my new photography gig, and words of encouragement regarding the PC(USA)

DSC_0193So vacation is over. Sigh. Rebekah and I enjoyed a couple of good weeks of redirection, and relaxation, and refreshment (I’ll share more from this past weekend’s Richmond trip in the coming days).

But for today I want to post a few reflections from my first meeting as the official photographer-in-residence for the Presbytery of New Hope. It’s the first time I’ve been given license carte blanche as a paparazzi, and – apart from being a lot of hard work – it changed the way I experienced the gathering.

My purpose – from 8:20 in the morning through around 3:00 in the afternoon – was simply to observe. I was not hired as a writer, but as a “looker.” We have talked before in this space about how telling a story changes the way we take photographs, and this became especially true as I knew ahead of time that my images are going to become a slide show… but without the benefit of my commentary.

On the Presbytery of New Hope web-site (a major redesign is going to be rolled out later this week and – hopefully – feature some of my images), I’m going to tell the story of yesterday’s meeting with pictures alone. At my blog – right here – I’m limiting myself to three of four pictures, but you do get to read my words.

WORSHIPPING COMMUNITY: Yesterday, on the campus of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Durham, I experienced the deep blessing of being part of a community of believers, preachers and elders who are committed to the ministry of reconciliation as outlined in 2 Corinthians.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliationSo we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20

DSC_0229The day began – as everything we do as the body of Christ must – in the context of worship. 280 preachers and elders gathered to celebrate God, to confess Jesus, and to renew their commitment to sharing “this wonderful message of reconciliation” with the world we have been called to reach with the gospel.

That’s it, right there. Take a good look. This is the Presbyterian Church. This is the denomination that has been much maligned in recent years by people who want to steer the conversation away from the ministry of reconciliation and toward the politics of cultural differences.

So for me, a professional observer, yesterday’s joyous, exuberant celebration of ministry together was a beautiful and encouraging experience of unity and love.

DSC_0197I am so thankful to be a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and to be trusted with the opportunity to use my gifts to advance God’s message of reconciling love via the ministries of this dynamic, God-saturated, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled church.

And all God’s people said…. “Amen.” – DEREK

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