Extending Jesus' Table Into a Hungry World
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According to Fairfax County Schools, approximately 28 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals.  That’s more than 1 in 4 students in our area whose families struggle to buy enough nutritious food to feed everyone.  Members of food insecure families worry about running of out of food in their cupboards before their next paycheck and some even resort to eating less so that everyone in the family can be fed. 

How are we called to respond?  Well, Jesus commands us to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” so if I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is going to come from, shouldn’t I help my neighbor to do the same?  Jesus repeatedly responds to the hunger of the crowds with abundance, multiplying the loaves and fishes so that all are filled with food left over.  And every Sunday, we gather at the Lord’s Table, where all are fed, no matter their income or status. 

So at Abiding Presence, we follow Christ in serving our neighbor through many food ministries, including the Children’s Weekend Meal Program, in which we deliver packages of food and snacks to a local elementary school. There they are distributed to children who receive free and reduced meals at school during the week, so that they do not go hungry over the weekend. 

However, during the summer, these children are receiving neither school meals nor these bags of food.  So, in partnership with the PTA and school, we started a monthly “pop-up” food pantry this summer at the school. Although we have a food pantry at the church, we realize that some may not have the time or transportation to make it to Abiding Presence so instead of asking them to come to us, we are going out to meet them at a location that is within walking distance and in their neighborhood.  Jesus didn’t wait in the synagogue for people to come to him but instead, he traveled and went out to meet people wherever they were: in their homes, at the village well, around their dinner tables.  As His disciples, we are called to do the same.

So I invite you to be part of making a difference and serving our neighbor through our food ministries.  Help make our pop-up food pantry possible this month!  We’ll meet at 8:30 am at Abiding Presence to load food and tables and then we'll head to the local elementary school, where we'll setup shop from 10-11:30 am. Let Pastor Heidi know if you can make it for all or part of the morning, donuts and coffee will be provided! Together, we can serve and love our neighbors, being the church in the world and extending Jesus’ table to all.

Children's Ministry Registration

Please help us plan for fall by registering your children ages 3 through Senior High for Sunday School and youth groups. We ask families to please fill out a new registration form each year so we can stay updated on allergies and other needs for each child. Registration is available here. Contact Children and Family Minister Sara Dyson with questions. 

Participate in Worship in a New Way!
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Worship.  What images does that word bring to mind for you?  What words, what associations? 

Some of us may think about our favorite part of worship: the music, receiving communion, the prayers, or maybe, just maybe, even the sermon sometimes!

How do you see yourself, your purpose, your role in worship?  Is worship something we attend, like a concert or a play? Or is it something more?

Liturgy, the fancy word for worship, is a Greek word that means “the work of the people,” or “public service.”  Worship is not a passive activity but a gathering in which we all participate, we all have a role, whether it’s as a greeter, an usher, singing in the pews or up front, playing an instrument, lighting the candles, washing the communion ware or reading scripture. 

This fall, we will have a new opportunity for you to participate in worship at Abiding Presence.  I invite you to consider becoming one of our Assisting Ministers. Each Sunday service, one assisting minister will lead a few prayers, the Apostle’s Creed and will assist with communion. Our goal is to have enough assisting ministers that they would serve about 5 Sundays a year.

As Lutherans, we often speak of the priesthood of all believers, that we are all called to be part of God’s ministry: the hands and feet of God in the world.  Having assisting ministers will be a chance for us to visibly model in our service how we are all called, not just the pastors, to pray, proclaim our faith and serve God and others in our daily lives. 

Please prayerfully consider trying it out and contact Pastor Heidi if you’re interested or have any questions!

Peace,

Pastor Heidi

Looking for a Church Home? There's a Place at Abiding Presence for You!
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There are lots of reasons people look for a church home. Sometimes it is because of a move, a life event or a transition. It could be that you keep hearing that still, small voice of God in your heart or have a nagging feeling that maybe there's more to life than what you are currently experiencing. Maybe you want to find a community and friends. Perhaps you have a child who you would like to have baptized or are recently engaged and looking for a church in which you can get married. You (or your kids) might have big questions about God and are looking for answers. Whatever your reason, we're glad that you are looking for a church home and we're especially glad you are looking at Abiding Presence! 

Each weekend in worship at the time of Holy Communion you will hear our pastors say, "This is the Lord's Table and all are welcome here." When we say all, we really do mean ALL. No matter who you are, where you have been or what you are up to now, you will find a place of welcome in this faith community. 

We worship at three worship services each weekend - Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:45 and 10:15 a.m. (the late service moves to 11:00 a.m. on September 9). Each service has its own distinct feeling to it, which means there is probably a service here that fits the style of worship that connects most with you. You can read more about our different services here.

Our church is filled with people of all ages and offers an intergenerational experience. We have lots of babies, lots of retired people and a whole bunch of people of all ages in between. At Abiding Presence, we think one of the unique opportunities the church offers is the chance for people of different ages and backgrounds to come together as a faith family. 

If you have questions, need support on your faith journey or just want to learn a bit more about the church, Pastor Keseley, our Senior Pastor, would be happy to connect with you. We hope to see you at Abiding Presence soon!

 

Meredith Keseley
MOPS for Fall 2018
 Our 2017-2018 MOPS Group

Our 2017-2018 MOPS Group

2018-2019 MOPS Registration Form

2018-2019 MOPS Meeting Dates

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers and is a Christian faith-based moms group for moms of birth through kindergarten age kids.

Moms get connected to a community of other moms who meet together to laugh, cry and embrace the journey of motherhood. MOPS is meant to help moms be more honest, feel more equipped and find our identity by journeying alongside one another. MOPS moms gather the 2nd & 4th Mondays of the month from 9:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. to talk, eat, pray and grow in faith. While moms are doing all of that, kids are in their own age appropriate children's program right down the hall. MOPS moms also get together for "Mom's Night Out" and get their kids together for organized playdates throughout the month.

In our children's program, kids have circle time, learn a Bible Story, do activities, enjoy free play in the classroom and/or on the playground, sing songs, have snack and experience God's love for them. Our Classroom Policy is a helpful guide. We hire teachers and assistants who have experience working with kids and who can create a loving environment. We have a music teacher who comes in each week to lead 25 minute music classes for our older classes. We know that in order for moms to feel good about having "mom time" that their kids need to be in a fun and safe environment.  

If you're a mom of a birth through kindergarten age kid looking to connect with other moms, MOPS is for you! 

If you are interested in being part of MOPS for the 2018-2019 school year, please contact Pastor Keseley

You can pay MOPS fees online using the button below. When checking out, please enter your name and which fee you are paying in the “Add instructions to church if needed” section.

2018-19 MOPS Online Payment Fee Amounts
Annual Registration Fee (paid by everyone each year): $52
Semester dues (no MOPS kids): $52
Semester dues (one MOPS kid): $77
Semester dues (two MOPS kids): $102
Semester dues (three MOPS kids): $127

Meredith KeseleyFamilies
Backpack, Bag and Briefcase Blessing
  Illustrated Children's Ministry  with coloring by an Abiding Presence youth

Illustrated Children's Ministry with coloring by an Abiding Presence youth

It's time for our annual backpack, bag and briefcase blessing on Saturday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. Bring to worship whatever bag you take out into the world to do God's work. There will be time during the service to bring your bag forward to be blessed and receive a blessing tag to remind you "God's Got Your Back!" 

All are welcome to attend this family friendly service! It will last approximately 55-60 minutes and include scripture, singing, prayers and Holy Communion. 

Our professionally staffed nursery will be open during the service for children who may not be in a worshiping mood. 

United Against Hate
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As I shared with you a few weeks ago, our brothers and sisters at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax were recently vandalized. Their sanctuary was desecrated with racial slurs, swastikas and the bold statement, "You are all going to Hell." The cushions on their pews were slashed - every single pew. Glass was broken. Cords to their sound system were cut. Just a year prior similar instances occurred at their neighboring religious institutions the Jewish Community Center and Little River United Church of Christ. All of these religious groups share in common a message to the community of welcome for all people. 

On Wednesday evening Pastor Eickstadt and I participated in the event "United Against Hate: an Interfaith Response to the Words and Actions of toward Bethlehem Lutheran Church." We gathered with members of Bethlehem, religious leaders of numerous faith communities, elected officials and a variety of people from the Fairfax area moved by what had happened. Together we sang, prayed, lit candles and showed a unified front against hate in our community. We prayed for our community and for the perpetrators of the vandalism because, after all, Jesus is clear that we are to pray for our enemies. 

Earlier in the day, I had been talking to someone about my evening plans who remarked, "Really? That kind of hate happens here?" Unfortunately, the answer is that it is does. Further, it is up to us to stand up against it. 

Each worship service before Holy Communion is distributed you hear the invitation, "This is the Lord's Table and all are welcome here." When we say "all" we mean all. All people are welcome to gather around the Lord's Table. All people are welcome to be part of the faith community of Abiding Presence. We are not gatekeepers, but witnesses to a God whose love knows no bounds. Together, let us be a church united against hate so that we can build a community around the church that is united against hate as well. 

God's Work. Our Hands. - More Hands are Needed!
 Photo by  Tim Marshall  on  Unsplash

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

As the old Sunday School rhyme reminds us,
The church is not a building.
The church is not a steeple. 
The church is not a resting place.
The church is the PEOPLE!

You are the church and as our church seeks to do God's work, we need more hands! Our ministry continues to grow and we need to grow the number of people involved in leadership. Please prayerfully consider serving in one of the following ways:

Sunday School Teachers (Sunday mornings from 10:00-10:45 a.m.)
Our Sunday School classes are growing by leaps and bounds, and we are adding yet another classroom of kids this fall! Consider volunteering to be a Sunday School teacher this fall!  No previous teaching experience needed, only a love of Christ and helping to share that love with the children at Abiding Presence.  Sunday School starts on September 9, and substitutes are always available if you are out of town.  Please talk to or email Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) if you are interested.

Wednesday Night Teachers (Wednesday Evenings from 6:45-7:45 p.m.)
We are looking to reenvision what Wednesday night youth and children programs look like, and I am looking for 2-3 high schoolers or adults who would commit to teaching with me on Wednesday evenings from 6:45 p.m. - 7:45 p.m. I'll provide the curriculum, guidance, and help, but you'll have the freedom and creativity in the classes. Please talk to Sara Dyson,  Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) to get more information or if you're interested.

Meal Providers Needed We have some AP members who occasionally are in need of having meals provided due to medical issues. They have someone who helps provide most of their meals, but is not always available due to business travel. During these periods, we would like to be able to help them out by providing prepared, frozen meals that they can just take out of the freezer and reheat. Since this will be an ongoing need, we would like to have a volunteer team who would be willing to help out when contacted. You would have at least several days ad- vance notice. If you can assist in this way, please contact Kathi Schultz in the church office, 703-455-7500.

To volunteer for the following worship assistant opportunities, contact Pastor Keseley

Usher 
Time commitment in addition to worship: 15 minutes before and after service
Job: Greet worshipers at sanctuary doors, pass out bulletins prior to the service, collect offering, dismiss people to communion and make sure sanctuary is picked up following service
Who Can Volunteer:  Senior High through Adults; Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

Greeter
Time commitment in addition to worship: 15 minutes before service
Job: Greet worshipers at the main church doors
Who Can Volunteer: Anyone with a smile! Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

Lay Reader
Time commitment in addition to worship: None
Job: Read the assigned lesson which is emailed to you in advance
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults

Communion Assistant
Time commitment in addition to worship: None
Job: Distribute either the pouring chalice or common cup at the time of communion
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults

Altar Guild
Time commitment in addition to worship: Approximately 20 minutes before or after the service
Job: Set up or clean up the altar from Holy Communion
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults; Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

ENewsMeredith Keseley
Our Children's Ministry is Growing!
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Our children's ministry is expanding and we need YOU to step up to help! We are growing our children's ministry this fall, which means we also need to grow the number of adults and high school youth who are involved in leadership roles. At the moment, there is the need for teachers for two key ministries - Sunday School and Wednesday Night Gathering. Please prayerfully consider how you can support our growing ministry as you read the below requests from our Children and Family Minister, Sara Dyson

Sunday School Teachers (Sunday mornings from 10:00-10:45 a.m.)
Our Sunday School classes are growing by leaps and bounds, and we are adding yet another classroom of kids this fall! I'm in desperate need of Sunday School teachers, so I ask you to consider the following:

Do you have a passion for children?  Would you consider helping the next generation of kids learn about the love and stories of Christ and explore the Bible?  

Consider volunteering to be a Sunday School teacher this fall!  No previous teaching experience needed, only a love of Christ and helping to share that love with the children at Abiding Presence.  Sunday School starts on September 9, and substitutes are always available if you are out of town.  Please talk to or email Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) if you are interested.

Wednesday Night Teachers (Wednesday Evenings from 6:45-7:45 p.m.)
We are looking to reenvision what Wednesday night youth and children programs look like, and I am looking for 2-3 high schoolers or adults who would commit to teaching with me on Wednesday evenings from 6:45 p.m. - 7:45 p.m. I'll provide the curriculum, guidance, and help, but you'll have the freedom and creativity in the classes. Please talk to Sara Dyson,  Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) to get more information or if you're interested.

Are You All In?
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My 7th grade math teacher had a large banner hanging in her classroom that read, "Math is not a spectator sport!" While math was not necessarily a "sport" in which I loved to participate as a middle school age kid, the sign made quite an impression on me. I often think of that sign and wonder if I can get one for our narthex that reads, "Church is not a spectator sport!" 

The word "liturgy" is the formal name for our worship. It originally comes from two Greek words - work and people. Liturgy is, therefore, the work of the people! It is the work of everyone who gathers together to form the faith community. Because of this meaning, church, especially worship, cannot be a spectator sport! 

As we head into the fall, Pastor Heidi and I are working on ways to engage more people in our worship. As you might recall from our stewardship campaign, this was one of the goals our congregation lifted up heading into 2018. At the moment, we need more people to sign up to volunteer to be ushers, greeters, lay readers, communion assistants and altar guild members. All of these positions are things that are done during the worship service and simply require you to come a few minutes early or stay a few minutes late. At the bottom of this article, you'll find a brief description as to what each job involves. If you're willing to get involved, simply send me an email and I'll get you connected. 

I am especially looking for someone to step up into the volunteer role of "Worship Scheduler." Quarterly, the Worship Scheduler would put together and send out a schedule of volunteers. Weekly, they would look over the schedule prior to Wednesday to make sure that all of our volunteers have agreed to serve and are in place. The time commitment would be about an hour a week with it taking a bit more time once a quarter to get the schedule out. You could do everything at home from the comfort of your computer with an occasional email or phone call back and forth with me and the office staff. If you're reading this thinking, "That's something I could do!" then I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for jumping all in at Abiding Presence to make our worship and liturgy the work of our entire faith community!

Usher 
Time commitment in addition to worship: 15 minutes before and after service
Job: Greet worshipers at sanctuary doors, pass out bulletins prior to the service, collect offering, dismiss people to communion and make sure sanctuary is picked up following service
Who Can Volunteer:  Senior High through Adults; Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

Greeter
Time commitment in addition to worship: 15 minutes before service
Job: Greet worshipers at the main church doors
Who Can Volunteer: Anyone with a smile! Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

Lay Reader
Time commitment in addition to worship: None
Job: Read the assigned lesson which is emailed to you in advance
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults

Communion Assistant
Time commitment in addition to worship: None
Job: Distribute either the pouring chalice or common cup at the time of communion
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults

Altar Guild
Time commitment in addition to worship: Approximately 20 minutes before or after the service
Job: Set up or clean up the altar from Holy Communion
Who Can Volunteer: Senior High through Adults; Families with young children are encouraged to sign up as a family so parents and kids can serve together

Our Children's Ministry is Growing!
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Our children's ministry is expanding and we need YOU to step up to help! We are growing our children's ministry this fall, which means we also need to grow the number of adults and high school youth who are involved in leadership roles. At the moment, there is the need for teachers for two key ministries - Sunday School and Wednesday Night Gathering. Please prayerfully consider how you can support our growing ministry as you read the below requests from our Children and Family Minister, Sara Dyson

Sunday School Teachers (Sunday mornings from 10:00-10:45 a.m.)
Our Sunday School classes are growing by leaps and bounds, and we are adding yet another classroom of kids this fall! I'm in desperate need of Sunday School teachers, so I ask you to consider the following:

Do you have a passion for children?  Would you consider helping the next generation of kids learn about the love and stories of Christ and explore the Bible?  

Consider volunteering to be a Sunday School teacher this fall!  No previous teaching experience needed, only a love of Christ and helping to share that love with the children at Abiding Presence.  Sunday School starts on September 9, and substitutes are always available if you are out of town.  Please talk to or email Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) if you are interested.

Wednesday Night Teachers (Wednesday Evenings from 6:45-7:45 p.m.)
We are looking to reenvision what Wednesday night youth and children programs look like, and I am looking for 2-3 high schoolers or adults who would commit to teaching with me on Wednesday evenings from 6:45 p.m. - 7:45 p.m. I'll provide the curriculum, guidance, and help, but you'll have the freedom and creativity in the classes. Please talk to Sara Dyson,  Children & Family Minister (sara@abidingpresence.net) to get more information or if you're interested.

Meredith Keseley
Take a Mental Health First Aid Training

You know what to do when someone is bleeding or choking, but do you know what to do when they are experiencing a mental health crisis? 

Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach how to help someone who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.

The 2-day training is led by a certified instructor with Fairfax County. Registration is $25 and includes breakfast & the course workbook.

Class size is limited so register as soon as possible at: abidingpresence.net/mhfirstaid

Thank You to our VBS Volunteers
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Wow!  God is amazing! This past week was Rolling River Rampage Vacation Bible School at Abiding Presence and our theme verse was “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2).  We opened our doors each day to 130 VBS participants, and over 65 adult and teen volunteers. The children rotated to six stations each day and learned through Rapid Reminders to find Adventure, Acceptance, Joy, Rest, and Peace on the river. To say it was a week filled with love, lots of laughter, fun, and GOD is an understatement!  Though exhausted, I am filled with joy from the faces that I’ve seen, the testaments that I’ve heard, and the total and complete generosity of so many volunteers.  It was our largest VBS to date, but it surpassed every expectation and hope that I had, and flowed seamlessly through the week. God was with us through the rapids this week for sure!

I am truly humbled by the volunteers both adults and teens.  They made this week possible, and couldn’t have happened without them! If you see Michael Hulett, please express your gratitude to him. This is his second year as VBS Director, and he has been working around the clock these past weeks to put together the most amazing VBS program, arriving early, staying late, and rolling with the unexpected punches, all with his two girls along for the ride. Being a VBS Director is not for the faint of heart but Michael is a natural, and I cannot thank him enough for being the director of VBS this year. We are so blessed to have his gifts at Abiding Presence!  Debbie Cockey also stepped up this year as the Assistant VBS Director, and with twin toddlers at her side, has put in an incredible amount of invaluable work and time to help make VBS such a huge success! I also cannot thank all of the station leaders, crew leaders, registration volunteers, “church grandmas”, setup and cleanup folks, and teen volunteers that donated so many hours of their time this week, and in preparation for this week. I am awed to see so many folks step up to the call of needing volunteers. Even going as far as taking a week of “vacation” from work during VBS so that they can help. Please thank all of the volunteers, both teens and adults, if you see them!! It is not the most restful of weeks, but I can only hope that they find it as rewarding as I do.

While Vacation Bible School may have come and gone for 2018, I am stopping to reflect on the amazing church that I am blessed to call home.  This past week has just solidified for me what it means to be “the church” and how much of an impact we as adults and teens can make both in each other’s lives, but also in the lives of all the youth and children in our church and community.  I am so thankful for everyone who helped to make VBS such a huge success!

In Christ,
Sara Dyson

CoverMeredith Keseley
Summer Choir July 22 and August 26

Come one, come all--adults AND youth (rising 6th graders and older)--no experience necessary! ALL are welcome, whether or not you usually participate in choir.

SUMMER CHOIR is on Sundays July 22 and August 26!

Join us at 9:45am in the Sanctuary to sing at the start of the 10:15am service.
(Even if you already attended the early service, why not stay a little longer and sing!?)

We're singing a simple harmony version of a couple songs, and helping lead the hymns. If you'd like to look at the sheet music or listen to individual party-by-part practice tracks ahead of time, tap here or the button below.

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David ChavezMusic
Vacation Bible School Starts on Monday
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On Monday morning we will welcome 130 children along with a group of teenage and adult helpers to  Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Abiding Presence. VBS is one of the highlights of our summer experiences. It's a week filled with games, crafts, music, science, Bible stories, prayers and lots of fun. This year we'll be exploring the theme verse, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." (Isaiah 43:2). 

There's still time to volunteer to help! If you are a rising 7th grade youth or older we could use you assisting at a station or leading a crew of kids around. If you're an adult, we could use you either as a crew leader or as one of our "snack time conversationalists." Contact Sara Dyson,  Children and Family Minister, or Michael Hulett, VBS Director, to volunteer. 

If you aren't able to join us for Vacation Bible School, please hold our VBS ministry in your prayers next week. 

Investing in Our Youth
 The Abiding Presence group getting ready to head out for a day of service in the city of Houston.

The Abiding Presence group getting ready to head out for a day of service in the city of Houston.

What do you get when you put nearly 31,000 Lutheran high school youth and their adult leaders together in a stadium for worship? The answer is a whole lot of communion stations with thousands of communion assistants!

What impacted me the most about our experience last week at the ELCA Youth Gathering, however, wasn't the 31,000 people. Instead, it was the 12 youth and one young adult from Abiding Presence in whose company I was privileged to travel. Here's what I can tell you about the young people of Abiding Presence:

First, we have good youth! We have youth who are passionate, energetic and faithful. The youth of Abiding Presence are funny, compassionate, respectful and kind - to one another, strangers they encounter, new friends they meet while standing in line and to their adult leaders. I genuinely enjoyed being around our youth, even when we were standing outside in a line for over an hour in the sweltering Houston heat. 

Second, we have youth who aren't easily discouraged! When I was tired, our youth were still going strong. When I was hot, our youth weren't complaining one bit. When the food trucks all ran out of food the first night of the gathering, we had no snacks and we didn't think we were going to be able to find food until much later that evening, our youth said, "Don't worry! We'll be fine!" and kept on going. More than that, though, when faced with the current problems and challenges of our world, our youth are energized to make a difference. We learned a new phrase, "God has grace for that!" In the midst of our mistakes, failures, hurt and pain, God has grace. The youth of Abiding Presence embody that grace. 

Finally, we have youth in whom we should invest! I believe that among our current Senior High youth we have the future pastors, bishops, church council presidents, Sunday School teachers, ushers,  youth ministers and musicians of the church. They may not serve at our church as adults, but they will serve at a church somewhere and make a difference in that community because of the way their faith was formed here at Abiding Presence. 

We're not just investing in our youth for the future of the church, though. We are investing in them because they have gifts and skills that we need today. I learned so much from our young people while traveling with them. I know they can mold and shape our church today. 

I encourage you to take a few moments to chat with some of our youth who attend the ELCA Youth Gathering to learn more about their experiences. I also invite you to give a big "Thank You" to Matt and Sara Dyson for accompanying the youth to the gathering with me. The theme was "This Changes Everything" and we have all come back believing this to be true!

Greetings from Houston

Dear Members and Friends of Abiding Presence,

Greetings from Houston and the ELCA Youth Gathering! I’m here with over 30,000 other Lutheran senior high youth and adults serving, worshiping, praying, learning and playing under the theme “This Changes Everything.”

While I’m here, however, I am mindful of what is happening at home in our community. Many of you have probably now heard the news about the destruction, vandalism and racist graffiti that happened at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, our neighboring ELCA congregation in Fairfax, on Tuesday (more info in this news story from NBC4). Over the past two days I have had the chance to talk and pray with many of my pastoral colleagues who are here in Houston. We have reached out to the church’s new pastor who just started this week to offer our support and solidarity.

It’s not just the pastor who needs our support, however, but the entire congregation of Bethlehem and our larger Fairfax community. The church council worked over email today to write a letter showing Abiding Presence’s commitment to walk with the people of Bethlehem. We will invite all of you to add your signatures to the letter this weekend. May it serve as a sign of our solidarity to proclaim God’s love and welcome for all people with the people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and the other congregations in our Metro-DC Synod.

At the Youth Gathering Thursday evening, our youth were “to stand up and rise into God’s purpose.” May we stand up together and rise into God’s purpose to let love – not hate – be the loudest voice.


Here is the text of the letter from the Council:

Dear Members and Friends of Bethlehem Lutheran Church,

We are deeply saddened to hear of the recent vandalism at Bethlehem. We stand in solidarity with you in proclaiming welcome and hospitality to ALL people. We commit to joining you in working to, as our youth have heard at the ELCA Youth Gathering this past week, “Letting love be the loudest voice.” 

We will be surrounding you with our prayers as you gather for worship this weekend. We also want to offer to help with whatever you might need moving forward. Our congregation stands ready and willing to help you. We are the body of Christ together. 

We look forward to continuing to witness together to our community about God’s love, grace and mercy for all people.

Blessings,

The Congregation Council of Abiding Presence

Youth Choir & Band Nats Game Outing!

[Deadline Extended!]
As of the end of the school year...

Rising 6th graders are now officially eligible to participate in Youth Band and Youth Choir at Abiding Presence!

To officially welcome them to the groups (and just for a super-fun thing to do together!) we're going to a Washington Nationals home game vs. the Atlanta Braves at 1:35pm on Sunday, July 22.

We'll meet at Abiding Presence right after worship and head over together. Everyone should bring money to get lunch at the ballpark. Afterward, we'll visit an incredible ice cream place nearby that makes their own ice cream daily.

All rising 6th-12th graders interested in Youth Band and/or Youth Choir are welcome to join us! (You don't have to commit to anything long-term.) If you'd like to join us, please email David Chávez (Music & Worship Minister) at dave@abidingpresence.net by the end of the day on Monday, July 2 so we can get a final count for ordering tickets.

Ticket prices will likely be around $15 to $23 depending on how many people go, but do not let cost be an obstacle to coming! If you need help purchasing a ticket, we will figure it out; just talk to me. I'm really excited about the work Youth Band and Youth Choir have already done, and the potential for musical growth and worship leadership among this year's amazing group of students!

For more information about Youth Choir and Youth Band, email dave@abidingpresence.net or visit abidingpresence.net/youthmusic.

Help Needed for Vacation Bible School
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Help is still needed with Vacation Bible School from July 9-12 from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. We are in need of both station leaders and crew leaders. Station leaders prepare a workshop that is visited by small groups of kids. Crew leaders lead small groups around to the various stations. Station leaders need to be adults. Crew leaders can be teens and/or adults. If you can help, please contact Children and Family Minister Sara Dyson

Joint letter from ELCA Presiding Bishop and leaders of other faith traditions

Below is a letter from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and faith leaders from faith traditions across the country in response to separation of families at the border. Church leaders from many traditions are speaking out in a unified voice. 

Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the wellbeing of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news. 

We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.  

As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.  

His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian 
Diocesan Legate and Director of the Ecumenical Office
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

Mr. Azhar Azeez President
Islamic Society of North America 

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera
Bishop of Scranton, PA
Chair, Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

Senior Bishop George E. Battle, Jr.
Presiding Prelate, Piedmont Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Bishop H. Kenneth Carter, Jr. 
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church (United States)

The Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer
General Minister & President
United Church of Christ

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Rev. David Guthrie
President, Provincial Elders' Conference
Moravian Church Southern Province

Mr. Glen Guyton 
Executive Director
Mennonite Church USA

The Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rabbi Rick Jacobs
President
Union for Reform Judaism

Mr. Anwar Khan
President
Islamic Relief USA

The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller 
President, Provincial Elders' Conference
Moravian Church Northern Province

The Rev. Dr.  J. Herbert Nelson II 
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rabbi Jonah Pesner 
Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

The Rev. Don Poest
Interim General Secretary

The Rev. Eddy Alemán 
Candidate for General Secretary
Reformed Church in America

Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick III 
Presiding Bishop, The Eighth Episcopal District
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

The Rev. Phil Tom 
Executive Director
International Council of Community Churches

Mr. Jim Winkler
General Secretary & President
National Council of Churches USA

Senior Bishop McKinley Young 
Presiding Prelate, Third Episcopal District
African Methodist Episcopal Church

CoverMeredith Keseley