Window | Spring 2021

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S P RI NG 2021 | VO L 7 3 | I SSU E 2

IN BETWEEN GARDENS B Y R E V. D AV I D S E AMON, AS S OCIATE PAS TOR OF FAIT H F ORMAT ION

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The story of our lives begins and ends in a garden Genesis 1 opens with the earth being a formless void and darkness covering the chaotic waters. But all of a sudden the creator God begins crafting life out of nothing, separating light from darkness, filling the earth and sea with plants and animals. And the story builds and

THE HIGHL AND PARK COMMUNIT Y GARDEN IS A GRASSROOT S EF F ORT TO P RO V IDE A S PAC E F OR RESIDENT S T O CULT IVAT E F OOD AND COMMUNIT Y IN T HE HIGHLA N D PAR K N EIGHBORHOOD

crescendoes where all of creation finds its fullest expression in a garden: not raw, but cultivated; not harsh, but harmonious; not unmediated, but tended. God has this thing for gardens because they imply intent—that is to say purpose. It is creation with an end in mind. Then God said, “Let us craft one more

thing, a creature in our image.” And picking up a handful of rich earth, the gardener God breathed into it the breath of life, creating humanity. God placed these first humans in the garden and gave the very first commandment: be fruitful. The world functioned in beautiful interdependence. CON TIN U E D O N P G 5

FEATURING

LEARN

CELEBRATE

MISSION

Found at Children's Fresh Air Farm this summer P G 4

An update from IPC's Foundation P G 6

IPC's high school seniors PG 7

Be a blessing to our neighbors in need B A CK

3 1 0 0 H I G H L A N D AV E N U E | B I R M I N G H A M , A L 3 5 2 0 5 | 2 0 5 - 9 3 3 - 1 8 3 0 | I P C - U S A . O R G

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ast month, I had the privilege of opening the Highland Park Community Garden to its second growing season. We had more than 80 folks in the neighborhood sign up for one of the 21 plots! Even though we were doing the lottery via Facebook Live, you could still feel the excitement! I left that meeting and immediately ran across the street to IPC for our Faith Formation team meeting, which was equally electric. As Covid-19 statistics continue to decline and the church continues to re-open, the conversation was filled with hope of a new growing season this spring. I began to think about how these two areas of gardening and faith formation are connected.


UPCOMING

events See complete calendar online including details and updates: ipc-usa.org > connect

APRIL 1 Maundy Thursday Service, 7 pm 2 Good Friday Service, Noon. Church Offices Close at Noon 3 Easter Egg Hunt, 9 am, Highland Hall 4 Easter Sunday Services, 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, & 5 pm. No Sunday School Classes 7 A Conversation with Amy-Jill Levine, 5:30 pm, Zoom 18-24

Provide & Serve Dinner, First Light See back

MAY 9 Senior & Acolyte Recognition Sunday 17-20

Vacation Bible School

See page 10

31 Memorial Day. Church Offices Closed JUNE 7-11

Bibletimes Marketplace

See page 10

Calendar information included is current as of production time.

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Find updates, safety protocols, livestream links, and in-person reservation forms at: ipc-usa.org > connect

CONSIDER THIS

The Glory of God's Creation Dear IPC Friends, One of my favorite Psalms (19) opens with “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” This Psalm directs our attention to the glory of God’s creation and moves us to a posture of awe and wonder. Someone once said, “We are meant to count our lives worthy not by the number of breaths we take but by the number of times something takes our breath away.” When I moved here last June, Anita told me that she hoped I would still be here this spring, if for no other reason than to experience the breathtaking beauty of Birmingham in March and April, I didn’t understand. From the sounds announcing the coming of spring, the rattling thunder in Birmingham’s inevitable storms, the magnificent beauty in the songs of mockingbirds and robins, the singing and shouts of joy, and hope in the resurrection during Easter, I hear that “day to day pours forth speech.” While the Psalm reminds us in the second verse that, yes, “day to day pours forth speech,” in the third verse it points to the Word of God revealed through our eyes, “there is no speech, nor are there words, their voice is not heard, yet their voice goes out through all the earth.” As the song goes, “I once was blind but now I see,” what I see now is that Anita understated it. I’m trying to catch my breath from the burst of white springing from the ornamentals, azaleas, and especially the dogwoods; the spray of pink from the redbuds; the fresh new life of green breaking out from the dormant grass and bare limbs; the red, white, and pink azaleas overflowing; and the flowers—oh, the flowers. Birmingham may be one of the most beautiful examples of God’s glory I have ever seen; and for this alone, I am blessed to be here during this very strange and unsettled year. Even more, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve this good congregation growing in faith, hope, and love. What I have found is that I have grown in faith, hope, and love too as well as in ways I didn’t expect. If this sounds like a goodbye letter, it is probably the preface. While no decision has been made—by the providence of God—things are moving toward this summer for your next pastor to be called to share in your ministry as the Body of Christ. For now, I just wanted to take this opportunity to give thanks for the privilege Anita and I feel for being here. You have given us a deep well of gratitude to draw from in the coming years. Gratefully,

Steve Goyer Interim Pastor


welcome

U P D AT E : I P C ' S P L A N S TO RE-OPEN THE CHURCH

Ashley and Foster Alspaugh New Members

TO

IPC

Patricia Harper

New Staff, Development Manager, IPC and IPC Foundation

Since being able to offer in-person Sunday worship services starting on Feb. 14 at 11 am and 5 pm, seating capacity has gradually increased to 150 people in the sanctuary and 75 in Highland Hall. For those who prefer to worship with us online, our livestream of the 11 am service continues.

You can find information about in-person worship services, make a reservation, and view our safety protocols at ipc-usa.org > worship. Our re-opening plan was updated on March 11 to reflect current Covid-19 trends moving in a favorable direction. As such, the updated version of our Re-Opening Guide lists the current status of IPC’s services, buildings, and facilities. Flip through our plan found online to see the Task Force’s guidance for in-person services, bulletins, communion, etc., as well as what’s being considered to resume in person in the coming months. You can find the plan and the latest updates and response to Covid-19 at ipcusa.org > Covid-19.

The Window is a quarterly publication of Independent Presbyterian Church 3100 Highland Avenue South. The Window is published for church members and friends.

JOINING IPC If you are new to IPC or considering a new church home, we would be delighted for you to contact us. Stacy Pulliam Engagement and Assimilation Coordinator 205-933-3690 spulliam@ipc-usa.org Cindy Shaw Assistant Engagement and Assimilation Coordinator 205-933-3696 cshaw@ipc-usa.org

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When we gather in person, our knowledgeable and thoughtful Re-Opening Task Force asks us to continue our online reservation process and follow precautions with masks and safe social distancing.


CH U RCH L IFE

ROOTED IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST B Y L I S A B U RT O N , I P C ME MB E R

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t is hard to see a butterfly or a bluebird and not smile. It is impossible to see a child delight in seeing a butterfly or a bluebird and not smile. At the Children’s Fresh Air Farm (CFAF), children light up when they see zinnias in bloom or spot a baby squash hiding under the vine. They count the blueberries, and they pick and learn that the flowers they see today will be okra or tomatoes next week. They squeal when they see a gnarly bug and feel very proud when they find a camouflaged caterpillar. And, boy, do they love to see butterflies! Found at the farm are vegetables, perennials, pollinators, and blueberries, along with plants that smell good and taste better. On the lunch table, you can find flowers that are beautiful in a vase. There is really nothing that grows at CFAF that the children don’t enjoy. When CFAF began as a residential summer camp nearly 100 years ago, each camper had their own plot to tend. Each morning they would plant, weed, water, prune, and harvest. Today, our Summer Learning Program (SLP) students focus on math and reading in the morning to eliminate the educational summer slide. They enjoy the garden during class time

or afternoon free time; however, their 9 am to 4 pm daily schedule of learning no longer allows them time to be the primary caretakers of the gardens. The importance of nature for the healthy development of children cannot be overstated. Many children experience a nature deficit. The gardens and grounds of CFAF offer a place for creativity, discovery, and problem-solving. Although creating this environment takes a lot of effort, the rewards are priceless! Mother Teresa once said, “…so let us make something beautiful for God.”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO HELP MAKE THE CFAF MORE BEAUTIFUL? If you are willing to make a short drive to Bluff Park and pitch in, it will help ensure that our SLP Students have an experience they’ll never forget. At CFAF they learn that nature is a gift from God. It is a manifestation of his abundant creativity and love for us. Will you help us share that love? You can promote hope and opportunity through the following opportunities: • Adopt a garden plot • Work with other volunteers from IPC and Bluff Park to plant and maintain gardens • Share plants from your own garden • Maintain and improve trails

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If you are interested, please contact Lisa Burton at burton4205@gmail.com or Bill McKelvey at bmckelvey@ipc-usa.org. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. ~ Genesis 1:31a SUMMER LEARNING PROGRAM STUDENTS

FR E S H PRODUCE GROW N AT CFAF


The seed-bearing fruit, the seed-bearing animals, and the image-bearing humans filled the earth with new life. God told the human beings to attend to only one task: govern the earth out of which they were made, resting in the mutual reliance among humans, animals, and soil. In a sense, humanity was tasked with the very thing God had done in the cosmos: to bring order out of chaos. In the final chapter of Revelation, the garden reappears. Only this time, one tree stands in the center, the tree of life—a tree whose leaves “are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is no longer found. Humanity and all of creation dwell and delight together, feasting forever in the presence of God. The story in between is where we find ourselves It is one of God who keeps reaching down into the dirty mess we’ve made and continues to cultivate beauty, purpose, and meaning. We know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve took the vegetation that was intended to sustain and be sustained by them, and they used it to fulfill their own selfish desires. And in just one quick meal, all the relationships God designed as good—relationships with ourselves, with the earth, with one another, and ultimately with God—were covered in shame. And yet, God never abandoned creation. Like a loving gardener, God continues to work with the harsh unmediated landscapes we destroy, hoping they may still bear fruit. God even took on the dustiness of our dependence in the person of Jesus. Jesus’ life on earth was one characterized as a “ministry of meals:” dining with the poor and the outcast, turning water into wine, and feeding thousands with five loaves of bread and two small fish; extending forgiveness to Peter over a fire with cooked fish; making himself known through the breaking of bread with his disciples on Emmaus Road. Jesus’ call to discipleship is a guiding metaphor for Faith Formation He often used agricultural metaphors to

describe God’s kingdom and our calling to participate in its growth. As anyone who has tried gardening before, they know it takes a lot of attention and intention to grow desirable plants. Growing weeds is easy. Growing delicious fruits and vegetables and beautiful flowers is much more difficult. Gardening, like Faith Formation, encompasses every aspect of our lives we have traditionally compartmentalized. It takes a certain “head” knowledge for sure, but it also requires what philosopher Lisa Heldke calls “bodily knowledge.” This is a kind of embodied formation where repetitive practices or rituals embed a certain kind of knowledge in our “gut”— a knowledge that goes beyond what we can cognitively understand or articulate. Gardening, like Faith Formation, takes “pastoral” care that tends to the growth of each plant. Gardening, like Faith Formation, forces us to ask what it means to work for justice while hoping for a new creation. Theologian Jennifer Ayres says that “patterns of growing, sharing, and eating food are a means of revelation: they reveal something about the brokenness of humanity and its social and ecological arrangements” ( Jennifer Ayres, Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology, 54-55). Wherever we gather, be it a garden or at church, we remember that we gather because we believe that all should be fed in body, and mind, and spirit, and we want to cultivate a place that has those healing leaves. A place where more peace, and justice, and reconciliation, compassion, and hope can be cultivated together. Gardening, like Faith Formation, encompasses every age, while also respecting the development process of each life stage. While anyone can garden, different practices are required for seedlings, young plants, and mature plants. Yet, Jesus says the goal is the same: “to bear fruit.” Faith Formation arose out of this need to have a theologically sturdy way to talk about how that fruit-bearing is going. Gardening, like Faith Formation, fosters community, mission, and singularity of purpose because everyone shares the need to eat and grow. Because food creates a basic level of connection for everyone, in theory, people who have nothing else in common can yet gather together over a meal. Jesus must have had this in mind when he

commanded his followers to eat together in remembrance of him. He knew that eating together would remember and heal the divisions of the broken body made one in Christ. In order to overcome the differences that threaten the unity of Christ’s body, writes social psychologist Christena Cleveland, we must cling to an identity that is more encompassing than our identities of difference (Christena Cleveland, Disunity in Christ, 149-150). It can be difficult to cling first and foremost to the identity of Christfollower when the identity of conservative, progressive, mainline, evangelical, Baptist, or Presbyterian keeps us from listening to other followers of the same Christ. And yet, Christ’s table is set to foster dialogue for those stifled by differences in belief. Adam and Eve’s quick meal brought death into the world But through death, Jesus reclaims the meal as a sign of new life. It’s not a recovery of what used to be in the Garden of Eden, it’s resurrection of what will be. John 20 describes Easter morning as happening on “the first day,” pointing us back to the first day of creation. John then points out that Mary Magdalene comes to Christ’s tomb, which is located in where? A garden! And she mistakes the resurrected Christ for a gardener! Nadia Bolz-Weber wonders if it was because Jesus still had dirt from His own tomb under his nails. She goes on to claim that in her experience, this is what resurrection looks like, not clean and pretty, but messy. Christ came to make us new and new doesn’t always look perfect. Like gardening, it requires planning, getting your hands in the dirt, learning when confronted with new challenges, and periodic pruning. Yet, in gardening as in Faith Formation, we find the hand of God moving Whether it be 21 small plots of land or 21 grace groups, we find a place brimming with stories, backgrounds, culture, and beauty. There’s still a lot to work out with this new model, but we can trust in a God who “simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves…and keeps loving us back to life over and over‘” (Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix, 174).

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C O N T I N U E D F R O M COV E R PAGE


C HU RCH L IFE

MISSIO N

"COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS” IPC FOUNDATION DISTRIBUTES $1.93 MILLION IN 2020 GRANTS B Y MA R G A R E T B R U NS TAD, IPC GR ANTS COMMITTE E CHAIR

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ith gratitude to many generous families and individuals, the IPC Foundation is blessed to be the steward of more than 40 different endowment funds. Each fund has its own, individual document that governs the purpose and distribution of its assets. The majority of these funds support the church, whether it be for music, education, pastoral care, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, or other areas. The Foundation’s largest fund is the Beeson Fund with more than $50 million in assets, and its purpose is for the benefit of mankind, the education of youth, the relief of human suffering, and the propagation of Christian religion. Each year the earnings specifically from the Beeson and Yarboro funds enable the Foundation to fund grant requests that are received from a wide variety of charitable organizations. Awarding these grants provides opportunities for the church to extend its ministries throughout our community, our country, and our world. The Foundation’s Grants Committee is charged each year with recommending the recipients of grants. In 2020, meeting

monthly from June through November, the committee reviewed a total of 108 applications. The IPC Youth Grants Committee also participated in this process. Allocated $20,000 from the overall grants budget, they arranged site visits and met regularly to best decide how to appropriate their funds. They presented their conclusions during a formal presentation in early November. Each of the 108 applications was assigned to one of three categories: Education, Mission Support, and General Charitable Giving. The grants committee was divided into sub-committees by category in order to thoroughly review each application. In November the committee recommended to the Foundation Board that $1,934,200 be awarded to 74 different agencies throughout the world. 61.8% of the agencies are located in Birmingham (60.6%) and Alabama (1.2%); 16.8% in Africa; 4.9% in Asia; 2.3% in Central and South America; 1.3% in Europe; and the remaining in other global locations. A list of these agencies can be found in the Foundation’s upcoming 2020 Annual Report. The Covid-19 pandemic affected this

LU V, A 2 0 2 0 G R A N T R E CIPIE NT, S UPPORTS V ULNE R ABL E CHIL DREN AND W OMEN IN SU D A N A N D S O U T H S UDAN.

T HE BEL L CENT ER, L OCAT ED IN BIRMINGHAM, IS A CURRENT SM A LL GRANT RECIPIENT.

year’s process in a number of ways. First, the application paperwork was modified to ask agencies for specifics of how they had been affected by Covid-19, both operationally and financially. These responses were carefully considered in evaluating each request. Secondly, the committee met virtually throughout the grants process, and any access to nearby agencies that might be helpful in reviewing their applications was also limited to virtual communication. Finally the potential impacts of Covid-19 presented an opportunity for the committee to reach out and interact with other large foundations in Birmingham to share ideas and strategies for evaluating the challenges of these times. These conversations proved to be very helpful and insightful. The Foundation Grants Committee members are listed in the Foundation’s Annual Report. They represent the Foundation Board, the Community Ministries Ministry Team, and the Session/ Foundation Liaison committee. All agree it is a privilege to serve on this committee, and all would welcome the opportunity to review the experience with anyone interested in learning more about this important endeavor at IPC.


CLASS OF 2021 HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR RECOGNITION

The "Last" Everything

A Gift from IPC

B Y C AT H E R I N E GOUDR E AU, IPC DIR E CTOR OF CHIL DREN AND YOUT H M I N I S T R I E S , C HILDR E N’S FR E S H AIR FAR M PR OGRAM DIRECT OR

This time every year I start to get a little sad. For our high school seniors, this feels like the “last” everything. It is their last Youth Sunday, last opportunity to acolyte, last Montreat, and last youth group. It’s the time of year we begin to say our “see you laters” to these deeply loved members of our church and youth group. It is always a tearful delight when we get to recognize all they have meant to us over the years and wish them the very best on the next journey ahead. Our seniors have served as acolytes, youth group members, leaders in worship, Elders, Deacons, Youth Grant Team members, and so much more. One of my favorite traditions is senior night at Montreat. After a week of very little sleep and lots of quality time together, all of the IPC students pile together on the living room couches and one by one we share our favorite memories and stories of each senior. We remember, with gratitude, the way they welcomed others to youth group for the first time, or a funny thing they did at Bibletimes Marketplace. We share stories from previous Montreats and other retreats. And undoubtedly, we stay up much too late laughing and crying together. This year will be no different. Our 37 graduating seniors have left an important mark on our church and our hearts and they will be deeply missed.

To Our Seniors

God has already begun such great things in you. We love you and we cannot wait to see all that you will do and be. Thank you for all the gifts, talents, energy, and love you have shared with our congregation.

As part of senior recognition each year, graduating students receive a Bible and a water bottle to take to college with them. The bottle includes this blessing: You are a unique creation. A person blessed by God with life, a person called, in love, to grow and share your gifts with others. May your life be filled with happiness and joy. Know that we celebrate your accomplishments and share in your dreams. May God continue to bless and challenge you. May you always be surrounded by people who support and love you. May you grow more fully into the person that God wants you to be and that the world so desperately needs.

L O O K I N G B A C K AT OUR HIGH S CHOOL S E NIOR S: (MEMBERS) L INDSAY W H AT L E Y, S A R AH HUDDLE , KE NDALL WHATLE Y, DAVID AL BRIGHT, HEL EN WA LT H A L L , P E YTON J ONE S , CAR E Y HE R E FOR D, (NON-MEMBERS) T HOMAS R E N N E K E R , A ND LILLIAN PITTMAN

To see recognition of our high school seniors as they approach graduation day, follow IPC on Facebook and Instagram and be sure you are subscribed to our weekly eUpdate emails.

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We ask this in hope and expectation that God will continue the great things already begun in you.


CHU RCH L IFE

D E E P E N I N G FA I T H

Hear from IPC Members on Being a Boy Scout at IPC

SPONSORED BY IPC

Boy Scout Troop #28

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A Scout is Reverent.” The concluding tenet of the Scout law reflects the organization’s commitment to a Scout’s faith development. Surely this is one reason IPC has supported Troop 28 for nearly 100 years. There are many good Scout troops in the area, but none is better for the youth of IPC than Troop 28. The Troop provides an opportunity for IPC youth to continue their faith development together, and with others, as well as learn outdoor skills, leadership, and personal responsibility. It has been a blessing to watch my son grow through Scouting in the place that we worship. If your family has any interest in being involved in Scouting, there is no better place to do so than at Troop 28, supporting one of the oldest ministries of IPC. Richard Monk, IPC Member

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I have had the privilege of having two Eagle Scout sons in Troop 28. The Troop provided hours of rich fellowship and learning with them as well as with other dads and sons. The most meaningful experience for me in Troop 28 has been teaching the God and Country course every few years. Our Troop has extensively promoted the 12th point of the Scout Law, “A Scout is Reverent” as a critical aspect of Scouting. From service projects at the Children's Fresh Air Farm, to the Pancake Supper and Scout Sunday, the Troop has given our family another meaningful point of contact with IPC. George M. Taylor III, IPC Member

One of the oldest ministries of IPC, Boy Scout Troop 28 was formed by the Men’s Club in 1923 and initially housed in a Scout hut on the back corner of this lot. Our Scouts perform many services for our church ranging from service projects at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm to hosting our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. We thank them for their role in the life of our church. Troop 28 Facts •

98-year partnership between IPC and Troop 28

Troop 28 is the oldest troop in the Vulcan District Council

195 Troop 28 Scouts have attained the rank of Eagle

Children’s Fresh Air Farm has benefited from 15 Troop 28 Eagle Scout projects

The Troop serves a range of communities with recent Scouts from almost 20 different schools

The Troop meets weekly in Highland Hall and has activities regularly at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm

IPC member support of the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and the Holiday Greenery sale helps support Troop 28 activities

Want more information or to participate in the Troop? Contact Boy Scout Troop 28 Leader Kendall Holman at kendallholman@bellsouth.net, or IPC Members Richard Monk at richardmonk28@gmail.com or George Taylor at gtaylor@burr.com.


SPECIAL MOMENTS

Recently at IPC

T H E N E W LY C A L LE D CLAS S E S OF DE ACONS AND EL DERS AT T ENDED O F F I C E R T R A I N ING AT IPC IN MAR CH AND WE RE ORDAINED DURING W ORS H I P S U N D AY, MAR CH 2 1 .

IPC LEADERSHIP

Called to the Office of Elder and Deacon IPC welcomes the Class of 2023 These men and women are nominated and elected by the congregation to serve three-year terms as ordained elders and deacons. Elders Susie Foote Abbott Wendell F. Allen Alys Butts Margaret Cobbs Jim D. Cooley Anna Kate Donovan Robert Hill Matt Lyons Jeanne P. Monk Gail S. Pless Julie J. Rediker Tommy Thomson Bibb Albright - Youth

AF T ER 35 YEARS OF CONT IN U O U S SERVICE T O IPC, MARSHA HARBIN RETIRED AT T HE END OF MARCH. T H A N K Y O U T O EVERYONE W HO PART ICIPATED IN VARIOUS ACT IVIT IES T O HELP SEN D HER OF F T O RET IREMENT, INCL UDIN G A RES OL UT ION OF T HE SESSION OF IN DEP ENDENT PRESBYT ERIAN CHURC H O N THE MINIST RY OF MARSHA HARBIN .

Deacons Justin T. Carroll Ian H. Dexter Anna Hartzog Clarence W. James, II Diane Kopecky Kate Mather Susan E. Murphy Grace J. Posey Jay Turner Thomas L. Wells, Jr. Kathleen A. Woodruff Ivy Cobbs - Youth Hattie Donovan - Youth

Thank you to the Class of 2020 IPC is deeply grateful for your leadership through the last three years at IPC. You have done the hard, good work of keeping things more than afloat through the storms you faced. Thank you from the staff and from the congregation.

ON F EBRUARY 28, SCOUT SU N DAY, IP C RECOGNIZED IN W ORSHIP THE M EMBERS OF OUR CHURCH’S BOY SC O U T T ROOP. ABOVE: CAREY HER EFO RD F ROM T ROOP 28 DEL IVERED THE M OMENT F OR MISSION.

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Learn more Visit ipc-usa.org to view the Class of 2021 and 2022.


C H U RCH L IFE

SUMMER OPPORTUNITIES

COMING SOON

Global Mission

Adult Faith Formation

IPC will continue to carry out the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in the world by sending teams to places of need.

Jeff Leonard, Associate Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies at Samford University, will return to IPC to teach a summer Adult Sunday School class this year. Plans are underway for a summer learning and fellowship opportunity for IPC's Members in the Middle. Questions? Contact Susan Clayton at sclayton@ipc-usa.org.

Vacation Bible School Children can join the quest for God’s great light on Adventure Island. Classes are available in person for 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s, and adult volunteers are needed. Please note new dates this year: May 17-20. VBS will be held at IPC in the Day School classrooms from 9 am to Noon ($20).

Bibletimes Marketplace Campers (completed K5 - 5th grade) and Tribal Assistants (completed 6th - 12 grade) are invited to join us for this year’s in-person Bibletimes Marketplace. This year we will explore the life of Jesus. Sign up for a fun week at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm June 7-11 from 9 am to 2 pm ($50), or for bus riders 8 am to 3 pm ($85).

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CDC guidelines on masks and social distancing, as well as cleaning practices, will be followed for VBS and Bibletimes Marketplace. VBS will use all Day School practices and protocols set during this school year. Register for VBS and Bibletimes Marketplace: ipc-usa.org > connect

BRIEFS

Our 2021 Blessings We invite you to review IPC’s 2021 budget in a "narrative" form, going beyond the numbers to show how your pledges and other church income impact our ministries and our Community. View online at ipc-usa.org > give > annual-budget

In-Person Worship Reservations

We intend to host a 2022 global mission trip for the congregation as soon as we feel international travel is safer as well as more accessible. You are invited to watch for more information and make plans to join us. Questions? Contact Susan Clayton at sclayton@ipc-usa.org.

THE LENTEN SEASON

Ash Wednesday

IPC began the season of Lent with the imposition of the ashes in both the sanctuary of our church as well as through an at-home Ash Wednesday kit.

Worship in person with IPC on Sunday. You can join us in the sanctuary for the 11 am service and Highland Hall for the 5 pm Table service. Seating is currently available to a maximum of 150 participants in the sanctuary and 75 in Highland Hall, and reservations are required. We ask you to please use our online reservation form and follow the prompts to make a reservation for each person attending from your family. Childcare is provided but must be added to your reservation form. If you need to cancel your reservation, please contact Sandra Putman at 205 933-1830 or sputman@ipc-usa.org to allow us to open your seat for others. Learn more about in-person worship reservations at ipc-usa.org > worship > reservations

PHOT O: CYNDY CANT L EY, IPC M EM B ER


P C USA

PANDEMIC MINISTRY: LESSONS LEARNED FROM NAVIGATING SNOW

B Y J U L I E R A F F E T Y, THE PR E S BY TE R IAN OUTLOOK

and then decide. I think we have progressed in data analysis for better or worse. And I do think we are learning to trust the data outside of our church and inside of our church. We keep moving forward to the best of our ability. I don’t think I’ve ever given up and turned around during a snowstorm in New Jersey (though I can’t say the same for when I lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Colorado). I move forward even if I have to change my course or alter my speed. I think the church has a way to go with this. I think many churches, the one I serve included, jumped into online ministry, but navigating hybrid worship has been more difficult. The church suspended many in-person ministries, and we now have the added challenge of how to adapt how to minister in the current context. Hopefully, the pandemic will continue to teach us to be creative, rather than to fold. Sure, there are ministries in every church context that need to cease—but they keep going, because they have always been. In order for the church to continue to thrive, these ministries do need to die, but others need to be reworked, revamped, re-envisioned for right now and into the future. A lot of churches have formed a habit of being in a holding

pattern when there is much to do right now. We need to learn how to do ministry in different creative ways for temporary times. Meeting a need makes the work exciting. I always go “play” first in the snow before I work. I get so excited seeing the white stuff fall from the sky that I can’t wait to get into it. The pandemic has taught us that it is quite easy to lose our joy. For me, lost joy was getting bogged down (and maybe even misguidedly fixated) in video editing. I am a perfectionist, so a recorded service is never going to be good enough, but I find joy in connecting with others through worshipping Jesus Christ. And this doesn’t have to go smoothly for that joy to still be found. We need to continue to worship, share life with one another and engage God together. And we need to let go of the “pandemic pressure” to do this with an excellent outer appearance that causes an inner depression. After almost a year of struggle, we need to get back to the joy of loving and serving God together. And we need to cultivate this joy into meeting the challenge and putting in the work. If we are restoring and renewing joy, the work will seem less of a chore and more of a challenge."

11 | IPC | THE WINDOW

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In addition to the global pandemic that we are all navigating our way through in our many different contexts (for me, that is ministry and academics), New Jersey has seen a lot of snow this winter. Each snowstorm, I look forward to running while the white stuff falls out of the sky. It can be peaceful or painful, bright or dark, fluffy or wet, bliss or suffering, pleasure or pain. Snow running is fun. It is never quite the same, but there are always similarities. I do my best to dress appropriately for the storm, but often, I don’t get it just right and I find myself doing the best with what I have to work with. Sometimes I have to alter my speed if the road is too slippery or the way is not clear. And almost always, I come back more ready and willing to do the less enchanting work of shoveling—sometimes more than once. It is a tough question: What has the church learned by doing ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic? There is not one answer, but many, directly related to the many different experiences throughout the pandemic. Here is a bit of what I have learned this season (though I note that these are my thoughts and the church I lead helped form them, but they do not represent the thoughts of the particular church I lead and serve). Preparation is key. With the snow, we don’t always know exactly what to prepare for, but we still prepare as much as we can. We pay attention to forecasts and incorporate data, rather than ignore it. And hopefully this is true for the church as well. We still don’t know exactly what to expect from this virus, but we do have information that we can try to use to prepare—to suit up the best we can to stay safe and yet still navigate through the pandemic. There has been a lot of denial and distrust along the way, but we are finally getting to a place where we at least have consistent data and guidelines to follow. And all we can do is look back, look right in front of us and look forward and do our best to forecast, plan


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Mission at IPC

HELP OUR HU N G RY N EI G H BO RS Buy a Meal, Share a Meal Pay it forward through IPC's partnership with Rojo. To help feed people in Highland Park who are suffering from food insecurity, you can purchase a meal from Rojo for your family and purchase another for a family in need. You can also call Rojo to pay for a meal to be donated or make donations to IPC's Social Services Fund. Provide and Serve Dinner

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First Light Women's Shelter works with homeless women and their children to help them find hope, to seek opportunity, and to grow spiritually, thereby achieving their full potential. You can participate by volunteering to provide and serve dinner at the shelter April 18-24 or June 20-26.

Explore these opportunities and find additional ways to support our neighbors in need online.

ipc-usa.org/serve/missions