We’re On A Mission
How We Participate in Presbyterian Mission: Our congregation, like our 9,000 sister congregations across the United States, is joyfully sent out into the world in the name of Jesus Christ. One way we participate in our shared ministry is through our annual Per Capita giving. This year, our congregation‘s Per Capita is assessed at $38.75 per individual member. The session pays for each member and your remittance for your share helps to offset this amount in our budget. As the primary source of funding for the Office of the General Assembly, each individual member’s contribution of their Per Capita is how we mutually and equitably share the costs of moving the whole Presbyterian church forward in mission.
You may use your special Per Capita apportionment envelope from your offering envelopes, or simply indicate Per Capita on the memo line of your check or online gift. On behalf of the session, thank you for your remittance and active participation in our common ministry.
Per Capita giving makes the following possible:
- Presbyterians to discern and live out God’s call in their lives
- Churches to connect with individuals seeking a call to ministry
- Staff and support General Assembly committees and commissions
- Manage and coordinate General Assembly gatherings
- Presbytery and synod leaders to gather for training and discernment
- Provide counsel and support for churches in crisis (misconduct, legal matters)
- Presbyteries to address matters of inclusion, participation and representation at all levels of church leadership and decision making
- The denomination to build connections with ecumenical partners around the world
- Presbyteries and pastors to receive support on immigration issues
- Presbyterian history to be saved and utilized by future generations
All Presbyterians are called to take part in the whole church’s ecclesiastical and administrative work through per capita giving. The annual rate is a per-member apportionment that is assessed biennially by the General Assembly. (Book of Order, G-3.0106)
“Per Capita is crucial to the overall health of the PC(USA), because it binds presbyteries, synods, and congregations together in one church.”
– J. Herbert Nelson, II,
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA)
Hearing, Tasting, Touching, Smelling. Seeing. Where do you experience the signs of Christmas? This week, Pastor Kevin continues his series using a camera lens metaphor in a message titled: The Ultra Wide Lens: Do You See What I See? from Matthew 11:2-11. An imprisoned and isolated John the Baptizer asks his followers what they see. Like Homeland Security’s often repeated alert: If you see something, say something! Jesus helps John’s followers to see, and then say something.
What do you need to see this Christmas? Where do you see Jesus’ restoration, reconciliation, and healing in your life and in the world? How can you share this good news with those who have not yet experienced it? If you haven’t seen signs of Christmas, keep looking! Maybe in the quiet places you may begin to see the work of God. In the most unexpected encounters you may sense God’s presence no matter how desolate the desert, or dismal the view.
The best way we can experience the signs of Christmas is to receive its healing power firsthand. What are you patiently waiting for this Advent? How do we participate in strengthening our hearts and hands and those of others?
Listen to this message of hope! Come to worship on Sunday and experience the full, ultra wide view of Jesus and the whole life wholeness that he offers now.
As Jesus connected with Zacchaeus, he was transformed by thankfulness for his experience of God’s love. We, too, having experienced the transformative power of meeting the Son of God, can put our thanksgiving out there through tangible expressions of loving kindness, justice, and live into a future of possibilities. We, like Zacchaeus, can choose to express the joy that comes in recognizing our mutual dependence and God-created connections in community. Gratitude fuels our mission as we invite others to participate in genuine reconciliation, restoration, and renewal.
Spiritual experiences, like religion, can be both private and communal. In Jesus’ life, you see private expressions of faith (Luke 5:16, Matthew 6:5-6), but there are decidedly more public expressions of faith, faith in action, obvious, measurable, and expressed in justice and mercy.
For many of us, calling religion private is convenient. Easy. We can put faith into a box or a small compartment in our life and no one pays attention to it. Including us. It is not challenged, exercised, or strengthened. While a solely private faith can bring personal comfort, its impact is limited. A so-called private faith can may result in unwanted behaviors like pride, hypocrisy, judgement, and a kind of spiritual phoniness that becomes boring and unremarkable. We can do better.
God created us to live an authentic, amazing life. Pastor Kevin’s message this week about Jesus and his new friend Zacchaeus describes what happen when faith becomes public, obvious, and community-facing. While everyone else saw a “sinner,” a corrupt tax collector in a tree, Jesus saw an incredible person who could experience God’s grace, give thanks, and actually do good! An entire community was transformed. That’s transformation!
We should expect others to notice our faith in action and want to join in. When we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God in obvious, public, ways, all of us can live authentic, amazing lives.
How was your Halloween?! Sure. Lots of. Let me guess… candy? Getting candy, receiving gifts, is super great. Did you happen to give any candy away this Halloween? How was you All Saints Day? The day after Halloween is special , too, like we spoke about last week. We are part of a band of believers past, present, and future who belong to God. Reminding us that we have an awesome purpose. Yesterday, Melissa and I were invited to Justin Connolly’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor. He and his family worship with us during the Summer and live in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. It was great celebrating such an important day. The Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, are very cool organizations and share something in common with Cold Spring Church. Do you know what that is? Our purpose. Part of the Boy Scout purpose is helping others, and a core value in our church’s purpose is serving others. That’s how we follow Jesus, by serving. So this week, let’s think of one way we will serve others, give of our time, energy, and attention in ways that show of love for them, and our love for God, too. Help classmates in school. Help at home or in the community. Be kind to one another. Like Jesus, who came not to be served, but to servewe can do the same… getting is good. Giving is better. Giving because of Jesus is best of all! You Have A Purpose!
There are thousands of intersections in Cape May. What intersections are the most remarkable to you? Which is closest to where you live? Closest to where you work or go to school. What is your impression of your intersection? Is it busy with traffic? Do kids wait there for their school bus? Consider the corner of Seashore and Academy Roads, for example. For hundreds of years, our intersection has been a gathering place, a sending place, a safe place for neighbors to worship Christ, pray, and serve the community together. Intersections are crossroads of activity. This Good News message from Luke 18 about a widow and a judge. Why did she go to the judge at night? What does Jesus want us to learn from the judge’s action even though he hated God and others!? Join us at corner of Faith Avenue and Justice Street where Jesus is looking for faith in action. Invest a few minutes to listen to Pastor Kevin’s message and meet Jesus at the corner of Faith Avenue and Justice Street. What will you find there?
Energize Your Spirit — Transform Your Life
We believe that everyone deserves to experience God’s love in relevant, accessible, and authentic ways, and that our faith in practice represents an amazing opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of individuals, communities, and the world. Our thriving faith community puts God’s love into action to help make greater Cape May a better place. We welcome people of all ages to joyfully love and serve God and our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. God loves Cape May, and we demonstrate that love every day of every year!
Cold Spring Presbyterian Church energizes spirits and transforms lives by delivering resources and experiences that are rooted in the Good News of Jesus Christ through inspiring worship, practical teaching, innovative programs, and community-focused events and ministries.
Established in 1714, Cold Spring Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a member of the Presbytery of West Jersey. We invite you to become a part of our hopeful future.
(Our vision and mission was drafted by our Transformation Pastor and was updated received by the session in September 2019. It emerged from the work of the Mission Study Team including Marty Bowne, Kevin Beare, Taylor Burkhardt, intentional transformation journey our congregation began in 2016, including community-directed worship and events, congregational surveys, feedback, and the Focus Your Vision day in 2018. The comprehensive Mission Study will be completed in November 2019.)
Who is the Mission Study Team: While the Mission Study Team (MST) was open to new folks joining in and helping out as we go along, the team to date included: John Stalford, Chuck McPherson, Melissa Arnott, Marty Bowne, Lenore Bowne, Larry Hume, Taylor Burkhardt, and Kevin Beare. Pastor Kevin led the team.
Why We Need A Mission Study: 305 years is a long time. And over three centuries, even since 2016, every community, everyone, experience change. More than you may at first recognize. Being in a community for a long time can so familiarize us to what we’re used to, that’s we cannot clearly see what has changed and who our neighbors have become. Cold Spring Church does many things, but the future belongs to ministries that can focus their resources to deliver amazing, life-transforming ministry the community really needs. We want to take best advantage of existing community resources, and convince our congregation and other friends that our story and program is worth supporting and investing in. In order to do that, we need to create as thorough and as balanced a profile of our community and our congregation as we can. . . . God is already at work in our community. Our task is to find out where Cold Spring Church can enter that picture moving forward.
Thanks to a special community-directed $5,000 mission grant from the Presbytery of West Jersey, the session approved and has begun to implement our very exciting two-part mission initiative. Here is a summary of our project.
- Podcasts and Streaming Videos: As part of our mission we will develop new ways to engage those who find it difficult or impossible to attend worship services, and those who are homebound, remote members, by delivering the worship experience as a video livestream, with post-worship video download as a podcast/online via our website. Anyone with a computer, tablet, or smart phone can participate. Eventually, we may take realtime prayer requests, as well. This initiative is expected to incur costs of under $4500.
- Conquering the Opioid Abuse Epidemic: As part of our mission, we will support families affected by addictions, especially affected by the opioid crisis, through group ministry of spiritual resources, small groups. Last year, more than 35 attended our Opioid Abuse and Prevention training in partnership with Rutgers University and Youth Advocate Program. Our new initiative, Thriving Families, will be implemented in 2020 and is not expected to incur costs over $500.
Getting Started—Campus Online Access: To extend our reach into the community, we encourage you to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media share the good news with your friends and followers. Post photos or maybe a inspirational Bible verse or something you heard in the message, or song.
We want our WiFi network to enhance your experience while attending worship or another event, you may use our networks as listed below:
Price Hall Network Name: ColdSpringChurchWiFi Guest (no password required).
Red Brick Church Network Name: CSPCRedBrickWifi Password: See the password printed isn’t he weekly bulletin.
We are grateful for our friends in West Jersey Presbytery for their commitment to community mission and investing in our mission! Get connected and share your experience!
What Is Prayer Actually Worth To You?
Photo credit: Joshua Hanks
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
What is your response when someone offers to pray for you? You welcome the prayer, right? Have you ever replied, “No thanks, I don’t want your prayer”? Some people may resist the suggestion of prayer for any number of reasons, but most of the time, people welcome prayer. Our congregation’s active prayer list engages us and every week as we share requests and answers to prayer encourage all of us. But how much is prayer actually worth to you?
What is Prayer?
Prayer may best be described as a conversation with God. While folding our hands is frequently associated with someone praying, hand-folding is not required for God to hear us, of course! Eyes open or closed. Standing, sitting, walking, driving, or any possible activity can be a perfect context for taking to God. Remember, the apostle Paul said to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Since we can pray anywhere, we can also pray about anything and about the full range of life’s experiences. Alone or with others. No special formula, language, or method is required, either. No practice is necessary to make a connection to God. Just direct your thoughts to God. God even offers the Holy Spirit to help us when we just don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26-27).
Our prayers may be for ourselves or others, silent or spoken aloud, expressed in words, art, music, or dance, or any other medium. Prayer can be urgently offered in crisis or during planned, peaceful, or contemplative moments. Succinct or expansive, and capturing our every possible feeling and emotion, and concerning any and every imaginable situation, prayer with God is an amazing, personalized, way to be in touch with God through Christ.
Prayer In the Bible
In God’s word, people interacted with God believing that prayer was also a method of changing a situation or themselves for the better. Abraham prayed that God would not destroy the city, Jacob prayed for strength when he was going to a stressful family reunion, Moses prayed for mercy for his people, Joshua confesses his people’s sins, Hannah prayed for a family, Daniel for freedom, Nehemiah for transformation, Job prayed for his friends (Job 42:10) and Solomon prayed for wisdom (1 Kings 3:1-15). The Book of the Psalms is filled with prayers from requests to expressions of anger and sorrow, including intercessions, praise, and thanksgivings. Certainly there must be value to prayer because interacting with the Creator is a real life experience. People correlate praying with results, either experienced inwardly, or externally.
Jesus practiced what he preached about prayer and made it a priority, both in private (Mark 1:15, Matthew 14:23), and in public (Luke 22:32, 41-44), and famously from the cross where he died for the sins of the world, praying, “Father, forgive, them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-13), to not use prayer to get attention from others (Matthew 6:5-6), to pray before making an important decision (Luke 6:12-13), to pray boldly (Mark 11:24), and pray for the success of God’s mission (Luke 10:22, Matthew 9:38). Jesus continually prays for us, too! (Romans 8:34). If prayer didn’t matter, would Jesus pray?
The letters of the New Testament are similarly filled with reminders of the value of prayer. In James’ letter, “…pray for each other…” because, “the prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with” (James 5:17). The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6-7 The Message). We are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and to pray for our civic leaders and neighbors (1 Timothy 2:1-3, 1 John 5:14-15, 1 Peter 3:12, Colossians 1:9-12).
What About “Thoughts and Prayers”?
In our experience, prayers matter. But can we learn anything about what people ion general think about prayer? Following natural disasters, mass shootings, or catastrophes, politicians and religious leaders often offer up their “thoughts and prayers” to victims. Our nation historically values prayer. For example, both houses of Congress open each session with prayer, the government continues to provide chaplains for the armed forces (an important part of their ministry is prayer), and other civic, public, and private organizations may include prayer in their proceedings. Detractors criticize the phrase, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” as meaningless, asserting that prayer offers no real value. In a recent issue of the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers sought to quantify the value people attributed to prayer. Critics argue that the phrase is cheap, and it doesn’t equate to real action. It may be offered to sound like “I really care,” but really means “I won’t do anything.” Christians frequently seek other’s prayers, especially during difficult or painful times.
The researchers took an economic approach to determining the value of thoughts and prayers. (For the full article, “The Value of Thoughts and Prayers,” visit https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/09/10/1908268116.)
For example, the findings showed that recipients of prayer often expect some kind of direct benefit (improved health or Increased wealth), or gain feelings of hope and connection to others, or to reduce their anxiety. Participants in the study self-identified as one of three groups: Christian, atheist, or agnostic. In the experiment, they were told that a stranger would be learn about their recent hardship and in return, the participant would receive that stranger’s thoughts and prayers. The experiment evaluated how much the thoughts and prayers mattered to each group. On average, Christian respondents valued the gesture, but nonreligious people negatively valued the gesture when offered by Christians, and were indifferent to receiving the thoughts and prayers from other nonreligious people. The study also suggested that while others may sincerely offer their thoughts and prayers, when no other gesture was offered, its impact was less recognized. Everyone agreed that the words alone were secondary if not also linked to other actions.
Prayer In Motion
Wait, that sounds like what we read in James’ letter when he wrote about faith in action:
“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (James 2:16-17).
The bottom line? Pray. It matters. To you. To (most) others. And, it actual
The bottom line?
Pray. But remember prayer may be like like faith, without a corresponding action it is, well, using the words of James, dead. Look for opportunities to do more than pray. Don’t stop sharing with God, listening, and learning with God’s Spirit in community with others. Pray. Do. That’s why faith communities gather…to provide spiritual resources to follow Jesus with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love! There are amazing benefits to prayer, both to the one praying and to the recipients of those prayers. (And when you want to offer prayer for others and want them to know you are praying for them, its a great idea to politely ask if they’d welcome the prayer to begin with.) Whatever their response can be a wonderful moment for engagement. Active, authentic prayer is always connected to active, authentic action.