Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday's Sermon - Inside Out

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, August 23, at 11:00 a.m. in Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio and Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can also find a podcast of this sermon on The Cove Podbean page. If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

The voice of my beloved! 
Look, he comes, 
leaping upon the mountains, 
bounding over the hills. 
My beloved is like a gazelle 
or a young stag. 
Look, there he stands 
behind our wall, 
gazing in at the windows, 
looking through the lattice. 
My beloved speaks and says to me: 
“Arise, my love, my fair one, 
and come away; 
for now the winter is past, 
the rain is over and gone. 
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of singing has come, 
and the voice of the turtledove 
is heard in our land. 
The fig tree puts forth its figs, 
and the vines are in blossom; 
they give forth fragrance. 
Arise, my love, my fair one, 
and come away.

Inside Out

Let me ask y’all; how many of you have seen the movie, Inside Out? Well I can tell you, we have, and I’m talking about Debbie, Maggie and I. We saw it on my birthday, and you know, I thought it was great. In fact, I believe it was the best of the Pixar movies. I mean, the animation was outstanding and the story, well, it really held my interest. Let’s just say, I’d give it four stars.

But if you haven’t seen it, let me tell you a little bit about it. You see, on the surface, it’s about an eleven year old girl who’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. But most of the story really takes place inside the heads of the characters, particular within the mind of the little prener, Riley. You see, according to the movie, we all have five primary emotions that’s sort of in control: joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger. And in the movie, each emotion is a character, and they’re constantly interacting with one another, and this interaction shapes not just our feelings but also our thoughts and actions. 

Anyway, during the movie, Joy and Sadness get separated from the other three, sort of lost in Riley’s subconscious. And after that happens, she can only draw on Fear, Disgust, and Anger, and as a result, what she does and thinks, even the things she values and the way she interprets the past start to change. Of course, as you watch the movie, you really don’t know if Joy and Sadness will find their way back to the center or if Riley will end up a bitter, frustrated person. Now that’s the basic story, and like I said, I thought it was a great film.

And you know, this past week, after reading the passage we have from the Song of Solomon, I really thought about it, and I’ll tell you why. I believe the same sort of thing that happened Riley sometimes happens to us, but for us, it’s only joy that sort of gets lost. Let me explain. If you listen to some of the stuff people say and watch what they do, well, I think we see the other four emotions all the time, but not a lot of joy. And as a result, those unhappy emotions are constantly shaping who we are and how we appear to others. And like I said, I think this happens all the time, even among Christians. For example, I don’t know about y’all, I hear believers talking about fear all the time, you know, about how they’re afraid when consider the future of the church and the country and the world. But that’s not all, they also talk about being disgusted, you know, offended by some of the stuff they see happening all around them, sometimes even in their church. But even that’s not all, when you listen, man, they also feel angry: angry because, in their view, morals and ethics have somehow been stolen when they weren’t looking. And of course, when they’re not mad, they sound really sad. I mean, when you listen to them, they spend a lot of time remembering those wonderful days, you know the ones I’m talking about, when “all the women [were] strong, all the men [were] good-looking, and all the children [were] above average.” Now that’s what I hear all the time, often coming from good, Bible toting Christians. Therefore, I think I’m safe in saying that fear and disgust, anger and sadness aren’t alive and well in our society, even around the Body of Christ. And you know, whether we admit it or not, these emotions affect all of us, and I’ll tell you what, I think that means both you and me. 

But joy, well sometimes we’re not as good at expressing our joy as we are the other stuff. Of course, I recognize it may actually be easier and more politically correct and socially acceptable to express religious fear and disgust and righteous anger and sadness, than in sharing Christian joy. Let’s face it, we live in a pretty negative society, one in which people just love to complain, and why shouldn’t believers join the fun. And to tell you the truth, I think this is a particular problem for older, more mature Christians, particularly those of us with a Presbyterian background. Expressing joy doesn’t always come easy, not for us. Good night, there’s a reason we’ve been called “God’s frozen people.” And often I think we probably show that that old joke reflects at least some truth, you know, that Presbyterians can do anything they want; they just can’t enjoy it. For good or for bad, traditionally, we’ve tended to be more reserved and our worship more restrained. You know, we do things “decently and in order,” and most of us are probably kind of skeptical of or, at the very least, uncomfortable with big displays of positive emotions. We’re not gushers. I mean, we’re Calvinists for crying out loud. And even though we can get away with telling people what we find scary and offensive and what makes us either mad or sad, when it comes to expressing a lot of joy, well, often we sort of act like “the frozen chosen.” And for that reason, I can really identify with Riley in that movie and frankly I don’t think I’m alone. As a matter of fact, for a lot of Christians, I believe when we’re displaying our emotions, well, there are times when joy sort of gets lost in the shuffle.

But you know, when it happens, I think that’s a genuine shame, because not only does it affect us and others, it’s also really unnecessary. I mean, just think about what we read from the Song of Solomon. I’m telling you, that whole passage is about joy, the joy that a woman has found in her beloved, in his voice, in his appearance, in his love. For her, “the winter is past [and] the rain is over and gone.” And in their place, there are flowers blooming and birds singing. Fruit fills that trees and fragrance fills the air. You see, for her, there’s no room for fear and disgust, and she has no time for anger and sadness; because when she hears her beloved say, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away,” joy is what she feels. 

And I’ll tell you, that can be true for us too. You see, without pretending that bad things don’t exist and without denying that sometimes we’re going to feel something else, right here and right now, we can decide that we’re also going to experience and we’re going to express genuine Christian joy. In other words, we can decide that it’s not going to get squeezed out by what we might see and it’s not going to be replaced by any other emotion. Instead, we’re are going to feel and we’re going to express joy. 

And I’ll tell you, doing it isn’t going to be hard at all, because, trust me, we have the best possible reason, the best possible reason to feel joy, and right now I’m talking about God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You see, we can feel joy when we understand that we were loved before the foundation of the earth and will be loved long after the roll is called up yonder. And we can feel joy when we trust that on the cross we died to sin and when that tomb was found to be empty we got a glimpse into our future. And we can feel joy when we believe that every second of every minute of every hour we’re surrounded by the presence of God and that presence is filling us and actually giving us the ability to understand and to trust and to believe. Brothers and sisters, right here is the reason we can feel joy. 

But we don’t just have a reason, we also have a real opportunity, and I’m talking about a real opportunity to express that joy out loud, in front of God and everybody. And the place we can do it is right here. You see, when we worship, when we sing songs and hymns, when we listen and pray, we can express our joy both to God and to one another.And you know, whether or not our worship really becomes joy-filled, well, that’s going to have more to do with things like attitude and atmosphere than structure and style. I mean, if we carry a negative attitude into our worship and if we make up our minds that we’re not going to be happy before we settle into our pew and if we decide that we’re not going to smile and we’re not going to relax and we’re not going to feel excited because worship is suppose to be serious business, then it really doesn’t matter what kind of songs we’re singing or what style of worship we’re following. I’ll tell you, both “A Mighty Fortress” and “Awesome God” convey the exact same feeling when folks are singing with a scowl on their faces. But if we carry into worship an attitude that’s positive and affirming and inviting and if we make up our minds that wherever two are more are gathered Jesus Christ is present; therefore, we’re going to experience his love and mercy and grace as we join with our brothers and sisters to offer him praise and glory and if we decide that we are not going to let fear and disgust, anger and sadness distract us from the movement of the Holy Spirit in this place, if this is what we do, I’m going to tell you, we’re going to feel and we’re going to express joy whether our hands are raised or our heads are bowed, whether we’re singing to an organ or a guitar, whether we’re looking down at a bulletin or looking up at a screen. And we’re going to know when this kind of thing is happening because, if it is, we’re going to see doing something going on in worship that’s impossible for “the frozen chosen;” man, we’re going see people smiling, smiling in worship, smiling as they praise God, because worship gives them and us the opportunity to express our joy. And so we have a reason and we have an opportunity. 

And I’ll tell you something else, we also have pretty good motivation for doing it. Now I know I’ve said this many times before, but I think it’s so important that it probably isn’t a bad idea to get a reminder every week, and here it is. Right there, at the end of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples exactly what they were called to do. He said, “As you go, make disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and by teaching them to observe everything that I commanded you.” Now that’s what Jesus said; therefore, like it or not, that’s our job. Now you tell me, as we go about our living in a world where people are hungry for some source of peace and reason to hope, which do you think will be more effective: on one hand, telling them all the reasons we’re afraid or all the things that make us sick and showing them that some of the values that they acquired from someone else man, they make us mad and sad, or on the other hand, expressing to them the joy that comes from knowing that our destiny is in the hands of God and that nothing in all creation can separate us from that love? Which outreach do you think is going to be more effective? Now tell me that’s not motivation.

As you remember, we started by talking about Inside Out; you know about Riley and how for her Joy and Sadness got lost and it affected everything she thought and did. Well, I’m not going to tell you what happened in the end. If you want to know, see the movie. But as it relates to us, let’s make sure that our joy doesn’t become lost and separated from our faith. Instead, let’s claim the reason and the opportunity and the motivation we’ve been given, and let’s decide to feel God’s joy on the inside and to express out. 

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 31

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 31: Today our passages are Job 37:1–39:30; 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:10; Psalm 44:9-26; and Proverbs 22:13. The readings are from the Contem...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 30, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 30, 2015: Today our passages are Job 34:1–36:33; 2 Corinthians 4:1-12; Psalm 44:1-8; and Proverbs 22:10-12. The readings are from the Conte...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Redefining Success

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) and a podcast on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. If you found this devotion meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Mark 14:43-52

Immediately, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” All of them deserted him and fled.

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

Redefining Success

About twenty-five years ago, when I was a young minister out in the wilds of Montana, I remember having a pretty important conversation with another pastor who came as close as I’ve ever come to being a mentor. Now as I recall, I was frustrated and discouraged about the lack of attendance at our worship services. And I remember, after sharing it with him, that my colleague responded with something I’ve remembered for the last quarter of century. He said, “I think you need to remember that, at the end of his ministry here on earth, Jesus had twelve followers left. One betrayed him. One denied him. And the rest ran away. Why would you assume that you could do better?”

Of course, he was right. By most earthly standards, Jesus was an absolute failure. And yet, through his life, death and resurrection, the entire universe changed. And that’s something I’ve tried to remember when I look out at a bunch of empty pews on a Sunday morning or I hear that somebody’s upset with me but they’ve chosen to tell others rather than me. In other words, when I’m discouraged and frustrated, I remember what my friend said, and I use it to redefine what I consider success.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 28, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 28, 2015: Today our passages are Job 31:1–33:33; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18; Psalm 43:1-5; and Proverbs 22:8-9. The readings are from the Contemporar...

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Union Presbyterian Seminary

Union Presbyterian Seminary travel-seminar participants pose with members of the Konkomba Market congregation. The banner was created for Union Seminary by the congregation. Courtesy of Brian K. Blount
Union Presbyterian Seminary travel-seminar participants
pose with members of the Konkomba Market
congregation. The banner was created for
Union Seminary by the congregation.
In January 2014, my wife and I journeyed to Ghana with a group of students and staff as part of Union Presbyterian Seminary’s travel-seminar program. I remember particularly our group’s visit to a wonderful market in the middle of Agbogbloshie, a vast slum outside Accra. We were met by leaders of the Konkomba Market congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. The congregation is led by a pastor who came to this impoverished area to, in Jesus’ words, “bring good news to the poor.” As we walked through the community, people called out to him, greeted him with smiles and handshakes, and welcomed us with warmth simply because we were with him. Here, in a place where so many live without material and physical comforts, he was proclaiming the Lord’s favor.
We followed him and his congregants to the small, only partially enclosed tin-roofed wooden structure that serves as their church. We sang. We danced. We praised God. Here was a people with few material blessings testifying to the good news that enriched them. Truly, this pastor and this church are anointed by the Spirit to bring good news—to be the very image of good news—and offer the reminder that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, the hope and the promise of the gospel are a cause for rejoicing.
Brian K. Blount, president and professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary

Let us pray

Dear God, strengthen and encourage the people of the Konkomba Market congregation as they bear witness to the good news of the gospel in Agbogbloshie. May they perceive your love and feel your presence as they proclaim your favor. Amen.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cove Kids: Children's Bulletins for Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cove Kids: Children's Bulletins for Sunday, August 30, 2015: Below are puzzles for children focused on the Song of Songs 2.8-13. There are two “bulletins,” one for ages 3-6 and the other for ages 7-12....

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service

On Sunday, August 23, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Amy Slisik
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Betty Michael
Bill Manley
Chad Wilson
Cindi Livingston
Corine Ferguson
Corinne Ferguson
Darcy Keffer
Deloris Chesebro
Edward Morgan III
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Fred Straka
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Goldie Baly
Gregory Castner
Greta Billham
Jeff Grant
Jim & Shelley Pearson
Joanie Lawrence
John Guglielmo
John Philips
John Schlotter
Jonathan Smith
Joyce Booth
Karen Lombardi
Kelly Stephens
Larry Campbell
Lou Ann Seevers
Marcia Cooper
Maria Parker
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Frank
Mike Churchman
M'Liz Held
Nick Mourat
Patty Notte
Penny Mourat
Rob Roy Jones
Ron & Helen Tate
Ron Neely
Ronnie Buffington
Sam Fortunato
Sharon Wheeler
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Susie Kurcina
Vicki Williams
Wink Harner

A.J. Dennis
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Basil Collen Slater
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Kade Haines
Lily Ghrist
Lucian Hill
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Cory Shumard
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

The Dancan Ayiecha Family, on the passing of Dancan's father

Church Families
Rodney, Dana, Ryan & Hanna Dragonir
David, Nicole, Mason & Kendal Drobish
Lissa Dulick

Local Church
All Saints Greek Orthodox Church

Special Friends
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations 
Glenmoor Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit
Grace Presbyterian Church, East Liverpool, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Corinne Ferguson – Woodland Hills, 608 North 10th St., Weirton, WV  26062
Dolores Edwards – Wyngate, 100 Wyngate Dr., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664
Margaret Heaton – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin.

we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.

(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service. We still need some volunteer help.  We thank those of you in advance who help to care for the future members of our Cove Family.

by Kristy Cambron is the title of the book that will be discussed by Bookmarks Cove’s Reading Group at their  meeting tomorrow,  Monday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

Myrtle McHendry Class will be meeting this Tuesday, September 1 at 6:00 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. Special guests will be members of Cove’s Mission Group. A special musical program will be presented by the Drama Group of the Weirton Women’s Club under the direction of Enid Williams.
Betty Virtue will lead the devotion.  Hostesses are Darlene Johnson and Betty Virtue. 

will  meet  on Tuesday, September 1, at 6:30 p.m. to continue our new series dealing with Paul’s Letter to the Romans. During this session, we’ll discuss Romans 13. And so bring your Bibles and get ready to grow in your understanding of God’s word.

is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 1st in the church library. All members are urged to attend as we will be finalizing plans for a few of our up-coming events. 

next Sunday, September 6 at 9:30 a.m. in the choir room. 

it will be good to have the choir back next Sunday,  September 6 following their summer break. The choir has lost several members due to job relocation. To continue having a full choir, we need “YOU.”  I promise you do not have to sing a solo.  We want new members that want to make a joyful noise unto the Lord by singing his praises. 
Janice Torrance, Choir Director & Accompanist

in observance of the Labor Day Holiday the church and office will be closed on Monday, September 7th. 

is scheduled for  Monday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.  

at Undo’s Restaurant in Weirton is scheduled for Tuesday, September 15 from 5-8 p.m. A gift card bouquet raffle will be held. Come enjoy a wonderful dinner and support Cove Deacons!

Vendor/Craft Show sponsored by Cove Deacons will be held on Saturday, September 19 from 10:00 -2:00. in Fellowship Hall. A number of area crafts will be in attendance, fall mums will be sold and lunch will be available. 

will have a table at the Deacons’ Covapalooza selling and taking orders for RADA Cutlery and selling miscellaneous items from “The Cupboard.”

Please check the bottom of your sales receipt to verify you are re-enrolled in the Community Rewards Program. The bottom of your sales receipt should read -  -
You requested Kroger to donate to COVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. All information is confidential, your retain all of your point. Most importantly it COSTS YOU NOTHING!! However, quarterly Kroger will send the church a check for a percentage of what members spend at participating stores during the quarter. Please help us get FREE MONEY for Cove! If you have any questions or need any assistance in registering please contact the church office.

many organizations will be resuming meetings in the next month. We ask that you please take a minute to notify the church office of your upcoming schedule.  Also if you change your schedule, please notify us so we know not to expect you. We thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove’s Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at

regularly. If you wish to add someone, contact the church office.

is significant because of its threefold impact: It expresses gratitude to God, appreciates members for their diligence and hard work, and looks toward the future.  The Board of Elders is seeking volunteers for the 225th anniversary celebration committee to include members who have abilities and interests in worship, publicity, and organization.  Let us seize the opportunity to gather the members of our congregation to celebrate God’s faithfulness to our church and together step forward in faith.  Please contact the church office if you are interested in participating on the committee.  Celebrating God, recounting His blessings, and renewing Christian fellowship — that’s a recipe for a great 225th anniversary celebration.

if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

the Cove PodBean page ( and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). 

We now have five blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They’re listed below:
The Cove Community ( - This is for the whole church. I’ll post sermons and announcements. I also Invite y’all to send in material that you’d like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read. 
Cove Kids ( - This is tailored for the preteen young people in our church. Again I’ll post announcements. You’re also invited to send in any writings, photographs and art work you’d like to post. And they don’t have to deal with the church. We also post artwork from Jesus Time.
Bible Talk ( - We’ve established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we’re posting the pastor’s translation of the  Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you’ve done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we’ll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
The Bible in a Year ( - Each day, we’ll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year. 
Growing in Grace ( - Although we’re saved by God’s grace, we can grow in our understanding of grace. At Cove Presbyterian Church, we offer a variety of different classes for children and adults, many of which are recorded and the podcasts posted on our PodBean (covepresbyterian). In this Blog, we’ll offer the link to the podcast and notes from the particular session.

“like” us on Facebook (Cove Presbyterian Church,  https://www.facebook .com/Covepresbyterian) or join our Facebook group (The Cove Community, You can also connect with Pastor Rudiger on Instagram (rev_ed).

if you know of someone who is in the hospital please contact the church office, due to privacy laws the hospital is unable to contact us. If you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger or to receive communion please contact the church office. Also, if you would like to receive the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office.

Session approved the Deacons collecting a “Loose Change Offering” that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is  in the Narthex for your contribution. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.

drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

can be purchased for a service. The cost is $16.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours.  Telephone the church office to place your order. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a vase for you to take with you.

Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Center.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs. 
Greeting Cards are being collected. Please drop off your used Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. No envelopes -please. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  FYI . . . Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked. 

Can Tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container locate in the hallway downstairs.

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, August 30, 2015

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the 11:00 service, we'll talk about why and how we can work more joy into our Christian lives.

Friday’s Essay – About Music

Below is an essay that I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can find a podcast on the Cove Presbyterian Church PodBean page. If you found this essay helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Later this evening, beginning at 7:00, we’re going to host a special service, full of contemporary music. Now I hope a lot of folks attend, because I think we’re going to have both a good and a spiritually satisfying time together. Of course, I know that whenever you begin to talk about music in the church, you’re really entering a mine field, an area where passions are high but consensus is low. I mean, let’s face, Christian are constantly getting all hot and bothered by the kind of music being played during worship. And if you have any doubt, just suggest to a traditional, mainline church that they might want to consider replacing the organ and chimes with a keyboard and drums or try telling a modern, contemporary worship center that they might want to sing “A Mighty Fortress” or “Be Thou My Vision” every now-and-then. As a matter of fact, congregations often divide over music, occasionally with the break being total but more often then not with the separation involving at least two different services (for example, “traditional” vs. “contemporary”), with each being protected from any infiltration from the other. Let’s just say that music is important in most congregations even though the kind of music is really up in the air.

But it’s interesting, in spite of the fact that it’s extremely important within our ecclesiastical version of culture wars, music in worship, even music in generally isn’t all that important in the Bible. For example, in the gospels, Jesus never talked about singing or songs, and the only time he mentioned music was in the parable of the prodigal son. As a matter of fact, in Luke’s birth story, the heavenly host didn’t even sing; they said, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” And for Paul, the only time he used the word “song” was in Ephesians, “ you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts”, and Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” And even though, according to the Old Testament, the trumpet and lyre were certainly a part of Temple worship, they were in no way as important as preforming sacrifices. And so even though it may be a huge deal to us, I think we’d be hard pressed to make the case that music and songs are crucially important in the Bible. And that’s probably why, in the past, groups that sought to restore what they considered “biblical worship” either sang only the psalms or eliminated all musical instruments.

Of course, I don’t think knowing this changes the importance we put on music or even on the particular style we enjoy nor frankly should it. I mean, I think it’s a wonderful thing that melodies can move our hearts and songs have the potential of expanding our minds. You see, just because it’s not a dominate theme in the Bible, that doesn’t mean that music shouldn’t be important to us right now. What it may mean, though, is that it should never distract us from God’s word and our doing what he’s called us to do. And I’ll tell you, if music causes Christians to divide and to judge and to refuse to worship with one another based on whether they like guitars more than organs or vice versa, than it’s become a distraction. You see, praise music isn’t limited to a certain musical style; believers have been praising the Lord God for literally thousands of years. Although I think our understanding of the sovereignty of God or the divinity of Christ or the work of the Holy Spirit may legitimately separate sincere, well-meaning people, music should never divide us.

Instead, if we approach it in the right way, I believe it can actually enhance our faith, unity, and witness. I mean, the ability of what we sing to teach us about God’s grace and love isn’t limited to songs written in the last twenty years nor did it stop when we moved in the twentieth century. And our rich heritage of music isn’t so much bath water to be tossed out but neither should those exciting and meaningful pieces that are being written right now as I type. In other words, if we’re serious about growing in our faith, we’re going to listen to everything. And you know, the more we listen, the more our unity will be come stronger. You see, it’s really not an “either/or”; it’s a “both/and.” I’m telling you, both lovers of the organ and the piano and even the bag pipes have a place in the body of Christ, and when we eliminate one, we diminish ourselves. Appreciating different kinds of music can actually strengthen our unity. And it’ll certainly expand our witness, and I’m talking about our ability to share the good news to everybody. Knowing how important music is to people and having several different styles at our disposal, we’ll be able to communicate God’s eternal truth in ways that are meaningful to others. In other words, instead of either forcing them to accept something they don’t like or to stop enjoy something they find meaningful, we can sing the “old, old story” in all kinds of ways and with instrument that will invite others to listen. And since Christ intended our witness to extend to the end of the earth, I’ll guarantee this will involve styles that aren’t limited to western traditional and contemporary music and instruments different from organs and guitars. 

You see, even though music and songs are really important for us, they just aren’t central to the biblical story. That place is occupied by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And for that reason, I think we taking a questionable turn if we allow what and how we sing to divide up the Body of Christ. Instead, I believe we can use our diversity in musical tastes not only to enhance our personal faith but also to strengthen our unity and to expand our witness. 

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 28, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for August 28, 2015: Today our passages are Job 28:1–30:31; 2 Corinthians 2:12-17; Psalm 42:1-11; and Proverbs 22:7. The readings are from the Contem...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Like a Picture on a Shelf

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) and a podcast on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. If you found this devotion meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.

Mark 14:12-16, 22-25

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Like a Picture on a Shelf

I think the Lord’s Supper is a lot like a picture of my grandfather that my mom has on a shelf in the family room. Let me explain. My grandfather has been gone for over twenty years. And yet every time I see that picture of him and my grandmother, all the memories I have of him come rushing back. And not only do I remember who he was but also what he meant to me. You see, even though I haven’t seen him for over two decades, just looking at that photograph reminds me that, in a very real sense, he always with me, that he loved me, and that he had a pretty big influence over who I am.

And I’ll tell you, that’s really what the Lord’s Supper does for me. I mean, even though Jesus hasn’t been around for almost two thousand years, at least not in a physical sense, when I see the bread and the cup, I’m reminded of exactly who he was and what he did for all of us. And when I share those elements with my brothers and sisters, we celebrate his presence and his love. You see, in that way, at least for me, communion really is like a picture on a shelf.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for November 27, 2015

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for November 27, 2015: Today our passages are Job 23:1–27:23; 2 Corinthians 1:12–2:11; Psalm 41:1-13; and Proverbs 22:5-6. The readings are from the Co...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Happenings Around the Presbytery - August 26 2015

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery
907 National Road
Wheeling, WV  26003

Office Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In an emergency after office hours: Call 740-359-1813

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Marie Luckhardt
Joe Byrne
Ed & Dorothy Mooney
Leura Nancy Macon
John Lewis
Lesley Shoup
Bruce & Carolyn Stevens
Culbertson Family
Connie Quinn
Dakota Presbytery
Domasi Presbytery
All our service men & women
Please keep us informed of any prayer concerns you may have.
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PRAYER FOR UOVP PASTORS: Select one of these pastors and remember him in your prayers this week: Paul Todd, Gene Toot, Kurt Turner, Vel Vais, Jack Visser.
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WE EXTEND our sympathy and prayers to the Culbertson Family. We are sad to say that Bill Culbertson passed away on August 20, 2015, at the age of 77. Bill was a lifetime member and long serving Ruling Elder and Treasurer of First Presbyterian Church, New Athens, OH, and will be missed. Bill is survived by three adult children, several grandchildren, and other family members.
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LAUGHLIN CHAPEL needs a full time bus driver. Anyone interested, please call 304-232-2630. Persons applying must have a CDL driver’s license with a passenger endorsement. Salary information will be discussed during the call.
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PRESBYTERIAN PEACE & Justice Newsletter for August, 2015, “The Season of Peace Is Upon Us,” can be found on our website. Click on the “Mission” sidebar to the right of the slideshow, then “Peacemaking.”
PRESBYTERIAN WORLD MISSION News for August, 2015, can be found on our website under “Items of Interest.”
COLUMBIA SEMINARY programs & events 2015 can be found on our website under “Seminaries.”
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Northwest wildfires leave dozens homeless in remote Native American communitiesPresbyterian pastor seeks help for families in need.
Choosing to lead, not leaveFellowship Community national gathering encourages attendees to ‘weave together a new way in the PC(USA)’
Effective elder training is ‘not business as usual’ Introducing ELI: Elder Leadership Institute.
Pedal for Protein hits the road to combat hungerPresbytery of the Redwoods cycles to fill California food pantries.
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Sept. 1 ~
Katrina Lewis
Sept. 2 ~
Colleen Griffith
Sept. 2 ~
Rich Cunningham
Sept. 2 ~
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HERE IS A LINK to a resource (from the Episcopal Church) for pastors and educators based on the lectionary with room to add your own events and to make notes. Control+click: Christian Education Planning Calendar - Building Faith
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COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS ~ Join Presbyterians in launching Courageous Conversations this October to address violence against women and children and, in particular, to stop sexual violence.
            A sermon, an educational hour, a service of healing, could save lives.
·        30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced physical or sexual violence by their partner.
·        Approximately 20% of women and 5% to 10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children. [World Health Organization, 2013]
·        74% of pastors underestimate the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence in their congregations. [Broken Silence Report, 2014]
For more information, ideas, support, and resources, visit
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PEACE & GLOBAL WITNESS Special Offerings ~ A Season of Peace is a four-week pilgrimage designed to deepen the pursuit of peace for congregations, small groups, families, and individuals. Through daily peace reflections, family activities such as peace cards, Bible studies, an intergenerational peace fair, and other online resources, you are invited to define and deepen your calling as a peacemaker. This Season is a time of encouragement, challenge, inspiration, and education.

These resources are designed to culminate in the Peace & Global Witness Offering, received on World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October. However, they are appropriate for any time. The Offering gives us a concrete way to contribute locally and nationally to the work of peace and reconciliation enabling the Presbyterian Mission Agency to:
  • Inspire new approaches to active peacemaking;
  • Equip God’s people to be compassionate, prophetic peacemakers, and
  • Connect communities of peace in accompaniment, mutual learning, and shared action for the reconciliation and transformation of the world.
Resources are also provided for several events that coincide with the suggested dates of A Season of Peace.
September 6     A Season of Peace begins, Peace in the family/nonviolence in our households
September 13   Peace in the community and neighborhood
September 20   Human Rights
September 27   We are stronger together – thinking about our systems and structures
October 4         World Communion Sunday/Peace & Global Witness Offering
Visit for resources. To receive daily reflections during A Season of Peace, visit check Season of Peace under the category of Advocacy and Social Justice.
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GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU! Here’s an update from the Presbyterian News Service featuring the exciting happenings on the campuses of our Presbyterian seminaries. Feel free to forward this link among all friends and other partners in ministry:
Also, for more information and resources on Theological Education Emphasis Sunday (September 20), please follow this link:
Are you on Facebook? Have you joined the Theological Education Fund/Seminary Support Network Facebook group yet? Make 470+ new friends (and counting) by clicking here:
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DAY OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR MALAWI ~ Brothers and Sisters of the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery, As you are aware, our presbytery is partnered with the Domasi Presbytery of the Central Church of Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in Blantyre Synod, Malawi. Many of our congregations have partnered with congregations there as well. What you may not have heard is that parts of Malawi are facing a food crisis. A recent email from the Malawi Mission Network noted, "There was considerable discussion and prayer at the mission network conference about the food situation in Malawi this year. We heard reports of the devastating floods in southern Malawi in January and of poor rains across the central and northern regions of Malawi. Recent estimates project a 30% reduction in maize harvests this year leading to low supply and significantly higher prices. The poor and vulnerable people in Malawi will struggle to get enough food to feed their families during the lean season this fall into next spring” (emphasis added). This past week, members of the Malawi Mission Network met with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and representatives of the PC(USA) Africa Office to recommend ways for congregations and individuals to become actively involved in relief efforts. It was decided to recommend a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Sunday, September 20, 2015. We encourage churches and individuals in the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery to join together in a day of prayer and fasting on Sunday, September 20th. Some ideas for churches and individuals who want to respond include:
1.      Remembering Malawi in your corporate and personal prayers that Sunday.
2.      Coordinating a 24-hour prayer vigil; or, planning a day of corporate fasting.
3.      An idea for individuals or households: refraining from eating in restaurants on Sunday, September 20, and donating the money saved to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s Malawi relief fund by clicking the following link:
Relief efforts are being carefully coordinated between PDA, its partner organizations in Malawi, and church officials “on the ground” on each of Malawi’s synods and presbyteries. Therefore, we are not asking you to send money to our presbytery’s Malawi Task Force. Instead, we encourage you to give directly to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (at the above link). We commend this effort and invite your participation.
Yours in Christ’s Service, And on behalf of the Malawi Task Force, Rev. Matthew L. Camlin
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FROM STONEY POINT CENTER, NY, newsletter ~ Recipe from our kitchen: Zucchini Ravioli:
Zucchini season is a thing of wonder. It sometimes does not last a long time, but when it hits... eat lots of zucchini! We love it in zucchini bread, in eggy casseroles, in salads, steamed, sautéed, roasted on pizza... you get the idea. Here it is as the wrapping in a ravioli. You can vary these ingredients as you choose. It will still be yummy.

INGREDIENTS: Zucchini, sauce (marinara or cream), filling (garlic, cumin, curry, tofu, lentils or whatever you choose), toppings (spinach, portabella mushrooms)
DIRECTIONS: Slice the zucchini with a peeler or slicer lengthwise. Set strips aside. Prepare your filling. Here we used lentils with tofu sautéed with garlic, cumin and a little curry. Prepare to taste.
Assemble each package using four zucchini strips. Place two strips vertically, overlapping slightly side by side and two strips horizontally in the middle overlapping side by side to form a cross-t. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle where the strips cross. Wrap them up by crossing the horizontal strips together first then the vertical strips to form a package. Place them face down (the side with no crossings should face up) in a baking dish or pan sprayed with non-stick spray or oil. Top with marinara sauce or cream sauce. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, covered. Right before serving, top each package with sautéed spinach and portabella mushrooms.
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FIRST PRESBYTERIAN Church, 123 Union St., Mt. Pleasant, OH, will be hosting the 2015 version of The Concert on the Hill this Sunday, August 30, 2015. The event starts at 4:00 p.m. and runs until 8:00 p.m. This year’s lineup features a wonderful mix of Christian performers including JoAnn Jones, Bishop Michael Tolliver, Jerome James, Steven King, and Heaven Scent. The concert takes place outside behind the Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church. There will be light refreshments available and the best part is everything – entertainment and refreshments – is FREE! So bring your lawn chair or a blanket and join us for a great summer evening.
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MISSION YEARBOOK for Prayer & Study will be a free, online-only resource in 2016. They will not print hard copies. As part of the PMA's new communications plan, they are creating a new, user-friendly Presbyterian Mission Agency website that will make the new online version of the Mission Yearbook even more accessible. The new site is expected to be complete in early 2016. The number of subscribers to the printed version of the Mission Yearbook has declined greatly over the years, and the cost per book increased. Meanwhile, revenue from the book was not meeting expenses. Those factors, combined with the fact that the vast majority of people now access information online, made it clear that they must transition the book to an online-only resource in order to remain good stewards of the funds entrusted to them. If you have any questions, contact Kathy Francis, Sr. Director of Communications, at 502-569-5194 or
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Reasons to celebrateSo much is happening which our denomination needs to know.
Ministering in the midst of war, trauma and fatiguePresbyterian Disaster Assistance participates in training for Middle East pastors.
God is writing history in our lives. Early lesson in forgiveness helped transcend bigotry, pastor tells conference-goers
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BOARD OF PENSIONS Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches What you need to know in 2015: You can now access Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches, What You Need to Know in 2015 on, through the Board of Pensions Benefits Connect. Benefits Connect is the Board’s secure benefits website that provides church treasurers and business administrators access to important information for their organization’s benefits administration responsibilities; eligible members access to their personal and benefits information and online tools; and access to the Tax Guide for Ministers. Using Benefits Connect is easy. If you are not already using Benefits Connect, registering is easy. Go to and click “Register” beside “Benefits Connect.” You will need your PIN and e-mail address. Follow the easy instructions to create your password and user profile. If you have questions, call the Board of Pensions at 800-773-7752 and speak with a member service representative.
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PITTSBURGH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY continuing education: [For more info: or 412-924-1345.]
McClure Lectures: Authentic Church -- Contextual Church; Graham Cray; Sept. 21-22, 2015. Read More
Teacher Training Workshop: Telling the Story: New Disciples, New Church; Keith Kaufold, Keynote Presenter; Sept. 26, 2015. Read More
Henri Nouwen: Exploring the Rhythms of Solitude, Community, and Ministry; B.J. Woodworth; Sept. 27-30, 2015. Read More
Investigating and Exploring Spiritual Connection in Daily Life; Lynn Underwood; Oct. 29-30, 2015. Read More
Languages over Lunch; Mondays: Hebrew; Wednesdays: Greek; Jim Durlesser; Terms 1-3 2015-2016. Read More
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THE HOUSE OF THE CARPENTER is going to start an afterschool program for middle school students. We will be starting out with homework assistance with the intent to move into other programs such as Odyssey of the Mind and teaching Disk Golf. We are currently accepting students. We are also accepting volunteers to work with students. If there are adults who might like to volunteer time to assist the students with homework, please contact us. If you would like more information, contact Amy Purdom 304-233-4640.
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CHILDREN’S HOME OF WHEELING invites you to a CA House Music Benefit Concert, “Music All Over 2.0,” on Sunday, October 18, 6:00 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling. This is a fundraising concert to benefit the Children’s Home. Featured will be John Angotti, gospel, Katie Ohh, country, and the CA House Music Band, contemporary/rock. Tickets $12 - $18 are available at WesBanco Arena Box Office 304-233-7000 or
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OUR BACKDOOR off the parking lot is locked at 4:00 p.m. daily until September 8. If you are coming to the Presbytery Office after 4 p.m., please come around to our brown wooden front door that has the presbytery sign on it, or call Patty at 304-232-3490 when you arrive in the parking lot, and she will come down and let you in. If it goes to answering machine, she may be on the other line. You could try the door to the Vance Office under the green awning, off the parking lot behind the church. Inside, immediately past the red carpeted staircase, turn left. Go through the double wooden doors and you are in the hallway that leads to the steps/elevator to bring you up. Or if you just need to drop in for a short time, out front on National Road you can park under the big green awning where there are four handicapped spaces and walk up the sidewalk to our brown wooden door with the presbytery sign on it. (The stained glass doors under that awning are locked.)
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PEACEMAKING OFFERING CHANGES: At the 2014 General Assembly, action was taken to redirect the former Peacemaking offering to a more inclusive “Peace and Global Witness Offering.” The Peace and Global Witness Offering can be promoted during the season leading up to World Communion Sunday, October 4. The Peace and Global Witness Offering will be distributed for peace and global witness ministries as follows: 50% to the General Assembly Presbyterian Mission Agency, 25% to be used in the Presbytery in support of peacemaking in our region, and 25% remains in the congregations (if they decide to keep it). Resources on peacemaking (or as it is now called, “Peace and Global Witness”) for use in bulletins and newsletters can be found on
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COMMISSIONERS AND YAAD TO GA ~ It is now time for sessions to nominate persons to be our presbytery’s commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegate (YAAD) to the meeting of the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, June 18 to June 25, 2016. We need to elect one minister commissioner and one elder commissioner, and alternates, and a YAAD and alternate. Nominations must be e-mailed to the Presbytery Office by September 1, 2015, using the nomination forms that can be found on our website under “Items of Interest.” If you don’t have access to a computer, please call the Presbytery Office at 304-232-3490 and we will mail you a copy.
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FIRST PRESBYTERIAN Church, 9th & Charles Sts. (1 block west of WV 2), Wellsburg, WV, invites you to attend a special free concert by Adam's Road Band at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4. This ministry of word and music is especially relevant to young people, so if the teens/early 20s of your church desire to reach out to unchurched friends, the concert will offer a way for them to introduce others to the gospel. Adam's Road is comprised of three talented musicians, who, through the Grace of God and the study of His Word, have come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, www.adamsroadministry.comFor more information, contact Lynn Davis at
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A RETREAT FOR ALL UOVP PASTORS will be held September 28 and 29, 2015, at the Crestfield Conference Center and Camp located near Slippery Rock, PA. The retreat will begin on Monday at 2:00 p.m. with check in beginning at 1:00 p.m. and end after lunch on Tuesday. “The Spirit-filled Side of Preaching” will be led by Retreat Leader, the Rev. Dr. Judy Angleberger. Cost is $30.00 per person with the rest of the cost being picked up by a grant from the Synod of the Trinity. Please make your check payable to UOVP and drop it off or send it to the Presbytery Office. [All rooms are single.] Please RSVP—call 304-232-3490 or e-mail by Tuesday, September 15. This retreat is open to all Teaching Elders, both active and retired; all Commissioned Ruling Elders, active and retired; and those available to be commissioned. Come join us!
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SEMINARY FOR A DAY ~ Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Union Presbyterian Seminary, 3401 Brook Road, Richmond, VA. Includes inspiring keynote addresses along with educational workshops featuring UPSem faculty. $25 cost includes lunch and refreshments. or go to our website under Seminaries for the schedule of events.
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PLEASE SEND US a photo of your congregation’s ministry so we can share it with others on our website slideshow. E-mail your pics (landscape view is easier to post) with a brief description to
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