Celtic Cross 9 am worship

First News April 19 through April 26, 2014

From Where I Sit…

On Sunday, April 27, at 10:15 am, we will gather as a congregation to talk about God’s particular mission/vision for First Presbyterian.  Every church has a particular mission to bear witness what it means to be disciples of Jesus; to what we believe, and what we are resolved to do.  Such a witness if both historical and contemporary.  Our witness is not confined to the past, it does not simply express what our church was, what it used to believe and what it once resolved to do.  Our witness, in our time and place in God’s salvation history, must address in an open and honest way, our current faith and life, our strengths and weaknesses, our problems and opportunities, and it must declare our convictions and call to sacrificial actions on behalf of our community and world.

The Session of our church has been working hard at looking at our past and wrestling with where God is leading us into the future.  It is hard work. We do not have all of the answers.  We ask for your prayers, patience, and for your help in discerning answers to the following; where are we going, how will we get there, how we will know we arrived.

It may be helpful as you ponder your answer to keep in mind the following.

Part of the answer to where we are going is wrapped up in the transition time in interim ministry.  I wish to be very clear; I see my call as an interim/transition pastor.  I do not, in any way, shape or form wish to stay too long or too short of a time.  I wish to be faithful and call the church to do the hard work of interim/transition ministry that includes Five Developmental Goals of Interim Ministry, as established by the PCUSA, and agreed to by our church.  They are;

Coming to terms with the history of the church—just what it our past, where have we been?  What have we learned?  How can we celebrate the past and build into our future?

Discovering a new congregational identity—just who are we, not some universal answer, but one that is honest, that describes our strengths and weaknesses that can guide us into the future—right now; I see our identity wrapped up in the statement; We are a church that is working on it!  We are trying to discover our unique personality so we can begin “dating” seeking a new pastor from a position of strength.  This identity should be clearly understood and embraced by the entire congregation.

Facilitating lay leadership and changes in congregational power structure.  This is a matter of assessing the state of leadership; reviewing past efforts in nominations, leadership training, and equipping people to do the work of the church.  It is a matter of understanding how decisions get made, resources allocated and how to hold one another accountable to roles and goal.  It is a matter of improving communications; being honest with one another, and working together to solve problems and take advantages of opportunities for new ways of doing ministry.  In this area there is much work to do. 

Renewing denominational connections is the fourth goal to yet be determined.

Preparing for new leadership and a new future is yet to be determined as well.

I look forward to this and future meetings.  And, to be crystal clear—I am available and most willing to meet with anyone to talk about these matters.  Connie keeps my schedule.  You can call the church office and set up a time to talk.  You can call me at home or on my cell and I am most willing to find a time to meet with you.  Make no mistake nor assume otherwise, I will meet with you, I will listen to your concerns.  But also make no mistake there is a difference between listening to another’s point of view and agreeing on that point.  On matters of disagreement, in our form of government as a Presbyterian Church, it is the Session of the church that makes decisions.  I will always continue to work with the lay leaders of the church in matters of governance.  And, we will always work in service to being faithful to our call as leaders of the church.



Please note—I will be leaving on May 3, right after worship to travel to Indianapolis, Indiana for the week long annual gathering of the National Pastors Prayer Covenant Group.  This is a group of 50 Presbyterian Pastors that have been meeting on an annual basis for the past 25 years.  At our founding we made a covenant to hold each other accountable to support one another in prayer, to hold one another accountable to agreed standards of Christian and pastoral conduct, and to help one another grow in our spiritual lives.  I truly love these guys and look forward to the large group gathering and to meeting with my smaller accountability group of four other pastors that I love.  They are, Steve Hein, Pastor of the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, NC, Jeff Hosmer, Pastor of the Northminister Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati, OH, Steve Marsh, Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church Oklahoma City, OK, Glenn McDonnald, Senior Chaplain of Accession Hospital Systems, Indianapolis, IN, and Jeff Ritchie, Outreach Foundation of the Presbyterian Church, Nashville, TN.  I’d storm the gates of hell with these guys.  Say a prayer for us and for all pastors of our church.  We need all the help we can get.

Heartland Camp

Last summer, members of our church, folks involved with our Christian education ministries, accepted an invitation by the Heartland Camp and Conference Center to visit a Traveling Day Camp at John Knox Presbyterian Church, to learn more about this ministry, and to consider whether or not we would want to partner with the Heartland Center to host such a camp.  Their enthusiasm for this ministry and our hosting a camp was shared with the Session and their request for us to hold a camp was approved by Session.

The week of July 13th we will host a Traveling Summer Camp as a partner in ministry with the Heartland Retreat and Conference Center. (Visit their web site, www.heartlandcenter.org for more information.  Click on Traveling Day Camp.)  Founded in 1958, the Heartland Presbyterian Center is a mission of the Presbyteries of Heartland and Northern Kansas, Synod of Mid-America, and Presbyterian Church (USA).

Our camp is open to children who have completed grades Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. The cost is $50.00.  Lunch and snacks are provided.  To register your children go to the above web site or use the forms at the church. 

We need your help to serve in the following areas: Check-in/Check-out of kids, Snacks & Lunch, Budget & Finances, Family Night, Site & Special Events, Communications, Worship, Bible Story Tellers, Recreation, Water Time, Junior Counselors, Youth Night, Photographers, Child Care for Volunteers’ Kids, and of course folks willing to pray for the kids and workers.  Contact the church office or visit the sign up tables in the narthex of the church for more information and to volunteer to serve in this most worthwhile ministry.

First to Host the May Meeting of the Presbytery of the Heartland, May 3.

Last year our church agreed to host the May meeting of the Heartland Presbytery.  Our Presbytery consists of 92 churches in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan area, including churches in Kansas and Missouri. 

You can help us be gracious hosts by serving as parking lot guides, greeters, ushers, helping serve refreshments, lunch and serving Communion at worship.  We need 12 to 14 people.  If you can help out all day, some of the day, or just an hour or so, call the church office.