Reflection: A Waking Dream
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
On June 2nd, I played substitute moderator for the congregational meeting of Good Shepherd Taiwanese Presbyterian Church as they called their new pastor, Ming Hsu. It was such a joyous day, to be with this vibrant church of committed Christians of all ages, so intently and gratefully anticipating what God is doing in their church.
What’s best is the realization, as I was driving away from the meeting, that most of my visits with churches these days have been filled with joy. This is counter to my traditional joke, that when people see me at their church, it usually means something is wrong. (I actually had an elder say that to me one Sunday: “Oh, Pastor Wendy! Why are you here? Is something wrong?”)
Now there are still concerns, and that’s a big part of the job, but our presbytery is right now in a season of renewal and reconciliation. Even when—or perhaps, especially when—church leaders make some difficult decisions, God has responded with abundant blessings beyond our own imaginings.
Take what is happening at West Covina, for instance. Our Presbytery meeting/Day of Service was held this last Saturday at the campus that was built by the faithful servants of Community Presbyterian Church of West Covina, now the Community Presbyterian Fellowship. The leaders of the Fellowship welcomed the Presbytery meeting usuals, as well as several leaders and students of International Theological Seminary, who are getting ready to move onto the West Covina campus later this month, and a good number of youth, especially from San Marino Community Church but also young people from Arcadia, Claremont, and two youth from Westminster Pasadena, who represented the now seven young people going to Triennium this July. This photo is the group who worked through the day—is that a glimpse of the Kin-dom or what?!
This meeting also honored the 107-year history of Grace Presbyterian Church in Highland Park, as they prepare to close their doors this June 30th. I encourage all of you who can, to join in the celebration of their ministry, at 11 am at the church at 1500 N. Avenue 53, Los Angeles, CA 90042. The church has been a place of welcome, creativity, and faithful service to God and to God’s people in the community for all these decades, and the members of the church have come to this point with grace and gratitude, a reflection of their own faith and the loving leadership of Rev. Dr. Al Lorenz, who will be retiring as well. Grace also honored the wisdom of their youth, as Judie Evers mentioned her role in the Pastor Nominating Committee that called Al when she was 17 years old.
I am grateful for being able to walk with our churches in their various places in their life cycle. One thing I am a big believer in, is the importance of inviting everyone God sends to us to participate fully in the ministry of the church. It was clear that the young people at Good Shepherd are fully engaged in the leadership of that church. And I loved watching the work crews all around the West Covina campus, as they included people spanning many generations (and coming from many different continents), working in a committed, professional manner. I also want to give a huge shout out to Jim Conner, who organized many of the work teams on Saturday. Jim is Board Chair of ITS, and lends his immense energy, vision, and gifts of community and property development to ITS, the ITS alums who are back in their home communities, and now the West Covina Ministry Center.
Finally, we were able to welcome Ming Hsu to San Gabriel as he begins his work at Good Shepherd on July 1st, and to pray for Vikki Randall as she begins her work on July 1st as temporary pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Temple City.
And we had another hugely successful gift card drive, this time for asylum-seeking families fleeing the violence that has overtaken Central America. This was a great welcome for Kristi Van Nostran, who is working with us and with Pacific Presbytery through grants from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, to help with basic life needs for these families as they await their immigration court appearances. You all brought $520 in gift cards that will be given to asylum seekers, as well as $782 with which Kristi will purchase additional gift cards and direct assistance for the families. This included several significant gifts, including 50 cards worth $250 from Alhambra True Light church. What a welcome! And if you would like to meet Kristi or have her speak at your church, please contact her at PresbyWelcome@gmail.com or (360) 521-4096.
We are blessed with a diverse Presbytery: churches and individuals of all ages, races, gifts, and resources. But we are all empowered by the one Holy Spirit, brought upon Christ’s church on Pentecost, and because everything we have and do comes from the one God, we are called to join together in using whatever we have to serve our Lord. So let us continue to be a people of hope and service as we join in many ways to be Christ’s hands and heart for this world. I’m thrilled to be part of it with you.