In The News
Beacon Newsletter Archives
Aren't We All New Worshiping Communities?
For the March 23, 2021 edition of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery’s newsletter, Pastor Steve was asked to contribute a story. As most of our members do not read or receive this newsletter, we are reprinting the following article which he submitted and was published in March.
When I joined the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery as a newly installed pastor in 2016, one of my first experiences was being approached by Barbara Willock and being asked if I would be willing to serve on a presbytery committee or team. Not having a familiarity with the various committees or teams of Giddings-Lovejoy, I found myself responding that I would be willing to serve “wherever there was a need.” So as 2017 began, I found myself appointed as a member of the New Worshiping Communities Commission (NWCC). My initial goals were to discern what “new worshiping communities” meant to this presbytery and why this was a “commission” and not a team or committee. Once I had answered those questions to my own satisfaction, I became an active part of the NWCC and have served as the moderator from 2019 to the present.
In its attempt to establish 1001 new worshiping communities throughout the PC(USA), our denomination has been actively promoting new ways for 21st century Presbyterians and other Christians to gather, to fellowship, and to worship together. These new worshiping communities have come in all shapes, formats, and sizes - but all have the focus of worshiping our God. Giddings-Lovejoy has been devoted to the development of new worshiping communities and consistent in offering guidance and support to them. We have nurtured the development of at least five new worshiping communities since the inception of the Giddings-Lovejoy NWCC in 2013. Presently we are providing support for three new worshiping communities: UKirk, Light for the Darkness, and HausChurch.
With the advent of COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic infecting and disrupting our lives, all Christians in our country and around the globe have been trying to discern “new” ways to fellowship and worship together. We have all experimented with online services, streaming technology, Zoom meetings and gatherings, and the various and a sundry issues and problems associated with them. If meeting in person we have dealt with social distancing, mandatory mask wearing, the absence of hymns and congregational singing, and the lack of unison congregational responses. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper has been for the most part suspended or regulated to “take home” elements in prepackaged containers. We have lost the element of human touch as hugging, greeting with a “holy kiss,” and even handshaking as all of these have been forbidden. Our worship life and circumstances have greatly changed. In essence, we have all become “new worshiping communities.”
There is a sadness associated with our longing for our former ways of worshiping together. But we have discovered that the Spirit of the Lord still resides with us and in our “new” ways of worshiping together! “Ecclesia reformata, semper reformada” – the church reformed, always reforming! To God be the glory for the new ways we have learned to worship as the people of God during this pandemic. May we, as the new worshiping communities we have become, always be willing to step out in faith and try new methods and ways of worshiping our God.
Rev. Steve Matthews
Moderator of New Worshiping Communities Commission of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery
Presently serving First Presbyterian Church in Ste. Genevieve, MO
We are officially a certified Hunger Action Congregation!
Our church is now a certified "Hunger Action Congregation!" That means we have met criteria in six different areas of providing hunger ministries and have been officially recognized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a church that is actively working to alleviate hunger in our community and our world. Our Hunger Action Team is to be commended for moving so quickly (they were only established a few months ago) to obtain this certification. We will be so designated for three years at which point we will have to re-certify to maintain our status. If you have not been actively involved in one of our church food ministries, we can always use your help! The simplest way to help is to give non-perishable food items (or a monetary donation) for use in our food pantry. You can directly participate by placing items in our Blessing Box on a one-time or, even better, a regular basis!