• Outpost Blog 8 hours ago

    Closing a church

    Closing a church

    by Emma Nickel
    In the ninth season of the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Mark Sloan is on life support due to injuries sustained in a plane crash. Just before the deadline arrives to remove his life support, Dr. Sloan wakes, sits up in bed and starts cracking jokes. His superior, Dr. Webber, identifies his sudden good health as “the surge.” Dr. Webber says, “In many terminally ill patients, they have a final surge of energy; they get better before they get worse.” His energy and good humor are real, but he is… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 1 day ago

    “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” – Christ in a pluralistic age

    “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” – Christ in a pluralistic age

    by Edwin Chr. Van Driel There’s a remarkable passage in one of the upcoming lectionary readings. “Some Greeks,” John writes, came to Jesus’ disciple Philip and said: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” When Philip told Jesus about this, he responded: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:23-24). It’s easy to miss the significance… continue reading...
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  • Outpost Blog 2 days ago

    Brokenness is not discipleship

    Brokenness is not discipleship

    by Brandon Gaide
    Brokenness is an important word in the church. It’s akin to the word “depravity,” but feels less churchy and less heavy-handed. Maybe that’s why it’s become so popular. We church folk wanted a word that described our soul-sickness while at the same sounding non-threatening enough to be used outside the church. Not everyone is ready to say they’re depraved. But most can come around to the idea that, at least in some ways, we’re broken. To know our brokenness is a gift from God. Only in our brokenness do we… continue reading...
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Stated Clerk writes letter opposing the Protection of Children Act and the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act

gradyeparsons

LOUISVILLE (PNS) Today (March 4), the House Judiciary Committee is holding a mark-up session on two bills that, if passed, would take away crucial protections to unaccompanied children arriving in the United States. The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), wrote this letter to the House in opposition of these dangerous bills. March 2, 2015 Dear Members of the House of Representatives, I write to you today on behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to express concern about the Protection of Children Act and the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act. Just as Christ welcomed the children[1], so strives the church. Presbyterian congregations across the United States gathered together to support the needs of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America in the summer of 2014. Their stories and their faces are forever etched on our hearts and in our minds. The notion that our government could have kept any … [Read more...]

Closing a church

Emma Nickel headshot

In the ninth season of the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Mark Sloan is on life support due to injuries sustained in a plane crash. Just before the deadline arrives to remove his life support, Dr. Sloan wakes, sits up in bed and starts cracking jokes. His superior, Dr. Webber, identifies his sudden good health as “the surge.” Dr. Webber says, “In many terminally ill patients, they have a final surge of energy; they get better before they get worse.” His energy and good humor are real, but he is still dying. Despite their medical training, Dr. Sloan’s friends also hold on to hope that he’s on the road to recovery. And they continue to enjoy his jokes and his smiles. It doesn’t take long to discover, however, that Dr. Webber was right about the surge. Hospice teaches us that “the surge” can be a real thing. A few days or a few hours before death, a dying person may become alert, ask to eat their favorite foods and enjoy conversation with loved ones, even when they’ve been unresponsive … [Read more...]

Joseph Lawrence Roberts Jr., pastor and preacher dies

Photo courtesy of Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth

The Rev. Dr. Joseph L. Roberts, well known pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, died on Sunday, February 15 at his home. Dr. Roberts was also the Wade Huie Professor of Homiletics and Director of the Center for Preaching at Columbia Theological Seminary from 2009 to 2012. “As the first person to hold the Huie Chair in Homiletics, Rev. Dr. Joseph Roberts exemplified everything we hope our students will grow to be,” said Dr. Anna Carter Florence, Peter Marshall Associate Professor of Preaching. “What Joe brought to our campus, what he offered to us of his storehouse of wisdom and experience, will remain. I think particularly of his deep conviction that theological education must be available and accessible to all who minister, whatever their level of education, and his determination that Columbia can be a place of hospitality and mutual learning.” He was born Joseph Lawrence Roberts, Jr. to Reverend Joseph L. Roberts, Sr. and Marguerite Reed Roberts on February 17, 1935 in Chicago, … [Read more...]

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus” – Christ in a pluralistic age

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 3.01.50 PM

by Edwin Chr. Van Driel There’s a remarkable passage in one of the upcoming lectionary readings. “Some Greeks,” John writes, came to Jesus’ disciple Philip and said: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” When Philip told Jesus about this, he responded: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:23-24). It’s easy to miss the significance of Jesus’ response, because it’s easy to miss the significance of these men’s request. They are “Greek,” John says, and from the term he uses we can conclude they were Greek natives, born and raised in that culture, but fascinated by Jewish religion — and by Jesus. Jesus’ world, like ours, was a large cultural melting pot. Intense trade relationships between the different parts of the Mediterranean world had led to widespread cultural cross-fertilizations. People would move, for shorter or … [Read more...]

WCC commission promotes ecumenical learning and education

SWITZERLAND (WCC) The committee that advises World Council of Churches (WCC) governing bodies on promoting ecumenical learning has ended its February 2015 meeting with a series of recommendations to ensure a vibrant study environment. During a three-day meeting from 18 to 20 February, the Commission on Education and Ecumenical Formation (CEEF) noted barriers to better ecumenical education, including a general lack of awareness about ecumenism, the need to strengthen commitment to ecumenical education, as well as the urgent need to provide a broader range of ecumenical resources. The commission, which meets every second year, will present its recommendations to the WCC Executive Committee later in the year. It reports on three areas of work: networking, inclusiveness and regional work and relations. Develop better learning environments Among the committee’s decisions on networking, it decided to form a task group to strengthen global ecumenical education and formation. It also … [Read more...]

“I pass down to you that which I have received”

Christine Chakoian

THESE DAYS I’M KEENLY AWARE that my dad won’t be here forever. At 92, my Armenian father is sharp as a tack — often winning at duplicate bridge — but his strength is slipping away. Recently he asked his kids to record conversations with him, ala “Story Corps.” I love that he’s considering our inheritance, the material portion of which is least important. He knows our choices will either carry on, or dispense with, what he leaves us. Our choices won’t be easy. When mom died, just sorting through her things was oddly hard. Mom didn’t own a lot, but much held memories: a seashell from vacation, a string of pearls from her mother. As we sorted, we rehearsed stories behind the things. Sorting was less a burden than a sacred privilege. Isn’t this the task our church family faces? Our generation is inheriting the sizeable holdings of a church that thrived in its time. But it’s slipping away. The church’s packed pews and wall-to-wall children in Sunday school, her youth memorizing … [Read more...]