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On Being Church - a blog

Written by Drew Rick-Miller

By the time this reaches your inbox, we should still be relatively dry and may only be starting to understand what Florence has in store for us. In any case, please be careful. You know my passion for science as it relates to faith, theology and the church – I had intended this newsletter to say a bit about what I have been up to the past year or so. Instead, it became Florence week and I was initiated into hurricane prep – I think it was the 5th store before we found water and that Costco trip Monday was national news worthy (literally, I think I saw clips from our Costco that day on CNN). So I want to do some science and faith, but with an emphasis on ministry, specifically, how the church responds and supports not only its members but its communities in a natural disaster.

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Drew and I skipped the houseplant stage. Early in our marriage, we rescued a scrawny tuxedo cat from the streets of South Philadelphia. Somehow this feisty little kitty had made his way to a veterinarian’s office not far from our apartment. When we first met him, he was making a disaster of his small cage, mostly because he was playful and wanted to be free. We took him home during Holy Week in the spring of 2003 and named him, Max. He was great – he loved to play fetch and hide-and-seek in the Tostitos bag. One winter night, when the heat went out, Max crept under the covers between our feet to keep us all warm. A little over a year later, we adopted Mimi, the dog. Max was mad at first, but he got used to his fuzzy sister, and they became the best of friends. Another year or so later, Ruth was born. Max was completely unimpressed, but he tolerated her, until she learned to walk. By the time Margaret was born, he had grown used to the disturbance, and when Emma Kate came along, he had learned to compete. He spent hours celebrating and grieving Northwestern football in Drew’s lap (long after the rest of us had given up and gone to bed).

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How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

                                                       Psalm 84:1-2

I love this picture of Doug Haas Bennett. Her oldest son, Joel, tells me, that her great aunt and uncle sent Doug this kimono from Japan in the early 1930’s. Her daughter-in-law, Nancy, added that Doug continued to wear the kimono as an evening wrap. I love the way her eyes are strong and bright, looking directly into the camera, and her arms are stretched out, surely to show the beautiful flowing silk, but notice that her palms are also up, ready to receive all of the energy the world has to offer. I love that this early picture has echoes of her future – lover of fabric and costume, at home in her own skin and in the world. Doug died peacefully last night after another stroke left her unable to swallow and with severely limited speech. Today is a bitter sweet day. She will be dearly missed, just as we miss all the Saints we have loved and loss, but for Doug, all tears and discomfort have passed. She has been made new, a child of the Covenant, bright eyes, palms up and outstretched, ready to be received Home.

Home. It is a place. It is people. It is something we receive and something we shape and share. Home can be holy. It can be hard. This Sunday is Welcome Sunday, the Sunday we welcome students back to campus and back to church, their home away from home. Our theme this year is Home. The psalmist declares, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” In Church, the Body of Christ seeks to be a home that reflects the holy beauty of this Eternal Dwelling Place. Church is the place that we bring our infants for baptism, and we trust to teach our children the ways of faith. It is the place where we enter the covenant of marriage, ask for forgiveness when we break the ties that bind, and seek healing when we are the ones broken. It is the place where college students gather to eat and to study, to imagine what their future holds. Church is where we will gather to bear witness to our hope in the resurrection as we celebrate the lives of John Brake and Doug Haas Bennett.

Our souls long, indeed, we faint to know home, to feel embraced, loved, and freed to be ourselves, eyes strong and bright, palms turned up to receive God’s grace. Friends, this Sunday, every Sunday, I invite you to come home. Come find a place and a people where you can be at home – at home in your own skin and at home in the world, a place where your voice will join with others, singing in gratitude to the living God, our Home.

In peace,


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by Beth Harris

As many of you know, this past month I visited and worked in central Poland with the Habitat for Humanity Global Village program. Due to the generous support of many church members I met my fundraising goal in support of Habitat’s international building projects. I offer my heart-felt thanks for your support of this project, not only financially but also your interest in the project and West Raleigh’s ongoing support of Habitat and affordable housing in Raleigh.

To even embark on this trip took a leap of faith. A friend of mine had gone on several similar trips to India and Romania but on this particular trip she would be the team leader. I decided to take that leap and join her team. I really liked the idea of traveling and helping people at the same time. What I didn’t expect was how much this trip would help me.

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Dear Members & Friends of West Raleigh,

On behalf of the Rick-Miller village, thank you! We just returned from two weeks of Sabbath. We started in Montreat, North Carolina, where we shared a house with my sister and her family. All of the children enjoyed Clubs, while the adults read, worked and met up with lots of Presbyterian friends and colleagues. Then, we headed to the beach for a week of hot sand and rolling waves. We returned refreshed and renewed, at least until Ruth went back to school at 7:25am Monday morning! As we find our groove again this week, we are grateful for the time apart and glad to be home again.

Switching gears, but sticking with the theme of gratitude, I also want to thank you for your financial generosity in the first half of 2018. This week’s newsletter contains a financial summary for the first half of the year, prepared by Hank Taylor, West Raleigh’s Treasurer, for the Stewardship & Finance Committee. Scroll down to read the report, review the numbers and study the graph. It is, as Hank says in his first line, an excellent start to the year. As we repeat in the monthly Stewardship Matters message, the heartbeat of generosity lives at West Raleigh Presbyterian Church!

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Contributed by Henry Wynands

Recently WRPC has fallen back on old ways - and formed yet another committee.  When in doubt, form a committee - right? Well the new established committee isn't all about the old ways; rather than doing things the Presbyterian way, decently and in good order, we have decided to be RUDE.  No we are not being rude to each other, or even unpleasant - we get along quite well actually.  But RUDE is the acronym for Room Use, Decor, and Effectiveness.  And if you prefer the term Room Use, that's OK too.

With the name decision out of the way, we needed to try to clarify our purpose. Two aspects were apparent:

  • WPRC, our familiar church building, has aspects that may not be welcoming.  A visitor or newcomer views the space and place differently than those of us who may have long ago accepted these aspects (or the quirks may have bothered us for years).  Ensuring a welcoming space is part of our goal. 
  • Room use and decor have not risen to the top of the list for Building and Grounds Committee very often - repairs and infrastructure improvements tend to be on the top of that list. 
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