Paul’s Message: Steadfastness and Newness

BalloonInFallTake a look at our congregation. On one level, we have to celebrate many things that are, for the most part, abiding – things that haven’t changed for a long time. Our red brick building has been here since the twenties. Much of our liturgy comes from scripture and the early church. We enjoy potlucks like the church has had since Peter first said, “Thomas, pass the pita.” That steadiness is good. It reflects the abiding character and essence of God’s love. It is comforting to recognize that the steadfast love of the Lord is just that, steadfast.

But if you look carefully, change has also always been part of the church. In the 50’s, the building added a gym. Many different faces have come and gone. Different preachers have offered their thoughts and prayers. A praise band has added its joyful sounds to the organ in out music ministry. The gym has become a multi-use space that ministers to us and to many in the community. We have added Derek to our staff and he is doing wonderful new things. We are, I believe, discovering the significance of the gospel ever more deeply. It is inspiring and empowering to know that our steadfast God is ever and always “doing a new thing.”

Steadfastness and newness, two blessed sides of faith.

God’s vision for our congregation today also reflects both steadfastness and newness. As we have discerned it, our vision is to continue to offer the same grace-filled, hope-planting, justice-building, peace-fostering ministry that this church has offered since we opened our doors in 1878.

At the same time, we believe that God wants us to grow. God wants us to grow in faith, and grow in our outreach to the community and to the world.God has new things in store for us – a new era of ministry at First Presbyterian that reaches out to more youth and young adults, that guides more people of all stripes of faith, that heals the creation in profound ways; all this through the abiding gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fall is here – a new season. Fall is part of the abiding cycle of nature that brings new life. But before you get tot he newness of spring, you have to shake all the old leaves off the tree to make room for new ones to grow. In that spirit, we are having a capital campaign this fall. A mailing has been sent to all attending this congregation. Through the campaign, we want to shake off the leaves of debt that we still have from the last building renewal. We need to make room for new leaves. This is what the campaign is about.

Steadfast and new – this is what the gospel is. This is what we are. When you come on a Sunday morning or on any day for any church activity, we believe you will find comfort in the abiding gopel. At the same time, you will be empowered by a breeze of new, challenging,refreshing ministry. This ministry comes from God through you, and it is for you. It will bless you, and it enables you to be a blessing. We hope you’ll be a part.

Peace, Paul

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  • Lent in the Midst of COVID

    We’re in the church season of Lent, a time of journeying with Jesus as he makes his way to Jerusalem and to the cross.  In addition to Sunday worship services on YouTube we will be adding short mid-week Lenten devotions from Pastor Meg and myself (also available on YouTube).

     Last month Mary-Ann Muffoletto sent me a picture. She took a ‘screen shot’ of our most recent Zoom congregational meeting, and I’m thankful she thought to do this. This is the moment when we ordained and installed new elders and deacons to our church. This is usually a sacred moment of our worship together on Sunday mornings, a special time for those new deacons and elders and also for the congregation as these individuals step into leadership positions for us. We’re usually doing a “laying on of hands” at this moment, as we offer a prayer for these new officers. This last year Presbyterian churches around the country have doing this via Zoom, and here we are, lifting up our hands as a blessing for these church officers, as we lift them up to God in their new roles.

    The big thing on our mind in the church office and with Session is when will we be back in worship together? I don’t have an answer for you at the moment, but as more people receive vaccines and transmission rates continue to decrease in Utah and around the country, we get closer to that time. Two Session members have volunteered to work with Pastor Meg and myself on plans for when we get back into the building. Outdoor worship services in a park is also a possibility before we return to our church building. When we are back in the sanctuary and Bruner Hall together our plan is to record the service and make it available on YouTube for those who choose to continue worshiping from home.

    I want to close by sharing a few things with you about our building during this last year. You might think the building has been empty and unused, but I assure you this is not the case. While most of our activities have been put on hold, several things have been occurring in our building. Session approved Loaves & Fishes to serve take-away meals and that has been ongoing through much of the year. Additionally, numerous recovery programs (similar to AA) have been meeting throughout the year (for some people, being able to attend a sobriety meeting is a life and death matter). And finally, the Red Cross has been holding blood drives every month or so. Craig Mortensen passed along to me that Red Cross blood drives at FPC collected 490 units of blood in the last year. Most of these units even came from willing donors… (just kidding!). All of these activities have required people to wear masks and socially distance to prevent spread of COVID.

    It brings me great joy to think of how many people Loaves & Fishes has helped, how many people have continued their journeys of sobriety, and how many people were helped through blood donations in the last year. Each of these activities come with some risk of COVID transmission, but Session approved them because they are essential for certain members of our community. All of these happenings are possible because of the use of our church building. I thank all of you for your ongoing support of FPC Logan. I know we aren’t worshiping there, and many of us are anxious to be back in the sanctuary (I am too). Thank you for bearing with us and our cautious approach. Good things are indeed happening through use of our building and because of our collective journeys with Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace be with you on your Lenten journey.

    Pastor Derek

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