Fry On Friday: “Labyrinth” May 19, 2017

          

  Mid-workday early this week I left the church office to walk the Prayer Labyrinth in a grove of trees behind our Education Building.  Saying that, I must begin this reflection with two confessions:

           Confession 1)   It had little to do with prayer.  I needed a break, an escape from my desk for a few minutes.  If I announced “I’m going for a walk,” I’d feel obligated to take my phone.  Moreover, the secretary would come find me if I anyone had a question about anything.  But saying, “I’m going to walk the Labyrinth,” results in fifteen minutes of uninterrupted quiet and solitude.

           Confession 2)  I took a broom.  I am compulsive about sweeping the little pea-gravel rocks off the stone path dividers.  I’ve never seen anyone but me walk the place.  How do they get there?   Do other secret prayer-walkers nudge them as they walk, immersed in contemplation?  Do squirrels move them?  Do Satan’s minions place each of them individually, knowing the stones drive me to distraction!   In any case, I managed to turn a prayer exercise into a janitorial project.

        So I proceed to the center of the Labyrinth, sweeping as I go.  I’m aware my sweeping is all about my unceasing need to tend to the church, obsessively addressing problems, fanatic about wanting everything taken care of.  No sloppy allowed!  Yet all my enlightened self-awareness has no power to make me stop sweeping.   

       Accept it, folks:  you have a pastor who’d rather sweep stones than pray.

         Reaching the center, I pause.  Every path marker is now clear of rocks.  If the U.S. Gov’t Labyrinth Quality Enforcement Officer shows up for a surprise inspection, this place is ready.  I toss the broom outside the boundary of the labyrinth.  I begin to retrace my steps from center to beginning, my hands now in my pockets (to prevent me from picking up single stray stones.)

           Quietly, I begin to realize:  when I am finished my work at this church, when my stone-sweeping is no longer needed, when I have tossed aside all my brooms, there will still be a path for me to walk.  And Christ will still walk beside me.  I know, dear reader, you figured this out long ago.  I’m still working on it.

      “Did you have a nice walk,” she asks as I return to my office.  “Oh, yes,” I reply.  Yes, indeed. 

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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 dave@pleasanthillpc.org.

 

Clerk’s Corner: Update on Head of Staff Transition, May 17, 2017

Dear Congregation,                                                                                              

I want to update everyone on the process for celebrating Dave Fry’s ministry and retirement; transitioning to an Interim head of staff; and beginning the search for a permanent head of staff.
 
The Session has appointed a Transition Team to make sure the overall process keeps moving forward; to keep the congregation informed; to coordinate with Session, the Associate Pastors and Interim Head of Staff, the Pastor Nominating Committee and Presbytery of Greater Atlanta; and to make sure all events that are part of this process happen.  The Transition Team consists of David Ashley, Margot Ashley, Gail Funderburk, Alan Klein, Dan Miller, Dick LoPresti and Kathleen Webb.  If you have any questions at any time, please contact one of us.  In the meantime, you can expect to hear regular updates as the process moves ahead.
 
Our Presbytery representatives helping us in the process of finding an interim and calling a new pastor are liaison Mark Roberson, an elder at Roswell Presbyterian, and Presbytery church consultant Joy Fisher.  They are both very experienced in helping churches through pastoral transitions.  So, we have an excellent team.
 
One of the first events is coming up soon.  On May 20, Mark and Joy will lead Session (except for Dave) in a Foundation Retreat.  This is intended to gather information on the ministries the church has undertaken over the last 15 years, what worked well, what are growing edges, and what are areas of improvement.  This retreat gives us the chance for a backwards look as we consider looking forward. 
 
Other upcoming opportunities to gather feedback during the next few months will include the use of the Congregational Assessment Tool, a survey available to the entire congregation; a Staff Survey (PULSE); a Leadership Clarity Assessment, a survey for the Session; and Small Group Meetings with church members. 
 
In addition, we plan to conduct a Demographic study, an opportunity to understand the people who live near the church better and how we might provide ministry to those who are closest to us. The results for these surveys should be available in late summer.
 
Another important step will be Session’s appointment of an Interim Pastor Nominating Committee.  The Interim Head of Staff will be critical in helping us transition from Dave’s leadership to a new Pastor to lead us into the future.  The appointment of this committee should occur this summer.
 
A Pastor Nominating Committee, approved at a congregational meeting, will be created at the end of 2017 and begin its search for a new head of staff in January 2018
 
That’s it for now.  If you have any questions or comments you want to make, please talk to someone from the Transition Team, a member of Session or one of the Associate Pastors.

David Ashley, PHPC Clerk of Session

June is Volunteer Month at the Duluth Co-Op, Sign Up Today!

One of the mission traditions at Pleasant Hill is to serve at The Hands of Christ Duluth Co-Op during the month of June. About 2-3 people are needed to unpack and stock donations, prepare packages and do some light cleaning and yard work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the 10 am -12 pm and 12-2 pm shifts.

To volunteer, sign up via this link:

http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f054daeae2fa4f58-volunteer

Questions, contact Doug Langdon, co-chair of the Mission & Outreach Committee, doug_langdon@bellsouth.net.

PHPC’s Gifted Past, Bold Future, “The Journey Begins” Devo, Day 21

“The Journey Begins” Devotional Guide by Scott McKenzie, PhD
Day Twenty-One

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road…” (Luke 24:32)

Two disciples, walking along the road to Emmaus, discussing the many events of the previous weeks; the arrest and trial of Jesus, the crucifixion and burial, and now strange rumors of resurrection. Along the dusty road to Jerusalem they find themselves in the very presence of their Lord and Savior, the resurrected Christ. Even though He was unrecognized, the disciples reported that their hearts were burning while He was talking to them on the road.

For some this stewardship campaign may have seemed like an endless walk on a long and dusty road. And yet, my hope and prayer for each of you is that at some place on this journey your heart has burned with the recognition that Christ is in our midst, that Christ is walking with us on this dusty road.

And so we conclude this devotional with the simple question. How have you met Christ on this journey? Has your heart burned with recognition that Christ is in our midst?

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of this journey we call a stewardship campaign. Thank You for meeting us

on this road. Thank You for the burning in our hearts that we recognize as You and Your love. Help us now to continue this walk always mindful that You are walking beside us. Thank You! Amen.

PHPC’s Gifted Past, Bold Future, “The Journey Begins” Devo, Day 20

“The Journey Begins” Devotional Guide by Scott McKenzie, PhD
Day Twenty

And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:4-5)

Four friends moved by an overwhelming sense of compassion and love for their friend. Four friends willing to pick up their corner of the blanket and bring their friend into the healing presence of Jesus Christ. Four friends determined and unwilling to be stopped by crowds, unwilling to say, “Sorry, we can’t do it, maybe next time.”

As we begin to wind down our devotional journey of faith, some may be thinking, “I can never do what the people in these stories have done.” And yet the common thread for each story is simply the willingness, the overwhelming desire, to do their share, to pick up their corner of the blanket and bring their church, their community, their friends, the world, into the healing presence of Jesus the Christ. Each of us has been blessed in different ways and to different levels. God simply asks us to pick up our corner.

A rather well-to-do woman approached her pastor and asked if her gift of $500 would be sufficient. The pastor’s wise response was, “Does your gift represent the blessings God has given you?” The lady took the check back and departed without saying a word. A week later she returned with a check for $5,000 and asked the same question. The courageous pastor gave the same reply and once again she took the check back and left. The pastor wondered if he would ever see her or the check again. But the scene repeated itself the following week. This time the check was for $20,000. In response to her inevitable question, “Is it enough?” the pastor, swallowing the lump in his throat, gave his standard reply. This time with a smiling face full of joy, she replied, “Yes, pastor, this represents God’s blessings to me.” She finally was willing to pick up her corner of the blanket.

 

Questions to consider

  1. Do I believe that my church, through Jesus Christ, has the answer for a hurting world?
  2. Am I willing to go the extra mile and lay aside my excuses so that people will come to know the healing, loving power of Christ?
  3. Does the gift I am considering truly and fully represent how God has blessed me? Am I willing to pick up my corner of the blanket?

Prayer

Oh Lord, thank You for friends who in the past have carried me into Your healing presence. I name them now…Thank You for all of the blessings You have so richly poured forth on my family and me. Help me to now give back, give me the courage to do whatever it takes for me to pick up my corner of the blanket. In the name of Christ, Amen.