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Memories for the Imagination

By Intersections

Memories for the Imagination

“Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.’”… Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord’… So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:1-7, NASB).

What do you remember? We recall lots of facts, but many important events and experiences are often forgotten. When the nation of Israel was freed from slavery and led to the promised land about 3,400 years ago (circa1451-1260 BCE), God wanted them to remember how the waters of the Jordan Rover were held back allowing the people to cross on dry ground! He instructed that 12 large stones carried from the other side be placed along the river bank as a memorial. “When the children ask, ‘What do these stones man to you?’” They can tell the amazing story of safe passage. God knows we need help remembering from time to time and memorial stones become an object lesson with a story.

Cold Spring Church Historic Ancestors Walk– One way Cold Spring Presbyterian Church remembers God’s activity in our lives during three centuries is through the thousands of markers and memorial stones placed across our cemetery campus. Our cemetery staff continue the tradition of dignified and personalized service to families. In all shapes and sizes, stones not only mark where the remains of loved ones were safely laid, but they also represent individual and community stories worth retelling. Later this month our Historic Ancestors Walk cemetery tours will invite the Cape May community to enjoy its new season. Our history-loving team of costumed docents and storytellers will recount heartfelt struggles, sadness, and grief along with inspiring stories of success, triumph, and hope of those who have been buried here. Visit online for our schedule to be posted soon. If you enjoy history and would like to join the team, please contact Elaine Jordan or email for more information.

How We Remember– There are three main memory functions in our brains: Sensory, Short-term, and Long-term. Sensory memory fills up with what’s happening now. Short-term memory processes information for a few minutes longer. If we attribute importance to it and repeatedly access it, it becomes a short-term working memory. Information that has great value to us is kept indefinitely as Long-term memory. This is the “remembering” part of the brain that is encoded with meaning, smells, colors, and other sensory attributes. These memories can deeply affect our future behaviors and attitudes. Being aware of what we remember informs our future.

Memorial Day each year represents personal (and national) awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. Our national “Remembering Day” emerged before the end of the Civil War when women who lost family and friends annually gathered to place flowers on the graves of those who had fallen in the service of their country. A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead” (Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920).

In what part of your brain’s memory is Memorial Day remembered? Many visited our cemetery last weekend. The Veterans’ graves were honored with flowers. Memorial Day can be a gratitude-driven day of remembering.

Communities Have Memories– Listening to each other’s “memories” and honoring the values attributed to them is a great way to build a sense of neighborliness, solidarity, and a spirit of humble gratitude in the community at large.

Not only do individuals have memory, but so do communities, groups, institutions, and companies. Kensington, a northeast Philadelphia community, suffered from traumatic and troubled neighborhood memories. These memories were reinforced by racism, classism, and sexism which later stigmatized not only the people, but the place, as well. The neighborhood’s quality of life and associated economies promoted historical and persistent injustice and the abuse fragmented families and communities. Instead of ignoring the community’s stigma, we embraced the community through personal and direct engagement which empowered the neighborhood to imagine a new future.

Our love for the entire community and an empathetic recognition of those painful memories created positive connections. Leaders accepted and reframed painful memories to empowering stories during individual and small group exercises. Resolution and hopefulness emerged using simple tools. For example, the children shared their stories and imagined new narratives using crayons. Adults explored their ethnographies on a room-sized timeline to better understand their long-term memories. An entire community was transformed and you can read about their story in my new book, Crayons for the City, Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Rebuild Neighborhoods of Hope.)

Memories shape our life-narrative, and are affected by our biases. All of us have biases that change the way we evaluate information and form ideas, whether ideas about out past or when considering the future. When we are aware of our biases, we can honestly reflect on them, be more thoughtful, and our behaviors become more intentional. But when we are less aware of our biases, attitudes, moods, and predispositions, our understanding is clouded. Distorted memories can prevent us from being open to new ideas and cause us to feel stuck in the past, unable to move forward.

Deeply felt memories can be seductive. Like a familiar pair of comfy slippers, memories can lock us into debilitating sentimentality, or fear, anxiety, and pettiness. People gathering as congregations or teams can devolve into a Memory Organization (stuck in the past story) instead of growing into being an Imaginative Organization (co-creating a new future story).

Memories alone and without a shared context can provide marginal benefit and few positive outcomes. But memories can inform new, creative, learning that results in fresh ways of authentic, intentional, and active engagement and outcomes.

Many of our memories can imaginatively enrich the lives of those around us as we embrace a better, hopeful future.

Get Ready To Focus Your Vision! After worship in Price Hall on Sunday, June 24, you’re invited to enjoy a special luncheon that will be followed by an exciting and interactive learning experience for the entire congregation. We will build on our memories as we focus on our future vision. Pastor Kevin and Melissa will lead this special event. Will we discover how to grow from being only a Church with memories? to becoming a Spirit-led community of mission imagination! Plan to attend. All are welcomed!

Memorial Day is a great time to recall stories of those who sacrificed their lives in service to their country. Let’s honor them by using our memories to unlock our imaginations in God’s emerging future.

“Memories are not keys to the past, but to the future.” Corrie ten Boom

Crayons for the City Is “Essential Reading” For Community Transformation

By Intersections, Newsletters

It’s probably not too surprising that if our Transformation Pastor were to write a book, it would probably be about the topic of transformation. And, you’d be right!

Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, published Pastor Kevin’s new book, Crayons for the City: Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Rebuild Neighborhoods of Hope. Transformation is a process, not a destination. When a group, congregation, or community intentionally enters a process that is centered on learning and a readiness to change, transformation can be experienced as growth and a new capacity to accomplish a group’s or congregation’s mission and purpose. And Pastor Kevin reminds us that it’s not just change for change’s sake, but a belief that God wants to transform our lives in the community of faith and the community at large. See reviews and get your Kindle or Paperback copy today, click here.


“And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play” Zechariah 8:5 (NLT).

Pastor Kevin says, “Zechariah 8:5 was the vision for writing my new book, Crayons for the City. That vision continues to be my motivation for inviting community leaders to read Crayons and apply its practical framework in their own context.” Crayons is about asking leaders to take a look at their community impact, not just their effort.

The title Crayons for the City takes its name from Pastor Kevin’s work with children in Philadelphia that began with a box of Crayola crayons. The idea was to give voice to the child’s whole world experience in a very stigmatized and under-resourced neighborhoods of Kensington. The kids were given drawing topics each week: Me and My Neighborhood; Me and My Friends; Me and My Family; Me and My School; Me and My World; Me and My Church, and Me and My Future. The drawing journey led to significant conversations and opportunities to engage children and their families in community transforming activities. The book tells the story that began with a box of crayons which progressed into a whole community project of hope and a new future.

Pastor Kevin writes about leading the faith community since arriving in September 2016. From more open and energizing worship to asking the congregation to intentionally welcome and include the community at large, especially young families and those without any religious affiliation. He refers to programs and all gatherings as “Farming Events.” Pastor Kevin describes Farming Events as activities that plant seeds, nurture relationships, and foster forward-looking and cascading connections between the events moving forward.

“Everyone can be part of God’s transformational work,” Pastor Kevin says. Here’s an excerpt from Crayons for the City:

“While walking is good exercise, walking around the block to better understand the neighborhood is even better. …not to advertise programs or solicit support but to actively engage with residents and pay attention to what God is doing.” Pastor Kevin believes that God is active and working all over the greater Cape May community. What Cold Spring Church can do is to notice what God is doing and get involved. Everyone gets involved in their own unique ways.

“There are wonderful possibilities ahead for any church,” Pastor Kevin says, “Transformation begins with an authentic connection to God through Jesus Christ. God loves our community. It’s up to us to demonstrate that love in relevant and accessible ways in everything we do.”

This new book can help any community leader, church leader, or missions student discover effective ways to achieve a positive impact. Our community deserves no less!

At the following link you will find the book description along with endorsements and other information: LINK

If you are interested in a review copy of this new book, please fill out the form to request review copies HERE. Please indicate the journal you are associated with on the form.

Book Details:

Yoho, Kevin R.
Crayons for the City: Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Rebuild Neighborhoods of Hope
Cascade Books
ISBN 13:978-1-4982-3087-2
Softcover $33
Pub. Date: 11/9/2017


The Pastor’s Forward Looking Report- On the Road Again With the Spirit

By Intersections

This week was my second Annual Congregational meeting. And I am delighted to say, like I said last year, I am grateful and energized as the Transformation Pastor (interim pastor) at Cold Spring Presbyterian Church. God is obviously up to something in greater Cape May and I believe that Cold Spring Church, as it approaches its 304th year, is at the center of that spiritual activity!

A Signpost Up Ahead : Transformation Journey
We are a community of faith on a transformation journey as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are moving forward to vitally connect spiritual and other resources with the community at large. God has blessed us with an amazing congregation and a beautiful campus including our cemetery, Price Hall, other buildings and our historic red brick church worship center. The transformation journey of learning, improving, and trying new things, and everyone is on this journey together!

“But there are those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom, and continue to do it. They don’t listen and then forget, but they put it into practice in their lives. They will be blessed in whatever they do” (James 1:25 CEB).

Mile Marker Report
Putting the Good News into practice is our mission. The term Mission is used a lot, and its not surprising that its meaning can be broadly understood. “A congregation, like the human body, can be represented by its resources, values, and priorities. But the change a congregation can experience is developmental and is governed by the capacity of its members to learn and grow.”1 So Mission refers to how we put our resources, values, and priorities to work. Distinct from Mission is Vision. When we refer to Vision, we are describing a future time when we hope to have realized our goal. A sample/draft Mission might be: Our vision is that our community at large experiences improved spiritual health and wellness accessing Cold Spring Church resources including worship, events, cemetery services, meeting space, and other connections in person and online. Our Mission Study Team is now working and will be responsible, in consultation with the session, to research and explore new connections with our community and propose new ministry ideas to expand our mission and contribute to our growth.

To help us measure our progress, we paused during a sermon last Spring to reflect on how we are feeling now about our spiritual connections compared to the year before. The survey said most of us moved from low engagement to high engagement. Wonderful! 82% said they would recommend Cold Spring Church to a friend or neighbor. Amazing! Good has blessed us with 7 friends who decided to become members of our community of faith in 2017, the most added in many years. Worship attendance was up 20% with increased giving, more visitors, and an increasing number of innovative events. We are now blessed with a Singing Team that enriches our worship.

Let’s recall a few of the 2017 events (attendance in parentheses). Palm Sunday (75), Maundy (Holy) Thursday (23), The Hunt Is On! Easter Egg Hunt (85 kids), Sunrise at Sunset Easter sunrise service at Sunset Beach (32), and our Easter Celebration (107). Our Gift & Craft Fair, Presbyterian Women Christmas Bazaar and Luncheon, and the Open Air and Craft Markets (one of which had a music group of local performers) were well attended and provided opportunities to build relationships with the community. Christmas Eve was unusual in that it fell on Sunday in 2017. We enjoyed two worship services that drew a total attendance of 150 with 70 attending the morning Christmas Eve worship and 80 the candlelight service. I am grateful to God for inspiring us to gather as we are sent out to bless the community! I am also grateful for everyone who is growing, learning, and trying new things. This Annual Report includes stories of these activities that are enthusiastically supported by the Cold Spring Church community of faith!

Taking New Paths
We made significant new connections with the community at large, too. We are now on the tour schedule of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), and we receive referrals from Cold Spring Village. (P.S. The Village lovingly refers to us as “their church” connection!) We also renewed partnerships with the Cape May Historical Society, Congress Hall, and the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, among many community groups. I have enjoyed participating with the Lower Township Clergy, as well as our improved participation in West Jersey Presbytery. In 2017 several of our leaders attended the presbytery’s Congregational Life Sunday and I presented a workshop entitled, How Your Church Can Become A Community Destination. (I hope even more attend this year’s event!)

I continue to be grateful and amazed by our staff: Judy, Jayne, Scott, Chris, and Bob, and those on our part time crews as they meet unexpected challenges and joyfully serve others with commitment, passion, and love. I am proud of our Leadership Team (Session), Caring Team (Deacons), Presbyterian Women and the Circles, Busy Bees, Singing Team, and our Wednesday morning Bible groups, among others, who have joyfully provided opportunities for people to get involved. The congregation’s generosity allows us to offer reduced fees for some non-profit community services groups like A.A., and free space for ministries like the Christ Child Society and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Ministry is a partnership and I welcome your comments on what is working well and what improvements might be made.

What Does the Pastor Do the Rest of the Week?
Some have asked how I spend the rest of my time when I am not fulfilling the 30 hours/week, part-time, ministry as your pastor! On of the activities I enjoy is teaching in my third year on the faculty of City Vision University ( This accredited, faith-based, university provides low-cost undergraduate and masters degree programs for students from all over the world. I have the pleasure of teaching Youth Ministry, Social Entrepreneurship, Small Business Entrepreneurship, Theology of Work, Leadership and Management, and Organizational Systems. I enjoy the impact I can have on students, especially those in other countries.

I am glad to share with you that my first book, Crayons for the City: Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Build Communities of Hope was published in November. It tells an amazing transformation story set in Kensington, Philadelphia. A congregation learned how to create new connections with children and families, and it all started with a box of crayons! Written mostly for community and church leaders and students who want to make a positive difference in their communities. If you enjoy Philadelphia history and learning how seemingly ordinary people can achieve extraordinary impact, you might also enjoy this book. I presented a signed copy of Crayons to the session. It is available in the church office if you’d like to review it. You may visit the publisher’s page here:

Expecting More Movement Ahead in 2018!
Now in our 304th year, we can deliver spiritual and other resources through our community of faith to our community at large that transforms our neighbor’s lives in the name of Jesus Christ. What do you expect this year?
In 2018, our leadership and caring teams, groups, teams, staff, and individuals just like you all have an opportunity to expect more of Christ, and of each other. Imagine how our greater Cold Spring area neighbors could experience God is new ways, more relevant and effective ways? How could seniors be energized by hope? How can younger people grow and connect to serve and learn so that more and more people experience the abundant life?
I hope you are growing and learning! Let’s get involved a bit more. Give a bit more. Engage a bit more. Serve a bit more. Love a lot more.

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God” (1 John 4:7, NRSV).

Cold Spring Church. Energizing Spirits. Transforming Lives. Expecting More in 2018.

Are you on the road with the Spirit?


1 Yoho, Kevin R., et al. Crayons for the City: Reneighboring Communities of Faith to Rebuild Neighborhoods of Hope. Cascade Books, 2017. Page 64.

Why We Should Expect More in 2018

By Intersections

Expect More!

How is your new year looking so far? Are you expecting much? We are not victims to our past. We are not destined to merely repeat last year, this year. We can choose a different, more hopeful future. Want to find out how 2018 can be different? Read on, and here’s a hint: Expect more.

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.” (Mark 8.22-26)

Someone shared a brochure they picked up at a church they had recently visited when out of town. (I really appreciate learning how other communities of faith communicate their mission and message, so keep sharing your experiences when you are away!)

The brochure is entitled, What to Expect During Your Visit. It was intended to be read by the first-time visitor and previewed what a normal, regular order of worship looked like, how the service would be conducted, the pastor’s theology, and a brief description of church groups. It sounded so complete. (Incidentally, it was not a Presbyterian church.)

I wondered though, how many people only experienced what that brochure described should be expected? As if that brochure was the bar to be met. Nothing more or less. We have produced our own Welcome to Cold Spring Church brochure and I am reviewing it with different eyes now.

We do want everyone, especially our first-time guests, to feel safe and not be caught off guard or made to feel uncomfortable. That is why I try to help aclimate guests during my Welcome each week as worship begins. But I wonder if our worship is too regimented, regular, and maybe a bit too predictable. It might be better if more surprises were experienced! That is, if worshippers expected MORE from God, and we experienced MORE in worship, wouldn’t we more likely be more energized as God’s creativity and wonder were released?!

The story above from the Gospel of Mark about the man who could not see tells what on the surface looks like a failed miracle of Jesus. But it actually tells the story of expectations being exceeded.

The man’s friends expected that Jesus would heal the condition of blindness. Imagine like in a post office you line up to see Jesus. Next. Next. And so on. Jesus will heal you. Next, please.

As if that was the man’s only need, the man’s vision circumstance, could Jesus possibly care about. But surprisingly, what we learn is that Jesus cared about the man’s entire life experience not just his vision challenges. Jesus took the man out of town, where otherwise-abled people gathered (those we thoughtlessly refer to as the disabled). Jesus wanted the man to experience something other than same old shame and rejection. Using his own saliva as a healing balm, Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes, asking him if he could see.

Yes!, the man exclaimed. The now-sighted man reported that he saw people upside down! Seeing upside down was better than not seeing at all, right? Maybe they should leave well enough alone. They expected that he would see after being with Jesus. Good enough, then! Maybe they should just go back to town with the little they got.

But thankfully, they waited, they managed to expect more. They recognized in that moment of increasing clarity that Jesus not only could, but would do much more than they at first imagined. At the Master’s Second Touch, all was well, and Jesus reminded him, there is no need to go back to that village begging! Jesus exceeded the expectations, and I believe, he wants to exceed ours, and our community’s expectations, as well.

What do we expect in our congregation’s worship and ministry? I suggest, not nearly enough! God’s transforming Spirit is urging us to go beyond incremental and incomplete blessings to receive the empowering Second Touch to be that real, new, community of Christ’s disciples. Come on! We have already found we can dream again. We have increased our energy. We have increased our financial giving. We have experienced healing and hope and I don;t think God is out of blessings. Do you?

Our 303 year old mission, should we fully embrace it, is to deliver spiritual and other resources through our community of faith to our community at large that transforms our neighbor’s lives in the name of Jesus Christ. What do you expect?!

In 2018, our leadership and caring teams, groups, teams, staff, and individuals just like you all have an opportunity to expect more of Christ and of each other. Imagine how our greater Cold Spring area neighbors could experience God is new ways, more relevant and effective ways? How could seniors be energized by hope? How can younger people grow and connect to serve and learn so that more and more people experience the abundant life like that man did, like Jesus continues to offer to us today?

During the past year you may be in a better place, but look carefully. You may see, but are “people walking upside down.”? Well, pay attention, because the Master’s Second Touch is on the way for a new, healthy, and abundant year. Get involved a bit more. Give a bit more. Engage a bit more. Serve a bit more.

Cold Spring Church: Energizing Spirits. Transforming Lives. Expecting More.

Let’s not settle for a new year, but an expect more year. I can’t wait to see what emerges…

Pastor Kevin