Blog Archives

Letters to home: Rooted and Reaching in Montreat

July 30, 2014

Our youth spent at week in Montreat at the “Rooted and Reaching” retreat. These are their observations from five days of worship, prayer, fellowship and discussion as they grew closer to one another and to God. 

Day 1: Hello First Pres Family. You’ll be happy to know that we had a wonderful first full day at the Montreat Youth Conference. We started off our day with a great breakfast provided by our awesome first pres parents! We moved on to the Keynote led by Jarrett McLaughlin, who did an excellent job starting to convey the theme of “Rooted and Reaching.” We explored this theme in depth today by focusing on the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13 1-8). We further discussed this in our small groups where we met people from all over. Everyone is looking forward to continuing to build relationships in their small groups.

We ended the day with a worship service led by Christopher Edmonston. He did an excellent job of laying the groundwork for the week by focusing on “our soil” and how we need good soil to put down our roots and begin growing. Overall it looks like we are setting up for a great week in Montreat and growing closer to God.

-This is H-Money, Studawg, and the Glontzinator signing out. (Harrison Ferone, Stuart Ayer and Alex Glontz)

Christopher_Edmonston

Day 2: Our morning started similar to Monday. Today’s scripture was a story of Ruth and her loyalty and love for Naomi. Small groups were fun! For dinner, Christopher Edmonston and his son, Gabriel, joined us. It was great to reconnect with him and his family. At worship Christopher did an amazing job on connecting scriptures, thoughts and personal stories to tackle the question of who our people are. We are hoping to have a good free afternoon in Asheville and a great rest of the week. Signing off – G-daddy and La Luc (George Valaoras and Lucinda Bond)

Day 3: Keynote with Jarrett this morning reminded us that God is always with us. No matter what, God will always love us. Worship with Christopher explored the question whether or not we can be forgiven, redeemed, saved and renewed. YES!!! Good news, YES we can! Christopher further explained how God still appears in the worst of our days. God never abandons us. Worship closed with hand washing and showing us that our cleansed hands can be used to serve others and model the service that Jesus did with his disciples when he washed their feet. Thanks be to God for this day! – Signing off JPro and Dave the wave (Jackson Proctor and Davy Rayner)

montreat_mountain

Day 4: Today, Jarrett shared a powerful message in keynote about Gods ability to reshape us through pruning. Over the course of this week in Montreat we have witnessed ourselves
coming closer together forming a family of god. As a group we hiked Lookout Mountain continuing to bond as a group and experiencing God’s beauty. Christopher wowed us again with another amazing sermon. He helped us understand how it is good to let go, always remembering that he never abandons his garden of people.

– Signing off – A mili, A2, E- train (Amelia Keesler, Alex Ayer and Emily Orrell)

Montreat candles

Day 5: Throughout our week at Montreat, we have explored the theme of rooted and reaching in regards to our connection to God. Through this theme we have experienced a growth in our faith as we discovered what it meant to surround ourselves with people we believed would help us become better versions of ourselves. We examined our roots and our basic connections to God in hopes of pruning our rough edges. Together we have made new friendships in our small groups that helped nourish our faith. We also had the pleasure of forming unbreakable bonds with our back home group. We are blessed to have such a wonderful program at First Presbyterian of Charlotte. Today we focused on two questions to take home with us: how can we reach and what is our story. Both services focused on this internal reflection and offered us advice on what to think about once we left Montreat. Finally, after the last worship, we had a candle light ceremony around Lake Susan to wrap up everything we had done this week. In our back home group we reflected upon our wonderful week here at Montreat and what we hope to take from it. We cannot wait to come back next year!
– Signing off – Adrienne, Vamanos and Wood (AJ Sellers, Abigail Justis and Woodson Dudley)

Where Is God?

July 23, 2014

When do we notice God’s presence? Looking back at our lives, where have we experienced the love of a God who promises to never let us go?

It is normal and important to wonder where God was in the unresolved and difficult passages of life. It is just as important to lift up where God is – that becomes the fabric of our testimony…a testimony that can encourage and invite those who hunger and thirst for a relationship with Christ.

For context, we look to Psalm 13 and Matthew 14:22-33.

What do you you think? Where is God in your life and the lives of others?

Where was God?

July 16, 2014

In the suffering of cancer patients?

In the death of a beloved child?

In the bombings and attacks in Israel and Gaza?

Where was God in these, or in any space that is full of pain, sadness, worry?  And what are the consequences to deciding God is not present and not active?

Scripture to explore: Lamentations 1:1-6, Psalm 137

Is Heaven For Real?

July 9, 2014

Is heaven a place? What is it like? Who will I meet there? Is heaven the goal of life? If so, what does that mean about the life I live now? If heaven is so great, does that make the world a bad place? Is this existence something just to be tolerated and endured?

What do you think?

Scripture: Selections from Revelation 21 and 22

It’s Just a Mystery

July 3, 2014

What good is the Trinity? Many a preacher or theologian has tried to explain what we mean by saying that we believe in the Triune God – one God in three persons. And many a preacher or theologian end up saying something like “it’s just a mystery.”

What do you think? Why is it important to our faith that we believe it? What is the good news about a God who is so difficult to wrap our minds around?

We are using the scripture passage John 16:4-15 as reference.

Reducing the distance

June 28, 2014

Today we were fortunate enough to take part in a beautiful ministry called Mercy Community Church.  Mercy Church has a congregation composed primarily of people struggling with homelessness. During my experience at Mercy, the face of God became prevalent to me in various places.  I saw God through the actions and passion of the 2 pastors of the church as they led us in worship. One of these pastors was an ordained Presbyterian minister!  I saw God in the heart of a man struggling with homelessness who rescued a dog, and committed to feeding it when the owner himself was often without food. I also saw God through the mannerisms of a 1 1/2 year old boy who was homeless, and who was the happiest child I had ever seen. He said thank you to people who did nice things for him and he offered me some of his cheerios. This experience left me with so much.  Kevin, one of the men we met today, asked that we work on “reducing the distance” between ourselves and the homeless community.  Through this experience, I learned that we can do that.  -Elizabeth P.

The Homeless Psalm

June 27, 2014

1) In our bible study at Mercy Church we rewrote Psalm 23. We meshed as a community of believers our understanding of scripture into this.
The Holy Spirit is our shepherd as we walk through the system. We will gather together as often as possible to eat together and enjoy one another’s company as church so all will feel included. We will practice being good, healthy community inside the church so we can better be good, healthy community outside the church. We will also sing together to praise God and become more unified as a community.

2) Psalm 23. This is the version we read in our bible study
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows. He leads me to the restful waters; He keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff — they protect me. You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over! yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the LORD’s house as long as I live.

3) the Homeless Psalm was written by Lynda Baker. Linda was an active part of the Mercy Church community. Linda passed away about a year ago but wrote this before she passed.
The system is my shepherd, I lack everything that I need. The system makes me lie down on the concrete. The system tells me that I am not good enough for its water. The system slowly destroys my soul. Yea, though I daily walk through the system’s wastelands, the system still tries to destroy me. Their constant hounding and no sleep do not comfort me. The system doesn’t do anything for me, my cup is surely dry. Surely hatred and intolerance shall follow me all the days of my life in the system. And I shall dwell in the house of lack forever.

More than farming for the farmers

June 26, 2014

ImageToday we went to the Mennonite farm just outside of Atlanta. There we met some inspirational people who told us about the different ways the farm gets involved in the community; from day camps for kids to a neighborhood garden they would be opening soon.Image

We cleared bush, pulled weeds, chopped down trees, fed farm animals, and broke down a barn so that the materials could be reused. The work was exhausting but very rewarding knowing that we had helped the farm and the neighborhood. -adele

#middleschoolmission

7+ hours of work, and we broke into song!

What a day! Thanks be to God for safety, energy and dedication! God was surely present with enthusiasm at our work site notwithstanding a 7+ hour workday in the heat as we mixed concrete, moved it by wheelbarrow to the kitchen we were working on and then, using buckets, lifted it to the roof.

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As the roof was being completed, we spontaneously broke out in song, making a joyful noise to the Lord. We saw God in how we worked side by side with Ovet, the host family, and the Mexican masons, overcoming our communication challenges.

 

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God was certainly present at the end of our evening devotions as we all came together in song (led by Elizabeth Raby and a student at VIM) and had a big adios group hug with everyone at VIM. Thanks be to God for this day!

– Group “Frasier and the Jets”

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

June 25, 2014

What Does the Bible Say About Marriage?

When it comes to marriage, what is the Bible most concerned about? What is the biblical model for marriage?

Can anyone ever live up to that model? If not, what does that mean for couples who decide to commit their lives to one another?

In our state, country, and, now, our Presbyterian (USA) denomination, there has been a raging debate about same-sex marriage.

What might this debate reveal for us about how we understand marriage in general?