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On Being Church - a blog

Drew, Ruth, Margaret and I just returned from two weeks in Europe (our two-year-old, Emma Kate stayed with my Mom and played with her cousins – thanks, Mom!). The trip was our Christmas present to Ruth and Margaret, and it was a thank you, given to them on the one-year anniversary of our move from Philadelphia, PA to Raleigh. Our move was an adventure they did not choose, and yet they embraced it with courage and faith, mixed with anxiety, sadness and a reasonable touch of anger. This trip was an adventure that we chose and planned – as a family (although truth-be-told, Drew did most of the planning – thanks, Drew!)

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At the baptism of every child, our congregation, representing the church as a whole, makes a commitment. We pledge to assist the parent in bringing up this child in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord," and to share the gospel in the communal life of faith with this child. Much of the congregation’s life of worship, education, fellowship, and service is ordered to that end.

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by John Gordon

As am getting along in years, I realize more and more the fact that who I am today is the sum of many years and experiences in my life. Six days from today, I will be 84 years old. That fact brings back many memories, some pleasant and some not so pleasant. I was born late in the Great Depression and spent most of my early growing up years during World War II. As a grammar school youngster, I remember the students in my school being herded into the auditorium at regular intervals to watch newsreel movies. We saw Hitler's rise to power, the early days of World War II, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, just to cite a few subjects shown. Our teachers would often discuss what we had seen when we returned to our classrooms. In those days, it seemed to us that everything in the world was rationed. I was a Sergeant in the "Junior Commandos," a program in the schools where you earned your stripes based on the weight of the "scrap iron" you collected and brought to the school to be weighed. I was also one of six youngsters, who had bicycles, called the "Jeep Patrol." We were to serve as runners in the event of a bombing or even an invasion, when all other means of communication were no longer available. There were the blackout drills and the barrel of sand to be used in case of and incendiary attack. I was completely immersed in wartime activities on the "home front."

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Tuesday night the session convened a called meeting for the purpose of the examination of incoming officers. This is part of the annual election, training, ordaining and installing of a new class of elders and deacons to serve West Raleigh. As Presbyterians we take this discipline seriously. Officers elect met three times before Tuesday night to study the Book of Order and the Confessions, West Raleigh’s history and the Reformed tradition. We studied the Scriptures and discussed our own need for Christian formation and spiritual practice. We unpacked and repacked church structure, committees and finances. And, please believe me when I say, we had fun! It was a joy to gather with such a faithful group of men and women who are ready to receive and offer the gift of leadership. This coming Sunday, on Pentecost, we will ordain and install them into service. Elders will attend the June session meeting with the outgoing class, and the deacons will attend the June diaconate meeting. Beginning in July the new class will officially join the boards.

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Members of the Christian Formation team invite you to participate in an extended series on the issue of racism.

July 9: Racism without Racists, Elizbeth Crawford, NCSU Professor Emeritus  Microagressions the new "Racism"

July 16: Barbara Zelter, NCSU Professor of Social Work  What is the history of race?  How did we get here?

July 23:  Intergenerational Stories and Songs

July 30: Rev. Roger Gench, Senior Pastor at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC  In the light of scriptures and Reformed Theology, how do we respond to the calling to act justly?

August 6:  Reflections and Next Steps

August 13: Race is Nothing; Race is Everything, Dr. Rodney Sadler,  Partnering with Davie Street Presbyterian

 

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One thing always leads to another, and it usually starts with “wouldn’t it be cool if…?” In this case, my son Sam started it off while watching the summer show by Paperhand Puppet Intervention. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had Paperhand puppets for our nativity play?” Before you knew it a grant was written, puppets were made and I was on the Arts Ministry leadership team. While planning the exhibits for 2017 we decided on an interfaith theme and I agreed to help lead the exhibit. In the process I met an amazing young oud player named Abdulilah who played at the exhibit opening. I became involved with the amazing team supporting the Aboods, a Syrian family in Raleigh who continues to struggle with a new culture, new language and new rules. And best of all I found a friend in Samia Touati, a woman of endless energy and ideas. All of these things continue to lead to others, most recently, a jam session on my porch with Abdulilah, his friend Mohammed, Samia’s daughters and our own Tommy Goldsmith. The blending of cultures and music was pure joy. My son Sam said “this is one of the best nights of my life”.

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