Thursday, December 11, 2008

This can't be legal

There is a residential apartment building in Western Pennsylvania that has the following sign mounted on each door from the stairways into the hallways that lead to the apartments.


I just have to believe that the person who paid for these signs might not have been alert to the difference between "locked" and "closed." (In fact, none of the fire doors is locked, notwithstanding the stern written order. Some of the doors are often found open, perhaps left that way by people who are totally baffled about what the sign might actually mean.)

The desire to securely close doors has its place. Certainly, a fire door keeps residents safe when it is closed and slows the spread of a fire to other zones in the building. But locked? Should residents caught in a zone that is on fire have to remember to bring along a key to the fire door in order to escape? As long as they also remember lock the fire door behind them?

This sign has prompted my thinking about the church's responsibility for evangelism, which seems to be in radical contrast to the regulatory desire to bar the doors against whoever seems to be an unfamiliar threat. I pray that the church will rise to its high calling of being a "fire exit" for those who need its message of hope.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Some cool upcoming events

star from one of the Advent banners hanging at The United Presbyterian Church of New Kensington, PA, Advent 2008 During the past week I learned about a couple of cool upcoming events. So I thought I would fiddle with Zoundry Raven (my blogging software) to see how it could handle the XHTML code for describing the events in the hCalendar microformat.

This Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 3:00 PM EST, Bruce Reyes-Chow (Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the PCUSA) will have an online conversation with Beau Weston about his paper "Rebuilding the Presbyterian Establishment." The event is Moderator Musings, Episode 2: Conversation with Beau Weston, and anyone can watch it live online at

Early next year on February 19, 2009, from 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM, Pittsburgh Presbytery will sponsor a convocation on "Our Freedom of Religion at Risk: A Presbyterian Crisis" to be held at the Beulah United Presbyterian Church, 2500 McCrady Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15235. The speakers will include Joseph Small, Beau Weston, Euan Cameron, Mark Tammen, and Jeff Tindall. More information is available at

These two events are now on my calendar.

And, as a side note, I've discovered that it is a real benefit that Zoundry Raven allows me to edit the XHTML code.

Powered by Zoundry Raven

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Pittsburgh Presbytery meeting at Parkwood

photo of creche display in the Parkwood United Presbyterian Church, Advent 2008Yesterday Pittsburgh Presbytery met at the Parkwood United Presbyterian Church. There were 116 ministers and 98 elders representing 60 churches present.

We began the meeting with a worship service in which we sang from five different Advent hymns (with a single verse from three of the hymns). I had in the back of my mind that R. Bryan Lassinger would be playing the organ, and it was a special joy to me to hear him playing throughout the service. It was also a pleasant surprise to notice that there is a church in Pittsburgh Presbytery that uses the Revised Standard Version as its pew Bible. Hallelujah!

During the service, Robert Anderson, our interim pastor to the presbytery, invited a number of people to come forward and tell about where they had seen God working. This was an important kind of sharing at any meeting, but especially appropriate during Advent when we are encouraged to be watchful.

Jay Lewis, the Stated Clerk, introduced a committee that is reviewing the booklet of proposed amendments to the Book of Order and of proposed ecumenical statements. The committee is developing a process for the Presbytery to discuss and vote on these matters.

During the meeting the presbytery adopted a 2009 budget that is shy of $3 million, and we approved the proper changes in the terms of call for the ministers on the presbytery staff.

We also took a variety of actions to elect or appoint individuals to positions within the presbytery, and to approve calls to pastors. We commissioned David Van Diercksen to serve as the U.S. Coordinator of Puentes de Cristo, a border ministry in Reynosa, Mexico. We granted honorable retirement to Johnnie Monroe, and celebrated his ministry. We approved the oral parts of trial for Thomas Hall.

During the meeting the Presbytery declined (by a vote of 54-120) to approve a resolution on examination process proposed by the session of the Bellefield church.

All in all, I thought it was a good meeting.

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