FACES OF DISCIPLESHIP SERVING UP SUSTAINABILITY AGE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE
THE D2 CHALLENGE MISSION MADE POSSIBLE DOING THE RIGHT THING BETTER
“ ONE DOES NOT BEGIN WITH ANSWERS,” THE LEGENDARY BUSINESS CONSULTANT PETER DRUCKER ONCE SAID.
“ONE BEGINS BY ASKING, ‘WHAT ARE OUR QUESTIONS?’” Over the past 12 years as pastor here at Myers Park Presbyterian, I have seen this church accomplish amazing things thanks to the grace of God and your incredible commitment and teamwork. We committed to an unprecedented capital campaign during a significant recession, ramped up our outreach ministries, and concluded a major campus upfit. So now what? What does God expect of us? How do we build on our strength? What is our next challenge? Where do we need to grow? These are strategic questions that we need to embrace together as a church family. Jesus said to Peter in Luke 12:48, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” At Myers Park Presbyterian, much has been given to us, so what is now required?
The staff and the session will be grappling with these questions in the days and months to come. There are some things we know.
YOUR GENEROSITY HAS LAID A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR THE WORK THAT IS YET TO COME. EVERY MEMBER OF OUR CHURCH IS CALLED TO MINISTRY. THE WORLD NEEDS A STRONG CHURCH AND GOD HAS PLACED US HERE AT 2501 OXFORD PLACE FOR A REASON. DISCIPLESHIP NEVER ENDS AND IT ALWAYS CALLS US TO GO DEEPER. Discipleship is the reason for our journey at Myers Park Presbyterian. It is our privilege and our calling together as the body of Christ. It is what inspires the people featured in this issue and what led to the strategic planning process described on page 18. Together let us continue asking the right questions and prayerfully follow where God is leading us.
STEVE EASON SENIOR PASTOR
TABLE OF CONTENTS 2 FACES OF DISCIPLESHIP
Sharing the Love of Christ
4 IS GENEROSITY A FOUR-LETTER WORD?
Why Talking Money Makes Folks Sweat
6 SERVING UP SUSTAINABILITY
Giving Back Made Easy and Delicious
8 LET IT RISE
Darrin Nelson’s Legacy Lives On
10 A CHILD’S RECIPE FOR FAITH
Activating Faith in Your Child
12 MOMENT OF SILENCE
A Young Mother’s Journey of Faith
14 AGE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE
See How Maturity of Faith Can Be Timeless
16 BOOK SHELF
Fun Reads and Soul Searchers for the Young and Young at Heart
20 SCRATCHING THE ITCH
Weekday School Dads Learn Together
22 BE BRAVE
Youth Meet Local, National and Global Challenges
24 A NEW VOICE
Incurable Disease Meets Incomparable Faith
26 MUSIC SPEAKS VOLUMES
A Real Life Forrest Gump
28 MISSION MADE POSSIBLE
Why and How You Can Serve
30 CHOOSE CHANGE
How Trying New Thinking Can Changed Your Life
32 RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW
34 DOING THE RIGHT THING BETTER
Taking Outreach to the Next Level
18 THE D2 CHALLENGE
Deepening Discipleship Today and Tomorrow
If you have comments or questions about Journey or Myers Park Presbyterian communications, please contact Dorothy Lineberger at email@example.com or 704.927.1267. You also may contact Bob Davies, communications committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We select some of the brightest, most capable young people for Patricia Fields Scholarships. Most are the first in their family to attend college. Being a church buddy to these students while they are in college is a big blessing. My first buddy was Aaron Carroll whose father was in a serious auto accident. It devastated the family financially. Our scholarship made it possible for Aaron to attend and graduate from college. He spent the next five years with Campus Outreach, setting up a campus ministry in South Africa. Aaron’s dedication to serving Christ and others and his hard work have been such an inspiration.”
“Our Room-in-the-Inn neighbors arrive tired and often seem wary. But with a warm welcome, plus the promise of showers and laundry, some can begin to relax. As we bring in dinner, weariness and wariness morph into delight: “This all looks home cooked!” “Beef? Really?” “Let me check these desserts!” One of our neighbors will offer a powerful prayer, and moments later we are all God’s family around the dinner table.”
“The Celebrate praise team ministers to hundreds each Sunday, but they minister to me in a very unique and special way. Each Sunday the praise team accepts, encourages, and welcomes my participation in the service. My soul overflows with gratitude for the blessings God has given me and it just bubbles out with music! When I stand with the band I am filled with joy because there is a lot more going on in the room besides uplifting music, there is the life-changing power of God’s love.”
“We installed eight raised garden beds at Billingsville Leadership Academy – beds that were built by inmates at Jail North as woodshop therapy. In the garden, where, after all, God first met Adam and Eve, you will find us side-by-side – Latino, Asian, African, Caucasian and African-American – digging and planting, harvesting and tasting. This garden allows us to learn and grow with a diverse group of children: José with his shy smile, Elisabeth who is quick to hug, and Sadiya, a first-generation immigrant from Africa, who is so tiny and smart. These children are a powerful blessing to all who garden with us.”
“A number of years ago, I offered to help a neighbor (who was battling a terminal illness) with his morning ritual of delivering newspapers from the sidewalks and driveways to the front stoops of the houses on our street. When I asked if I could honor him by continuing the practice in his absence for the benefit of the neighborhood, he explained that he would be delighted for me to continue the ritual, but only if I prayed for all those families! I was stunned by this man’s modest service to our street, and felt compelled to continue the tradition. That was seven years ago and the daily prayer has changed my life!”
“I’m one of the oldies at the church and I walk every day on the outreach center track. I just love it when there is activity going on in the gym below because it allows me to connect. I adore all of the staff – Amy, Donna, Monty, Kevin – and like to do little things behind the scenes to help them when I can. When someone put a negative sticker out on our sign by the street, I scraped it off. I didn’t want people to think it was part of this church. Donna is sweet to say that me doing things like that makes a big difference, but I’m just trying to help other people. I do it because I care.”
IS GENEROSITY A
FOUR LETTER WORD?
The answer is obvious. Yet, few topics make more people uncomfortable than a sermon or discussion on money. A bit ironic, given the following:
THERE ARE 2,000+ REFERENCES TO MONEY IN THE BIBLE.
JESUS TALKED ABOUT MONEY MORE THAN HE DID HEAVEN AND HELL COMBINED.
MONEY WAS A MORE FREQUENT TOPIC FOR CHRIST THAN ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
NEARLY HALF OF THE PARABLES DEAL DIRECTLY WITH MONEY.
1 OF EVERY 7 VERSES IN THE GOSPEL OF LUKE FOCUSES ON MONEY.
o why does the subject of money and generosity make many Christians skittish? “I think a lot of us as Americans consider ourselves to be Christians and church members, but it doesn’t make a huge difference in how we live our lives. We prefer to keep everything compartmentalized,” said Steve Eason, Myers Park Presbyterian Church senior pastor. “We like to have neat divisions like church, home and work. Or think of life as Sundays and the rest of the week. Or consider the biggest piece of the pie as ‘our money’ and a tiny sliver as being our gift to God,” said Eason. Here at Myers Park Presbyterian, the majority of members consider philanthropy a given. But how do you distinguish between giving to the church and a host of worthwhile fundraising requests? Eason addressed this challenge as he spoke on generosity in the recent Fruit of the Spirit sermon series. He explained that giving to and through the church is an integral part of being a disciple, while gifts to other worthy causes are above-and-beyond giving. Why? Eason said, “Our challenge as a church is to love in tangible ways by giving generously the way that Jesus commanded. When
people see us living our faith in concrete ways that reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and selfcontrol, we can make a huge difference for Christ in our world.” Bill Plyer, stewardship chair said, “Disciples are called to serve as followers of Christ in all aspects of life. That means our walk with Christ may be personal, but not private. Our lives, our faith and our generosity should be open for the world to see.” He referenced The PC(USA) Book of Order which says the Church is called to be Christ’s faithful evangelist…. going into the world, making disciples of nations…participating in God’s activity in the world….ministering to the needs of the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the powerless. Eason and Plyler agreed that means you can either say you love someone who is freezing and hungry or you can actually do something practical to help them. Plyler said, “As disciples and a church, we must stretch ourselves, reaching out through free and abundant acts of generosity to enhance the well-being of others.” Eason concurred saying, “Not only will the Holy Spirit work through us to make additional disciples, but our souls will be fed and the journey will be far richer.”
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 2 CORINTHIANS 9:8
“YOU CAN GIVE WITHOUT LOVING BUT YOU CANNOT
WITHOUT GIVING.” VICTOR HUGO
Each year, at this time, you are asked to make a written financial commitment to Myers Park Presbyterian for the upcoming 12 months. Why? Because commitment matters. What we commit ourselves to matters. And achieving God’s vision matters. Giving a portion of what God has entrusted you with to further the kingdom is quite different from club dues, an alumni donation or even a discretionary gift to a worthwhile cause. Simply put, it is a response to God’s incredible grace. Make your commitment online at
How can we make giving back
as easy as grocery shopping? That was the question Nick Knock and Leconte Lee asked. The answer: founding go-go fresco, a â€œmobile, sustainable, mission-focused farmers market.â€? Each Monday morning, you will find Nick, Leconte and their idea brought to life in front of our outreach center.
The duo buys directly from organic, local farmers and then sells it on the same day to consumers. That means produce originates down the street, instead of across the country. Not only does a portion of the proceeds go to local charities, but every dollar stays in the community. Myers Park Presbyterian is one of six organizations partnering with Knock and Lee. In our church’s case, the proceeds go to Billingsville Leadership Academy. Donna Fair, Myers Park’s wellness director, saw partnering with go-go fresco was an easy decision. “It’s a win-win way to support ministries,” said Fair. “Everyone has to grocery shop. With go-go fresco you know you’re getting fresh produce, the farmers are getting a fair rate, and you’re contributing financially to a strong need in our community.” Knock said, “We let our partners choose which charities are near to their own mission and we support them.” He added that go-go fresco is completely self-sustaining. “We pay our famers for everything, and we make our money from selling a product, not from grants or donations,” he said. All of go-go’s products are local and organically raised. Nothing is processed and they sell grass-fed meat. From Fair’s perspective, the partnership “adds a whole other level of spiritual wellness” to the outreach center and reinforces the wellness ministry’s motto: Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges. “We have built a bridge by bringing a needed resource,” said Fair, “and we are crossing boundaries by reaching out to farmers and the local community.” Go-go fresco, which was founded in March, is already preparing for phase two – setting up outside of a community health clinic and selling produce at a reduced rate to low income families. They even hope to accept food stamps. “We want to go where they are gathered instead of making them come to us,” said Knock. Fresh vegetables and fruits might seem small compared to other causes, but the team sees it as their mission to provide for the 72,000 people living in Mecklenburg County “food deserts,” without any access to healthy food. Fair sees the gamble Knock and Lee are taking with their small business and their leap of faith. “Between paying the farmers and overhead costs I know they are only pulling in a tight income, yet they see this as their mission. They have faith that God will provide for them. More of us should live our lives like they are doing business,” she said.
PU RC H AS E FR ES H
8:30 – 10:30 a.m. AT Myers Park Presbyterian Church Outreach Center
proceeds benefit Billingsville Leadership Acad
THE DOOR OPENED
TO THE APARTMENT
AND IMMEDIATELY THE JOY WAS PALPABLE.
Claudette Nelson embraced the teens and adults one-by-one while clapping her hands in delight. To a casual observer, it might seem like a homecoming. It is of sorts. But this homecoming happens over and over between the Vandiver and Nelson families. And to think it all began with Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina, approximately 1.5 million people left their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. One of them was Darrin Nelson, Claudetteâ€™s son. At the time, neither the Vandivers nor the Myers Park Presbyterian Church family knew how their lives would be enriched by this New Orleans transplant.
Initially Darrin, like many of the Katrina refugees, took shelter in the old Charlotte Coliseum. It was there that his “adoption” into the Myers Park Presbyterian family began. Darrin was invited to worship on Oxford Place and soon began raising his rich tenor voice in praise through the Celebrate team. The deep friendship between Darrin and Jeff Vandiver, a drummer on the worship team, started with a mutual passion for God and music and migrated quickly into family dinners. Jeff, his wife Noelle, and their three children loved Darrin. Claudette, Darrin’s mother, said the feeling was mutual. Claudette said, “I fell in love with the Vandivers long before I met them just hearing Darrin describe them. He was so close to them and felt like they were his family. Darrin could not stop talking about how they blessed his life.” An in-person introduction came about when Darrin moved Claudette to Charlotte because of her declining health. Ironically, within months, 38-year-old Darrin became seriously ill and asked Jeff and his family to befriend Claudette after he was gone. For the Vandiver family, saying yes has been one of the biggest blessings of their lives. Whether it is hugs, kisses, meals on the table, or joining hands in prayer, they all feel this relationship came about through the grace of God. Jeff said, “Claudette may be housebound but she has the most joyful heart of anyone I know.” Noelle agrees saying that Claudette is also the greatest prayer warrior. Her children frequently ask Mrs. Nelson to pray for them. “To me prayer is not praying elegant words. It is praying from the heart like Noelle and her children do. I love praying so much because prayers reach the throne of God,” said Claudette. She smiled, watching her grandchildren play with the Vandiver children. Then she said, “I give God all the glory but I wouldn’t be here if not for this family.” Her words seem to echo the lyrics from Let It Rise: “Let the glory of the Lord rise among us…let it rise.” Darrin frequently sang this song as part of Celebrate worship. This is the same song that was sung at Darrin’s funeral by the Celebrate worship team and Voices of Love, the Urban Ministry choir Darrin founded. After meeting these two families you realize the glory of God’s love is rising among us.
“I GIVE GOD ALL THE GLORY BUT I WOULDN’T BE HERE IF NOT FOR THIS FAMILY.” 9
How does faith grow in a child? Myers Park Presbyterian’s Associate Pastor for Children and Their Families Julie Hester says, “Faith is a little like yeast in bread dough. Faith is given to us as a gift from God, and every child of God has this ingredient inside them. Bakers know that yeast must be activated in order to help the dough grow and develop into its ultimate form. Likewise faith must be activated in a child, and that’s where parents come in!”
So what can parents do to activate faith?
The first thing Hester advocates for young children is reading Bible stories at bedtime, in the car, even in the doctor’s waiting room. She said children learn from the repetition and will come to love the stories of God. She recommends the Spark Story Bible which has engaging illustrations and interactive questions. “We use this colorful children’s Bible with its 150 core stories of faith during Sunday School. We also give a copy of the Spark Bible to families when a child is baptized and an older version is given to children during the Third Grade Bible class,” said Hester. Other effective Bible story books tailored for young children that she recommends are:
CHILDREN OF GOD STORYBOOK BIBLE by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE by Sally Lloyd-Jones
THE STORY FOR LITTLE ONES: DISCOVER THE BIBLE IN PICTURES ZonderKidz version
The children’s pastor added, “Reading even the simplest picture version, activates your child’s faith and allows you to grow together. These kinds of lifelong faith practices rooted in scripture are a priceless gift.” Vacation Church Camp is another valuable way to help instill lifelong faith. At Myers Park Presbyterian, over 250 children, 65 youth helpers and 130+ adults took part this summer growing and serving through God’s Big Neighborhood. There were a wide range of developmentallyappropriate activities including worship for all ages, a concentrated global partnership learning experience for fourth-graders, and a handson CROSSOver mission experience for fifthgraders. The campers raised over $500 for World Vision in El Salvador.
Ministry team leaders also recommend serving together as a family. This summer, our preschool and elementary-aged children and their parents worked on an ongoing project for homeless children. Kelly Catanese, the parent coordinator, said, “The Summer Family Outreach project evolved from Julie Hester’s parenting circle to engage young children in community outreach. We wanted to find age-appropriate ways for our younger church members to serve God and care for our neighbors.”
Some Myers Park Presbyterian children were asked their favorite thing about church. Their comments reveal that faith definitely is being activated...
Throughout the school year, Myers Park’s fourth- and fifth-grade students and their families will take part in MissionKids outreach activities. In September, they packaged meals for Stop Hunger Now to aid hunger relief. Two urban tours will take place on October school holidays.
“My favorite songs [are] the ones that I learn in choir because they’re not traditional, but they’re sort of traditional. But I like Celebrate songs too.”
Hester explained why, saying, “Here at Myers Park Presbyterian, we believe children learn discipleship as they learn to love God and neighbor. That’s why we partner with families to help children learn from their earliest years,” said Hester. She added that the Sparking Faith parenting class, the parenting circle and BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) discipleship class are designed to help parents grow in their own faith so they can help lead their children.
CHARLES PIERCE 9-years-old “I like coming to church because ... I’ve already read the Old Testament…but I haven’t read the New Testament yet, so now I get a spoiler...[before] I’m going to read it.”
GEORGE O’NEIL 10-years-old
ANNA POPE 10-years-old “[My favorite story] is probably when Jesus was born. It’s just really nice that they bring him gifts and that everybody was happy…I like the song Blessed Be Your Name because it talks about God and Jesus and it’s really poppy--I like that.”
LILA CONNOR 7-years-old “[I like going to church] because when I go I get to see all of my friends!”
CAROLINE GUNTER 8-years-old “The good Samaritan is my favorite story because I like how you can help each other, and the Samaritan was looking out for that other guy.”
EMMA RIDINGER 6-years-old “I love the story where the man is stuck in a tree and Jesus tells him to get down and he’s gonna eat dinner at his house [Zaccheus].”
CAROLINE CATANESE 7-years-old “I learn stuff I have never known like about Abraham and Sarah. Visitors come and tell Abraham that you’re going to have a baby and you’re going to name it Isaac for laughter. Sarah laughs about it because she’s too old she thinks, and then she has the baby and they name it Isaac.”
BURKLEY AYRES 8-years-old “I like the [story of the] widow who only has a little bit of oil and a little bit of flour and she said she didn’t have enough to make two loaves of bread and Elijah said she will have enough if she gave him some.”
about FAITAHT& PARENTING
Our country prides itself on being a land of doers. People of action. But sometimes as Christians, there is a time to be silent and wait upon God. For Kelly Catanese, that time came last year.
“The words, ‘You are on the right path. Listen more to me, and less to your doubts.”’ filled me with a sense of peace.” COMMENT BY
In January 2012, Kelly started experiencing what she thought was a bruised tailbone. She stoically continued life as usual. After six months of unrelenting pain, she went home for a visit and her physician father convinced her to see a radiologist. The MRI revealed Kelly’s pain was due to a rare tumor called a chordoma. The Mayo-trained radiologist referred her to a colleague in Minnesota. Kelly flew there immediately for further testing. The whirlwind of pain, examinations and diagnosis seemed allconsuming. Then Kelly opened her devotion and it said, “You are on the right path. Listen more to me, and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way I designed just for you. Therefore it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone…I am revealing to you the path of life day by day, and moment by moment. As I said to my disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: follow me.”
“I am a firm believer in the power of POSTED ON 06.01.2012 prayer. I could feel those prayers the whole time.” COMMENT BY
“I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.” COMMENT BY
These words filled Kelly with an immediate since of peace. Instead of “freaking out,” she began praying and she was amazed and overwhelmed by the people who prayed with, and for, her. Doctors, nurses, residents, her family, and even complete strangers who found out about her journey through friends prayed on her behalf. Kelly remained in Minnesota for recovery several weeks after the surgery. She found her friends, neighbors, church family and pastors rallying on her behalf, tracking down home medical equipment for her return and praying for her constantly. “I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. I could feel those prayers the whole time,” she said. She rested on the words of Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, you have only to keep still” and in times of pain held onto a palm-sized, clay cross given to her by a neighbor. Today that cross is molded to the shape of her hand. “This was a confusing journey but probably the most strangely positive experience of my life. It is hard to understand why I was blessed with a positive outcome and heartbreaking to know some of the amazing people I met were not,” said Kelly. The wife and mother of two said she has learned not to “sweat the small stuff,” and during her long recovery to be thankful for the good days and to be patient with herself on the bad ones. She was especially grateful that the timing of her recovery enabled her to return for her daughter’s first-grade start and her son’s return to preschool. “When I walked my children into school I couldn’t help but look around and wonder if anyone else who looked like everything was perfectly normal was experiencing such a lifedefining moment,” she said. Kelly described the experience on her CarePage, “I am overwhelmed with thankfulness – thankful to be back in Charlotte for this important day, thankful that I’m able to physically walk in with my kids, thankful for my amazing family! Just. Plain. Thankful.” Since the surgery, Kelly’s ongoing scans have been clean and she finds herself more confident in her faith and more purposeful about how she lives life. She said, “Whether it is keeping my kitchen clean or helping with Vacation Church Camp, I am more relaxed. I serve in the ways I feel led even when I don’t know why. And I try to live each day so that my kids can understand how great life is and how cool God is.”
AGE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE For Ellie, living out your faith is something that her family has always done. She mentions her mother Mary Beth’s many roles in church ministry; her grandfather, Bruce McIntyre, and his passion for Myers Park Presbyterian’s work in El Salvador; and the collective family’s commitment to all types of urban ministry. This summer, however, Ellie’s faith took on new dimensions. It began with the youth ministry’s trip to New Orleans – an experience the teen describes as “the most eye-opening trip she has ever been on.” You might find this statement unusual since Ellie has served neighbors in need throughout Charlotte.
“In a sense I felt I was in culture shock,” she said, “this was a new kind of homelessness that came about because of Katrina and poverty like I’d never known.” One middle-aged man shared how he had lost everything due to the devastation of drugs and alcohol. He attributed the power of prayer for his return to a life of normalcy. Hearing real life/real problems discussed so openly affected the youth in a powerful way. “Here in Charlotte, people don’t discuss problems like this out of protection or because they think they’re not supposed to in front of us. This was a reality check. A third of the people who went on this trip aren’t ongoing members of the youth group and it made them think that
ELLIE MCINTYRE HAS BEEN A GIRL SCOUT SINCE KINDERGARTEN, A RUNNER AS FAR BACK AS SHE CAN REMEMBER, AND A PART OF MYERS PARK PRESBYTERIAN SINCE BIRTH. YET A CONVERSATION WITH THIS NEARLY 14-YEAR-OLD MAKES YOU REALIZE THAT AGE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. HER MATURITY OF ATTITUDE AND FAITH IS TIMELESS.
maybe it’s not too late to turn to God,” she said. Some might be surprised to hear that teens could ever consider themselves too old to develop a true relationship with Christ but this trend is validated by statistics. “I’m not sure anyone expected how this trip would change them. For me, dedicating this time to God, truly serving Christ, and feeling like I was making a difference in someone else’s life was transformational,” she said.
Ellie found her prayers and sense of self deepened in New Orleans and then again when she and 41 other youth took part in CROSSOver back here in Charlotte. After she met a 60-year-old woman in a park who had newfound faith she realized once more that age makes no difference. The teen shared how she feels this summer of growth will impact her in eighth-grade. “I think this summer has helped me become more patient and changed me for the better. There
is a lot of pressure in middle school to figure out where you fit in and just stay there but I like to be friends with lots of people. That’s who God wants me to be,” she said. Many of those friends are at youth group because “when you walk through the outreach center doors, people love and care about the real you.” Ellie smiles as she describes her excitement over sharing the confirmation experience with fellow youth this year.
Ellie’s joy also is apparent as she describes the cross country team and her 3-5 mile daily runs. “Running is when I feel closest to God. I run to glorify God and talk to God. After I run, I am never anxious. I feel calmer and centered on what is truly important in life.” And as this 13-year-old exemplifies, what is truly important in life is placing God first, and you can do that regardless of your age.
THE STORY OF THE LORD’S PRAYER
Patricia A. Pingry (board book) recommended by Julie Hester
A DIFFERENT SUN: A NOVEL OF AFRICA Elaine Neil Orr
recommended by Millie Snyder
Introduce the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer to the young children in your life using this story of a normal day as seen through a little girl’s eyes.
Immerse yourself in this mid-19th century tale of a privileged Georgia girl from a slave-owning family who marries and moves to Africa as a missionary and finds spiritual awakening.
MIRA AND THE BIG STORY
CHASING THE DIVINE IN THE HOLY LAND
recommended by Michelle Thomas-Bush
recommended by Deborah Conner
recommended by Steve Eason
Reassure your children with the story of Mira, a girl who has big questions about what is true and how to deal with “enemies” who hold different beliefs.
Experience an unforgettable Holy Land pilgrimage relayed with down-to-earth wisdom and candid humor.
Reconsider your view of midlife through this insightful commentary about the ongoing journey of faith and spiritual renewal at any age.
PSALMS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN Marie-Helene Delval recommended by Julie Hester
Share the beauty and meaning of scripture with paraphrased Psalms written in child-friendly text and enhanced by bold illustrations.
WRITING TO GOD, KIDS’ EDITION Rachel G. Hackenberg recommended by Julie Hester
Invite children to exercise their creativity and speak to God daily through words and pictures; when used as a tool for family devotions, this book inspires people of all ages.
CRAIG DETWEILER ON ENTERTAINMENT, MEDIA AND CULTURE http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dochollywood/
recommended by Millie Snyder
Gain a fresh perspective on faith and today’s pop culture from filmmaker and Pepperdine Entertainment, Media and Culture director.
JESUS AND HIS WORLD Craig Evans
recommended by Von Clemans
Experience what Publisher’s Weekly calls an “engrossing look at the...political and religious intrigues that surrounded Jesus and his world.”
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS John Green
recommended by Michelle Thomas-Bush
Celebrate joy and pain in this award-winning book. Terminally ill Hazel meets Augustus at her kids-withcancer support group. The teens explore universal questions about life and death.
PSALMS FOR PRAYING
recommended by Deborah Conner
recommended by Deborah Conner
Immerse yourself in this coming-of age movie se t in rural Mississippi. The modern-day Mark Twain adventure grapples with love, friendship, loyalty, trust and family in an unforgettable way.
Rekindle a fresh sense of reverence towards these well-known scriptures in this modern rendition that imparts new life and meaning to the Psalms.
99 WAYS TO RAISE SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY CHILDREN
SABBATH IN THE SUBURBS
recommended by Julie Hester
recommended by Michelle Thomas-Bush
Kathleen Long Bostrom
JOURNEY INTO DAY Rusty Freeman
recommended by Deborah Conner
Pray together. Develop family rituals. Teach worship etiquette. This book offers nearly 100 fun, practical ways to challenge and nurture the spiritual lives of your family through scripture.
MaryAnn McKibben Dana Discover how a suburban family turned away from frenzy and savored life on the Sabbath for one full year. No work, stress or cleaning allowed.
Give voice to the questions and fears you may have regarding cancer. Find peace through faith in this guide written by a two-time cancer survivor.
ON GOD’S SIDE LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME Gail Caldwell
recommended by Deborah Conner
Celebrate friendship and its ability to help you withstand the triumphs and tragedies of life in this memoir by a Pulitzer Prize winning author.
recommended by Von Clemans
Shift the mindset from “Is God on our side?” to “Are we on God’s side?” Explore why Jesus’ gospel calls us towards the common good rather than cloaking political agendas with faith.
Chip and Dan Heath recommended by Von Clemans
Find ways to make the hard changes of life easier whether it is at home, at work or in the world around you. Dramatic change is possible using the authors’ insights.
THE COUNCIL OF DADS
WHEN “SPIRITUAL BUT NOT RELIGIOUS” IS NOT ENOUGH
recommended by Deborah Conner
recommended by Millie Snyder
recommended by Michelle Thomas-Bush
Gain a new perspective on living life, loving family and cherishing friendship. The well-known author of Walking the Bible, diagnosed with cancer, assembles six men to nurture his preschoolers through life.
Travel back 2,000 years to the Judean desert where the lives of four women intersect at the former mountain fortress of King Herod at Masada.
Encounter God at airports, yoga classes, and strangest of all, in church. Find out why the greatness of God and embracing the weirdness of church community can make life extraordinary.
hirteen members of Myers Park Presbyterian took their seats around the table. The men and women, ranging in age from their late 20s to mid-60s, included four former clerks of session and the senior pastor. The members of the newly-formed strategic planning team were strong lay leaders respected for their deep-rooted faith and their strategic mindsets. What would prove to be their greatest strength and greatest challenge, however, was their divergent perspectives. Many questions regarding vision and direction were on the table. The two most important: What key strategic issues would Myers Park Presbyterian face over the next decade? How would our church respond? The strategic planning process began in January 2012 and continued for 18 months. The team gathered and examined data, conducted peer comparisons, interviewed countless internal and external experts, led informal focus groups, and gleaned information from a congregational survey. After extensive analysis, in its recent session report, the team concluded â€œthe hard work of going deeper in our individual and congregational discipleship still lies ahead of usâ€? and that self-examination about what we are doing well and what we could do better is vital.
Some of the Myers Park Presbyterianspecific challenges outlined in the report were as follows: CONNECTIVITY RETURNING DIFFICULTIES BECAUSE BUDGET TO PREOF OUR CHURCH’S SIZE RECESSION LEVELS STAGNANT PARTICIPATION IN FAITH FORMATION
MEMBERSHIP EROSION WITHIN OUR DENOMINATION
ONGOING NEED TO PLAN FOR ANY CHURCH LEADERSHIP TRANSITIONS
GETTING STARTED Meeting and exceeding challenges is part of the Myers Park Presbyterian DNA. So it comes as no surprise that enrollment for this year’s D2
As they concluded phase one of the strategic planning process, the team asked the session to consider how Myers Park Presbyterian can better equip, encourage and lead disciples through the ever-changing environment. Successful navigation, in their opinion, will require flexibility and an openness to change. Whether it is enhancing biblical literacy, building a rich small group culture, or cultivating leaders among our newer young adult members, the strategic planning team feels “we must be better listeners.” The session voted to approve the team’s recommendations for phase two,
which includes the formation of a longrange planning team to address strategic issues on an ongoing basis. A key function of this team will be gathering and evaluating continual input from the congregation. Why? As the team concluded in its report, “our ministry of listening should not be a program with a beginning and an end. Rather it should be an ongoing process, and a sign of a church that loves God and one another.” To see the full report presented to the session by the strategic planning team, go to myersparkpres.org/home/resources.
Challenge – a direct offshoot of the strategic planning process – was more than ten times the original projection. The fall through spring class, taught by Senior Pastor Steve Eason and Associate Pastor for Adult Education Von Clemans, is designed to deepen discipleship, enhance biblical literacy and nurture a new generation of church leadership. “This class allows you to learn the Bible from the ground up. Sure homework is required. But these 34 weeks with the Bible will change your life. I wish every single member of this church could and would enroll,” said Eason.
STRATEGIC PLANNING TEAM
MARC BRINKS STEVE EASON
DIANA FAISON JOE GRIER
HENRY HARKEY WRIGHT LEA JASON SCHUBERT TRACY WATTS ALLEN WOODWARD SALLY HELWEG BOB MCKINNEY CARSON TATE KRISTEL WHITE 19
G N I H C T A R C S THE
Keeping clothes clean
toddler on your shoulder a g n i s, prescho bo anc ho l l a oler ws b ding e l h c alo i l d i y l w intact wh i t h y ou obb a w a r kn ft g n e i e is on iliz b a ch a yo t ur b ep and s allenge. ic
A CHALLENGE BRETT BONER, DALLAS CHAPMAN AND ANDY YOUNG WERE UP FOR AT A RECENT PHOTO SESSION, IN PART BECAUSE OF THEIR NEWFOUND CAMARADERIE AS MEMBERS OF THE ONGOING WEEKDAY SCHOOL DADS’ BIBLE STUDY. 20
The men began the study last fall with Senior Pastor Steve Eason. The study’s inspiration was driven in large part by the strategic planning team’s findings. Eason said, “As a church, we need to be flexible and find approaches that ‘scratch where our young adults itch.’ That means creating ways to grow in faith that they value and finding a time that works with their schedule. Parents of young children are the busiest people on earth and time is their most precious commodity.” Eason began by contacting the Weekday School dads and asking them whether they would be interested in a Bible study and if so, to choose a time, day, location and topic of interest. When Eason showed up the first Monday at 7:30 a.m., much to his surprise, 24 young men were there with their Bibles ready to discuss the leadership principles of Jesus. When asked why he chose to participate initially, Chapman, the father of 6 and 3-year-old boys, said, “I thought the study would be a great opportunity to meet the fathers of my sons’ classmates and strengthen my faith in Christ.” Boner, the father of a 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, smiled saying, “Anytime you have the opportunity to be in a small session with Steve, you have to jump on it. Plus, I think doing something with young dads that work and go through some of the same things on a daily basis is really appealing.” Young, whose children are 9, 7 and 4-years-old (shown with his Weekday School daughter below), said he simply wanted to learn more about the sometimes intimidating Bible. “I find Steve always explains the topic in an interesting way I can understand,” he said. That is intentional according to Eason. “I don’t want anyone to feel embarrassed about what they do or do not know so I unpack everything and assume nothing. That means people are not singled out to read or pray out loud. It’s a safe learning environment.” Boner said, “Steve’s message each Monday is so simple, yet very deep, if that makes sense.” All three dads agreed the conversational setting is ideal.
Not only does it help them better understand scripture, but relating it to real world experiences makes it relevant to everyone in the room. Eason said the study also is designed to build relationships. “I want to spend time with these guys. Before there were a lot of ways for moms to plug in but I wanted a way to reach out to the dads,” he said. The goal is to strengthen the entire family unit and help everyone see the ties between the school and church. According to the three fathers who were interviewed, this goal is being accomplished. Chapman said, “I find myself including God in more conversations with my wife and kids. This has strengthened our whole family’s relationship with Christ.” Boner agreed saying, “I would describe it as ‘priceless.’ It truly is something you can’t get anywhere else. Especially when you consider that the future of our church is sitting right there in that room.” Young, Chapman and Boner have been relieved to learn that they are not the only non-biblical experts in the group. Chapman concluded, “Jesus chose disciples that were ordinary people, all with unique skill sets, to help get the word of the Lord out to the masses. I think this study helps all of us better understand that everyone, regardless of experience or wisdom, has a calling and ability to serve Christ in their own way.”
THE WEEKDAY SCHOOL BIBLE STUDY A T
WRITING AND PERFORMING AN ORIGINAL COMPOSITION IN FRONT OF 1,000 PEOPLE. SERVING AS A TRANSLATOR FOR A SALVADORAN/AMERICAN TEAM FOCUSED ON MICRO-FINANCE. SHEPHERDING OVER 250 CHILDREN WHO WERE LEARNING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FAITH. WHAT DO THESE SEEMINGLY UNRELATED TASKS HAVE IN COMMON? THEY WERE ALL ACCOMPLISHED THIS SUMMER BY MYERS PARK PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH.
ichelle Thomas-Bush, associate pastor for youth and their families, had challenged the youth to make faith personal and in the words of Sara Bareilles to ask themselves, “How big is your brave?” The answer appears to be very big indeed.
We asked our youth how the experiences of this summer have impacted their lives. Here are some responses:
RUTHIE JONES 12-YEARS-OLD
In fact, this summer 207 different youth took part in local, national and global mission trips; local and national conferences; and Vacation Church Camp here on Oxford Place. “The youth stepped up in a very big way this summer. They sweated through nearly 100 degree weather building four houses, digging septic tanks and mixing cement in El Salvador. They took part as leaders at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University. They continued the slow rebuilding process in New Orleans. And they built relationships every step of the way,” said Thomas-Bush.
“I learned that you are born into a broken world and that you are sometimes very broken on the inside but having a relationship with God will bring healing.”
SHEPPARD WILSON 17-YEARS-OLD “As a youth member on this year’s El Salvador mission trip… I began to realize that happiness does not come from material things but rather spiritual abundance.”
For example, that original composition or slam poem mentioned earlier was written and performed by 15-yearold Emily Hinshaw in front of 1,000 of her peers at Montreat. In the poem she says, “And let the peace of Christ be within you, may God grant you the courage to say what you want to say, and let the words fall out, because honestly, I wanna see you be BRAVE.” Emily then sang Bareilles’ song and was joined in the chorus by the entire crowd.
CLAIRE MCCALL 13-YEARS-OLD
“Doing [CROSS] really opened my eyes to things going on in Charlotte. People right next door to us could be homeless or having total difficulties with their lives and we never noticed them… [I learned] to never stereotype or judge people.”
LISTEN TO A LIVE RECORDING OF EMILY AT SOUNDCLOUD.COM/MYERSPARKPRES
DAVIS HAMILTON 13-YEARS-OLD
Hank Hester, the 16-year-old son of Associate Pastor for Children and Their Families Julie Hester, is bilingual. As part of the church’s El Salvador mission team, Hank helped translate on behalf of women who are trying to expand their bread-making business through a micro-loan. “When you have to communicate with someone using basic language it helps you see each other as people,” he said. Hester said that this attitude even applies to assumptions made about youth. “I would say youth want to change the world. They would like to make a difference, and the key is to realize the church is a way to do that,” he said.
“I learned [from CROSS] not to be stereotypical about what people look like and to wait until you meet them. You can find out some really good cool stuff and information when you go out of your comfort zone to help people in need.”
HENRY DAVIS 18-YEARS-OLD
“In El Salvador, I was lucky enough to get put in charge of wheelbarrelling gravel, sand, and rocks up a hill. After about 30 loads I started getting worn out. The kids in the community noticed me struggling and ran to help. I rolled them down the hill in the wheelbarrow and they were quick to help me load and push the wheelbarrow up the hill.”
Over 72 youth helped make a difference at this year’s Vacation Church Camp, serving in roles ranging from mentors to worship leaders as the preschool and elementary school children learned about God’s Big Neighborhood. “Sometimes I’m proudest of our youth when I see them serving at Vacation Church Camp because they take on tasks that others might view as ‘not glamorous’ with such a contagious, positive spirit,” said Thomas-Bush.
AMELIA WILLINGHAM 16-YEARS-OLD
“At devotion time we celebrated people for something great they had done during the day. It made me realize that we may have given our service to El Salvador, but it definitely gave back to us, helping us become more caring and genuine individuals. “
She hopes the enthusiasm generated by these mountaintop experiences will continue all year long. Thomas-Bush will be joined in her efforts by Middle School Assistant Director John Turnbull and Interim Coordinator Sonia Lee. The youth and their families team also is looking for individuals who can be there for our youth. Thomas-Bush said, “When our youth graduate, we would like each of them to have had five significant adults in their lives outside of their parents. This could be a Sunday School teacher, a class advisor, a youth advisor or a church leader.” Maybe the question she should ask Myers Park Presbyterian’s adults is, “How big is your brave?”
SCOTT CHAPPELL 17-YEARS-OLD
go to serve.myersparkpres.org
“The main thing that stands out to me in Getsemani is the aspect of a community. In Getsemani, everyone is constantly lending a hand to assist their fellow neighbors, expecting nothing in return.”
HANNAH WHELPLEY 17-YEARS-OLD
“El Salvador was more than I expected. The smiles on the faces of the families and the children made all of the sweat, dirt, blisters and hard work worth it.” 23
Four years ago, Ruth Hinsdale, a 26-year member of Myers Park Presbyterian, was diagnosed with a rare degenerative neuromuscular disease. It all began with some lost dexterity in her hand and slightly slurred speech, but has progressed much more rapidly than specialists anticipated. Throughout this life-altering experience, Ruth has remained intent on having a ministry such as writing devotions for the church staff. She shares her powerful journey. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice… and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4–7
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT our
STEPHEN MINISTRY JAN. XX at the upcoming training session
not terribly surprising when I was diagnosed originally with SCA ... I always knew I had a 50% chance of getting this disease because my mother had it. Something very profound, however, happens when you hear the word “incurable.” My first thought was for my children who now had the same chance of developing this disease that I did. I worried about my husband who would turn into my caregiver. In John 11:35, it says “Jesus wept.” I did too! But eventually I realized I could and had to carry on. This disease attacks the cerebellum of the brain which controls your body’s balance and coordinates ALL muscles. Everyone’s experience is different. My mother lived with it for 30+ years and did not progress to a wheelchair until the last three years of her life. So I exercised daily to slow the progression, and spent as much time as possible with family and friends. I quickly learned how much balance and coordination rules one’s life. Not only does it affect walking, but also talking (tongue), swallowing (throat), chewing (jaws), writing (being able to hold and guide a pen), opening jars and bottles, etc. I prayed fervently, read an arsenal of faith-based books, and tried to look for the good in this terrible situation. I realized I was NOT unhappy…definitely getting much slower in daily activities, but
not unhappy. I was introduced to the Jesus Calling devotions, which became a lifeline for me. And my husband and I experienced true compassion through this church – the caregivers’ support group, meal ministry, a God-sent Stephen minister and my caregiver team. Yet the disease’s unexpected rapid progression was frightening. Injuries like bruises, cuts and a broken hip, ankle and ribs happened all too often. I quit driving due to spatial uncoordination and I stopped using the phone because no one could understand me. My faith began to waver. During my Stephen Minister’s first visit, I remember sobbing and telling her I thought I had lost my faith. Where was God? Why wasn’t he helping me? I wanted to be whole. For the next few weeks we explored why God had sent me on this bewildering path. Meanwhile, I found an Emory neurologist and went back and forth for testing between Charlotte and Atlanta to ensure my diagnosis was accurate. Neurological testing is like a ‘dog and pony show’ with the patient being the dog AND pony. Eventually they discovered that I had an Upper Motor Neuron Disease – the evil cousin of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) – complicated by SCA, the disease my mother had! This diagnosis was terrifying. After researching EVERYTHING about the disease
I decided to live each day to the max and bring joy to others. I began smiling, even when I did not feel like it, donating food items to a food pantry, emailing kind notes to cheer someone up, and helping people pay for groceries when they did not have enough money. But I soon realized that smiling and donating might make me feel better because of the sheer act of giving, but it was not the way to become whole in spirit, if not in body. That is when I read about our church’s Service of Wholeness and Healing. My Stephen Minister offered to take me to the service. When it was my turn for prayer, I spiritlessly shuffled up on my walker. When the elders and Von asked my name, I unintelligibly answered. When asked why I was there, I burst into tears and in my jumbled speech told them that I wanted to reclaim my faith. Blubbering made understanding me futile, but the fact that I was spiritually and physically handicapped was obvious. The elders laid hands on me and Von prayed. I am not sure why this powerful encounter renewed my trust in the Lord. Maybe I was really ready for and open to the rebirth of my faith, maybe I was tired of the pity party, but I am overjoyed that it finally came about. My prayer is that as I continue in this deep struggle that I will continue to find moments of great truth – God’s truth – and hope in Christ.”
IMPRESSMENT That’s the term Bob Killough smiles and uses to describe how he became part of the sanctuary choir. Since the term normally refers to people who have been coerced into public service, he is asked to share details. Killough agrees to explain but you soon find out that explanation comes with a history lesson. It was about this time last year when Killough was seated in the corner seat of the sanctuary’s back row, singing the final hymn with his self-described “magnificent bass voice.” As the choir exited the sanctuary, Lee Northcutt, music ministry director, stopped beside Killough and said that choir met Thursdays at 7 p.m.
“Lee didn’t ask me if I wanted to join the choir. He just told me when they met. I was impressed,” said Killough. If the original statement is to be believed, Killough was “impressed” in more ways than one to become a dedicated choir member.
he journey of this 82-year-old, however, is what is truly impressive. Killough in many ways appears to be a real-life Forrest Gump. His grandfather was a millionaire. His father sang in a quartet that toured nationally, even performing with Frank Sinatra. Killough, himself, grew up in Philadelphia witnessing, but “never feeling the effects” of the Great Depression. In 1949, as a high school student body president, he shook the hand of Harry Truman. Later after being drafted during the Korean War, Killough was a member of the United States Army Security Agency when the Bay of Pigs invasion and the construction of the Berlin Wall occurred. His civilian career began at Sears & Roebuck as a management trainee where people continually sought him out for counseling because they trusted his judgment. This led Killough to enroll in seminary but after several years of study he had more questions than answers about faith and
decided he was a confirmed agnostic. Killough then became a builder like his grandfather – a career that he still pursues today. The next phase of his life was rocky according to Killough. The father of two had been through several marriages and divorces and struggled through financial ups and downs. It was not until he moved to Charlotte and met several people who believed in God and lived their faith that things slowly began to change. A friend invited Killough to Dan Rhodes class at Myers Park Presbyterian. Then he began to have private talks about faith with individuals he trusted such as Associate Pastor for Adult Education Von Clemans. “It was a slow climb for me,” said Killough, “I didn’t want to be one of those people who when asked why they are a Christian respond with ‘I don’t know so don’t ask me’ so I searched for answers.” Killough feels he found those answers alongside his church family at Myers Park. “This church
has been the greatest for me,” he said. In addition to growing together in faith, he appreciated the church’s support after his heart attack and recent life-threatening case of septic shock. He also enjoys the camaraderie of the choir whom he calls “ambassadors for Jesus.” While Killough does not go around quoting Bible verses, he does try to live his faith each and every day – days that normally start with a ride on his scooter to the uptown Showmars where he meets his friend Shirley and her 100-year-old mother, Alma. On a typical morning, Bob buys meals for at least one or two of the people who ask him for spare change. “Mostly, I sit with them and just listen while they eat their meal. I’ve been criticized for doing this. But I’d rather pay for nine people who are faking it, than miss the one person who is really in need.”
“How much faith do I need? Not a feeling of certainty. Just enough faith to take a step.” John Ortberg
MISSION MADE POSSIBLE Your mission should you choose to accept it is … The classic Mission Impossible television series and movies always begin with these fateful words. But what if that challenge was posed to you? Imagine you are going about life as normal and then someone stops you to say, “Your mission should you decide to accept it is to serve and glorify God.”
It would be pretty startling. However, in a recent conversation with Beth Bell, members’ ministry coordinator, she said that mission and ministry are the context for our lives. “If you think about it our lives really are a mission from God. This is our day. We are being called to be the hands and feet of Christ here and now.” 28
Bell continued saying that whether you are serving Christ in the church, community or world, you will experience incredible joy. “Ministry leads to wonderful friendships. It teaches us about ourselves and the nature of God. It shows us how to hear God’s still, small voice. And it empowers and blesses us in ways we cannot even imagine,” she said. If you are uncertain how to get started, check out the new section of our website: serve.myersparkpres.org. If you think words like “call,” “discernment” and “mission” are intimidating or just want to brainstorm the right ministry fit, Bell and her Every Member Has a Ministry team are ready to answer your questions and even discuss options over a cup of coffee. Here is a quick overview of why you might consider serving in one of these areas:
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This is our home base â€“ a place where you can build relationships and find support from others on the faith journey. Not only is serving on Oxford Place convenient, but sharing Christâ€™s love with one another equips and refuels us personally and strengthens our church family. Whether it is greeting people as they enter for worship, mentoring youth or serving in other ways, you will make a lifelong difference, and receive far more than you give.
Challenging yourself to make a difference in our city can be incredibly rewarding. There are far too many individuals who find themselves poor and powerless in Charlotte today. As you share the love of Christ with neighbors in need, you will develop relationships with them and other church members. You will find your life changed as you learn to empower others. You will see God in action and be blessed beyond your imagination.
You can make a real difference in a hurting world. It may be traveling with a global mission team to one of our five partner countries or working with immigrants from those nations in Charlotte. You will stretch yourself and build priceless relationships with fellow church members and our global brothers and sisters. You will gain a new perspective on real world issues. And you will give a hand up, not a hand out, to make lasting change abroad.
The word change makes some people gasp and others smile. Yet change happens every day: clouds roll in and out; the seasons cool and warm; and each of us grow slightly older. Most of these changes go unnoticed. But when change is forced upon us it can be painful. As Rob Ketterling says in Change Before You Have To all of us know what we need to change in our lives, but we put it off. That was the same realization that Associate Pastor Deborah Conner had when a terminally ill friend asked her why we wait until we are sick to appreciate life.
Conner said, “The fact is a strong jolt of reality often is required before we make changes. We endure stressful lives, hoping peace will magically appear. Unfortunately, that isn’t how life works. A balanced life requires ongoing evaluation and change: stopping some things and starting others; lessening the time spent on one area and beefing up another. “Whether it is praying more, changing jobs, losing weight, getting organized, working less, enriching our spiritual lives or countless other things, we have to make choices,” she said. So what is the best way to choose change? Here are some recommendations:
1IDENTIFY WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE 4OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES TO CHANGE 2ADMIT YOU NEED TO CHANGE AND UNDERSTAND WHY YOU AVOID IT 5IGNORE THE URGE TO GIVE UP 3BELIEVE THAT CHANGE IS POSSIBLE 6TRY NEW THINKING Interested? Read the stories to the right from three fellow members who have chosen change. 30
CrossRoads Corporation for Affordable Housing
Union Theological Seminary
Catawba Lands Conservancy
“I reached a point in life where I wanted to bring my skills from corporate and investment banking and real estate to bear on a non-profit organization I believed in. I was drawn to CrossRoads because of the really great folks in Grier Heights and because it was a start-up organization that addressed a huge need. I can truthfully say these five years at CrossRoads have been the most challenging, frustrating and rewarding that I’ve ever experienced. I’ve had to learn so many things about building houses, rehabbing an historic building, and afterschool and preschool programs. There were also the challenges associated with a start-up business like renting office space, buying insurance and office equipment, selecting technology, undergoing audits, etc. Not to mention neighborhood revitalization is just, by definition, slow work. But it is so rewarding to see the progress we’ve made and the relationships we’ve built. It is so amazing to partner with people who are committed to helping neighbors improve their quality of life. And that is CrossRoads’ mission.”
“God is found in the most unusual places. One just needs to be open to the revelation! My call to seminary started when our family traveled to Debrecen, Hungary, with the church in November 2004. I was convicted by how much we Americans take our freedom of religious expression for granted. Two years later, as I recovered from breast cancer treatments, I wondered why I had been healed. When the person who led worship at our women’s retreat talked to me about her experience at Union Seminary, I knew where God was calling me. I was enrolled by that fall. I have learned quite a bit in seminary: Greek and Hebrew, Calvin and Barth. But I also have seen and participated in so many different expressions of God’s church ranging from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Eastern Europe to rural, multi-cultural urban and suburban churches in our North Carolina Piedmont. This has rekindled my fascination with worship preparation and a new love of preaching. Now that I have graduated, I wait to see where God will put my training and experience to work.”
“Like many individuals in midlife, I was questioning whether the time and energy that I was pouring into my career was consistent with how I wanted to be living my life. I definitely felt that I was being guided by the Holy Spirit to a different purpose. After I left the corporate world, I spent time working with CrossRoads, doing some mission work and working with a number of other not-for-profit organizations. I realized that a serviceoriented vocation was what I was looking for in my life. I began my work with the Catawba Lands Conservancy because I felt that it was an extremely important mission and one where I could use my skills and experience to make a difference. I believe that we have an obligation to take care of God’s kingdom and this work impacts our region’s quality of life. I am more connected to my work and feel I am leading a life that is more aligned with God’s plan. My faith has definitely been strengthened – I took some risk in walking away from a comfortable career, and had no idea where the journey would take me. The rewards have been significant.”
EXPECT GOD’S SPIRIT TO TRANSFORM YOU 31
rt. po ss pa r he u yo ow sh to an m ow Ask Faye B amazing e th r fo t ai w d an ck ba d an st n he T stories to unfold.
aye’s globetrotting experiences seem like quite an accomplishment considering she is a retired public school teacher. But as you soon find out, with this 70-year-old, life is about living right here, right now. Faye’s interest in all things global began as a child. Social studies was always one of her favorite subjects. In her tenure as a teacher at Sharon Road Elementary, she found many English as a second language students (ESL) were placed in her classroom. She served as the instructional facilitator for all ESL instructors at Quail Hollow Middle School, and helped develop the international studies program at Independence High School. She always has considered it a personal challenge to find the right combination of charades and learning materials that “make the light bulbs go off.” This was one of the main reasons Millie Cox, fellow Myers Park Presbyterian member, approached Faye. Millie asked her if she could help teach English to the Lembi family – Christian, his wife LaBlonde, their daughters Grace and Sarah, their son Brahan, and baby Mike – fellow members who are from the Congo. Faye said, ���Millie is fluent in French but I hadn’t had it since high school. I agreed though because I knew the Lembis could not get better jobs until they could improve their English.” The lessons began with a basic textbook and discussions using everyday words like work, doctor and grocery store. Soon, however, Faye soon found herself striving for fresh ways to interest
the family members of all ages. She tried to focus on ways that would help them better understand daily activities such as a map and bus schedule. Then they graduated to the kitchen and prepared a healthy meal since LaBlonde has high blood pressure. One of the highlights of their weekly lessons occurred when Faye brought a book on Charlotte that was translated into five languages including French and English. The Lembis were fascinated by the pictures of Founders Hall so Faye decided to take them on a walking tour of uptown Charlotte. The family did everything from having their pictures made in the Wells Fargo Museum stagecoach to exploring the Founders Hall atrium. “It’s one of the greatest joys to see their knowledge of English grow and share in their excitement over what they are learning,” said Faye. She quickly adds that the learning experience goes both ways. “The Lembis are facing all of these challenges but they still have such a strong faith. Whenever I help Christian, he jumps up, hugs me and says God bless you. He tells me over and over ‘I have to learn.’” It is that kind of eagerness that inspired Faye to return quickly to tutoring after her 2012 diagnosis and treatment of cancer. “I felt like I needed to get back to it. The Lembis were relying on me and it made me want to regain my health as quickly as possible,” said Faye. The health scare has not limited Faye. She recently selected and catalogued books for the Billingsville library and toured a Malawian guest through Grier Heights. Faye also began tutoring an adult in weekly reading lessons and continues regular visits with her Church Friend. Not to mention continuing her travels. Faye just returned from Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands and is planning a fall trip to Morocco with the Charlotte World Affairs Council. “I am travelling while I can. There is a big world out there and I think it helps you understand how many similarities there really are between people. If I hadn’t had these international experiences, I am not sure I would have felt up to tutoring the Lembis. And I would have missed out on one of the greatest blessings of my life,” she said.
READY TO BRING THE WORLD TO YOUR BACK DOOR? There are many ways to get involved in global outreach here and abr oad.
FIND OU T MORE AT ser ve.myersparkpres.org
EL SALVADOR oing the right thing better. That is the objective of Myers Park Presbyterian’s outreach ministry. Nearly ten years ago, this church began the analysis and planning for what would become a record-breaking $30 million Deeper Discipleship campaign – a campaign that has become integral to local and global outreach initiatives. Today partnerships in five countries, Grier Heights and throughout Charlotte have reached new levels. Money, according to senior pastor Steve Eason, has been only a small part of the picture. “Building relationships has been and will continue to be at the core of everything we do. Whether it is hammering, tutoring or building a shallow well in a foreign country, we have been serving Christ with all that we are and all that we have,” he said. Globally, that living discipleship commitment has translated into building and serving at a girls’ school in the Congo and furthering the groundswell of interest in faith and church in Cuba. It has meant working alongside the people of El Salvador to build 92 Habitat for Humanity homes, provide clean water, and assist with education and medical services, and partnering with World Vision to promote peace in that country. It has included teaming with the Great Church on a disabled children’s home and a homeless shelter in Hungary, and a school for Roma children in the Ukraine. It also has involved improving strategic planning and the infrastructure of the governing body of the church and healthcare system in northern Malawi. In the Charlotte area, hundreds of Myers Park Presbyterian members have partnered with CrossRoads Corporation and the Grier Heights community on programs ranging from tutoring/mentoring elementary and middle school students to refurbishing and building homes. In addition, disciples have helped feed hungry neighbors, provided shelter to Charlotte’s homeless, and offered services through a diverse array of what the church now calls its Homeward Bound and Mercy ministries. So how can Myers Park Presbyterian take outreach to the next level? That was a question posed recently to Mary Mandeville, outreach chair, and Fletcher Wright, chair of the outreach strategic planning team. They described a multipronged process that is currently underway which includes assessing the ministry
MALAWI CUBA congo
staffing structure and searching for either an ordained pastor or director. Perhaps more importantly, they explained how they hope to incorporate outreach as an integral part of all Myers Park Presbyterian ministries.
The first step, they said, was ensuring a smooth transition during the assessment process and search for a ministry team leader. Long-time member Glenn Boone was enlisted to serve as the interim day-today outreach administrator while Richard Hill was engaged as a strategic planning consultant. This fall the outreach strategic team will move into its listening phase. Mandeville said, “We will be asking you, the members of the congregation, how to enrich the outreach experience and shape the short and long-term future of this ministry.” The timing is optimal according to Wright who cited the following factors, “We have great insights from the church’s recent strategic planning. We are searching for a new outreach leader. The capital campaign funding is winding down and we need to assess where incremental dollars will come from to expand, sustain or suspend various initiatives.” Wright added that all organizations need to plan for leadership transitions. Both Mandeville and Wright stress how vital it is to remain spiritually grounded as the church’s overall outreach efforts are assessed. “Outreach seems like a natural fit for so many. The members of this church clearly are very passionate about it. But we have to continually ask ourselves what distinguishes us from the array of other wonderful nonprofits. What distinguishes us is Christ,” said Wright. Preserving that distinction is vital as the ministry moves forward according to the two leaders. “We have put a very effective engine in place. There is a rich and deep commitment to outreach. The challenge, however, is that two-thirds of this nearly 10-year investment has come from capital funds and only 10 percent of the annual operational budget is allocated to outreach. The big question is how do we sustain and take what we have done to the next level,” said Wright. Neither Mandeville or Wright think that there is a quick-fix, but both are confident that prayer and a transparent outreach strategic planning process will allow Myers Park Presbyterian to do the right thing better.
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2501 Oxford Place Charlotte, NC 28207 myersparkpres.org