Archive for July, 2011

Watching the news out of Norway unfold the past few days has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion: it’s bad enough, and you know it’s going to get worse, but you can’t do a thing to stop it. At first it was sporadic bits about some bomb that went off in downtown Oslo. Pictures and video followed, and all I could think of was Oklahoma City more than a decade before. Then word of the mass shooting at a nearby youth camp, and I felt my stomach turn.

Since then: 93 dead in both the blast and the shootings, all at the hands of a single man, Anders Behring Breivik. And here’s the kicker: he did it all in the name of Jesus. Cut from a radical fundamentalist Christian cloth, Breivik sees himself as a “crusader” against Islam and multiculturalism; and in some twisted and convoluted way engaged in this act of mass violence and destruction to spark a worldwide revolution. Oddly enough, he himself acknowledges his actions were “atrocious” but nevertheless believed they were “necessary.”

Violence of any kind offends us. But when someone does it in the name of Jesus, the same Jesus we worship every Sunday, the same Jesus we serve with our mission and discipleship, the same Jesus who died at the hands of this very same maddening violence, we find ourselves somewhere between incredulousness and a deep, deep sadness. We wonder what Bible they must be reading; what community of faith they were nurtured in. We rack our brains trying to understand how anyone could believe that the God of love and peace and grace and mercy would ever direct them to blow up buildings and shoot people point-blank in the head. So terribly, terribly sad.

It’s so hard to know what to do in the face of evil like this. And really, all we can do is pray unceasingly for the people of Norway and for anyone who twists the gospel in such a horrific manner to suit their own warped ideology. And as we’re doing that, it may behoove us to ask a rather poignant question – one that, oddly enough, Breivik himself forces us to address: what are we doing in the name of Jesus? How are we “living out” our faith each and every day?

A strong set of convictions is what guided the Norway shooter – some extremely misguided convictions, for sure, but a strong set nonetheless. So what are the convictions that guide you in your daily walk? Can those around you see those convictions in you? Can they see what (and who) it is you value in how you treat others, how you carry out your job, how you spend your time and your talents and treasures? What are you doing in the name of Jesus?

The truth is, whether we realize it or not, we’re already doing lots of things in the name of Jesus, simply by being followers of his; simply by being members of our church family. We live every minute of our lives in Jesus’ name. And we have this amazing opportunity to reclaim what it means to live for our Savior – and in doing so, hopefully, we can show the world what being a follower of Jesus really looks like.

If we can take anything from this weekend’s massacre in Norway, perhaps it is this: what we do matters. And whose name we do it in matters even more. Let’s continue praying for the people of Norway – and yes, even for Breivik himself – in the days and weeks to come.



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To view the latest Weekly Grapevine, click on the link below.


Weekly Grapevine – 7.24.11

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When Nelson Clark and I first met with Steve about the Discipleship Ministry Team, he charged us and our ministry team to examine every aspect of stewardship at FPCMA and look for ways to positively change or modify it this year.

Our first effort to make what we think is a positive change is to offer the members of First Presbyterian Church the option of using online giving. The survey taken earlier this year indicated that 20% of the respondents do not put their offerings in the Sunday offering plates and 40% of them would interested in using an online service if it were safe and secure.

After prayerful consideration we would like to announce that, starting this week, First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy will be offering eGive online giving as an option for fulfilling your pledges.  After a good deal of research and comparing the benefits and costs of several companies we chose “eGive”.  “ eGive” specializes in providing a safe, secure, and automated online giving service to churches and non-profit organizations.

Most of those members surveyed also that felt the act of placing an offering in the plate on Sunday has a special significance and is an important part of the Sunday worship service.  Some thought it was an important teaching by example lesson for their children and all the youth of the church as there is little taught on the subject of giving.

For those who will set up their pledged church offerings to be given on-line or through payment outside of the Sunday worship service ‘Plate Cards,’ like the one to the left, will be available at the beginning of each worship service . Simply pick up a card on your way into the sanctuary on Sunday and place the card in the offering plate when it is passed down your row.

A letter explaining more about this giving option and the survey that was conducted will be mailed to all church members this week. If you are interested in signing up, go to our church website and click on the eGive icon at the top right of the home page.  I can verify that it is easy and pretty straightforward to sign up. It offers the flexibility to make a single offering or set up weekly or monthly recurring ones.

Mike Gatchel
Co-Moderator, Discipleship Ministry Team

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Click on the link below to view the latest Weekly Grapevine.



Weekly Grapevine. July 17.2011

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Yesterday morning, the session of First Presbyterian Church unanimously welcomed Ellen Eich as our new church organist!

Ellen is no stranger to First Presbyterian, as she has served as our “go-to” substitute organist since she and her husband Paul moved to Mount Airy in 2007. She brings a wealth of experience, having played church organ in various capacities and denominations for over 30 years. Ellen is currently serving as our “summer organist” and will officially begin her new duties in late August. Ellen will be present at Wednesday night choir rehearsals and Sunday morning worship. In addition, Ellen will play for church funerals and weddings as available. As part of our new model for worship music per the congregational study last fall, Ellen will typically play organ on the second, third and fourth Sundays each month, with the first Sunday being a “member-led” music Sunday (H20 N2 Wine, other church instrumentalists, etc).

In the letter that accompanied her application, Ellen shared this: Participating in the musical offerings of worship has always been a privilege and an honor for me. To hear people sing as I play is very fulfilling. As I practice and play, I often think of my parents and teachers who guided me and encouraged my talents. I thank God for the continuing opportunities He has provided for me.

Ellen, we are thankful that God has provided us the opportunity to partner together in music ministry. Welcome aboard!

A very heartfelt thanks to the members of the Personnel and Worship & Music Ministry Teams who have worked tirelessly throughout this period of transition over the past year: Frank Mayberry, John Merritt, Felton Godwin, Anna Bush, Tom McCluskey, John Mills, Lee Daniels, Heather Hatcher and Steve Lindsley (ex-officio).

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This coming Sunday, the first Sunday in July, we will collect our Offering for Hunger & Hope.   Please bring your pennies for the Cents-A-Bility offering as well as your food donation for Yokefellow Ministries.  The food(s) of the month are cooking oil and canned fruit.

You can access the latest Weekly Grapevine by clicking on the link below.

Weekly Grapevine.7.3.11

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