Tuesday, November 23, 2010

giving thanks: a pastor's report

1. The profound mission of education, including now English as a second language training, microcredit and water purification in a time of cholera by the Providence Women on a Mission + 1, and their safe return on Friday evening in the midst of demonstrations and protests in Cap Haitien, Haiti.

2. The Interfaith Study of the Psalms we have enjoyed with our friends at Temple Israel this fall, and their rabbi, Murray Ezring, and our emerging capacity to learn, laugh and argue in the midst of what we share in common and how we differ.

3. The Mary and Joseph Breakfast held at our church on Saturday morning for our children and their parents, and in some cases, grandparents, and the learning and fun that was a part of it all.

4. Our youth, who spent the night with the homeless last weekend and walked as advocates for their well being.

5. Jacques Lamour's testimony in our worship services last Sunday, and his upcoming graduation next month from Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.

6. The passionate traditional worship that is at the heart of our life together, and the congregation's singing of "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending", one of my favorite Wesley hymns.

7. A conversation among five pastors with our District Superintendent to name what has in fact become a reality over these years: a cooperative mission parish that encompasses a Liberian congregation (Spencer Memorial), a Cambodian congregation (St. John's) and Providence.

8. Planning for a Change the World series in January and February, which will focus on housing, Haiti, reconciliation, human trafficking, and hunger, set in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.

9. Planning for a Passionate Traditional Worship conference in February that will feature Marva Dawn, David Childs, Taylor Burton-Edwards, Laurie Haller and Bishop Larry Goodpaster.

10. The Advent for Hunger collection of food that will begin on December 1. Last year Providence UMC collected 9.5 tons of food during the month of December.

11. The emerging New Wine series of evening services this fall, which have included Compline and Taize expressions of worship.

12. A new young adult Sunday School class (Kairos).

13. Young adults from our church in mission and ministry beyond us, especially Jamie and Holle Wollin, who will serve in Cambodia in 2011 with the Mission Society, Dan and Courtney Randall, with GBGM in New England and a parish in Maine, and Lauren James, who is with UMCOR in Haiti.

14. The completion of charge conference, staff evaluations, most of the stewardship campaign, and a nominations process that involves between 800 and 900 persons.

15. Sharing the story of Providence's Strategic Planning process, along with Michele Fisher, for the benefit of a leadership group of younger clergy in our annual conference.

16. Meeting a former governor of North Carolina, the father of one of our members, and learning that another member of our church has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship this week.

17. A presentation by Providence UMC's microcredit leadership at a symposium held by Pfeiffer University.

18. A Sunday lunch gathering on the subject of "Care at the End of Life" and featuring Richard Payne, M.D., of Duke University's Medical and Divinity Schools.

19. A gathering of support for the Duke Center for Reconciliation in Charlotte and the possibility of its extension into the the Charlotte area.

20. Visits, conversations and prayers with a number of members who are struggling with illnesses.

21. The anticipation of Advent worship, Christmas parties, the end of the financial year (!), a sublime Service of Lessons and Carols, and a Christmas eve filled with carols, communion and candlelight.


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