May Adult Faith Formation: “What is a Matthew 25 Congregation?”
This past January our church Session approved a plan to become a “Matthew 25” church. What does this mean? What are the implications? These questions will be explored during a four-part faith formation series following worship on May 1, 8, 15 and 22. The series will be led by our Matthew 25 exploratory task force — Brian Case, Cindy Dugan, Cinda Gorman, Jeff Ritter and Tedd Roos.
In the past two years, hundreds of PCUSA congregations have made the same decision. Simply stated, a Matthew 25 congregation is one that prioritizes mission and outreach ministries based on a parable of Jesus located in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The parable was a means for Jesus to explain to the people of his day what a life dedicated to the good purposes of God looks like. What pleases God? What do kindness and generosity look like? The story includes a fictitious king standing before a crowd of people thanking and praising and “rewarding” some of his subjects because they “fed him, clothed him, cared for him, and visited him in prison…” The people are perplexed because they had never done any of those things for their king. The king explains that as far as he was concerned, when they had cared for “one of the least of his brothers and sisters,” it was as if they had cared for him. Jesus’ point is that the people should not be pitied but seen as people who are deeply loved by God. Caring for people in need is an act of loving service that pleases God and recognizes and honors the image of God in all people.
The tenets of Matthew 25 are also embedded in the confessional documents of our denomination. For example, the Confession of 1967 condemns the evil of systemic poverty. The Confession of Belhar challenges us to confront racism in church and society. The Brief Statement of Faith imagines congregations fully alive in the glory of God. Thus, Matthew 25 calls us to address poverty and oppression, racism and congregational vitality.
Jeff Ritter, Brian Case, Tedd Roos and Cindy Dugan will share their personal testimonies and reasons for being involved in the Matthew 25 concept and the many possibilities for our church to be engaged in these issues. The task force encourages us to write our own faith statements for why we are committed to the Matthew 25 vision. There will be time during each session to share statements.
A Message from the Pastor
by the Rev. Dr. James C. Butler
At last, winter is past; spring is here. The earth bears evidence of God’s resurrecting power. Lent and Holy Week and now this Easter season have been so incredibly uplifting because we have been able to worship together and grow in faith in person! Palm Sunday was such a joy as so many children and young families were present. It seems like I am seeing more “long-lost faces” every Sunday and it brings joy to my soul. I hope to see more and more of you back in church soon. We miss you and your church needs you.
The sad news within our church family is that our Director of Music, Rowan Draper, had to resign from the church staff effective April 30. For almost five years we have been so very blessed by Rowan’s musical gifts and leadership. We are pleased to report that the services of competent organists have been secured for the next two months. Our choir will continue to sing through Pentecost Sunday, June 5. I am working with the Session Personnel Ministry to begin the search for our next organist. I welcome your prayers for guidance, and I trust that with the help of the Holy Spirit, our music ministry leadership needs will be supplied.
Our journey on the “Matthew 25” road to mission and outreach continues in May. I am so very thankful for the excellent work and competence of our Matthew 25 task force team. They have a four-part series planned for our May Adult Faith Formation program during which they are going to help answer important questions about the mission priorities of Matthew 25 churches. Thanks to everyone who completed the LPC mission survey. They will be reviewed and will help us to discern the mission and outreach initiatives we can pursue given interest, skills and resources.
Remember, we are people of resurrection life, because Christ the Lord is risen! Alleluia!
Hand in Hand Program for May
On Friday, May 13 Peg Limkemann will speak on “Sleuthing the Hymnal.” There is a wealth of information as well as theology in the hymnal, and we will take a “tour” through it to find all the clues. We will gather in the Reed Room from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and all those interested are welcome.
Youth Sunday on May 22
It is once again time for our youth to stand up and lead us in worship during our annual Youth Sunday. Though our youth are often included as liturgists, Youth Sunday gives them a chance to take over more of the roles in the worship service. They will give the sermon, serve as liturgists, and offer their talents to the Lord. This service reminds us that worship is not just for adults, but that we are all called to spread Christ’s message. Join us on Sunday, May 22 and support these growing leaders in the church as they take over our worship service.
What Is Per Capita?
Did you know there is a price on your Presbyterian “head?” It’s true! The expenses of operating our Presbyterian denomination (Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly) in 2022 will cost every congregation in our Presbytery $34.91 per “head” (member). Out of the $34.91, $22.68 goes to the Presbytery, $8.98 to General Assembly and $3.25 to the Synod. Per capita is a fundamental way in which all of the more than 9,000 congregations and mid councils of the PCUSA are connected and allows its members to participate in the work of the wider church. It is the responsible way of sharing costs that equitably belong to the whole Presbyterian community. Please consider paying your per capita apportionment on top of your pledge amount. Simply note “per capita” on the memo line of your check or pew envelope. Thank you for considering this request.