My apologies for a late midweek this week. I have a friend visiting from China and have been showing him some of the sights. Fortunately, we have had a couple of lovely days for exploring.
This week takes us further into John’s gospel as we consider what I like to call “The Trial of One Born Blind.” It is another of those long, complicated stories that the writer of John tells to give us insight into both Jesus’ ministry and his teaching. The miracles mean something and it is the meaning that seems much more important to Jesus than the acts themselves. Even after 2000 years, are we any more likely than the first disciples not only to see Jesus’ signs but also to grasp their significance for his project of building up God’s Beloved Community? Though a poor, blind beggar, John’s witness comes off with more understanding and cleverness than the religious experts who interrogate him. Would that we might have such a clear view of Jesus and what he was about.
In Adult Spiritual Formation, I am delighted that our guest will be Lisa Olson, the Development Director for the “10 Books a Home” program. If you remember, this year ’special offering for January, sponsored by our kids, was for this organization. We are eager to have Lisa share more with us about the program’s structure and goals as well as its volunteer opportunities. Everyone is invited to come hear more about, “10 Books a Home.”
So, see you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School, and Adult Spiritual Formation. Invite someone to share the time with you.
Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so. Pastor Rick
I recently received a request from a staff member of our Bereavement Services that one of the Intensive Care Unit social workers brought to her attention hoping we could help. The ICU social worker is aware that when a child dies at the hospital, often the parents, desiring to dress their child in nice clothing, will run across the street to the mall to try to purchase a new outfit in which to dress their child. Some clothing is kept on the unit for that purpose but the supply is evidently dwindling and the hope is for the clothing to be replenished.
Thank you for considering, Diana
The Rev. Diana Brady, M.Div., BCC Director of Chaplaincy Services
The Charles L. Dostal, Jr. Endowed Chaplain
ABHMS Children in Poverty grant-recipient church operates successful feeding ministry
Heritage Baptist Church, Annapolis, Md., has been nourishing children and families with healthy food through its “Blessings in a Backpack” ministry since 2009. And American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has been happy to play a part by supporting the ministry though a Justice for Children Initiative Children in Poverty (CiP) grant.
“When I visited Heritage Baptist, volunteers showed me a pantry well-stocked with packaged goods and boxes of fresh fruit ready for weekly distribution to 75 children at two elementary schools,” says the Rev. Lisa Harris Lee, ABHMS national coordinator of the Justice for Children Initiative.
Lee points out that, as with most other grant recipients, Heritage Baptist has found that the number of children participating in its program has grown yearly.
“The number of children in need of support keeps increasing,” she says.
What do we most want our kids to gain from their involvement at First Baptist Church of Palo Alto? This is the question we began with when the parents of our children and youth joined Carolyn Shepard and me for a conversation after worship on October 12. Our discussion included a lot of affirmation for our current programming for children and youth, as well as some great suggestions for future directions we might pursue.
Parents expressed appreciation for the ways in which our Sunday school program helps to ground our children and youth in the primary stories, beliefs, and practice of our faith. For many parents, this was central to what they most want for their kids. We also celebrated the strong relationships that exist among our kids, the degree to which they enjoy being together, and the valuable cross-generational connections between youth and adults in our congregation. Appreciation was expressed for the ways Elizabeth Ramirez makes effective use of Bible stories and hands-on projects in working with our younger children, and for how the discussion based format used with our older youth exposes them to different opinions and understandings of critical faith questions.
Our conversations pointed to several ideas about how our Sunday schedule for youth might be adjusted. It was suggested that having the older youth remain in worship for the entire service on Communion Sundays would both strengthen their connections
with the larger congregation and involve them more fully in the overall worship life of the church. On other Sundays, it was suggested that both children and youth leave for Sunday school a bit earlier in the service (immediately after the special music) to allow a bit more lesson time. These suggestions were later shared with Pastor Rick and the church council, and will be tested out over the next several months.
I also shared materials from the Echo the Story curriculum we’ll be using for the next few months with our older youth. This month, I will be looking for a curriculum for our younger kids that might guide for teaching our younger children. I remain deeply grateful for the ways in which the nurture of our children and youth in the faith is a task that’s taken seriously not just by the parents of our kids but by our entire congregation here in Palo Alto.
Doug Davidson, Minister with Children, Youth and Families
I am in the process distributing the soccer balls now.
Due to church politics, which means collaborating with the Congolese leadership, it has taken awhile to begin the distribution process. We have churches scattered out all over the countryside and I have not been able to get to many places.
We did have some of the pastors come in for meetings, so some have gone out with them. Other soccer balls were distributed by air in my amazing flying machine.
Of the 60 , I have distributed so far to twenty villages.
As soon as I put the request in for a project, I went ahead and ordered the soccer balls. I paid for them personally, and then asked for reimbursement after the funds were sent to BIM.
I will see how good our connection is today so that I can attach some photos for you.
Thanks for your support of the Congolese children !
Sincerely, Glen and Rita
The photos are of the local kids gathering their food; caterpillars, crickets, mushrooms, and a local spiney fruit. They consider themselves blessed to have such free food from the forest!
I’m delighted to be spending this summer working with our children, youth, and families here at First Baptist Church of Palo Alto. The older youth and I have already spent some time brainstorming possibilities for some fun events this summer. We’ve talked about movie nights, going to see a pro baseball or soccer game, visiting the zoo, and maybe an overnight lock‐in at the church. In the next week or two we’ll make some concrete plans, hoping we can arrange a few events that will fit into the busy schedules of our young people.
On Sunday mornings in July, the youth and I will be working through a few sessions of the re:form DVD series, focusing first on a series of conversations about the nature of the Bible. The questions we’ll be talking about will echo many of the same issues discussed in the adult spiritual formation sessions led by Corinna Guerrero in June.
As I mentioned in worship a few weeks ago, we are celebrating the reports we’ve received from ABC missionary Glen Chapman about his distribution of 60 soccer balls to youth and communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You will recall that our youth helped the church raise more than $900 in a special offering earlier this year to fund this effort.
Amid the “World Cup fever” that has captivated so many people this summer, it is wonderful to see the soccer connection made between our youth and other kids on the opposite side of the globe. I’m including a few of the pictures that Glen sent, but you really owe it to yourself to go on the Web and view the video of the powered parachute (PPC) that Glen has used to distribute the soccer balls and in his other missionary travels. You can find it by going to Glen’s page on the ABC‐USA’s International Ministries website or at this link: http://www.internationalministries.org/read/28124‐2‐years‐of‐flying‐the‐ppc‐in‐congo
I continue to be excited about the good things going on at First Baptist Church, especially among the great group of young people here. I wish each of you a peaceful and joyous summer.
We have had a lively autumn together. Focusing on our fellowship and worship, weʹve met for potlucks, to dance, to sing, to share our experiences of worship as a spiritual practice. Some of us have spoken about long‐standing traditions or about the memories we have of traditions that have been abandoned.
We have prayed together. We have wondered together. Itʹs been a full season. The children have been equally active. We have spend our Sundays learning about other religions such as Hinduism and Islam. We have watched video and listened to music. Weʹve shared what weʹve all learned in school about the world and asked questions about our own religious tradition. It has been a full season.
Of course, the season isnʹt over yet. As I write this, Dr. Jennifer Davidson continues her leadership of our congregation as we explore together various ways we might deepen and expand our worship life. Weʹll write our own liturgies. Weʹll find ways of praying together that may surprise even the most experienced of us. As we continue this exploration, please hold the church in your prayers. Meet together. Share a meal. Break bread. Pray together.
November will bring First Friday and the Gratitude Potluck. The youth of the congregation will meet and learn more about what it means to be a community called to pray for the world. Then all are invited to gather on Friday, November
16 at 6:00pm in the fellowship hall for the Gratitude Potluck. Weʹll dine together and celebrate the ministry to which God has called all of us to serve this corner of the world. After the Thanksgiving holiday, weʹll move together into Advent, that time of year where we open our imaginations to the God being born in the world, Immanuel. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!