By Michael Lee Cook, Adjunct Professor of Pastoral Care
One critical glance at the daily newspaper and we quickly realize that our global societies are in very deep trouble and that suffering knows no boundaries. The stories are astounding and unnerving: a church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina; a café bombing in Paris, France; a terrorist attack on sleeping university students in Kenya, Africa; a drive by shooting in Chicago, Illinois; or an ambush of a gay couple in the suburbs of Philadelphia. One senseless tragedy after another that impacts each of us to some degree.
Indeed, these tragedies, rooted as they are in relational and systemic dynamics, usually result in deep affliction and suffering to the minds, bodies, and souls of both individuals and communities. Who among us has not been shaken and/or disturbed by such relentless inhumanity to humanity? I suspect that societies everywhere, as a result of these and like tragedies, are chock-full of unmet care and counseling needs. Yet, all is not lost. For faith teaches us that God is concerned about the whole creation. Continue reading Making Pastoral Care a Social Priority
By Sarah Walker Cleaveland, MDiv ’07
In our family, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has begun early as Adam and I each struggle to prepare for Advent in new ways without the benefit of much advance preparation. The church I’m serving just called a new Senior Pastor, so the church staff is running headlong into Advent trying to both keep ongoing ministries afloat, learn how to work with one another, and also create meaningful worship and formation opportunities for Advent, in the course of three weeks—as if the first Christmas season in my first call were not crazy-making enough!
Meanwhile, Adam is finding his way as a “tent-making” pastor and artist—balancing multiple part-time jobs while also creating a new Advent resource for churches and families. (The illustration above is from his Illustrated Children’s Moments Advent series!) And, of course, we’re still adjusting to what our lives look like in this season. Plus, you know, a three-year-old. Continue reading Breathing into Advent
By Dawn Martin Hyde, MDiv ‘12
Karl Barth said to read the newspaper in one hand and the Bible in the other. Well, these days we do both in one hand, on one device. A smart phone, a tablet, a laptop. One device to connect to the world, to each other, and to the divine.
I am a PCUSA pastor serving a church in San Francisco. For us, our first encounter with Christ is online. Without fail, each visitor who walks into our church found us on Yelp or through Google. One search for “evening worship” or “progressive theology” in San Francisco and there we are: Mission Bay Community Church. Continue reading There’s an APP for that!
By Rev. David Lewicki, co-pastor, North Decatur Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia
Every 3rd Thursday, there’s a meeting in the Fellowship Hall at North Decatur Presbyterian Church. So what? Meetings happen most nights. But look closer.
The people gathered are of different races; they are Catholic and Presbyterian and Baptist; they are octogenarians and millennials; they have traveled from several different counties—some an hour or more—to be there. The meeting is tightly organized. It starts on time, with an ecumenical prayer. The agenda is received. When they talk, they talk about the changes they want to see in the world, and then—and here is the radical part—they make a plan to implement those changes. Continue reading Making News from the Pews: Congregations and Community Organizing
By Andy James, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Whitestone, Queens, NY
I first noticed that something was really wrong during the passing of the peace. I was sitting two seats down from the candidate for ordination at his service of ordination, but he did not return to his seat as the service continued with the scripture readings. A few minutes later, the candidate stood before us and announced what must have been his worst nightmare: the preacher was not there! In the rush of other things before the service, her absence had gone somewhat unnoticed, with a general trust that she was “on her way,” but now the pulpit was empty on this very special day. Continue reading A Testimony for Testimony