Peace and Global Witness Offering, World Communion Sunday October 1st

jellenkc : September 22, 2017 4:49 pm : pastors-blog

In the early 1980’s, as the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States reached perhaps its highest level since the Cuban missile crisis, the Peacemaking ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) was born, along with the Peacemaking Offering.  As with many initiatives at the General Assembly level, this major emphasis was a response to grassroots concern and action around peacemaking ministry already happening with faithful Presbyterians living out their commitments to justice and peace in their congregations and communities.  Congregations were invited to consider and sign a “Commitment to Peacemaking” as a way of emphasizing seeking peace as a central theme of the biblical witness to our faith.

The emphasis was truly on shalom, wholeness and fullness of life in all of its aspects.  The vision was comprehensive—peacemaking within the self; our families, churches, and communities; our nation, and the world.  Later, a focus on peacemaking with the earth and creation was also recognized.  The Peacemaking Offering was conceived as a way to provide funding for various initiatives at all of these levels for a ministry of peacemaking.  The offering was focused on World Communion Sunday, a day in which we celebrate the worldwide body of Christ in all of its vast and beautiful diversity, and God’s love, presence, and action in all parts of creation.

Southminster receives the Peace and Global Witness Offering each year on World Communion Sunday.  The receipts from the offering are distributed as follows—25% remains with the local congregation for a ministry of its own choosing; 25% goes to the middle councils—Presbytery and Synod—for the same purpose; and 50% goes the General Assembly to be used nationally and globally.

Each year your Session deliberates about how the 25% that remains with our congregation should be used.  For the last several years, our share has gone to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to support their refugee work in war-torn Iraq and Afhganistan.  In previous years, we have contributed our share to SafeHome here in our own community to help address domestic violence.  These are only two of the many ways your Session has used our share of your gifts over the years.

This year your Session has approved sending our share of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to support their efforts to address the desperate situation in the country of South Sudan in eastern Africa.  A relatively new country, South Sudan has experienced war and conflict since its earliest days of independence.  Today famine threatens millions of lives as the conflict continues.  Although our denomination has had to withdraw our in-county missionary personnel for safety reasons, we are working through our partners the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan to address famine and the displacement of people from their communities due to violence.

Please consider a generous gift the Peace and Global Witness Offering on World Communion      Sunday, October 1st!

Grace and Peace, Jeff

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Do You Know Your Bible

jellenkc : August 25, 2017 1:27 pm : pastors-blog

What is the name of Abraham’s oldest son?

Who was Ruth’s mother-in-law?

What is the name of Noah’s wife?

Who was crucified along with Christ?

Name the four Gospels, in order.


Dear Fellow Followers of the Way:


We are excited that as a congregation we have an opportunity to read the Bible together throughout the next year.  The participant book that the Christian Education committee was handing out last week, has the reading list that goes day by day.


Whether you have read the Bible before or not, this is a great time to do it alongside others in the congregation. This discipline is a wonderful way for all of Southminster to journey together and work on deepening our faith. As I preached last week, the Bible is the story of the people of God.  It is our story. We need to continue to tell the story and to be immersed in the story so that it does become our story, part of our history.


As you read, what themes do you notice?  What verses or stories stand out for you?  What questions are raised for you?  I have created a Facebook group as a place where you can post your thoughts and questions to others in the group.  It is a closed group, but I can add people who are participating.  We will seek ways to engage together as we read.  If you know others who are reading, I encourage you to get together every 4-6 weeks and check in and have conversation about what you are reading.  If you have children, read as a family.  You also might look for stories in the readings that appear in children’s Bibles.

I hope you will join us in reading the Bible together.  We will start on September 1st (see page 33 in the participant book).  Most of the month we will spend reading Isaiah and the Book of Hebrews.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions as we journey together.


Grace, Mercy and Peace,





Answers to the questions above

Ishmael, Genesis 16

Naomi, Ruth 1:2-4

Her name is not mentioned in the Bible, Genesis 7:7, 7:13, 8:18

Two thieves, Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:22

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John


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Sabbath Rest

jellenkc : June 28, 2017 10:18 am : pastors-blog

                           To sit and look at light-filled leaves

                           May let us see, or seem to see,

                           Far backward as through clearer eyes

                           To what unsighted hope believes:

                           The blessed conviviality

                           That sang Creation’s seventh sunrise,


                           Time when the Maker’s radiant sight

                          Made radiant everything He saw.

                         And everything He saw was filled

                         With perfect joy and life and light.

                        His perfect pleasure was sole law;

                       No pleasure had become self-willed.


                      For all His creatures were His pleasures

                     And their whole pleasure was to be

                    What He made them; they sought no gain

                    Or growth beyond their proper measures,

                    Nor longed for change or novelty.

                   The only new thing could be pain.

–Wendell Berry, Sabbaths, III


“Crazy busy…”  I wish I could count the number of times I have heard someone use this phrase in the last few years.  “Crazy busy”…in response to a simple “How are you?”  It has sometimes seemed to me to be a modern-day “red badge of courage”…to be “crazy busy…”  What does it mean?  Overwhelmed by demands, real or perceived?  A validation of one’s worth…or importance?  Or simply a way to deflect the simple “How are you?” question without really revealing anything about what is going on in one’s life.  “Crazy busy…”


On the seventh day of creation, Genesis tells us, God rested.  The monumental work of creation was done and, as Wendell Berry muses in his poem, God could rest…reflect…take joy in the wonder of creation.  Rest is essential to our well-being as human beings. So the day after the summer solstice seems a good time to reflect on the importance of finding ways in our life to observe Sabbath rest so that we, too, can reflect…take joy in all the good gifts we have received in our life.


The fourth commandment written on the stone tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain of God says:  “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”  This commandment has been observed in different ways and at different times throughout the history of the people of God.  But it has always meant that there should be a regular and intentional rhythm of rest, contemplation, and reflection in our lives.  Where in the “crazy busy” of our lives do we find time for that intentional rest?  What does Sabbath rest look like?


At Southminster Church, we take a Sabbath from meetings in the month of July.  For Presbyterians, that is no small thing!  We can do without them for one month.  I am going to be engaging prayerful discernment about how I can do better at intentional Sabbath rest.  I invite you to do the same.

Grace and Peace,



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Southminster Summer Seminary Intern-Andrew Frazier

jellenkc : May 26, 2017 1:46 pm : pastors-blog

On behalf of the Session, I am pleased to announce that Southminster is partnering with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in their Supervised Practice of Ministry program this summer. Joining our ministry staff for approximately nine weeks is Austin Seminary student Andrew Frazier. Andrew will be introduced in worship on Sunday, May 28th and begin his office hours and work among us on Tuesday, May 30th.

Andrew is a candidate for ordained ministry under Heartland Presbytery and is a member of Village Presbyterian Church. He is pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at Austin. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Georgia with a concentration in vocal performance. Mark, Karen, and I are excited to have Andrew joining us, sharing not only his ministry gifts but also his musical gifts for the summer.

Andrew already has a close relationship with Mark Ball, who invited him back into church participation after a time away by involving him in Village Church’s music ministry. He soon began also to work with the Youth Ministry program at Village and began to feel a call to ministry and seminary training. Conversation with Mark and various pastors on the Village staff led him to enroll at Austin.

Our desire is to provide Andrew with an opportunity to experience the broad range of ministry that occurs in a local congregation—preaching, teaching, pastoral care, exposure to the governance structure of the church, participation in staff and worship planning, leadership at Vacation Church School and Music Camp, and leadership as an adult sponsor on our Youth Mission Trip to Chicago.

One of the requirements of the seminary’s supervised practice of ministry program is a weekly supervisory session. I will serve as Andrew’s principal supervisor with participation by Karen and Mark as appropriate. The funding that allows Southminster to have this important experience of being a teaching congregation is made possible by a grant from our General Endowment.

Andrew has developed five learning objectives in the areas of preaching and worship, teaching, pastoral care, and ministry identity and boundaries. He will preach twice for us during his internship, teach a three-week class in the Seeker’s forum, and engage in pastoral care as appropriate. We will be thinking about ways that Andrew can obtain helpful feedback from our congregation during his tenure this summer.

Please join me in welcoming Andrew Frazier to our ministry staff this summer! I am confident that this experience will be fruitful for both Andrew in his training and discernment and Southminster in our ministry efforts.

Grace and Peace,


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Songs and Stories of Resurrection: A Concert for Eastertide-Sunday April 30 at 5:00 pm

jellenkc : April 21, 2017 4:05 pm : pastors-blog

A Message from Mark Ball, Director of Music Ministry….

We sing to Him, whose wisdom formed the ear, Our songs let Him who gave us voices, hear;

We joy in God who is the Spring of mirth, Who loves the harmony of Heaven and Earth;

Our humble sonnets shall that praise rehearse, Who is the music of the Universe.

And whilst we sing we consecrate our art,

And offer up with every tongue a heart.


The Southminster Choir, joined by several guest artists, is preparing a lovely hour of inspirational music to share with the community  – Songs and Stories of Resurrection: A Concert for Eastertide. The concert begins with Henry Purcell’s setting of the lovely poem, We Sing to Him (printed above) which reminds us of the source of all beauty and the inspiration for our singing. To give you a taste of what to expect, here is a brief description of the other musical portions of the concert:

Rejoice in the Lord Always by Henry Purcell (1659-1695), is a jubilant setting of words from the Apostle Paul, scored for string quartet, three solo voices, and choir.

Five Mystical Songs are settings of poems by the early 17th century poet, George Herbert, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1910. Scored for baritone soloist, choir, string quartet, and piano, they express a wide range of emotions and a passionate, joyful faith. The five poems, which may be found online at Wikipedia: Five Mystical Songs, are titled Easter, I Got Me Flowers, Love Bade Me Welcome, The Call, and Antiphon: Let All the World in Every Corner Sing. Our guest artist, Devin Burton, sings these songs with tremendous poetic understanding and thoughtfulness, along with a very beautiful voice! Devin is completing an artist diploma at The UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.

The Unclouded Day is an exuberant 19th century gospel song, arranged for choir and “fiddles.” Its simple text professes a confident faith in the day of resurrection, a day “where no storm-clouds rise” and where “the tree of life, in eternal bloom, sheds its fragrance through the unclouded day.”

The Lord is My Shepherd, by the contemporary English composer, Howard Goodall, is a lovely setting of the beloved psalm. It may be familiar to some in the audience because it was used in the opening credits of the BBC comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley.

The Ground, by the young Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo, is a setting of words from the mass, expressing joy, hope, praise, and a prayer for peace.

Our concert concludes with Evening Prayer, also by Gjeilo, which is a familiar text from St. Augustine: Watch, O Lord, with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. It is scored for choir, piano, and improvisatory saxophone, and will feature the artistry of our own Joe Athon.

These musical selections, and the spoken words you will hear, were chosen to share what we know from faith and from experience – that resurrection is real! We know it to be so because it happens in our lives over and over again as places of hopelessness and pain find transformation through experiences of grace, love, and community.

Mark Ball

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American Sing and Ice Cream Social – June 25 @ 5 PM

Community Singing Enjoy an hour of singing with neighbors and friends, followed by an ice cream social and time of fellowship. A fun and meaningful way to begin your celebration of our nation’s birthday! American National Songs American Hymns and African-American Spirituals Folksongs Broadway Show Tunes No admission charge. Invite

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Musical Event: Igea Strata – Agony and Ecstasy

An Exploration of the Delights and Torment of Love Sunday, May 21 at 3:00 PM in the Southminster sanctuary Exploring love’s delights and torments, Ignea Strata presents a varied concert including early French chansons by Guillaume de Machaut, Gilles Binchois, and Jean Guyot; settings from the Song of Solomon by Heinrich Isaacand

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Southminster March Lenten Schedule

March 1, 5-6:45 PM     Pancake Supper: Pancakes will be provided by 2 Guys and a Grill.  ($6 for adults, $4 for 6th grade and under, $15 maximum per family.)  During the Pancake Dinner there will be fun, family-friendly activities reflecting Shrove Tuesday/Carnival/Mardi Gras traditions, including a Pancake Race, King’s Cakes,

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Directory Sign Up

Sign up for your directory photos today! Use the link below to select your February photo date.  More information to come! Link to Lifetouch Online Scheduling  

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Community Sing – November 20

“Let All Things Now Living a Song of Thanksgiving . . .” Everyone is invited to A COMMUNITY SING – Sunday, November 20 at 5 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Enjoy an hour of singing old favorites and new treasures, along with several of the traditional songs of Thanksgiving. Singing together

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Sing for Christmas

All who love the beautiful music of the Advent and Christmas seasons are invited to join in the beautiful singing. Our Chancel Choir is eager to welcome short-term singers! The schedule is very flexible – no one is required to sing every service or rehearsal; busy schedules are easily accommodated.

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