I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it.Matthew 16:18
Saturday Rebekah and I drove to Greenville to attend our first presbytery meeting since she retired (presbytery is the regional association of Presbyterian congregations known as New Hope).
We gathered with ministers and elders all the way from Chapel Hill to the Outer Banks, spanning 33 counties, with 111 congregations representing almost 25,000 members.
I love worshipping with such a diverse group of people. Varied in terms of social background, race, politics, and so much else, yet unified in commitment to follow Jesus and to share the good news.
My role at these meetings is “official” photographer. I’ve been doing this for several years and it is fun to walk around with my camera and try to tell the story of the day via a series of images.
Right now I am in the process of editing around 600 photographs from Saturday’s meeting.
I hope I manage to communicate something of the joy, the inspiration, and the hope I felt there, meeting with all these good people.
Here, just a short video vignette, is the last 30-seconds of the anthem from worship. And, joy upon joy, our great friend (and former Praise Band director from Brandon) Don Zegel was singing in the choir, along with his wife, Gay.
The complete story of hope and inspiration will likely come out over a series of blogs, but the essential message, the “takeaway” for me was/is that God is very much at work in individual people, in congregations, and in the collective witness that is the Presbytery of New Hope.
Reaffirming my baptism:
I believe my personal experience was rooted in the unexpected moment of reaffirming my baptism. First thing after convening, we joined together for worship (worship comes at the beginning of the day for a reason) and the congregation shared in a responsive reading where we were given the opportunity to reaffirmed all that was promised at our baptism.
It was a powerful context for the balance of the day, and hearing myself say the words aloud set the tone for my soul to respond with more depth of emotion to the powerful testimonies to grace that followed.
I may be the photographer, but I am also a participant, someone who is committed to following Jesus and who loves the work of the Presbytery of New Hope.
Enjoy this sampling of images. There is a lot more to this story, so please check back soon. I am working on several more reports from what proved to be an inspirational and affirming day.
In love, and because love powers the Presbyterian Church.