Dear Members and Friends,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – that’s us – states “its faith and bears witness to God’s grace in Jesus Christ in the creeds and confessions in the Book of Confessions.”1 Pastors affirm this statement when they are ordained. Ruling Elders affirm it. So do Deacons.
“In these statements the church declares to its members and to the world who and what it is, what it believes, and what it resolves to do. These statements identify the church as a community of people known by its convictions as well as by its actions.”
You may ask, But where is Scripture? “The creeds and confessions guide the church in its study and interpretation of the Scriptures, they summarize the essence of the Reformed Christian tradition, they direct the church in maintaining sound doctrines; they equip the church for its work of proclamation.”
We will read a portion of one confession, The Confession of Belhar, in worship this Sunday. How we came to adopt this confession as our own is a story that will take a few weeks to explain. Let’s begin.
How should the church respond when sin disrupts the church’s unity, creates division among the children of God, and constructs unjust systems that steal life from God’s creation? Members and leaders of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa faced these questions under apartheid, a system of laws that separated people by race from 1948–1994.
Part of the answer to how the church should respond is the Belhar Confession. Here’s the portion we’ll affirm this week.
We believe that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;
- that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged;
- that God calls the church to follow him in this; for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;
- that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;
- that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;
- that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;
- that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right;
I’ll elucidate the background of the Belhar Confession next week and we’ll use other parts of it for the Affirmation of Faith in coming weeks. My aim is for us to see how these confessions can inform our faith in 2019.
1God’s Mission, The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity, Book of Order 2019-21, p. 1
The Youth and Children’s Christian Education Committees have met and come up with a plan to replace the Director upon Kristin Stanley’s resignation. The committees are immediately starting a new search. If you have any contacts who might be interested, they can reach out to Kari Raiche.
Sunday and Wednesday night programming will continue as normal. The children’s Christmas participation will be December 8.
The committees are reaching out to anyone interested in helping with any of the children’s or youth activities. Please let Abbie Parker or Chris McAndrew know. There are many opportunities.
Youth members Isaac Langley and Hanna Langley are in Linn Mar High School’s presentation of The Lion King Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16. Performances Friday are at 4:30 and 7:00 pm, and Saturday at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Tickets are $3. (Isaac plays Mufasa and Hanna, a lioness). Enjoy this family entertainment and support our youth.
There was a time when pastors would make frequent home visits. Often these home visits were just to get better acquainted. Sometimes they were in response to a person’s or family’s request.
In the past, it was common for the pastor to make frequent home visits even when only one person was at home. Now very few pastors visit one-on-one in homes because professional ethics suggest that a pastor should typically visit when there is more than one person at home. This is especially true when the pastor is male and the person being visited is female or when it’s a pastor visiting a child. Pastoral guidelines are similar when the pastor is a woman.
Here’s how a pastoral visit can be made. The pastor can be accompanied by an Elder of Deacon, or person being visited can have a family member or friend present.
I’m glad to make home visits. You can see this will take planning ahead. If you would like a home visit and I haven’t been in touch with you, call the church office and I’d be happy to schedule a time to visit.
If this perspective about pastor/parishioner relationships is new to you or if you’d be interested in conversation about it, I’d be glad to have conversation about it.