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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One Great Hour of Sharing: Who Is My Neighbor?

jellenkc : March 24, 2017 3:57 pm : pastors-blog

The gospel of Luke records the story of the lawyer who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus asked the lawyer what he thought the law said about this.  The lawyer responded:  “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.”  Jesus congratulated the lawyer for the right answer.  The gospel says that the lawyer wanted to “justify” himself, so he asked Jesus:  “Who is my neighbor?”  In response to this question, Jesus told the provocative story of the good Samaritan.  In the end, Jesus turned the lawyer’s question around and put it back to him:  To whom are we a neighbor?

It is clear from our Lord that all God’s children are our neighbors, regardless of what color their skin is, what language they speak, or where on God’s good earth they live.  The One Great Hour of Sharing offering gives us the opportunity to be a neighbor to our fellow human beings all across the globe.  What do the dollars we make available to the church through this offering do?  Consider the following examples:

  • A grant of $5000 from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) was given to Amity Presbyterian Church and Charlotte Presbytery to allow them to be a part of a community-wide assistance response when the predominantly black Briar Creek Baptist Church was targeted by arsonists with racist motives.
  • In 2016, PDA provided $98,000 of support through a mission partner in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to help rebuild agriculture and livestock damaged in the storm.
  • Self-Development of People SDOP) provided a $15,000 grant to the North Cheyenne Reservation in Montana so that they could repair water and sewer lines, allowing fresh-water systems to function in their communities.

Multiply these examples by the thousands over the years and you begin to get a sense of the world-wide scope of the relief provided through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.  Southminster Presbyterian Church has always responded with great generosity to this very special opportunity to be of material assistance to our neighbors in the world.  This year the Session has established an $8000 goal for our offering.  Together we can make a huge difference in the lives of people who have been devastated by both human and natural disasters.

Please consider a generous contribution to this very important offering.  The day we have designated for the offering is Palm Sunday, April 9th.  Envelopes will be available in your church bulletin, or you may simply make out a check to Southminster Presbyterian Church and mark it OGHS in the memo line.  Thank you for your generosity over many years.  Let’s work to exceed  our $8000 goal and provide material assistance and critical hope to people all over the world.  One Great Hour of Sharing is a way for us to answer the question Jesus asks us:  To whom are we a neighbor?

Grace and Peace



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The Forty Day Journey through Lent

jellenkc : February 24, 2017 4:58 pm : pastors-blog

This Sunday, sacred time brings us to the Mount of Transfiguration marking the end of the season of Epiphany.  Scripture tells us that three of Jesus’ disciples witnessed the epiphany on the mountain.  They saw Jesus transfigured in shining light…and Moses and Elijah appeared to converse with him.  But unlike the divine voice at Jesus’ baptism, the divine voice that speaks on the mount of Transfiguration speaks words not to Jesus but to his disciples and to us:  This is my son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!  As we prepare to cross the threshold from the season of Epiphany into our forty day journey through Lent, we will endeavor through study and worship to open our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds and listen to Jesus teach us the power of suffering love.

Here are some of the ways we will journey together:

† On Ash Wednesday, we will gather in the sanctuary for this brief, somber, reflective service.  As the grit of ashes is placed on our skin, we are reminded of our mortality, that we are creatures and not the Creator.  We will be invited into a discipline of prayer and repentance, seeking to die to our old selves so that we might be raised to new life in Christ.

† On the first Sunday in Lent, we will experience the story of Jesus’ temptation by the devil in the wilderness in a homiletical presentation involving the choir, dramatic reading, bells, and the proclamation of the Word.

† The Lectionary texts for this year have us journeying through the gospel of John with five amazing stories to illuminate our life of faith—the story of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus; his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well; his healing of the man born blind; and his demonstration of his humanity as well as the divine power at work in him in the raising of Lazarus.  And as we journey into the light of Easter morning, we will hear the story of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb.  Once again this year we will hear these long and beautiful stories presented in multiple voices during worship.  All of the stories have great spiritual power for our faith life.

† During Holy Week, we will follow our usual rhythm of celebrating the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, and remembering the death of the Lord with ancient rite of Tenebrae, the extinguishing of the light on Good Friday.  This year we will gather for a new opportunity—an Easter vigil service on Holy Saturday, an interactive and intergenerational service designed for family members of all ages.  We will experience the Word by moving to different stations in the church as we make our final journey toward the day of resurrection.

I leave you with this Lenten prayer:

Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth,

you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism.

Look upon us as we enter these forty days, bearing the mark of ashes,

and bless our journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth.

May our fasting be hunger for justice; our alms, a making of peace;

our prayer, the hopes of humble and grateful hearts.

In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Grace and Peace,


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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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