Dear Brothers and Sisters in Baltimore Presbytery,
As some of you know, last September, I accepted a part-time position with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) as the Catalyst for Refugees and Asylum. PDA is the office of the national PC(USA) responsible for carrying out the General Assembly mandates related to refugee and asylum ministries - on behalf of congregations as well as equipping and supporting local congregational response.
Below you will find information about how you can help Syrian refugees through the Peace & Global Witness Offering (which replaces the earlier Peacemaking Offering). The vast majority of Syrian refugees are in the Middle East and Europe: over 2 million in Turkey, 1 million in Lebanon and more than 600,000 in Jordan; Germany is expected to receive almost 1 million this year. The US has resettled fewer than 2,000 Syrians since the war began.
For a quick overview of the Syrian situation and US refugee resettlement, please see, "Syrian Refugee Crisis and Presbyterian Response" provided by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. And read on for information about a Special Offering to support the Syrian refugees:
Part of this year's Peace & Global Witness Offering will be used to support Syrians displaced by violence. In order to help you interpret this work in your congregation, the Office of Special Offerings has provided a minute for mission and bulletin insert specifically lifting up these efforts. These materials can be accessed here.
In addition, if your congregation is so moved by the tragedy of the Syrian crisis, the 25 percent of this offering that is traditionally retained by the congregation can be contributed to our shared witness to Christ's peace among Syrians displaced by violence by including it when you remit your gift.
During this Season of Peace, the Syrian refugee crisis has provided a striking example of the need for Christ's peace in the world. If you need additional information or materials for the Peace & Global Witness Offering, call 800.524.2612 or email.
Please prayerfully consider how your church can respond to the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Or, in solidarity with them, be a place of welcome for refugees of other nationalities who are already coming to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
The Case for God
These days it is not unusual to hear people criticize Christians as being non-conformist fools who refuse to accept evolution and deny the nature of the material world. Many of the people who critique us this way do not truly know us. They assume that all Christians believe the world is only 4,000 years old and that dinosaurs walked with Adam and Eve. Most of us are intelligent people who understand the language of the Bible is not the same as the language of science. We don't see a conflict in the poetry of Genesis and prose of physics.
St. Augustine, the fifth century bishop of Hippo, was the first major theologian of the Church. In his writings he made it clear that when Christians are interpreting the Bible, they should rely upon the science of the day. Demanding metaphysical explanations for events that can be explained readily by the knowledge of physics, doesn't make us faithful martyrs in a God-less world. Augustine would suggest that this type of denial only means we are stubborn!
Karen Armstrong faces a daunting task of explaining the development of faith over the eons in her book, The Case for God. Here is an excerpt talking about Augustine's beliefs:
Karen Armstrong - The Case for God
Whenever the literal meaning of scripture clashed with reliable scientific information, Augustine insisted, the interpreter must respect the integrity of science or he would bring scripture into disrepute. And there must be no unseemly quarreling about the Bible. People engaged in acrimonious discussion of religious truth were simply in love with their own opinions and had forgotten the cardinal teaching of the Bible, which was the love of God and neighbor. The exegete must not leave a text until he could make it “establish the reign of charity,” and if a literal understanding of any biblical passage seemed to teach hatred, the text must be interpreted allegorically and forced to preach love. (122-123)
We value the truth of the Bible while learning from the teachings of science. We have the best of both worlds.
October Happenings :
"Josh and The Big Wall: A Lesson in Obedience"
Friday, October 9th at 6:30 P.M.
Pizza - Popcorn - Drinks
Bring your blanket and a friend and get ready for a fun time !!!