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Thanksgiving Baskets Support Local Families

In partnership with Highlands Community Ministries, Highland Presbyterian Church will be collecting non-perishable 15225468733_504504c866_kfood items in October and November. We will build Thanksgiving Baskets for 40 families in our community. If you can help, please bring food items in the collection bins in Fellowship Hall and the Walker-Nevin Building. The last day to drop off food is Friday, November 17.
Here are two exciting ways to serve:
  • Pack Baskets: Saturday, November 18th at 10am in Fellowship Hall
  • Deliver baskets after worship 12:15pm on Sunday, November 19th (from the sanctuary)
 Thanksgiving Basket “Shopping List” 

This is a list of items that will go into each basket. Please bring as you can, or go shopping for an entire basket.

  • Money toward gift cards for each family to buy the right turkey for themselves (make checks out to Highland Presbyterian Church and put “Thanksgiving Basket” on the memo line. Please bring or send to church office).
  • Cans of sweet potatoes/yams
  • Cans or Packets of gravy15858950346_bbaef34cc4_k
  • Boxes of dressing/stuffing
  • Cans of Green Beans, peas, mixed veggies
  • Cans of Corn and Cranberry Sauce
  • Instant Potatoes
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Dessert: brownie or cake mix & frosting, and Pumpkin pie filling
  • Boxes (we need boxes for packing the items into)

We plan on adding some pantry staples, please also offer:

  • Rice, beans or pasta.
  • Canned fruit
  • Peanut Butter

Please place them in the collection bins in the coat closet area of Fellowship Hall or in the Walker-Nevin Building. Donations accepted until 11/17!

Come help assemble baskets on Saturday 11/18 at 10am in the church Dining Room.

Sign up to deliver baskets on Sunday, November 19 here.

HPC Session Approves Statement


The Session of Highland Presbyterian Church drafted this statement in response to the violence, bigotry and hate on display in Charlottesville and other parts of the country during the past weeks. The statement draws on the mission statement of Highland Presbyterian Church that guides the vision of our congregation. The Session unanimously approved the statement at a special called meeting on the morning of August 20, 2017.


We are a church committed to sharing hope. We affirm that God created us all as part of a good creation. Anchored in this belief, we fundamentally reject the purpose, ideologies, rhetoric, and actions of racism, white supremacy, neo-Naziism, and hate that seek to diminish or repress the rights and personhood of others. Violence and bigotry defy the teachings of Jesus and spurn our Creator’s design. We are called to work for justice and to affirm the dignity of all of God’s people. We are called to guide our children, support our neighbors, comfort the troubled, soothe the suffering, and bless the dying. We eagerly join hands with others to share in this good work and in the hope of God’s love for all of creation.

NEXT Church: Living Witness

The last post on NEXT Church ended with a question about what the church’s responsibility is in the face of a culture of individualized spirituality and disengagement from the establishment of church. Based on what I heard at NEXT Church, I will offer what this responsibility might look like if the church took action.

     Rodger Nishioka is a highly respected Pastor, Professor, and Christian Educator. He offered one of the plenary talks at NEXT Church. When Nishioka spoke, he showed two videos. Both are probably familiar to most of us. The first was a Budweiser commercial that ran during the 2017 Super Bowl. The second is a Cadillac commericial that ran during the Oscars. You probably remember them.
     Each commercial makes a large truth claim. Budweiser is telling a founder’s story that expresses that our knowledge is relational. It shows the great possibility that comes from welcome, hospitality, and partnership. Cadillac is telling a story of society at large that expresses that our knowledge is incarnational (that is, what we believe is lived out in the way we act). Cadillac says “We carry each other forward regardless of who we are, what we believe, or where we come from.”

After he played these two commercials, Nishioka offered a lament. His lament to these two profound, engaging proclamations of large truths that offer significant impact was that they were offered by companies advertising products. Part of his lament were that these large truth claims were not offered by the church.

     The church makes bold proclamations about God’s grace week after week in worship. Commercial companies are beginning to make similar truth claims as the church and are getting out into the world in ways the church is not. While the church may not run Super Bowl ads (and that is not the goal), the church is the caretaker and proclaimer of one of the boldest and most astonishing truth’s the world has ever known: God’s grace in Christ unites people, promises hope, knows reconciliation, and offers a love beyond our ordinary knowledge. But the church, in all of its work, effort, and toil, is contained and being outplayed by beer and car companies at their own game.

Linda Mercadante finished her presentation with some ideas for action in the church. On the positive side of Mercadante’s research, she found that people in the United States are searching for lives that know “fullness.” The responsibility of the church, she said, was to see the opportunities and respond. Mercadante said “the church needs a new generation of apologists.” What she means is that the church needs theologically and culturally knowledgeable people to become more active in doing what Nishioka’s lament suggested: the church needs to take the bold and beautiful experience of God’s promises and reveal it to the world. The church needs to get out to the world with messages of hope, peace, love, joy, and grace. And where others in the name of the church proclaim judgement, despair, prejudice, and violence, such false messages should face the scrutiny of the church community that is living the mission of building up instead of tearing down.

The church must get out into the world in new ways to proclaim an ancient message.
It was Nishioka who pointed to one essential of what needs to be done to broaden the message of the church. We in the church must design opportunities for experiential knowledge to meet the process of developing meaning from such experiences connected to faith formation. No simple task. What we know is that this knowledge is transcendent (beyond us). It is relational (the task of interpretation is shared in the community). It is incarnational (embodied and lived out).
We must wrestle with a question that Nishioka offered: What are emerging new ways of knowing “the Lord” for the next church? It is a question our church and it’s leaders should ask regularly. It is one that will stay with me and continue to challenge me. I hope it challenges you too.

NEXT Church: What is SBNR?

A significant theme of the gathering this year was thinking differently about the church in light of what sociology is telling us about church. People are participating less or not at all at higher rates than ever before. This is not news. The news is that many people are thinking and activing differently as a result.

     The difficult part of this conversation is that there is some criticism offered for the church we know so well. It is easy to feel defensive or let down by the conversation. I don’t think we need to feel this way though because as challenging as the conversation is, listening offers some compelling possibilities to recognize new life and new ways of being the church if we are so willing.
      So what is SBNR? It is Spiritual But Not Religious. Linda Mercadante, a professor of theology, can explain. She spoke to the culture of “spiritual but not religious” concept that has become a popular way of thinking about engaging one’s faith. “Religion” as something dogmatic, self-interested, institutional, and is set aside as unessential. In its place is th “Spiritual” what is understood as open, reasonable, and more relatable to life. While her talk was not entirely surprising, she offered a lot of data to back up what many know from lived experience in the church.  Using this data, Mercadante pointed to the reality that SBNR people have not just left the church, many have stayed. Many have also become pastors.
   Mercadante found that SBNR people were diverse in age (not just young), race, and background (education, income, etc). There were few complaints about the church as community. They were not narcissitic, non-committal, theologically shallow, or against belief. So why this phenomenon? Changes in social landscape, intellectual landscape, and a cultural shift on the “locus of authority” (no longer institutions).
     Another speaker, Soong Chan Rah spoke about the changing face of Christianity. In many ways, he and Linda Mercadante’s ideas reinforced one another. He made one big, bad, bold point: diversity in the United States is not changing due to immigration, it is changing because of birth rates. We are a diverse nation with a higher rate of birth among non-white peoples (which began in 2011). So we must learn to be a diverse church. Such a large cultural shift, means people are listening to different voices that before. The church’s voice, to resonate, won’t simply be able to use one narrative in relationship to scripture, theology, and leadership. The challenge the church faces, is to mediate a wider set of narratives and metaphors that embrace a wider group of people. The church needs to be a diverse voice with diverse teachers and diverse mentors for leaders.
      In terms of the church relating to these cultural shifts, Menticante said there is little value in blaming the church. Much of the change in religious climate is out the the control of the church. Her critique of the church suggested that took many faith communities have values that don’t speak to people who they would welcome and an attiude of self-interest too often creates dissonance with the same people. If church does not express its faith and values in a ways that does not seek to connect with people, the church will not connect.  What does not speak honestly about faith without dogma, moralism, or exclusivism, will struggle to invite people to a deeper experience of faith. This seems obvious, but it is also where the church has fallen short. As a result, the cultural understanding of the spiritual task has become an individual, solo journey, which often prevents people from connecting to the resources that could offer a more developed and nuanced theology that roots a life of faith. The question she raised here was “What kind of God do [SBNR people] hear about?” Too often is one that the churches we know and trust don’t believe in either.
     So what comes next? Read the next post for what I heard as the church’s responsibility.


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