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Monthly Archives: May 2008

For a year now, Eileen and I have been planning a long road trip to celebrate finishing seminary.  We promised we’d do this, regardless of whatever else came up during this time, and we’ve been looking forward to it for months.  We leave today.  First stop: Zionsville, IN, for a conference on new church development.  (Yes, I know it’s not exactly a vacation if it’s NCD work, but it was on our way.)  I’m looking forward to this chance to visit with the rest of the large group from Pittsburgh Presbytery who are going, as well as to meet people like Philip Lostpeich, whom I’ve now been told I need to meet by at least half a dozen people.  I may try to post updates on what we learn there, but no guarantees . . .

Then: Illinois for Eileen’s brother’s wedding, followed by a long drive through MI and Ontario to Niagra Falls, followed by camping in the Adirondacks.  More camping after that in Acadia (Maine), and then visits to friends and family in Boston and NYC and Bethlehem, PA.  We’ll end with another wedding in Eileen’s family in Maryland on the fourth weekend in June.  Then, back to Pittsburgh to move and dive head on into the life of church-planting!

Say a prayer for our safety and pray for Mike as he continues to do some NCD work while we’re gone! 

 

 

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I graduated from seminary yesterday. . . . It was joyful, but it was also a day of mixed emotions for me.  And I feel like I should be able to give voice to this here, but this post is harder to articulate than any I’ve written recently.  I’ve loved my time in seminary and am going to miss it – I’m already going through book withdrawal.  This is the cost of being an introvert: school becomes a very pleasant and safe place.  It’s a good thing that my friends and family have already given me a few good books!

Just a few quick reflections on the past couple days:

1) I’m grateful for everyone who’s supported and encouraged me in this journey.  Wednesday night my family went out to dinner to celebrate.  As we stood at the door, waiting to sit down, my high school Young Life leader suddenly walked in the door!  Todd, the man to helped lead me to faith in high school and then helped disciple me until I left for college, had flown all the way from Colorado just to be here for my graduation. I was touched by his coming, but I was also reminded of everyone else who’s been a part of my story of call:  My family (of course), especially Eileen, my parents, and my uncle Bob and aunt Jeanie. Of course, there’s also the family of my housemates: Alison, Jen, Kendall, and Lucia.  Then there are my pastors: Bruce Sexton, from my childhood; Bill Forbes, from my hometown church; Peter Barnes, of First Pres Boulder who told me to consider coming to Pittsburgh Seminary, and of course now BJ and John at The Open Door.  And my care team from my presbytery, especially Mary Hammond Atkinson and Tom Hansen.  I could go on forever, but these people (as well as all my professors here) deserve special words of gratitude.

2) I’m grateful to be reminded that I am finite.  Kang Na, a professor at Westminster College, gave the sermon at commencement last night, preaching on Psalm 8 and James 4:13-15.   Combined with the cathedral-esque atmosphere of East Liberty Presbyterian Church, the sermon was a humbling and beautiful reminder of our limitations.  As we’re headed into church-planting for my first call in ministry, it’s good to be reminded that I am but flesh, and that the success of our ministry depends upon God’s will, rather than our own desires and efforts.

3) I look forward to seeing the ways that God will use the people in my class in various ministries.  For example, when we finished undergrad at CU, little did Eileen and I know that one of our friends from college, Nadia, would also end up church-planting.  Today I wonder where Doodle, Allen, Dan, Tom, Jan, Brian (and the list goes on and on) will be in a few years. 

So, thank God for PTS.  I will miss it, but I’ll still be in town.  I’m done with school . . . for now at least. 

 

In May of  2005, I took a weekend off from my job in Boulder, CO, to drive to Grand Junction for a retreat with all the other Inquirers and Candidates from my home Presbytery [Note for non-Presbyterians: “Inquiry” and “candidacy” are the two stages of preparation on the way to ordination in the PC(USA)].  I had become an Inquirer earlier that year, formally entering the ordination process.  A couple months later, Eileen and I got married, left Boulder, and moved to Pennsylvania for me to start attending PTS.

Though I’ve heard horror stories about the candidacy process from friends in other presbyteries, mine has been pure joy.  The Presbytery of Western Colorado is so small that it feels like a family.  These retreats are always life-giving and refreshing, and we’ve even had the joy of having two up in the mountains in Ouray, CO.  I’m particularly grateful for the encouragement that Tom Hansen and Mary Hammond Atkinson have given me, as well as the entire community of my home church, Delta Presbyterian, and their pastor Bill Forbes.  I’ve also been grateful to make friends like Russell and other young Presbyterians with a heart for renewing the church.

Tomorrow I’ll head home for my fourth Inquirers and Candidates Retreat with my Committee on Preparation for Ministry.  The journey that began three years ago is now coming to a close, as I prepare to graduate next week.  Interestingly, this weekend we’ll be back at Monument Presbyterian Church – a new church development which hosted that first retreat I attended in 2005.  (Perhaps that should have been a clue that God would call me into church-planting.)   When I attended that first retreat in 2005, I remember being nervous about all the unknowns in the future – where we’d live, what school would be like, what married life would be like, how we’d fare financially – but I remember being reassured at that retreat that God was faithful and would take care of us.  So here we are again, with many unknowns about the future, and God is using my memories of my presbytery’s care for me to remind me of his faithfulness and provision.  And I am grateful.

Those who trust in The Lord are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” (Psalm 125:1)

This weekend some of my fellow seminarians and church friends had the joy of visiting with Bruce Reyes-Chow, one of the candidates for Moderator of the PC(USA) General Assembly.  Both on Saturday afternoon, at a casual meet-and-greet time at The Vault, and last night after worship at The Open Door, Bruce was intentional about listening to all of us – wanting to hear our stories and what our dreams are for the future of the denomination.  As someone who favors a grassroots understanding of ministry, he was eager to listen to the church members, seminarians, and friends who visited with him.   A good moderator is a good listener.  Of course we also got to hear Bruce’s take on everything from the renumbering of G-6.0106b in the FOG report to the uniqueness of this year’s assembly.  I’m not going to summarize everything here, but I will say that I wish him the best in his run for Moderator and pray that God will bless and use him for the good of the Church.  I don’t agree with Bruce about everything – for instance, this issue of homosexuality – but there are a few reasons why I believe the denomination would fair well to have him as Moderator of the GA. 

First, he knows that the PC(USA) needs to wake up to the reality of the cultural changes which are currently taking place in North America.  His candidacy has made impressive use of blogs and Facebook to get the word out among younger Presbyterians, and this has changed the way other moderators are approaching the race.  Second, in view of those cultural shifts he believes the denomination needs to learn from more creative and missional forms of ministry.  As the pastor of a church-plant, Bruce is actively working in the creative, growing edge of the church.   For the PC(USA) to experience missional renewal, the voices of people who are working outside of the traditional structures of the denomination need to be heard at all levels of the church.  This, more than anything, is why I like Bruce – the church needs to hear the voices of young creative leaders like himself as it looks further into the 21st century.  I believe Bruce has the potential to bring people and churches from the fringes of the denomination (like Open Door) into conversation and community with the existing power structures.  We need this.   

At the end of our time last night, several of us gathered around Bruce and prayed for him.  As we prayed that the Spirit would fill him, guide him, and use him for God’s glory in the reshaping of the PC(USA).  I pray specifically that the commissioners and advisory delegates will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as they discern which candidate to choose.    As we count down the weeks until GA, I wish Bruce the best and look foward to seeing what happens in San Jose! 

 

Bruce Reyes-Chow for Moderator