Category Archives: Along the Journey

Stories from and about The Center for Lifelong Learning.

The Struggle for Community – Whatever That Means

By Jonathan Davis, Small Town Churches Network

The struggle for community is real. Across America people long for community, whatever that means, and whatever that means, community seems increasingly elusive.

I’ve lived in suburbia before, and the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. In one neighborhood we used to live in, all the houses lined up in rows. People came home from their commute and immediately pulled into the garage. Whether people were home or away, it was impossible to tell because there were no cars in driveways. The living rooms were in the back of most houses, so even when the neighbors were home, you couldn’t see any lights on in the houses.

A neighborhood full of people who didn’t know each other, and didn’t even know if the neighbors were home. A park that was mostly empty because everyone set up a swing set in their own back yard. A perfectly good community with no community. Continue reading The Struggle for Community – Whatever That Means

Down in the Dirt

By Bethany Benz-Whittington, MDiv ‘15

Luke 10:25-37 25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”28 And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

This week was another bad week. Another week of violence in our country, and around the world. Black, white, and brown bodies strewn, lifeless, on the streets of Baton Rouge, of the Twin Cities, of Dallas, of Bangladesh and Baghdad and Istanbul.

A range of motives, one outcome.
Continue reading Down in the Dirt

Save Us From Ourselves

By Laura M. Cheifetz, Vice President of Church and Public Relations, Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

You’ve heard it! Our PC(USA) leaders are a black man, a white woman, a black woman, and a gay Latino man. Things will not be the same, ever again! Right?

A lot happened at the 222nd General Assembly. J. Herbert Nelson was elected to be the next Stated Clerk (our head of communion*), T. Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston were elected Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly, and it was the first GA for Tony de la Rosa in his position as Interim Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (he came on staff last year).

Of course, there are four other agencies of the church whose presidents are white men, but those named above are the most visible current faces of the PC(USA). Continue reading Save Us From Ourselves

Virtually the Same: On Start-ups, Spreadsheets and Service Books

By Dawn Martin Hyde, MDiv ‘12

This Service Book and Rodex belonged to my grandfather, the Reverend William Dickson Varker. He served the PC(USA) as a pastor from 1955 -1991 and this Rodex holds record of the baptisms, marriages and burials he did while serving as pastor of Forest Lake Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.

I followed in the footsteps of my grandfather and my mother to serve the PCUSA and I also keep a record of baptisms, marriages and burials. My records, however, are contained in a google spreadsheet online.

My, how the times have changed!  Continue reading Virtually the Same: On Start-ups, Spreadsheets and Service Books

Stop Asking God For Direction

By Enoch Chang, MDiv ’11

I met up with a volunteer at my church this past week over coffee. He’s a young guy with loads of talent trying to find out where he’s heading in life. He’s having doubts about his current path, questioning life decisions he’s made early on. Most of us have been there. Some of us are still there. And that’s ok. All I could think as he was sharing his doubts was, I’ve been there.

And I came to this realization: I’m no longer there. At least for now. That’s a huge deal because for a large portion of my life I’ve been there was I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

I remember praying everyday, “God, show me what you want me to do,” or “Give me some direction.” It wasn’t until I met up with that volunteer that I realized it wasn’t about all about me asking God for direction. Here’s what I told him: Continue reading Stop Asking God For Direction