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Continuing on our Adventure

November 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Whittier Presbyterian is full of energy and looking for a new focus.  We have been through New Beginnings, which showed us that we are a small yet vibrant congregation.  We decided at that time to work with Nueva Vida and help them to grow.  After much prayer, talk and work; we now know that these buildings are really too big for both congregations.  The upkeep of all these buildings is so expensive in both money and time and effort.  So… we are investigating where God will lead us; we know he has a plan for us.

We have been talking with Real Estate people to determine the worth of our buildings and finding if another congregation would be interested so it is not just a tear down.  God also opened doors for us to talk to Presbytery and we discovered that when we move on, they might be interested in keeping the buildings and leasing them out to a different church.

Pastor Elizabeth has been sharing this information after worship services this summer, but we know many of you have been on vacation and missed those discussions.  

Session has always coveted everyone’s prayers for the direction God might be taking our congregation and we are seeing fruits from those prayers.  People are contacting us about using the building and people are sharing ideas of where we might go and what type of mission we could provide for our community.  There is no timeline for anything that is happening but Session will be sharing information as it develops.  So please be patient and please continue your prayers, as these are exciting times for our congregation.   Please be sure to talk to a Session member if you have ideas or questions or concerns.  Session is excited and can feel the energy coming from our membership about where God is leading us.  So keep praying and thinking and sharing.
Questions:  talk to Lurene, Carole, Melinda, Marilyn J, Marilyn R., Donna, Jim, Fermin (Session members) or Pastor Elizabeth

Thanks to Donna Hanson for this piece

Whittier’s Great Adventure

October 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

We’re moving! We are not sure yet where we are going. We are not doing this without large doses of reluctance and sorrow, but we are stepping out in faith.

Like many congregations that were started in California during the boom years after World War II, we were planted, grew large, and in recent years have seen our numbers decline. The buildings that once housed a congregation of over 1300 now hold less than 100. They are too big and we are too small. Several months ago, after much conversation, we came to the painful recognition that we can no longer maintain these buildings. Rentals help pay the bills. However, we increasingly find that being a landlord absorbs all our time and energy. Little is left for doing the kinds of ministries—from sheltering the homeless, to starting the still-operating preschool, to wonderful music programs—that were a big part of our life. So we faced the hard question. What now?

We considered closing. That is what many congregations do at this point. We considered merging. That is another option many congregations take. Then we realized there is a third option. We can take our strengths, move where we do not have the burden of maintaining the building, and find new ways to reach out and share God’s love and grace. We can carry on the congregation’s 70 plus year history of following God’s leading and sharing God’s love.

We are still figuring out the details, but we know God is leading us. We ask one thing of those of you reading this. Pray for us. Pray for us the following prayer.

Lord,
Introduce us to the people we should walk with,
Show us the ministry we should do,
And lead us to the place where we should abide.

Keep watching. We’ll let you know where God leads us and how our adventure unfolds.

New Beginnings Follow Up Discussions

March 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Please mark your calendar and take the time to join us for the four weeks of the New Beginnings follow up discussions. We need everyone’s input as we make decisions for the future of Whittier Presbyterian Church. We need everyone’s voice to be heard and this is the time and place to be involved with our decisions. See you all there.

A Present for Jesus

November 22nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

A Present for Jesus

The contrast between the images struck me hard. Like many people, when I get up I do a quick check of the news on my computer. That morning my screen filled with images and stories of the tornado hitting the Philippines. Later the same day, I sat down to relax by watching a program. The ads came first. This one, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, was my first Christmas ad of the season. I won’t mention the company but like most holiday advertisements it consisted of encouragement to buy, buy, buy because the more we spent on gifts the more our relatives and friends would appreciate us. The contrast between the aching need and the extravaganza of gift giving bothered me. I was troubled when I read an article stating the average American plans to spend over $800 on gifts this year (down from over $850 last year). Self-gifting, the practice of buying a gift for oneself has increased. Is this really how Jesus wants us to celebrate his birth? What can we do different?
How about we buy a present for Jesus? It Is his birthday we are celebrating.
I am not so naive that I believe people will stop buying or exchanging gifts nor do I think we should. Many of us enjoy it. Watching children’s faces light up on Christmas Day is something parents celebrate. I do think we can remember Jesus in our gift giving.
But what would happen if each of us also bought a present for Jesus? By that, I mean what if we gave one gift designed to help at least one of the many aching needs we can find in our world? It should not be a left over gift, but a gift as big and significant as all the other gifts we give. If we spend $20 on the average gift, our Jesus gift should be at least $20. If we spend $100, our Jesus gift should be at least $100. It is, of course, always OK to give more. I know folk who have decided they do not need more stuff and ask their families to give them alternative gifts by giving where the need is greatest.
What kinds of gifts could we give? Here at the church, we regularly support Homework House http://www.homeworkhouse.com/locations.htm (free tutoring for children), Bridge of Faith http://www.bridgeoffaith.org/ (supporting women who have aged out of the foster care system without really having the skills to support themselves), and First Day http://www.whittierfirstday.org/ (working to help people overcome homelessness). Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has opened a special account for the Philippines. You can donate to that or one of the other places they are helping at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/pda/who-we-are/. Looking to help in another way? Try http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/pda/who-we-are/ for gifts ranging from wells to chickens to school packs. Not comfortable donating online? Send a check directly.

Why Whittier?

August 7th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I have been asked why I came to Whittier Presbyterian, a once large congregation that has now shrunk in size. The honesty of the people who interviewed me is what convinced me. This is a congregation that had gone through the New Beginnings process and made some intentional choices about their future. Now, they asked for someone who could help them implement those difficult decisions.

 

We live in a time that is challenging for the Church. The percentage of the population that considers themselves Christians has declined while the percentage listing themselves as having no religious preference grows. Many people have a view of Christians shaped by the hate-filled groups that fill the media. The number and average size of congregations is shrinking. This is one of those periods, they have happened before in history and will probably happen again, when God is pruning the Church. When comfort comes before discipleship, when belief becomes easier than transforming lives, God does something to shake up the Church.

 

But this kind of challenging time is difficult for those who face the changes. It is hard on clergy, it is hard on members, and it is hard on everyone. I have watched congregations whither because they would not or could not accept that the context the Church lives in is changing. I consider it a gift to be asked to work with a group that is trying to face the change (which is not the same as liking it).  How could I say no to this adventure?

 

Pray for the Church and each other as we follow God into this new future.

 

Welcome Elizabeth Steele

June 9th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

God continues to bless our church family. We have a wonderful new pastor, Pastor Elizabeth Steele. She is a wonderful addition to our worship family. Pastor Elizabeth has invited us to dream about new possibilities for our worship space, the community around us, and deepening our own relationships with God. Please join us in this endeavor. We are a welcoming congregation!

Meditation 10/9/12 Armed

October 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Here’s another installation in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” genre.  This comes from “The Christian Century” magazine, the Oct. 3, 2012 edition.  They took it from Nation Institute.  Alas I could not find it on either web site, but try this.

“Target Audience:  Despite the fact that President Obama has done virtually nothing to restrict firearms, the National Rifle Association and the firearms industry warn that Obama will take guns away from law-abiding citizens.  The message is good for business.  Last year the firearms industry had an overall economic impact of $31.8 billion.  Employment is up in the industry 31 percent since 2008.  Remington alone sold more than 1 million guns and 2 billion rounds of ammunition in 2011, its third most profitable year in the last two decades—outdone only by the two previous years.  The NRA had said that a second term for Obama would result in an all-out war on Second Amendment rights.  However, the Brady Center, which lobbies for gun control, has given Obama an F on efforts to control guns.”
I believe our American obsession with guns is one of our worst characteristics.  How we square that with our supposed identity as a Christian nation is a wonder to me.  But my politics and ideology are showing.  I know I’m preaching to the choir with most of my readers.  But if that is not you, what is your response?

May your faith continue to help you

Sermon 10/7/12 “Is Jesus Out of Step?”

October 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

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Mark 10:2-16

2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.

4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

The Little Children and Jesus

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Come Join Us for Worship!

October 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

We have moved in with Salem Lutheran Church @ 6442 S. Glengarry, Whittier, CA  90606

Our worship service begins at 9:30am, Sunday morning.

Sermon 9/30/12 “Insiders & Outsiders”

September 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

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Mark 9:38-50

New International Version (NIV)

Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Causing to Stumble

42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [a] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] [b] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where

“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’[c]

49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

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