Thursday, August 18, 2016

Supper with the Welches Friday evening

We're doing dinner with Debbie & Richard Welch on Friday night at 6:30

We decided to do tacos. Would anyone like to bring beans or a salad? Fruit? Don't feel like you have to bring anything, but if a couple of you wanted to bring something that would help.

We live at:
1044 Alta Vista Rd.
Louisville 40205

Let me know if there's anyone else who might be interested. It helps if I know how many are coming.


Prayer requests

Prayers would be appreciated for brothers and sisters in Christ in Guatemala:  For Alberto, brother of Ramiro Quib who has visited CHPC twice.  Alberto is sick from a stomach or intestinal ailment and is awaiting costly surgery.  Alberto, usually a fisherman on the Belize coast, is staying with Ramiro and his family in El Estor currently.  Also, for the families, friends, and colleagues of some dozen miners killed in an explosion at the nickel mine just west of El Estor, which Doug Yeager alerted us to.  Byron Ottoniel, the church leader who was supposed to visit in 2014 and who works for the mine, was not injured, but many people in our partner congregations and in the community are affected, as they will be by any change in the mine’s operations.

Report from St. Joe's

Thanks to all who participated in Saturday, August 13's St. Joe's picnic parking fund-raiser.  That includes Ben Langley, Doug, Beth, Alek, Carol, David, Deborah, Shannon Bostrom, Carrie, Andrew, Andrea, Elisabeth, Mary, Brad, Kara, Janine, Patti, Jack Leake, Jane, Soni, Stephanie, Marsha, Dennis Horlander, and all of the St. Joe's patrons who entrusted their cars and donations to CHPC (including one or two local celebrities).  The parking event was a fund-raiser for Crescent Hill's Guatemala mission partnership.  With a little rain and the threat of rain apparently cutting into overall turnout a little, the church netted just a little less than last year - about $1,100 minus about $300 (half of the cost of Officer Horlander's work) leaving about $800.  With a fair amount leftover from the Guatemala visit earlier this summer, the church may be able to send as much as $1,500 to Crescent Hill's partner presbytery in Guatemala, possibly for 2016 theological education, 2017 theological education pre-registration, and women's ministries.  Folks interested in this, follow-up on the summertime visit, and other partnership issues will gather as CHPC's Guatemalan Connection at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, September 10 in the Gathering Room in Crescent Hill's back building.  Everyone is invited.  See you there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Partnership/2016 visit info

Visit history - 10 years of partnership, and counting!
·   2007:  19 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2008:  1 CHPC person went to Guatemala
·   2009:  5 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2010:  6 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2011:  3 Estoreño people came here to Kentuckiana
·   2012:  12 CHPC people went to Guatemala
·   2013:  1 CHPC person went to Guatemala
·   2014:  3 Estoreño people came here to Kentuckiana
·   2016:  10 CHPC people went to Guatemala
What did the 2016 visit team members do?
·   Visited 10 churches, many of them remote and isolated
·   Held 10 short church services as an opportunity to experience worship and prayer together
·   Stayed in church member homes one night to get to know our partners better
·   Sponsored a VBS-like children’s workshop with children, youth & young adults from around the Izabal region. CHPC folk joined youth leadership from the Presbiterio Estoreño in planning and leading a community-wide VBS in El Estor, where over 100 children were in attendance.  A wonderful, nutritious lunch was prepared by the church and served to the children who attended. 
·   We had several key meetings (with the presbytery leaders, with female leaders, and with other pastors and leaders) to learn more about how the local churches are doing and to consider/discuss our partnership together.
·   A one-day excursion with Ramiro Quib and Pastor Raúl Contreras Tut to Livingston (home to the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture and with a growing Q’eqchi’ population), a part of Izabal that was new to CHPC folks, with eco-tourism, fishing culture and a beach visit
Why do Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church folks go?
·   Learn about and practice mission in partnership
·   Help members connect with the global church and see ourselves as part of the wider church, maybe even consider mission work.
·   Expand our vision and experience of God
·   Encourage brothers and sisters in Christ while they encourage our church and faith too!
 How much did the visit cost?
·   The total cost was $1800 per visit team member
     including: $900 airfare, $190 ground transportation, $190 hotels, $65 boat, $250 food 
·   Team members each paid $1200
·   Past and present fund-raising funded the remaining costs
·   Also Estoreño Presbytery folks contributed some food and lodging for team members
What do we do between visits?
·   Guatemala Partnership Team works with the congregation to…
•  Share news and prayer requests by phone, Facebook, and e-mail
·   Pray for each other
·   Financial support for theological education for Estoreño Presbytery leaders and for Estoreño Presbytery Presbyterian Women’s activities
·   Some shared/parallel Bible study
·   Learn more about each other’s language and culture
Let’s keep up that encouragement by continuing to think of creative ways to pray for and communicate with each other.  The Guatemalan women suggested that we could hold prayer vigils at the same time across the miles - let’s do it!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pastor Jane's August 7 sermon

This scripture was in the lectionary earlier this summer, right when we got back from Guatemala; we didn’t use it that Sunday but it’s been on my mind ever since…and I wanted to go back to it today. This story comes after a couple chapters that have been focused on discipleship…Jesus has called disciples…and then sent them out. To be noted is that one of the places they went was into Samaria where they were turned away.

Luke 10:25-37

I grew up in a small town. Actually it was one of the biggest towns for 100 miles. But it was still pretty small. Small enough that we knew most people…considered everyone to be a neighbor. At that time almost all those neighbors pretty much looked like me: very WASPy.

There was one Mexican family; for a year or so there was a Black family. In all my years there I only know of one Jewish family who lived just outside of town.

So I grew up thinking my neighbors were people who looked like me, prayed like me more or less. My little world first cracked open a bit in high school when I joined other United Methodist Youth from our district on a mission trip to Kansas City. We stayed at a church in the inner city and met and worked and played with kids from that neighborhood. They looked very different from me. And, as we got to know one another I learned that they’d had a very different sort of life than me. Lived in a whole different neighborhood than the safe protected one I’d grown up in.

My eyes were opened on that trip to a world much bigger than I had known existed. A world which included people very different from me…who I learned new things from, who were very welcoming of these sheltered kids from western Kansas….in fact looked after us.

Since that experience, my eyes have continued to be opened: often through similar experiences. In college I left another safe small Kansas town where I’d spent my first two years of college, in order to step into a whole ‘other world in southeastern Kentucky. I still remember winding my way through the mountains and, for the first time in my life seeing one cow grazing in a field. One cow. I’d never seen such a thing!

And yet there too, where people had had such a different experience of the world, I was welcomed and learned so much. And, time and again, was shown mercy…often by those I thought I was there to help.

I think those personal experiences are why one of the most meaningful pieces of my own ministry has been when I’ve accompanied church folks – youth and adults – on ventures that have taken us beyond the normal confines of our neighborhoods: those trips have sometimes been as close as the Salvation Army in downtown Louisville or as far away and as hard to get to as Panzos, Guatemala.

These have been meaningful personally because my own eyes and heart are always opened more fully and I am touched time and again by the mercy of others. But they’ve been meaningful pastorally as well as I see the affect others: both on those who have made the trip and those who have welcomed us and let us into their hearts.

As the PC(USA) makes clear: a mission trip isn’t an end in itself but “one step in a journey of deeper engagement” in the larger mission of the church, which is of course the mission of Jesus Christ who, if we sign up to follow him, will send us out to “cross cultural and spiritual boundaries.” (quotes from the world mission website)

It’s all just “one step in a journey of deeper engagement.” That one step might be just down the street to the UCHM food pantry where you actually come face to face with your neighbors who come for food but end up sharing their story and hope with you. That one step may be the one you take to come to the orientation meeting to find out how to be involved with the resettlement of the Mehe Aldeen family from Syria.

The point is that each step is a move toward “deeper engagement.”

Not just a dip in and out, a move to “help” and save. But, the first step in sticking around, developing relationships – not one-sided, “us” helping “them” – but mutual relationships that uncover the gifts that each has to share.

This concept of mission as partnership, rather than one-directional charity is what we as a
church are growing into. We’ve always had an idea of it though. It is why we haven’t just included Kentucky Refugee Ministries in our mission budget, sending a little money each year, but instead have, every few years, actually helped to re-settle a refugee family: giving us the chance to have our eyes opened, to learn about the struggles of leaving one’s home, fleeing violence and oppression; and to help with the resources we have…but also to be blessed by the gifts that new friends from new places with new perspectives bring to us.

Nine years ago, with some seed money from a Lily grant related to a sabbatical I had, a group of 19 people from this congregation made a trip to eastern Guatemala. On that trip we led a VBS, held workshops for women and church officers and youth, attended worship…we even mixed cement and laid a new floor for one of the pastor’s homes.
(Something, it should be noted, we’ve never been asked to do again!)

I remember on the bus, near the end of that trip, the mission co-worker who had been coordinating things for us down there, mentioned to me the idea that maybe this was just a first step. That maybe we should consider not just dipping into these people’s lives once and then going on our merry way.

A few weeks after we returned, some of the group who went gathered at Heine Bros on Chenoweth, a mural of a Central American site as a backdrop, and talked about how we might continue to be involved with these Presbyterians in another country. We had all kinds of ideas: all those sewing machines we saw – maybe we could teach them how to use them. Water: there’s an issue that needs to be dealt with. Or keeping kids in school past the 2nd grade – how could we help with that? Ideas flew around the room. Finally, Carlos Lara, the pastor from Guatemala who had been in our midst for a year or so by then, spoke up: “Maybe we should be asking these new friends what they would like.”

I thought of Carlos’ comment this week when I read an article in Presbyterian Outlook about the work of racial justice that many white congregations – including our own – are trying to figure out how to engage with. Shannon Craigo-Snell was quoted in that article talking about how “for white Christians, part of the work also is to listen and to not always try to lead.”
It is in our nature – as white, privileged, educated, able-bodied, well-off North Americans – to figure it is our place to be the helpers. And to figure we know what that means, what is needed. It is much harder for us to be the ones who don’t always know; to be the ones who need to learn, who are in need of someone showing mercy to us.

It is much easier to do mission simply as charity. And sometimes it’s necessary: so we bring food on communion Sundays so our neighbors don’t go hungry. Or buy school supplies for children we’ll never even meet but who might end up without a backpack and embarrassed the first day of school if we don’t give them one. But if that’s all we did – it simply lets us stay in a position of dominance, of the one with the resources to give – and to control.

Which is all a much easier place to be – at least more comfortable. Less messy. When, after a lot of conversation and prayer and another visit to Guatemala to talk to the folks of  Estoreño presbytery about it, we decided to enter into a partnership, none of us really knew what that would mean…or call forth from us. There have been many times when I figured it would be much easier – and maybe even more helpful – if we just supported them with money. And, at first at least, I think that’s what our partners thought. It has taken a lot more effort and vulnerability and even money to put the emphasis instead on relationship. Mutual relationship. Because as each of you know because you are in relationships with actual people, relationships are inevitably difficult. Add in starkly different cultures and three different languages and differing expectations and ways of doing things, and well…

But we decided we’re in this. And now after 8 years we realize we wouldn’t back out if we could. These folks are family. We are important to them – you are important to them even if you’ve never been to Estoreño, even if you didn’t get to meet and talk with the folks from there who came here. They know that we – this church – is here and cares for them and prays for them. And it means a lot. When we show up it seems to be a huge encouragement. Which it is for us too. Personally this last trip was especially touching; our partners planned our time completely – which included a lot of connecting – with as many churches as possible, with the children and youth, with the women. This is what is important to them – not that we help them use those sewing machines some church gave them without asking if they wanted them. They want to connect at the level of faith and the joy of spreading the Gospel of Love. So, the relatively small financial gifts we send to them are used to help with that – providing theological education for church leaders, helping the women get together from all around the presbytery to support one another in their growing ministry. Come to lunch today to hear more stories about what that looks like for all of us.

This partnership relationship could have been anywhere; this is just the place that opened up for us. It doesn’t matter so much where. But I think it does matter that we have this commitment: to not just dip in and out of a place, but to stick around: learn from and be blessed by and become connected to Christians in a beautiful and isolated corner of Guatemala….which affects how we think about mission anywhere, including right here at home.

It has led to other ministries such as the English Language Learners. When we looked around this neighborhood we saw lots of Guatemalans among us here. In conversation with the Hispanic/Latino Task Force of the presbytery we learned that learning English is a high need for immigrants to this country. So, we began offering classes…the students who came were mostly Hispanics at first, but now: we have students from China, Japan, Egypt, Pakistan, Congo.

I’m pretty sure some people have learned some English. But, the relationships that have developed over time have been the real blessing. Folks sit around tables for class and learn how to order food or fill out a job application. But before class begins, we sit at other tables to share a meal that one of you prepares and serves and that we all sit down and eat together. All of these experiences help us know that it is not just in theory that we share this communion Table with neighbors near and far. When we actually cross cultural boundaries to sit at table with neighbors out there, then we come to this Table more conscious of the great company that is also welcomed by Christ and where we all meet in our common need for grace…and our common call to show mercy to one another.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Parking fund-raiser

CHPC folks are invited to help park cars for those attending the annual St. Joseph’s Orphan’s Picnic on Saturday, August 13, to raise money for CHPC’s Guatemala partnership. A portion of this money will be routed to Estoreño Presbytery’s Presbyterian Women organization. This organization has targeted the following as priorities: networking among congregational women’s organizations around the presbytery and economic support for needy families within the presbytery.

If you would be willing to participate, contact Perry Chang at or at (502) 457-7833, look for Perry before or after worship, or sign up at today’s after-worship Guatemala visit Food for Thought for the following shifts: 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, 1:00-3:00 PM, 3:00-5:00 PM, 5:00-7:00 PM, 7:00-9:00 PM.

Food for Thought lunch Sunday (August 7)

Sunday after worship, join members of the 2016 Guatemala visit team for photos, videos, recollections and ruminations, and a simple Guatemalan lunch in Henry Young Hall. Hear about partnership ups and downs and memorable experiences such as the prayer heard round the world and the scariest boat ride Pastor Jane has ever been on.

Service stills

Perry and Stephanie's Confession and Declaration of Pardon

*Call to Confession (Perry Chang and Stephanie Gregory)


In Guatemala and back at home:

We go from feeling like a savior, a knight in shining armor coming to the rescue

To feeling like we’re part of a culture of scarcity – that we can’t give anything.

We go from feeling heroic for toughing it out in difficult times and difficult places

To feeling stuck and sorry for ourselves.

We go from feeling closed in and not wanting to share ourselves

To becoming frustrated with others for seeming taciturn and closed off.

We go from worshiping our partners for their apparently endless good cheer

To broad-brushing them as part of a violent, money-grubbing culture of corruption and impunity.

And we go from making fun of fellow Christians from around the United States – in a holier-than-thou way - for not understanding or applying good PC(USA)-style partnership principles

To wanting to give up because partnership just seems so difficult.

[Printed Prayer of Confession]


We have sinned against you and others by failing to apply partnership principles such as mutuality, cooperation, and shared sacrifice in church partnerships and in other relationships in our lives.

We have harbored pride and self-pity, held back our time and money and energy and ideas, struck out on our own, and behaved badly with friends both old and new.

We trust that, in your mercy, you will see past our flaws and draw us closer to you, inspiring both our friends and us to work both steadily and hard to reveal more and more of Your Kingdom here on earth.

[Declaration of Pardon]

The Lord Our God desires to forgive all, especially those who come to God with acknowledgment in their hearts.  Go forth with the aim of repairing your relationships and altering your behavior knowing that you are forgiven.

People: Thanks be to God.                                                                  

*Sung Response #595 “Santo, santo, santo”                                                  
Santo, santo, santo. ¡Mi corazón te adora!

Mi corazón te sabe decir: ¡Santo eres, Señor!

Doug's reflections (in the July 10 service)

I grew up as a missionary kid, 40 years ago I left Colombia having been the only american in my Presbyterian mission school thinking I would never come back to Latin America: there is no way that a tall white guy has a role in Latin America: it just won’t work.  But now I am part of CHPC, a Church that gets that, a Church that has set out to build a partnership that transcends this great divide.

How has it been successful?  On this trip a pastor that is new to our relationship brought to me a widow, asking for some help to support her.  When I brought this to the attention of one of our more experienced partners, his response was “your partnership is with the Presbytery, we are responsible for out widows”.

We have been working towards not to establish a relationship of patron and serf, which is so easy to fall into when you have such an incomprehensible gap in income, but one of compañerismo of partner.  There is no better way to describe this as one based on trust.

Where trust shows itself is not in all of the presentations done in the Churches of El Estor, or the documents that we sign, but in the home visits.  Each of us could tell you stories:

-I spent some time talking with Edwin, a seventh grader, about his grades… which could come up. I told him about when I was in Colombia they taught me about Paulo Friere, (The Pedagogy of the Oppressed) and about the importance of the relationship he has with his teachers. This relationship is one of dialogue, not just the teacher talking and him and his buddies goofing off at the back of the room.  I asked him why I came to El Estor, to have dialogue with him and his parents, for what could I get out of it? My answer was “Lots”, my point being that he had something to offer his teacher, and that all his life he was going to have somebody as a boss, and he needed to start learning how to live out that relationship now and to make it authentic.

-Another time I was speaking with one of the leaders of the presbytery, and he started asking be about the ordination of gays and the marriage of gays. He doesn’t understand, and I reassured him that many Americans did not either. That it was a process that has taken decades.

-The culture of silence in Guatemala is real: for too many years if you stood up for yourself you were shot. We had asked questions about the nickel mine just outside of town, and got evasions.  This trip one of the brothers spent an hour with me describing conditions (deplorable) and the nature of the new Russian owners (ruthless).

This trust relationship is real, and it is a blessing I never thought I would see again.  I am thankful to CHPC and to the leadership of the El Estor Presbytery, especially Gerardo Pop Ich.   

Elisabeth's reflections (in the July 10 service)

The Presbyterian connection among Estoreño, Guatemala churches and being the body of Christ to each other.

During our 2016 trip to Guatemala we could clearly see that the churches in the Estoreño Presbytery value being in a presbytery together. We were able to visit ten different churches with the leaders of the presbytery and saw how well these leaders work together. Among them were Ramiro, Raúl, Gerardo, Fidel and Mario. They come from various churches in the Izabal region, but shared the leadership of these special church services rather fluidly, with welcome words by one, prayers by another, words from the Scripture or singing by another. No single person stood out as the head, showing us that Christ is the head as they work together being parts of the body of Christ.

The connection that these churches have with each other is very important to them, as they truly see each church as part of the larger body of Christ. We visited some churches that were an hour and even two hours away from El Estor, but they still maintain a close connection with one another. Young adult leaders and women leaders had traveled from these rural churches by motorbike or other means to be with each other for our special Bible school and women’s events on Tuesday of our trip. We also learned that the women take seriously their mission to visit each church and stay connected. Each church has a “Sociedad” of women who routinely visit church members and then the women leaders of the presbytery, the “Presbyterial” (each from different churches) go together to visit each church. The youth & young adults also invest their time & resources staying connected in this way.

It was fun to peek into how all these churches work together. We enjoyed traveling through the area with the presbytery leaders and celebrating with them the years of investment that they & many others have made in growing these vibrant churches that live out God-inspired community together.