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The Covenant Call Newsletter of Covenant Presbyterian Church SEPTEMBER 2011
Is the PC(USA) Still Christian? by Dr. Dan Milford Genesis 37 begins the tragic and redemptive story of the children of Israel. In a few brief paragraphs, a vivid picture is painted of a family rife with conflict. Jacob has had children by four different women—two sisters and their two slaves (start the ominous sound track). One sister was loved; the other was forced on Jacob. The latter had sons first, hoping each time that her fertility would endear her to her husband. The slave women were sucked into the competition between the sisters in an effort to raise the baby count for their mistresses. Finally, the loved wife had a son and named him Joseph. Another son ultimately followed, but at the cost of her life. Jacob showed no bones about his favoritism. Joseph was the apple of his eye, the first-born son of his beloved, and now deceased, wife. Of course, Jacob grew up in a home of blatant favoritism, so despite having seen the problems that can cause, he was probably just repeating the patterns he knew¸ as most of us parents often do. At 17 years of age, Joseph was sent to help tend the flock. He wasn’t sent with the older brothers, though, but rather as an assistant to the sons of the slave women. Perhaps it felt demeaning to be made subordinate to them. Perhaps they seemed to be easy pawns to walk over on his way to climbing the ladder of influence in the family. Whatever the case, he ratted them out to his father for doing poor work. The brothers ended up looking bad in their father’s eyes. Joseph received a long, special robe for his efforts. It became a glaring symbol of his status as his father’s favorite. When Joseph was later sent to check up on all his brothers while they tended the flock, the brothers saw their opportunity. They first resolved to kill him, then settled for selling him into slavery. That would end any question about what role he would play in their lives in the future.
So who sinned in this family? Who failed to do right in God’s eyes? Joseph, for rubbing his brother’s noses in his status as favorite? The brothers, for banding against him? Jacob, for his many decisions that led to this conflict spinning out of control? The sisters for their jealousy and competition? At some point, there was such a mess the question of “who’s to blame” was not even worth asking. No one’s hands were clean by the time Joseph was carted off by the Midianites. Our Presbyterian family of faith is not unlike Israel’s first family of faith. We have been in conflict with one another over various issues for a long time. (Truth be told, open disagreement over theology, bibilical interpretation, and denominational policy is part of our DNA—there has never been an extended time when there has not been conflict in the Presbyterian family. Dividing into different denominations hasn’t given us the desired relief of conflict, it has simply resurfaced around different issues and often led to more divisions.) Some are saying now that the Presbyterian Church has died, is “deathly ill”, or is no longer Christian. The pointing of fingers about who’s to blame, who’s not being Christ-like, or who’s apostate seems as fruitless an exercise to me as sorting through the brokenness of this first family of Israel. So much water has gone under the bridge, so many harsh words have been said, so many dismissive glances have caused their wounds. When conflict escalates, it goes through some pretty predictable stages. Friedrich Glasl’s nine-stage theory of conflict escalation helps us understand how it works and what kinds of words or behaviors are indicative of escalated conflict at different stages. (I heartily recommend the article on this at www.mediate.com/ articles/jordan.cfm). It notes that conflict progresses through stages marked by differences over an issue, debating and arguing, taking actions and using power, and solidifying coalitions and images about opponents. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Is the PC(USA) Still Christian? (Continued from page 1) By the fifth stage, parties feel they suddenly have new insight into the true motivations of those with whom they are in conflict. They now view their opposition as being driven by unholy motivations. When we look into theories about how conflict escalates, we can realize that many people within our denomination have been struggling at a high level of conflict escalation for a long time. Temptations to overpower, leave, or condemn become increasingly impossible to resist as conflict escalates. Temptations to dismiss others as manipulative, mean-spirited, or ignorant can also arise as we fail to realize the limitations they are working under because they are at an elevated stage of conflict. In the end, I believe the claims that the PC(USA) is unbiblical, apostate, or unchristian arise from escalated conflict. Taking such assertions at face value and believing them or getting defensive only causes us to join others in escalated conflict. For, truth be told, I believe virtually all Christians and all churches are at all times deeply accommodated to the sub-cultures they are part of in ways that cause them to be unfaithful to the gospel. Nevertheless, churches across the theological spectrum inside and outside the Presbyterian family still manage to allow the light of Christ to shine through them in ways that the Spirit uses to transform lives and communities. Our best hope at having our cultural accommodation exposed so that we might repent of it, be freed of it, and grow in deeper discipleship probably comes from those who we are most likely to be in conflict with in the family of faith. Are there theological differences in the PC(USA)? Sure! Do we interpret the Bible differently? Yes and no. We all bring our personal histories, our political views, and our desire for the Bible to support a lot of what we already believe. Additionally, we all read some biblical texts very literally and read others contextually or metaphorically. And we all just avoid reading some texts altogether. However, we also all seek to hear something new from God as we read the Bible, we all seek to be formed as disciples of Jesus Christ, and we all have some openness to have our worldview transformed by it. Because what we bring to scripture is different, there are certainly many differences in how we read and interpret it, but I suspect there are far more similarities than we realize. For Joseph and the brothers, the explosion in
their conflict would be followed by over two decades of total separation. But that didn’t resolve their conflict. They carried their anger, their hurts, and their guilt with them on their separate ways. God would finally bring them back together in a way that reconciliation could take place. By then, Joseph was able to see and affirm that though the brothers had intended to do him harm, God intended it for good. God was at work in their lives all along. Like Joseph’s brothers, may we discover that the one we wanted to get rid of, the one whose arrogance drove us up a wall, and the one who threatened to one day control us may be the very one God will use to save us or enrich our lives. Like Joseph, may we learn that the ones who berated us, the ones who dismissed us, and the ones who did us harm may be the very ones God has sent us into the world to care for and protect. May we trust that God is at work to bring about good in our family even though we are experiencing conflict now. And may we even learn these lessons before subjecting ourselves, our parents, and our children to decades of heartbreak and unresolved conflict. Trusting in the God who is at work in our lives, may we even manage to act in ways that leave us open to the Spirit’s work of reconciliation in our lives now. We are the PC(USA). The PC(USA) is us. How will we allow Christ to shine through us even as we walk through challenging times?
You’re Invited... to the San Antonio Cluster Meeting in which churches will have a conversation regarding recent changes to our constitution followed by a presentation by our Executive Presbyter Hilary Shuford. Sunday, September 11, 2011 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. John Calvin Presbyterian Church 8102 Midcrown,San Antonio, TX 78239
Donald Braswell and Gli Unici An Afternoon Filled with Beautiful Music by Denise Haley
Photos by Marvin Pfeiffer/ Prime Time Newspapers
Our sanctuary was full of music lovers on Sunday, August 14, as Don Braswell, Timothy Birt and William Chapman, three outstanding tenors who are “Gli Unici,” performed a variety of patriotic, inspirational, classical and contemporary music, including a number from “Phantom of the Opera” (see above) and received many standing ovations. Anyone who thinks opera is boring has never seen these gentlemen perform! In addition to their musical gifts, they share great camaraderie and brought a spirit of fun to the afternoon. The concert was organized by the Evangelism Ministry and was advertised in the media, music stores, and by other means of publicity as a welcome to our new Pastor, Dr. Dan Milford, and his family. Charlie and Sharon Winn handled publicity, and there was plenty of buzz in the newspaper about the event before and after. After Clerk of Session Denise Haley welcomed the crowd on behalf of the church and introduced Dan, he became the afternoon’s emcee and introduced his wife Nadia Rosales and children Alexis, Joshua and Austin; Chad Bosse, our new Director of Young Adults and Youth; and Don Braswell and his family, wife Julie
and daughters Aria, Sara and Alexa. Don and the tenors then began the show. A free-will offering was taken, with the proceeds benefiting Covenant’s general fund. Before the finale, “welcome gift” gift cards were presented to Dan, Nadia and Chad, and a stained glass hanging was presented to Don as a thank-you for sharing his gift of music and helping arrange this event to benefit our church. After the concert, everyone was invited to a reception in Friendship Hall and had an opportunity to meet Dan and his family, Chad, and the tenors, who graciously and gladly signed autographs and chatted with their long-time and brand-new fans. Special thanks to Covenant Community for arranging the lovely reception, which featured delicious cakes, fruit, punch and coffee. Many guests commented on what a friendly church Covenant is, and about the marvelous event. We’re looking forward to a return engagement! Thank you again, Don and Gli Unici, the Evangelism and Covenant Community ministries, and all who helped make the afternoon so special.
Session Corner by Denise Haley So much has been going on at our church! Receptions for a beloved church member after his memorial service and for “Gli Unici” after their concert, a successful “Mission Possible” youth retreat, a spruce-up workday for Sunday School rooms and the bathroom in the Sunday School wing, a church full of family and friends enjoying a concert on a Sunday afternoon, youth enjoying a day at Canyon Lake, “Young @ Heart” events during the month and were only the beginning, and what could be readily seen. Along with church events and activities, as well as the search for a Director of Christian Education and a Director of Traditional Music, with Charlie Winn’s announcement of his plans to retire, the ongoing work of the ministries continues -- property and building use, finance, stewardship, worship, missions, community, young adults and youth, older adults, evangelism, Christian Education, communication, planning and personnel. Each ministry consists of a session representative, a ministry coordinator, and ministry team members, all serving together.
Most of the session members not only serve as the representative of their respective ministries, they also serve as ministry team members of one or more other ministries. Please ask about what ministries do and find out how your gifts and energy will help further God’s kingdom through the life of this church. Session meetings always begin and end with prayer. An opening devotional is given by a session member, and after that, the clerk’s report is presented, which is approved by session. Reports are then received from the ministries, with items requiring session approval voted on by session. The items voted on are recorded in session minutes; discussions surrounding the votes are not. Session minutes and ministry reports are available in the church office, and session meetings are open. We continue to ask for your prayers for this church; for the session as we seek to discern God’s will for this church and for our leadership of it; and for the Nominating Committee, which is in the process of nominating a trustee and elders for the Class of 2014.
What: Sunday Nights of high energy worship, relevant teaching, and connection to other youth and young adults! When: We kickoff this year's re:Mix on Sunday, September 11th 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM -- Dinner by the Kitchen 6:30 PM - 7:00 PM -- Worship in the Sanctuary 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM -- Breakout Groups (Middle School, Senior High & Young Adults)
Search for Director of Traditional Music On August 7th, Charlie Winn announced his coming retirement. Charlie has been with us for 15 years, bringing his gifts of music, his broad and deep experience, and his warm heart for service to Christ. Charlie has agreed to continue his service until we find a replacement, so there is not yet a date set for his retirement. When that becomes clearer, we will make plans to celebrate his great service to our congregation. Over the last few weeks, several steps have been taken. First, the personnel committee met to discuss the process for undertaking a search for Charlie’s replacement and to discuss possible members for a search committee. A committee of seven members was called together: Becky Eisenhut, John Guntharp, Bill Lucks, Karl Hays, Vicki Moreno, Ruby Dehls, and Lori Anderson. The committee received job descriptions, estimates of time required for a choir director, organist, and our other music leadership needs. The committee was approved by session and began to discuss how it would proceed. On Sunday, August 21, an updated job description was presented to the session, with changes suggested by the search committee and the personnel committee. The session approved it with a few additional changes. The position has now been posted, and we anticipate beginning to interview interested candidates shortly after Labor Day. We will keep you posted on our progress. Meanwhile, please keep this search committee in your prayers.
Y P T Y P T On August 21st The Youth Praise Team (YPT) provided the music for the Youth Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, New Braunfels. The Youth Praise Team was invited by Consuelo Donahue, who serves as pastor. The whole trip was successful thanks to the hard work and support of the Kids, YPT Leaders, Parents, and church leaders.
Wednesday Night Recharge Begins September 14th 6:30 p.m.
Search for Director of Christian Education Over the last two months the search committee for the Director of Christian Education position (20 hrs./week) has met, reviewed numerous resumes, and interviewed seven candidates. The committee is still prayerfully proceeding, but has not yet brought any candidates to the personnel committee for its consideration. We will let you know when there is more to report. Please keep this committee in your prayers, too!
Adult Class “What’s Good About This News” This class will look at the unique perspective on the Good News offered by Paul and the four gospel writers. This class will also be offered on Sunday mornings. Team teachers for this class are Dr. Dan Milford, Bill Lucks, and Jerry Todd.
Making A Difference Through Planned Giving Stories of People Using Planned Giving Tools to Accomplish their Goals A Presbyterian lady has a modest home and a love for a particular ministry of her church. With her three children in various parts of the country and with provisions for them already made in her will, she gives the home to her church, but retains the right to live in it for the rest of her life. For this reserved Life Estate, she received a substantial charitable deduction and her children did not have to deal with the sale of
the home upon her death. After her death, the church sold the home and established a permanent fund. Income from that fund goes to fund the ministry she loved so much. For information on this and many other Planned Giving tools and techniques, please contact the Finance Committee or the Trustees of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION Sunday School Starts September 11
We are looking for Sunday School teachers. If you are interested in being a team teacher for children or adults, please contact Dennie Hawkins 3425253.
Kinder through 3rd Grade continue to study the "Wee Believe" series. Teachers are Teresa Esparza and Karl Hays.
5th Grade will continue to study the "The Way of the Child" curriculum. Teachers are TBD.
Middle School Class is studying "Encounters with God: Experiencing God in the Old Testament". Teacher is Sharon Fowler.
High School Class is studying "A Chronological Study of the Life of Jesus through the Four Gospels". Teachers are Craig and Trish Hopkins.
Adult Class is studying "What's Good About This News". Team Teachers are Bill Lucks, Jerry Todd and Rev. Dan Milford. This class will be offered again on Wednesday Night Recharge.
Nigh ht at Old O Forrest Hills Saturday, Octo ober 1 Forest Hills Prresbyterrian Chu urch 13200 0 Bandeera Road, Helo otes 5:30 0 pm – Silent S Au uction & Hors d d’oeuvrres 6:30 0 pm – International D Dinner & Prograam Fundrais F ser to Benefit Presbytterian Paan Ameerican Scchool Com me dine with us on foo od from four diffferent ccountriees, fellow wship with w other Nortthwest SSan Anto onio Presbyteriian Churches, an nd learn n about our misssion sch hool in Kingsvillle, all while w en njoying the mu usical giffts of thee schoo ol’s choirr. And, you might m even find a treasu ure at th he silentt auction! (Chiildcare will w be provide p ed at no o chargee.) Pleasee RSVP by Wed dnesdayy, Septem mber 211 to Chad Ch Bossse – [email protected] venantcaares.org 210.3 342.525 53 Spo onsored by: Covenant C Presbyterian P n Church Forest F Hills Presbyterian P n Church Leeon Springs Presbyteriaan Church No orthminsterr Presbyteriaan Church Church Oak Hills Presbyterian P Pipe P Creek Presbyterian P n Church St. Mark M Presbyyterian Chu rch, Boernee
Young Adults and Youth Canyon Lake Trip Covenant Presbyterian's Young Adults and Youth traveled to Canyon Lake for an afternoon of food, fellowship, and fun! With a wonderful view overlooking the lake, families, youth, and young adults enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. Many enjoyed splashing around in the cool lake and others enjoyed the sun and breeze while watching a live sailing race. We'd like to thank Jim and Judy Ritchie for hosting us at the Lake Canyon Yacht Club, and for providing their boat so that everyone could experience the joy of sailing. Also, thanks to Jay Pitcher for his countless hours on the Jet Ski, and to Lee Moreno for cooking a wonderful dinner for everyone.
Adult Handbells Join us Wednesday, September 14th for starting rehearsals. Time: 6:30-7:30PM Place: Choir Room Contact Karl Hedrick 342-5253 Children's Handbells Starting this fall in October Contact Trish Hopkins 342-5253
Join us as we welcome in fall and cooler weather! We will have music, cheers, guessing games and most of all fun! Remember to wear your school colors (High School or College).
Celebrating Fall & Football Season Friday, September 9 11:00AM-1:00PM Friendship Hall Potluck Lunch Sponsored by Young @ Heart
You are Invited To the Fall Kick-off Meal for Dinners for Eight
At 6:30PM - October 8. The church will play host and supply the entrée plus beverages. We would like you to provide a part of the meal for at least eight people in one of these categories --salads, vegetables, and desserts. Dinners for Eight is designed to help members of the group get to know each other away from the formal church setting. Each grouping meets usually once a month for 3-4 months with members taking turns at hosting and providing the entrée and beverages either at their home, one of the other homes, or even at the church. Days and times will be arranged by the group. Nursery at the church can be made available if known ahead of time. We especially encourage new members or those planning to join us to come on the 8th. Singles are always welcome. You will set up your new group that evening. This is one of best ways to get to know each other. We really would like you to be there. Nursery will be provided RSVP to church office or Sue Winebrenner by Oct. 1, 2011
Presbyterian Women Mary-Martha Circle Monday, August 29 10AM Moderator: Pam Klinzing - Hostess: Pam Klinzing
Ruth Circle Tuesday, September 6 10AM Moderator: Helen Dodds - Hostess: Margaret Crim
Faith Circle Tuesday, September 6 1PM Moderator: Dan Milford Hostess: Alice Moreno & Jeareen Frye
Lydia- Dorcas Circle Wednesday, September 7 6:30PM Moderator: Teresa Esparza - Hostess: Suzanne Worden
Looking Ahead The Fall Fair (November 6) will be making some changes. We will be doing a lunch and bake sale only to raise money for missions. Look for more information in the coming months.
Help Needed We are looking for helpers to help clean out and clean up the Craft Room, please let a PW member know if you are interesting in helping. Thanks!!
Young at Heart is Alive & Beating by Shirley Elmore
Since we began Young at Heart in April of 2010, we have had 18 monthly gatherings where we have been entertained, educated and filled with good food. We were entertained by Mike Clancey, an Irish singer; Paula Jo Peterson, a comedian; Frank Gugudon and his Hula Dancers; Dave Richards, vocalist; Women of the Bible in comedy by women from Northwood Presbyterian Church; a talent show featuring or own talents; Who’s Who with our own wedding pictures; Don Braswell; and John Lyle playing ragtime piano. We have been educated by the Castle Hills Police Department on home and community safety; information on senior adult services and volunteer opportunities; Liz Irvine and her Prisoner of War experiences in the Philippines (she has written a book that is available on Amazon – Surviving the Rising Sun); a talent show featuring our own crafts; and Davey Crockett Lodge #1225 who introduced us to 26 US flags and their meaning. We have had two Fiesta Celebrations and a grand Christmas Party where we brought food for the Covenant Food Pantry. If this isn’t enough, we have a Lunch Bunch group and a Game Day both of which meet once a month.
Thank You Howard and I, along with our family (Stan, Sammie, Carol, Larry and Jamelyn) want to thank our Covenant family for all of your prayers, cards, phone calls, visits, food, and love during my recent illness. What would we do without all of you? Yours in Christ, Howard & Dorothy Jones
We have made trips to Toyota, Culinary Institute of America, rode the Loop 410 bus trip, (some of us had not been in the south end for years) attended San Antonio Live at the Aztec Theater; We have started a service project making prayer shawls and prayer pillows which are prayed over and given to our members who are in the hospital or otherwise incapacitated. They are very well received and appreciated, bringing both comfort and love from our church. If you are 60+ please join us. We provide transportation to those who need it. Our events appear in the Covenant Call, the weekly bulletins and on the screens in the sanctuary. Or you may contact any of our team members who plan these activities for you. Young at Heart Team: Agapita Flores; John and Betty Guntharp; Celeste Hogue; Howard Jones; Bill Lucks; David and Joanne Makar; Bill A. Martin; Alice Moreno, Rowena Nadig, Shirley Poteet; Jamye Pressly; Janice Shute; Sue Winebrenner and Shirley Elmore, Coordinator.
Young @ Heart Games Players September 19 at 12:00PM Bring your favorite game and come enjoy great fellowship with friends in the Kitchen Annex.
Prayer Requests MISSION INDIA LITERACY TRAINERS Ashok Kumar Rohit Kumar PC(USA) MISSIONARY TO MEXICO Susie Frerichs ILL/HOSPITALIZED/ NEED PRAYERS Kingston Alvarado Patricia Brown David Hinds Dorothy Jones Kyla Magee Beth Mock John Shute Coyle Williams SHUT-INS Willie Barham Jeanine Clough Bob Crist Annie Laurie Culbertson Michele & Stuart Dinmore Minnie Mae Evridge Douglas & Rosemary Lewis Jim Leonard Dorothy Maese Kathryn Mahan Mary Jane Mahavier Doug Mebane Deanie Nolan Lorene Travis Betty Ullmann Coyle & Winnie Williams THOSE SERVING IN THE MILITARY Edward Anderson Brian Brower Chris Byrd David Byrd Justin Courtney James Dowell Brent Heeren Satha Keo Daniel Martinez Robert Mason James Millard Ben Piepgrass Joe Rosales John Stauffer Nathan Yates
COLLEGE AND GRADUATE STUDENTS Krystal Adair Alexandra Anderson Jaimi Douthit Lorin Douthit Gabriel Durand-Hollis Jacob Hopkins Mattie Farias Thomas Farias Shelley Klinzing Sam Mabry Eric Melendez Jacob Moore Lewis Nichols Nicolle Ramirez Chris Ruiz Matthew Ruiz Melanie Runyan Melissa Runyan Perry Runyan Matt Scoggins Reagan Stone Emily Turner Erica Quintero Rebecca Walthall Jacob Welge Laura Wright Logan Walsh Elizabeth Walthall Alex Ward Nicholas Ward EXTENDED FAMILY Ed Burris, son of Beverly Burris Jane Hardy, sister of Beth & Roy Mock Jef & Hetty Vrinds, parents of Jacqueline Walsh
Prayer Chain We have a prayer chain, both email and phone, for prayers for members and friends of our congregation, and for our church. If you would like to add your email to the prayer chain, email the church office at [email protected] with the subject line “prayer chain.” If you want to be on the telephone prayer chain, call the church office at 342-5253. If you have a prayer request, email or call the church office.
Covenant Presbyterian Church 211 Roleto Drive San Antonio, Texas 78213 Website: Email: Phone:
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