God calls each and every one of us to serve. We are called to be Christ’s hands, feet and voice in the world today. Regardless of your age, ability or experience, God is calling and equipping you for service.
Here at Abiding Presence, our vision is for every person in our faith family to be engaged in some form of service both in the church and out in the world. This year as part of our “Making Firm the Foundation” vision, we want to help ensure everyone is equipped to listen to God’s call. Further, we want to raise up service opportunities so that people can get connected. In order to do this and track our progress toward every member serving, we will be distributing a “Time and Talent Survey” to all adults and youth in 7th-12th grade. Elementary and preschool kids will have the opportunity to fill out a special form just for them in worship this weekend. We hope to have the surveys returned prior to worship the weekend of March 2/3 so we can celebrate our faith families’ commitments to service for this coming year.
If you have any questions or would like the opportunity to talk further about listening to God’s call and/or service opportunities, please contact Pastor Keseley, Pastor Eickstat or any member of the church staff. All of us would love to talk with you and/or help get you connected with lay leaders in our congregation.
Small Groups will meet for five weeks during the season of Lent to explore what Jesus’ seven last words on the cross mean for us. We hear the Seven Last Words of Christ sung as part of Good Friday services but what do they mean to us? Are they remembered only to tell us about Jesus’ suffering? Or do they tell us a bigger story about God and ourselves?
Small groups are hosted by members of Abiding Presence at their homes or at the church. They start the week of March 10th and run through the week of April 7th. A short book will guide our discussions but there is also a DVD we’ll be watching in the small groups so even if you don’t have time to do the reading, you will still be able to participate!
Welcome to Abiding Presence! We're glad you are here! Join Pastor Keseley and others from the church leadership team for a family-friendly dinner to learn about the church and connect with others in our faith family. We'll eat some food, share a bit about the congregation and answer questions. Kids are most welcome to attend. There's no need to bring anything but yourself as we'll provide all the food. If you are interested in formally joining the congregation, we will have paperwork available to do so. If you have any questions or dietary restrictions, please be in touch with Pastor Keseley. RSVP to Pastor Keseley or on the evite.
What is faith? How would you describe your faith in one sentence? What difference does your faith make? These are some of the questions I posed to our pre-confirmation 6th graders this past Wednesday night as we sat in my office talking together. “This is getting deep!” one of them said to me as we wrestled with the idea of faith together. Indeed, faith can sometimes seem like one of those deep conversation topics that is hard to grasp.
In the biblical book of Hebrews, faith is described as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (11:1).” I encourage you to commit this verse to memory, highlight it in your Bible and recite it often. It’s short, sweet and to the point. Faith is both hope in God’s promises for the future and conviction, or trust, in all of God’s works that we cannot see.
The pre-confirmation youth and I talked about how God gives us all the faith we need. We don’t have to go out searching for faith. We don’t have to worry about if we have enough. God is the giver of faith and God always provides. This conviction that God has and will give us faith is something in which we can take comfort.
But, that’s not all! Faith is like a muscle. We all have it, but only some of us exercise it. When we exercise our faith, it gets stronger. We can feel it in a more pronounced way. It becomes visible to others. Faith becomes something we think about and engage with through the exercise of worship, prayer, scripture reading, service and life together in Christian community.
As I’m passionately discussing exercising faith with our 6th graders, one of them looks up at me and says, “So, basically, pastors are body builders.” Immediately, there was lots of laughter from all of us! But, it is not just pastors who are called to be body builders, it is all of us in this faith community who are called to exercise our faith and coach others along in exercising their faith, too.
I continue to be amazed by the faith of our young people and the ways that God is working in and through them. I’m thankful for all of the teens and adults in our congregation who are serving as body builders of the faith to help our children learn how to exercise their faith muscle. I hope you will prayerfully consider how God might be calling you, too, to get involved in body building in our faith community.
Join us for a space of stillness, silence, music, and prayer in our first quarterly contemplative adult worship service—Sunday, February 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. In Psalm 46, we hear “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Being still, though it sounds simple, is really a tall order in our fast-paced world of Northern Virginia! So come as you are, set down your load of worries, cares and to-do lists and just be present with God and one another. Contact Pastor Heidi with any questions and invite others who may enjoy a calm and quiet space to pause and reflect (plus another opportunity to walk the labyrinth).
Abiding Presence is here to support those in our community in need of food assistance. We host a monthly “Neighborhood Pantry” in the community room at local apartment complex as well as a food pantry on the 4th Saturday of the month at Abiding Presence. If you or someone you know is in immediate need of food assistance, please call the church office at 703-455-7500.
We welcome donations of non-perishable food items from the congregation and community. They can be dropped off at the church at anytime during the week or left outside the main entrance.
During the month of February we will be stocking the ECHO food pantry with the goal of one ton of food donated by the congregation and community.
Many of us have heard Jesus' last words from the cross every year on Good Friday but what do they mean? What do they tell us about Jesus and God? What do they mean for us?
Come explore these questions and more in one of our Lent small groups! Meet with other Abiding Presence members in hosts' homes or at the church for a fun time of connection and community.
All groups start the week of March 10 and continue for five weeks. Come try it out, even if you aren't able to make it every week, that's okay, come when you can!
Sign up below and contact Pastor Heidi with any questions!
Wednesday, February 6 at 12:00 noon
All seniors in the congregation and community are invited to join our OWLs group. Please contact the church office if you are planning to come. The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will join us after lunch to share with us real, live owls to share with us more about the birds.
Sunday, February 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Join us for a memorable evening of fun and dancing at our 3rd annual Daddy Daughter Dance! While this is geared towards 4th grade and younger, girls of all ages are invited to come with their dad or favorite adult. There will be music, dancing, desserts, drinks, and a photo booth. Tickets are $12/couple, $6 for each additional girl. Pre-registration is required and tickets can be purchased here. Financial assistance is available, please email Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister.
All proceeds and donations from the dance will benefit the Abiding Presence Senior High youth who will be attending a Senior High Work Camp in Savannah, GA this summer.
This will be a night you and your daughter won't forget and an incredible way to celebrate and enrich the relationship between daughters and their dads or favorite adults in their life. Girls are welcome to dress as fancy as they feel comfortable for the dance. Dad or favorite adult, dress clothes please.
The calendar has now turned to February, which means that it is time for us to get to work stocking the ECHO food pantry. While we support ECHO’s work and collect for their food pantry throughout the year, February is the month when Abiding Presence takes responsibility for ensuring there is plenty of non-perishable food, toiletries and household products on hand to meet the needs of our neighbors. Stocking the ECHO food pantry is February is a longstanding Abiding Presence tradition. It is also more important than ever as the needs of our neighbors increase.
So, what can you do? Bring food, toiletries and household products each and every time you come to church this month. When you’re at the grocery store stocking your pantry, replacing your shampoo or picking up laundry detergent - buy double and bring one set to church for ECHO. If you’re grabbing cans from your pantry, make sure they haven’t expired. If you have children or grandchildren, take them with you to the store to help shop and then bring the items to the donation bins at the church. It’s a great way to instill a sense of service from a young age.
Our goal is big - ONE TON of food, toiletries and household products! The fact that February is the shortest month of the year doesn’t deter us from setting a big goal. We know that working together we can meet the needs of our neighbors and ensure that the ECHO food pantry is well stocked.
Join us this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary for our annual meeting to celebrate our ministry this past year and look ahead to what God is calling us to do next. We will vote on the budget and elect church council members.
Sunday School Liftoff will take place at 9:50 a.m. Sunday School classes will then meet as usual during the annual meeting with the 3rd-6th graders meeting in Bailey Hall with Katy, our Senior High Youth Director.
Abiding Presence is here to support members of the congregation and community who are impacted by the government shutdown.
Prepacked bags of food are available outside the main entrance of the church. They can be discretely picked up anytime. Grocery gift cards are available from the church office and/or by contacting Pastor Keseley.
Mainly Music is our parent/caregiver and child interactive music program that meets on Tuesdays. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and the music starts at 10:45 a.m. There is usually a suggested donation of $5/family, but families impacted by the shutdown are invited to be our guests - no donation expected - through the end of the shutdown.
Wednesday Night Dinner
We serve dinner every Wednesday from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m. There is usually a freewill donation for dinner, but families impacted by the shutdown are invited to be our guests - no donation expected - through the end of the shutdown.
Financial assistance may be available. Contact Pastor Keseley for more information.
Emotional Support, Conversation and/or Prayer
The Abiding Presence sanctuary is always open for personal prayer and/or reflection. Members of the clergy are also available for conversation, prayer and or support. Contact Pastor Keseley or Pastor Eickstadt for more information.
Check out our “Labyrinth Week” activities for the week of January 28 as a way to relieve stress, connect with others and refocus.
Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to get more involved in church? To sing more? To get closer to God in worship? Or, do you just love to sing? Our adult choir is open, and fun!
Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. from September to May. During rehearsals, we sing the music for upcoming Sundays and special events, going over any tricky parts bit by bit. We also laugh a lot, and eat delicious snacks!
The choir sings music of all eras, from Medieval and Renaissance to contemporary, accompanied by varied instrumentation (a cappella, organ/piano, orchestra, etc.). As worship leaders during the Sunday morning 11:00 traditional service and various special services, the choir is integral to supporting congregational participation in worship. If you love to sing, this is a great way to be involved! Choir is open to all adults, high school students, and (with director permission) middle schoolers.
Learn more at abidingpresence.net/music
The Church Council and I are excited to share the news that Abiding Presence is launching the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” through the ELCA Fund for Leaders in Mission. The ELCA Fund for Leaders scholarship program supports students of tremendous promise attending ELCA seminaries. By making seminary more affordable, the ELCA Fund for Leaders enables more future ministers to go to seminary and helps them graduate with less debt, empowering those whom God calls into ministry to go and serve as the church needs and the Holy Spirit leads.
As we celebrated our 40th anniversary earlier this year, we remembered the many pastors our congregation has lifted up over the years. We have sent six sons and daughters of the congregation to seminary. As an internship congregation, we have also provided training for six seminarians. Looking to the future, I believe we have several future pastors, deacons and church leaders who we are raising up in our midst.
Rev. Mark Olsen, one of the sons of the congregation who Abiding Presence sent off to serve the larger church as a pastor and now the Associate Director for the ELCA Fund for Leaders, will be will us on Sunday, January 27 at the congregational meeting to celebrate the launch of our Fund for Leaders scholarship. For those of you who would like to visit with Pastor Olsen and his wife, Kari, they will be worshiping with us at the 8:45 a.m. service as well.
On a personal note, this week I will celebrate my 13th anniversary of ordination. When I began seminary in 2002, I received a full tuition Fund for Leaders scholarship. The scholarship was not only allowed me to graduate seminary without having to take out loans, but was also a constant reminder of the support of the whole ELCA of my call to ministry. On the hard days of ministry, I still find strength in the support and financial investment the larger church was willing to pour into me. I live out my ministry hoping that the larger church sees a return in their initial investment in me.
As I look ahead to another year of ordained ministry serving Abiding Presence, I am also mindful of who will step into my shoes in the future. The need for innovative, faithful and willing pastors to serve ELCA congregations is great. I wonder how the Holy Spirit might be working in the lives of our young people and even, too, our older people to answer that call. One of my seminary classmates was in his early 70s when he began seminary, so you’re never “too old” for the Holy Spirit to call! I believe that in our next 40 years together that we will send off even more people to seminary to serve the larger church as pastors and deacons and I’m delighted that we are taking the steps now to prepare to be able to fund their theological education for the sake of the whole church.
We’ll be talking much more about the “Abiding Presence Lutheran Church Fund for Leaders Scholarship” at the café sessions this weekend and at the annual meeting next Sunday. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to be in touch if you have any questions about it.
Maybe you've heard of "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel, but you probably haven't heard of "Labyrinth Week" at Abiding Presence! Join us for our first ever "Labyrinth Week," as we start the new year with an opportunity to embrace an ancient form of prayer.
"The labyrinth is a sacred place set aside for you to reflect, look within, pray, negotiate new behavior. The rhythm of walking, placing one foot in front of the other, empties the mind, relaxes the body and refreshes the spirit. Follow the pace your body wants to go." (Read more about it at Veriditas.org) It is an active way of praying and being in conversation with God.
We will be bringing in a full size labyrinth and be setting it up in the sanctuary. The labyrinth is one of the ways we are looking to fulfill our vision this year of providing opportunities for people to experience "Sabbath rest" in the midst of our busy lives.
There's no experience necessary to walk the labyrinth. It is an equally powerful experience for people who are new on their faith journey and people who have been on it a while. If you have any questions, contact Pastor Keseley.
**Please note that shoes and bare feet are not allowed on the labyrinth, so wear or bring a pair of socks**
Monday, January 28 from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. OR Tuesday, January 29 from 9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Kick off "Labyrinth Week" at Abiding Presence with Pastor Keseley as we gather to learn about the ancient prayer practice of labyrinth walking, walk the labyrinth and then reflect on the experience together.
Morning Prayer around the Labyrinth
Tuesday, January 29 from 7:00-7:30 a.m. AND/OR Thursday, January 31 from 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Gather around the labyrinth for a brief service spoken service of morning prayer followed by the chance to walk the labyrinth in prayer.
Open Labyrinth Times
Monday, January 28 from 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 29 from 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, January 30 from 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and 6:45-7:45 p.m.
Thursday, January 31 from 7:30 - 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The sanctuary will be open for quiet labyrinth walking at any of the above times. Self-guided resources will be available for those who would like to use them.
And, coming Feb. 10, our first quarterly Contemplative Worship Service:
We know that the federal government shutdown is impacting some in our faith family. If you are in need of support or assistance during this time, please reach out to Pastor Keseley. If you know of people in the community who could benefit from food assistance, we are happy to confidentially and discretely provide food bags anytime.
If you have listened to the weather recently, you know there is talk of snow this weekend. At this point, we anticipate holding services as scheduled. If there is a need to cancel Sunday School and the Abiding Table, we will do so by 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning and announce it on our Facebook page, website and with a congregational email. If more snow comes in than predicted and we need to make a decision about worship, we will announce on those same platforms.
We are putting plans in place to keep the parking lots and sidewalks clear for anyone who can safely make it to church if there is snow. If you are willing to be part of the Sunday morning snow shoveling team, please contact Pastor Keseley or simply show up with a snow shovel in hand.
If there is snow, then be sure to check our Facebook page as we will likely “go live” Sunday morning with our worship services so you can tune in from home. If there’s a LOT of snow then we might even go for an “Abiding in the Snow 2.0” video service.
Stay tuned and stay safe!
As some of you may have heard, I had some minor post-holiday foot surgery to take care of an old injury that flared up and wouldn’t heal on its own. At this point, I’m well on the way to recovery with the minor inconvenience of not getting around quite as easily as I normally do. I’m back in the office and leading worship and looking forward to seeing all of you.
While I’m always grateful to be part of our amazing faith family, I’m especially grateful in times like these. Having so many offers for help from people who I knew I could call on was invaluable. Thank you!
Here at Abiding Presence, we’re always looking for ways to support each other and the community. We’re excited to be launching a new support group this month for parents and caregivers of children with ADHD that is affiliated with CHADD, a national ADHD organization. The first meeting will be Thursday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. and is open to people in the church and community. The support group was the idea of one of our members who was looking to connect with other parents of children with ADHD. Abiding Presence was happy to help provide encouragement and resources to make the group a reality.
Our Parents of Teens Group will also resume meeting this month on Wednesday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m. This group is facilitated by a licensed social worker from the community who comes in to provide conversation and guidance for parents raising teenagers. We also host a monthly Metal Health Family Support Group facilitated by a pastoral counselor.
If you have an idea for a way that we can better support one another and you’re willing to help take a lead in making it happen, please reach out to me. The church and I are here to provide encouragement and resources. I’d love to see a relaunch of our meal ministry to provide meals to members of the congregation who may be recovering, grieving or welcoming a new family member. I also know there are plenty of other support groups that might be helpful for us to launch or community groups with which we can connect. There are lots of possibilities, we just need people with a bit of time and passion.