Note from Pastor Rick (5/3/2017)

In spite of my head cold, I had a wonderful time at the 30th annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists last week in Raleigh, NC. The event started off with a day long discussion among some of the brightest and most articulate young voices in our group on the question of “Why Baptist?” Friday was spent with the dynamic and inspiring William Barber, Disciples pastor, President of the NAACP of North Carolina, and founder of both Moral Mondays and Repairers of the Breach. You may have heard the address he made to the Democratic Convention last summer. Showing both breadth and depth of skill, he led us in Bible Study, protest and press conference, scholarly panel and worship, all around themes of justice and the moral demands our faith tradition demands of us. Saturday’s worship was led by three outstanding Baptist voices – Christine Wiley, co-pastor of in Covenant Baptist UCC in Washington, DC on “Home”; Malkhaz Songulashvili, Metropolitan Bishop Tbilisi of the Republic of Georgia on “Partnership”; and Cody Sanders, pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA on “Justice.” The event was topped off Sunday morning when Naomi Tutu led us in Bible study and worship. Plus, I had the added joy of brunch with Daniel and Chris Pryfogle – Daniel was our retreat leader last summer – on Sunday after worship.

It was great to get away and it’s great to get home. Thanks to Pastor Gregory and UCCM Campus Minister, Geoff Browning, for leading worship and adult ed here last Sunday. This week worship will focus on the brief, but significant description of the first “church” in Acts 2. There is a treasure trove of insight in this passage on the how the church might align itself with God’s Beloved Community. Somehow that alignment never comes easy, but what joy when it happens. We will celebrate Communion and after worship hold a Quarterly Business Meeting

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to share in worship, community and the work of our congregation. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in this joyous time.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick

Note from Pastor Rick (4/26/2017)

A bad head cold is not the way to celebrate the Easter season. We had a great day on Easter Sunday (and another good day last Sunday, with Pastor Gregory preaching on resurrection,) but I woke up from my Easter Sunday nap with a sore throat and went downhill from there. I am now on the mend, enough that I will be leaving tomorrow for Raleigh, NC, where I will attend the annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists. This is the 30th anniversary of the organization. The theme is “Embracing God’s Call to Love and Justice.” Speakers will include William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and organizer of Moral Mondays, Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Naomi, and the Baptist Archbishop from the Republic of Georgia. It promises to be a great occasion. I am looking forward to connecting with old friends and colleagues, including Daniel Pryfogle and his wife, Chris, while I’m there.

This week at FBCPA, we welcome Geoff Browning, campus minister for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford. UCCM is a mission of our congregation. Pastor Gregory currently serves on their board. Geoff will preach on “Our Kairos Moment” (Leviticus 25:8-17and Luke 4:16-30) and lead Adult Spiritual Formation with an update on the work of UCCM.

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to support Geoff and the good work of UCCM. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in worship, education, and sharing.  See you next week.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

Note from Pastor Rick

I had a good, quick trip to Chicago Monday and Tuesday. I am working with an ecumenical group planning a conference for next fall celebrating the work of pioneering figures in the movement for full inclusion of lgbtqia people in the church. The conference will also focus on learning from that past was it is needed to continue the work into the future. You will hear more about it as the plans progress. This week Pastor Gregory is in Florida planning the wedding of a friend that will take place later in the fall. Next week I will be going to Florida for a few days for a spirituality retreat hosted by the Alliance of Baptists. This is a central piece of my continuing education for this year.

It’s not too late for you to get me the title of any songs you might want to sing Sunday theme for in our special “you pick musical service. The theme for September is “Opportunity Knocks.” (Our special offering is for the Opportunity Center.) Sunday’s sub-theme is “with a Song to Sing.” Key texts will be from First Chronicles 6, Psalm 150, Colossians and Revelation,

Come, make a joyful noise to God and stay for Patio Hour and a brief Quarterly Business Meeting. Speaking of Patio Hour, we only have one Sunday hosted in the next couple of months. Please let me know if you are willing to help host this important ministry of our congregation. See you Sunday at 10:00 AM for Worship and Communion.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick

Pastor calls Planned Parenthood exposé ‘journalistic distortion’

By Bob Allen

donna schaper
Donna Schaper

The pastor of a historic New York City church with Baptist ties says much of the recent brouhaha over abortion rights has to do with the fact that Planned Parenthood caters exclusively to women.

“I think it’s unfortunately a big part,” Donna Schaper, senior minister at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, said July 25 on State of Belief radio with Welton Gaddy. “We are getting closer by the minute when women will be understood as full moral agents, when women will be understood as full human beings, as opposed to people complying just to our reproductive role.”Schaper told Gaddy, pastor of Alliance of Baptists-affiliated Northminster Church in Monroe, La., that she thinks people on the Religious Right “are having a hard time dealing with women as moral agents and as adults.”

She said it is inconsistent for the Religious Right to label abortion murder while at the same time opposing limits on gun ownership.

“When I find the awful pain that the freedom to have guns has caused — Sandy Hook, Charleston, I could go on — I wonder why we aren’t joining together to say let’s regulate guns and not women’s reproductive systems,” she said. “Guns do violence. Guns do murder.”

Schaper said she believes religious hypocrisy is biggest barrier to people’s spiritual lives.

– See more at: Baptist News Global.

Advocacy in Action: Michael-Ray Mathews

Michael-Ray MathewsEven a cursory look at his schedule will reveal how seriously Alliance member Michael-Ray Mathews takes the words of James 1:22. And, if you want to talk with him about what he has done, is doing, and plans to do, your opportunity to do so will most likely take place over speakerphone while he’s on the road.

As director for the clergy organizing of PICO National Network, Michael-Ray works with religious leaders in nearly 2,000 congregations across the country to address the problems and concerns of their communities, a process which in turn vitalizes and strengthens the life of those congregations.

Read more at the Alliance of Baptists blog…

Back from Maine

Ocean at Ogunquit, ME
Ocean at Ogunquit, Maine

Thanks to Pastor Tripp and everyone else who helped cover for me while I was gone last week. I had a good trip to Maine. The annual gathering of the Alliance of Baptists was excellent. The focus was on racial and economic justice. We had outstanding leadership from Bill Kondrath, Marie Onwubuariri, Curtiss Paul DeYoung and Osagyefo Sekou as well as outstanding music, workshops and community time. The rest of the week was taken up by a board meeting of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. It was a challenging meeting but we got a lot of good work done. At the end of the week, we had a important conversation with the leadership of the ABC-USA, which holds some promise for a different future for lgbtq people in the life of our denomination. On Thursday I had a free day, which I spent in the charming seaside village of Ogunquit, ME.

Thanks to Doug for doing such a fine job with the service and his sermon. We have been blessed to have him as our intern this year. This Sunday we will continue to look at the two little letters attributed to Peter, found at the back of the New Testament. As I said a couple of weeks ago, in contrast to Paul’s sometimes chiding epistles, Peter’s seem to be an exercise in appreciative inquiry. He is out to encourage and build up small churches that are struggling to survive in the face of increasing persecution. Sunday’s focus will be on what is probably the most familiar passage from these letters, the one in which he lifts them up as a chosen people, a royal priesthood moving from the shadows into God’s redeeming light.

I hope you will all be here at 10 AM on Sunday for worship and then stay for Adult Spiritual Formation as Pastor Tripp continues the series, Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, based on the book by Philip Kenneson. This week’s focus will be “Cultivating Joy in the Midst of Manufactured Desire.”

And remember if you have questions or concerns about the revised Renewal Proposal, we want to hear from you so that we can be in conversation before the special business meeting on June 1 to vote on the Proposal. You may contact me, Carolyn, or any member of the Task Team or Council.

God grant us more light, more love, more life as we journey together.

Pastor Rick        

Baptists Urged to “Wage Peace” in Israel

13-05-22.pentecost_banner.fwFrom the Associated Baptist Press:

A Palestinian pastor told a weekend gathering sponsored by the Alliance of Baptists that theology is part of the problem in today’s Middle East.

by Bob Allen

Theology is part of the problem of instability in the Middle East but can be part of the solution, a Palestinian theologian said Nov. 9 at a conference titled “Waging Peace in Palestine and Israel” sponsored by the Alliance of Baptists.

…In 2009, Raheb returned to theology with a group of other Christian leaders that published Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth declaring Israel’s military occupation of the land “a sin against God and humanity” and countering Christians who defend it by quoting Scripture.

“Unfortunately, theology is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” Raheb said Saturday. “While the international community keeps sending Israel all these hardware toys for free, the seminaries and the theologians are providing the software for occupation to continue.”

Read more at Associated Baptist Press