Friends and Neighbors,

Last Sunday’s New Testament reading from Ephesians 4 emphasized the theme of “growing up into the likeness of Jesus Christ.” I have continued to think about this theme as we quickly approach a new season of learning opportunities provided by the church for faith development and spiritual formation. “Growing up into the likeness of Christ” suggests that who we are in Christ is never static. There is always new insight available as we mature in our faith and seek to be active and engaged disciples, picking up the cross of daily life (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). As we grow older we may slow down, but I don’t think we ever retire.

When I graduated from Louisville Seminary there was a friend and fellow student seventy-two years young who was also awarded a Master of Divinity Degree. For three years, she had attended classes, participated in Clinical Pastoral Education, and successfully passed her ordination examinations. What she taught me (and others) on that Sunday afternoon was that at seventy-two, life is not over. There is always something to learn, gifts to share, opportunities available to experience the grace of Christian community. Growing into the likeness of Jesus never stops.

In the next few weeks you are going to hear more about Christian education venues for “growing into the likeness of Christ.” First, you are going to receive a new, updated Program Catalog outlining small group Bible studies and discussion groups available for all ages within our community of faith. You are invited to read and study this valuable resource. Second, our annual Christian education “Kick-Off” is scheduled for Sunday, August 23. Displays will be available in the Fellowship Hall and around the campus sharing information about how you can get involved in a particular group that fits your needs, schedule and gifts. Third, there will be presbytery-wide events available throughout the year bringing together friends and neighbors from sister churches to share in learning and teaching workshops. The “Big One” is Saturday, August 29, at the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church. Titled “Gather Around the Table,” STEPS is a major event for church members, parents, teachers, youth leaders, elders, deacons, Church educators, worship leaders, musicians, youth, administrators, mission leaders, Presbyterian Women, Presbyterian Men, choir members, and YOU!

Some time ago, the late John Leith, Professor of Theology at the Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, shared the following perspective, “The great task of the church today is to preach and teach the faith in a secular and pluralistic society, to hand it on in the Christian community.” (from Generation to Generation, Westminster/John Knox Press, © 1990, page 119) In the coming months, may we as members and friends of the Sea Island Presbyterian Church seek to think like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, and be like Jesus as we “grow up into the likeness of Christ.”

Peace and Grace,

+ Pastor Steve