Monday, March 28, 2011

News from Session

by Anne MacKinnon

 For a long time Rev. Irwin and session members have tried to select a suitable time and place for a session retreat. However, this has not happened as we all seemed to have different agendas. How do International Conferences ever manage to get hundreds of delegates together when eight people have such trouble? Our solution was to study a course Experiencing God for two hours every Wednesday afternoon for twelve weeks. The primary author of this course is Henry Blackaby. He writes, "Experiencing God was my life message . . . This is how I had pastored and guided God's people." There are twelve short videos accompanying the course in which Henry Blackaby and his son Richard preach the message of each week and share a great many personal experiences. Blackaby has a systematic approach in this course. Basically, he gives seven steps which must be followed in order for us to reach our goal of experiencing God in a very real and personal way. The course was not meant to bring a person to Christ, but to deepen the relationship with Him. Hence the title -- it is not learning about God but experiencing His power in our lives. There is a fair amount of home study involved -- approximately one hour each day. Some weeks it also involves showing a DVD. Although it has a strong Baptist flavour, I think many churches might find the course interesting and worthwhile. Since its publication in 1990, it has gone worldwide, has been published in 47 languages, and has been used by almost every denomination. I think the course can be regarded as a starting point for a whole new adventure in walking with God each day.

Anne, a long-time elder at SPPC, is active in the pastoral care committee and the grief and loss support group. She is also the friendly face at the front door every Sunday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mark, Read and Inwardly Digest

by Alice Valdal
  How often have we heard teachers say those words then diligently circle, underline and star sections of our study materials?  When I was in high school, we bought our textbooks and I always tried to buy a used copy from a good student a year or so ahead of me.  That person had usually marked the important passages, and if I was lucky, had even made a few notes in the margin -- saving me the trouble of doing some of my own homework.
    I'm a great fan of used music.  Not only do I get the notes on the page, I often come across markings from a previous singer, alerting me to troublesome spots or giving me a hint as to how to handle a difficult phrase.
     I once heard a preacher say he enjoyed browsing in used book stores and sometimes bought a volume because of the marginalia.  As he described the experience, not only did he get to have a conversation with the author of the book, he also had a conversation with the previous owner.  
      It seems we're happy enough to mark up our school book (some pedants even like to "correct" the text in library books) or to make notes on a score or scribble all over a manuscript, but when it comes to our Bibles, we put our pens away, not wishing to mar the holy text.  And yet, aren't our Bibles textbooks too?  Instead of teaching us physics or English, they provide instruction for living.  Surely the study of such a text warrants the odd asterisk or question mark, not to mention the underlining of a favourite passage.  And yet, we strive to keep the pages of this most important Book pristine.  In Bible Study on Wednesday mornings, Irwin has resorted to handing out the relevant text on a sheet of paper to encourage us to make notes and draw connecting lines and even add a few exclamation points.  Somehow, it seems acceptable to mark up a  photocopy, but not the real Book. 
    In a way, that  attitude is too bad.  I have inherited my mother's Bible as well as a New Testament that belonged to my dad.  In times of grief, I have searched the pages of these two texts for hints of what my parents valued, what words touched their hearts, what psalms brought comfort.  In vain have I sought an underlined passage or a note in the margin.  I know both of these books were well-read and whole sections committed to memory, but not a hint of the previous owner is visible on the pages. 
     I don't advocate defacing the Bible, or any other book for that matter, but I think perhaps a mark, in pencil, to denote a favourite psalm or to highlight a pivotal passage might be in order, a record of my conversation with the author.  After all, my Bible is not a museum piece, it's an instruction manual.  Anyone can tell my favourite recipes by the splatters in my cook book.  Shouldn't my Bible bear some trace of use?
     What about you?  Will your inheritors find a record of your personal faith in the pages of the family Bible?

Alice is a member of the choir at SPPC, a faithful participant in the Bible Study and a luddite who still prefers paper books to electronic ones.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Home Team

Appreciating our Home Church

         by Dorothy Napier

When we travel we usually take the opportunity to attend church and, naturally, compare it with our home church, SPPC.
On a most recent trip, we visited a large presbyterian church in southern California. The church building of contemporary design was striking and the overall campus impressive. The extensive parking lot was well filled for the regular Sunday service. The congregation was welcoming and, while the congregation was mostly of the older generation, there was a good sized sunday school. The church was clearly well funded and had a senior pastor and two or three associates. The choir, strong in number, was led by a director, assisted by the organist and a pianist. There was also a hand bell choir.
Our visit was at the time of the shooting tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, where there were several victims killed and injured, including a U.S. congresswoman who was seriously wounded. The nation was deeply shocked by this tragedy and it was rightly the focus of the service. The sermon was thoughtful and well prepared and we appreciated the service. Indeed, we attended the same church the following Sunday.
On an earlier trip to Ontario, on three occasions we visited a large suburban church which had two ministers, a large choir and, as at SPPC, a relatively older congregation. The services were pleasant, but hardly memorable beyond the singing of the final hymn.
We are always glad to be back at our home church, SPPC. and, increasingly, appreciate the "home team". We are enormously blessed with sermons that are contemporary, based on scripture, challenging, thought provoking and thoroughly prepared. The choir, though smaller in number than the choirs we visited, is outstanding and led by a dynamic and creative organist/choir director. The after church "coffee time" enables us to meet friends and get to know other members of the congregation.
As we think about all this, isn’t it rather just too easy to take your home church for granted and fail to recognize its strengths. At SPPC, we are richly blessed to be spiritually challenged, to enjoy excellent music and have a most welcoming congregation. We are always glad to be home at SPPC, and enjoy our excellent
"home team".

Dorothy was born in Belfast, N. Ireland. She emigrated to Canada with her husband, Roy, and has lived in different communities in Canada, including Ottawa (14 years). She has also lived in Bermuda (7 years). Dorothy has attended SPPC for 3 1/2 years, since moving to Victoria in 2007.Her interests include, reading, theatre and travel. Dorothy and Roy have a son and 2 daughters, 5 grand-children, 3 of whom live in Cobble Hill and 2 in Oakville, Ontario.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mission Month Wind-Up

    SPPC finished off our Mission Month of February with a soup lunch and bake sale put on by the Sunday School and the Mission and Outreach Committee.

We had a bake sale that raised $200.00

Coffee and a goodie table.

And mmm... good soup.  Five different types, Cauliflower, chicken, squash carrot ginger, potato, and spinach lentil, all rounded off with delicious scones.

We served over sixty lunches to people of all ages.

Even the helpers got to eat.

The lunch raised $218.00 

 $240.00 odd, has been deposited from coin boxes to date--- there are more to come.
In all about $660.00 has been raised through the efforts of the Sunday School, not counting the donations that came in through envelopes.

Thanks to all
the soup-makers,
the scone-bakers,
the setter-uppers,
the cleaner-uppers,
and the eater-uppers.

With notes from Norma Scott