“Be Strong in the Lord”
The main theme Bible verse for our cooperative Vacation Bible School this year (July 11-15 evenings, held at Otterbein Methodist Church) is Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.” The Bible story our church will present, for example, on Monday evening July 12, is the David and Goliath story we reviewed in our worship service on June 20 (I Samuel 17): David did not rely on the large set of weapons or suit of armor that Goliath had (which is described in great detail), but on the Lord, and he prevailed.
The Ephesians 6 passage, however, does go on to describe and recommend a kind of armor. Those verses will be referenced on the other VBS evenings: “Put on the whole armor of God . . . the belt of truth . . . the breastplate of righteousness . . . shoes ready to proclaim the gospel of peace . . . the shield of faith . . . the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” This battle imagery has been troubling to some Christians, as it brings reminders of some of the worst moments of our history, like armed Crusaders slaughtering unarmed non-Christians in the Middle East. Are these weapons of war consistent with Jesus’ words “Blessed are the peacemakers”? “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”? “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”?
A little analysis of the Ephesians passage may help: First, the emphasis is not on literal armor (shield, helmet, sword . . . ) – as Goliath found out the hard way. The kinds of things we are to “put on” – clothe ourselves with – are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God – none of which are incompatible with peacemaking and love.
Second, almost all of the pieces of armor named are defensive in nature, rather than designed to attack or injure. Many commentators on the passage have pointed this out, including Dr. Sarah Henrich, Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Luther Seminary: “Note that the armor is designed to help folks stand fast; it is not armor for aggressive action. Standing fast does not require a person to hurt a neighbor in any way. The nature of the armor is profoundly defensive. The only equipment for attack is the sword. Even that weapon is a sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” (I would even argue that a sword can be used only defensively, to block the attempted blows of an attacker).
So by all means, feel free to not only “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His power,” but also “Put on . . . truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.”
SANCTUARY CHOIR NEWS
Good news from the choir loft! Our attendance numbers have gradually increased from a (pandemic) low of six to a much closer to normal eleven. Thank you to each and every choir member who has come back to join us.
Of course, now that we have reached that “high” number, it is time for our summer break. We will sing on July 4th and then become pew singers again until Oct. 3.
Let’s increase our congregation numbers by the same percentage as the choir has – welcome back! We’ve saved you a pew!
Thank you to all who contributed to the Pentecost Offering last month, 40% of which will go to the local “Hopes and Dreams” efforts to provide services and assistance to homeless youth. Here is an update from Hopes and Dreams which came in a couple weeks ago:
“The Drop In Center is finished and located at 208 E. Court St.!
We have four computer stations, WiFi, lounge area, full kitchen, laundry facilities, and restrooms including access to showers. If you are interested in offering supervision or tutoring, please let us know!”
Vacation Bible School
Ages 3- entering 6th grade
July 11 – 15 evenings
Dinner 5:15, VBS 5:45 – 8:00
Otterbein Methodist Church,
406 W. Washington St.
Presented by Paris Methodist
& Presbyterian Churches
THANK YOU. . .
. . . to all who contributed to our Presbytery’s Special Offering to Retire Medical Debt of people in need of assistance in southeastern Illinois. The goal was to raise $17,000 by the May 13 Presbytery meeting. By the day of the meeting, over $25,000 had come in!
A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY
Our church mission efforts the last few years have focused on projects other than the Free Wheelchair Mission, but if any individuals are interested, FWM is having an online 20th anniversary celebration/fundraiser on Thursday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Information and free registration is at Miracleof Mobility.org.
MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE! Planning is underway for the cooperative Paris Methodist and Presbyterian Churches Vacation Bible School. Dates have been set, for the evenings of July 11 through 15, and the location this year will be Otterbein Methodist Church. Please let your young friends know – age 3 through entering 6th grade.
Our night to prepare and serve a pizza dinner is Monday, July 12, at 5:15. If you can help with any aspect of that (picking up the pizzas, serving carrots and celery, etc), please let Beth Ruff or Rodger Allen know.
We will also present the lesson that evening; let Rodger know if you would like to help with that.
There are also other volunteer opportunities, other evenings; Beth and Rodger have details.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR GRADUATES…
… honored at our May 16 worship service:
Emma Scott – Paris High School
Mellie McCollough – Paris High School
Brittany Scott – Southern Illinois University
Morgan Jipp – Oregon State University
SPECIAL REQUEST from the Compassionate Clothing Closet (CCC):
Please bring clothing donations on Mondays or Tuesdays during daytime hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). CCC volunteers are available to receive donations on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Currently there has been an increased problem with persons rummaging through donation bags resulting in clothes being taken, scattered on the sidewalk and even taking clothes bags. Thank you for helping us help others.
The Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) released its annual statistical report in late Spring. As of January 1, 2021, there are 8925 PCUSA (churches nationwide, with a total number of active) members of 1,245, 354. There was a total of 14, 529 new Professions of Faith, a number kept down by the pandemic, since many churches were unable to hold communicants and new member classes. 112 New Church Developments were begun (in spite of Covid). A relatively-new statistic: 206 “New Worshipping Communities” were also established. These are non-traditional meetings of otherwise-unchurched people, such as weekly discussion groups at coffeehouses or Bible Studies around potluck meals.
4 Kinsley Gough
8 David Hoff
11 Sarah Penczek
14 Elizabeth Gough
20 Rick Phillips
31 Misty Smith
14 Phil & Karen Scott
20 Rodger Allen/Laurie Williams
22 Jeff & Carolyn Hodge
25 Larry & Carol Jones
PRESBYTERIAN DISASTER ASSISTANCE
Elsewhere in this issue, you will find a thank you letter from PDA. They also provided this “2020 in Review”:
“In 2020, because of your generous support, PDA was able to grant more than $6.5 million across the globe, support 523 work team volunteers who (prior to Covid lockdowns) helped rebuild communities affected by disaster, deploy 210 National Response Team members to 52 presbyteries, and with Church World Service, aid in the collection and distribution of 101, 472 Gift of the Heart Kits and blankets. In the United States alone, $4,918, 829 was granted, in response to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, Covid-19, fires, an earthquake, and a derecho. THANK YOU!
SUMMER CHURCH DATES TO REMEMBER:
Every Sunday: 10:30 Worship
July 4: Happy Independence Day!
July 5: Church office closed in honor of Independence Day
July 11-July 15, 5:15-8 PM Vacation Bible School,
at Otterbein Church
Aug. 1: 10:30 Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Aug. 21: New Providence Fish Fry,
4 PM -7 PM
Aug. 28: 10 AM Presbytery
Meeting, at Copper Creek Church, Champaign. Can be attended in-person or online.
3 Meredith Penczek
6 Jim McColloch
10 Robert Howrey
12 Karen Scott
13 Mike McCrocklin
14 Clark Piper
15 Mindy Lolie
16 Emma Scott
17 Kay McCulloch
21 Melfina McCollough
22 Lanee Pfeiffer
23 Gwyneth Blair
24 Dodie Turner
25 Seth Gough
27 Alice Sprague
31 Tom Hebermehl
8 Kevin & Amber Farris
10 Karol Farris & Chris Schilling
26 Gaye & Dodie Turner
31 Jim & Susan Farris
Dear Presbyterian Church Members,
Thank you for the graduation card! I will miss coming to church while I’m
in college. Thank you for everything,
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). It is a divine command people of faith are eager to embrace. How deeply we yearn to extend God’s comfort when we see neighbors here at home and throughout the world, struggling with disease and inadequate medical resources, hurricanes and fires, fleeing violence.
We cannot touch them all, but we can pray, and we can give, and when we do, we
become a visible witness of the loving heart of God, and the hands and feet of Jesus. Your prayers and your financial gift for the Disaster Relief-General Relief and Support fund enable Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to manifest God’s warm embrace of those in chaos and despair. Your generous gift makes divine comfort real.
With gratitude and peace,
Rev. Dr. Laurie A. Kraus
Dear Partner in ministry,
During these difficult days, we are truly grateful for the faithful witness of Presbyterian congregations like yours. We are grateful for your continued support of the PCUSA Special Offerings as part of your witness to Christ. The four offerings – One Great Hour of Sharing, Pentecost, Peace & Global Witness, and Christmas Joy – draw us together as a church, and put our faith into action.
We thank you for your tremendous generosity, as well as the energy, intelligence, imagination and love it took to make happen.
Director, Special Offerings & Appeals
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Thank you so much for inviting me to preach on June 6. Your warm reception of my message made my day! I also appreciate the love gift, which helps our entire family. Here’s to touching lives,
P.S. I’ll be back to preach again on July 18th. Can’t wait!
SAVE THE DATE!
You’re invited to a Graduation party:
- In honor of Mellie McCollough
- Saturday, July 31, 3-6 PM
- The Presbyterian Church
- Upstairs Assembly Room
- RSVP, please: 217-264-1561
- (text preferred)
Our Mission Statement:
“We are a welcoming congregation of dedicated believers who glorify and serve God through meaningful worship, caring for the needs of our congregation, reaching out as good stewards to others in need both locally and worldwide, and promoting Christian Education and spiritual development for all ages. We seek God’s purpose and guidance in our lives through the Holy Spirit and in service to Christ Jesus.”
From a recent letter from the Seitz Family, the mission worker family we support in Taiwan (the full letter is on the bulletin board):
In a graduate school seminar taught by Dr. Luis Rivera-Pagan, I learned the word “xenophilia,” literally, “love of the foreign.” We know its antonym, “xenophobia,” much better, and one of the main debates of our age is whether pluralism is possible, sustainable, or desirable. Divisions are often painfully visible. Sometimes being different is exhausting or confusing. Still, for Christians I believe xenophilia certainly fits with many of our biblical teachings: “love your neighbor,” “the stranger shall be as your neighbor,” “show your love for the alien,” and on and on. In the Bible, there’s often a reciprocity to this love: you were aliens and so you shall treat the alien well. Strangers aren’t just tolerated or accepted; we are to love the stranger.
This month I find myself deeply grateful for the Taiwanese community and its witness. Highlights of the last months have been talking to Taiwanese missionaries back from Southeast Asia, sharing about our work online with Cincinnati Presbytery, meeting with other missionaries in Taiwan (from Thailand, Korea, and Wales), and enjoying the Lunar New Year break.
Emily invited kids from one of the churches where we serve to go ice skating at Taipei Arena during the long holiday as a chance to have fellowship outside of church. Kind of fun that there is a place for us to ice skate on a sub-tropical island! Emily also took the kids hiking in several different parts of northern Taiwan, and while we live in the city, we’re also grateful for this natural beauty.
Through our children, we’ve learned to love Taiwan, through its treats (boba tea is a current favorite), its people (the kids they play with at school and in the parks), and its places (forests and beaches and cities).
My prayer is that in the intractable difference of our societies you can also love those who are very different. We are also grateful for the ways you show your love, through prayer and encouragement and invitations to share about this place we love.
The Seitz Family