Gratitude: A Community of Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness

jellenkc : November 17, 2017 4:50 pm : pastors-blog

As we near the season of Thanksgiving, I am reflecting on what I am grateful for about this community of faith called Southminster Presbyterian Church that we share together.  There are many gifts that flow out of our common ministry for which I am regularly grateful:

* A vital and longstanding commitment to mission outreach into our local community and the wider world that touches so many lives.  I am grateful for our mission partners and the hard but life-giving work they do among the suffering and hurting in our local community.  I am grateful for mission partnerships that bind us to the global church, for the Fletcher’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Wehmeyer’s in southern Mexico, the community at Berea Seminary in Chiapas, Mexico, the Maya Quiche Presbytery of Guatemala and the Twake Village in Kenya.  I am grateful for the time and dedication of members to IHN, Crossline Food Kitchen, and other hands-on mission partnerships.


* I am grateful for beautiful and life-giving worship—for prayer and song and Word and proclamation.


* I am grateful that our physical space is a regular gathering place for the building of community in our neighborhood.


All this and so much more.  But most of all I am grateful for the living, breathing community itself.  Wendell Berry wrote these words about a faith community in his novel, Jayber Crow:


My vision of the gathered church—what I saw was the community imperfect and irresolute

but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds

of the various sorts of affection…If you could go back into the story of any person you would

find somebody who loved them.  It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing

its members, always trying to contain its divisions, and gentle in its meanness, always failing

yet always preserving a sort of will toward goodwill.  I knew that, in the midst of all the

ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was a membership of this place, of no other

place on earth.  My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be

gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by members who

are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe essential to it.

And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another’s love compassion,

and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfect by grace.


Let us claim this grace…that we are part of a community marked by imperfections and errors, stumbling and hesitations…and yet somehow because of the persistence of love, compassion, and grace among us…all of us…those we know well and those who just walked in through the doors…we all experience a foretaste of the perfect love of God that comes through Jesus Christ.

Grace & Peace



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Fellow Followers of the Way:

jellenkc : October 20, 2017 5:24 pm : pastors-blog

Thanks to the Christian Education committee, several members of Southminster are spending a Year with the Bible. Each day there are two or three chapters of an Old Testament text and a chapter of a New Testament text or a Psalm. In the month of October, we are reading the Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah focuses on the relationship between the people and God. He points out to them that true religion is a matter of the heart. Jeremiah believed that even the exile in Babylon could be used by God to change the hearts of the people.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). And a few chapters later, the people return and God makes a new covenant with the people of Israel. God is a God of hope and of promise.

As we are about to begin our Stewardship season, I am reminded that God has plans for us. Plans for our individual lives as well as a plan for our life together as Southminster Presbyterian Church. There is energy around the church. The choir is growing, Club456 is meeting twice a month because the kids wanted to meet more often, we have had new members joining throughout the year and there are new ideas coming from many different places and people. God is on the move and we continue seeking to follow where we are called.

I invite you to join us as we seek to serve God together. Financial pledges are important as they maintain the building and keep lights on so we are able to be a part of the IHN network and we are able to once again offer Journey to Bethlehem to the wider community. Pledges help provide for worship and Christian Education so that we all have opportunities to grow our faith. However, we also need people who invest time and talent. We have dedicated volunteers with our children and youth, those who offer their voices in the choir or as liturgists, people who staff the AV booth and others who visit our shut ins.

Stewardship is a way we can all check in with how we are involved in the life of the congregation and how we are engaged in the bringing about of God’s Kingdom. In what ways are you engaged in ministry at Southminster? What areas would you like to be more involved in? Are there new things you would like to try or new ideas that you would like to see? Let us all join together to seek after God who is moving in our midst, for God has plans for us all.

Grace and Peace,


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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.

buy neurontin 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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Journey to Bethlehem 2018

November 30th (6:00-8:00) PM and December 1st (5:00-8:00 PM) Come join us for a walk-through pageant that tells the story of Christ’s birth. We invite you to bring your family to our 34th performance of this free event which features seven scenes with live animals. Experience the story of wonder and

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ChurchOn Southminster App

Get access to the Southminster calendar, church resources, and manage giving all from your smart phone with the ChurchOn Southminster app. Click here to find the application for your device.

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