Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay | AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 19 "What has been practiced in small churches for a long time had fallen aside in many midsize and larger churches, where faith formation often happens solely in 'age-appropriate' groups," said Dummermuth. Each season of GiFT focuses on different themes. The 2016–17 season was titled "Justice and Service," addressing themes such as home and shelter and "love thy neighbor." The 2017–18 season was about "Life-Giving Rhythms," and focused on how and why the church celebrates holidays and seasons such as Pentecost, All Saints' Day, Advent and Holy Week. Next season, GiFT will center on creeds and confes- sions, Dummermuth says. "What I love about it," he added, "is that it has us learning together. It gives us a main thread that we follow throughout the year with dif- ferent activities." Tip: Create ways for young and old to learn together by holding a special Sunday educational event such as Eastridge's GiFT program. Or perhaps create mentoring M inistry candidates talk about them. Moderators share them with session members during meetings. Pastors do sermon series on them. "They" are the Great Ends of the Church — statements crafted in the early 20th century to guide the vision and mission of the Presbyterian Church. But who can recite all six Great Ends? (Be honest.) And what do these Great Ends look like when lived out? Presbyterians Today explores how congregations embrace these guiding principles in ways that show their communities the power of love in action. The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind "Don't go to church. Be the church!" is the motto of the "Church Has Left the Building" movement that has spread like Holy Spirit fire to Woodstown Presbyterian Church in Woodstown, New Jersey. Every October, the church closes its doors on one Sunday and sends small groups of all ages into the community to proclaim the gospel through hands-on work. "We have to rethink what church is. Worship isn't only what we do on a Sunday," said the Rev. Eryn Mera, the church's pastor. In the past, teams have been sent out to do community beautification projects like painting lampposts and picking up trash, acts of compas- sion such as tying comfort blankets for Hearts United Against Cancer, serving at a food pantry or soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at a local health care center and working with Habitat for Humanity. This fall, Woodstown Presbyterian is focusing on ways to feed the poor. "The 'Church Has Left the Building' movement has impacted both our church and the community with this kind of relational evan- gelism," Mera said. "Jesus told us to be salt and light in the world, not in a church building. Through these projects we discover how Jesus wants to launch his people to live on the outside what we believe on the inside." The Presbyterian volunteers participate with five other churches from multiple denominations. At the end of the service day the teams gather for community worship as one united church, praising God for what God has done and sharing the stories of the day. Tip: When holding a "Church Has Left the Building" Sunday, make time to educate the congrega- tion prior to the event. There might be some who don't see the value of giving up a Sunday sitting in the pew or others who have logistical questions. The shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship of the children of God On the second Sunday of every month, the congrega- tion of Eastridge Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, gathers at 9 a.m. to participate in GiFT (Growing in Faith Together). GiFT features a learning activity, followed by a time of fellowship and then a shared meal. According to a brochure pub- licizing the program, the morning "reclaims God's intent for faith to be shared in community and across generations." The Rev. Thomas Dummermuth, the associate pastor at Eastridge, helped start the intergenerational program in 2016. The idea grew out of several continuing educa- tion experiences with Vibrant Faith (vibrantfaith.org). GREAT ENDS OF THE CHURCH • The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind • The shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship of the children of God • The maintenance of divine worship • The preservation of the truth • The promotion of social righteousness • The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world — Book of Order (2017–19), F-1.0304

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