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November Pastor’s Column

Every day, I said, “How are you?” And every day, he answered, “Grateful.” He was an elderly African American man who parked cars for a living at a garage I used in Chicago. His wife had died some years before, and parking cars gave him something to do and some (very) modest income. His life had not been easy, and he didn’t have much as the world measures these things. But every day, he said, “I’m grateful.”

 

As Reformed Christians, we stress the “sovereignty” of God. We mean by this that God is first and everything else is second. God is the Source of everything that is. But God is more than an explanation of our origins. God has a specific character. First, in the story of God’s long relationship with Israel, and then in the story of Jesus, we see that God is the One whose steadfast love endures forever, and that nothing in life or in death will ever be able to separate us from God’s love. The only thing that really matters in life – namely, God’s healing and redeeming and life-giving love – is already ours. How can we not be grateful!

 

November is the season for giving thanks. We begin on November 1 by celebrating the saints. We give thanks to God for those who have gone before us in life and especially in faith. We remember loved ones who have died, and we call to mind those whom we may not know personally but who have laid the foundations for our faith. The “communion of the saints” isn’t just about remembering people from the past. It is about being “in communion” with them here and now through the love of God in which all of us – living and dead – abide.

 

November is also the season in which we express our gratitude to God by means of our commitment to support God’s work through the mission and ministry of Highland. Our pledges for financial support in 2016 will ensure that we will be able to do as a church what we believe God is calling us to do. But the primary reason we give is that it is one concrete way to express our joy and thanksgiving for all we have received.

 

Finally, November is the month of our national day of Thanksgiving. Even though it is now interrupted by a plethora of shopping opportunities, we still experience this as almost an island of peace in a fast-paced world. It is a day to rest and renew and reflect and rejoice with family and friends. For Christians, it is a day to turn once more to the God of steadfast love and make our prayer: “For all that has been, Thanks. For all that will be, Yes.”

 

Cynthia M. Campbell, Pastor

10 Minutes of Stewardship

“10 Minutes with Brett and Patricia Connally”

By Rob Fohr, Stewardship Committee member

As part of its 2015 campaign, the Stewardship Committee is engaging in conversations with church members in a variety of ways. In early September, Brett and Patricia Connally and their three children: Amelia, Charlotte, and Thomas, allowed me to ask them a few questions for the congregation to get to know them better. Brett and Patricia are very active members at Highland– Patricia serves on the Fellowship Committee, the Children’s Committee, and is Chair of the Board of the Weekday School, while Brett currently serves on the session and is Chair of the Finance Committee.

ROB: Patricia and Brett, thank you for taking some time to help Highland Presbyterian get to know you more. You both are so involved in a variety of activities at the church. How long have the two of you been at Highland, and what motivates you all to be so involved?

BRETT: I have been at Highland for five years since we moved here from Charlotte, NC. That answer will be a little different for Patricia.

PATRICIA: I’ll say “five years,” too…plus the fact that I grew up at Highland! We “shopped” around a little for churches when we first moved (back) to Louisville, but Highland just felt right.

BRETT: Highland has become our “home away from home.” For me, it is a place where I can connect with God and think deeply about my faith. It is a fantastic place for our three children.

PATRICIA: Yes, our family has really “dug in” deeply at Highland- there are so many wonderful opportunities for our children, and Brett and I volunteer in a number of ways.

BRETT: Highland is our community, and we want to do our part to make it the best it can be for all.

ROB: Our 2015 stewardship theme is inspired by communion. What connections do you all see between communion and stewardship? 

BRETT: When I think of the sacrament of communion, I think of the open table—any one is welcome. It is an entirely inclusive space, where everyone is equal before God and sharing in the same act of breaking the bread and drinking the wine (or juice, as it were). To me, that is the reason to give—to have the opportunity to get closer to God in community.

PATRICIA: Wow, that was good Brett, do you want to just answer all of our questions from here on out??!! I agree, communion helps me remember that it is important to share the table and share our gifts.

ROB: You all hosted one of the “Conversations with Cynthia” —what did you hear from the participants in that conversation about the mission of our church in the years ahead? 

PATRICIA: It was a fun event!

BRETT: There were a lot of people with young kids, so it was no surprise that there was a lot of conversation about children and youth. People also spoke a lot about the importance of community outreach.

PATRICIA: The number of young families has exploded at Highland over the last few years I think because we have OUTSTANDING children’s and youth programming.

ROB: I agree, what do you think makes it particularly outstanding?

PATRICIA: I believe it is the authenticity and thoughtfulness that Doodle brings to her work. When I had kids of my own, I started thinking more critically about my own faith journey, and I feel that my kids are so much further along in their respective faith journeys than I was at their age.

ROB: What are the components of the church’s mission that inspire you to give? 

PATRICIA: There are so many wonderful things with which Highland is involved, and we think all are very important. Because we spend so much time engaging in a variety of activities at church, we realize and appreciate that the church doesn’t run “itself.” The wonderful ministry that happens at Highland comes from a highly competent and dedicated staff as well as countless hours from volunteers, many of whom work tirelessly and often without anyone knowing they do what they do. All of that great work (even the volunteer work) takes financial resources, and we clearly understand that connection. Therefore, we feel inspired to give.

BRETT: There is no shortage of non-profits and charities that do really amazing work in our community and beyond. However, for me, what separates those organizations from Highland is that we are part of the community of Highland—and creating that community is the mission of the church that inspires me to want to support it both with my time and as well as financially. In addition, there are so few places in our lives that are truly intergenerational spaces, and for us, that is another way that Highland stands apart.

PATRICIA: I agree! There are other places that we could spend time with our kids, but there is no other place where I know they will be around so many faithful people with values that we hope to impart to our children.

ROB: Do those faithful people that you want your kids around include their grandparents, Clyde and Betsy Foshee?

PATRICIA: It certainly is a bonus that they also are at church!

ROB: Your family really embodies the church’s intergenerational experience with three generations who are all so involved!

ROB: Speaking of your children (all three of whom have been quietly, yet energetically playing with each other while their mom and dad are interviewed)… Do you credit all the time they spend around the good people of Highland with why they are so well-behaved?

PATRICIA: Haha! That probably doesn’t hurt!

BRETT: Yeah, probably. The secret to what you are observing right now (again, three young children behaving in a manner that can be described in no better way than “preciously”) is having multiple children so they can entertain each other.

ROB: Duly noted. Thank you both so much for taking the time for this interview!

10 Minutes about Stewardship

10 Minutes with Gene and Lynn Gant March

By Lee Hinson-Hasty

 

 

Lee: You are both retired teaching elders. How long have you been at Highland? What keeps you here?

Gene: Our daughters brought us to Highland in 1984. Solid preaching kept us here. Cynthia is outstanding. I get dried up and she helps fill me back up!

Lynn: Second Presbyterian was my home church. I came with Gene and my daughter (Amy Fitzgerald) and grandchildren are active. In addition to the youth ministry and worship, I stay because of the people. I find … they are genuine, biblically intelligent, theologically curious, and modest.

Gene: I also like the diversity and welcome to all… something I find Highland values. I especially love it when the kids go to the front!

Lee: Our 2015 stewardship theme is inspired by communion: “The Gifts of God for the People of God for the World.” What connections do you see between communion and stewardship?

Gene: During communion I like to see what is given to people materialize in the world. I saw that clearly when celebrating communion in Guatemala!

Lynn: [That’s true when we ask] how are we a gift of God? How should we serve? What can I do?

Gene: [That’s true for] those who have gotten personally involved with welcoming refugees, those who have been readers in elementary school, and others who become the face of God for others.

Lee: In the coming weeks session members and a few others will be hosting neighborhood “Conversations with Cynthia.” What do you think about gatherings like this about the present and future of Highland Pres.?

Lynn: I like that we get to be with other Highland members in smaller groups.

Gene: This is a marvelous idea; one I hope we do every year!

Lee: You give so much of your talent to Highland, and I suspect your treasure too! What motivates you to give?

Gene: I believe in the local church. If ministry is going to happen, it is going to happen there. I have Highland in my long term plans, my will, too.

Lynn: Everything we have… we owe it to God. It is a pay-it-forward kind of thing.

Gene: I began giving when I was in college… a little bit every week even when money was tight. I never went wanting. What I have been called to be is a good steward. I just wish I had even more resources to give!

Lynn: Gene is a cheerful giver, a mindset I would like to have. I am lavish in the giving of my time and skills without charge.

Gene: I carry two stones in my coin purse from times when I renewed my baptism. They help me remember my baptism, (that I am a child and gift of God)… because it is with my money I am most likely to betray my Lord. [Some churches] never ask for money. I don’t agree. I believe Highland needs to be challenged. Together, we have the capacity to give much more.

Lee: Thanks for sharing your time and wisdom. You both are gifts of God for the people of God at HPC and beyond!

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