Sunday Morning Prayer Group / Grupo de oración dominical 10.50 am
Sunday Worship Celebration with / Culto de adoración dominical con Heaven Berhane 11:00 am
Where are You Called to Lead?
This week we are so excited to have a guest preacher, Heaven Berhane who is a fierce voice for God’s love and justice. It will be a Sunday sermon you don’t want to miss. We also have many things happening in the life of the community but two I want to make sure are in your calendars. The first is the congregational meeting that is on November 11 which will be where we vote on the budget for the upcoming year (There will also be a budget hearing on October 28th for a more in depth understanding of the budget). Both the hearing and the congregational meeting are open for everyone. See me if you have any questions about either. But the second thing I want to mention is for all the kids and families in our community. Also on November 11th, after church, The Children’s ministry leaders have created a wonderful event called “ThanksGIVING and RECEIVING” and it will be a gathering where you can bring your outgrown clothes and toys to church and swap them with others in our community who may need what you have or may have something you need. Anything leftover will be donated to Goodwill or another outreach partner. There will be light refreshments served and it will be a wonderful chance to come together and get to know each other a little better. There is so much happening in the life of the church. Make sure you follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to keep up with the latest happenings in our community.
This last month the Finance committee has been working hard on our 2019 budget. There have been some very long nights and some really fruitful conversations about the vision of the church. They talked about the history of the church, the future of the church, and how they see God at work in our midst. And while they are officially called the “finance committee” the careful and intentional way they have helped establish and create financially sustainable ministries, is a ministry in itself. Our finance committee are ministers of the church using their spiritual gifts to faithfully shepherd our congregation into a vision of sustainability and a hope for its growth. Which is why this week’s scripture is so timely. I believe in the priesthood of all believers, meaning each of us is given spiritual gifts unique to each of us, and then we are called by God to lead with those gifts in our faith, and wider, communities. Read this passage from Hebrews and then prayerfully consider what God is calling you to do.
“5:1 Every high priest taken from among the faithful is appointed on their behalf to deal with the things of God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest is able to deal patiently with erring sinners, being likewise beset by weakness— 3 and so must make personal sin offerings as well as those for the people. 4 one doesn’t take on this honor by one’s own initiative, but only when called by God, as Aaron was. ”
What has God given you that makes you unique? What is God calling you to lead in our church, in your family, in our city, or in our world? I think often people get caught on this scripture thinking that it is calling people to what we traditionally view as ordained leadership. But for me, that is setting the bar too low. Each spiritual gift God places in each of us, is a direct call by God to be a leader with that gift. 1 Peter tells us “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…” (1 Pet 4:10) and Romans says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:6). Like Aaron, God is calling each of us to lead the church with our gifts.
Being able to name your gift is important but also hard. That is why faith communities are so wonderful. Communities help you see your gifts even when you can’t see them yourself. They help that light turn on and help you with your “Aha!” moment. Communities help you imagine what might be possible if you led with your gifts in a new way. A CPA may be great to look at our finances, but that person may also be a wonderful baker and could help out with coffee fellowship. Two very different gifts, but two very important roles of leadership and ministry. But like our scripture says, we can’t force it. It isn’t up to us what gifts we receive, but it is up to us how we choose to share them.
Friends, what is God calling you to share in our community? What gift do you have that can help grow this community of faith into the church God wants it to be? Maybe it is upping your weekly pledge by 5%. Maybe it is inviting your neighbor to church. Maybe it is sitting next to a new person in worship and making them feel welcome to our space. God gave each of us a spiritual gift (maybe many!) and our gifts are expected to be used to lead this community! God is calling you friend, are you ready to listen…and then share?
A short prayer for your week: Holy One, Like Aaron, you have called me to leadership. May the gifts you have placed on my soul be made known to me. May they be used to lead your people, inspire your community, and sustain your church. Amen.
A recent graduate of Yale Divinity School, she received her Masters in Divinity in May of 2018. Heaven serves as an Associate Minister at Community Baptist Church in New Haven, CT where she is seeking ordination in the American Baptist Church. This summer Heaven served as an intern at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem. Heaven is currently serving as the Faith Coordinator for New Sanctuary Coalition NYC.
Heaven identifies as a burgeoning Womanist preacher/theologian, innovator and Licensed Social Worker. During her time at Yale she held various positions within the greater Yale University. In 2016 Heaven was awarded the Yale Presidential Public Service Award which places a Yale student to work with a non-profit in the community of New Haven.
Heaven is a fierce voice and activist for truth, equality and justice. Heaven’s academic concentrations are centered around: Womanist theology and ethics, refugees & displacement, racial injustice, and mental health – with a focus on engaging the African Diaspora from a theological, social, and political lens. Heaven has traveled internationally to countries like South Africa, Greece and most recently Kenya to engage in experiential learning, document stories of refugees, and provide support and consultation for various non-profit’s and NGO’s. Prior to coming to divinity school Heaven was working in the field of social work as a Licensed Clinician.
Twenty-seven years ago, Heaven and her family immigrated to this country as refugees from Eritrea, and have since called the D.C. Metropolitan area home. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Social Work from The Howard University.
Children and Youth Ministry Update
Dear Park People,
On Sunday, October 14th, we had exactly one child present for Sunday school, so made the choice to deviate from the planned lesson on Job, with the Active Listening activity that had been set to follow it. Instead, the child was invited to choose the Bible story she wanted to read. She chose “Jesus Walks On Water” (Matthew 14: 22-36) because that was the story depicted on the cover of the Children’s NIV, which we were using. We speculated about how the friends of Jesus must have felt, when they saw Jesus walking toward them on top of the water. Scared? Excited. Relieved when the storm stopped! And how would we feel, if we were in that boat, with the storm all around, and Jesus walking on the water to us? Happy to see Jesus! Safe. Better...
Because today was also the birthday of Park Avenue Christian Church, we segued into discussion of why people would want to celebrate a church’s birthday. Because they love their church! It’s a place to pray and be happy. This led, naturally, to our Sunday school child being inspired to draw a picture of the church, make a birthday card for the church, and bake a (Play-Dough) birthday cake for the church!
On October 21st, we will read Hebrews 5:1-4. We will talk about how we can use the things we learn, from our own struggles and mistakes, that can make us more understanding and helpful to other people. We will then do a slight variation on the Active Listening game, originally planned for the 14th, which will entail sharing stories of challenges, struggles and troubles in our own lives, and bearing witness for each other. We will test our listening abilities, by trying to re-tell another person’s story, using our own words. If we have been listening carefully, all of the important events of the story should still be there, even though the words are different! After the game, we’ll have a conversation about what it felt like, to tell our own stories, be heard, and be listeners for our friends.
Blessings, prayers, and well wishes as ever,
Rev. Francesca Fortunato, Director of Children’s Ministry