Fry On Friday: “Vulnerable,” September 15, 2017

             Who was God the Father before he became Father to humankind?  Did becoming a Father change God?

            I recall the pain I felt, though it was decades ago.  It occurred in the emergency room of a hospital in Asheville, N.C.  “Cookie!  Mommy!  Night-night!” my toddler son screamed.  He used every word in his vocabulary to convey his terror as the physician began the six stitches over his eyebrow.   His mother and I were standing there in the room; why wouldn’t we come to save him?   My knees almost buckled in anguish.  A father’s role is to protect and save his children from harm, and I was a total failure.  I still have nightmares.

            I recall the intense fear, though it was decades ago.  It occurred in the emergency room of a hospital in Duluth, GA.  My son, a sophomore in high school, lay motionless, strapped on the gurney.  He’d been injured, hit on the head while playing sandlot football.  His friends had helped him to the sideline, then resumed their game.  It was half an hour before they realized he was unconscious.  By the time I arrived, he looked dead.  At that moment, I was fairly certain I would die as well.   I still have nightmares.

            I recall the sadness, though it was years ago.  The grief was so overwhelming that I cannot yet write about it.  I am not yet ready to “process” the sense of helplessness.   Guess what—it involved my child.  I still have nightmares.

            Having children introduces one to a higher level of vulnerability than one has ever known.  And there’s no way to prepare for it.  Moreover, it doesn’t end when the child reaches adulthood; the stakes simply get higher.   A broken favorite toy, the demise of a pet goldfish, an overtime defeat in the play-off game become replaced by a non-optional relocation, unemployment, a divorce.

            I’m not writing about children alone, but about the appalling risk of deeply loving anyone.  You cannot love without being exposed to crushing vulnerability.  Yet the vulnerability itself is what makes life so much sweeter, more precious than ever before.  Without that risk, life grows safer but loses its savor.  The vulnerability of loving throws you into the bull ring, where you find yourself very, very alive.

            “Let us make humans in our own image,” said God at creation. I believe this was the concluding line of a long, long debate between Father, Son, and Spirit.   The Godhead was not naïve.  The risks were well-considered, the dangers well-pondered.  Then God breathed into the dust.  Since that moment, creation can joyfully proclaim, “God is love!”  And from that moment, God has never been safely the same. 

Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at    


A Message from Andy: Responding to God’s Call to Mission Work


“World Map Tattoos” from Pinterest/Google Images

Dear Congregation,

         With the hurricanes that have devastated much of the southern part of the United States in recent weeks, many of you may be wondering about Pleasant Hill’s response.

         Some might even be puzzled as to why we have set up a display table in the church’s Narthex on Sundays September 10 and 17 to ask for the congregation’s support of the upcoming International Mission Trip to Honduras. Perhaps a few have asked the question: “Why are we traveling abroad when there is so much need at home?”

        These are legitimate questions and concerns that deserves an honest answer:

        Over the last 17 years, Pleasant Hill has sent mission teams to third world countries like Honduras because we have felt called to partner with organizations that seek to empower and strengthen people who face severe poverty and oppression. I am grateful for the incredible ministry that has been done with your support, and I appreciate what many of you are doing now to aid our current efforts. 

         Participants sign up for the International Mission Trip, about 6 months in advance, and this year we have 15 people going to Honduras from Oct. 14-Oct. 21. Since we are exactly four weeks away from our departure date, the “in-country” fees have been paid, plane tickets have been purchased and both Honduras Outreach Inc., and a village in Honduras are relying on us to come to the country and serve alongside them.

          In the spirit of faithful stewardship, the church leaders and the mission team believe it’s important to keep the promise we made to our Honduran brothers and sisters in Christ by assisting them in building stronger communities and livelihoods. Suddenly breaking that commitment by changing course and traveling to neighboring states affected by the hurricanes would not be the right thing to do.

         Prior to each International Mission Trip, we always set up a display table to ask for donations for supplies and invite members to sign up to be prayer partners for each team member—we’ve found it to be a meaningful way to connect the congregation to the mission endeavor.  

       When we made these preparations this spring, we never could’ve imagined that two natural disasters would befall our own country at the same time as our requests for Honduras.

        However, while the timing is unfortunate, please know the pastors and the Mission & Outreach Committee are planning an initial response that will provide urgent relief to hurricane victims. You’ll be receiving information soon about specific items we’d like to collect during October, upon the request of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and non-profit agencies in the affected areas.

       During and immediately following a hurricane event is typically a time for first-responders to arrive on site to address the most critical needs that the rest of us cannot. 

        Church mission teams are needed primarily for the long clean-up and rebuilding process that occurs six months from now and beyond. Like previous places that have been hit by hurricanes , the communities in Texas, Florida and Georgia will be recovering for several years.

        Over the coming year, the church leaders will discern the best time to send mission teams to hurricane ravaged areas just as we have sent groups for many years to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, following natural disasters in those states. 

         In the meantime, we ask that you keep all those who are suffering in the world, both near and far, in your prayers.

        In Christ,
        Rev. Andy Acton
        Associate pastor for Mission & Outreach

Fry On Friday: “Holy Communion,” September 8, 2017

      The first time I celebrated Holy Communion was an unlawful act of bootlegged subversion.  I was eight years old.  In my childhood (just before the earth’s crust began to cool), the  Church did not admit children to the sacrament until they reached the “age of accountability.”  In other words, were not to partake until we little ones grew wise enough to understand the meaning of the sacrament. 

            At the age of eight, I knew that Jesus loved me and  that I was to be quiet in worship.  I did not know the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation, between expiation and propitiation, nor did I understand double predestination.  I did know in my heart of hearts that the grape juice offered at the Lord’s Supper exuded an aroma that enticed with its promise of sweetness. 
If Jesus’ blood, shed for me, was anything like Welch’s Grape Juice, I’m in!

            But I was not in, not until completing confirmation class, a long four years away. 

            I sat next to my brother.  Ten years older, Bob was a seasoned veteran of the sacraments.  I wasn’t bothered by seeing him take the bread from the silver tray, passed down the pew but over my head to the nearest adult.  It was white bread, cut into cubes, tasteless, with no capacity to cause desire.  But as the cup neared.  I took a deep whiff and lowered my head.  I would once again be excluded, but I refused to watch.

            A moment later, I felt a nudge on my thigh.  Brother Bob was holding a tiny glass of juice, half empty.  He had consumed only half of his serving.  He motioned for me to be discreet as I realized the remainder was for me.  From that moment, I knew to my very soul that 1) I would do anything for my big brother who loved me and 2) half a Jesus was far better than no Jesus at all.
            Last Sunday I stood at table, serving the sacrament to the flock.  (At our church, we gather in small groups at the table, passing the elements to each other, then joining hands in prayer.)  The children, officially and warmly welcomed, participated fully.  These young ones, unlike me, were into the bread.  One took a pinch from the (freshly-baked challah) and whispered fervently,  “YES!!.  A second took a full fist-sized portion, looked at me and mouthed, “I like it a lot!”.  Another, much younger, remained speechless but literally bounced with anticipation.  Their participation reminded us adults that Jesus’ presence can evoke great joy.

            As the juice was passed, each of the children participated with silence and stillness. Perhaps they understood that this was a holy moment, too significant for anything but awe.  Once again, the young ones revealed deep truth to us fully-qualified adults.

            “Depart in Christ,” I whispered to them all at the closing of the prayer.  I hoped they had been as blessed as I during those moments when Christ had promised to be with us.  Especially if we come like little children.

Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at    

TheoEd Talks at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, 9/24

Interested in Fellowship, Book Club, Sunday School, Mission, Poetry, NT Studies, or Activism?

Join the Rev. Jody Andrade in attending this inspirational event TheoEd Talks: Brief Talks, Big Ideas, Sunday September 24 at First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta.

Three smart, pastoral, nationally recognized speakers will light up our brains and hearts for 90 minutes. After the talks, we’ll grab a bite nearby and discuss our takaways.

Free childcare and refreshments included in the $15 ticket price. (FYI, Jody signed up to pay at the door since she doesn’t have a Paypal account.)

Please sign up online AND let Jody know you’re coming so she can find a good spot for our PHPC folks to eat and talk afterwards. Doors open at 4:15, talks from 5-6:30, and PHPC group dinner immediately following.

Details a

J.O.Y. Group (55+): “What Happens at Presbytery Meetings?” 9/20

PHPC is hosting the next Presbytery Meeting in November. Our own Rev. Donna Wells, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, will share information about Presbytery meetings and how you can become involved in host duties during our next J.O.Y. gathering on September 20 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm (Lunch provided. Cost is $7). The Rev. Jody Andrade will also lead JOY members in a mission project that will highlight the ministry of Laundry Love at the Presbytery Meeting. This will be the last Presbytery Meeting for Dave Fry before his retirement so let’s make the event a great one!

Suwanee Greenway Hike, 9/17

I needed the trees, their colors, and the sounds of wildlife breathing. I inhaled the essence of the forest and smiled as life coursed through my veins.
― Amelia Dashwood 


Bring a brown bag lunch, water and your comfy shoes to worship on Sunday, Sept 17. After worship, join the Rev. Jody Andrade for a hike on the Suwanee Greenway, including a mid-hike break to give thanks for the wonders of nature. This hike is rated “easy” and a shorter path is available.

More information is here:…/…/georgia/suwanee-greenway-trail.

Contact Jody at if you have any questions or plan to come.

Bring friends to shine some light into their lives!