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  • Jewish/Christian Time Management”(Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Ephesians 5:15-20)

    Back in 1996 the musical “Rent” opened on Broadway. It turned out to be a monster hit that stayed on Broadway for 12 years. It opens with what became the biggest hit song to come out of that musical called “Seasons of Love”, where the composer of that song finds out how many minutes there are in a year and incorporates that into the song, and then asks the question “How do you measure a year?”, which translates into my mind as “How do you know when you have lived those minutes well?” The song proposes various ideas and then the playwright and composer, Jonathan Larson, who grew up in a Jewish home, lands on the very Jewish idea that the best use of those minutes is to love. As you know, it’s also a very Christian idea. I bet you know the song. It starts like this: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear. five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. How do you measure, Measure a year? The great tragedy of the musical “Rent” was that Jonathan Larson died before he could see his own play open on Broadway. He saw the dress rehearsal the night before and then died shortly thereafter of a ruptured aorta. His premature death illustrates the point he was making in the song, which is that we have limited time on earth and that we would do well to spend that time in love before its too late and we don’t have another chance. I remember hearing the song sung for the first time, and what struck me was that there, in the public square, at the heart of Broadway, the center of the American art world, they were dealing publicly with what I regard as a deeply religious issue and a deeply human issue: the stewardship of time, how best to manage the limited time we have been given. Psalm 90 teaches us to count our days, while Jonathan Larson helps us count the minutes Today we look at God’s gift of time: the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years we receive from God. The amount of time we receive varies greatly between us. God never says how much time each of us will receive, and the challenge for us as Christian stewards of our time is to be the best stewards of our time, not knowing exactly how much time we have. There are two scriptures that give us major guidance about the stewardship of time. The most important one is from the Hebrew law, “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy” and one from the apostle Paul, where he says in Ephesians “make the most of the time.” First, the Sabbath. Sabbath is the English translation of the Hebrew word “Shabbat”, meaning stop or cease or desist. In my active imagination I like to think of Sabbath as God once a week lowering down from heaven a stop sign in front of each of our faces. The fourth commandment is God saying to the Israelites, and now to us by the Spirit: one day a week stop, stop working, stop what you usually do the other six days a week, and make sure that not just you but your whole family has a Sabbath, and all of your animals, and all your employees, and even the non-Israelites among you, the immigrants and the refugees. Make sure everyone has a Sabbath, not just you. Sabbath is God’s gift for everyone in the world. The reason given for the Sabbath in the first presentation of the ten commandments in Exodus 20 is the Genesis creation story that tells us God created all that there is over six days and rested the seventh day. If God, our creator, takes a Sabbath, so should we, since we are all made in the image of God. In the second presentation of the ten commandments in Deuteronomy 5, the reason given for the Sabbath was the Exodus story that says the Israelites spent 400 years in Egyptian slavery without a day off, and that was no kind of life. Taking a Sabbath reminds us that we are not slaves to anyone or anything on earth, but people who have been liberated by God for a new kind of life. Devout Jews have been remarkably committed to keeping the Sabbath ever since Moses presented the ten commandments to the Israelites during their interim/transitional time in the Sinai, and right up to the present day. Keeping the sabbath is for a Jew a practical expression of one’s love for God. Sabbath-keeping is an integral part of Jewish identity. When you talk to devout Jewish people or read books or articles on Jewish practice of the Sabbath, you learn that Jewish families often mark the start of Sabbath with a Sabbath prayer and by lighting a candle in their home at sunset on Friday night and keeping it burning until sunset on Saturday, when it is extinguished with a Sabbath-ending prayer. During that 24 hours of Sabbath, devout Jews often attend worship together at the synagogue or temple, invite friends and family over to their homes to enjoy a pre-prepared meal, adults talk, children play games, older people take naps, couples make love, families go out into nature. Their weeks are divided into three parts: three days looking forward to Sabbath, one day keeping the Sabbath and three days reflecting back on how wonderful it was. For Jews who believe in an afterlife, sabbath is a weekly preview of the Paradise to come. Christians over the years have had divided opinions over what to do about Sabbath. Some say we need to take it as seriously as our Jewish neighbors. It is, after all, one of the ten commandments. It is given by the same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Others see it as an ancient relic of our Jewish heritage that is no longer applicable under the new covenant of Christ, a law usurped by the gospel, except as a day for coming to church and worshiping. And yet we live in a time when so many of us complain about how busy we are, and complain about how little time we have to do the things we think are most important. Could it be that Sabbath in our day is God’s answer to our modern-day complaints about the scarcity of time? Jesus once said to religious leaders of his time who accused him of breaking the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath.” Which is to say that Sabbath is God’s gift to us, not another institution we serve and become enslaved to. Why would we turn down a divine gift? As Presbyterians, you might be interested to know that the great church reformer, John Calvin, our spiritual forefather as Presbyterians, believed in keeping Sabbath. Once his preaching and pastoring duties had concluded on Sunday, he was known to go out in the streets of Geneva, Switzerland in the afternoon and sit down in the streets with the kids and play a game with them that was called at the time “Skittles.” I must confess that I did not take Sabbath seriously until my last year in seminary. My early religious education didn’t have much to say about it. When I got into seminary, I had so much work to do in seminary that I couldn’t get it done in 7 days, let alone six days. But one day I went to church and heard a really good sermon on keeping the Sabbath, and came home resolved to keep it, whatever the cost. And I found out through practical experience that I could do it. One day of rest and renewal, I found, made me a lot more efficient with my time on the other six days of the week. Sabbath is not primarily about making us more efficient in the world; I am just telling you that it had that practical benefit for me As your interim pastor, I would encourage you to take a weekly Sabbath. One day a week stop doing what you do five or six days a week, and do the things you don’t get to do the other six days. On your Sabbath, do those things that renew your relationship with God and with others, and rest and renew and restore yourself. Consider turning off all your electronics for a day. Sunday is an obvious potential Sabbath for many of us, but it doesn’t have to be—it’s a work day for me. Sabbath, in my view, can be any day, really, and it need not be a continuous 24 hour period, but could be broken up into six or 12-hour segments. The culture in which we live, and the work schedule imposed on some of us, I think, demands a certain flexibility when it comes to keeping Sabbath. And since Jesus reminds us that Sabbath is a gift, not a burdensome and unhappy religious obligation, we are free, as he was free in his time, to determine how best to receive and enjoy that divine gift. Sometimes retired people have asked me how best to keep a sabbath when every day of retirement seems like a Sabbath to them. My advice is figure out what you do six days a week, and one day a week don’t do any of those things. Do something different, something that will renew your relationship with God and with others, and will restore and renew yourself. To you who still have children at home, I will tell you from personal experience that keeping the sabbath will be different for you compared to what it is when you are an empty nester. I remember that when we had children at home, we called our Friday sabbath, “our special day”, and gave our children our full attention for the day, and took them out to do mostly fun free things that would be of interest to them. All grown up and married and living apart from us now, they both still fondly remember those special days. Ultimately, a willingness to keep Sabbath comes from a deep faith in God, a faith that knows that God runs the world, not us, which frees us up to let go one day a week and know beyond doubt that the world will be just fine without us. Now let’s switch over to the apostle Paul, and his guidance about our stewardship of time. Paul writes, “make the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but know what the will of God is. Do not” I take this as guidance from pastor Paul on what to do with your time the other six days a week. The message from Paul is that there is work to do in the world. There is evil to be overcome, and the will of God to carry out. We learn from Jesus Christ that it is the work of love that overcomes evil in the world, and we learn from Christ that the will of God is to love God with all one’s being and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. “Making the most of the time” means, then, being busy about the work of love. As I understand the sabbath, one day a week it is perfectly OK with God if we want to waste or squander that day. It’s perfectly OK if we want to day dream all day. It’s perfectly OK to lay in bed all day if you want to. It’s perfectly OK on the sabbath not to be productive, to not accomplish anything. On the Sabbath, you don’t owe anyone anything. Like Jesus, you may choose on the Sabbath to be engaged in the feeding or healing of people, but you’re not obligated to do so. Sabbath is mostly a day for stopping, resting, renewing, refreshing. But the other six days a week is another story. There is the work of love to be carried out in the world, and we are called by God, as Jesus was in his earthly life in the flesh, to pursue that work. Wasting those days is unthinkable for people of faith. Don’t get drunk with wine, Paul says. Drinking to the point of drunkenness, and sitting around all day in a drunken stupor, is unacceptable stewardship of your time in the Lord’s eyes. It is a waste of your God-given time, and it is living in denial of the great amount of human need that the work of evil has left behind. Rather, six days a week, go to work to love God, worshiping God, thanking God, praising God, serving God. Go to work to love and support and provide for your spouse and family and yourself. Go to work to love your church and your church family in the particular ways they need. Go to work to love those in your community, meeting them at their point of need. Go to work to love the poor by making sure they have the essentials of life. Go to work to love your neighbors and friends, putting their needs on par with your own. Go to work to love your enemies like Jesus did and taught, doing good to those who hate you, blessing those who curse you, praying for those who abuse you. How can we be good stewards, faithful managers of God’s gift of time? According to the scriptures, take one day a week to stop, rest, renew, restore. On the other six days a week make the most of the time, by going out to do the work of love, which puts us right back at the beginning: Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes How do you measure, measure a year? (and then the song asks) How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love. (Share love, give love, spread love) Measure in love, (Measure, measure your life in love)

  • “The Interdependent Church Family” (I Corinthians 12:1-31)

    I once took a church youth group on an activity called a “ropes course.” A ropes course, for those of you who don’t know, is a series of group challenges, usually out in the woods, where individuals in a group have to work together to get the whole group from point A to point B, while overcoming obstacles along the way. It’s a mental and physical challenge for a group that is really about team building. It helps bond the members of a group into a cohesive unit as they think and work together. Ropes course is something of a misnomer, in that not all the challenges involve ropes. The group I was with went through a series of warm-up challenges, none of which lasted more than 15 minutes, and they accomplished each of them without too much trouble. The last challenge was very different. This time they had to get the entire group of 15 to walk the length of a two-inch wide, 50-foot long balance beam. The balance beam began two feet off the ground, angled up and then to the right and then to the right again, plateaued at 4 feet off the ground and then angled back down again toward the ground. The rule was that the whole group had to stay connected the whole time, and the whole group had to walk the entire balance beam without anyone falling off. If someone did fall off, the entire group had to get off the beam, go back to the beginning and start all over again. The guide that day told us chaperones in a nice way to shut up and to stay out of it and not intervene or try to rescue in any way, no matter how frustrated the group might become. The guide assured us that in time they would figure it out without us, and they needed to figure it out apart from us. So I sat and watched the group struggle for an hour to get everyone the length of the balance beam without falling off. So picture, if you will, 15 youth all up on the balance beam, all lined up in a row, all holding hands, all trying to keep their own balance while helping others to keep theirs. I watched them for an hour try and fall off and try again and fall off again and get frustrated and try again and get tired and fall off again and try again. And as I watched I got a vision of what the church was meant to be, with all of its particular people and talents, and the vision was much like Paul’s vision that we read about in I Corinthians 12, where Paul sees the church as a human body, with each member being a unique part of the body, each playing their part, and each contributing to the health of the whole. I noticed immediately that in the youth group, natural leaders rose up. Certain members of the youth group just naturally took the lead, commanded attention, tried particular ideas, organized the group in certain ways. And there were others who were naturally content to be led and be more of a support people for the group. I noticed that some in the youth group were natural encouragers of others. They gave the group new energy and spurred them on. They wouldn’t let the group stop trying, but when the group got discouraged, mad, tired, and wanted to sit down, the encouragers would say, “OK, let’s go guys. Don’t quit. Keep trying. Let’s go back and try it all again.” And I could see the group responds to their encouragement. I noticed that some in the youth group were idea generators. When the group would try a particular strategy and fail, the idea generators were quick to suggest other approaches. They would say, “Let’s try alternating boy/girl/boy/girl.” And when that didn’t work, they’d say, “Let’s try alternating bigger people and smaller people.” And when that didn’t work they’d say, “Let’s alternate people facing one direction and others the opposite direction.” Or “let’s try putting our arms around each other’s waist or shoulders.” Or “let’s try this order of people.” The idea generators were always offering new options and possibilities. Then there were those in the group who were really good at being first in line, or at the end, or in the middle. When the group tried to put them in another place, they fell off. Some just naturally knew where their best place was, while others needed to be told where their place was. There were those youth who were particularly skilled at using their bodies. They were athletic, well balanced, and provided good anchors for the more wobbly. Others were better with their minds, thinking thoroughly through problems and challenges.

  • Giving Ourselves First to the Lord (Malachi 3:6-12; II Corinthians 8:1-15)

    You are about to become the recipient of my 34th annual stewardship of money sermon. I talk forthrightly about money to all the churches I pastor once a year because I believe that what we do or don’t do with our money is such a tell-tale sign of where we are in our relationship with God and with one another. Our money habits tell us if we are living by our faith in God or living out of fear or whether we are somewhere in-between, or whether we are living in a way that acknowledges God’s grace toward us or are oblivious to it, or whether God is our God or money is our god. If you want to know what you really believe in life, look at your checkbook and your daytimer. Those two things tell the story and do not lie to us. What you and I do with our money and our time says more about what we really believe and consider important than anything else. I am glad to have the apostle Paul with us this morning as we talk about money. As a pastor myself, I find it so interesting to see how Pastor Paul talked to the church at Corinth about money, which gives us a framework for talking about it ourselves. As far as we can piece together, Paul was taking up a collection from all of his churches to aid the poor Jewish Christians at the church in Jerusalem, who were going through some kind of crisis, probably one of the periodic famines that would hit the area. The church at Corinth had apparently made a pledge to participate in the collection, but they hadn’t fulfilled their pledge completely. So II Corinthians 8 is Paul trying to give them good reasons to fulfill that pledge. He’s inspiring and motivating them to actually give what they have pledged. Reminds me of the story of the pastor who said one Sunday to his congregation, “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that the Lord has come through for this church in a big way and provided everything we need for next year’s budget.” This brought people to their feet clapping and yelling and high-fiving each other and slapping each other on the back. When they all settled down and everything got quiet again, the pastor said, “Now the bad news. All that money the Lord provided for next year’s budget, which was on its way to the church, for some reason or another got stuck in all of your pockets. This morning we’ve got to work together to try to jostle it loose!” Paul is trying to jostle loose the money the Corinthian church had pledged. Paul begins by telling them about the churches to the north of them in Macedonia, which would include the church at Philippi, to whom Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians. Those churches had come through for the collection in a spectacular way, even though they were economically in much worse shape than the Corinthians. The Macedonian Christians, Paul says, in spite of their poverty, had come through with a wealth of generosity, giving according to their means and even beyond their means, even begging Paul for the opportunity to share in the collection. Paul explains that they were able to do this because they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to Paul and his fellow church workers and the collection. It seemed almost like they had something akin to Jesus’ Garden of Gethsemene experience where they submitted themselves and their money and things first to the will of God, even if it conflicted with their own will. Once they gave themselves first to the Lord, they felt like the Lord was directing them to participate generously in Paul’s collection. So how we should we read this? Is this Paul’s idea of peer pressure? Is he using one group of churches to inspire another, or to shame another into action? Paul is no doubt setting up a comparison of some kind. Years ago I was with a group of 600 Presbyterian pastors at a national Presbyterian clergy retreat at the well known Snowbird Ski area and conference center near Salt Lake City Utah, where one of the speakers was Baptist preacher and college professor, Tony Campolo, who is entertaining and funny and serious, and something of a loose cannon. The planners of the retreat had come up with a particular theme for the retreat, but Tony decided we needed to be challenged more in the area of stewardship. He told us he had just received the previous week some statistics that showed that Presbyterians had the highest income per capita of all the Christian denominations in the United States, but they were among the lowest in giving to their churches when you look at giving as a percentage of income. Presbyterians, he reported to us, give to their churches an average of just 2 and ½% of their annual income. That information inspired him, he told us, to take the old time hymn “I Surrender All” and rewrite the lyrics to update it and make it more relevant to modern-day Presbyterians for this retreat. Then he said, “Now I am going to sing for you that rewritten hymn.” So picture if you will this huge auditorium, where 600 Presbyterian pastors are sitting listening to a Baptist preacher sing to them. Here is what I heard Tony sing that day: 2 and ½ percent to Jesus I surrender, 2 and ½ percent I freely give. I surrender 2 and ½ percent. I surrender 2 and ½ percent. 2 and ½ percent to Jesus I surrender. I surrender 2 and ½% Then he said, “Now help me here. Where are you Presbyterians getting this 2 and ½% business? Baptists and Presbyterians disagree on some things, but I think we all still read the same Bible, and the Bible I’ve read says nothing about 2 and ½%. It mentions 10% a number of times. It even talks about people who went above and beyond 10%, giving extravagantly. Zacchaeus gave 50%. Barnabas sold a property and gave 100% of the proceeds to the church. Mary gave up a whole year’s salary to anoint the feet of Jesus. All the disciples gave up 100% to follow Jesus. Tony was so serious and funny at the same time that I wasn’t sure at the time exactly how to take him. He might have been inspiring us and shaming us at the same time. But he did make us think that day about our own giving and whether our level of giving was something consistent with the Lord who is at the center of our faith, who though he was rich became poor for our sakes. He made us wonder whether our level of giving was consistent with the giving of the great cloud of witnesses who have lived the Christian life before us. He made us wonder whether our level of giving was consistent with people who had given themselves first to the Lord, like the churches in Macedonia. He made us wonder if we were being Biblical in our approach to giving, or just sort of making it up as we go. 2 and ½ percent. In those churches where I have had access to the full data, giving has been in that same range. And my observation is that level of giving has become comfortable for Presbyterians around the country. But that level of giving, I’ve also noticed, keeps Presbyterian churches chronically underfunded. I’ve worked with too many Finance Committees over the years who have to figure out what to cut from the church budget each year because their own members' giving leave them so strapped for cash. It gets discouraging and depressing. The churches I am in these days often want to know where they fall in comparison. In case you are wondering, Holy Cow Consulting said last year that the average giving in this church is 1 3/4% of income, which could be skewed by the fact that 300 people on the active church roll have given nothing to this church in at least the last two years. We Presbyterian Christians see our giving as a private decision we make apart from others, but be reminded that your private giving decisions have very public consequences for the church. I’d love to have at least one church sometime where all the programs the church feels called to provide are fully funded. I’d love to have a church that I could take on the road with me and brag about its generosity, just liked the apostle Paul bragged about the churches of Macedonia. The churches of Macedonia, Paul says, gave so generously in spite of their poverty because they gave themselves first to the Lord. Have you ever gone to the Lord in prayer and said, “Lord, my life, my money, my things, my talents, my time—they’re not really mine, all of these you gave to me, they belong to you, and now I give back to you what has been yours from the beginning. Now Lord, I’ve got my own ideas about what I want to do with them, but show me what you want me to do with all of them because I know that those things would be better.” That's what it means to give yourself first to the Lord. Then Paul gives a second reason to give. He writes, “I want you to excel at everything. You already excel at so much. Add generosity to all the things you already excel at.” I feel that way about Central Pres. You do so many things well. But unless all those things are undergirded by a spirit of generosity among all the members, unless everyone is fully invested in this church, including financially, you risk not doing all those other things so well in the years ahead. Churches, in order to thrive, need to be hitting on all cylinders, including generous giving. As Paul says, as you excel at other things, excel also in giving. Paul’s third reason for wanting them to give is that he is testing the genuineness of their love, and Paul wants them to pass the love test. Love was defined by Jesus Christ, Paul reminds us, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich. In other words, love, as defined by Jesus Christ, is about divesting yourself of what you have, giving yourself and your things away for others, sharing your abundance with others. Paul called it Christ’s generous act. In our scripture this morning, the apostle Paul uses the Greek word “Charis” five different times. Charis means grace or the free gift, something we do not work for or earn or compete for. It is just given to us. I love the story of the businessman from New York who drives south on business for the first time. He sees a billboard for a restaurant advertising authentic southern cooking. He wants to immerse himself in the culture so he pulls off and goes in and orders several items off an ala carte menu. When he gets his plate, he identifies everything he's ordered except one thing, and so he asks the waitress, "What's this white grainy gloppy stuff on my plate?" And she says, "That's grits." And he says, "Grits? I didn't order any grits." And she says, "Oh, well, you don't order it, it just comes." Well, there's a great definition for God's grace: you don't order it, it just comes. Paul uses the Greek word Charis to refer both to the grace we have received in Christ, and the grace we give to others as a faithful response to the grace we have received from Christ. The grace, or free gift, that was given to us was Jesus Christ, and when we finally realize how great the grace that was given to us in Christ, we become grace to others, we give ourselves and our things away to others because Christ gave himself away for us. We give generously when we catch the vision of a world imbued with God’s grace in Christ. I have a feeling that the churches of Macedonia were able to give so generously because they had caught the vision of the grace-filled world Christ had introduced and had become in faithful response the embodiment of God’s grace to the church in Jerusalem. So when Paul says that he is testing the genuineness of their faith, he is trying to find out if they have yet learned to love like Christ, which means divesting oneself and one’s things for the benefit of others. The fourth and final reason Paul offers as to why they should give has to do with his understanding of what the new life in Christ teaches us to do whenever we end up with an abundance of money. When we experience abundance Paul understands through Christ that it is meant for sharing. In our American experience whenever we enjoy an abundance of money, we feel a cultural pressure to expand our lifestyle. Paul sees abundance through the lens of Christ as an opportunity to share. With the churches of Macedonia, we ask you to give yourself first to the Lord and then to the church. With Paul we want you to catch the vision of the grace-filled world introduced by Christ. We ask you to excel at generosity as much as you excel at so many things as a church. We ask that you give at a level that expresses the genuineness of your love for Christ and the church. We ask that you give at a level worthy of your high calling in Jesus Christ, who showed us how to live this earthly life when he who was rich became poor so that all of us might be rich. We ask that you share your abundance with your church this year. You have all kinds of causes you can give to and you do. I do, too. At this time in my life, I, too, am accumulating churches and others worthy causes to give to. I ask that you favor Central Pres church in your giving this year, not because other causes are less worthy, but because you as a church will be starting a new chapter together with a new installed senior pastor new church staff. The Lord is doing a new thing among you. Now undergird that newness with a new generosity in your giving. Fully fund the new thing that is happening so that all this newness has a chance to really take root and remake this church according to what the Lord intends for it. I am asking those of you who have gotten in the habit of giving little or nothing to the church to start giving to the church according to your means, as Paul puts it. And I am asking those of you who have been so faithful in your giving all along to consider stepping up your giving this year. If you are invested in the stock market, remember that you are having yet another big banner year. How much should you give to the church this year? The answer will be different for every one of you. But I think the apostle Paul has just the right approach: give yourselves first to the Lord, just like the churches of Macedonia, and then give to Central Pres what you sense the Lord is calling you to give. And as Presbyterian Christians let us remember especially the challenging words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

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  • Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) | Central Presbyterian

    Pastor Nominating Committee PNC Update 12-5-21 Good Morning! A lot has happened in the 2 months since I last reported to you! We’ve received and evaluated 5 PIF’s in the CLC system. We’ve had 6 meetings. In addition, we’ve had 2 Zoom interviews with candidates that each lasted 1.5 to 2 hrs. We’ve had an In-Person interview that lasted well over 4 hours. We have now received and prayerfully evaluated from 25 states along with Canada and South Africa. The most have come from Florida and Illinois. S C is toward the bottom of the list. I guess that means everyone in SC is happy with their call, but that also means we are dealing with longer distances for in-person interviews and visits! We continue to receive PIF’s and will have new matching PIF’s to start evaluating next week. The most frequent comment we hear from the congregation is “Why is it taking so long?” You’ve heard me talk about the delays in gathering data for our MIF due to Covid, but I’d like to mention several other significant reasons: The process itself is time consuming. The First Step is receiving and evaluating the Pastor Information Forms or PIF’s . The PIF’s provide: The usual Contact information and where they are located, We pay a lot of attention to their education history and level since we are looking for someone with a doctorate from seminary. We also look at their continuing education to see if they stay current. Church employment history tells us where they have served, and their experience indicates if they can be effective in a church the size of Central. We also check dates of service to see if they job hop, or if there are negative trends such as big membership drops. They list their Leadership competencies, and outside services to the church and community such as Presbytery committees, ministerial associations, non-profits, etc. Then they answer Open ended questions that tell us a lot about their ministry such as successes, areas of growth, the ministry setting they are being led to, when they have led change, and their faith statement. If the entire PNC feels good about the candidate, we go to the second step which is reviewing sermons and worship services online. Are their sermons engaging? Do they use scripture, and make it relevant to everyday life situations? Are they well read, referencing various theologians? Do the sermons flow well with a clear message and an easy-to-understand point? Do they use humor, illustrations, or stories? How well do they interact with the congregation both on and off-script? Was the length appropriate? As before, if we all feel good, we go to the third step which is interviewing. In the first interview, which has been by zoom so far, we are getting to know each other. We introduce ourselves and take turns asking them questions about: Personal history, what led them into the ministry. What is leading them away from their current call, and what attracts them to Central? We ask Questions on subjects such as Leadership, Community outreach, sermon preparation, and Pastoral care, along with their outside hobbies and interests that recharge their batteries. We then give them time to ask us questions about Central. If the committee decides to go to the next levels of interviews, we prefer to be in-person. Here we begin asking more in-depth questions, being completely transparent with each other, beginning the work to determine if they are a FIT for Central, and we are a FIT for them. We are entering into this area of the process one of our candidates right now. We are in the process of scheduling an in-person interview, possibly during December, but with the holidays, probably in January. This brings me to the last and very important reason for taking so long. Central needs more time to grieve the loss of David Bailey! That concern came up when we interviewed our staff early on. That concern appeared in the Holy Cow survey when the congregation said there was high anxiety about David Bailey leaving. And recently, several candidates have voiced this concern and questioned “Is Central ready for a New Pastor after having a beloved pastor leave after 23 years?” They stressed that they did not want to be an “unintentional interim.” They want to come into a church that is fully prepared to embrace a new pastor with different skills and gifts. It usually takes a year or so for an interim like David Garnett to prepare a congregation for the transition to a new pastor. Even though the PNC has been working for 16 months, it’s only been 5 months since David Bailey retired and 3 months since David Garnett arrived here! The PNC is not slowing down as you can tell from the earlier part of my report, but we have realized that we as a church, need more time! David Garnett’s excellent skills and his proven experience in leading other churches through this transition will give the PNC time to be deliberate in our search, and the church more time to heal. His leadership gives us the time needed to make sure that we find the pastor that is the right FIT for Central, and Central is the right FIT for that Pastor! God has already called that shepherd for us, and He will reveal who it is at the perfect time! Please keep us in your prayers as we continue in our search! Thank you! PNC Update 9-19-21 We would like to give you an update on the progress of the PNC. Before I get started though, on behalf of the PNC, I would like to thank the Interim Search Committee for the great job they did in bringing David Garnett to Central as our interim pastor. His excellent messages have been informative, encouraging and reassuring to the congregation, and to the PNC, that the search process is working, and in a normal timeframe. We have been meeting now for a little over 13 months. Essentially, weekly for the first 6 months, until we got our Ministry Information Form or MIF into the PC(USA) CLC system, and averaging twice a month since then. ​ With no in-person worship services or large gatherings during our first 8 months, it was difficult and challenging for us to gather the information needed from you to create our MIF, and our separate Mission Study that tells the story of Central, of Anderson, and Central’s contributions to the community. We are still receiving Pastor Information Forms or PIF’s from the CLC system. To date we have received and prayerfully evaluated over 60 PIFs. Needless to say, we have been watching a lot of sermons on YouTube! Most of the 60+ PIF’s are candidates in the CLC system whose information closely matches what we are looking for as described in our MIF. Some are self-referred, meaning, after reading our MIF, they apply directly to us, through the CLC system. Recently, we have received several suggestions of potential candidates who are NOT actively looking for a call. So far, we have received one recommendation from our contacts with the seminary alumni offices. We have received and evaluated PIF’s from 24 different states, along with Canada and South Africa. We have had multiple interviews with several candidates, either by Zoom or in-person, and have 2 additional candidates to interview this month. As I mentioned earlier, we are still receiving PIF’s. The Presbytery ran matches for us from the CLC system last week. They do this at our request every 4 – 6 weeks. If you personally know of someone that might be interested, please let one of the PNC members know. God has already picked our next shepherd for Central. We covet your prayers for guidance from the Holy Spirit: for the PNC, as we discern who it is that God has chosen, for the one that GOD has chosen, that they realize and accept the call, and for us as a congregation, that when it happens, we support and embrace them with open arms! Thank You!! PNC Update 7-31-21 Greetings from your PNC! We hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. It was certainly with mixed emotions that we bid farewell to David Bailey and celebrated his retirement with a packed worship service and a joyous celebration afterwards. What a way to honor David Bailey’s 23 years of service to Central and the community! Just like the weather, things are heating up with your PNC! We continue to receive matches from the Church Leadership Connection system. What is new is an increase of good candidates coming from word of mouth. In the past several weeks we have received multiple suggestions of excellent pastors that may be interested in Central from many different sources. These have come from other pastors, church members, and the alumni office from a seminary. As we prayerfully study and evaluate these new suggestions, we continue to interview and communicate with the top candidates we have already identified. We are still receiving new PIF’s, so if you know someone, please give any of the PNC a name and contact information! The PNC is thankful that Session made the decision to engage an interim, not only to help the congregation and staff in our leadership transition, but to give us more time to discern who God has picked as our next shepherd. We continue to covet your prayers for guidance, wisdom and perseverance! Thank You PNC Update

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  • Central Presbyterian Church | Anderson South Carolina

    ...but the greatest of these is love . 1 Corinthians 13:13 Join us for our live streamed and in-person worship service Every Sunday at 10:30 AM Watch Our Service Watch Past Sermons SUNDAY SERVICE: 10:30 am OFFICE HOURS: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Thursday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Friday Worship Schedule Out of gallery Central Bridge Wednesdays, Sept 29th - November 17th Afternoon Bridge for Kids Children enjoy afternoon choir and classes in K-2 and Acolytes Bridge Meal Each week from Sept 29th - Nov 17th a delicious meal is available to share with fellow members. ​ Adults $8.00 Kids $4.00 Menu Adult Bridge Join Noelle Read and others at 4:00 pm and after dinner at 6:10 pm for the Night Series featuring special guests and discussions. Schedule Our Mission To reach out and invite people to join in the life and love of Jesus Christ; To nurture them in the Christian faith, and to equip them to live and serve in the world. Give Serve About Sermons Ministries Worship Contact Us

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