Pastor’s Letters

 

Weekly Letter – August 6, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,
 
Even in this topsy-turvy time, August offers a slower pace, and the hint of things to come as the fall approaches. Schools will be “open” soon, as families and teachers navigate another semester of distance learning. Please keep all of our church and neighborhood families in your prayers – especially the families and children at River Oaks Academy. We cannot wait for the day soon when our Backpack Buddies program will be able to again work with them. On Sunday, August 16 during worship (the day before school begins) the Christian Education committee will sponsor a time of prayer and recognition in lieu of our traditional “Blessing of the Backpacks”.
 
In other worship news, this coming Sunday, August 9, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper during the live worship stream. As always, please have some bread and juice ready when you join the live stream so that you can participate with us. Beginning in September, the Worship Committee will have us back on a regular schedule for celebrating communion on the first Sunday of every month.
 
Also from the Worship Committee, they are looking to involve more folks in worship by inviting anyone interested to participate as liturgist, leading the Prayer of the Day and reading the scripture lesson. If you sign up to help in this way, members of your immediate household are welcome to worship in the sanctuary that day as well.  Please contact Debbie Taylor to schedule a Sunday. As I mentioned last week, Session’s task force is hard at work looking at safe protocols for more opportunities to be present in worship. Session will keep everyone informed as that work moves ahead.
 
Another important committee has begun its work this week. The Nominating Committee met by Zoom on Wednesday to seek God’s calling for four new elders to join the Session in January. Committee members are Tim Gray (chair), Eddie McArver, Celia Gray, Sam McCord and Linda Riggins. Please keep them in your prayers, and feel free to share with any of them thoughts you have about elder nominees for their consideration.
 
Also in prayers this week, let us especially remember the Small/Griffin and Smith families. On Tuesday Jo Small and her family held a private graveside service for her son Jimmy Griffin, who died last Saturday. And on Friday Vernie Smith and family will hold a private service at the Paw Creek cemetery for Ken, with full military honors. During this time when we cannot be together, prayers and cards are very meaningful.
 
Please also remember Johnny Small, who had a fall on Tuesday and was not able to attend the service for Jimmy.
 

In other concerns:

  • Celia Gray will travel next week to Denver, CO. to be with her sister Cindy as Cindy receives medical reports and treatment options for her reoccurrence of cancer.
  • Remember Frank and Victoria Krebs – Frank’s mother Sharon Krebs is now in hospice care in New York State.
  • Vickie Joy has had two falls in recent days – we pray for some medical answers and treatments so that she can remain safe.
  • Reid Wingate, son of Burr and Mary Wingate, died on July 29th. Reid, a lifelong Presbyterian, lived in Douglasville, Georgia and his funeral was August 5th. Please keep Reid’s family in your prayers.

 

Blessings to everyone – have a good week and stay safe!

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – July 30, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,
 
Mid-summer greetings to you all! Thank you for all the well-wishings during the time Nell and I were away. Vacation was both relaxing and productive. We had a week in the mountains near Hendersonville (it’s almost as hot there as it is here!) and a week getting daughter Amanda settled in her new apartment in Indian Land, where she’ll be teaching fifth grade in Lancaster County during the coming school year.
 
As you saw from the Session notes that went out a couple of weeks ago, Session has revisited the question of “what next?” during this time of disruption by asking a task force to explore our options and advise Session on   how we as a church can creatively and safely find options for spending more time together in person. Given the mountains of information that will need to be gathered, and the detailed planning that will be required, along with the reality that Mecklenburg County continues to be a serious “hot spot” for Covid-19, we can expect that this will be a deliberate process. However, I’m happy to report that the task force held its first meeting this week and is already hard at work. There are representatives from the Property, Worship and Christian Education committees (bringing our adult and children’s classes back will be an important second stage of coming back together.) The group has defined the questions, divvied up the research, is seeking help from some other knowledgable people in the congregation, and will continue to Zoom-meet regularly. Session will continue to report regularly and keep all of us in the loop.
 
In the meantime, of course, worship and Bible Study continue on-line, and the informal ways that we stay in touch together are the very essence of what it means to be a church. Let’s keep up the good work, and pray God’s protection for this day and the days ahead.
 
In our prayers this week, please continue to keep Vernie Smith and her family surrounded by God’s love. As you know, Ken Smith died last week. His obituary was not in the Observer, but can be read on-line at: www.woodlawnfuneral.org/obituary/Kenneth-Smith.   I encourage you to have a look and learn more about his remarkable career as a fighter pilot and Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force. Ken will be buried in our church cemetery next week in a private family service with full military honors.
 
Additional prayer concerns that were gathered last Sunday and updated during Bible Study on Wednesday:
  • Ginny Haas was hospitalized last week with heart issues, and is now recovering at home.
  • Steve Hord was in ICU after surgery – latest report on Wednesday is that he is being to improve.
  • The Cashions ask us to remember their friends Bobbie and Bill Helms – Bill suffered a broken back in a fall and his condition continues to be critical.
  • Emily Adkins asks prayers for her cousin Bobby Ford, who has been paralyzed and is currently in the hospital but in good spirits.
  • Barbara Ullem asks us to prayer for her next door neighbor and family – her grandson and his girl friend have tested positive for Covid-19.
  • Eddie McArver continues to recover from the virus and pneumonia and is thankful for having showed very few symptoms of illness.
  • Karen Cathey has passed along a prayer request from her sister Gail Duncan. Please remember Ivy Berrier and her family – Ivy is the 4 month old daughter of Gail’s pastor. She was born with Down’s Syndrome and will have surgery this week to repair a severe heart defect.
  • Please remember our church administrator, Kim Whittington, who has been suffering with back pain in recent weeks. She is consulting with doctors and therapists and hopes to begin seeing some relief soon.
 

Blessings to everyone – please stay in touch!

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – July 23, 2020
 
Contact Information
Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)
Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)
pawcreekpc.org
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube
 

Happy Birthday to Those Celebrating in August!

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Weekly Letter – July 16, 2020
 
Contact Information
Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)
Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)
pawcreekpc.org
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube
 
Report from the Stated Session Meeting on July 9, 2020:
 
The session has formed a Task Force for Covid-19. The Task Force was charged with developing a phased in plan of the process and timing to open our buildings and property. The Task Force will then present their findings and plan to the session for approval. We realize that there are many complex issues to cover and think about during these increasingly dangerous times and we want to make sure we find the best way forward to safely get everyone back together as quickly as feasible. The session will keep the congregation informed as we progress through this process.
 
Because of the recent spike in cases of Covid-19 and out of respect for those that need to be in the sanctuary on Sunday morning, going forward, we will not be able to allow any visitors in the sanctuary other than those actually working to facilitate the live stream. We realize that there is a great longing by everyone to be back in the sanctuary, so beginning the first Sunday in August we will again be scheduling a liturgist to assist each Sunday. If you wish to sign up and be part of the team, please let Debbie Taylor know so she can get you on the schedule.
 
The Property Committee reported that they have used this time to complete many maintenance projects on their list while the buildings have been closed. We are very thankful that we had the funds given by you to the building fund to do these projects.
 
The Christian Education Committee reported that the Children Connecting with Christ program has started back up using Zoom Video Conferencing. The children are excited about being back together in this way. The added benefit of being together by video conferencing is that Victoria Krebs and her family can participate from Virginia and Tim and Celia’s son’s children have been able to join, as well. Thanks to all the CCC teachers for making this happen.
 
The Worship Committee reports that our number of views on the live streaming has been somewhere around 250 – 300 each week! Some Sundays we have even had more than 600! We also want to make sure that you know that you can watch the services at any time that is convenient to you and you do not even need a Facebook account to go back and watch it. So even though this “new way” of worshipping together while apart is not as great as being there in person we are reaching a whole lot of people! The church is not CLOSED, only the buildings are closed. We are again blessed to have people among us who understand how to make this happen and are working hard to make it better and better each week.
 
The Finance Committee reported that our giving has kept up with our expenses with a little in reserve as of the end of June. We are thankful for a giving congregation even in these hard times.
Debbie Taylor
Clerk of Session
 
 
Special Note: A Memorial Service for John Litaker will be held outdoors on Saturday, July 25 at 11 am.  More details will be sent out next week.

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Weekly Letter – July 9, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

 

Dear Paw Creek,

Not much to report in the quiet of this unusual summer. As always, continued prayers for our church community and our many friends and family for health and safety as reports of growing illness and hospitalizations swirl around us. And likewise Godspeed to the medical community as they research and perfect treatments and vaccines.
 
Please remember that this coming Sunday we will celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper during worship. To participate with us, just have some simple communion elements available – bread or crackers, juice or other beverage.
 
Beginning Monday I will be on vacation for a couple of weeks, grateful for the chance to have a bit of time away. If pastoral needs arise, please be sure to contact any of our elders on the Session, and of course continue to report prayer concerns through the prayer chain. The worship committee has arranged for guest preachers to share the live-streamed worship services with us: on July 19 the Rev. George Slaton and on July 26 the Rev. Betsy Williamson. George is a retired pastoral counsellor who now lives in Cornelius; Betsy is the retired pastor of Amity Presbyterian Church. Next week there will be a weekly letter from the Session updating us on its stated meeting scheduled for tonight, July 9. The following week there will not be a weekly meeting unless anything urgent comes up in the meantime.
 

Here are a few updated prayer concerns that we gathered during Bible Study last night.

  • Frances Lyerly is home and doing well as she recovers from back surgery last week.
  • Vickie Joy is grateful to report that her co-worker who had contracted Covid-19 has recovered and returned to work after being ill for three months.
  • Vernie Smith continues to be pleased with the nursing care that Ken is receiving; their son Steve was in town last week and was able to see Ken for a “window visit”
  • Debbie Taylor asks prayers for her aunt, Una Beam, who is now in hospice care, and for Mrs. Beam’s children who are hoping for the chance to visit her again in person during her final days.
  • Vickie Joy reminds us that this is a stressful time for staff, teachers, parents and children of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as decisions are being made about the way forward for the new school year. Please pray for them as they make the best decisions possible for the education and safety of everyone.
 

Blessings to everyone – see you again soon!

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – July 2, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,

 

Independence Day greetings, as we prepare for a holiday weekend that (like so many other things this year) will be vastly different from what we are accustomed to. As you know, there are fresh concerns and fears about the spread of Covid-19. Let us continue our prayers for the safety of our community and country, and for wisdom and guidance to those who bear the burden of leading the way forward. Best wishes for a quiet and peaceful holiday on Saturday, a time to remember the past, but also to know that God holds the future and that better days are surely yet to come.

 

As I mentioned in last week’s letter, the collection of gifts to support food distribution in the North End of Charlotte has closed out with a wonderful offering of $6,925. Karen Cathey, representing the Session and Outreach Committee, joined me last Thursday to visit one of the weekly distribution sites at First Mayfield Baptist Church on Oaklawn Avenue, and to present our gift to Darryl and Melissa Gaston on behalf of the North End Community Coalition and their partners in the Bulb organization. We got to lend a hand as the  volunteers gave out large bags full of fresh summer produce to neighborhood residents. This is a great      program, extended now through the fall with your generous gifts – thank you for making this possible.
 

Karen presents our donation to Darryl Gaston, who is joined by neighborhood volunteer Jeff, Bulb executive director India, Melissa Gaston, and Bulb coordinator Lexi.

 

Looking ahead into July, next Sunday, July 12, we will again celebrate the Lord’s Supper during the morning live-stream worship service. Please plan to have some simple supplies ready – crackers or bread, juice, wine or other beverage – so that we can all participate together/apart.

 

Here are a few updated prayer concerns that we gathered during Bible Study last night. As always, at any time during the week if you know of concerns, please feel free to send them to Ann Cashion or to me so that we can include them on our prayer chain.

 

  • Frances Lyerly was scheduled for spinal fusion surgery Thursday morning. Just as this letter goes to press I’ve had a text from her daughter Jill that the surgery is complete and the doctor is pleased with the results. Frances will remain in the hospital at CMC Main for 1-2 days before going home. Prayers of thanks for a quick and complete recovery.

 

  • Laura Wingate reports that Allen was able to be released from nursing care after a short stay – the family is glad to be able to care for him at home with the help of some caregivers.

 

  • Barbara Ullem was able to speak with her cousin George Lux in St. Louis – he is in good spirits recovering in a rehab facility after his recent hospitalization.

 

  • Debbie Taylor asks us to pray for her neighbor Lisa Duncan and her family. Lisa’s mother, Mrs. Charlotte Moore, died Wednesday morning after unsuccessful surgery the night before. May God’s peace be with Lisa and her siblings during this difficult time.

 

Blessings to everyone, for sunshine and laughter as we continue to await the time when we can again be together as God’s family, in person as well as in spirit!

Elliott

 

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Weekly Letter – June 25, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,
 
This week I’d like to bring everyone up to date on our church efforts to reach out and offer care to some of  our neighbors who are suffering from the economic stress of this year. Several weeks ago the Session decided to focus our efforts on food security, and we invited the congregation to contribute towards a project focused on families in Charlotte’s North End. That special offering is now finished and we have received total donations of $6,925 – what a fantastic and generous outpouring of love and concern! In the hands of our partners The Bulb and the North End Community Coalition, that money will ensure that two weekly food distribution sites will continue their work well into the latter months of this year. On Thursday of this week I will join Karen Cathey, representing the Outreach Committee, to deliver the check and meet some of the volunteers who make this project happen.
 
In addition to the special offering for the Bulb’s work in the North End, the Session also authorized the Outreach Committee to use $3,600 from the Mission Fund to support work in our local Westside community. That money was distributed earlier in the spring to two congregations, Thrift United Methodist Church and Mission City Church, that maintain food pantries. Both churches report large increases in requests for assistance – the Outreach Committee is staying in touch with them and will continue to offer support throughout the year as the needs become clear.
 

There are so many ways that we can live out Christ’s call to care for our neighbors, and we are always looking for new projects. For now, let us be grateful that God has given us the resources to share over $10,000, all of which will be used to provide food for families that would otherwise go without.

 

As we come to the end of this week, we gather the concerns and joys that are amongst us in the congregation and community, and offer them to God in our prayers:

  • Please continue to pray with Angie and Sonny Ross and their family for their grandson-in-law, Nick Robinson, who is ill with Covid-19. His illness is part of an outbreak of disease among family and friends in the farming community of Ducasville, SC near Easley. Among the sick is Nick’s grandmother who is hospitalized in serious condition.
  • Please pray with Sarah Kendrick and her family at the loss of her brother-in-law, Mr. Mike Parrot. Mike, husband of Sarah’s sister Pam, died unexpectedly earlier this week.
  • During the coming week, please remember Frances Lyerly – she is scheduled for surgery next Wednesday for a spinal fusion, which will allow her to be more active in the years to come.
  • Please remember Sheila Davis and her husband Roderick Montgomery. Sheila cleans our church buildings and is caring for Roderick, who has serious kidney and pancreatic disease and is facing further surgeries in the months ahead.
  • We give praise for good reports from Lilly Timberman (Andrea and Donna’s stepmother, who is still hospitalized but showing much improvement) and George Lux (Barbara Ullem’s cousin in St. Louis, who is set for release from the hospital into a care facility for continued recovery).
  • Ken Smith continues to do quite well in nursing care – he and his family were able to have a window visit last weekend for Father’s Day.
  • There’s good news from our Wednesday night children’s program – Children Connecting with Christ. They are resuming meeting this week via Zoom and are looking forward to reconnecting with the children and families after being apart for several months. Because of Zoom, their founding teacher Victoria Krebs will be able to participate from her new home in Virginia.

 

Blessings to everyone, for sunshine and laughter as we continue to await the time when we can again be together as God’s family, in person as well as in spirit!

                                                      Elliott

 

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Weekly Letter – June 18, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (will forward to home if needed)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,

After a week off, I hope this finds everyone well, perhaps getting some opportunities to enjoy summer activities and vacations. As we all know, the world remains unsettled in so many ways. We are grateful to have one another and God’s glorious and gracious care to see us through!
 
In worship on Sunday we will honor our congregation’s graduates, from high school, college and graduate school. Like all graduates, they have worked hard and achieved wonders. Unlike any graduates before, they have pushed through the disruptions of their final semester with flying colors. We are so proud of them, and ours will be a special celebration this year for us to recognize what they had to give up, and what they have accomplished. Even more importantly, this will be a time to reflect on what they will do next, to send them with God’s blessings and ours for much fulfillment in the months and years to come. Let us keep them in our prayers, along with all the educators and students who are still wondering what their world will look like come fall.
 
Because we had no letter last week, I want to be sure and recap the prayers that have been on our hearts during this time, and be sure that everyone has news about the needs within our congregation and community.
 
As I hope you all know, in recent days we have mourned the loss of Virginia McGranahan, who died at home on June 8. There was a graveside service in the Paw Creek cemetery on June 12. There have also been private backyard services for Susan Kenley on June 7 and Raymond Field on June 16. Please keep the McGranahan, Kenley and Field families in your prayers during these times of loss.
 

Last Sunday we raised these prayers:

  • Lilly Timberman is improving, but still hospitalized and very much in need of our prayers.
  • Olivia Costin, 18 year old daughter of friends of the Scott family is in the ICU at Duke Hospital in very serious condition. Please pray for her and her family.
  • Ann Cashion asks us to pray for a friend of hers, 87 year old Fibbie McGahee.
  • Dickie Chapman reports that his friend Dan Jacobs continues to be in good spirits through intensive cancer treatment – Dickie and Dan had a good phone visit on Monday.
  • We rejoice with John Riggins and his family at the very good medical report received by his brother Tom after recent testing.
 

And on Wednesday night at Bible Study, these addition concerns were added:

  • Frank Dale continues in good spirits at home. He now has in-home care givers to support the care that his family has been giving since he was released from rehab a few weeks ago.
  • Laura Wingate reports several serious concerns in her family and asks for our prayers: Allen Wingate was hospitalized for a collapsed lung, and anticipates being released to rehab care in the next day or so; Laura’s brother Bob Evans in Orlando has been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue and will begin radiation and chemo treatments immediately; Debbie Wingate is beginning a new medication this week. Please pray for the entire family in this difficult time.
  • Continue to remember Ernest Moore as he is cared for at home.
  • Barbara Ullem asks our prayers for her cousin George Lux, who lives alone in St. Louis, Mo. and is now hospitalized with serious illness.
  • Please pray with Angie and Sonny Ross and their family for healing for their grandson-in-law, Nick Robinson in Easley, SC, who is ill with Covid-19.
  • Debbie Taylor asks us to pray for Rachel Pelone, a family friend from Greensboro who has worshipped at Paw Creek many times in the past – Rachel has been diagnosed with lung cancer and will be undergoing scans this week to determine treatment options.
  • And, we celebrate with Vernie and Ken Smith, who marked their 66th wedding anniversary this week – Vernie and the family were able to have a “window visit” with Ken in nursing care, and report that he is doing very well.

 

Blessings to everyone, for sunshine and laughter as we continue to await the time when we can again be together as God’s family, in person as well as in spirit!

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – June 4, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Dear Paw Creek,
At a time when we should be settling into summer routines, leaving some of the busy-ness of life behind, planning trips to the beach or the mountains, instead we are unsure and unsettled. The one thing that seems constant in the weeks since we were last physically together in one place is the reality of upheaval. What was true when I wrote last week (the overwhelming concern for health and economic security amid the uncertainty of a slowly reopening world) is now unexpectedly overshadowed. At our house now, every evening’s quiet is punctuated by the sounds of helicopters hovering over downtown Charlotte, so that worries about illness and hunger are pushed out by more immediate terror for the safety of those who raise their voices for justice on our streets, and those who patrol the streets to keep them safe. Lord help us all.
 
Now that the celebration of Pentecost is past and the Easter season is done, in our study and in our worship we will turn throughout the summer weeks to the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5-7). We will follow as Jesus covers many topics (how to pray, how to live with enemies, how to live with worry, to name a few). But with each new topic Jesus further explains and expands his opening words, which we will ready this Sunday: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Known as the Beatitudes, these words point to the truth that shines throughout the sermon – God’s kingdom is wholly in God’s control. It is a place where our human expectations are worthless and a place where the things we fear most as humans (mourning, hunger, persecution) turn out to be merely pathways to God’s greatest blessings.
 

Can we find the strength of faith to believe that the weeks and months ahead will be a time of Beatitude? A time when the things we fear most, like disease, economic uncertainty and violence, can be the pathway to the bright future of blessedness that God has in store? Perhaps we can, though not very easily. At best, perhaps we can simply find the courage to face each new day and its own upheavals, and cling to our God who remains our rock and our stay. Look for God in all things – for surely he is there.

 

Because of our joint worship with the Woodland Church last Sunday, we limited the listing of prayer concerns that were raised last week, so I want to be sure and give us a complete listing in today’s letter.
 
We begin with sad news that came just yesterday of the death of our dear friend Susan Kenley. Susan was our Pastor’s Aide for many years, remembering birthdays and special events with cards and prayers. Just a few weeks ago we were grateful to be able to present her with the 2020 Legacy Award from the Presbytery of Charlotte for all of her service to the church. May our prayers be with Amy, Jon and Jason and their strong and devoted family in the days ahead.
 

Prayers also continue for these friends and their families:

  • Roy and Donna Joyner, as they travel this week to Houston to seek additional treatment options for Roy’s recent cancer diagnosis.
  • Carol McNeill who was hospitalized in Florida with cardiac concerns – she is home with new medication and in good spirits.
  • Virginia McGranahan, still struggling at home after gall bladder surgery.
  • Nathan Tomlinson, who had heart surgery this week.
  • Margie Caudill, who was briefly hospitalized last week. She is back in nursing care as she continues to decline due to complications of her dementia.
  • Frank Dale, continuing at home with the care of his children and care-givers.
  • Allen Wingate, at home with family care, continues to decline.
  • The Winchester family – young Rhett is now home from the hospital and doing well, but his mother Laura will need to undergo gall bladder surgery.
  • Chris Timberman asks our prayers for his grandmother Lilly Timberman, who is being treated for cancer and lung problems, and also for his cousin Jan Timberman, who is waiting test results for Covid-19.
  • Donna Timberman was in a wreck this week and thankfully was not hurt.
  • John Riggins reports that his brother Tom is waiting for results of a biopsy yesterday, but is encouraged that his doctor thinks the report will be good.
  • Community member Jimmy Puckett is recovering from surgery last week.
  • Dickie Chapman’s friend Dan continues in his aggressive cancer treatments, and is now using a feeding tube.
  • Celia Gray asks us to pray for the family of a friend who died of Covid-19 last week.
  •  

We also join in celebrating many graduations over the past week, including Tucker Torrence from high school; Ann and Tommy Cashion’s granddaughter from high school; and Anne and Tommy Miller’s granddaughter from college.

 

Finally, even as we continue to keep in touch during the days ahead, there will not be a weekly letter next week, June 11. Kim Whittington will be on vacation and not able to send a letter out. Orders of Worship for the next two Sundays are attached with today’s letter and will be on the website. Please stay in touch, join us for prayers on Sunday and Bible Study on Wednesday, and of course worship each week at 11. And above all, please be safe in whatever the next weeks bring.

 

                                      Blessings,

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – May 28, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

“When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place.”

– Acts 2

 

Dear Paw Creek,

The Day of Pentecost is upon us. For the past eleven years, Pentecost Sunday has been one of the high points on our church calendar, as we renew each year the ties that bind us to our sisters and brothers at Woodland Presbyterian Church. This year, of course, things are different. But our shared worship will go on. Please be sure to join us on Facebook or YouTube. This is the year for Woodland to prepare the worship plan, and we look forward to the inspired preaching of the Rev. Gloria Bolden and the musical leadership of a quartet from the Woodland choir. There will be no fried chicken and no big hugs this year, but the Holy Spirit will be present, both in the sanctuary and in our homes.
 
For Pentecost we return as always to the familiar story in the second chapter of Acts: voices raised in many languages, tongues of fire in the air, and the rush of a mighty wind. Throughout the Easter season, in Bible Study and on Sunday mornings, we have been exploring the book of Acts to learn about the events that followed directly from the Holy Spirit’s arrival. These included an enthusiastic outpouring of new Christians, and then resistance when others realized that the Christians were not going away, and finally God’s inspiring of a missionary movement that went throughout the known world.
 
Now, at last, we return to the day that it all began. As we read the story again, we will now have some idea of all that was unleashed on that day. More to the point, we will see better how it is that our own work to live and spread the gospel is the direct outgrowth of what Peter and the disciples experienced. I hope that we have a renewed sense of calling to know that bold action for us as a church is possible . . . is consistent with the Gospel . . . and is required! In the next weeks and months we will have many decisions to make and changes to accept. May we be Spirit-filled each and every day!
 

I just have one announcement this week – it’s an invitation to everyone. Last week we talked about offering Zoom meetings to Sunday school classes who wish to explore that option. The Fresh Start class has been meeting in this way for several weeks now. They very graciously have extended an invitation to others in the congregation to join them. They meet Sunday mornings 10:20 – 11:50 (between the prayer meeting and morning worship). Their class focuses on a series of assigned scripture readings each week. Please contact Ashley Kenley for the reading assignments and to receive the Zoom invitation. Thank you Fresh Start! (If other classes are considering starting your own Zoom, that’s great too – just let me know and we’ll set it up.)

 

I hope that everyone had a good and safe Memorial Day weekend. May God’s blessings be with each of us and with the memory of loved ones and those of earlier generations who gave their all. Please continue to pray with one voice for the brave folks who are even now standing up on our behalf to keep us safe from the medical dangers of this moment.
 

In other prayers, please remember:

  • Roy and Donna Joyner – Roy has received a cancer diagnosis and will travel next week to Houston, Texas for further diagnosis and treatment options.
  • Carol McNeill – she was released from the hospital on Sunday under new medication for cardiac issues.
  • Virginia McGranahan – came home from the hospital on Tuesday after gall bladder surgery with 24-hour caregivers, still experiencing a great deal of pain.
  • Nathan Tomlinson (Thelma’s son), who is scheduled for heart surgery next week.
  • Chris Normand and his family, on the death of his mother in Maine, just 19 days after the loss of his father.
 

And also please remember these friends and family of church members who have asked for our prayers:

  • Tom Riggins, John’s brother, is still being monitored and waiting for further testing.
  • Steve Bowers, friend of Gene Hall, is home after surgery – still weak but beginning to recover
  • Jimmy Puckett will have surgery on Friday of this week as a follow-up from a recent open-heart operation.

 

With thanks for all that we are doing together, and all that God is doing for us, may his blessings be on us all.

 

 

                                                      Elliott

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Weekly Letter – May 21, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube
 

“What does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God?”

 

Dear Paw Creek,

May God’s blessings be and remain with all of us during this rainy spring week!
 
I want to start this week with a report from the Session, which held a called meeting via Zoom on Monday night to hear reports from the Worship and Property Committees on the research they have been doing to understand the medical and logistical issues that will be involved with a decision to allow us to return to worshipping together in the sanctuary. Those issues are complex, and it is clear that when the time comes, we will need to make many adjustments to keep everyone safe. Just a short list of those would include: deep-cleaning the sanctuary each week between services; maintaining a distance of six feet between household groups for seating; masks for everyone and no handshaking or hugs; no shared touching of equipment (books, collection plates, communion plates); no singing (singing requires so much lung power that the virus can spread well over six feet.) Even if we could implement all those precautions, medical experts still tell us that church services are particularly dangerous activities (we are indoors; we spend more than ten minutes together; many of our members are in high-risk categories; and it’s almost irresistible to reach out and touch or hug folks whom we love so much!)
 
With all this information in mind, and with deep concern for the well-being of the congregation we have been called to lead and protect, the Session agreed unanimously that it is too soon to resume in-person worship at this time. Therefore we will continue with live-stream worship for now, and the Session plans to revisit the decision in early July to weigh guidance from governmental and medical leaders about where things stand at that time. We all miss each other! But we also want to have everyone back safe and sound when this is over. We appreciate everyone’s understanding.
 
As worship continues via live-stream, we know that some families have chosen to not attempt to learn how to master the technology needed to watch the services. For those folks, the Session reminds everyone that our sister congregation, First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, has been broadcasting its worship services for over 50 years. Why not take the opportunity to worship with them at 11:00 on Sundays on TV channel WAXN-Action 64 (check cable listings for the channel number on your network.)
 
We also know that the loss of Sunday morning activities is hard on our very active adult classes. If any of the classes would like to try to schedule a meeting via Zoom, please let me know. I can use the church’s Zoom account to set up the class – either a one-time get together, or for regular class meetings. And of course we continue to hold prayer meetings on Sunday at 10:00 and Bible Study Wednesday at 5:30 (notwithstanding the worldwide Zoom outage that knocked us out last Sunday morning!)
 
Even as we remain sheltered and safe (by God’s grace), please don’t forget that there is still much good going on in our congregation and throughout God’s church. Jan Edmiston, our General Presbyter in the Presbytery of Charlotte, takes every opportunity to remind us that even when our buildings are shuttered, the church is not closed! Here at Paw Creek, we have much evidence of this truth.
 
Last weekend, the Bloodmobile had a good turnout for donations of blood and plasma. Thanks to all who participated!
 

We are also reaching out in the most basic way to help provide food for those who need it in our community. Contributions to support the Bulb for weekly food distribution in North Charlotte continue to come in, so we will wait another week or two to tally the gifts and send them on to the North End Coalition. I had a chance to help with the weekly distribution last Thursday. What an inspiration to see the staff and volunteers at work and to meet some of the food recipients! Many who received food are able and eager to make a small donation for their weekly supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, and that will help the program reach even more people. Here’s a picture of a volunteer passing bags of food to a family – workers all have masks and gloves, and guests stay in their cars to enhance distancing.

As I mentioned last week, the Outreach Committee is also partnering to assist food pantries here on the westside. They began with Thrift United Methodist Church, and have now added Mission City Church on Valleydale Road. With Session approval, combined support for both projects will total $3,500 from the Mission Fund. Here’s a shot of the food staging area at Mission City.

 

Because of the Zoom outage we didn’t get a lot of prayer updates on Sunday. At Wednesday Bible Study, these requests were raised:

  1. Virginia McGranahan was admitted to the hospital Tuesday night with an infection in her leg and gall stones – she will have a procedure on Thursday for the gall stones. Let us remember Virginia in prayer, along with her family, especially daughter Ginny who is having a recurrence of shingles.
  2. Prayers for Mark Burleson and his family on the death of his uncle, Mr. Don Burleson, who was the last remaining sibling of Mark’s father.
  3. John Riggins asks us to remember his brother, Tom Riggins, who is awaiting some test results.
  4. Young Rhett Winchester, grandson of Debbie Wingate and great-grandson of Allen and Laura, is in the hospital with a high fever and is undergoing a battery of tests. Please remember Rhett and his family.
  5. Ken Smith remains in care at Courtland Terrace – on Monday he was able to have a FaceTime call with his brother, which was a joy for both of them.
  6. Tim Gray reports that his sister lives in Michigan in the vicinity of the severe flooding. She has not been directly affected, but Tim asks us to remember the many families who are struggling with weather-related troubles in the midst of the pandemic.
 
And finally, we continue to pray for those who have been on our list in recent weeks: Susan Kenley, Ernest Moore, Laura and Allen Wingate, families and residents in long-term care facilities – and two friends of church members, Dan Jacobs and Steve Bowers.
 

With thanks for all that we are doing together, and all that God is doing for us, may his blessings be on us all.

                                                      Elliott
 

Late News From Zoom – if you have installed the Zoom app on your computer, iPad or phone, you should have received a notice from Zoom about updated software. We have to install the new version 5.0 before May 31. After that, the old version will not work. I just did it and it took about one minute. Everyone who is using Zoom, please go on and do this now so we don’t have any problems connecting with each other in June. If you need help on finding the update, give me a call.

 

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Weekly Letter – May 14, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

“What does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God?”

 

Dear Paw Creek,

Good wishes to everyone this week! The days push forward, and it feels as if time is moving both slowly and very quickly at the same time. Let us all please continue to stay in touch with one another and reach out beyond the isolation that is so important for everyone’s health and safety. In particular, as our session members and I are trying to keep contact with all our church friends, please don’t hesitate to reach out with special needs we can address – or just to have a nice chat and stay connected.

Although we are all looking forward to the time when we can return to normal schedules, it is very important to do so on a schedule and in ways that will keep everyone in the congregation safe. The Session is monitoring information that we are getting from the Presbytery of Charlotte, including research that shows indoor gatherings of larger groups that last more than 10 minutes are still dangerous. This obviously suggests that a worship service may be more concerning than a quick shopping trip. The Worship Committee met this week, and we will be gathering the Session in the next few days to chart a path forward – we will keep everyone posted as we know more. The Presbytery will also hold its quarterly stated meeting next Tuesday – for the first time ever via Zoom. Clerk of Session Debbie Taylor will be joining me as commissioner to this meeting.

Our collection of financial support for the Bulb – to provide weekly food assistance through the summer in the neighborhoods of Charlotte’s North End – will be winding up as this week comes to a close. The proceeds will be tallied and sent off to be put to work. I know the response has been generous, and we will make a report once the final numbers are known.

In the meantime, the Outreach Committee has made a separate donation from the restricted Mission Fund to support the food pantry program at Thrift United Methodist Church. Our Back Pack Buddies have donated all of the food in their pantry (which would have begun to expire before next school year) to Thrift as well. The folks at Thrift are serving more and more families each week, and are doing a fantastic ministry right in our own neighborhood. The Outreach Committee will stay in touch with them and other food programs in the greater Paw Creek area and will continue to offer assistance throughout the summer.

Please don’t forget that this Saturday, the 16th, is the next Bloodmobile visit to Paw Creek. The Property Committee has arranged to have the CFC sanitized so that it will be safe area as a waiting room and access to restrooms. As a precaution, the Bloodmobile folks are asking that donors pre-register for an appointment time. The link for doing this is available on our church home page.

I know that we are all grateful for these signs of real ministry and Christian compassion that are going on even while we are apart. We dearly miss our times together, but we are also learning anew the truth that “church” refers to the strength of our fellowship and the acts of love that we do. What a wonderful church God has called us to be!

As always, let us remember those we have learned about who need our special prayers for support this week:

  1. On Sunday Gloria Caldwell reported that her mother, Mrs. Sue Whitlow, age 91, had fallen and broken her wrist. An orthopedist’s appointment this week determined that the break will not require surgery, and Mrs. Whitlow is now resting comfortably with a cast. Let us pray for her quick recovery.
  2. Virginia McGranhan is still struggling to regain strength after her illness earlier this year. Our prayers are with her and her family.
  3. Vernie Smith reported to Bible Study on Wednesday that she continues to be able to speak with Ken via Face Time each day. He remains comfortable at Courtland Terrace and is well cared for. Please pray for Vernie and Ken, and all other families who are kept apart by the safety restrictions of nursing care in these days.
  4. Gene Hall asks our prayers for Steve Bowers, a golfing buddy of his, who will have surgery next week to remove a kidney.

 

For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

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Weekly Letter – May 7, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

 

 

“What does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God?”

 

 

Dear Paw Creek,

As we make our way firmly into May, we remain settled in our now-familiar routines, at church and at home. I hope everyone is finding some chance to get out and enjoy nice spring weather (when it’s not blowing up a storm), and able to stay in touch with family and friends in safe ways. Even as we enter Phase 1 of Governor Cooper’s reopening plan on Friday, we don’t know yet when it will be safe to venture further out into the normal world, or what precautions we will need to be taking. But do let us keep in our prayers those who will be in greater circulation next week, along with all the essential workers who have been keeping us going, and especially our medical workers on the front line. And let us pray that the spread of the virus remains low, both to ease the burden on those who are sick and to allow more reopening as the weeks go on.

Last week we had a number of important announcements, and I want to recap some of them so that we don’t forget:

  • Special offering to support The Bulb, providing food weekly to fragile communities in Charlotte’s North End. Contributions continue for another week, via mail to the church, marked “Food Support”. As an update, the Outreach Committee is also looking at additional ways to help those who are food insecure here on the Westside – more information next week.
  • Blood Drive – a week from Saturday, on May 16. Use the link on the church homepage to schedule an appointment.
  • Graduation Sunday – will be in early June. Families of graduates (high school, college, grad school) please email information to Jan Chapman for the Christian Ed Committee.
  • Worship Update – updating the update, the new switching equipment worked perfectly last week. I hope you noticed a smoother experience and better sound quality for Sunday’s live stream worship.
  • Online Giving – is now available. Please use the link on our church homepage.

 

As always, let us remember those with special needs for prayer and support from within our congregation.

 

  1. Our condolences go out to Betty Field and her family on the death of her husband Raymond on Tuesday, May 5. We will forward information about arrangements for Raymond when they are complete.
  2. Ken Smith is now in continuing care at Coutland Terrace in Gastonia after several days in the hospital. Vernie and the family were able to have several good visits with Ken over the weekend while he was in the hospital. He is now comfortable and being well cared for at Courtland.
  3. Earnest Moore is in good spirits at home, being well cared for by his care-giver and his extended family.
  4. Continued prayers are requested for Susan Kenley and her family. Amy reports Susan is having some great and busy days AND . . .
  5. Prayers of rejoicing for Sarah and Colton Hansley at the birth of their son, Jax on Sunday afternoon. Jax is the grandson of Jon and Ashley Kenley and great-grandson of Susan Kenley.
  6. Let us continue prayers for Virginia McGranahan and her family as they care for her at home.
  7. On Sunday Debbie Taylor asked us to remember her neighbor Lisa Duncan, and Lisa’s mother Charlotte Moore. Charlotte was hospitalized after a fall last week – as of Wednesday she is hospitalized and is not doing well.

 

For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.

                                                      Blessings on us all,

                                                      Elliott

 

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Weekly Letter – April 30, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

 

 

“What does the Lord require of us, but to do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with our God?”

 

 

Dear Paw Creek,

We’ve got some new things to talk about this week! And that alone makes it feel like we are entering a new phase. We continue to pray for one another, support one another in essential errands, and connect across the distancing. We especially reach with encouragement and compassion to support those for whom the safety guidelines make it impossible for families to be together in hospitals and care facilities at times when we want so much to feel the comfort of touch and presence. But we are also starting to think about new ways of living the Gospel in these unusual times.

On Monday night the Session had a called meeting by Zoom. We heard brief reports from our committees and approved some new projects. Here’s a recap of the meeting:

  1. The Bulb (thebulbgallery.org) is an organization that works to bring fresh, healthy food to underserved neighborhoods. Since the pandemic began, they have shifted to providing weekly food boxes to families who are food insecure. They have several distribution sites around town, including two that are run by Darryl Gaston (commissioned pastor of Smallwood Presbyterian Church) and his wife Melissa in the North End/Statesville Avenue corridor of Charlotte. Session voted to support their work at those two sites by helping to extend and augment the services they provide.

      To do this, Session has accepted a gift of $2,400 from a church family – they are grateful that they did not need their government stimulus check and want to use it to help those whose needs are greater. During the next two weeks we will accept gifts from others who are able and wish to contribute, either from stimulus funds or otherwise. All funds received will then be given to the North End food project. The Mission Fund will be used to ensure a minimum donation of $3,600, which is needed for the basic goal of extending the project to the end of the summer, but we hope to be able to have a larger total gift, with the generosity of the congregation, to reach more people with even better food options. Gifts may be mailed to the church (PO Box 64, Paw Creek, NC, 28130) and marked for “Food Support”.

      Even as we organize to share with our neighbors, we are also very aware that the current crisis has affected our church households in many different ways, and that some are in a time of real financial struggle. Please do not forget that Paw Creek also has a Social Service Fund which is available to help church and community members in times of pressing need. If you need help, simply contact Karen and Grady Cathey in confidence. This fund is here for you now, and your church family wants you to access it.

  1. Blood Drive – during this time of medical crisis, the need continues for blood donations. The Congregational Care Committee has again arranged for the Bloodmobile to visit Paw Creek, on Saturday, May 16. The Bloodmobile will be set up to ensure proper social distancing, and appointments will be scheduled in advance to limit the time that donors are on site. Please visit:  https://donor.oneblood.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/917500

 

  1. Graduation Sunday – Although many things are postponed and cancelled, our graduates will still be graduating this spring, and we want to honor and recognize them. Of course, we don’t know yet if this will happen live, or live stream, but the Christian Education committee is beginning to make plans. To be sure we include all graduates (high school, college or graduate school, including graduations from December 2019), please send information about church members to the committee by contacting Jan Chapman – include date, school, degree and any information about future plans.
  2. Worship Update – You may have noticed there was a glitch in the YouTube transmission during the first few minutes of worship on Sunday. The good news is that we have finally received a new piece of switching equipment (so many churches are going on-line these products were backordered) that will allow for a much smoother transmission. Hopefully that will work well for all of us. As always, we are so appreciative of the efforts of Clint Shaw, who understands the technology and makes it work!
  3. Property Committee Update – The Property Committee has taken advantage of the downtime in our facilities to work on several needed projects, including the upgrading of restrooms in some of our buildings. We are glad to be able to get these projects done, and also to be able to support local businesses during this time. The committee is also exploring having all buildings sanitized prior to reopening, when that time comes.
  4. Finance Committee Update – The Session is grateful to report that financial support for the church continued at a level that matched on-going expenses during March and April. Please don’t forget that we now have the convenience of receiving contributions electronically through the on-line giving portal at our website. Also, look for a special email this week that will further explain how the on-line giving system works. Thanks to all of our faithful congregation as we live out the commitment to serve God in every time and circumstance.

Thanks to all our committees for keeping things going so well. Please continue to take advantage of our opportunities to connect each week, including Sunday worship at 11; Sunday prayer gathering at 10 on Zoom; and Wednesday Bible Study at 5:30 on Zoom.

And, during this week, please remember these prayers that were collected in recent days:

  1. Continued prayers for Susan Kenley and her family.
  2. Ernest Moore was hospitalized last week and is now at home. He is still seriously ill, and he and his family appreciate our on-going prayers and concerns.
  3. Ken Smith was hospitalized on Tuesday. Vernie is working with his doctors to choose on-going care options. Please pray for them and their sons is this difficult time.
  4. Susan McDonald is feeling much better and was released from the hospital on Tuesday after a heart catheterization that was negative for coronary disease. She and Karen are grateful that she is home – please pray with them as her doctors determine any needed additional treatment.
  5. In worship on Sunday and again at Bible Study on Wednesday we had these prayer requests:
    • Dickie Chapman asks our prayers for his friends and former co-worker Dan Jacobs, who received a serious cancer diagnosis last week and is beginning immediate chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
    • Please remember Virginia McGranahan; she is in bed a lot with weakness and an infection in her ankle but has shown some improvement this week.
    • Continue to pray with Betty and Raymond Field as Raymond receives hospice care at home; and also remember Betty’s family on the death of her brother’s wife in England this week.
    • Please remember the Margie Caudill and her family, and all families who are unable to visit loved ones in nursing care.
    • And let us join Sarah and Colton Hansley in prayers of anticipation for the birth of their son, who is due this week.

For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

 

 

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Weekly Letter – April 23, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

Dear Paw Creek,

As I mentioned on Sunday, we have now worshipped via live stream six times. Although we keep hearing the phrase “new normal”, I’m not sure any of this feels “normal”, and I suspect that all of us are having a hard time imagining what kind of “normal” we hope to find, or when we hope to find it.

Although it is difficult to do, I suspect we would find blessing by focusing on some of the most familiar words that Jesus taught. How often he asked his followers and listeners to look around them and realize that “the kingdom of God is at hand”. It’s right here, it’s right now, so close that we can reach out and touch it. We don’t need to step into it, for it already surrounds us. Jesus was inviting those who heard, as he invites us, to let the kingdom be our “normal”. When that happens then we have enormous wells of courage and resilience to withstand the changes that the world throws at us.

Of course, there are indeed enormous changes being thrown at us in these days. For some those changes are acute – those who have experienced the virus first hand as patient, caregiver or medical worker, and those who suffer financial losses that threaten the most basic needs of shelter and food. For others there is isolation, loss of routines, boredom. To everyone, Jesus offers the kingdom as a constant place of refuge, a “normal” that never changes, a shelter in the storm. From the refuge of the kingdom, we can find the wherewithal that we did not know we had to persevere, to help one another, to grieve, and to move forward towards a future that we can not yet see with any clarity, other than the clarity that more change is still to come.

Jesus preached about the kingdom every day, because we need constant reminder to focus on the kingdom rather than the troubles of the world. Therefore, I offer you his sermon on this day: “the kingdom of God is at hand”. Please offer the same sermon to everyone you talk to this week. Let us remind one another daily that our most important “normal” has never changed.

Moving into the news of the week, I guess there’s not very much to share. Worship and Bible Study continue week in and week out, and those are our best ways to stay together as a community. I also know that many of you are keeping phone contact with one another and sending reports of what you find. That is a blessed and much needed ministry, and I am grateful that it is happening.

If by chance you did not see the worship service last Sunday, I do want to make sure that everyone knows we had the great pleasure of recognizing Susan Kenley as the recipient of the 2020 Legacy Award from the Presbytery of Charlotte. As with past award recipients, the Congregational Care has placed to a brick in the Memorial Garden to honor Susan. Our thanks go out to Susan and her family for all of the care and love that they shower on Paw Creek every single day.

 

During this week, please remember these prayers that were collected in recent days:

  1. Continued prayers for Susan Kenley and her family.
  2. Let us continue to raise Betty and Raymond Field in our prayers. Betty has now accepted hospice support as she cares for Raymond at home.
  3. These are the prayer requests we had in worship on Sunday:
    • We join Kim Whittington and her family and giving thanks for the life of her uncle Wayne Edwards. His immediate family, including his sister – Kim’s mother – will hold a graveside service on Friday.
    • Frank Dale continues to be cared for at home, with Jane and David taking turns staying with him.
    • Martha Gordon, a member of the community, died last week. Please pray for her family.
    • Hoyt Johnson is being treated for cellulitis at home – he misses being able to spend time with Jean in nursing care.
    • Please pray for a safe journey for Lexi Torrence who is finishing her senior coursework and making a move to Savannah.
    • We had reports from both Rennie Auten and Marlon Foust that they healthy and well – please remember them and all of our friends and family who are sheltering in institutional settings.
  4. At Bible Study on Wednesday night we had these reports:
    • Prayerful thanks that Ken Smith is being so well cared for at Courtland Terrace in Gastonia. His rehab phase will end April 29th and he will be able to continue in nursing care without changing rooms.
    • Prayers for Ann Moore, a member of the community, who is at Carmel Hills for memory care.
    • As we were meeting, Victoria Krebs reported that Frank was at the hospital with his brother for surgery to repair a broken ankle – let us pray for them and all who need to seek hospital care during this dangerous time.

For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

 

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Weekly Letter – April 16, 2020
 
Contact Information
Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)
Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)
pawcreekpc.org
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
 
Dear Paw Creek,
Good Easter greetings to you one and all! I hope and trust that the truth of Easter is shining brightly in all our lives this week; and that we all found ways to safely share the day with family and friends; and that we all made it through the storms of Easter evening with not many scratches.
Please join me in thanking our Worship Committee and everyone who made the worship services of last week possible. I am especially grateful that we were able to bring the beauty of the season into the sanctuary with the Easter flowers for all to see.
Those same lovely flowers have now been planted in the Gary Bryant memorial garden and other areas around the sanctuary. If you find yourself out on an “essential” errand, why not drive by the church to see – the glory of God’s creation is truly on display.
Now that the holiday is behind us, we are at the beginning of what may be a long slog, all the more so since we can’t know exactly how long it will last. Let us continue to draw sustenance from our ability to connect, to pray and to worship. This coming Sunday, April 19, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper for the first time as a disbursed community. This is extra-ordinary (= “beyond the expected”) because the heart of the sacrament that Jesus gave us is the togetherness we share when we celebrate. Unlike some other branches of Christians, as Presbyterians we find the power of Christ’s presence not in the piece of bread, but in the fact
of being together. Nevertheless, in our hearts we want to follow the Lord’s commands: “do THIS in remembrance of me”, and so the normal limitations cannot apply. Since we cannot find our togetherness in physical proximity, we will find it in knowing that we each take the same actions in our places of shelter.
Celebration of Communion on April 19 – As I noted last week, we have prepackaged communion sets available with wafer and juice. Kim and Dennis Whittington have generously offered to deliver these to anyone who requests them, within a five mile
radius of the church in Mecklenburg County. IF YOU WOULD LIKE DELIVERY, PLEASE CONTACT KIM AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE THIS LETTER (phone and email information above). On Sunday morning, or at whatever time you will be watching our service, be sure to have your communion elements available – either those delivered by Kim and Dennis, or other simple supplies: a bit of bread or crackers and some kind of juice or beverage will do nicely. Then, as we give thanks to God in the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving and remember the words that Jesus spoke in the upper room, in each of our households we will take what we have, eating and drinking together as Jesus commanded. It will not be the same, but it will not be entirely different either, for the Holy Spirit will make it real.
On behalf of the Finance Committee, I am pleased to to tell you that we have finalized arrangements with the Presbyterian Foundation to receive on-line financial gifts. For those whose financial situation during these troubled times allows us to continue our pledge support, such acts of faithfulness and generosity enable the church to remain strong and fully prepared to resume our activities as soon as it is prudent to do so. Checks sent through the mail will of course always continue to be appreciated. However, many of us may find that on-line giving is helpful convenience for now. Simply go to our church website at www.pawcreekpc.org
and click the link for On-line Giving on the homepage. The process is simple, and gifts can be charged to either a checking account or debit/credit card. Please note that in using this service, email receipts and bank account records will reflect that gifts have been made to the Presbyterian Foundation; they will be remitted from the Foundation to the Church, and are fully tax deducible as pledge gifts to Paw Creek Presbyterian Church.
Finally, as always, please don’t forget our weekly meetings on Zoom – prayer meeting Sundays at 10:00 am and Bible Study Wednesdays at 5:30. The Bible Study passages for the next several weeks are listed at the end of this letter. Please let me know if you want to join either of these meetings so that I can give you the correct log-in information.
In this Easter season, please remember these prayers that were collected in recent days:
Continued prayers for Susan Kenley and her family.
Please remember Mary Ellen Edwards and her family in the loss of her mother, Mrs. Amy Eberhardt, over the weekend.
There will be a private burial service in the Fayetteville area, and a public worship service at a later date.
Mike Johnson is at home recovering from out-patient surgery for kidney stones.
Lovelee Steele was released from the hospital after surgery last week – she is now recovering at the home of her daughter
Jeannie in Charlotte.
We rejoice to hear that Courtney and Patrick McCarthy are now fully recovered after being ill with Covid-19.
Please remember Betty Fields as she cares for her husband Raymond at home
These are the prayer requests we had in worship on Sunday:
Our prayers are with Wendy Kemp and her family on the death last week of her father, Mr. John Slater.
Gail Bryant’s sister Vade is making progress at home in Kentucky after her hospitalization – please pray for her to gain strength and be able to eat more.
Frank Dale is home from the hospital in the care of his family.
Prayers for the family of Bill Durham, who died last week, especially his wife Sue and their children; the Durhams were long-time neighbors of Patty and Eric Burns.
Susan Roscoe asks us to remember her friend Pearl Lemieux, a paramedic who contracted Covid-19 and was in ICU care last week.
Chris Timberman reported an update on his friend Nicole Stewart, who was ill with Covid-19 but was beginning to improve.
Frances Lyerly asks us to remember her granddaughter and all others who have been furloughed and laid off during this economic crisis.
For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.
Blessings on us all,
Elliot

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Weekly Letter – April 9, 2020

 

Contact Information

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 (forwarded to home)

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

 

From deepest darkness to the most brilliant light –

the journey of Holy Week and Easter

 

 

Dear Paw Creek,

I am writing to you on the Wednesday of Holy Week. Tonight will also be the first night of Passover, when our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community will gather to celebrate the seder meal. Every year at the seder it is traditional for the youngest child in the gathered family to ask four questions, which prompt the telling of the story of the Exodus. The first question is: “How is this night different from all other nights?” (The answer describes the unleavened bread and other foods, and explains what they represent.) But surely tonight, even as the traditional answers are recited, the question will also remind everyone of the innumerable changes that have come in all of our lives over the last four weeks. Tonight’s seder will indeed be different from all other seders, with families gathering by phone or videoconference, or perhaps not able to gather at all.

And by the same token as this week goes on, for those of us who have been accustomed to the rhythms of Holy Week and Easter, our days will be different as well.

How is this Maundy Thursday different from all other Maundy Thursdays? At Paw Creek we will not attempt to recreate our traditional table fellowship. This service for many years has been a moving way to be together and share the intimacy of the meal that Jesus had with his disciples. We will not share the meal this year, but will look forward to next year, when we can again be together, shoulder to shoulder in one place.

How is this Good Friday different from all other Good Fridays? Our tenebrae  service will proceed at 7:00 pm via Facebook and YouTube. Although not together in one place, from each of our homes we will hear again the story of Jesus’s last hours and pause in quietness to reflect on all the meaning that his sacrifice has for us as we serve him in these days.

How is this Easter Sunday different from all other Easter Sundays? It will follow the pattern of the last few weeks, with worship at 11:00 am, again via Facebook and YouTube. We will not raise our voices together to shout “Alleluia”, but we will raise them in our homes and in our hearts. We will not sing together “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, but we will remember those words and hear that music. We will miss terribly the singing of our choir, but will joyfully await to hear their voices again when the time is right. We will share in the beauty of the Easter flowers as they bedeck our sanctuary. And most of all, we will proclaim the Gospel of Resurrection and cling to its promises as the strength of our risen Savior holds us fast in these days.

This will not be the year when Easter failed to happen. It will be the year when Easter happens with more hope and promise than ever before.

 

I hope this Holy Week letter finds our church family bearing up in these days with God’s help and good blessings. Please don’t forget that, in addition to the worship services listed above (check the church website at pawcreekpc.org for the appropriate links) we have Bible Study on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm and Prayer Group on Sundays at 10:00 am, both via Zoom. If you need the invitation and log-in information, please contact Debbie Taylor or me.

Also, remember that the flowers which we will see in the sanctuary on Sunday are provided through your generous memorial and honorarium gifts – the list of those being honored is attached to today’s letter. The flowers will be planted in the church garden in the coming weeks. If you requested an Easter lily to take home, arrangements for picking it up will be announced on Sunday.

Thanks to all who posted pictures of your Palm Sunday greenery last week. There is a sampling of those pictures attached to today’s letter.

Looking ahead to after Easter, on Sunday, April 19 our worship service will include celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Although we generally find that the sacrament is most meaningful when we are able to be together in person, in this time of distancing we will cross the lines of what is traditional to have an on-line celebration (this kind of celebration has been endorsed by the Office of Worship and Theology of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to accommodate our needs in this extraordinary time.)

During worship on the 19th, after the words of the communion liturgy, everyone will be invited to partake of bread and juice at home. To make this easier, we have prepackaged communion kits available, each with a wafer and a small cup of juice. Kim and Dennis Whittington have very generously volunteered to deliver these kits to anyone who lives in Mecklenburg County within approximately a five-mile radius of the church. If you are not in that area, you can simply have a bit of bread and juice (or any beverage) ready for your household before you watch the service.

If you wish to have communion elements delivered during the week after Easter, please reply to Kim at the church email address or church telephone number (at the top of this letter) by Monday evening, April 13. Specify how many kits you need and include your address. Kim and Dennis will leave an envelope at your front door some day later in the week (probably Thursday, if the weather is good, but at any rate prior to Sunday). Again, many thanks to Kim and Dennis for offering to serve our congregation in this way!

One final word of scheduling: with so much else being disrupted, the Men of the Church have decided to cancel the annual Church Fish Fry, originally planned for Saturday, May 2. It will not be rescheduled for this year, but we look forward to reclaiming this tradition in 2021.

For this holy week, please remember these prayers that were collected in recent days:

  1. We continue to have encouraging news from Patrick and Courtney McCarthy. Both have been released from quarantine and will continue sheltering at home with all the rest of us. Prayers of thanksgiving and continued strength.
  2. Susan Kenley has been experiencing pain and discomfort this week; she was seen for tests on Wednesday and is waiting for results via teleconference with her oncologist. Let us pray for good treatment and quick relief.
  3. Mike Johnson had surgery on Wednesday for kidney stones. As we await word from him, we pray a speedy and full recovery
  4. Lovee Steele was hospitalized on Sunday and had additional surgery for on-going intestinal issues. We pray for her early release from the hospital and full recovery.
  5. Mary Ellen Edwards’s mother, Amy Eberhardt, again is having a week of ups and downs, but generally far better than the prognosis of not so long ago. Let us uphold them all in the days ahead.
  6. We rejoice in the safe birth of two new babies to families in our church, both on Friday, April 3:
    • Kenley Anne McGee, daughter of Nick and Kelly – granddaughter of Amy McGee, great-granddaughter of Susan Kenley.
    • Rhett Allen Winchester, son of Lauren and Troy – grandson of Debbie Wingate – great-grandson of Allen and Laura Wingate.
  7. These are the prayer requests we had in worship on Sunday
    • Gail Bryant’s sister Vade was in the hospital in Kentucky last week, and is now being cared for at home.
    • Vicky Joy is having medical tests this week.
    • Ken Smith continues in care at Courtland Terrace in Gastonia; has now been moved to from rehab to skilled care.
    • John Slater, father of Wendy Kemp, is hospitalized after a fall.
    • Neighborhood resident Bryan Park died last week after contracting Covid-19. Let us remember his wife and children in prayer.
    • Continued prayers for medical workers, and all those who have been affected, both medically and financially, in these days.
  8. These updates were shared during our Bible Study gathering on Wednesday evening:
    • As Frank Dale’s condition has improved, he was released from nursing care to continue PT and OT at home.
    • Gail Bryant reports that her sister Vade’s recovery from hospitalization in Kentucky is going better than expected.
    • Vicky Joy asks us to remember her co-worker Donna Stallings, who has been home for two weeks with the coronavirus.

 

For eyes to see the bounty of God’s goodness this week and always, let us pray with thanksgiving to the Lord.

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Weekly Letter – April 2, 2020
 
Contact Information:
Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 
Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)
pawcreekpc.org
Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube
 
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!
– Psalm 118
 
Dear Paw Creek,
Greetings and blessings to us all. Each week brings new challenges, but also new and surprising ways in which we are able to rise and meet these unprecedented times.

In our life as a church family we have begun to settle into these new patterns, but there are more changes ahead as we enter into the familiar rhythms of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter in unfamiliar ways. And of course Easter week also brings memories of the family celebrations that will be different this year when we cannot gather in traditional ways. Our live-streaming schedule will include Palm Sunday worship, April 5 at 11:00, Good Friday evening worship, April 10 at 7:00, and the Easter celebration on April 12 at 11:00. Continued thanks to the Worship Committee and our worship team for creative ideas.

For Palm Sunday this week, we will have branches in the sanctuary, but we cannot distribute the palms for everyone to take home as we normally do. So here’s an idea that was passed on today from our Presbytery office:

What if everyone on Sunday April 5th in the morning, put a branch on the door
of their house or on the window, to celebrate Palm Sunday?
It could be any green branch you can get. This would help, despite the social
distancing, to be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks.
 
What a great idea and a great witness! As our neighbors get out for exercise and dog-walking, they can see that our homes are places where the Palm Sunday story is being told and celebrated. If you can get hold of any kind of greenery, you can participate. And be sure to take a picture so we can document what we have done.

Don’t forget that we continue with good strong turnout for Sunday prayers each week at 10:00 am and Bible Study on Wednesdays at 5:30 pm. If you still need to be added to the invitation for Zoom, contact Debbie Taylor or me.

For this week, please remember these prayers that were collected in recent days:

1. The news on Patrick and Courtney brings thanksgiving for prayers answered! Courtney continues to improve as she recovers at home after being released from the hospital earlier in the week, and Patrick is “on the mend” as well. Let us continue our prayers of thanks as they move quickly towards full recovery.

2. Mary Ellen Edwards’s mother, Amy Eberhardt, is showing signs of improvement – far beyond the prognosis of a week ago. She is negative for the virus and remains in care as she regains strength.

3. Kelly McGee will be induced into labor on Thursday morning, as she and Nick await the arrival of their daughter Kenley (Amy’s first grandchild AND Susan’s first great-grandchild!). Updates will follow.

4. These are the prayer requests we had in worship on Sunday:

• Allen Wingate is being cared for at home; daughter Debbie has moved in to help with his care.

• Susan Kenley tested negative for Covid-19 and is therefore able to continue her treatment routine with her oncologist.

• Chester Brooks was in Huntersville Hospital with kidney stone issues.

• And a celebration: Celia Gray’s brother just celebrated the first anniversary of his kidney transplant and is doing great!

5. This update was shared during our Bible Study gathering on Wednesday evening:

• Let us continue prayers for Frank Dale and his children, Jane and David, as they make decisions about a move from rehab to nursing care – especially hard in these days when they will not be able to visit facilities or see Frank before or after his move.

6. And a personal thanks from Nell and me for your prayers as our daughter Amanda made the four day drive from Idaho. She arrived safely on Tuesday and will continue her classes on-line at home through the end of the semester.

God brings new blessings each day – let us open our eyes to see them. Don’t forget to find a branch for the front door, if you are able to get out. See you on Palm Sunday.

Blessings on us all,
Elliott

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 
Weekly Letter – March 25, 2020

 

Contact Information:

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329 

Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

Do not fear, for I am with you,

            do not be afraid, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you.

            I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

                                                – Isaiah 41

Dear Paw Creek,

In these days it is hard to get our minds accustomed to how much our lives change from one week to the next. All of us in Mecklenburg County are now under the “stay at home” order as we navigate yet another set of limitations and new routines. A reasonable reaction – reasonable in human terms – is to feel a closing in of fear. Fear for health and safety. Fear for economic repercussions. Fear for ourselves and those we hold most dear.

Isaiah reminds us that an even more appropriate reaction – reasonable and appropriate in God’s terms – is to reject the fear and replace it with the assurance of the knowledge of God’s greater strength against all that assails us. Turning to God is not easy in these times. But it is so much more possible when we lean on each other. Telephones, internet, and other tools make that possible even as we lose physical time together. Let’s redouble our efforts to reach across the divide and encourage one another to remember and rely on the strength of God. Do not be afraid!

There is little breaking news to report, but I do want to let everyone know that the Presbytery has sent out an official ruling from the county that live-streaming church services are “essential” and that we can continue to provide our Sunday worship to everyone from the sanctuary. Mark’s music will grace our worship, and we are all grateful to  him, to Clint, our tech guy, and to the Worship Committee for making it all happen.

We are also keeping up with each other through virtual Sunday morning prayer time (10:00 am) and Wednesday evening Bible Study (5:30). If you want to add your name to either list, to request a CD of the Sunday service, or have any other requests, please let me know. And of course send your requests for prayer or other kinds of assistance to me or the assigned elder who will be checking in on each family in the weeks ahead.

Here are some prayer concerns as of Wednesday afternoon.

  1. Please pray for the family of John Litaker, especially Donna and Elaine, as they mourn his death on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 96. His family gathered was with him at home. There will be a private graveside service on Friday in our church cemetery, and a memorial service later in the year.
  2. Let us pray with special urgency for our choir director, Patrick McCarthy, and his family. Patrick’s wife Courtney is ill, presumably with Covid-19, although test results have not come back yet. She was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with double pneumonia. Patrick is also showing milder symptoms, and remains home with the children, who have no signs of illness. He is not allowed to visit Courtney in the hospital. Patrick does not need phone calls or messages just now, but cards can be mailed to 9662 Estridge Lane, Concord, NC 28027.
  3. Continue to remember Mary Ellen Edwards and her family with the illness of her mother, Amy Eberhardt in Fayetteville. She is now receiving comfort care and can not have visitors. Mary Ellen was able to be with her for about six hours on Tuesday, but will not be allowed to see her again. Please pray for them both in this difficult separation.
  4. We continue to hold the family of Erskine Foard in prayer. His graveside service was Tuesday for immediate family. We have had requests for contact information for his daughters: Sharon Lamb, 7543 Forest Oak Drive, Denver, NC 28037 and Becki Friend, 106 Teton Place, Mt. Holly, NC 28120.
  5. These are the prayer requests we had in worship on Sunday
    • Frank Dale is progressing in rehab care at Presbyterian Hospital and hopes to be released in the coming days
    • Remembering the families of two community friends who died last week: Millie Hord and Bobby Helms.
    • Health care workers who are on the front lines protecting all of us.
  6. These requests were reported by our elders as they made calls to the congregation this week:
    • Chris Normand’s mother is in nursing care in Maine, family members live near-by but are unable to visit
    • Ken Smith is in nursing care in Gastonia after his fall last week; Vernie is able to contact him by phone but is finding that he is very confused and does not understand why she cannot visit.
    • Lovee Steele is doing well at home and has begun PT after her recent hospitalization
    • Hoyt Johnson reports that he and Jean are doing well and appreciates the outreach
    • Toni Torrence is on the front lines in her work in the office of an ENT practice, and appreciates our prayers for her and her family
  7. And these needs have been lifted up on our prayer chain during the last few days
    • Coleen Vance, close friend of Dina Salvo is at Johns Hopkins hospital to receive treatment for multiple myeloma.
    • Leonora Kaufmann, dear friend of Susan McDonald is waiting for test results on Covid-19; she is a pancreatic cancer survivor and has asthma.

 

May this week bring new signs of God’s strong care to all of us. May we be supported by the glory of new life as spring reclaims the earth. May we stay in close contact and be God’s gifts to one another.

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

 

 

Happy Birthday to Those Celebrating in April!

April 2                                                                     April 3

Ernest Moore                                                             Jack Watson

Sam Shannon

 

April 5                                                                    April 6

Virginia McGranahan                                                 Price Kenley

Sonny Ross

Kay Simmons

 

April 7                                                                    April 10

Shelby Alexander                                                      Victoria Krebs

Emily Cathey

Shannon Drolet

Jo Small

 

April 12                                                             April 13

Abby Glover                                                              Matt Turner

Alex Glover

 

April 14                                                             April 15

Zoey Bryant                                                              Mark Burleson

Bob Rudisill

 

April 16                                                             April 18

Robin Wodarski                                                         Morgan McGee Miller

Joan Wilson

 

April 19                                                             April 21

James Summerlin                                                      Austin Edwards

 

April 22                                                                  April 24

Garrett Joy                                                               Kevin Joy

 

April 25                                                                  April 26

Patty Burns                                                              Sean Glover

Emily Normand

 

April 27                                                                  April 28

Jerry Mullis                                                              Karen Cathey

Lexi Torrence

 

April 30

Doug Edwards

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Weekly Letter – March 19, 2020

 

Contact Information:

Kim Whittington – office@pawcreekpc.org • 704-392-0329
Elliott Hipp – deh46@columbia.edu • 704-502-2143 (calls and text messages)

pawcreekpc.org

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church on Facebook and YouTube

God is our refuge and strength,

            a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,

            though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.

though its waters rage and foam,

            and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

The Lord of hosts is with us;

            the God of Jacob is our refuge.

                                                – Psalm 46

Dear Paw Creek,

In these unprecedented times, we cling fiercely to images of the unchangeable strength of God against all tumult and fear. And we cling to one another for we know that together, as those who share the knowledge of the Good News of Christ, we will find his kingdom.

On Tuesday of this week, already a lifetime ago, I was at the aquatic center for a swim. It turned about to be the last swim for the foreseeable future. Afterwards in the locker room I met Mr. Richard Metz and in conversation learned that he is the pastor of Glorious Full Gospel Tabernacle, which is located behind the Excelsior Club off of Beatties Ford Road. We talked about the stresses and strains on our respective congregations in these days, and agreed to pray for each other’s churches (please join me in adding them to your prayer list). As we parted (with an elbow rub) we thought about the coming of Easter in just a few weeks, and about the Easter truth that is still ours even in the midst of Lent: death has been swallowed up in victory, the powers of evil that challenge us have already been defeated, God’s victory is assured. Everything we do in these days has the potential to become a way to live out and display our deep faith that these things are true. To have that faith is to live in the certainty of hope that these trials will pass. And from that hope comes the strength to pour ourselves out in caring for one another. Please join Brother Richard and me in claiming this truth and this power of the Gospel.

Last night the Session of Paw Creek met for the first time via electronic video conferencing. All of our elders were able to participate, and we had a very productive meeting as we reviewed the things we are doing to witness to God’s love, and some new things that we want to implement. This letter is a report to all of the church on those conversations.

  1. Beginning today, I will send out a weekly letter like this to everyone who normally receives our monthly newsletter. It will go out by email and postal mail, and will be available on the church website. I will share news about virtual church activities, about members of our church community, and about our prayer concerns to keep us all a bit more connected.
  2. Sunday morning worship will continue to stream live each week at 11:00 am. It is available on Facebook and now also on YouTube. You can reach either platform by clicking the links on our website homepage. Previous services are available on those sites throughout the week. You may be interested to know that last week’s service was accessed over 900 separate times as of last evening!
  3. We will also begin making audio CD’s of the service to mail out to all who request them. If you have not previously used this service, you can request to be added at any time. This is especially helpful if you are not able to watch the live stream.
  4. The worship experience itself will be evolving as we experiment. Mark and Patrick will both begin participating so that we have the gift of music each week. Also, a member of the session will join me in leadership each week to give you some fresh faces to look at. I would guess that with these additions (and without the need for a long list of opening announcements as we had last Sunday) the services will be running around 45 minutes. There will be a simple order of service on the website each week for you to access or print out.
  5. During the worship service, everyone who is watching in real time will be able to text prayer concerns for sharing with the congregation later in the service.
  6. As I mentioned above, the Session experimented with video conferencing last night. It went pretty well, as each of us pushed past our comfort zones. Although it is new for all of us, we want to give it a try for other church activities as well. If you cannot connect by computer or smart phone, you can still call in from a regular phone (cell or land line) and participate in the audio portion only. Specific instructions are listed later in this letter.
  7. On Sundays at 10:00 am there will be a prayer meeting, as we are used to having each week, conducted on Zoom. You are invited to participate and help share concerns for inclusion in the worship service.
  8. On Wednesdays at 5:30 there will be a Bible Study on Zoom. This will include folks from both the morning and evening classes, and anyone else who wants to join us.
  9. The Congregational Care committee is preparing a list of families in the congregation to be divided up among all our session members. As soon as this is ready, elders will begin calling each family on a regular basis to check in, share news, learn of needs, and help keep us all better connected. Your assigned elder can also be a good additional point of contact when you need to get in touch with your church family.
  10. As I mentioned in my note last week, in person pastoral visits to home or hospital are discouraged except in exceptional circumstances. As we get organized, I will look forward to staying it touch by phone. But please, if you want to chat, even just to hear a familiar voice, don’t hesitate to give me a call.
  11. If you have needs of any kind (errands to be run, chores to be done, information or advice), please be sure to let the church know. If you are on Facebook, you can post it on our page, or you can call me, your assigned elder, or the chairs of the Congregational Care Committee – Joy Tyler and Karen Cathey.
  12. If you are willing to be available to help with errands and such, please call Karen Cathey, who will develop a list that we can turn to.
  13. If you or anyone you know has a financial hardship, the Social Service fund is designed for assistance in times like this. Please call Karen or Grady Cathey.
  14. Session members are keeping watch for news of ways that we can be actively helpful to the larger community. At this point, most programs (such as food assistance at our Back Pack Buddy partner school, River Oaks Academy) are not seeking volunteers because of social distancing. As this changes, we will let everyone know.

 

With all of these things going on, here is some practical information about how to access it all:
  1. Kim is now working from home. She has the capability to do everything there that she can do in the office. Please call or email to make sure we have correct contact information, to add yourself or a family member to the postal mailing list, to receive audio CDs of worship, or any other questions you have.
  2. If you want to participate in Zoom for prayer meetings or Bible Study classes, you can do the following:
    1. On your phone or computer go to us and click “Sign up, it’s free” in the upper righthand corner. Follow the prompts to create a new account (it’s free!). User name is your email, and you create your own password.
    2. As part of the sign up process, allow the website to download the zoom app – you will use the same name and password as on the website.
    3. Let us know that you want to participate: contact me for Bible Study, or contact Debbie Taylor for Sunday prayer meeting.
    4. We will send you an Invitation via email once the meeting is scheduled (it will be a different invitation each week)
    5. At the time of the meeting, open your invitation and click “Join Zoom Meeting”. That will open the app and take you to the meeting. Click to allow use of video.
    6. During the meeting, keep your microphone on “Mute” and only turn it off of Mute when you want to speak. Without this there is so much background noise that it’s hard to hear.
  3. If you want to call in for audio only, please just let Debbie or me know. Each week we will contact you with a phone number to call and ID number to enter to be connected. The phone numbers are long distance so be sure you call from a phone that has unlimited long distance.
  4. Starting next week, the order of worship for Sunday morning will be attached to this weekly newsletter for those that receive it by mail. Starting tomorrow, there will be a link on the website homepage so that you can download it, and print if you wish.

 

In all of this, I want to say a special word of thanks to our Session members for their great ideas, creativity and support last night and always. And an extra special word to our wonderful staff. Mark and Patrick are going the extra mile to bring beauty and Spirit to our new worship reality. Kim, quite simply, is holding it us all together – she knows how to do everything! Thank you all.

 

Each week, I will close with the prayer concerns that I know of at the time this goes out. Please continue to send requests to Ann Cashion or me; to call in to our 10:00 am prayer time; or to text concerns to me during the service. For today, Thursday, March 19:

  1. As I have worked on this letter today, I received word that Erskine Foard died this morning in hospice care at Presbyterian Hospital. Erskine was God’s faithful servant for decades at Glenwood ARP Church, and has been a cherished member here at Paw Creek in recent years. Please remember his daughters, Becki and Sharon. They will have a private burial service soon and a memorial service later when we can all gather again.
  2. Please pray for John and Elaine Litaker and their family. John is comfortable at home, and earlier this week accepted in-home hospice support to assist in his on-going care.
  3. Lovelee Steele is at home recovering after a hospitalization and emergency surgery.
  4. Frank Dale was hospitalized with complications from surgery to remove a skin cancer, and is now in the Rehab wing at Presbyterian Hospital.
  5. Please pray for all of those in nursing and rehab care who are now on lockdown and unable to visit with their families. Pray for the staff who are caring for them, and for all medical staff. Pray for our country and our world, for leaders with strength, and medical researchers with brilliant knowledge to understand and lead us forward.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read all this – it will get more simple as time goes on! Let us close with this prayer, offered in the Book of Common Worship for a time of National Crisis:

God of the ages, in your sight nations rise and fall, and pass through times of peril. Now when our land is troubled, be near to judge and save. May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search your will and see it clearly. If we have turned from your way, help us to reverse our ways and repent. Give us your light and your truth to guide us; through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.

 

                                                Blessings on us all,

                                                Elliott

Question of the Week – (Each week I plan to pose a question, gather your responses, and share them with everyone the following week – a simple way to keep in touch):
 
How are your millennials? Children or grand-children, college students, graduate students, young marrieds, 20-somethings, the next generation. Have they come home? Are they sheltering where they are? What changes and challenges are they facing?
 

Email, text or call and I’ll compile the information next week.

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February 26, 2020
 

Dear Friends,

 

How did Jesus change YOUR life?

 

As the years go by, I become more and more convinced that Jesus HAS changed our lives, each one of us. And in order to change our lives,  Jesus has sought us out. He has been real to each one. He has shown us his face, whether in the face of a loved one, in the raging of life’s storms, in the surge of life’s wildest joys, or even (for some) in a vision or a dream.

 

We are not accustomed to talking about the times that Jesus became present to us, and so we may miss his presence altogether. What     better time than the season of Lent for us to search the scriptures and learn from them how to recognize Jesus when he comes? This Lenten season at Paw Creek, the Worship Committee invites us to do just that. Each Sunday we will read a story about a time when Jesus came face to face with someone, and we will dive deeply into those stories to seek clues: what is it like to see Jesus’s face? How did he change the lives of those people?

 

On Palm Sunday, when Jesus came face to face with a great milling crowd, we will turn the spotlight on ourselves. WE are the crowd. WE have seen his face. WE will never be the same. Each of us (if and as we are led) will have the chance to tell our story: “How did Jesus change MY life?”. Let us plan to be together on Sunday mornings throughout Lent as the Worship Committee invites us to prepare our stories and record them to share. What a great adventure!

 

See you in church,

 

Elliott

 

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January 29, 2020
 
Dear Friends,

 

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

 

It’s beginning to look like we are making our way through a pretty mild winter. But even so, as February bears down on us it feels like that quiet time of year. Stay in, keep close to home, recover from the holidays and rest up for the busy-ness of spring. As Ecclesiastes tell us, God has plans to give us everything we need, including rest and rejuvenation at the appointed time. Every need has its season and our job is to embrace what God gives us – on his schedule and in his time.

 

So if your life is giving you the gift of a little bit of quietness right now, I hope you can take advantage. That’s the way it feels on our church calendar as well. A quiet February will be over before we know it, and soon Lent, Easter, Pentecost and all manner of activities rush to the forefront. As February begins, let’s embrace its gifts, as they prepare us for new joys to come.

 

Blessings, Elliott

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December 18, 2019
 
Dear Friends,

 

We stand at the turning point this week, as the anticipation of the Advent Season gives way to the glory of Christmas and the arrival of the Christ Child. The multitude of presents under the Giving Tree is now on its way to neighborhood kids. Same with the final Backpack Buddy shipment of 2019, off to River Oaks Academy along with extra Christmas-time support for the children and their families. Room In the Inn is ready to receive neighbors on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Truly, the preparations are all in place.

 

And here at Paw Creek as well, all has been made ready to welcome the Messiah. On Sunday the Jesse Tree will receive its final ornaments as the gift of poinsettias fills the sanctuary. And the Christmas story will be told again in word and in song, both on Sunday in our service of Lessons and Carols, and on Tuesday night with candlelight and the sharing of communion. All that is needed now is you and me. I hope that each of us can make it a priority to come. Not just to show appreciation for all the wonderful music that we will hear, and all the beauty that we will see. But even more, let us come with open hearts, knowing that we are the ones who will receive the gifts that the Messiah brings. Truly, all the preparations are God’s preparations for us, and we will be blessed in being together as God’s family.

 

Best Christmas blessings to us all,

 

Elliott

 

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November 27, 2019

 

Dear Friends,

 

The jam-packed holiday season gets into full swing this week. Best wishes to all of us for a restful Thanksgiving week full of good food, family and friends!

 

Almost as soon as the left-overs are packed away, the calendar will shift again. By next Sunday we will be on our way in the season of Advent. Advent is the time when we reenact the way that God’s people waited for a Messiah throughout the centuries prior to the birth of Jesus. And of course we also share in their experience of waiting as we remember our own longing for the return of Jesus to reign as our Christ and Redeemer.

 

There are many ways for us to experience the count-down to Christmas, including Advent calendars, the Advent wreath, and our tradition of placing figures in the creche week by week. This year we add a new tradition, which comes as the joint creative effort of the Worship Committee, the Congregational Care Committee and the Presbyterian Women. It’s called the “Jesse Tree” and it remembers the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who foretold the birth of a king as a new branch on the family tree of Jesse – the father of King David.

 

The branches of the Jesse Tree are made up of the stories of people in the Old and New Testaments who pointed towards the promise of the Messiah in their deeds and words. On Sunday, December 1, we will receive a devotional booklet with 25 Bible stories – one for each day until Christmas. Please consider making these stories a part of your devotions for the month of December. To help us keep them in mind, each Sunday there will be ornaments added to the tree in the sanctuary that represent the stories that we are reading. As the tree fills up, the Messiah comes nearer and nearer.

 

Please have a look at the rest of this newsletter for all our Advent and Christmas activities – may the coming light of Christ brighten the lives of you and your family during this holy season!

 

Blessings, Elliott

 

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October 30, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
This coming Sunday, November 3, will be our annual celebration of All Saints Day. As we give thanks for God’s gift of the Communion of Saints, we will especially remember those saints of our congregation who have died during the past 12 months.  There will also be time for each of us to come forward and give thanks for the special saints that have played an important role in our own lives through the years.
 
As Christians, we live with the promise and the knowledge that our lives cannot be contained within the bounds of the world that we can see, touch and feel with our senses. Throughout our lives we are gladdened by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. The Spirit gives us guidance, courage and assurance when times are hard – and likewise fills us with joy and thanksgiving as we are become aware of the countless ways that God showers us with blessings.
 
Often we come to understand that trials and blessings occur at the same time and for the same reasons. It is one of those experiences (perhaps the most powerful example) that overtakes us on All Saints Day. To remember the loved ones who are no longer a tangible part of our lives is an experience of sadness and loss. And yet to celebrate the promise and sure knowledge that those same loved ones live on in God’s resurrection and (most comforting for us) remain in communion with us as daily companions in our lives is an experience of untold joy. On All Saints Day our
tears and our laughter mingle together in ways that we cannot understand, but ways
that point our hearts and our gratitude to God.
 
I hope you can join us on Sunday. God will be there. Members and extended family of our congregation will be there. All of our Saints, yours and mine, will be there as well. What a day of joy it will be!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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September 25, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Glory to God!
That’s the name of our new hymnal, which we will begin using on October 6, Homecoming Sunday. Actually, we started using the new hymnal in September, since many of our worship songs this month were taken from there: our opening song “When the Lord Redeems the Very Least” to the tune of “I’ll Fly Away”; our prayer response “Rain Down”; and our doxology “Glory to God, Whose Goodness Shines on Me” (which lends its name to the entire hymnal.) Starting October 6 the purple “Glory to God” books will replace the blue “Presbyterian Hymnal” in the pews and will provide all of our hymns and worship songs. “Glory to God” was published by the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2013 and was chosen this summer by our Session and Worship Committee to bring more choices to our Sunday singing. The purple book has 853 songs, compared to 605 in the blue book, so there’s lots of room for variety. All of the familiar hymns are still there, along with new songs written since 1990, and international songs. Plus (and this to me is the best thing about the new book), the editors added back many of our favorite “oldies” that had been lost during the 1960s and 70s. So we will truly have a wealth of riches to choose from AND sing from. In the coming weeks and months, Patrick, Mark and I will be working to introduce the treasures in “Glory to God”. I hope all of us will take time to explore the book – when you find something you want to try, please let one of us know and we’ll start adding those choices to the order of worship. And, inevitably, we will try a few things that just don’t work – so don’t hesitate to say so if you didn’t like something and we’ll take that into account too.
 
Besides the excitement of opening a new hymnal, we are grateful that these books come to us as a gift from the estate of Mrs. Sue Ballard Love (who was our oldest church member when she died in February 2018), and will be placed in the sanctuary as a memorial to Sue and her husband Brooks. We are also grateful to receive a new pulpit Bible in the New Revised Standard Version from Sue’s estate. Sue’s daughter and granddaughter, Barbara and Susan, will join us for homecoming along with their families, for the formal dedication of these gifts.
 
To complete the update of our worship resources, we are also grateful to receive a new set of pew Bibles in the New Revised Standard Version to match our new pulpit Bible. These pew Bibles were originally given by Mr. and Mrs. John and Phyllis Clark to Steele Creek Church as a memorial to John’s parents and brother. With Steele Creek’s move and merger with the Pleasant Hill Church, they became available; at John’s instigation the Steele Creek/Pleasant Hill Session has donated them for our use. Homecoming Sunday will be a wonderful time to reconnect with our extended church family as we celebrate these generous gifts and begin to enjoy their riches. Please invite your own family and friends to join us. See you on October 6!
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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August 28, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
You can tell from this Newsletter and from the buzz of activity around Paw Creek that the busyness of the fall season is upon us. As we move our worship time back to 11:00 this Sunday, we also see new beginnings for our Sunday School classes, CCC (our Wednesday night children’s program), Backpack Buddies at River Oaks Academy, weekly Bible Study, and Presbyterian Women’s circles, to name a few. We will be collecting gifts to honor the memory of Kay Scearce, doing craft projects to prepare for the upcoming Advent season, and making the CFC ready to welcome neighbors to Room in the Inn. There will be more opportunities for fellowship and food as we celebrate Homecoming in October, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving in November, and enjoy a family Christmas celebration in December.
 
All of this activity – the working out of God’s love in church and in the world – is possible because of the time, talent and financial commitment of each of us who make up this community. It can be easy to loose sight of all that we do together, as we focus on each individual event. To help us keep an eye on the big picture, during the fall season the Finance Committee has arranged for 10 of our committees and programs to make presentations about the work that they do on our behalf. Beginning in September, a short time during worship each week will be devoted to hearing their reports and celebrating the many forms of ministry that we do together. Please listen to what they have to say, make a point to thank those who are working hard for the kingdom, and maybe even consider joining in some of the projects that are close to your own heart. These are the places where our commitment to the kingdom becomes real. Thanks be to God for all that we do!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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July 24, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
By the time you read this, I will be away for a couple of weeks of summer vacation. I appreciate the time to relax a bit and recharge for the busy fall season ahead. I know that many of you have been getting away and I hope your time has been enjoyable as well. Many of you seem to be flocking to the beach, but given the heat wave, I must say I am thankful that we chose to head to the hills!
 
The Psalmist speaks of the hills in Psalm 121 – “I will lift mine eyes until the hills ,” and we are lifted to visions of strength, security and refuge. But the mountains are not really the subject of the Psalm. Immediately the focus changes to the one who made the mountains. “From where will my help come – My help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The visions of refuge and rest are real, but the focus is on the maker, not on the gifts that maker has provided. What a great lesson! Even our times of relaxing point us back to God.
 
Give thanks for all of God’s abundant care – and then sit back and let his love and compassion make us new again. Now that’s a receipt for summer vacation.
 
Blessings to us all,
Elliott
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June 19, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
By now, I hope that many of us have had the chance to try out the summer combined Sunday School classes. Our lessons this year are being taken from an excellent video series called “That the World May Know”. Each lesson was filmed on-site in Israel at the location of important Bible events.
 
The stories that make up the Old and New Testaments are intricately related to the geography, climate and customs of the world in which those stories took place. Jesus, for example, filled his parables with many details that reflect his world and his human experience. The Bible’s meaning for us becomes much more life-changing as we know and understand its world. Our summer video series does an excellent job of making that world come to life, especially for those of us who have spent our lives in very different surroundings.
 
We are grateful to the Men’s Tuesday Bible Study class, which has purchased these videos and is making them available to the whole church this summer. If you have not yet joined the class, please plan to do so. I know you will really enjoy it.
 
Class starts at 9:45 on June 23. On June 30 it will take place as part of the Fifth Sunday breakfast at 9:00 in the CFC. And then starting July 7 we will move to 9:00 am through August 25, to go along with the early summer worship schedule.
 
See you there! Elliott
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June 5, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Happy 210! In 2019 Paw Creek marks the 210th anniversary of its founding – and that means that it has been 10 years since the church Bicentennial in 2009 and 10 years since the beginning of our renewed partnership with Woodland Presbyterian Church. This coming Sunday – the Day of Pentecost – is the time to celebrate and remember all of those anniversaries.
 
If you are new to Paw Creek in the last 10 years, or if your memory is getting rusty(!) let’s remember what this partnership with Woodland Church is all about. Prior to the Civil War, the membership of Paw Creek included a large number of African-Americans who were slaves working on the farms of this community. After emancipation came, those members followed the example of other black Presbyterians throughout Mecklenburg County to pull away and form their own churches. The freed slaves of Paw Creek became the charter members of Woodland. Although our two churches have supported one another in many ways over the years, our relationship became stronger in 2009. To mark the Bicentennial of Paw Creek, we shared a joint project to mark the forgotten slave graves in the Paw Creek cemetery and to dedicate a shared monument to their memory on Pentecost Sunday. We have done many things together since then, but the most enduring and most cherished has been the annual Pentecost service.
 
So now we are ready for our 11th Annual combined celebration of Pentecost on Sunday, June 9 beginning at 10:45 on the front lawn at Paw Creek. Please come for spirited music, rousing worship, and a bodacious pot-luck luncheon in the CFC. But even more, come to renew the connections and honor the memories of everything that has happened in the past years of both our churches. The Holy Spirit will be there, and I hope you will too!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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May 22, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
What a great time we had last Saturday at the first ever Paw Creek Community Breakfast! The food was delicious and the CFC was humming with conversation and good cheer. It was exactly what the Outreach Committee had envisioned – and our thanks go to the committee and everyone involved for their dedication and hard work. That includes the chefs, first of all, along with the servers, those who set up and cleaned up, and everyone who passed the word and invited friends, neighbors and family to join us.
 
The Community Breakfast (may there be many more in the months and years to come!) is a perfect example of what the Bible calls the practice of hospitality. The Old Testament speaks of the sacred duty to welcome strangers with food and shelter. The New Testament speaks of the many meals that Jesus shared with people regardless of their class, position or reputation. And in the middle ages, the monasteries and convents of Europe were places of refuge. Hospitality has no ulterior motive – we don’t open the doors to make money or gain converts. But, as the book of Hebrews notes, when we open the doors wide, we often find that we have “entertained angels unawares”. We simply follow the commandment to receive all who come, and God decides what to make of our efforts.
 
Of all the things we can do to practice the Gospel, the most powerful is simply to open the doors. What a great start we have made. Let’s keep up the good work!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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May 8, 2019
 
Dear Friends,

 

This week I’d like to share some thoughts that came to mind as we were preparing for the MAC Team meeting last week. The MAC Team, you may remember, is the quarterly meeting of our committee chairs, partly to coordinate work and help each other, but most importantly to listen well to the plans that the Holy Spirit has for Paw Creek.  
 
As I told the MAC Team on Thursday night, I find myself thinking about the next chapter(s) of our church’s life as a riddle like the ones posed in the game of Jeopardy (where they give us the answer and we come up with the question).  
 
The answer is everything that the Holy Spirit has done in, to, with and for Paw Creek up through today. This would include our many strengths (great, committed people who are generous, talented and friendly; wonderful music and worship; lots of life-changing mission efforts; great facilities – to name a few.) It would also include things that may feel like weaknesses but may be the Spirit’s way of preparing us for a special task (an industrial neighborhood; the distance to areas where people live; older congregation and not many new, younger members; etc.)  
 
The question we are looking for is in the form of a fill-in-the-blank – “If the Holy Spirit wanted Paw Creek to do _________________, what conditions would the Spirit give us to work with?” In other words: we’ve got everything we need to do something amazing. Now let’s work backwards and find out what we can do with what we’ve got. And while we’re at it, let’s quit wishing that we had a different set of strengths!  
 
The first step that the MAC Team identified last week is lots and lots of prayer. We will have an invitation for that soon, but it’s never to early to start. And in the meantime, I would love to have all of us put on our thinking caps and see what comes to mind. How would YOU fill in the blank? How would YOU pose the question? Think about it, talk about it, and let’s all start sharing our ideas. I can’t wait to find out the question – can you?  
 
Blessings, Elliott 
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April 24, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Christ the Lord is Risen – He is risen indeed!
 
It was glorious to celebrate the Easter miracle on Sunday with all our gathered friends, family and visitors. In fact, all of our worship times throughout Holy Week, from Palm Sunday all the way to Easter were times of contemplation, renewal and ultimately joyful celebration of all God’s goodness.
 
Our gatherings last week represented the dedication of so many members of our church community. Looking back on the week I want to recognize and thank you each one for all that you did. Let’s start with the Worship Committee, which begin to make preparations way back in the cold of winter. Their creativity and dedication yielded an abundant harvest! Decorations for the various services were headed up by Vickie Joy, who gathered a team to prepare the Scout Hut for Maundy Thursday and then create the Easter garden, cold and lifeless on Good Friday and bursting with color and life on Sunday morning (special thanks to the Boy Scouts for setting the furniture in the Scout Hut!) Our various dramatic readers were under the direction of Miriam Childress and Tanya Gross. They master-minded the Passion reading on Palm Sunday and the Service of Shadows on Good Friday – bravo to them and all the readers. Music was the emotional power that held all our services together and made them come alive. Mark Burleson, Patrick McCarthy and the whole choir have been preparing for weeks, from the power of the music of Jesus Christ, Superstar, to the intimacy of Maundy Thursday and the desolation of Good Friday, to the glory of Easter. Thanks to all of them – and especially soloist Larry Ramsey and flutist Susan Bandel. And of course, from beginning to end Kim Whittington was juggling it all from the church office, with her accustomed grace and great competence!
 
But at the end, don’t forget that we all had an important part to play by choosing to come, sing, pray and listen. We chose to make it a special week, to take time out of our schedules, to invite friends and family. Easter happens just once a year, but may its blessings follow us throughout the year, animating our faith and sending us forward to serve our risen Lord.
 
Alleluia! Elliott
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April 10, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Why do we go to church? Or, another way to put it – what does the church offer that we can’t get anywhere else? For me, one clear answer is that the experience of worship is something which is vital to our lives and which we can find in no other place. God can certainly reach us at any time and in any place. But our human makeup is such that we can best perceive God, connect with God, and learn from God when we set aside a holy time and a holy place.
 
One author a few years ago subtitled her book about worship “A Royal Waste of Time”, and that about sums it up. If you observe it from the outside looking in, it appears to be so much “wasted” or “unproductive” time. But those of us who experience it from the midst of it know that God is working there to calm our fears, gladden our hearts, and fit us for the other 167 hours of the week.
 
With those thoughts in mind, I invite all of us to attend to the opportunities for worship that await us in the coming week. The Easter celebration and the days that lead up to it are the crowning jewel of our annual cycle of worship: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day. Each of these services of worship will have it’s own special flavor and spirit. The mood, as we move from one to the next, will bring us into God’s presence with the whole range of human emotions and experiences. Each one picks up where the other leaves off. Throughout the history of the church, this one week has been the prism through which the rest of the year – and the rest of life – have been passed.
 
It only happens once a year. I look forward to seeing you in church, where we can waste some time together!
 
Godspeed,
Elliott
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March 27, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Are YOU part of the “Sandwich Generation”? You may be . . . IF one or more of these statements is true about you and the members of your family:
_____ You have teenagers at home headed for adulthood
_____ Your twenty-somethings are out there navigating the real world – jobs, schooling,                           apartments, relationships, marriages
_____ Your parents need and deserve your time, attention, assistance and care
_____ And/or the loss of your parent(s) in the last few years is still fresh and difficult
_____ You find yourself navigating the rocky waters between giving them (kids AND parents)                  their independence when they want it and your undivided attention when they need it
_____ You find more and more there’s “no time for us” – “no time for me”
_____ And above all else, you look around and realize that shocking feeling: “Now I’m the adult                taking care of EVERYONE. How did that happen!?”
 
How many statements can you check? If any of this is familiar, chances are you too are part of the Sandwich Generation.
 
The Congregational Care committee invites everyone in the Sandwich Generation to get together, share support and stories, and look for ways to help each other through this next, hardest phase of being the ADULT.
 
We will start with a supper meeting after Easter to mingle and enjoy being together, and informally explore what this group could look like and what it could become.
 
Who:The Sandwich Generation
When: Saturday, April 27 at 6:00 pm
Where:Nell and I look forward to welcoming you at our house – 310 Mill Road in Biddleville                       (directions will be provided)
What: Supper and good cheer
 
Please let us know if you can come by speaking to me (deh46@columbia.edu) or one of the committee chairs: Joy (ttyler@bellsouth.net); or Amy (amyskmcgee@gmail.com)
 
Blessings, Elliott
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March 13, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
The “Parable of the Prodigal Son” is among the most well-known and often-discussed of all the parables that Jesus told. As recorded in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 15: 11-32), the parable is a masterpiece of storytelling, with vivid characters, dramatic action and gripping dialogue. Even after all these centuries of being discussed and dissected, the story continues to have great power to grab our attention and lead us to struggle over its meaning. Every time we read it and grapple with it, it has new wisdom to offer. I think Jesus would be pleased that we still take his parable so seriously!
 
Much of the discussion over the years has centered on the question: whose story is this anyway? We generally call it the “Parable of the Prodigal Son”, but other names have been suggested, including the “Parable of the Running Father” and the “Parable of the Angry Brother”. Each of the three main characters has much to teach us, and often we run out of time to really do the story justice.
 
With this in mind, I have planned during Lent this year to spend three weeks on the “Parable of the Father and his Sons” during the sermon time in worship. That will give us time to hear the story from the point of view of each member of the family. Plus, since our sermons in Lent this year are using the “conversational” format, everyone has a chance to have a say and join the discussion (or just listen and learn – remember, we are not going to force anyone to talk.) So I hope you can join us in worship starting this Sunday, March 17, and continuing on March 24 and March 31 as we add our perspectives to this centuries-old conversation. And if you want to dig even deeper, don’t forget that we discuss the sermon texts every week in Bible Study prior to the Sundays when they are assigned – Wednesdays at 10 am and Thursdays at 5:30 pm. Please join us!
 
See you in Church, Elliott
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February 27, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
Next week marks the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 6. Our Worship Committee has been busy in recent weeks making plans for this season, including some creative ways of preparing the sanctuary to visually mark the transformation from Lent to Easter, some familiar worship experiences (the Passion reading on Passion/Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday worship at table in the Scout Hut, and Good Friday tenebrae) and something new (a simple Ash Wednesday service in the sanctuary – see details in this newsletter). And of course Patrick, Mark and the choir are already busy preparing for the music of Lent and especially for Palm Sunday and Easter. Please join us on Ash Wednesday at 6:00, and look for all the details of dates and times of other services as they come nearer.
 
Beyond the details of the plans we have, I would also like to invite us to remember why the Lenten season is part of our church year. Although many of us have heard the popular idea that Lent is about “giving up” something valuable for a period of time, really a better understanding is to focus on the idea of “preparation”. In the very early days of the church, new Christians were traditionally baptized after midnight in the early hours of Easter Sunday morning. The weeks leading up to Easter therefore became a time of preparing the converts by teaching them the faith and helping them deepen their relationship to Christ. More recently – when most of us are baptized as infants – the tradition has taking the same idea of preparation and has encouraged all followers of Jesus to spend these weeks in learning and in spiritual renewal. In that way all of us can also participate in Easter, not as the beginning of our Christian journeys, but as a yearly recommitment to our Christian life. Seen in this way, Lent has something to offer all of us, especially in these hectic times when it is so easy to be pulled away from Jesus and his message. Who doesn’t need to make that kind of recommitment every single year?
 
Next Wednesday we will say these ancient words just before we make the sign of the ashes: “We are invited, therefore, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” Until then, please take a moment to reflect on this invitation – I hope that all of us will be able to find ways to participate throughout this holy season.
 
Godspeed,
Elliott
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February 13, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
I am sure that every single one of us has had the good fortune of knowing people who have been guides or mentors or examples to us as we have made our way through life. Often we remember especially those who have helped us in our younger years, but God gives us these helpers at every stage of our lives. The word “saint” is a good word for describing these people.
 
Today I would like to offer thanksgiving for one of the most important saints of my younger years. Her name back then was Carolyn Darr. Officially she was the organist and choir director at Trinity Presbyterian Church, and she was a highly accomplished musician. But since I was a children’s choir member of uncertain ability, my dealings with her went well beyond the choir room. Luckily for so many of us, she gave generously of her time, friendship and deep Christian faith to children and teenagers in and beyond the choir. In fact, she continued to offer her time and wisdom to me throughout my years in college and graduate school, and was a treasured sounding board as I made the vocational decisions that shaped my life.
 
About the time I graduated from high school, Mrs. Darr began a journey back to her roots in the Episcopalian church. First she left Trinity to become choir director at Christ Church in Charlotte. And then a few years later, having been left a youngish widow with no children, she entered holy orders as a nun in the Episcopalian Society of St. Margaret and became known as Sister Carolyn. She eventually served for a time as the mother superior of her order at their convent near Boston.
 
Last week, Sister Carolyn died full of years – well loved by those who surrounded her in Boston, and fondly remembered by those of us who knew her during her years in Charlotte. Please join me to pay tribute to the life and ministry of Sister Carolyn by taking a moment to remember some of your own saints, and to raise thanksgiving to God for their lives and ministries as well.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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January 30, 2019
 
Dear Friends, This is a good time of year to remember that one way for us to serve God’s church is through the committees and programs here at Paw Creek. Have a look at the Session report for January and notice the list of committees and new committee chairs. Every single one of those committees needs more members with ideas, time and energy to get their work done (the chairs and vice chairs can’t do it all alone!)
 
Some time very soon, one of these committees may approach you and ask you to join their work, or to take on a particular assignment. I hope you will consider the invitation seriously. Or – why wait? If you have a special interest in the work of one of these areas, then by all means speak up! Just look at the list and feel free to contact the chair directly. (If you prefer, you can always just grab me sometime and I will happily bring the news of your interest to the right people.) As I mentioned in church yesterday, many of those same committee chairs were at the NEXT Church Symposium on Saturday and they came back all fired up with ideas and enthusiasm. This is an exciting time in which God has plan for us. Perhaps YOU are just the fresh breath that one of our committees needs.
 
And of course don’t forget our many other on-going projects and groups – Room in the Inn, Presbyterian Women and Presbyterian Men, to name a few. Please – find the place that God has prepared for you, and go sign up.
 
Thank you! and God’s blessing on us and our church,
Elliott
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January 16, 2019
 
Dear Friends,
 
This is the first newsletter of 2019, so it looks like the new year has started and is well on its way. I certainly hope and pray that the year brings peace and joy to all of us, and to our church as a family. Even though nothing much changed at midnight on January 1, we still have a sense of new opportunities. This is traditionally a time of making plans and promises (sometimes we call them “resolutions”). Maybe better than specific resolutions – for God’s plans are always mightier than our own – we can simply seek an attitude of joyful expectation. We say that we trust God with our lives, but do we really expect him to come through? God has more than enough goodness and blessings to go around – enough that we can share with everyone we know and still have plenty left over. Maybe it is as simple as that, just coming to expect what is already coming our way. May 2019 be for all of us a new opportunity to be astounded what God will do.
 
With New Years blessings,
Elliott
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December 19, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Our recent, and highly unusual December snow storm has gotten me to remembering an incident from a long time ago – December 1980 to be exact! I was a first year graduate student living in New York City in a dorm room the size of a thimble. John Lennon had just been killed thirty blocks away, and first semester exams were looming. The later it got in December, the closer the exams, the greater the pressure, the greater the cares of the world. Truly, the coming of the Messiah seemed like a long shot that year.
 
I kept my shoulder to the grindstone, but a small notice in the New York Times caught my eye – the Sunday afternoon before Christmas there would be a service of Evening Prayer with Advent music in the magnificent sanctuary of St. Thomas church on Fifth Avenue, a few doors down from Rockefeller Center. The choir of St. Thomas is world famous, and their concerts could be pricey, but this was a worship service so it would be free. I decided to study hard all weekend and give myself this one holiday treat.
 
When Sunday afternoon came I bundled up and headed to the subway. Two transfers and fortyfive minutes later I got off the train and headed up the stairs. The subway station for the D train lies deep underground below St. Thomas church, and the entrance is practically at its front door. As I emerged onto Fifth Avenue, my senses were bombarded one after another. First the crowds – Fifth Avenue on the Sunday before Christmas just like the song says: “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style”. Then, sure enough, the bells. Deep and resonant, they were pealing from the church tower to announce the afternoon service. But most of all, while I had been underground it had started to snow (a very big deal for a kid fresh in from Mecklenburg County!) Hard to believe at first, but there they were, soft, gentle flakes almost suspended in the gathering dusk.
 
The Christmas spirit snuck up on me that year, all for the price of a subway token. But it does come every year, and my chilly, snowy reminder is a good lesson for all of us: the merriest part of Christmas – the first Christmas and every subsequent one – is the part that comes as a gift, unexpected, unannounced, and full of grace and truth.
 
A very Merry Christmas to us all,
Elliott
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December 5, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
This coming Sunday will usher in something just a little bit different in our worship service. At the recommendation of the Congregational Care committee, Session voted a few weeks ago to retire the familiar “Fellowship Pads” that sit on the end of each pew. In their place you will find a new kind of visitor and prayer card – we hope these will allow us to do a better job of communicating for all of us.
 
First, the Fellowship Pads: we are finding that they capture a lot of information that we don’t often use, but at the same time they are not really suited to letting us gather the information we need. So, after many years, we will bid them a fond farewell.
 
And now, the new pew cards: these are designed to get the two kinds of information that we really want to have. That is (1) a good snapshot of our visitors and (2) a good way for all of us to share news and request prayers. So here’s what to expect:
 
• When we welcome visitors each week, we will invite them to write down their contact information and place the card in the offering. Everyone can help with this. If you see visitors sitting near you, please take time to welcome them, and be sure to hand them a card and ask them to fill it out. That kind of personal invitation is the very best way to make our visitors feel welcome.
 
• When we gather prayer concerns, you can use back of the cards to write down names and information about the people you are praying for. I will collect them out of the offering and read them at our prayer time. We hope this will help us be sure that everyone can hear your concern and that we get all the names and facts correctly. If you would rather keep the information private, feel free to just hand me the card after worship.
 
The new cards will be available in the pew racks. For the next few weeks they will also be included as inserts in the bulletin, to help get us used to using them. (Please leave unused cards in the pews each week so we can collect and recycle.)
 
The Session and Congregational Care committee are looking forward to making this small transition, and seeing big returns. Please let any of us know if you have any ideas or suggestions.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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November 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Thanksgiving greetings! The Bible has an awful lot to say about food: where to find it, how to prepare it, when to eat it. But above all: how to be thankful for it. We need to be fed every day, and because of that our meals are never far from our minds. So the Bible grabs our attention by talking about our food, and then turns our thoughts to God. When we eat each day, we are to think about God. When we harvest each year, we are to think about God. When we recognize the gifts of strength and health throughout our lives, we are to think about God.
 
And how do we think about God? With thanksgiving. To give thanks is to remember that all that we have is a gift of things we cannot make for ourselves, and it is to remember that without those gifts, we would perish. Although we rely on God for everything, there is nothing at all which God needs from us. And yet we fill him with joy when we give our thanks. His joy then warms our hearts and lifts up our lives. Of course food is only the beginning of the things we receive from God. But that is where God’s generosity first catches our imagination. That’s why a day of thanksgiving is focused on the feast. As we share the glory of God’s good creation, how can our hearts help but overflow with appreciation?
 
For Thanksgiving this year, may our tables be full, may our loved ones be close, and may our lists of God’s blessings grow until be can hardly believe our eyes. That is what the Bible envisions, and that is what I wish for all of us.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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November 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
In our Presbyterian Church, the idea of being a church member is the cornerstone of a congregation. Church members have the sacred responsibility to support God’s work with gifts of time and money, to elect church leaders, to study and learn God’s word, and to be Christian brothers and sisters to one another through all life’s ups and down. But even more importantly than all that, church members take a stand and proclaim to all the world that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of our lives and that we will follow him in everything we do. In some times and places is has been dangerous to make those statements – but even when it is not dangerous, it is still necessary because the world needs our example (sometimes called “testimony” or “witness”) to see which way to go.
 
Here at Paw Creek, we want all people to feel welcome, and we will never pressure anyone to move from being a “regular visitor” to a “confirmed member”. But we also want everyone to know that we would value your membership. If this is something you have considered, now is a great time to find out more. On Sunday, November 18, the session will be meeting with at least two folks who have decided to join the congregation. Although we can arrange to have new members at any time, I would love to see more people join us on that day. If you are interested, or just want to ask some questions, please get in touch with me soon so that we can help you make the best decision. Don’t forget, you can reach me at 704-502-2143 or deh46@columbia.edu. I hope we can have a chance to talk!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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October 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Every year on the first Sunday of November, Christians around the world celebrate All Saints Day. This is a time to remember the saints who have been meaningful in our lives and who are now at rest with God, celebrating them by giving thanks for all the ways that God has blessed us through their lives, their memories and their examples. At Paw Creek each year, we make a special effort to recognize the names and lives of those members of our church who have died during the past year, and to invite their families to join us in worship on that day. Those invitations are going out this week, and I hope everyone will help encourage those family members to join us. We also allow time for all of us to name and remember our own saints, including those who have died in years past, and those who were not specifically members of our church – so the invitation is really for all of us to make a special effort to join in worship.
 
All Saints Day will be special significance for Paw Creek this year. As you all know, we have said good-bye to an unusually large number of Christian brothers and sisters – 15 in the past 12 months. At times during the year, the persistent announcement of deaths and funerals has felt overwhelming, as if it is something that is too hard for the community to bear. Yet, with Paul, we must be ready to proclaim that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4: 8-9). Following Paul, we have the courage to believe that our sorrow and pain are not the final word, because the sorrow that we see is temporary, but the resurrection that we cannot yet see is eternal.
 
All Saints Day is our chance to stand with Jesus and claim the resurrection as our own. Please, please join us on Sunday, November 4. We need to be together with our hope and our tears.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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October 10, 2018
Dear Friends,
Homecoming Sunday is just around the corner. On October 14 we will gather with friends and family from near and far to share memories, renew acquaintances and rejoice in the joy of being people who have journeyed side by side in God’s service over the years. There will be an “alumni” choir and a great feast afterwards. EVERYONE ought to be there!
As a congregation of God’s people – the body of Christ in the world – we have good reason to pause and look to the past. Every Bible story we read is an example of examining the evidence of God’s blessings long ago, so that we can recognize and anticipate God’s new blessings in our time. If we can learn from stories 1000s of years old, then think how much we can learn from the stories in our own lives and from recent generations! Every time we share our memories, it is as if God is reaching out to nudge us forward: “Look what I did before – just imagine what I will do for you!”
After 209 years, Paw Creek church has a wonderful story to tell. More important, we have a wonderful new story to look forward to. I hope everyone who reads this today will plan to join us on Sunday. And why not make a few phone calls and put out some invitations to those we haven’t seen in a while? We need their stories too. And of course we are always adding new stories to the great narrative, so new friends are part of the celebration as well. Let’s make this a great party, and see where God will take us next.

See you Sunday, Elliott

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September 26, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
It is hard, sitting here in Charlotte with the rain and wind of last weekend almost forgotten, to imagine the disruption, devastation and heartache that is still taking place not many miles away from here. But those scenes from eastern North Carolina are real, and I know that many of us have close family and dear friends who have faced and will continue to face the worst of Hurricane Florence – in some cases the flood waters are only now reaching their peak.
 
As God’s family in this world, we constantly confront problems that we cannot explain. Although it makes no sense in worldly terms, our response has been the same throughout the years: prayers to God for protection, and practical help to those who are suffering, whether in a hospital room, in a homeless shelter or in the flood plane of a hurricane. These actions, seemingly so meager, have been proven time and time again to have been transformed by God’s grace into real and lasting hope that makes all the difference to a hurting world.
 
There are countless ways for us to reach a helping hand to the victims of Hurricane Florence. But as Presbyterians we can take great satisfaction in knowing that our own Presbyterian Disaster Assistance organization has a national reputation for doing excellent work. Our crews have years of experience, and they arrive immediately, often working with local congregations to identify needs quickly and thoroughly. And PDA also has a reputation for wise use of volunteers so that the largest portion of the gifts they receive goes directly to aiding the victims. Our own Presbytery of Charlotte has a long history of partnering with PDA to provide volunteers and support.
As you will see in this week’s newsletter, the Session has authorized a special offering for next Sunday, September 30, to support the work of PDA. Let us all prayerfully consider how we can help, so that the work of spreading God’s love continues once again.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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September 12, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
On behalf of the Session, I am delighted to announce that Elder Jerry Smith has been selected to receive a 2018 Legacy Award from the Presbytery of Charlotte. The Legacy Award (known in previous years as the Outstanding Older Adult Award) is presented each year to church members from around the Presbytery who exemplify a life-long commitment to Christian service, and who continue in their later years to serve as examples and mentors to people of all ages.  
 
Jerry’s leadership at Paw Creek has been evident to our congregation for many years, and the Session is honored to be able to recognize his contributions in this way. As the Session wrote in its letter of nomination to the Presbytery: “the core of Jerry’s faith has been lived in his relationships, his encouragement of others, and the quiet deeds of kindness that he constantly performs. In these ways, he is as active today as he has been throughout his life and throughout the years of his ministry as a member of Paw Creek Church.” These words are clear and true, and we send our sincere congratulations to Jerry, along with his wife Judy, daughter Gerri Ann, and their whole family.
 
The award ceremony this year will take place at Cooks Memorial Church on Thursday, September 27 (there are some space limitations for the ceremony; we have reached out to Presbytery to determine how many people will be able to attend that day, and will share that information as soon as it is available.) In addition, the Congregational Care Committee plans to honor Jerry in worship on Sunday, September 30. I hope you can join us that day as we honor Jerry for all that he does for us and for Christ’s church.
 
Blessings, Elliott

 
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August 29, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
As we come to the end of summer and see the busy year spreading out ahead of us, I want to highlight two new additions to our Sunday morning routine, both courtesy of the Congregational Care Committee (they, at least, have not been lazy over the summer months!)
 
First – Sunday Morning Prayer Time. You may know that a group of church members meets regularly at the beginning of the day on Sundays to share reports of prayer needs from within our church and beyond. At about the same time, for many years, the Session has met to gather prayer concerns, which are then reported to the congregation doing worship. Beginning this coming Sunday, September 2, these two efforts will combine. (At one time, the Session had used these meetings to take care of short business items, but that is no longer the case, so it really makes sense to have all of our praying folks together in the same group).
 
Here’s how it will work. Anyone and Everyone is invited to meet in the sanctuary each Sunday at 9:30, for 15 minutes prior to the beginning of Sunday School. We will share all of the concerns and celebrations we know of throughout the congregation and community, including updates on folks who have been on the prayer chain requests during the week. As we close, we will pray for all the needs and joys – and those will also be recorded and shared with the congregation prior to the pastoral prayer. Some prayer team members also choose to stay in the sanctuary for a few minutes afterwards to pray quietly for God’s blessings on the sanctuary and on all who will gather to worship later in the morning.
 
Prayer time is quiet, powerful, and a source of strength to bind us together and to God. Please consider coming a few minutes early for Sunday School each week so you can join us.
 
Second – Monthly Celebration of Birthdays and Anniversaries. Starting in September, we will take time during worship on the second Sunday of each month to invite forward everyone who will celebrate a birthday or anniversary during that calendar month (or, if you prefer, to be recognized as you remain seated). Once recognized, we will share prayers of thanksgiving for these milestones, and prayers of blessing for God’s continued grace in the years to come. The passing of the years turns our thoughts to God’s role in our lives – please allow the church family to celebrate with you as we give thanks to God for the gifts of life and holy companionship.
 
The first Celebration will be Sunday, September 9 for everyone during the month of September. Look for a reminder each month in the Birthday listings of the newsletter.
 
See you in September! Elliott
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August 15, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
I can’t believe that we are facing the end of summer! But the calendar does not lie. School starts, days get shorter, temperatures fall (we hope!). I am especially looking forward to the events of August 26. Rally Day is a time to honor our Sunday School students and teachers, but also a time to show our strong support for students and teachers in the community. Please remember that we will be offering school supplies to area families, and let’s all be generous in donating to this project. Many thanks to the Fellowship Committee for pulling this together, as always. 
 
After that, Fall is here. There’s lots coming up, with special times this year to celebrate with Woodland Church on their 150th Anniversary, and the beginning of our joint mission outreach with them (there’s a planning meeting on that next week, and more information as details get pinned down.)
 
Please check the Newsletter and Bulletin in the coming weeks, and look for ways to participate and contribute, as you are able. The lifeblood of every church is the things we do together, and the people that we serve. I’m grateful to be planted here with you, and all the things we do!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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August 1, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
Thunderstorms are a mainstay of summer weather, especially the unexpected kind that and come barreling through in the middle of the night. And firecrackers are a mainstay of the first half of July. Put those two together, and add our dog Hartley, who panics when he hears loud noises, and you have a recipe for many weeks of interrupted sleep. (The little dog Walter is fearless and oblivious, but that’s another story!) As soon as the distant thunder begins, or the first firecracker pops, Hartley begins to shake and pant, and then he comes and curls up as close to us as he can get. We can’t stop the noises, but he needs to know that we are holding him tight, and after awhile the shaking slows down. He never settles until its over, but he gains assurance from having us near.
 
How often it seems like our lives are full of thunder, lightning and loud frightening noises. The peace and quiet that we crave is constantly being disturbed by the unexpected events that happen every day, every week, every year. And when they do, we want to become like scared puppies, to shake and whimper, and find strong arms to hold us tight until the fears go away. That’s when we turn to God, and God never fails us, never gets grumpy over lost sleep, never lets us go until the loud noises go away. But, unfortunately, even then we are like puppies, because we scamper away, forgetting that God was all we needed, destined to have to relearn that lesson the next time, never able to calm ourselves with the assurance that God will protect us in days to come just as he has done before. Maybe that’s the secret to growing in faith, when we finally learn once and for all that God is enough and there’s no need to be frightened again. May God bless us with that gift as well – the rock solid assurance the he is always there!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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July 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
As I write this, we have just wrapped up a very successful week of Vacation Bible School here at Paw Creek. Thank you! to the Christian Education Committee and their many volunteers who made the program work. For five nights we filled the CFC and West Wing with food, laughter, song, crafts, stories and most of all good learning about the very Biblical and very current topic of “Peace”. The turnout was great, for both children and adults, and the enthusiasm was contagious.  And my special thanks to all the adult participants for sharing memories and personal perspectives that led us all to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the way that Jesus has called us to live.
 
So now, we head into the quieter part of summer, when God’s plan for us is relaxation and renewal. Like many of you, my family and I are looking forward to getting away. In our case we are headed to the mountains, where we are counting on some cooler temperatures and a slower pace. I’ll be back at church on Monday, July 30. Until then, I leave you in the good hands of our ruling elders. Please be sure to call on them if any needs arise, and of course they will be able to stay in touch with me if needed. But more than anything else, whether you are traveling or staying put, I wish us all a quiet and restful second half of the summer. We’ll have plenty to keep us busy when we all get back!
 
Blessings, Elliott
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July 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
You will receive this newsletter on July 4th, so let’s start with a rousing “Happy Independence Day” to us all! I’m looking forward to my very first Coulwood community Fourth of July parade, and send many thanks to those who have worked this week to prepare our church float. The parade will be starting by the time you read this, but I hope to see many of you there!
 
As we celebrate the holiday, it seems a good idea to reflect for a minute on the role of our Presbyterian ancestors in the cause of Independence 242 years ago. Of course, we are all familiar with our own Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian document through and through. But the longer Declaration written in Philadelphia the following year had strong Presbyterian connections as well. In fact, King George himself was so aware of the work of our forebears that he was often heard to refer to the War of Revolution as “that Presbyterian insurrection”.
 
The primary Presbyterian voice in Philadelphia came from John Witherspoon, a minister, president of the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) and the only member of the clergy to serve in the Continental Congress. Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration, but Witherspoon provided much of the intellectual framework. He was drawn into the fray as a champion for freedom of religious observance against the tyranny of the established Church of England. But from that starting point he helped make the case for freedom and self- determination in all areas of public life. He continued to be active in the Continental Congress and was also instrumental in establishing our republican form of representative government (it’s no coincidence that our government today is structured so much like the government of the Presbyterian Church!)
 
Of course, the work of self-government did not stop 242 years ago, and John Calvin himself insisted that it is our Christian duty to be active and informed citizens in every time and place. As we celebrate the work of John Witherspoon and his colleagues, we must continue to do our part by following their example by staying informed and making our voices heard. That is the Presbyterian way – and we have a long, honorable heritage to uphold.
 
Happy Fourth of July! Elliott
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June 20, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
When I lived in New England, I learned that many churches there (none of them Presbyterian, to my knowledge) had a long-standing custom of closing down for the summer. That’s right – closing the church completely, and don’t come back until September! It was apparently a left-over habit from the early 20th century when so many people left town to flee to the mountains or the shore for the season, there weren’t enough folks left to make it worth holding church services in town. (In their defense, I will note that each of those picturesque seaside towns had a pretty chapel on the village green and 100 years ago those chapels were full on Sunday mornings throughout the summer.)
Well, we don’t do things like that around here, but with the temperature rising, we can feel a difference the last few Sundays. Every week in church some familiar faces are missing as vacations roll around, and the rest of us enjoy a slower pace with fewer of those after-church meetings to rush off to! Rest and relaxation are good things (God said so – see the creation story in the book of Genesis) and I wish for all of us, at home or far away, some time to slow down and the leisure to read a book, play a game, or simply take a nap.
Of course we don’t come to a complete stop. Some of our best work is done in the summer, including the Youth Mission Week in June (join the youth group for supper on their last day, Wednesday, June 27) and Vacation Bible School in July (classes for everyone and supper every night). So if you are in town, please plan to support and participate in those events.
Here’s wishing everyone a good summer. If you go away, bring back great stories and if not, we’ll see you in church. Wherever you are, give thanks for the marvelous blessings of God!
Elliott
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June 6, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
I want to remind everybody one more time that we will have a Congregational Meeting this coming Sunday, June 10, after worship. At that time we will have the chance to consider and vote on changes to the Manual of Operations for the church. I described those changes and the process that got us here in the last newsletter – I hope in the meantime everyone has had a chance to review the proposed document (you can download a copy on our website) and I still encourage you to call me or any session member with questions and comments.
This week I would like to focus on a change that has already taken place through session’s adoption of its own Manual of Operations. We now have a new group called the “Ministry and Coordination Team” (“MAC Team”) that is up and running and will have its first meeting later in June. Session has elected elder Amy McGee to chair the MAC Team, and its members will be the chairs of our other program committees along with representatives of the Presbyterian Women and Men.
I am hopeful that the MAC Team will be instrumental in helping Paw Creek respond to God’s plans for us with energy and enthusiasm. Some of the Team’s work will be very practical (synchronizing calendars for all our activities, encouraging committees to support each others’ projects, etc.). But beyond that, this will be a group that has the job of dreaming big, of praying hard, and of listening intently. As I’ve told you before, I am convinced that God has already seen the future for our church and its vital place in the kingdom. It is not up to us to come up with creative new programs. Rather, we need to respond to where God will lead us. Perhaps more importantly, we need to get out of the way and make sure we do not throw up resistance because we are afraid or unfamiliar with where God is taking us. The MAC Team will be leading session and all of us on this journey.
As the team prepares to start its work, I ask everyone to raise some prayers for them and for our church. And be all means, share ideas, thoughts and brainstorms with Amy or with me. You can be sure that we will keep everyone posted on the work they do. I think we will see some exciting things on the horizon very soon!
Blessings, Elliott
 
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May 23, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I want to mention two things in today’s Newsletter. First, a major “thank you” to everyone involved in our Pentecost celebration to bring us music, decorations, food, logistics and so much more. As you know, this was my first time to experience an authentic Woodland-Paw Creek Pentecost, and it far exceeded what I was hoping for. Cheers to everyone! Plus, with our special guests, our partnership is now visible to the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly as well, and we are in a position to really be leaders for all Presbyterians on how to follow the Spirit’s leading.
 
Now, on a more mundane but still very important note, you will find the official notice in this newsletter that the Session has called a Congregational Meeting for Sunday, June 10 after worship. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and act upon a revision (a major revision) of our church’s Manual of Operations. The current Manual directs the session each year to review the Manual and determine if any changes are needed to keep it up to date. In January Session appointed a task force of three elders – Beth Joy, Amy McGee and Melissa Mullis – to take on this task. That group called in Debbie Taylor and Peggy Harrington from the congregation to help as well. Their recommendations were approved by the Session, and copies will be available during the next two Sundays (or from the Church Office) for you to take and carefully examine prior to the meeting.
 
As the task force began to meet in the early spring, we all agreed that the time had come to rethink the format of our Manual, which had become over-heavy with much detailed information that needs to be remembered but doesn’t need to be set in stone. In particular, the descriptions of each committee had become the place for detailed descriptions of every project the committee had ever done. Our committees need that information for reference, but they also need the freedom to act in new and creative ways without having to amend the Manual of Operations every time!
 
As you begin to review the draft Manual, you will notice immediately that it is much shorter than before. The document is divided into three parts: Part I is the Manual of Operations for the Congregation; Part II is the By-laws for the legal corporation that owns our property. These two parts were endorsed by the Session and they will be up for a vote of the congregation on June 10. Any changes to these parts down the road will come back to the congregation for further voting. Part III is the Manual of Operations for the Session, which describes our committees and their work. The Session also voted to adopt this section (certain portions that need congregational approval will not go into effect until after the Congregational vote). Future changes to Part III can be made by the Session as needed, and will be communicated to the Congregation as they occur.
 
I hope you will have time to read the entire Manual before the meeting, but here are some highlights of changes you will find:

 

  1. The size of the Session is now set at 12 members (this was adopted by the  Congregation previously but the Manual was never rewritten to reflect the change); there is also a provision to automatically phase in any changes that take place in the future;
  2. The Nominating committee is directed to bring a slate of names the number of which is “at least equal” to the number of empty slots;
  3. The Endowment and Cemetery committees are changed from Congregational committees (elected by the Congregation) to Session sub-committees (chair and one member selected by session and chair recruits other members) that will report to Finance and Property committees, respectively; current elected members of these committees will be allowed and encouraged to continue their service in these areas for as long as they are interested; the current committee chairs and members have had a chance to become familiar with these changes;
  4. The title of Treasurer is changed to “General Treasurer” and Session will elect an Endowment Treasurer and a Cemetery Treasurer to work in parallel with the General Treasurer and under the direction of the new Endowment and Cemetery sub-committees, respectively;
  5. Session has created a MAC Team (“Ministry and Coordination”) to integrate all church programs for coordination of calendar, elimination of overlapping responsibilities, and to develop a master plan for the church’s mission and outreach; the team will consist of the the chairs of the program committees along with representatives of Presbyterian Women and Presbyterian Men, plus a team chair elected by Session; after adopting Part III of the Manual, Session elected elder Amy McGee as the first chair of the MAC Team;
  6. Detailed records of committee duties and organization will now be gathered in a folder or file of “Best Practices” that can be updated regularly by the committees without formal amendment of the Manual of Operations, and made available to session and committee members and others as they do their work throughout the year.
 
We will have plenty of time for questions and discussion at the meeting on June 10, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to raise questions with me or any member of the Session, especially those who served on the Task Force. We all appreciate your time and attention.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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May 2, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Last fall, many of you heard the saga of the palm tree. How my wife Nell, when we moved to Charlotte, announced that since she now lived in the south she wanted a palm tree(!) How no amount of reasoning would convince her that palm trees are not native to the Piedmont. How every winter she would fret about her palm. How the previous winter, with a sleet storm approaching, she sent me on a wild trip to fetch bales of straw in the back seat of my two-door convertible to pack around the palm tree’s roots.
Well, the saga is over. This year, we didn’t have any dramatic storms, and the palm seemed to have been healthy through the bouts of cold weather that did come along. But then with the warm days of early March we noticed a few branches turning brown, and then some more, until soon the entire tree was dry and brittle. This weekend we sawed it down and went to the nursery to buy a replacement, not a palm tree this time, but a corkscrew weeping willow – still different and interesting, but more suited to Mecklenburg County. According to Google, this is a tree that is even known for looking good when covered in snow!
I suppose it is tempting to see all kinds of parables in this tale. How fragile life is. The folly of not paying attention to prevailing conditions. The wisdom of cutting our losses and moving on. The further wisdom of learning from our mistakes rather than repeating them. But you know, sometimes a tale is just a tale, a story with ups and downs and no ending in sight. It’s just a good story and we will be telling it for years. We will tell it when the willow towers over the back yard, and our children will tell it after us. We could do a lot worse in life than just making stories and sharing them. What stories to you have to share?
Blessings, Elliott
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April 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I’ve been on the move a lot the last couple of weeks, with a piece of bread, a bottle of juice, and two or three church members in tow. For each trip, our destination is the home of one of our “stay-at-home” families, and our purpose is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. 
 
And celebrate we do, in the fullest meaning of Christ’s sacrament. As we follow his instructions (“every time you do this . . .”) our eyes are open to his presence in our midst. But perhaps more startlingly, our eyes are open to our presence with each other. The church exists by being together. Even if we all believed the Gospel message perfectly, we would not be Christians if we stayed alone and never met one another. The power of the church is our togetherness, for that is where Jesus joins us. 
 
Because of that, it is so important for us to go out and be together with brothers and sisters who can no longer travel and be with us. When we gather we renew the ties that bind, catching up and sharing the news. And soon the four or five or six of us have created a little church family right then and there. From that point it’s a short and easy step to break out the bread and juice, to pray and say the words, and to share the meal. We always remind each other that those at home have never been far from our thoughts or far from our community, so that even when we celebrate without their physical presence, the Spirit makes them part of us anyway. But the opposite is true also – when a little group celebrates in a home, each of you who are part of the church is present in that home too. The Spirit brings you there and we feel your presence. 
 
That’s the power of Jesus. Across time and the intervening miles, we can never lose him, and never lose one another. Jesus is real, and so is the joy.
Blessings, Elliott
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April 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The busy preparations of recent weeks are behind us – Easter has been celebrated, the quiet of Lent is over, and the joy of Resurrection has been proclaimed. Many, many thanks to all who labored long to bring us the experiences of Holy Week, especially the choir, along with Mark and Sherry, and our Youth Group readers. And don’t forget the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Worship Committee, and all the extra bulletins for Kim!
It feels right to breathe a sigh and perhaps take a few weeks of rest. But that is not Jesus’s plan, or the plan of the Gospel. Our church calendar has it high points. But the real meat of Christian life comes in between, when we have the opportunity and obligation to live out the truth that we have proclaimed. As we discovered on Easter, Jesus has already gone ahead of us and expects us to meet him in “Galilee”, ready to show off all the work we have done on the way. And this coming Sunday, with the story of doubting Thomas, the resurrected Jesus has a challenge meant directly for you and me.
As Easter recedes behind us, what lies ahead is nothing but the privilege of serving Jesus day in and day out. May we reach out and embrace his Good News every step of the way!
Blessings, Elliott
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March 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
 
We are fast approaching the solemn drama of Holy Week, which is the most sacred time of our entire Christian year. In the ancient church it was Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection, that was the center around which all worship and piety revolved. It has been that way ever since, and it is still that way today.
I hope everyone in our church family will be able to join us for many or all of our special services in the coming days. As we retell the stories about Jesus in that final week, we have a chance to share in the full range of emotions that he and his followers experienced – the premature excitement of Palm Sunday; the sense of gathering calamity as the authorities circled their nets; the bewilderment of the disciples at the last supper and in the garden; Jesus’s own apprehension of what was to come; the whirlwind of fabricated charges; the growing anger of the crowds; the agony of crucifixion leading to Jesus’s cry of abandonment.
Of course, at the end there is the glory of resurrection – indescribable joy, slack-jawed wonder, shouts of praise – which becomes all the more real in contrast to the despair of the previous week. Only as we have walked with Jesus up to Friday can we fully celebrate the emotions of Sunday. That is why I pray that each of us (as we are able) will be with the church family from beginning to end. This is what it means to be Christians, and it is the joy of Easter that gives us the inspiration for everything else we do throughout the year as we care for God’s world and cherish God’s word.
For all of us, may God bless us with a holy Easter, and blessings throughout the year.
 
Godspeed, Elliott
 
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March 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
The ties that bind us together as God’s family and the Body of Christ are strong. We share each other’s burdens and rejoice in our blessings. That is why we feel so strongly when we are not together week in and week out. If a familiar face is missing from the pews or we hear about illness and trouble, our instinct is to reach out and bridge the gap, to let our friends know that our worship feels empty when they are not with us.
 
One way we can reach out, besides personal cards, calls and visits, is to literally take the church to our sick and homebound friends. We can go to the places where they live or receive care and celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together with them, to include them in the worship and praise of the church even when they cannot be present in the sanctuary. This can be especially meaningful for us as Presbyterians, since the Book of Order directs that we go out together – at least a pastor and an elder, but even better if other members of the church can go as well. That way, those who have to miss church can see that the whole community misses them and wishes them well.
 
I want to begin scheduling times to bring the communion service to our shut-ins during the coming spring months. I would appreciate your help in a couple of ways. If you would like to schedule a communion visit, for yourself or a special friend, please share that information with me so that we can plan a day and time. And, if you are able to join me on one or more of these visits, please let me know that as well. Elders (whether currently active or inactive on the Session) and all church members are welcome to be a part of this ministry.
 
I look forward to seeing many of you in the weeks ahead as we focus on this important part of the church’s life that will continue to bind us all in the Body of Christ.
Blessings, Elliott
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February 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The season of Lent snuck in through the back door last Wednesday. Most of us cradle Presbyterians have had to learn about Lent as something “new”. While growing up we didn’t “give up” anything for Lent and we didn’t see much difference even in church during those early spring weeks before Easter. In recent decades we have learned that Lent is not “new” but is very old, going back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. And we have come to appreciate some new traditions during Lent and Holy Week.
 
But all the same, Lent sneaks in through the back door. It makes hardly a peep in a world where politics, social media and violence scream for our attention – not to mention more personal concerns like family, work and health. Lent whispers with the Word of God. The same way that Jesus, who is the Word of God, whispered his message of peace and love and forgiveness. We have to make a conscious decision to attend to Jesus, not just to scooch over and make room for him, but to tune eyes, ears and hearts to him alone. Jesus will not raise his voice or coerce us in any way. But he is endlessly patient. The quietness of Lent can help teach us to attend to Jesus. In the ancient words of the Ash Wednesday service, “We are invited, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” In others words, to be quiet, quiet enough for the soft voice of Jesus to speak and be heard.
 
Blessings on us all for holy Lent. Elliott
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February 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, This coming Saturday, February 10, the Presbytery of Charlotte will hold its regular quarterly meeting here at Paw Creek. If you have been around the Presbyterian Church for awhile, I am sure you have seen many of these Presbytery meetings. You probably know that the Presbytery is made up of all the churches and ministers in a specific geographic area – in our case that is over 100 churches in Mecklenburg County and six other counties to our east. Historically Presbyterians didn’t want to have just a few people making all the decisions, so everything important must be decided by the whole Presbytery. Voting members of the meeting are elders (commissioned to represent their churches) and ministers. At the Presbytery meeting we approve new ministers, supervise seminary students, set up and supervise mission projects, elect Presbytery officers, and approve a budget for each year, among many other things. For every meeting, our Session here at Paw Creek elects two elders to be commissioners and attend the meeting. On February 10 we have commissioned Vickie Joy and Victoria Krebs. This week’s meeting will be special and important in several ways. First, we will be co-hosts of the meeting with our sisters and brothers from Woodland Presbyterian Church, recognizing that this is the beginning of the 150th anniversary year for their church. Second, the worship service will focus on celebrating a group of eleven churches that are all celebrating 150th anniversaries between 2016 and 2020. These churches were all founded by newly freed slaves in the years immediately after the end of the Civil War. Because of these churches and their example, even today Charlotte Presbytery has more African-American members than any other Presbytery in the country. And then finally, at this meeting we will elect a new General Presbyter to be the leader and head of the Presbytery, setting our direction and tone for years to come. It is an honor for our church to be a part of these significant events. Thanks to everyone who has already volunteered to help on Presbytery day. If you want to help, or just stop by and sit in on the meeting to learn how we do things, please join us on Saturday. The meeting begins at 9:30; volunteers can sign up with Amy McGee or Beth Joy. Blessings, Elliott __________________________________________________________________________________
January 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Many thanks to everyone who took part in the candlelight vigil in Coulwood last Sunday evening.  As most of you know, we were there to remember the lives of a mother and her two young children who had died the previous week under tragic circumstances. Although the family did not have direct ties to our church, they were our neighbors, and we came out in force to show our love and respect for their family and friends. This happened spontaneously through word of mouth (and social media) and a great ministry took place that evening.
It is tempting to try to draw some lessons from this experience, but I would caution that we not try too hard to analyze it. When the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus gently but firmly taught him what a horrible question that is. If we have to ask, then we have already failed the test. In the same way, it’s best not to think too hard about the prayer vigil. There were neighbors who needed love and we tried to give it in a quiet, bumbling way. Our efforts were small, but God multiplied them greatly.
The most important word for would-be neighbors to remember is “yes”. After that, everything else becomes obvious.
Blessings, Elliott
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January 10, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The holidays are behind us and winter weather will still be around for a while. But there are still many great things going on here at Paw Creek.
 
This coming Sunday, January 14, we will have a special service after worship to dedicate the new Gary Bryant Memorial Prayer Garden at the front entrance to the sanctuary. This is such a wonderful project in so many ways. The engraved bricks offer a permanent record of people and groups that have been important in our lives and the life of our church. The garden itself provides a beautiful welcoming vista to those arriving for worship in every season. And of course the donations to the project have helped us fund the new children’s playground.
 
But perhaps more than anything else, the garden gives Paw Creek a chance to make a permanent monument to the life and ministry of Gary Bryant. Gary’s years of service at this church will always stand out as a milestone period in the history of the congregation, a time of love and service that shaped so many lives for the better. Gary was truly a dedicated servant of the Lord. Although I never had the privilege of knowing him, I follow in his footsteps and am grateful for his witness every day.
Please be sure to join us on Sunday as we give thanks for Gary, surround his family with love, and rejoice together in all that God has done and continues to do in this place.
Blessings, Elliott
 
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December 20, 2017
 
Dear Friends, I heard the comment from many of you this past weekend that 2017 has been a year that seems to have been marked by loss for our church family. For many of you, it has been your own dear loved ones whose lives we have remembered with appreciation, and whose passing we have marked with sadness. We can remind ourselves of Paul’s words: “death has been swallowed up in victory,” but even the Gospel rings hollow in the emptiness that we feel.
 
For those who mourn, this Christmas season can seem to be the final insult that a cruel year has to offer; an expectation to be “merry” no matter the cost. But of course there is nothing “merry” about the Christmas stories. If we can read from Matthew and Luke with unclouded eyes, what we see instead is so many other emotions. The anxiety of Mary and Joseph as they travel long distances towards the birth of a child whose future is unclear. The befuddlement of the shepherds over the meaning of the message they are given. The determination of the Magi to make their trip, no matter the cost, only to be met on arrival by the sheer evil they see on the face of King Herod. For them, there is are no reasons to be jolly, and yet as the stories end, each one is gripped by the awe of God’s glory that overpowers their fear and confusion.
 
The truth that runs through these stories has nothing to do with a jollity that we conjure up by the force of our own determination. Rather, that truth that runs through these stories points to God, for he is the one who transforms fear into courage, and confusion into strength. 
If this has been a year of mourning for you, or if past losses seem to return in this season, then I urge you to embrace the story of Christmas. The God who becomes flesh with us does so for the very purpose of transformation. That is his plan for our sorrow, and surely it will come to pass.
Bless you throughout these days, Elliott
 
 
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December 6, 2017
 
Dear Friends, Next time you find yourself near the intersection of Providence and Queens Roads, keep an eye out for a shiny statue of a winsome little man with one arm in the air and a violin case under the other. It’s a tribute to the memory of a true neighborhood eccentric, a man named Hugh McMannaway. That’s near my childhood home, and I met Hugh many times. An only child, he lived alone in the large, rambling house left him by his parents, a prosperous doctor and his wife. Hugh was known for standing at that very intersection to direct traffic (whether it needed directing or not), using his arms, his loud voice, and his violin case as a baton – hence the statue. When we kids would meet him, he would often ask one of us to state his or her name, and then make up a poem using the name, right on the spot. 
 
One summer day when we ran into Hugh near his house, about block from the intersection, he pointed to the front window. In it there burned a single red light bulb. He told us that the light bulb was his Christmas decoration, and explained his theory that any decorations that were put up for Christmas needed to remain in place for the entire year. At the time, it seemed that whatever else you might want to say about Hugh, his theory of Christmas was surely incorrect. I’ve thought about it many times, and after awhile began to figure out what was wrong.
 
If Christmas is symbolically present throughout the year, then the miracle of incarnation becomes a part of the background noise – one of the facts that is always present and never needs to be thought about. But of course that is exactly what the miracle of the incarnation is not! Everything else is the background noise and the arrival of the Christ child is the one extraordinary fact that doesn’t fit, the fact that redefines everything else. It is good to put the decorations up and take them away, to make them gaudy and loud and bright – not just something that is so small and dim that having it around all year is no inconvenience at all. It’s all symbolic, but symbols are important. In this case, the point of incarnation is to shake up and inconvenience the world. Oddly enough, that is exactly what Hugh McMannaway did. His theology of decorating was wanting, but his exuberance of life was real. It was to such as him that Jesus came first, the fools, the cripples and the outcast. Maybe Hugh knew something the rest of us missed. Maybe Jesus did too.
Blessings, Elliott
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November 22, 2017
 
Dear Friends, If you were able to join us for the Installation service earlier this month, I’m sure you cannot forget our guests from Smallwood Presbyterian Church. The choir sang with gospel fervor, Pastor Darryl Gaston kept posing people for group photos, and many other friends were in attendance. As I said that day, Smallwood is the “home church” in our neighborhood that allowed Nell and me to be part of the family when I was an itinerant interim pastor, and we know that they will always welcome us with open arms. As part of the Smallwood family, we have come to cherish one of their best annual traditions. On Thanksgiving Day they gather early in the morning to begin laying out the biggest meal you can imagine – turkey AND ham, beau coups of vegetables, and more pies than you can count. Then around 11:00 they open the doors and people start streaming in. Church members, certainly, and friends of the congregation who come every year. But also neighbors who otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to. They bring their families, and some go home and send more folks back. Our friend Joe is the master chef, and his feast is never-to-be-forgotten. Since Joe and the ladies have the food under control, my job the last couple of years has been to stand out on the corner in front of the church, calling out to everyone who comes along West Trade Street – by foot, car, bike or anything else. “Free Thanksgiving meal! Everyone welcome!” People stop, do a double take, then begin to smile – and most of them come in to serve a plate. As I stood there the first year, I noticed a couple of guys coming up the hill from the little store a few blocks away. They both carried paper bags with what had to be beer bottles sticking out of the top. I hesitated for a second, and turned to one of the elders standing near by. “Is it ok to invite them?” I whispered. She answered “Of course! That’s what we’re here for.” Well, that just made my day. What better example of the spirit of Thanksgiving can you get? Thanking God by serving his children, whoever they are. This is the day when everyone deserves turkey and all the fixings. Everyone. Thanks be to God!
 
Thanksgiving blessings, Elliott
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November 8 ,2017
 
Dear Friends, Believe it or not, it is already November! And that means the next eight weeks are going to be BUSY. As I write this, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, and of course the Advent and Christmas seasons are not far behind. During this time of year, it can seem that Sunday worship is just a time to come to church and find another special cause or event. But of course what is most important in worship is that we focus on God and Christ. Our special events, even at holiday time, should be seen through the eyes of the Gospel. And we should ask ourselves – how is God glorified in the things we do this day? I want to pledge to you that I, along with the choir, music staff, and worship committee, are working hard to be sure that the plans we make for the coming weeks will live up to the standards of the Gospel. In return, I hope that you will make it a point to be part of our worship each week. We look forward to seeing you!
 
Our schedule for the next few weeks includes: Veterans’ Recognition – Sunday, November 12 Stewardship and Thanksgiving – Sunday, November 19 Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23 at 8:00 am Christ the King Sunday – Sunday, November 26.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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October 25, 2017
Dear Friends, Just two weeks ago, we put out an invitation to Adult weekday Bible Study. One week later, the response was fantastic. We had a class of 8 on Wednesday at 10:00 am, and a class of 13 on Thursday at 5:30. I am THRILLED and I can’t wait to see what happens this week! Remembering that Jesus challenged us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, we must always be asking ourselves how well we are living up to his challenge. Each part (heart, soul and mind) is difficult yet vital. But to love God with our minds is especially important to those of us in the historic Presbyterian tradition. We are the one who have kept the study of scripture alive from generation to generation. We must never give up. At our Bible Studies, the format is simple. We focus on the scripture reading that will be sermon text for the following Sunday. By pooling our knowledge and sharing our personal experiences, we come closer to understanding the message that God wants us to hear, in both the Old and New Testaments. And we are able to come to worship each Sunday better prepared to receive what scripture has to offer. I hope that many more of our congregation will want to come join us in study. We need you – and you need God’s word! A list of upcoming readings will be published in the newsletter, or you can ask me for a list. See you in the parlor, Elliott
 
 
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October 11, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek,

  I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time! And now that time is here. It will be exciting for me to begin to learn your names and faces, and especially your stories. I appreciate your enthusiasm, the basket of goodies, the visits I have already had this week, and the work of the Property Committee as they paint and prepare the study for me to move in.   During these first few weeks, I will also appreciate your help in a number of ways. Most importantly, tell me what I need to know. Is there someone in the church family who needs a special visit? Do you have a cherished memory of the church that you want to share with me? Is there a church program or activity that needs some attention? I need to know all those things, so please don’t be shy. Beyond that, please help me get to know you: if you suggest a time for me to stop by, or schedule a visit over coffee or lunch, that’s the best way to help me reach the most people quickly as I can. Or simply stop by the church..  I plan to be in the office or out among the church family every day except Tuesday.  Any time I’m there, the door will be open, so please come on by.   Our first time to worship together will be this Sunday, October 15. I’m looking forward to it, and we will have some light refreshments on the porch so that we can stay and visit. It’s a great time for everyone to be together in worship and fellowship. But I want to put out a special invitation to those who may not have been in church so much in recent years. If you are still on the list to receive this newsletter, then we need you at Paw Creek (AND you need your church family!) I hope our new beginning this week will be a good time for you to come and have a look. We are starting a new and exciting chapter in our service to the Lord. Come join us!   Blessings, Elliott   deh46@columbia.edu 704-502-2143 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

September 13, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Well, these are exciting times for both of us. You have called your next pastor in Elliott Hipp, who I have found to be very kind and thoughtful and will be good for the church. I have also been asked to serve as Transitional pastor in this next phase of ministry for Avondale Presbyterian Church. I am excited to begin my ministry with them and from all indications, they are excited too. I will miss you, but you will be in great hands. I will miss you, but God has planned out paths for both us to follow. I will be with you for just a while longer. My final day at Paw Creek will be October 8, 2017. Elliott will be on board October 9, 2017. I will begin at Avondale October 16, 2017. God is great and greatly to be praised! God is blessing all around. I will remember you fondly and pray your strength in the Lord as God moves mightily in your lives. May our final weeks together be filled with joy and peace!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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August 30, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
We celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in this church. You have voted in your next minister, The Reverend Elliott Hipp. This is a time of great joy for our church. This has been a long journey, I know. But God has been with us every step of the way, guiding our every footstep throughout this process. And now we are ready to welcome your next pastor. You have been faithful and you have remained steadfast. You stood together and remained united in your efforts to find Rev. Elliott and he comes with many gifts and talents and a love for God’s people that will soon find its way into your hearts. My prayer is that you will have a long and lasting relationship with him that bears much fruit. If all goes well and as planned, he should be in place sometime around mid October. Begin praying for him now; his transition, his goodbyes to the church he currently pastors, his family, his strength and well-being. Pray for Paw Creek as you continue your readiness to receive him. Pray for unity in the body, the willingness to serve, an uplifted spirit, and pray for encouragement to step out on faith. Trust and believe that Paw Creek is truly in God’s hands and know you are blessed. I am excited with you. Your partnership with Rev. Elliott is bound to be a good one…a great one. God brought you together. All praise, honor and glory to God for what God has done is doing and will continue to do in you.
 
With Jesus joy, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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August 16, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, What an exciting time in the life of our church! By now, most of you, if not all of you are aware that on the 27th of August, there is a congregational meeting for the stated purpose of calling your next pastor. This has been the awaited time and it is now upon us. I want to encourage you to come to the meeting so that you can be introduced to your next pastor and have the opportunity to vote on his/her coming. No, he or she will not be present that Sunday, but there will be a video or a flyer containing information about him/her. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and then VOTE!
 
I, for one am very excited. This is the moment for which we have all been waiting. God is great and greatly to be praised! So, we give God glory for the things God has done, is doing, and will continue to do through you, the members of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church.
 
This is a time of celebration, expectation and soon…a big WELCOME!
 
Even as we wait for the month’s end to approach, remember to keep the Pastor Nominating Committee in your prayers and thank them for the hard work they have accomplished. They have done wondrous work for the Lord and for you!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
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August 2, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family,
This past week we bid farewell to a man beloved by God and by us. The Reverend Gary Lee Bryant. He was a man of God who loved his family, his friends and his church. In tribute to a life well lived in service to God for forty four years, of which thirty four were spent at Paw Creek, I want to honor Gary’s name through Scripture.
 
God’s grace is sufficient Acknowledge Jesus before men and Jesus will acknowledge you before His Father Righteousness guards the man of integrity Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams
 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom Run in such a way as to get the prize You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High Accept the word planted in you, which can save you Nothing is too hard for you Taste and see that the Lord is good
 
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV) 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
 
Rest well friend. You have run the race of the Lord and you have finished it. All praise be to God.
 
In Christ, Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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July 19, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
Summer is now well into full swing. Many of you have been on vacation. Others of you can’t wait to get on your way. Still others of you may have no desire to travel this summer. Whatever your circumstance, know that Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is still here, still praying for you, still worshipping with you and still seeking, still serving, still praising and still loving Christ, our neighbors, our community and you. As you take your leave this summer and forget about the worries of home, job, and stress, as you remember to get your much needed rest, please remember your church in its need of your support financially. We still have ministries to support, lights to keep on, and people to help. Please consider giving to Paw Creek, even in your absence. The work of the church is never done and we need your continued support. Make the most of what is giving to you and enjoy your summer!
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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July 5, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
A friend was in front of me as we were walking out of the church one Sunday. The preacher was shaking hands as usual. When my friend reached him, he grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him aside. The pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord.” The friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord Pastor.” The pastor said, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.” This week we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day. It is a when America celebrates its independence from Britain. There was an army during the American Revolution that fought long and hard for freedom. But there is an army that exists that is still fighting for freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from evil, freedom for all people to live eternally for God…that’s right the Army of the Lord. If you have not joined this army, it is never too late to do so. Come on board, you are welcomed.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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June 21, 2017
 
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NRSV) 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Jeremiah the prophet delivered a message to the people of Israel when they were exiled into Babylon. Because of their sinfulness the Lord told them they were to be subjugated under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and they would be so for seventy years. It was the beginning of the rule Babylon would have over those who were exiled. Things looked really bleak for them. They were subjected to mistreatment, pagan gods, a foreign land, and new rule. But God loved the Israelites even though they were sinful and God prophesied to them through Jeremiah. Yes, the people were to endure tough times ahead. Seventy years of separation from their homes, friends, family, familiar surroundings. Yes, they would have to live out their punishment, but God promised them that when the time was over, and if the people sought Him out with all of their hearts, open and true, God would bring them back. God had a plan for them, but they had to have a change of heart and a change of behavior, and God would hear them. This is good news for us. When we find ourselves in the bleakest moment, days, weeks or even years in our lives, if we have led sinful lives or done sinful things, God is never far from us. All God asks is for us to repent, turn to Him, ask forgiveness truly, and God will answer us and deliver us from all that holds us captive. Change your heart and change your character. Then seek God’s favor and God will deliver you, free you up from all unrighteousness. God has a plan for you! Trust and believe.
 
Love in Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 7, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, Pentecost is upon us. We celebrate and commemorate the Jewish feast wherein the disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit. It is time of great joy. Jesus was now seated at the right hand of God and now the promised Holy Spirit , the third person of the Trinity would reign in the hearts and minds of human-kind. We who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, are recipients of the power and with joy and boldness are called forth to do great works. May the spirit of the season bring you into new and exciting spaces, open you up to bright futures in Christ and fill you anew with joy and great love. In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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May 24, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. This past week has been a doozy. In the world, a bomb exploded in Manchester England at the end of a concert and around twenty teenagers were killed and many more injured. In our country, there is much discussion on the interference of another country’s engagement in our election and the possible collusion of some of our government officials being involved with them. There is way too much partisan political unrest. There is much violence happening in our state, in our city. There is unrest in our citizenry because of racism and sexism. We cannot turn on the television without being confronted by disturbing or sad news. In our church, we have had loved ones hospitalized or still recovering at home. Even I personally feel despair at times deep within. I wonder will there be no end to this needless noise of pain and discontent. Our people, O God are suffering. Is there joy anywhere? Sometimes it feels like there is none. That is until I am reminded of Jesus. How he suffered, not just physically on the cross at the end of His earthly life, but the suffering he had because of us. God’s creation. How we squander the gifts of God and use them for evil or to hurt others. God incarnate witnessed the absolute worst in us. How He must have despaired seeing us wasting our potential on bickering and backstabbing and fighting and positioning ourselves against one another. That is not what God intends for us. God intends joy for us. But where do we find it? Begin by looking in the playroom of your souls.
 
Rev. Tony Evans tells this story: Someone came up with a great concept—putting playrooms in doctors’ offices. Many parents bring their kids to the doctor because they are sick and they need the doctor to see them. The playrooms are designed to distract the children from the pain of their problem until their problem gets fixed. The playroom gives them joy in a bad situation. That’s the way God works. Even though things may not be going the way we want them to be on the outside, God has designed a “playroom” in our soul. In the midst of our circumstances, His joy can distract us from our pain or discomfort, until He makes provision for our change or healing.
 
Isn’t that good news? Look inward, to your soul’s playground. Commune with God for a time. Let your cares melt away for a time in God’s playroom. Find your joy, find your peace. And may God bless you as you serve in His name.
 
I live for the cross,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
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May 10, 2017
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am taking a week of vacation this week.  I am not doing anything special, not going anywhere in particular.  I am really going to take this week to rest some.  As I reflect upon this week and upon the message I wish to share with you, it revolves around the theme and importance of rest.  One of the Ten Commandments speaks of keeping Sabbath.  This is the type of rest I plan to have this week.  A Sabbath week.  It is not a time to sit and do nothing, to lay in bed or sit and watch TV.  No, it is a time of communing with God, being with family and friends and doing what one enjoys.  It is a time of singing and dancing, a time of praying, a time of listening and for me, discerning.  It is as active rest.  I encourage all of you to find Sabbath moments, to enjoy family and friends and time with God.  To break bread together and sing together and to find those moments alone to reflect and discern God’s leading. May God walk with you and carry you when needed.  May you find joy and much laughter for your souls.  May you seek and find the peace that God provides and enjoy one another.  May you find rest in your weariness.  May the love of God surround you. I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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April 26, 2017
 
Psalm 84:1-12 (NRSV) 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah 5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family, I love Psalms. They are prayers that always bring comfort or joy or peace. This Psalm is one that brings joy. It gives to God what is due: praise and honor. In God’s presence is where we find joy. In God we gain strength. In God, the upright, the faithful find favor and honor. The Lord gives good things (not material things) to those who trust in God. God is great and greatly to be praised. May you find comfort in this Psalm, joy in your heart and peace in your faithfulness to the Creator. Amen and Amen.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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April 12, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
I read the following poem on a friend’s Facebook page this past week: “later that night i held an atlas in my lap ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered where does it hurt? it answered everywhere everywhere everywhere.” I could not help thinking how appropriate this poem by Warsan Shire is for Holy Week. We live in a world that is hurting and broken. War is breaking in many parts of the universe. Men are dying, children are starving, women are being abused, parents are unable to support families, jobs are being lost, houses are being foreclosed, our enemies are gaining strength, fear is at an all-time high. If I could borrow from her poem and add to it, this is what my spirit hears: God whispers, “where does it hurt?” Creation cries, “Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” Then God says “Remember” Creation cries “Remember what?” God says “Not what but who. Remember my Son, Jesus the Christ.” Creation says, “What has he done?” God says “He died to save.” Creation shouts, “Who did he save?” God cries, “Everyone, everyone, everyone.” This week we remember Jesus Christ and His saving grace. By His stripes we are healed. By His blood we are redeemed. By His power over sin and death, we are made free. By His sacrifice, we have life eternal. Praise be to God, Son and Holy Spirit.
I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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March 29, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I was reading the Lectionary for today, and one of the readings came from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It was the story where an angel of the Lord brought Ezekiel to the Temple of God and showed him a trickle of water that flowed from the temple east toward the Arabah Sea. The angel took Ezekiel on a walk along the bank of the river to the Arabah. As they walked the water went from ankle deep to waist high depth to the point where Ezekiel would have to swim to cross. The angel pulled his attention to all of the growth and life that teemed all around them. Water of life flowed from the temple and became a great well spring of life. It is all due to the source of the water; God. God is the source of our lives. From our God source flows the river of life that runs through each of us. When we are open, receptive to the source of this water, we too teem with life and growth abounds, surrounding us with we need to survive and thrive. And when we walk along the banks of life, we will admire the new landscape that God carves out and gives to us for our enjoyment. All praise be to God for God’s life giving source of water and power. Amen.
 
I live for the cross,
 
Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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March 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Blessing.  It is a word that means happy or helped by God.  It could also mean approval or that which is said over food.  I have often used this word of blessing myself, usually as it pertains to being helped by God or even as that which is said over food before eating.   I have also understood a blessing to be something you never keep to yourself, but that you share with others around you and beyond you.  If God has helped me, that it is important for me to use that help to help others.  Interestingly enough, I recently read an article on line from a man who teaches leadership skills to corporations and make a decent living doing so.  The article is entitled “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying: Let’s retire this phrase immediately, and say what we really mean to say instead.”  He is referring to the use of the word blessing in relationship to material belongings.  He said people should not say “I just bought a house, I am blessed.  I just got a new car, I am blessed.”  We should rather say “I am grateful.”  He believes that when people say I am blessed because I have this job or some material thing, we reduce God to heavenly fairy who grants our every wish.  It is also plain wrong.  God does not prosper people because they have done some great or wonderful thing.  That would be prosperity theology: God blesses you because of something you have done and if others would just do likewise they would receive these blessings. I also do not believe in prosperity theology.  God does not bless us more because we give to the church or we treat others with kindness or sow seed into a particular ministry.  But I do believe that God blesses us to be blessings to others.  God helps us to help others.  So, God may bless us with a house or a car or a job.  But we are to use them to glorify God and help someone else.  Use your car to take someone to the doctor, or shopping for groceries.  Use your house to hold Bible studies or mission stations.  Use the income from your job to help those less fortunate or use your job to help others get work.  Material blessings should not be used for personal consumption or personal good alone.  Be a blessing to someone else.  Use the blessing of your body to help others who may need you.  Your eyes to help a blind person get around, your hands to reach out to someone who needs comfort, your feet to take you to places to carry out ministry, your ears to listen to the concerns of your fellow people.  But if you really want to know who Jesus considers the blessed among us, read Matthew 5: 3-12. Jesus, in Matthew 5, also gives us some instruction on who the blessed are.  God helps, blesses us, when we are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted.  In this life we may be torn asunder, but we will receive the blessings of God in the life everlasting.  Our reward will come, so in the meantime just rejoice and be glad. Matthew 5:3-12 (MSG) 3  “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 6  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. 7  “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for. 8  “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9  “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 10  “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 11  “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12  You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. Daily we receive blessings from God.  Accept them and use them to God’s glory. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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February 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV) 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Being held captive is never a good thing. Being unable to leave a situation or a place can be devastating. We think of captivity as being imprisoned behind bars or captivity as being captured by an enemy of war and held in a prison camp. In the passage of Scripture from Isaiah, the chil-dren of Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and God, through the prophet Isaiah, told the people to hold on. God was about to do a new thing. God was going to move and re-deem the people from captivity and free them to go out. The people had suffered long enough due to their sin and God was going to deliver on God’s promise to them. It is no different with us today. We may not be under the heavy hand of oppression by another nation, but many of us held captive. Some of us are held captive in unproductive jobs, in un-loving relationships or marriages, in life circumstances, in bad health, in our minds, to drugs or alcohol. To you, God is saying, hold on. God is about to do a new thing. God is going to free you from whatever holds you captive. Only turn to God. Stop turning to others who have no power to free you; moving to stop turning to idols that do nothing. Give your attention to God. God is doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? God is leading us into a bright and joyous future. God is opening pathways of communication and pathways of hope and pathways of ser-vice. Do you not perceive it? The river of God’s life flowing stream is running through the veins of our church. Through God’s life we are given life. Do you not perceive it? In our church, the children are singing and getting active. The youth are growing deeper in faith and remain active in the community. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is working hard in ward your next called pastor, the mission committee is seeking and providing more op-portunities for you to serve, the Fellowship committee is gearing up for opportunities for you to spend time together, the Congregational Care Committee is developing more precise ways to engage with and communicate with you. The session and staff will be having a retreat, focused upon church growth. The music program in our church continues to provide uplifting and meaningful music. God is breathing new life in Paw Creek, the church on the hill, a light to the community, a spiritual haven for lost souls. God is moving in your life, in your homes, and in your church. God never stopped moving. Do you not perceive it? No more captivity. You are being freed indeed. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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February 1, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Over the past few weeks, our country and indeed the world has undergone and or been affected by a great deal of change. Some of us are jubilant over the changes that have come upon us, and others of us are absolutely afraid. This is not the time to gloat nor is it the time to fear. Listen, we are all brothers and sisters, creat-ed by God. We are one in the same, part of the human family, yet we are different based on where we live, how we are raised, what we believe or don’t believe and the list goes on. It is easy to fear what we do not understand or refuse to try to understand. This has caused a great ripple in the world. But fear is not of God. Scripture offers many examples and states many times to FEAR NOT. Fear is an instrument of the evil one and Satan will use fear to turn brother against brother and sister against sister. We fear what we do not understand or what we do not agree with. But we cannot let fear rule our lives. From Isaiah 35:4 (NRSV) “4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” From the Gospel of John, Jesus says “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” From Joshua 1:9 (NRSV) “9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” And from Psalm 23:4 (NRSV) “4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” There are many other Scriptures that speak to the notion of having no fear. We should all heed these words. Fear causes people to turn on other people, to turn their backs on people and to hate people. You can look at our political climate and see fear coming out of this administration, fear coming out of our country, fear coming out of the people protesting in the streets and it is tearing us apart. Families are divided over fear, friendships are stressed over fear, actions are taken out of fear. But our God whom we serve says FEAR NOT. For I AM with you. God is with us. Rejoice if you feel the desire to rejoice, it is your choice. Fight for what you think is right, that is also your choice, but do not fear. God is with us. So, no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, the circum-stance, your feelings or misgivings or jubilance, GOD IS WITH US. Believe that! God will be the One who rights the wrongs, who makes the everlasting change that really counts. So trust that if nothing else. Peace be with you all! I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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January 18, 2017
 
In times of uncertainty, anxiety builds and people can become dismayed. This can be exasperated even more when we take our eyes off of God and spend more time focused on problems and issues. We see this in our world, where war rages and families are torn asunder because of it. We see this in our nation, where the political climate is distressed and people are uncertain about the future. We at Paw Creek see it here as the search for your next pastor is underway.
 
We live in uncertain times and many are filled with apprehension. But thanks be to God, because the One who created the world and formed it and gave us life, God has never forgotten us. God is still in control calls us to a sense of calm and reassurance.
 
From the Book of Isaiah 51:3 (NRSV) Scripture reads: 3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. The children of Israel were in captivity. They were full of despair, uncertain about the future. The Jews had withstood great hardship and crushing suffering. But through the prophet Isaiah, God sent them a message of hope. God told them to remain steadfast in their faith and to continue to follow. God wanted them to know that their captivity would be turned to freedom, that their suffering would end and they would be comforted.
 
Whatever stress, anxiety you are experience today, listen to the Lord and follow God’s guidance. Whatever holds you captive, be it circumstance or sin or life lessons, turn it over to God and God will be your comfort during times of distress, your anchor in the storm. Joy and gladness will be found in you and thanksgiving in your voice as you sing your song. Thanks be to God. And may it be so.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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January 4, 2017
Dear Paw Creek, Here’s to you and wishing you the happiest in this new year! Wow, it is 2017 and what an exciting year this will be. On January 11, 2017 we will begin Bible study again. Please come. It is a time to learn more about Christ and understand who God is an what God plans for those who follow and love Him. The youth and children have excited things planned for the Wednesday evening programming to teach them the Bible and to learn more of what it means to be a Christian, how to serve the people of God and how to do it with joy. Please know that the youth pro-gram and the children program are growing and getting stronger. If you have an opportunity to come out and volunteer your services to God to these ministries, you can always contact Evie Landrau the youth director and Victoria Krebs, the children’s director. There are a few changes this year as well. We have added to the session a new committee, the Fellowship committee. It will be chaired by Beth Joy and you will hear more about it and the work her committee will do in the coming weeks. You will also have ample opportunity to step up and help out as well, both individually and collectively. Opportunities abound to use your God given talents throughout the church. If you love Christian Education, consider becoming part of the Christian Ed committee. If you love planning for worship, consider your gifts and join the Worship Committee. If you love dealing with finance, consider joining the finance committee. If you have a passion for mission ( the heart of the church) then please join up with the Mission Committee. There are so many opportunities for YOU to live into the talents that God has given you. Your church needs you and God is calling you as you are part of this body to step up and step into God’s Work here at Paw Creek. Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is the church you love, the church you want to see grow and prosper. Well, YOU are Paw Creek and its sustainability lies within each and everyone of you. So, as you make your New Year Resolutions, resolve to support your church, Paw Creek, with time, your talent, and your money. Your church needs you to survive and prosper. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NRSV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Let us pray that God will open God’s eyes and ears and be attentive to our prayers. Happy New Year. This promises to be a good one. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 21, 2016
 
Merry Christmas to you. The birth of Christ is highly celebrated throughout the Christian community at this time of year. It should be. The birth of Christ, God becoming flesh is a really big deal. We have all heard the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted in the consensus. When they arrive there is no room in the inn. Mary goes into labor and the only place to give birth is in a stable with smelly animals and the only clothing, swaddling or binding cloths. The bed for our Savior, a trough. But I want us to appreciate how special and difficult this was for the mother of the Christ child. Again, you know the story, but do you appreciate how special this story really is? In the year of our Lord 1990, I traveled from Maryland to Los Angeles, California with my husband and two young sons to attend my youngest sister’s wedding. We traveled by air. I had a comfortable seat, food services, a bathroom, if needed and the ability to lay back and rest if I desired. When we arrived, we were picked up in a car and taken to my oldest sisters house where other family had also gathered. We were going to be there for only a few days. I was Vera’s ma-tron of honor. Did I mention I was also pregnant? Yep…nearly eight months. My doctor would not let me stay for even a week because this was my third child, and they had a tendency to come early by about a week and they came quickly. He did not want me to be away from home for too long. But we traveled there and back safely and my daughter Rosalynn was born six weeks later. So why did I tell you that story? To really appreciate what Mary endured to give birth to Jesus.
From Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles. Over mountainous terrain you could add another twenty miles. Mary traveled by donkey back, not an airline. She was nine months pregnant with her first child. Her husband led the donkey by foot over some pretty rough and ragged terrain. That journey took about a week to make. Think about the toll this had on Mary. With constant bathroom breaks and needs to rest, to get off that donkey to walk a bit only to climb back upon its back to continue the journey. She is ready to give birth at any time and then they finally arrive in Bethlehem. I am certain she looked forward to a bed to rest upon, an opportunity to have a hot meal perhaps, to be away from that animal. Then they find there are no rooms available and Mary goes into labor. The only place available? A stable? More animals? No comfortable bed? Exactly. A very tired Mary and Joseph arrive to register for the consensus, and the only place to rest was a stable among cows and lambs and sheep and maybe a camel or two. And it is there that she lays on straw and gives birth to a King, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, anointed by God to be our salvation. Christ was born after a long strenuous journey, under very humble conditions, and became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a gift to Mary. What a gift to us all. If never there was a reason to celebrate, this one was and is. What a metaphor for life right? We may have a tough journey, and the road to salvation may not always be smooth flying, but the gift of salvation is well worth it all.
Merry Christmas to you all. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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November 23, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving! This week people all around the United States will be gathering together to break bread and share time. Men and women, boys and girls will say that for which they are thankful. Some will have turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, beans, sweet potatoes, pies, cakes, hot buttered rolls, tea or lemonade. Some will watch football, others will play family tag football. Some will play games, others will tell stories, share memories and spend laughter. These are indeed things for which to be grateful. I will spend time with my husband and chil-dren. We will share a less traditional meal (it’s what they want), play games, and I am sure laugh a lot. I will worship at Paw Creek giving praise to God and thanking God along with many of you for God’s great bounty. It is all good. But there will be many for whom Thanksgiving will not be a time of thankfulness. Some will spend the day alone and treat it like every other day; nothing special. Some will be in a restaurant eating alone. Some will just be lonely. There will be no laughter, no games, no fun, no good memories to share. So, I am asking, if you know someone who may not have family or friends, who may spend the day alone, think of inviting them to your home, give them space to be a part of your life and make memories with you. Share your meal, share your laughter, share your fun. Give someone the opportunity to be thankful for you and your kindness. It may not mean a lot to you, but may make the world of difference to someone. My desire for you is to be grateful all your days and to share your love and life with as many other people as you can. Happy Thanksgiving! I live for the cross. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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November 9, 2016
 
Be happy people. God has enriched our lives and gives us meaning. He has provided us
with the best families, the best friends, the best that life has to offer. Do you see it? Be happy
people. God has stretched out God’s hand and covers us with love and grace and peace.
When we have been unlovable, God loved, when we have been unkind, God’s grace
abounds, when we were in turmoil, God granted us peace. Do you feel it? Be happy people.
God has moved hearts and minds to bend to His Will and allows us to discover the best in
ourselves. When we direct our thoughts and actions to doing our own thing to benefit ourselves,
God moves in mighty ways through us. Do you conceive it? Be happy people.
Life is way too short to be otherwise.
Peace in Christ,
Veronica
 
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October 26, 2016
Don’t focus on what was. Look forward to what can be, and then do all you can to make it a reality. Life is what you make of it, and the challenges that come your way are just opportunities to right what is wrong. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. You have it all inside yourself, and you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. – Paula Michele Adams
I read this reading from the book entitled A Daybook of Gratitude. How to Live Each Day with a Thankful Heart. Living each day with a thankful heart is a beautiful thing to do. It helps us to recognize that which is in our circle, our space, and to see how God is blessing and continues to bless us. It helps us to see the people around us and value them for the gifts of God they share with us. It helps us to appreciate all that God is. But I will admit, that there are days when this seems an impossibility. When ugliness in someone’s attitude darkens your lighted path, it is hard to see the light for the shadow. But seek the light anyway. Hard, but keep trying. When people disappoint you because they claim a love of God and yet spew hate toward you, it is hard to hold on to love. But love anyway. When people gossip about you behind your back, spreading un- truths, it is hard to stand in the midst of them. Stand anyway. Nothing worth having is ever easy. And when you can live thankfully for the ugliness, the disappointments, the gossip and untruths, your character is built and your resolve is strengthened. Turn a challenge into a possibility. And when things still do not pan out, pray for God to show you new opportunities for which to be thankful. Ask God to bring people into your life whom you can appreciate and who appreciate you. Find the joy and keep it in your life. If it’s not your circus, don’t take their monkeys. Learn the lessons that life is teaching you and move on. Put God in the center of your life, and God will lead your path. Just be thankful for the path. Everywhere that God leads you and brings you is a place in which to be thankful. In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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September 28, 2016
 
I would like to give you another update on things that are happening in the church.
First, congratulations to the newly elected Elders of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church for the class of
2019. Please extend your words of affirmation to Jon Kenley, Victoria Krebs, Amy McGee, Melissa
Mullis, David Padgett, Joy Tyler, and Barbara Ullem. We will begin our twelve hours of training
beginning in October and finishing in November. After a written examination at the end of the
training, the newly elected officers will be ordained (if not previously ordained) and installed to of-
fice. The newly elected officers will be ready to hit the ground running in January.
 
Please remember to thank the Nominating Committee (Eddie McArver, Donna Hall, Peggy Harring-
ton, Grady Cathey, Ken Scott – Chair, and Robin Wodarski for all of their hard work in getting this
important work done. But they are not quite done yet.
 
Second, the Nominating Committee is still hard at work for you Paw Creek. They are beginning the
second charge of their work in getting a slate of names together of individuals to sit on the Pastor
Nominating Committee. During the month of September, they have been receiving names from the
congregation of those individuals who would like to sit on the Pastor Nominating Committee. The
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) will need to consist of a cross section of the congregation as
to be representative of the congregation. There will be a committee of five. The same process will
be followed as it was for the class of Elder. The committee will confirm with individuals their desire
to serve on the PNC, perform interviews with each agreed participant, develop a slate of names and
will present the congregation with that slate of names on which to vote.
 
We have sent letters out to all members who have not been active here in the last year to confirm
their membership as to meet that requirement from Presbytery. This information needs to be as
accurate as possible as this will go on the Mission Information Form (MIF) that the PNC will fill out
about the church.
 
You will hear more in the coming future as we move further in this process. You may be called up-
on to help out with the mission study that needs to be completed; I hope you will consider volun-
teering to do this work. Some has already been done.
 
We are moving ever forward in finding the next man or woman of God to lead this congregation.
Stay in prayer through this process. We are getting there.
 
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
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September 14, 2016
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NRSV)
6
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are
away from the Lord
7
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the
Lord.
9
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
 
Live the Christian life. Okay. So what exactly is living the Christian life? If we look at this passage
of Scripture from 2nd Corinthians verse 7, it gives us the prescription for doing so. Walk by faith and
not by sight. In so doing we please the Lord. Our aim in life should be pleasing the Lord. Walking
in faith is the way to accomplish this aim. But what does that mean? It means different things to
different people, because walking in faith is individual. However, walking in faith does require us to
move with confidence in this world, relying upon God for guidance and leadership. It means not
relying upon what we see before us as an absolute for right living. We are human and therefore falli-
ble. And what we see can always be changed or moved by the power of God. You see a brick wall
before you and think there is no way I can get through that wall. It is brick, it is high, it is impenetra-
ble. That is what you see. But God says approach the wall anyway. Move toward it, you will get
through. We see a brick wall, God sees a way through. So you approach the wall and realize there is
a spot that is crumbling, weak. You push on the weak spot and it crumbles to the ground. You walk
through to the other side. That is walking by faith and not by sight. Put your trust in God first and
God will remove obstacles from your path. That includes doubts, fears, people, strongholds, and
even sin. Walk with the confidence of God and watch God remove earthly strongholds and make a
way for you.
 
Blessings,
Veronica Cannon
 
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August 31, 2016
In my daily devotional reading, I came across one that really speaks to me. It deals with having time of solitude. Slices of solitude allow us to renew and reflect and transform as we enter into ourselves and do the necessary work of gunk removal so that God can fill us with internal peace and joy. Slic-es of solitude allow us to enter into prayer without distraction. We can focus our attention upon God. Spend time listening as God reveals to us The Almighty’s plan. From Charles Swindoll’s book
Wisdom for the Way, one of the readings from Intimacy with the Almighty
says solitude is “an oasis of the soul where we see ourselves, others, and especially our God in new ways. It is where much of the clutter of life is identified and exterminated, thanks to the merciless heat of the furnace. Soul surgery transpires as serenity replaces anxiety”. This speaks to my soul and I hope to yours as well. You know, even Jesus took times of solitude and prayer to spend with God. We all need our tanks refu-eled. I encourage you to find your solitude. If you cannot get away for a time of quiet solitude, look for a time in your day or night to spend with God alone. Just you and our Creator talking things over and seeking direction for you. May you be blessed in that journey.
 
In Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
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August 17, 2016
 

In my efforts to be forthcoming and transparent with you, I am giving you an update today on where we

currently stand in the process of calling your next pastor. We have held four town hall meetings held by

me and then I requested the Presbytery of Charlotte to come for a fifth town hall meeting to answer

questions and hear concerns that some of you still have. I have completed the report from the four town

hall meetings I conducted and that information is now available to give to the PNC when it is formed. I

would want to express my thanks to all who participated in the town hall meetings. Your voice was heard

and is included in the report. As far as a timeline for where we stand in the process, it is recorded below.

The timeline is also part of my report from the town hall meetings. You will note that in September, the

Nominating Committee will begin taking names of members who desire to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee. (With go ahead from Presbytery. I do not anticipate a problem with this) If you desire

to serve on the committee or someone gives your name to serve, the nominating committee will contact

you to confirm your desire to serve in that capacity. The nominating committee will come up with a slate

of names representative of the entire congregation. When that slate of names is complete, the session

will call a meeting of the congregation to vote on said slate. The Presbytery of Charlotte will send someone

in to train the PNC on its scope of work and the newly formed PNC will begin its work. I would

ask that you begin praying now that God will act in the hearts and minds of those who will serve on the

PNC to be discerning and faithful in this work as it is serious business in considering who will next lead

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church. The work is a time commitment and will require full participation from

all involved. So begin praying now. As I have said before, and believe in my heart, God has already chosen

your next pastor. He or she does not yet know it. But in God’s timing they will know and so will

you and you will together form a long and lasting relationship. I pray you God speed.

Peace in Christ,

Veronica Cannon
 
Tentative Timeline:
 

May 21st

Nominating Committee training – complete
 

June – July

Begin taking names for candidate for nomination for office of elder – in process
 

August

Begin interviews of candidates.

Consider needs of the session.

Period of prayer and discernment of candidates.
 

September

Present slate of names to Session.

Session calls a congregational meeting

Congregation votes on slate of names

Nominating Committee begins taking names for members interested in serving on Pastor Nominating

Committee (upon approval of Committee on Ministry – COM)
 

October

Officer Training for newly elected Elders – 6 weeks

Examination of newly elected Elders

If the nominating committee has completed taking names of members to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee, Session will call a congregational meeting.
 

November or December

Ordination and Installation of newly elected Elders

Congregation votes on slate of names for Pastor Nominating Committee

Pastor Nominating Committee receives training from Committee on Ministry and begins their work

as outlined above.
 
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August 3, 2016
 

Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Last week as I was taking my morning walk/run, I looked up at the sky and saw the sun’s rays coming through the clouds. I then began to take in the beauty that was all around me. The flowering trees, the flowers, the green grass, the stillness that was this morning. People were not yet up and about, and things were quiet and still. I wanted to cry. I began to think about God and how awesome are God’s great wonders. And this passage of Scripture came to mind,

“Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Be still. Be silent. Be quiet. Be stationary. And know that I am God. God, Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Our Defense. Know God, the Great I Am.

I thought of God and great and wonderful God is. To know God is to know stillness, peace, silence. And if God is to be exalted among the nations and in the earth, then there is much work to be done. But, I don’t need to rush ahead of God, I need to wait on God to speak and move and be ready always to lift the name of God through Jesus Christ His Son. God is to be exalted above the nations and in the earth. God has this. God has me. God has you. God has this nation. God has this world.

In the ever shifting sands of this world, our nation, our communities, our churches and our homes, it becomes really easy to get caught up in the winds that blow to and fro and the ground that shakes back and forth. We so easily lose sight of what is most important. God.

In our world, we are asked and called to remember that we are at war with a force of evil by the name of ISIS. And we are afraid and running wild. In our nation, we are asked and called to remember that there is a divide between races of people and creeds and ethnic groups. In our communities, we are asked and called to look upon the divide between blue/black/white. In our church, we are asked and called to remember that we STILL do not have a called pastor in place, and time is ever fleeting. In our homes, we are asked and called to remember that for some of us we are lonely or sad or unhealthy or divorced or troubled by family members or circumstance. Such doom and gloom; fear and unease.

When I got home from my walk/run, I looked at the Psalm 46 in its entirety. And I read these wonderful words.

Psalm 46:1-11 (NRSV) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Yes, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear. I will not worry. God is in control. I will be still and know God. There is room here for you to join me. Be still. No fear, no worries. Know God.

In Christ,

Veronica

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July 20, 2016
 

Psalm 67:1-7 (NRSV)

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon

earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.
 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the Psalms. They are so poetic and beautiful and have always been

a source of comfort for me. Whether I am distressed or confident, in need of deliverance or in need to

praise God, the Psalms always have something upon which to lean. In the past weeks, there has been much

distress in our country and indeed the world. Today, I needed to hear a Word from the Lord that could be

my offering of praise to God. So, I share Psalm 67 with you that you may also offer praise and ask God’s

blessings to reign and rain upon you.
 

As one commentator puts it:

Whatever the circumstances of our lives, God is God and He is worthy of our praise. He loves us and has

made a covenant with us through the blood of His only Son, whom He gave to die for our sins. May we

learn to praise Him at all times, in trials and triumphs, in burdens and blessings, in gains and losses, in good

and bad!
 

Praise be to our God who reigns forever!

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

 
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July 6, 2016
 
I received an e-mail today, Tuesday July 5, from a book publisher. One of the books being promoted is a book by William H. Willimon entitled
Fear of the Other: No Fear In Love
.
 
In this no non-sense book, reliable spiritual guide, Will Willimon, invites readers to consider the gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be Other or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, Willimon brings a Wesleyan perspective to bear on what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the “Other” as they are – without any need for them to become like us.
 

Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive Others for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who all too often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers – as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He identifies concrete, everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences.

This is of course a book that I am likely to read. But that is not the point of this article from me.

I am intrigued by this thought of “other”. Who is “other” among us, and how do we treat “other” in our context. The more I thought about this, the more I began to realize that WE are “other”. Look, here is the definition of other. 1)used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about. 2) view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. The second definite is “other” as a verb…interesting.

We often think of “other” as someone of a different race, different socio-economic background, different culture, different accent, different theology, different country, different “whatever” (Thanks Karen Cathey). We look at others who are different from us in whatever way we see them and for some reason, those differences bring about fear in many of us. So often in our context, we look at difference as deficient instead of difference as just that…difference. For this, and a myriad other reasons, we are instilled with fear. But God does not give us a spirit of fear. So where does this come from? And more importantly, how do we begin to overcome it?

When I worked for Bank of America some years ago, the bank recognized that there were some pretty big divides among many people who worked in the bank. They began an initiative where bank employees were strongly encouraged to have lunch with someone “other” than themselves. The results for many were staggering. People actually began to communicate and got to know each other in new and exciting ways and for some, lasting friendships were born.

Is it possible that getting over the FEAR of knowing “other” might be as simple as conversation, spending time together, listening, sharing the common bond of humanity? Is it possible that our differences might actually be sufficient, abounding in abundance? Is it possible that we might learn from others as they learn from us? Is it possible to love others as God loves us? After all we are “other” to someone too.

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

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June 22, 2016
 
In her devotional book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young for June 21 wrote:
 
Wait patiently with me while I bless you.  Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind.  I dwell in timelessness: I Am, I was and I will always be.  For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty four hour segments of life.  Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind.  Learn to master time, or it will be your master.  Though you are a time bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness.  As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish.  I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you peace.  Micah 7:7; Revelation 1:8; Numbers 6:24-26 
 
In a day and age amid much going and coming, amid much running around, take some of your busy time and spend it with God.  We fill our lives with doing THINGS, and forget to just BE.  Be present with God, be present friends, be present with family.  Master that time and you will be master over your life with God’s help.  We live this life we have one time.  We can spend it on a hamster’s wheel going nowhere, being with no one; or we can jump off, take time to take in the beauty that is God’s and share it with others.  Take time to observe your surroundings, talk with God and just see what the Lord will show you.  You will find more time, more time in peace and joy!  What a gift that is from our Lord.  Take time with God and God will bless you in His timelessness.  Now is the time.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
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May 2, 2018
 
Dear Friends,
Last fall, many of you heard the saga of the palm tree. How my wife Nell, when we moved to Charlotte, announced that since she now lived in the south she wanted a palm tree(!) How no amount of reasoning would convince her that palm trees are not native to the Piedmont. How every winter she would fret about her palm. How the previous winter, with a sleet storm approaching, she sent me on a wild trip to fetch bales of straw in the back seat of my two-door convertible to pack around the palm tree’s roots.
 
Well, the saga is over. This year, we didn’t have any dramatic storms, and the palm seemed to have been healthy through the bouts of cold weather that did come along. But then with the warm days of early March we noticed a few branches turning brown, and then some more, until soon the entire tree was dry and brittle. This weekend we sawed it down and went to the nursery to buy a replacement, not a palm tree this time, but a corkscrew weeping willow – still different and interesting, but more suited to Mecklenburg County. According to Google, this is a tree that is even known for looking good when covered in snow!
 
I suppose it is tempting to see all kinds of parables in this tale. How fragile life is. The folly of not paying attention to prevailing conditions. The wisdom of cutting our losses and moving on. The further wisdom of learning from our mistakes rather than repeating them. But you know, sometimes a tale is just a tale, a story with ups and downs and no ending in sight. It’s just a good story and we will be telling it for years. We will tell it when the willow towers over the back yard, and our children will tell it after us. We could do a lot worse in life than just making stories and sharing them. What stories to you have to share?
 
Blessings, Elliott
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April 18, 2018
 
Dear Friends, I’ve been on the move a lot the last couple of weeks, with a piece of bread, a bottle of juice, and two or three church members in tow. For each trip, our destination is the home of one of our “stay-at-home” families, and our purpose is to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. 
 
And celebrate we do, in the fullest meaning of Christ’s sacrament. As we follow his instructions (“every time you do this . . .”) our eyes are open to his presence in our midst. But perhaps more startlingly, our eyes are open to our presence with each other. The church exists by being together. Even if we all believed the Gospel message perfectly, we would not be Christians if we stayed alone and never met one another. The power of the church is our togetherness, for that is where Jesus joins us. 
 
Because of that, it is so important for us to go out and be together with brothers and sisters who can no longer travel and be with us. When we gather we renew the ties that bind, catching up and sharing the news. And soon the four or five or six of us have created a little church family right then and there. From that point it’s a short and easy step to break out the bread and juice, to pray and say the words, and to share the meal. We always remind each other that those at home have never been far from our thoughts or far from our community, so that even when we celebrate without their physical presence, the Spirit makes them part of us anyway. But the opposite is true also – when a little group celebrates in a home, each of you who are part of the church is present in that home too. The Spirit brings you there and we feel your presence. 
 
That’s the power of Jesus. Across time and the intervening miles, we can never lose him, and never lose one another. Jesus is real, and so is the joy.
 
Blessings, Elliott
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April 4, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The busy preparations of recent weeks are behind us – Easter has been celebrated, the quiet of Lent is over, and the joy of Resurrection has been proclaimed. Many, many thanks to all who labored long to bring us the experiences of Holy Week, especially the choir, along with Mark and Sherry, and our Youth Group readers. And don’t forget the behind-the-scenes efforts of the Worship Committee, and all the extra bulletins for Kim!
 
It feels right to breathe a sigh and perhaps take a few weeks of rest. But that is not Jesus’s plan, or the plan of the Gospel. Our church calendar has it high points. But the real meat of Christian life comes in between, when we have the opportunity and obligation to live out the truth that we have proclaimed. As we discovered on Easter, Jesus has already gone ahead of us and expects us to meet him in “Galilee”, ready to show off all the work we have done on the way. And this coming Sunday, with the story of doubting Thomas, the resurrected Jesus has a challenge meant directly for you and me.
 
As Easter recedes behind us, what lies ahead is nothing but the privilege of serving Jesus day in and day out. May we reach out and embrace his Good News every step of the way!
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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March 21, 2018
Dear Friends,
 
We are fast approaching the solemn drama of Holy Week, which is the most sacred time of our entire Christian year. In the ancient church it was Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection, that was the center around which all worship and piety revolved. It has been that way ever since, and it is still that way today.
I hope everyone in our church family will be able to join us for many or all of our special services in the coming days. As we retell the stories about Jesus in that final week, we have a chance to share in the full range of emotions that he and his followers experienced – the premature excitement of Palm Sunday; the sense of gathering calamity as the authorities circled their nets; the bewilderment of the disciples at the last supper and in the garden; Jesus’s own apprehension of what was to come; the whirlwind of fabricated charges; the growing anger of the crowds; the agony of crucifixion leading to Jesus’s cry of abandonment.
Of course, at the end there is the glory of resurrection – indescribable joy, slack-jawed wonder, shouts of praise – which becomes all the more real in contrast to the despair of the previous week. Only as we have walked with Jesus up to Friday can we fully celebrate the emotions of Sunday. That is why I pray that each of us (as we are able) will be with the church family from beginning to end. This is what it means to be Christians, and it is the joy of Easter that gives us the inspiration for everything else we do throughout the year as we care for God’s world and cherish God’s word.
For all of us, may God bless us with a holy Easter, and blessings throughout the year.
 
Godspeed, Elliott
 
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March 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The ties that bind us together as God’s family and the Body of Christ are strong. We share each other’s burdens and rejoice in our blessings. That is why we feel so strongly when we are not together week in and week out. If a familiar face is missing from the pews or we hear about illness and trouble, our instinct is to reach out and bridge the gap, to let our friends know that our worship feels empty when they are not with us.
 
One way we can reach out, besides personal cards, calls and visits, is to literally take the church to our sick and homebound friends. We can go to the places where they live or receive care and celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together with them, to include them in the worship and praise of the church even when they cannot be present in the sanctuary. This can be especially meaningful for us as Presbyterians, since the Book of Order directs that we go out together – at least a pastor and an elder, but even better if other members of the church can go as well. That way, those who have to miss church can see that the whole community misses them and wishes them well.
I want to begin scheduling times to bring the communion service to our shut-ins during the coming spring months. I would appreciate your help in a couple of ways. If you would like to schedule a communion visit, for yourself or a special friend, please share that information with me so that we can plan a day and time. And, if you are able to join me on one or more of these visits, please let me know that as well. Elders (whether currently active or inactive on the Session) and all church members are welcome to be a part of this ministry.
I look forward to seeing many of you in the weeks ahead as we focus on this important part of the church’s life that will continue to bind us all in the Body of Christ.  
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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February 21, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The season of Lent snuck in through the back door last Wednesday. Most of us cradle Presbyterians have had to learn about Lent as something “new”. While growing up we didn’t “give up” anything for Lent and we didn’t see much difference even in church during those early spring weeks before Easter. In recent decades we have learned that Lent is not “new” but is very old, going back to the earliest centuries of Christianity. And we have come to appreciate some new traditions during Lent and Holy Week.
 
But all the same, Lent sneaks in through the back door. It makes hardly a peep in a world where politics, social media and violence scream for our attention – not to mention more personal concerns like family, work and health. Lent whispers with the Word of God. The same way that Jesus, who is the Word of God, whispered his message of peace and love and forgiveness. We have to make a conscious decision to attend to Jesus, not just to scooch over and make room for him, but to tune eyes, ears and hearts to him alone. Jesus will not raise his voice or coerce us in any way. But he is endlessly patient. The quietness of Lent can help teach us to attend to Jesus. In the ancient words of the Ash Wednesday service, “We are invited, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by works of love, and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” In others words, to be quiet, quiet enough for the soft voice of Jesus to speak and be heard.
 
Blessings on us all for holy Lent. Elliott
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February 7, 2018
 
Dear Friends, This coming Saturday, February 10, the Presbytery of Charlotte will hold its regular quarterly meeting here at Paw Creek. If you have been around the Presbyterian Church for awhile, I am sure you have seen many of these Presbytery meetings. You probably know that the Presbytery is made up of all the churches and ministers in a specific geographic area – in our case that is over 100 churches in Mecklenburg County and six other counties to our east. Historically Presbyterians didn’t want to have just a few people making all the decisions, so everything important must be decided by the whole Presbytery. Voting members of the meeting are elders (commissioned to represent their churches) and ministers. At the Presbytery meeting we approve new ministers, supervise seminary students, set up and supervise mission projects, elect Presbytery officers, and approve a budget for each year, among many other things. For every meeting, our Session here at Paw Creek elects two elders to be commissioners and attend the meeting. On February 10 we have commissioned Vickie Joy and Victoria Krebs. This week’s meeting will be special and important in several ways. First, we will be co-hosts of the meeting with our sisters and brothers from Woodland Presbyterian Church, recognizing that this is the beginning of the 150th anniversary year for their church. Second, the worship service will focus on celebrating a group of eleven churches that are all celebrating 150th anniversaries between 2016 and 2020. These churches were all founded by newly freed slaves in the years immediately after the end of the Civil War. Because of these churches and their example, even today Charlotte Presbytery has more African-American members than any other Presbytery in the country. And then finally, at this meeting we will elect a new General Presbyter to be the leader and head of the Presbytery, setting our direction and tone for years to come. It is an honor for our church to be a part of these significant events. Thanks to everyone who has already volunteered to help on Presbytery day. If you want to help, or just stop by and sit in on the meeting to learn how we do things, please join us on Saturday. The meeting begins at 9:30; volunteers can sign up with Amy McGee or Beth Joy. Blessings, Elliott
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January 24, 2018
 
Dear Friends, Many thanks to everyone who took part in the candlelight vigil in Coulwood last Sunday evening.  As most of you know, we were there to remember the lives of a mother and her two young children who had died the previous week under tragic circumstances. Although the family did not have direct ties to our church, they were our neighbors, and we came out in force to show our love and respect for their family and friends. This happened spontaneously through word of mouth (and social media) and a great ministry took place that evening.
 
It is tempting to try to draw some lessons from this experience, but I would caution that we not try too hard to analyze it. When the lawyer asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?”, Jesus gently but firmly taught him what a horrible question that is. If we have to ask, then we have already failed the test. In the same way, it’s best not to think too hard about the prayer vigil. There were neighbors who needed love and we tried to give it in a quiet, bumbling way. Our efforts were small, but God multiplied them greatly.
 
The most important word for would-be neighbors to remember is “yes”. After that, everything else becomes obvious.
Blessings, Elliott
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January 10, 2018
 
Dear Friends, The holidays are behind us and winter weather will still be around for a while. But there are still many great things going on here at Paw Creek.
 
This coming Sunday, January 14, we will have a special service after worship to dedicate the new Gary Bryant Memorial Prayer Garden at the front entrance to the sanctuary. This is such a wonderful project in so many ways. The engraved bricks offer a permanent record of people and groups that have been important in our lives and the life of our church. The garden itself provides a beautiful welcoming vista to those arriving for worship in every season. And of course the donations to the project have helped us fund the new children’s playground.
 
But perhaps more than anything else, the garden gives Paw Creek a chance to make a permanent monument to the life and ministry of Gary Bryant. Gary’s years of service at this church will always stand out as a milestone period in the history of the congregation, a time of love and service that shaped so many lives for the better. Gary was truly a dedicated servant of the Lord. Although I never had the privilege of knowing him, I follow in his footsteps and am grateful for his witness every day.
Please be sure to join us on Sunday as we give thanks for Gary, surround his family with love, and rejoice together in all that God has done and continues to do in this place.
Blessings, Elliott
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December 20, 2017
 
Dear Friends, I heard the comment from many of you this past weekend that 2017 has been a year that seems to have been marked by loss for our church family. For many of you, it has been your own dear loved ones whose lives we have remembered with appreciation, and whose passing we have marked with sadness. We can remind ourselves of Paul’s words: “death has been swallowed up in victory,” but even the Gospel rings hollow in the emptiness that we feel. 
 
For those who mourn, this Christmas season can seem to be the final insult that a cruel year has to offer; an expectation to be “merry” no matter the cost. But of course there is nothing “merry” about the Christmas stories. If we can read from Matthew and Luke with unclouded eyes, what we see instead is so many other emotions. The anxiety of Mary and Joseph as they travel long distances towards the birth of a child whose future is unclear. The befuddlement of the shepherds over the meaning of the message they are given. The determination of the Magi to make their trip, no matter the cost, only to be met on arrival by the sheer evil they see on the face of King Herod. For them, there is are no reasons to be jolly, and yet as the stories end, each one is gripped by the awe of God’s glory that overpowers their fear and confusion. 
 
The truth that runs through these stories has nothing to do with a jollity that we conjure up by the force of our own determination. Rather, that truth that runs through these stories points to God, for he is the one who transforms fear into courage, and confusion into strength. 
 
If this has been a year of mourning for you, or if past losses seem to return in this season, then I urge you to embrace the story of Christmas. The God who becomes flesh with us does so for the very purpose of transformation. That is his plan for our sorrow, and surely it will come to pass.
Bless you throughout these days, Elliott
 
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December 6, 2017
Dear Friends, Next time you find yourself near the intersection of Providence and Queens Roads, keep an eye out for a shiny statue of a winsome little man with one arm in the air and a violin case under the other. It’s a tribute to the memory of a true neighborhood eccentric, a man named Hugh McMannaway. That’s near my childhood home, and I met Hugh many times. An only child, he lived alone in the large, rambling house left him by his parents, a prosperous doctor and his wife. Hugh was known for standing at that very intersection to direct traffic (whether it needed directing or not), using his arms, his loud voice, and his violin case as a baton – hence the statue. When we kids would meet him, he would often ask one of us to state his or her name, and then make up a poem using the name, right on the spot.
 
One summer day when we ran into Hugh near his house, about block from the intersection, he pointed to the front window. In it there burned a single red light bulb. He told us that the light bulb was his Christmas decoration, and explained his theory that any decorations that were put up for Christmas needed to remain in place for the entire year. At the time, it seemed that whatever else you might want to say about Hugh, his theory of Christmas was surely incorrect. I’ve thought about it many times, and after awhile began to figure out what was wrong.
 
If Christmas is symbolically present throughout the year, then the miracle of incarnation becomes a part of the background noise – one of the facts that is always present and never needs to be thought about. But of course that is exactly what the miracle of the incarnation is not! Everything else is the background noise and the arrival of the Christ child is the one extraordinary fact that doesn’t fit, the fact that redefines everything else. It is good to put the decorations up and take them away, to make them gaudy and loud and bright – not just something that is so small and dim that having it around all year is no inconvenience at all. It’s all symbolic, but symbols are important. In this case, the point of incarnation is to shake up and inconvenience the world. Oddly enough, that is exactly what Hugh McMannaway did. His theology of decorating was wanting, but his exuberance of life was real. It was to such as him that Jesus came first, the fools, the cripples and the outcast. Maybe Hugh knew something the rest of us missed.  Maybe Jesus did too.
Blessings, Elliott
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November 22, 2017
 
Dear Friends, If you were able to join us for the Installation service earlier this month, I’m sure you cannot forget our guests from Smallwood Presbyterian Church. The choir sang with gospel fervor, Pastor Darryl Gaston kept posing people for group photos, and many other friends were in attendance. As I said that day, Smallwood is the “home church” in our neighborhood that allowed Nell and me to be part of the family when I was an itinerant interim pastor, and we know that they will always welcome us with open arms. As part of the Smallwood family, we have come to cherish one of their best annual traditions. On Thanksgiving Day they gather early in the morning to begin laying out the biggest meal you can imagine – turkey AND ham, beau coups of vegetables, and more pies than you can count. Then around 11:00 they open the doors and people start streaming in. Church members, ertainly, and friends of the congregation who come every year. But also neighbors who otherwise would not have a Thanksgiving dinner to go to. They bring their families, and some go home and send more folks back. Our friend Joe is the master chef, and his feast is never-to-be-forgotten. Since Joe and the ladies have the food under control, my job the last couple of years has been to stand out on the corner in front of the church, calling out to everyone who comes along West Trade Street – by foot, car, bike or anything else. “Free Thanksgiving meal! Everyone welcome!”  People stop, do a double take, then begin to smile – and most of them come in to serve a plate. As I stood there the first year, I noticed a couple of guys coming up the hill from the little store a few blocks away. They both carried paper bags with what had to be beer bottles sticking out of the top. I hesitated for a second, and turned to one of the elders standing near by. “Is it ok to invite them?” I whispered. She answered “Of course! That’s what we’re here for.” Well, that just made my day. What better example of the spirit of Thanksgiving can you get? Thanking God by serving his children, whoever they are. This is the day when everyone deserves turkey and all the fixings. Everyone. Thanks be to God!
Thanksgiving blessings, Elliott
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November 8 ,2017
 
Dear Friends, Believe it or not, it is already November! And that means the next eight weeks are going to be BUSY. As I write this, Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, and of course the Advent and Christmas seasons are not far behind. During this time of year, it can seem that Sunday worship is just a time to come to church and find another special cause or event. But of course what is most important in worship is that we focus on God and Christ. Our special events, even at holiday time, should be seen through the eyes of the Gospel. And we should ask ourselves – how is God glorified in the things we do this day? I want to pledge to you that I, along with the choir, music staff, and worship committee, are working hard to be sure that the plans we make for the coming weeks will live up to the standards of the Gospel. In return, I hope that you will make it a point to be part of our worship each week. We look forward to seeing you!
 
Our schedule for the next few weeks includes: Veterans’ Recognition – Sunday, November 12 Stewardship and Thanksgiving – Sunday, November 19 Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23 at 8:00 am Christ the King Sunday – Sunday, November 26.
 
Blessings, Elliott
 
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October 25, 2017
Dear Friends, Just two weeks ago, we put out an invitation to Adult weekday Bible Study. One week later, the response was fantastic. We had a class of 8 on Wednesday at 10:00 am, and a class of 13 on Thursday at 5:30. I am THRILLED and I can’t wait to see what happens this week! Remembering that Jesus challenged us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind, we must always be asking ourselves how well we are living up to his challenge. Each part (heart, soul and mind) is difficult yet vital. But to love God with our minds is especially important to those of us in the historic Presbyterian tradition. We are the one who have kept the study of scripture alive from generation to generation. We must never give up. At our Bible Studies, the format is simple. We focus on the scripture reading that will be sermon text for the following Sunday. By pooling our knowledge and sharing our personal experiences, we come closer to understanding the message that God wants us to hear, in both the Old and New Testaments. And we are able to come to worship each Sunday better prepared to receive what scripture has to offer. I hope that many more of our congregation will want to come join us in study. We need you – and you need God’s word! A list of upcoming readings will be published in the newsletter, or you can ask me for a list. See you in the parlor, Elliott
 
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October 11, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek,   I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time! And now that time is here. It will be exciting for me to begin to learn your names and faces, and especially your stories. I appreciate your enthusiasm, the basket of goodies, the visits I have already had this week, and the work of the Property Committee as they paint and prepare the study for me to move in.   During these first few weeks, I will also appreciate your help in a number of ways. Most importantly, tell me what I need to know. Is there someone in the church family who needs a special visit? Do you have a cherished memory of the church that you want to share with me? Is there a church program or activity that needs some attention? I need to know all those things, so please don’t be shy. Beyond that, please help me get to know you: if you suggest a time for me to stop by, or schedule a visit over coffee or lunch, that’s the best way to help me reach the most people quickly as I can. Or simply stop by the church..  I plan to be in the office or out among the church family every day except Tuesday.  Any time I’m there, the door will be open, so please come on by.   Our first time to worship together will be this Sunday, October 15. I’m looking forward to it, and we will have some light refreshments on the porch so that we can stay and visit. It’s a great time for everyone to be together in worship and fellowship. But I want to put out a special invitation to those who may not have been in church so much in recent years. If you are still on the list to receive this newsletter, then we need you at Paw Creek (AND you need your church family!) I hope our new beginning this week will be a good time for you to come and have a look. We are starting a new and exciting chapter in our service to the Lord. Come join us!   Blessings, Elliott   deh46@columbia.edu 704-502-2143  
 
 
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September 13, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Well, these are exciting times for both of us. You have called your next pastor in Elliott Hipp, who I have found to be very kind and thoughtful and will be good for the church. I have also been asked to serve as Transitional pastor in this next phase of ministry for Avondale Presbyterian Church. I am excited to begin my ministry with them and from all indications, they are excited too. I will miss you, but you will be in great hands. I will miss you, but God has planned out paths for both us to follow. I will be with you for just a while longer. My final day at Paw Creek will be October 8, 2017. Elliott will be on board October 9, 2017. I will begin at Avondale October 16, 2017. God is great and greatly to be praised! God is blessing all around. I will remember you fondly and pray your strength in the Lord as God moves mightily in your lives. May our final weeks together be filled with joy and peace!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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August 30, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
We celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit in this church. You have voted in your next minister, The Reverend Elliott Hipp. This is a time of great joy for our church. This has been a long journey, I know. But God has been with us every step of the way, guiding our every footstep throughout this process. And now we are ready to welcome your next pastor. You have been faithful and you have remained steadfast. You stood together and remained united in your efforts to find Rev. Elliott and he comes with many gifts and talents and a love for God’s people that will soon find its way into your hearts. My prayer is that you will have a long and lasting relationship with him that bears much fruit. If all goes well and as planned, he should be in place sometime around mid October. Begin praying for him now; his transition, his goodbyes to the church he currently pastors, his family, his strength and well-being. Pray for Paw Creek as you continue your readiness to receive him. Pray for unity in the body, the willingness to serve, an uplifted spirit, and pray for encouragement to step out on faith. Trust and believe that Paw Creek is truly in God’s hands and know you are blessed. I am excited with you. Your partnership with Rev. Elliott is bound to be a good one…a great one. God brought you together. All praise, honor and glory to God for what God has done is doing and will continue to do in you.
With Jesus joy, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
 
 
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August 16, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
 
What an exciting time in the life of our church! By now, most of you, if not all of you are aware that on the 27th of August, there is a congregational meeting for the stated purpose of calling your next pastor. This has been the awaited time and it is now upon us. I want to encourage you to come to the meeting so that you can be introduced to your next pastor and have the opportunity to vote on his/her coming. No, he or she will not be present that Sunday, but there will be a video or a flyer containing information about him/her. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and then VOTE!
 
I, for one am very excited. This is the moment for which we have all been waiting. God is great and greatly to be praised! So, we give God glory for the things God has done, is doing, and will continue to do through you, the members of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church.
 
This is a time of celebration, expectation and soon…a big WELCOME!
 
Even as we wait for the month’s end to approach, remember to keep the Pastor Nominating Committee in your prayers and thank them for the hard work they have accomplished. They have done wondrous work for the Lord and for you!
 
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
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August 2, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family,
 
This past week we bid farewell to a man beloved by God and by us. The Reverend Gary Lee Bryant. He was a man of God who loved his family, his friends and his church. In tribute to a life well lived in service to God for forty four years, of which thirty four were spent at Paw Creek, I want to honor Gary’s name through Scripture.
 
God’s grace is sufficient Acknowledge Jesus before men and Jesus will acknowledge you before His Father Righteousness guards the man of integrity Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams
 
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom Run in such a way as to get the prize You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High Accept the word planted in you, which can save you Nothing is too hard for you Taste and see that the Lord is good
 
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV) 31 but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
 
Rest well friend. You have run the race of the Lord and you have finished it. All praise be to God.
 
In Christ, Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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July 19, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family,
Summer is now well into full swing. Many of you have been on vacation. Others of you can’t wait to get on your way. Still others of you may have no desire to travel this summer. Whatever your circumstance, know that Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is still here, still praying for you, still worshiping with you and still seeking, still serving, still praising and still loving Christ, our neighbors, our community and you. As you take your leave this summer and forget about the worries of home, job, and stress, as you remember to get your much needed rest, please remember your church in its need of your support financially. We still have ministries to support, lights to keep on, and people to help. Please consider giving to Paw Creek, even in your absence. The work of the church is never done and we need your continued support. Make the most of what is giving to you and enjoy your summer!
In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
 
 
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July 5, 2017
 
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
A friend was in front of me as we were walking out of the church one Sunday. The preacher was shaking hands as usual. When my friend reached him, he grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him aside. The pastor said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord.” The friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord Pastor.” The pastor said, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.” 
This week we celebrate the 4th of July, Independence Day. It is a when America celebrates its independence from Britain. There was an army during the American Revolution that fought long and hard for freedom. But there is an army that exists that is still fighting for freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from evil, freedom for all people to live eternally for God…that’s right the Army of the Lord. If you have not joined this army, it is never too late to do so. Come on board, you are welcomed.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 21, 2017
 
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NRSV) 11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,
 
Jeremiah the prophet delivered a message to the people of Israel when they were exiled into Babylon.  Because of their sinfulness the Lord told them they were to be subjugated under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar and they would be so for seventy years. It was the beginning of the rule Babylon would have over those who were exiled. Things looked really bleak for them. They were subjected to mistreatment, pagan gods, a foreign land, and new rule. But God loved the Israelites even though they were sinful and God prophesied to them through Jeremiah.  Yes, the people were to endure tough times ahead. Seventy years of separation from their homes, friends, family, familiar surroundings. Yes, they would have to live out their punishment, but God promised them that when the time was over, and if the people sought Him out with all of their hearts, open and true, God would bring them back. God had a plan for them, but they had to have a change of heart and a change of behavior, and God would hear them.  This is good news for us. When we find ourselves in the bleakest moment, days, weeks or even years in our lives, if we have led sinful lives or done sinful things, God is never far from us. All God asks is for us to repent, turn to Him, ask forgiveness truly, and God will answer us and deliver us from all that holds us captive. Change your heart and change your character. Then seek God’s favor and God will deliver you, free you up from all unrighteousness. God has a plan for you! Trust and believe.
 
Love in Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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June 7, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Church Family, Pentecost is upon us. We celebrate and commemorate the Jewish feast wherein the disciples of Christ received the Holy Spirit. It is time of great joy. Jesus was now seated at the right hand of God and now the promised Holy Spirit , the third person of the Trinity would reign in the hearts and minds of human-kind. We who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, are recipients of the power and with joy and boldness are called forth to do great works. May the spirit of the season bring you into new and exciting spaces, open you up to bright futures in Christ and fill you anew with joy and great love.
In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
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May 24, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. This past week has been a doozy. In the world, a bomb exploded in Manchester England at the end of a concert and around twenty teenagers were killed and many more injured. In our country, there is much discussion on the interference of another country’s engagement in our election and the possible collusion of some of our government officials being involved with them. There is way too much partisan political unrest. There is much violence happening in our state, in our city. There is unrest in our citizenry because of racism and sexism. We cannot turn on the television without being confronted by disturbing or sad news. In our church, we have had loved ones hospitalized or still recovering at home. Even I personally feel despair at times deep within. I wonder will there be no end to this needless noise of pain and discontent. Our people, O God are suffering. Is there joy anywhere? Sometimes it feels like there is none. That is until I am reminded of Jesus. How he suffered, not just physically on the cross at the end of His earthly life, but the suffering he had because of us. God’s creation. How we squander the gifts of God and use them for evil or to hurt others. God incarnate witnessed the absolute worst in us. How He must have despaired seeing us wasting our potential on bickering and backstabbing and fighting and positioning ourselves against one another. That is not what God intends for us. God intends joy for us. But where do we find it? Begin by looking in the playroom of your souls.
 
Rev. Tony Evans tells this story: Someone came up with a great concept—putting playrooms in doctors’ offices. Many parents bring their kids to the doctor because they are sick and they need the doctor to see them. The playrooms are designed to distract the children from the pain of their problem until their problem gets fixed. The playroom gives them joy in a bad situation. That’s the way God works. Even though things may not be going the way we want them to be on the outside, God has designed a “playroom” in our soul. In the midst of our circumstances, His joy can distract us from our pain or discomfort, until He makes provision for our change or healing.
 
Isn’t that good news? Look inward, to your soul’s playground. Commune with God for a time. Let your cares melt away for a time in God’s playroom. Find your joy, find your peace. And may God bless you as you serve in His name.
 
I live for the cross,
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
 
 
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May 10, 2017

Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family, Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I am taking a week of vacation this week.  I am not doing anything special, not going anywhere in particular.  I am really going to take this week to rest some.  As I reflect upon this week and upon the message I wish to share with you, it revolves around the theme and importance of rest.  One of the Ten Commandments speaks of keeping Sabbath.  This is the type of rest I plan to have this week.  A Sabbath week.  It is not a time to sit and do nothing, to lay in bed or sit and watch TV.  No, it is a time of communing with God, being with family and friends and doing what one enjoys.  It is a time of singing and dancing, a time of praying, a time of listening and for me, discerning.  It is as active rest.  I encourage all of you to find Sabbath moments, to enjoy family and friends and time with God.  To break bread together and sing together and to find those moments alone to reflect and discern God’s leading. May God walk with you and carry you when needed.  May you find joy and much laughter for your souls.  May you seek and find the peace that God provides and enjoy one another.  May you find rest in your weariness.  May the love of God surround you. I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
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April 26, 2017
Psalm 84:1-12 (NRSV) 1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah 5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion. 8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah 9 Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed. 10 For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly. 12 O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church family, I love Psalms. They are prayers that always bring comfort or joy or peace. This Psalm is one that brings joy. It gives to God what is due: praise and honor. In God’s presence is where we find joy. In God we gain strength. In God, the upright, the faithful find favor and honor. The Lord gives good things (not material things) to those who trust in God. God is great and greatly to be praised. May you find comfort in this Psalm, joy in your heart and peace in your faithfulness to the Creator. Amen and Amen.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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April 12, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
I read the following poem on a friend’s Facebook page this past week: “later that night i held an atlas in my lap ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered where does it hurt? it answered everywhere everywhere everywhere.” I could not help thinking how appropriate this poem by Warsan Shire is for Holy Week. We live in a world that is hurting and broken. War is breaking in many parts of the universe. Men are dying, children are starving, women are being abused, parents are unable to support families, jobs are being lost, houses are being foreclosed, our enemies are gaining strength, fear is at an all-time high. If I could borrow from her poem and add to it, this is what my spirit hears: God whispers, “where does it hurt?” Creation cries, “Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” Then God says “Remember” Creation cries “Remember what?” God says “Not what but who. Remember my Son, Jesus the Christ.” Creation says, “What has he done?” God says “He died to save.” Creation shouts, “Who did he save?” God cries, “Everyone, everyone, everyone.” This week we remember Jesus Christ and His saving grace. By His stripes we are healed. By His blood we are redeemed. By His power over sin and death, we are made free. By His sacrifice, we have life eternal. Praise be to God, Son and Holy Spirit.
 
I live for the cross, Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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March 29, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I was reading the Lectionary for today, and one of the readings came from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. It was the story where an angel of the Lord brought Ezekiel to the Temple of God and showed him a trickle of water that flowed from the temple east toward the Arabah Sea. The angel took Ezekiel on a walk along the bank of the river to the Arabah. As they walked the water went from ankle deep to waist high depth to the point where Ezekiel would have to swim to cross. The angel pulled his attention to all of the growth and life that teemed all around them. Water of life flowed from the temple and became a great well spring of life. It is all due to the source of the water; God. God is the source of our lives. From our God source flows the river of life that runs through each of us. When we are open, receptive to the source of this water, we too teem with life and growth abounds, surrounding us with we need to survive and thrive. And when we walk along the banks of life, we will admire the new landscape that God carves out and gives to us for our enjoyment. All praise be to God for God’s life giving source of water and power. Amen.
 
I live for the cross,
 
Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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March 15, 2017

 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Blessing.  It is a word that means happy or helped by God.  It could also mean approval or that which is said over food.  I have often used this word of blessing myself, usually as it pertains to being helped by God or even as that which is said over food before eating.   I have also understood a blessing to be something you never keep to yourself, but that you share with others around you and beyond you.  If God has helped me, that it is important for me to use that help to help others.  Interestingly enough, I recently read an article on line from a man who teaches leadership skills to corporations and make a decent living doing so.  The article is entitled “The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying: Let’s retire this phrase immediately, and say what we really mean to say instead.”  He is referring to the use of the word blessing in relationship to material belongings.  He said people should not say “I just bought a house, I am blessed.  I just got a new car, I am blessed.”  We should rather say “I am grateful.”  He believes that when people say I am blessed because I have this job or some material thing, we reduce God to heavenly fairy who grants our every wish.  It is also plain wrong.  God does not prosper people because they have done some great or wonderful thing.  That would be prosperity theology: God blesses you because of something you have done and if others would just do likewise they would receive these blessings. I also do not believe in prosperity theology.  God does not bless us more because we give to the church or we treat others with kindness or sow seed into a particular ministry.  But I do believe that God blesses us to be blessings to others.  God helps us to help others.  So, God may bless us with a house or a car or a job.  But we are to use them to glorify God and help someone else.  Use your car to take someone to the doctor, or shopping for groceries.  Use your house to hold Bible studies or mission stations.  Use the income from your job to help those less fortunate or use your job to help others get work.  Material blessings should not be used for personal consumption or personal good alone.  Be a blessing to someone else.  Use the blessing of your body to help others who may need you.  Your eyes to help a blind person get around, your hands to reach out to someone who needs comfort, your feet to take you to places to carry out ministry, your ears to listen to the concerns of your fellow people.  But if you really want to know who Jesus considers the blessed among us, read Matthew 5: 3-12. Jesus, in Matthew 5, also gives us some instruction on who the blessed are.  God helps, blesses us, when we are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted.  In this life we may be torn asunder, but we will receive the blessings of God in the life everlasting.  Our reward will come, so in the meantime just rejoice and be glad. Matthew 5:3-12 (MSG) 3  “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 4  “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. 5  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 6  “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. 7  “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘careful,’ you find yourselves cared for. 8  “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 9  “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. 10  “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. 11  “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12  You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble. Daily we receive blessings from God.  Accept them and use them to God’s glory. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon

 
 
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February 15, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV) 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Being held captive is never a good thing. Being unable to leave a situation or a place can be devastating. We think of captivity as being imprisoned behind bars or captivity as being captured by an enemy of war and held in a prison camp. In the passage of Scripture from Isaiah, the chil-dren of Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians, and God, through the prophet Isaiah, told the people to hold on. God was about to do a new thing. God was going to move and re-deem the people from captivity and free them to go out. The people had suffered long enough due to their sin and God was going to deliver on God’s promise to them. It is no different with us today. We may not be under the heavy hand of oppression by another nation, but many of us held captive. Some of us are held captive in unproductive jobs, in un-loving relationships or marriages, in life circumstances, in bad health, in our minds, to drugs or alcohol. To you, God is saying, hold on. God is about to do a new thing. God is going to free you from whatever holds you captive. Only turn to God. Stop turning to others who have no power to free you; moving to stop turning to idols that do nothing. Give your attention to God. God is doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it? God is leading us into a bright and joyous future. God is opening pathways of communication and pathways of hope and pathways of ser-vice. Do you not perceive it? The river of God’s life flowing stream is running through the veins of our church. Through God’s life we are given life. Do you not perceive it? In our church, the children are singing and getting active. The youth are growing deeper in faith and remain active in the community. The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is working hard in ward your next called pastor, the mission committee is seeking and providing more op-portunities for you to serve, the Fellowship committee is gearing up for opportunities for you to spend time together, the Congregational Care Committee is developing more precise ways to engage with and communicate with you. The session and staff will be having a retreat, focused upon church growth. The music program in our church continues to provide uplifting and meaningful music. God is breathing new life in Paw Creek, the church on the hill, a light to the community, a spiritual haven for lost souls. God is moving in your life, in your homes, and in your church. God never stopped moving. Do you not perceive it? No more captivity. You are being freed indeed. I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
 
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February 1, 2017
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church, Over the past few weeks, our country and indeed the world has undergone and or been affected by a great deal of change. Some of us are jubilant over the changes that have come upon us, and others of us are absolutely afraid. This is not the time to gloat nor is it the time to fear. Listen, we are all brothers and sisters, creat-ed by God. We are one in the same, part of the human family, yet we are different based on where we live, how we are raised, what we believe or don’t believe and the list goes on. It is easy to fear what we do not understand or refuse to try to understand. This has caused a great ripple in the world. But fear is not of God. Scripture offers many examples and states many times to FEAR NOT. Fear is an instrument of the evil one and Satan will use fear to turn brother against brother and sister against sister. We fear what we do not understand or what we do not agree with. But we cannot let fear rule our lives. From Isaiah 35:4 (NRSV) “4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” From the Gospel of John, Jesus says “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” From Joshua 1:9 (NRSV) “9 I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” And from Psalm 23:4 (NRSV) “4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” There are many other Scriptures that speak to the notion of having no fear. We should all heed these words. Fear causes people to turn on other people, to turn their backs on people and to hate people. You can look at our political climate and see fear coming out of this administration, fear coming out of our country, fear coming out of the people protesting in the streets and it is tearing us apart. Families are divided over fear, friendships are stressed over fear, actions are taken out of fear. But our God whom we serve says FEAR NOT. For I AM with you. God is with us. Rejoice if you feel the desire to rejoice, it is your choice. Fight for what you think is right, that is also your choice, but do not fear. God is with us. So, no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, the circum-stance, your feelings or misgivings or jubilance, GOD IS WITH US. Believe that! God will be the One who rights the wrongs, who makes the everlasting change that really counts. So trust that if nothing else. Peace be with you all! I live for the cross! Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
 
 
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January 18, 2017
 
In times of uncertainty, anxiety builds and people can become dismayed. This can be exasperated even more when we take our eyes off of God and spend more time focused on problems and issues. We see this in our world, where war rages and families are torn asunder because of it. We see this in our nation, where the political climate is distressed and people are uncertain about the future. We at Paw Creek see it here as the search for your next pastor is underway.
We live in uncertain times and many are filled with apprehension. But thanks be to God, because the One who created the world and formed it and gave us life, God has never forgotten us. God is still in control calls us to a sense of calm and reassurance.
From the Book of Isaiah 51:3 (NRSV) Scripture reads: 3 For the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. The children of Israel were in captivity. They were full of despair, uncertain about the future. The Jews had withstood great hardship and crushing suffering. But through the prophet Isaiah, God sent them a message of hope. God told them to remain steadfast in their faith and to continue to follow. God wanted them to know that their captivity would be turned to freedom, that their suffering would end and they would be comforted.
Whatever stress, anxiety you are experience today, listen to the Lord and follow God’s guidance. Whatever holds you captive, be it circumstance or sin or life lessons, turn it over to God and God will be your comfort during times of distress, your anchor in the storm. Joy and gladness will be found in you and thanksgiving in your voice as you sing your song. Thanks be to God. And may it be so.
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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January 4, 2017
Dear Paw Creek, Here’s to you and wishing you the happiest in this new year! Wow, it is 2017 and what an exciting year this will be. On January 11, 2017 we will begin Bible study again. Please come. It is a time to learn more about Christ and understand who God is an what God plans for those who follow and love Him. The youth and children have excited things planned for the Wednesday evening programming to teach them the Bible and to learn more of what it means to be a Christian, how to serve the people of God and how to do it with joy. Please know that the youth pro-gram and the children program are growing and getting stronger. If you have an opportunity to come out and volunteer your services to God to these ministries, you can always contact Evie Landrau the youth director and Victoria Krebs, the children’s director. There are a few changes this year as well. We have added to the session a new committee, the Fellowship committee. It will be chaired by Beth Joy and you will hear more about it and the work her committee will do in the coming weeks. You will also have ample opportunity to step up and help out as well, both individually and collectively. Opportunities abound to use your God given talents throughout the church. If you love Christian Education, consider becoming part of the Christian Ed committee. If you love planning for worship, consider your gifts and join the Worship Committee. If you love dealing with finance, consider joining the finance committee. If you have a passion for mission ( the heart of the church) then please join up with the Mission Committee. There are so many opportunities for YOU to live into the talents that God has given you. Your church needs you and God is calling you as you are part of this body to step up and step into God’s Work here at Paw Creek. Paw Creek Presbyterian Church is the church you love, the church you want to see grow and prosper. Well, YOU are Paw Creek and its sustainability lies within each and everyone of you. So, as you make your New Year Resolutions, resolve to support your church, Paw Creek, with time, your talent, and your money. Your church needs you to survive and prosper. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NRSV) 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. Let us pray that God will open God’s eyes and ears and be attentive to our prayers. Happy New Year. This promises to be a good one. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 21, 2016
 
Merry Christmas to you. The birth of Christ is highly celebrated throughout the Christian community at this time of year. It should be. The birth of Christ, God becoming flesh is a really big deal. We have all heard the Christmas story. Mary and Joseph travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to be counted in the consensus. When they arrive there is no room in the inn. Mary goes into labor and the only place to give birth is in a stable with smelly animals and the only clothing, swaddling or binding cloths. The bed for our Savior, a trough. But I want us to appreciate how special and difficult this was for the mother of the Christ child. Again, you know the story, but do you appreciate how special this story really is? In the year of our Lord 1990, I traveled from Maryland to Los Angeles, California with my husband and two young sons to attend my youngest sister’s wedding. We traveled by air. I had a comfortable seat, food services, a bathroom, if needed and the ability to lay back and rest if I desired. When we arrived, we were picked up in a car and taken to my oldest sisters house where other family had also gathered. We were going to be there for only a few days. I was Vera’s ma-tron of honor. Did I mention I was also pregnant? Yep…nearly eight months. My doctor would not let me stay for even a week because this was my third child, and they had a tendency to come early by about a week and they came quickly. He did not want me to be away from home for too long. But we traveled there and back safely and my daughter Rosalynn was born six weeks later. So why did I tell you that story? To really appreciate what Mary endured to give birth to Jesus.
From Nazareth to Bethlehem is about 70 miles. Over mountainous terrain you could add another twenty miles. Mary traveled by donkey back, not an airline. She was nine months pregnant with her first child. Her husband led the donkey by foot over some pretty rough and ragged terrain. That journey took about a week to make. Think about the toll this had on Mary. With constant bathroom breaks and needs to rest, to get off that donkey to walk a bit only to climb back upon its back to continue the journey. She is ready to give birth at any time and then they finally arrive in Bethlehem. I am certain she looked forward to a bed to rest upon, an opportunity to have a hot meal perhaps, to be away from that animal. Then they find there are no rooms available and Mary goes into labor. The only place available? A stable? More animals? No comfortable bed? Exactly. A very tired Mary and Joseph arrive to register for the consensus, and the only place to rest was a stable among cows and lambs and sheep and maybe a camel or two. And it is there that she lays on straw and gives birth to a King, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, anointed by God to be our salvation. Christ was born after a long strenuous journey, under very humble conditions, and became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a gift to Mary. What a gift to us all. If never there was a reason to celebrate, this one was and is. What a metaphor for life right? We may have a tough journey, and the road to salvation may not always be smooth flying, but the gift of salvation is well worth it all.
Merry Christmas to you all. Rev. Veronica Cannon
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December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas. Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
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November 23, 2016
 
Happy Thanksgiving! This week people all around the United States will be gathering together to break bread and share time. Men and women, boys and girls will say that for which they are thankful. Some will have turkey, dressing, macaroni and cheese, beans, sweet potatoes, pies, cakes, hot buttered rolls, tea or lemonade. Some will watch football, others will play family tag football. Some will play games, others will tell stories, share memories and spend laughter. These are indeed things for which to be grateful. I will spend time with my husband and chil-dren. We will share a less traditional meal (it’s what they want), play games, and I am sure laugh a lot. I will worship at Paw Creek giving praise to God and thanking God along with many of you for God’s great bounty. It is all good.

But there will be many for whom Thanksgiving will not be a time of thankfulness. Some will spend the day alone and treat it like every other day; nothing special. Some will be in a restaurant eating alone. Some will just be lonely. There will be no laughter, no games, no fun, no good memories to share. So, I am asking, if you know someone who may not have family or friends, who may spend the day alone, think of inviting them to your home, give them space to be a part of your life and make memories with you. Share your meal, share your laughter, share your fun. Give someone the opportunity to be thankful for you and your kindness. It may not mean a lot to you, but may make the world of difference to someone. My desire for you is to be grateful all your days and to share your love and life with as many other people as you can. Happy Thanksgiving! I live for the cross. Rev. Veronica Cannon

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November 9, 2016
 
Be happy people. God has enriched our lives and gives us meaning. He has provided us with the best families, the best friends, the best that life has to offer. Do you see it? Be happy people. God has stretched out God’s hand and covers us with love and grace and peace. When we have been unlovable, God loved, when we have been unkind, God’s grace abounds, when we were in turmoil, God granted us peace. Do you feel it? Be happy people. God has moved hearts and minds to bend to His Will and allows us to discover the best in ourselves. When we direct our thoughts and actions to doing our own thing to benefit ourselves, God moves in mighty ways through us. Do you conceive it? Be happy people.
 
Life is way too short to be otherwise.
 
Peace in Christ, Veronica
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October 26, 2016
 
Don’t focus on what was. Look forward to what can be, and then do all you can to make it a reality. Life is what you make of it, and the challenges that come your way are just opportunities to right what is wrong. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t give up. You have it all inside yourself, and you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it. – Paula Michele Adams
 

I read this reading from the book entitled A Daybook of Gratitude. How to Live Each Day with a Thankful Heart. Living each day with a thankful heart is a beautiful thing to do. It helps us to recognize that which is in our circle, our space, and to see how God is blessing and continues to bless us. It helps us to see the people around us and value them for the gifts of God they share with us. It helps us to appreciate all that God is. But I will admit, that there are days when this seems an impossibility. When ugliness in someone’s attitude darkens your lighted path, it is hard to see the light for the shadow. But seek the light anyway. Hard, but keep trying. When people disappoint you because they claim a love of God and yet spew hate toward you, it is hard to hold on to love. But love anyway. When people gossip about you behind your back, spreading un- truths, it is hard to stand in the midst of them. Stand anyway. Nothing worth having is ever easy. And when you can live thankfully for the ugliness, the disappointments, the gossip and untruths, your character is built and your resolve is strengthened. Turn a challenge into a possibility. And when things still do not pan out, pray for God to show you new opportunities for which to be thankful. Ask God to bring people into your life whom you can appreciate and who appreciate you. Find the joy and keep it in your life. If it’s not your circus, don’t take their monkeys. Learn the lessons that life is teaching you and move on. Put God in the center of your life, and God will lead your path. Just be thankful for the path. Everywhere that God leads you and brings you is a place in which to be thankful.

In Christ, Rev. Veronica E. Cannon
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October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. In Christ, Rev. Veronica Cannon

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September 28, 2016
 
Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church,
 
I would like to give you another update on things that are happening in the church.
First, congratulations to the newly elected Elders of Paw Creek Presbyterian Church for the class of
2019. Please extend your words of affirmation to Jon Kenley, Victoria Krebs, Amy McGee, Melissa
Mullis, David Padgett, Joy Tyler, and Barbara Ullem. We will begin our twelve hours of training
beginning in October and finishing in November. After a written examination at the end of the
training, the newly elected officers will be ordained (if not previously ordained) and installed to of-
fice. The newly elected officers will be ready to hit the ground running in January.
Please remember to thank the Nominating Committee (Eddie McArver, Donna Hall, Peggy Harring-
ton, Grady Cathey, Ken Scott – Chair, and Robin Wodarski for all of their hard work in getting this
important work done. But they are not quite done yet.
 
Second, the Nominating Committee is still hard at work for you Paw Creek. They are beginning the
second charge of their work in getting a slate of names together of individuals to sit on the Pastor
Nominating Committee. During the month of September, they have been receiving names from the
congregation of those individuals who would like to sit on the Pastor Nominating Committee. The
Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) will need to consist of a cross section of the congregation as
to be representative of the congregation. There will be a committee of five. The same process will
be followed as it was for the class of Elder. The committee will confirm with individuals their desire
to serve on the PNC, perform interviews with each agreed participant, develop a slate of names and
will present the congregation with that slate of names on which to vote.
 
We have sent letters out to all members who have not been active here in the last year to confirm
their membership as to meet that requirement from Presbytery. This information needs to be as
accurate as possible as this will go on the Mission Information Form (MIF) that the PNC will fill out
about the church.
 
You will hear more in the coming future as we move further in this process. You may be called up-
on to help out with the mission study that needs to be completed; I hope you will consider volun-
teering to do this work. Some has already been done.
 
We are moving ever forward in finding the next man or woman of God to lead this congregation.
Stay in prayer through this process. We are getting there.
 
In the name of Jesus Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
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September 14, 2016
 
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 (NRSV)
6
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are
away from the Lord
7
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
8
Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the
Lord.
9
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
 
Live the Christian life. Okay. So what exactly is living the Christian life? If we look at this passage
of Scripture from 2nd Corinthians verse 7, it gives us the prescription for doing so. Walk by faith and
not by sight. In so doing we please the Lord. Our aim in life should be pleasing the Lord. Walking
in faith is the way to accomplish this aim. But what does that mean? It means different things to
different people, because walking in faith is individual. However, walking in faith does require us to
move with confidence in this world, relying upon God for guidance and leadership. It means not
relying upon what we see before us as an absolute for right living. We are human and therefore falli-
ble. And what we see can always be changed or moved by the power of God. You see a brick wall
before you and think there is no way I can get through that wall. It is brick, it is high, it is impenetra-
ble. That is what you see. But God says approach the wall anyway. Move toward it, you will get
through. We see a brick wall, God sees a way through. So you approach the wall and realize there is
a spot that is crumbling, weak. You push on the weak spot and it crumbles to the ground. You walk
through to the other side. That is walking by faith and not by sight. Put your trust in God first and
God will remove obstacles from your path. That includes doubts, fears, people, strongholds, and
even sin. Walk with the confidence of God and watch God remove earthly strongholds and make a
way for you.
 
Blessings,
Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
August 31, 2016
 
In my daily devotional reading, I came across one that really speaks to me. It deals with having time of solitude. Slices of solitude allow us to renew and reflect and transform as we enter into ourselves and do the necessary work of gunk removal so that God can fill us with internal peace and joy. Slic-es of solitude allow us to enter into prayer without distraction. We can focus our attention upon God. Spend time listening as God reveals to us The Almighty’s plan. From Charles Swindoll’s book
Wisdom for the Way, one of the readings from Intimacy with the Almighty
says solitude is “an oasis of the soul where we see ourselves, others, and especially our God in new ways. It is where much of the clutter of life is identified and exterminated, thanks to the merciless heat of the furnace. Soul surgery transpires as serenity replaces anxiety”. This speaks to my soul and I hope to yours as well. You know, even Jesus took times of solitude and prayer to spend with God. We all need our tanks refu-eled. I encourage you to find your solitude. If you cannot get away for a time of quiet solitude, look for a time in your day or night to spend with God alone. Just you and our Creator talking things over and seeking direction for you. May you be blessed in that journey.
 
In Christ,
Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
August 17, 2016
 

In my efforts to be forthcoming and transparent with you, I am giving you an update today on where we

currently stand in the process of calling your next pastor. We have held four town hall meetings held by

me and then I requested the Presbytery of Charlotte to come for a fifth town hall meeting to answer

questions and hear concerns that some of you still have. I have completed the report from the four town

hall meetings I conducted and that information is now available to give to the PNC when it is formed. I

would want to express my thanks to all who participated in the town hall meetings. Your voice was heard

and is included in the report. As far as a timeline for where we stand in the process, it is recorded below.

The timeline is also part of my report from the town hall meetings. You will note that in September, the

Nominating Committee will begin taking names of members who desire to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee. (With go ahead from Presbytery. I do not anticipate a problem with this) If you desire

to serve on the committee or someone gives your name to serve, the nominating committee will contact

you to confirm your desire to serve in that capacity. The nominating committee will come up with a slate

of names representative of the entire congregation. When that slate of names is complete, the session

will call a meeting of the congregation to vote on said slate. The Presbytery of Charlotte will send someone

in to train the PNC on its scope of work and the newly formed PNC will begin its work. I would

ask that you begin praying now that God will act in the hearts and minds of those who will serve on the

PNC to be discerning and faithful in this work as it is serious business in considering who will next lead

Paw Creek Presbyterian Church. The work is a time commitment and will require full participation from

all involved. So begin praying now. As I have said before, and believe in my heart, God has already chosen

your next pastor. He or she does not yet know it. But in God’s timing they will know and so will

you and you will together form a long and lasting relationship. I pray you God speed.

Peace in Christ,

Veronica Cannon
 
Tentative Timeline:
 

May 21st

Nominating Committee training – complete
 

June – July

Begin taking names for candidate for nomination for office of elder – in process
 

August

Begin interviews of candidates.

Consider needs of the session.

Period of prayer and discernment of candidates.
 

September

Present slate of names to Session.

Session calls a congregational meeting

Congregation votes on slate of names

Nominating Committee begins taking names for members interested in serving on Pastor Nominating

Committee (upon approval of Committee on Ministry – COM)
 

October

Officer Training for newly elected Elders – 6 weeks

Examination of newly elected Elders

If the nominating committee has completed taking names of members to serve on the Pastor Nominating

Committee, Session will call a congregational meeting.
 

November or December

Ordination and Installation of newly elected Elders

Congregation votes on slate of names for Pastor Nominating Committee

Pastor Nominating Committee receives training from Committee on Ministry and begins their work

as outlined above.
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
August 3, 2016
 

Dear Paw Creek Presbyterian Church Family,

Last week as I was taking my morning walk/run, I looked up at the sky and saw the sun’s rays coming through the clouds. I then began to take in the beauty that was all around me. The flowering trees, the flowers, the green grass, the stillness that was this morning. People were not yet up and about, and things were quiet and still. I wanted to cry. I began to think about God and how awesome are God’s great wonders. And this passage of Scripture came to mind,

“Psalm 46:10 (NRSV)

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Be still. Be silent. Be quiet. Be stationary. And know that I am God. God, Creator, Sustainer, Ruler, Our Defense. Know God, the Great I Am.

I thought of God and great and wonderful God is. To know God is to know stillness, peace, silence. And if God is to be exalted among the nations and in the earth, then there is much work to be done. But, I don’t need to rush ahead of God, I need to wait on God to speak and move and be ready always to lift the name of God through Jesus Christ His Son. God is to be exalted above the nations and in the earth. God has this. God has me. God has you. God has this nation. God has this world.

In the ever shifting sands of this world, our nation, our communities, our churches and our homes, it becomes really easy to get caught up in the winds that blow to and fro and the ground that shakes back and forth. We so easily lose sight of what is most important. God.

In our world, we are asked and called to remember that we are at war with a force of evil by the name of ISIS. And we are afraid and running wild. In our nation, we are asked and called to remember that there is a divide between races of people and creeds and ethnic groups. In our communities, we are asked and called to look upon the divide between blue/black/white. In our church, we are asked and called to remember that we STILL do not have a called pastor in place, and time is ever fleeting. In our homes, we are asked and called to remember that for some of us we are lonely or sad or unhealthy or divorced or troubled by family members or circumstance. Such doom and gloom; fear and unease.

When I got home from my walk/run, I looked at the Psalm 46 in its entirety. And I read these wonderful words.

Psalm 46:1-11 (NRSV) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Yes, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, I will not fear. I will not worry. God is in control. I will be still and know God. There is room here for you to join me. Be still. No fear, no worries. Know God.

In Christ,

Veronica

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July 20, 2016
 

Psalm 67:1-7 (NRSV)

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon

earth. Selah

5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.

6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

7 May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere him.
 

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved the Psalms. They are so poetic and beautiful and have always been

a source of comfort for me. Whether I am distressed or confident, in need of deliverance or in need to

praise God, the Psalms always have something upon which to lean. In the past weeks, there has been much

distress in our country and indeed the world. Today, I needed to hear a Word from the Lord that could be

my offering of praise to God. So, I share Psalm 67 with you that you may also offer praise and ask God’s

blessings to reign and rain upon you.
 

As one commentator puts it:

Whatever the circumstances of our lives, God is God and He is worthy of our praise. He loves us and has

made a covenant with us through the blood of His only Son, whom He gave to die for our sins. May we

learn to praise Him at all times, in trials and triumphs, in burdens and blessings, in gains and losses, in good

and bad!
 

Praise be to our God who reigns forever!

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

 
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July 6, 2016
I received an e-mail today, Tuesday July 5, from a book publisher. One of the books being promoted is a book by William H. Willimon entitled
Fear of the Other: No Fear In Love
.
In this no non-sense book, reliable spiritual guide, Will Willimon, invites readers to consider the gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be Other or outside mainstream Christian culture. Rooted in the faith of Israel and the Christian story and vision, Willimon brings a Wesleyan perspective to bear on what may be the hardest thing for people of faith to do: keeping and loving the “Other” as they are – without any need for them to become like us.

Emphasizing biblical teaching to receive Others for who they are and their differences as gifts and mysteries bearing the grace of God, Willimon also offers a strong critique of the privileged who all too often rush to speak of reconciliation and evade the injustice of huge inequalities faced by foreigners and strangers – as well as the antagonism the stranger experiences. He identifies concrete, everyday ways persons are formed in welcoming others without annihilating their differences.

This is of course a book that I am likely to read. But that is not the point of this article from me.

I am intrigued by this thought of “other”. Who is “other” among us, and how do we treat “other” in our context. The more I thought about this, the more I began to realize that WE are “other”. Look, here is the definition of other. 1)used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about. 2) view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. The second definite is “other” as a verb…interesting.

We often think of “other” as someone of a different race, different socio-economic background, different culture, different accent, different theology, different country, different “whatever” (Thanks Karen Cathey). We look at others who are different from us in whatever way we see them and for some reason, those differences bring about fear in many of us. So often in our context, we look at difference as deficient instead of difference as just that…difference. For this, and a myriad other reasons, we are instilled with fear. But God does not give us a spirit of fear. So where does this come from? And more importantly, how do we begin to overcome it?

When I worked for Bank of America some years ago, the bank recognized that there were some pretty big divides among many people who worked in the bank. They began an initiative where bank employees were strongly encouraged to have lunch with someone “other” than themselves. The results for many were staggering. People actually began to communicate and got to know each other in new and exciting ways and for some, lasting friendships were born.

Is it possible that getting over the FEAR of knowing “other” might be as simple as conversation, spending time together, listening, sharing the common bond of humanity? Is it possible that our differences might actually be sufficient, abounding in abundance? Is it possible that we might learn from others as they learn from us? Is it possible to love others as God loves us? After all we are “other” to someone too.

In Christ,

Veronica Cannon

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June 22, 2016
 
In her devotional book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young for June 21 wrote:
 
Wait patiently with me while I bless you.  Don’t rush into My Presence with time-consciousness gnawing at your mind.  I dwell in timelessness: I Am, I was and I will always be.  For you, time is a protection; you’re a frail creature who can handle only twenty four hour segments of life.  Time can also be a tyrant, ticking away relentlessly in your mind.  Learn to master time, or it will be your master.  Though you are a time bound creature, seek to meet Me in timelessness.  As you focus on My Presence, the demands of time and tasks will diminish.  I will bless you and keep you, making My Face shine upon you graciously, giving you peace.  Micah 7:7; Revelation 1:8; Numbers 6:24-26 
 
In a day and age amid much going and coming, amid much running around, take some of your busy time and spend it with God.  We fill our lives with doing THINGS, and forget to just BE.  Be present with God, be present friends, be present with family.  Master that time and you will be master over your life with God’s help.  We live this life we have one time.  We can spend it on a hamster’s wheel going nowhere, being with no one; or we can jump off, take time to take in the beauty that is God’s and share it with others.  Take time to observe your surroundings, talk with God and just see what the Lord will show you.  You will find more time, more time in peace and joy!  What a gift that is from our Lord.  Take time with God and God will bless you in His timelessness.  Now is the time.
 
Rev. Veronica Cannon
December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
December 7, 2016
 
Merry Christmas! This is a greeting that you will hear and deliver to many people you meet both stranger and friend alike. And for most people, it is a merry time of year when we remember the Christ Child’s birth. There will be worship services and sing-a-longs. There will be dinner parties and the joy of breaking bread together. There will be baking and shopping and visiting with fam-ily and friends far and near. There will be traveling and staying put. All sorts of wonderment will accompany this most wonderful time of the year. I say rejoice and be glad in it. Remember those also for whom this time of year is most difficult, who do not get enjoyment or pleasure from this season. Remember those for whom this season is wrought with stress and worry and concern. Remember those families for whom Christmas will not mean gifts under a tree or a nice turkey dinner at the table. Remember to pray for all of God’s children for whom this day means sadness and if you are able spread a little joy in their direction. Let them know of the joy of the Christ child and that his birth brings unspeakable joy because of Emmanuel, God with us!
 
Luke 2:8-14 (NRSV)
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
 
My all your days be merry and filled with the light of Christ. Merry Christmas!
Rev. Veronica Cannon
 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
 
 
October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 
October 12, 2016
 
As I reflect upon this life of ours as members of the body of Christ, and I think upon all of the ill will that plagues our world, our country, our community, our church, I can easily despair. But I choose a different path. I ask you to join me as we each, individually find ways to widen our circle of influence in positive and decisive ways. Each of us has an opportunity to influence good, to influence well-being, to influence love and joy. It is done by our words and actions. IN moments when we are unable to find the strength to do change our words and actions to reflect the grace of God, I encourage you to pray. I recently came upon a familiar prayer that reminds me again of the power of prayer and how that which we ask of God can be made manifest in our lives. It is a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. I share this prayer with you now. May it be so.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is dark- ness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be under- stood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

In Christ,
Rev. Veronica Cannon

 
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