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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  • Back to School, Not Back to Church…

    …at least not all the way. Some ministries of the church are in action, others are not.

    Ministry is Continuing!

    To date we have shared around $7,000 with our local community to help relieve those affected by coronavirus, and we have another $2,000 we will be distributing now. This has gone toward food, diapers for families in need, rent & mortgage relief, and other purposes.

    Thank you for continuing to worship with us—our YouTube videos get around a hundred views each week, and in some cases, there are multiple people watching one screen. Thank you for listening. And thank you for your continued financial support.

    We are going to be doing some new things in the interest of our own spiritual health, fellowship, and the ministry of the church. The first is drive-through communion (or drive-thru, as it is frequently written).

    Drive-Through Communion — Sept 6th, 9:15-9:45am

    If you wish, you’re invited to drive through our parking lot on Sunday, September 6th from 9:15-9:45am and I will serve communion to you. You are just as welcome to partake of communion from home, as we’ve done the last few months.

    Fellowship Bike Ride — Sept 13th, beginning at 1pm

    On Sunday, September 13th we will have an FPC Bike Ride. We will meet at FPC and go on a 10-mile bike ride led by John and Jean Stewart. Maps of the route will be provided, and a shorter route will be available if needed. Some of the route will be on streets and some on dedicated bike paths. Meet us in the parking lot at 1pm, and we will depart by 1:15.

    Zoom Bible Study — every Tuesday morning from 8-9am

    If you’d like to join us for Bible Study we will begin on Tuesday, Sept 8th, from 8-9am. We will meet via Zoom so you can enjoy breakfast and coffee from home. The zoom link will be available on our First Pres Logan Facebook page each Tuesday morning.

    My role as pastor is to be a spiritual guide, someone who helps each of you on your faith journey (and as you might imagine, you help me just as much). I confess to you that feeling like we are connected and in touch these months has been a struggle. Continuing to not meet in person remains one of the more challenging decisions of my career in ministry. I want to see all of you each week. Worshiping at home via YouTube is certainly just as pleasing to God as when we gather and sing, but it doesn’t feel the same to me, and I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to you. Hopefully, some of the above activities will help us with that.

    In the Presbyterian system the pastor does not make decisions about all of the activities and happenings around a church. The pastor leads worship, teaches through Bible Study and similar endeavors, provides pastoral care, and participates in many other diverse activities around the church and community. We have Elders and Deacons who take on other responsibilities, including making decisions about church activities (reserved for Elders, who serve on Session). Who does what around a church (and how we do it) is outlined in the Book of Order, which covers all kinds of things. But as you can imagine, there isn’t a chapter titled What To Do in Case of Worldwide Pandemic.

    The Elders that we elect as a congregation (you elect them, Pastor Meg and I do not vote) make many important decisions for each congregation, although pastors frequently share their thoughts and offer guidance for any vote that is taken. The Session of FPC Logan met on Wednesday, August 19 and voted unanimously to continue with online worship for at least the next month (until the next Session meeting, on September 16th).  At that meeting we will reassess the situation and take another vote for the coming month (or months). Session made this decision because we don’t feel it is safe for us to be in the same room for an hour together. Some people may be willing to take the risk. I am not, and neither are your FPC Elders. Of particular interest is the effect that the return to school will have on coronavirus numbers. Public schools and the Utah State University are back in class now, with both online and in-person classes. Also, of great interest is progress in vaccine trials. We are praying that one (or several) of these vaccine trials provides good news in the next few months.

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

    Derek

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