, and worship will be in Bruner Hall for both services (this allows us to space out our seating). I have carefully chosen guest preachers for you on the Sundays that Pastor Meg won’t be preaching. They range from experienced pastors to seminary graduates, but I fell they will all bring a wonderful message to you each Sunday. Please give them the warmest welcome when they help lead worship.

    We have a system in place to live stream worship to YouTube, but there are a few technical challenges with this that I’ve been trying to work out over the last month (with audio and live streaming the video). If you choose to worship from home and the live stream is not available on Sunday mornings (because of some technical difficulty), we will try to post the recording for your viewing on Monday morning when the office is open. Please extend us some grace with this. I think it will all work out, but it’s not always a simple process and complications arise.

    Praying that you all have a wonderful, Spirit-filled summer. I’ll see you soon.

    May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all, —Derek

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