Sunday School Registration
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Registration is up and ready for our fast approaching Sunday School kickoff on September 8th! Please click here for the form, or follow the link below. We are asking all parents to register their children at their earliest convenience, and we will have forms available at church on Sunday as well. Please contact Michelle Galdames-Henry, Children and Family Minister with any questions or comments. We can’t wait to see you all!

Backpack Blessing

Help new and returning students start the school year with confidence by joining us at our annual backpack blessing! Backpacks will be blessed at every service the weekend of August 24-25. Bring along backpacks, briefcases, purses, etc. to receive a blessing from our pastors as the new year begins! We look forward to seeing you.

  • Saturday, August 24 at 6:00

  • Sunday, August 25 at 8:45 and 10:15

A Message from our Music & Worship Minister

I was inspired by the middle school and high school youth of our church as they returned from two different trips this summer; both groups were immediately eager to share with me and with all of us the music they learned! Some of the songs were new to me, some were songs we sing regularly, and some songs I hadn't heard for many years. Whether it was familiar or new music, hearing our youth sing and play these songs with the energy and enthusiasm of their shared camp experiences was infectious. Senior high youth who had served in home repair ministry in Savannah, Georgia eagerly accepted my invitation to help lead our congregation in worship on August 4, and they did a fantastic job. Soon, we'll have a group of confirmation camp youth share some of the music they sang in worship as well.

Let's never forget to appreciate the youth and adults who volunteer their time and talents to help lead us in worship week after week. Take a moment to mentally imagine yourself in the position of getting up in front of people and making music for the Lord--it takes courage! I love seeing the way our church treats our young people, not as the church of tomorrow but as the church of today. And, our young people have responded accordingly; they inspire me when they bravely choose to try playing their musical instrument or singing into a microphone in front of a hundred people for the very first time. What this tells me is that God's spirit is moving in our community, and we are receptive to that spirit when we build a community where people of all ages feel safe and loved enough to take the risk of stepping out in faith.

As always, the doors to participation are wide open! Our youth music rehearsals this year consolidate to one rehearsal from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesdays starting on September 11. This rehearsal will now encompass both Youth Band and Youth Choir, and will often now include more sectionals and more personalized instruction. To that end, I'm in the process of seeking a few more adult volunteers with musical experience who would be able to help me lead these sectionals. If you're interested (even if you can only be there some weeks), please get in touch! If your youth is ready to sign up to participate, you can register using the same form in which you sign up your students for Sunday School and Wednesday night activities. You'll find the registration form at under the "Learn" menu (tap "Registration"), or you can go directly to

Our adult choir rehearsals (open to all adults and high school youth, and to middle school youth who have obtained my permission) are on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. starting on September 10. There is no audition, and it's a fun and multi-generational group... and we have snacks!

There are lots of other ways to be involved as well, including praise band, tech team, brass and orchestral music, and lots of organizing and behind-the-scenes work. For more information on how to serve God and our church through music and the arts, visit, come find me after church or email me at Looking forward to a great year of worshiping our amazing God with our hearts, hands, and voices!


A Message from our Pastor for Discipleship

After spending some time away on vacation, it is good to be back! I am extremely excited to be planning for some fantastic ministries and events this fall, including those we are implementing as part of the mental health ministry grant we just received from the ELCA. As I shared last month, that grant will allow us to more closely partner with NAMI-Northern Virginia, a local mental health organization, to make some amazing resources and events possible in our community in the coming months. 


NAMI-Northern Virginia has been our partner in mental health ministry since we began it three years ago. Our Mental Health Team is supporting them by participating in their annual walk on Saturday, September 21. We invite you to join us for a fun morning of music, activities and contests at the Tyson’s Corner Center on the Plaza and a great opportunity to help raise mental health awareness and funds for education, support, and advocacy in Northern Virginia! Plus, the Mental Health Team will have Duck Donuts and hot coffee waiting for you!

Sign up to walk with the Mental Health Team on the sign-up board in the narthex or online at: Our mental health ministry is changing lives and offering hope to so many in our community; we invite you to be a part! Consider walking with us on September 21 as well as attending a mental health team meeting (3rd Mondays at 7:00 p.m.) or joining our new mental health book club (1st Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m. starting October 2). Details are at Together, we can make a big difference and support each other and our neighbors in Christ’s love! 

Pastor Heidi

Gearing Up for Sunday School

I want to start by saying a huge thank you to you all for welcoming Jon and me so quickly into your church, families, and community! I have loved getting to meet so many of you and look forward to getting to know more of you as the school year starts up. 

As we look forward to the upcoming school year, we also anticipate the beginning of Sunday school. I am so excited to coordinate this year’s Sunday morning classes. We will be starting up September 8th with puppets, songs, crafts, and Bible stories ready to enjoy. 

This year, we have so many students that we hope to have separate classes for every grade. We have been so richly blessed with lots of little hearts and minds to pour into, but in order to fulfill our big goals, we need a handful more Sunday school teachers. You don’t need any former experience, just a desire to let kids know that they are loved by their Creator. If you have questions or would like to get involved, please reach out to me. I would love to chat with you more about my dreams for our already thriving children’s ministry! 


7th-12th Grade Youth Group Information Night

Wednesday, July 31 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Mr. Jon, our new Youth & Family Minister, is excited to meet all of our 7th-12th grade youth and families. We will be grilling burgers and hot dogs while Mr. Jon talks to parents and students about the new youth ministry program. Bring your 7-12th graders, a side dish or dessert, and that is all that you’ll need. The night will start at 6pm and end around 8pm. Feel free to email Jon with any questions or to RSVP. Look forward to seeing you there!

Meredith KeseleyYouth
What a Week!

What a week at Abiding Presence! Our senior high work trip team of 17 headed south to Savannah, Georgia for a week of home repairs while our confirmation camp team of nine headed to the mountains of Maryland for a week at Mar-Lu-Ridge. Their experiences have been plentiful!

Our confirmands joined a group of 60 confirmands from various churches spread across Maryland and Virginia. They hiked, zip lined, learned about what difference Jesus makes in the world, sang, worshiped and bonded together. They got all of the fun of church camp with a bit of confirmation thrown in there, too.

Our senior high youth split into three teams to serve low income homeowners in Savannah. One team built a fence and two others replaced roofs. As one of our Senior High on the work trip said, “I feel like helping this lady with her roof helps us connect with God, being in God’s creation, a mirror of God.” They also worshiped with the hundreds of others at the work camp and opened their eyes to the many ways God is at work in the world, even in places like Krispy Kreme Donuts.

None of this would be possible without our amazing volunteers and staff. The Senior High Work Team was led by volunteer youth advisers Phil, Craig and Breanna. When you see these three, please stop and say, "Thank You" on behalf of our faith family.

Our Confirmation Camp team was led by Mr. Jon, our Youth and Family Minister. Having been with the group on Monday, I can assure you that their experience was as great as it was because Mr. Jon was there. Mr. Jon has jumped right into our congregation to form relationships with our students, help them navigate situations and engage in faith formation.

When you see our students, please stop them and ask them what their week has been like. Let them tell you stories about donuts and songs about black socks. Listen to what brought them joy and how they overcame the obstacles that they faced. I am proud of our students for stepping outside of their comfort zone and encounter God in new ways this past week.

To you, the church, I want to say, “Thank You,” to you, too. Neither of these experiences would have been possible without you. Financial contributions were made by the congregation in order to invest in these experiences for our students. The congregation also has invested in our new Youth and Family Minister staff position to ensure that these experiences aren’t just summer highlights, but continue to be relevant into the year as our students come together to learn, serve and build relationships. Thank you! I cannot wait to see what comes next for our students and for our congregation.

Ukulele Songwriting Camp is Aug 5-7

Abiding Presence is proud to partner with Sound Impact to host
Ukulele Songwriting Camp for ages 5-10.
9:30 am - 12:30 pm daily

Discount code: UkePromo

You may have seen the announcement in our bulletin these last few weeks, but I just wanted to send out a quick reminder message, as there are almost enough people registered for the camp to run!

Instructor Jessica Sammis (whom you may have heard playing cello at our contemplative services) has offered our families a discount code which brings the tuition down from $199 to $129. Use the discount code UkePromo at checkout to save $70. Discount is valid now through 7/26, so don't wait. For more information and to register your child, go to

I am not exaggerating when I tell you: the instructors for this are truly excellent musicians, and cool people. If you've been looking for an affordable, high-quality, fun, and creative arts experience for your kids this summer, this is it!

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord!
David Chávez, Music & Worship Minister

P.S. Sound Impact is a non-profit group of professional musicians doing a variety of awesome work in music education and outreach, including educational residencies and performances in schools and juvenile detention centers, masterclasses and instrument donations in Costa Rica, and more. Read more about their important work and the musicians who do it at

David ChavezMusic, Children
Notes of Welcome from our New Staff

Jon Galdames-Henry, Youth & Family Minister

Hello, Abiding Presence I am your new Youth and Family Minister! My name is Jon Galdames-Henry. I just moved back to the Northern Virginia area after living in Philadelphia for school. I am so excited to get to know you all. I am especially excited to begin creating and growing a youth ministry dedicated to the faith formation of our middle school and high school students! I look forward to learning more about this amazing community and come alongside you all. Please feel free to reach out to me at with any questions, comments, or concerns. I look forward to talking with you.     

Michelle Galdames-Henry, Children & Family Minister

Hello, Abiding Presence! My name is Michelle Galdames-Henry and I am excited and honored that I get to come on board as the new Children and Family Minister. I have already had an amazing welcome from many of you and had so much fun experiencing VBS with all of the children and volunteers! My husband, Jon and I just moved to this area from Philadelphia, and what a joy that we have been given the opportunity to serve this congregation together. I cannot wait to get to know our new church family better. You can reach me at I look forward to talking with you soon!  

ENewsMeredith Keseley
"Sort-Of" Farewell and Godspeed to Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister

This weekend we will bid "sort-of" Farewell and Godspeed to Sara Dyson, our Children & Family Minister for the past five years. While Sara is stepping down from her position on staff, she and her family will remain active members of Abiding Presence. So, we will send her off  "sort-of" with our prayers and blessings as she steps down from the staff. Then we will welcome her back into her role of being an active Abiding Presence member. 

When Sara stepped into the position of Children's Minister five years ago, it was a 10 hour a week position that was relatively easy to work around her desire to be a stay-at-home mom. Under Sara's leadership, our children's ministry has grown significantly. Sara increased the number of Sunday School classes, added new family ministry opportunities and welcomed many new children and families to the life of our congregation. The 4-5-6 youth group became a reality along with reshaping Wednesday Night Gathering to include our senior high youth as teachers of our elementary schoolers. Just two weeks ago, Sara's leadership envisioned a two session Vacation Bible School that allowed us to welcome more kids into VBS than ever before. 

Along with all of this growth in ministry has come an increase in the number of hours of the Children & Family Minister position. This past January the position went to 30 hours a week. As Sara lived into it, she realized that it no longer worked with being the stay-at-home mom she has always felt called to be. We honor and respect her first calling to being a mom and look forward to the ways she will continue to help shape our church as a faithful member.

I am grateful for Sara's leadership, enthusiasm and flexibility. She has poured her time and energy into making Abiding Presence the vibrant, active and family friendly congregation it is today. She is a gifted teacher to our children and mentor to our youth. While she will be missed on the staff, we are glad to have her and family remain part of the Abiding Presence family. 

Please join me this weekend in thanking Sara for five years of well done and faithful ministry as our Children & Family Minister. We'll be celebrating with cake between services and a send off during both of the Sunday morning services. 

Thank You to Our Vacation Bible School Team

What an out of this world experience we’ve had this past week during Vacation Bible School! Throughout the week, our kids and volunteers learned that they can explore where God’s power can take them by His power at work within them! Each day they went beyond with faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and hope, while having fun learning about bible stories such as Queen Esther, Daniel and the Lion’s den, and how Jesus comforted his friends on his way to Emmaus by means of science, crafts, games, snack, music, and bible storytelling. Our adult and teen volunteers modeled what it means to follow Christ by helping the younger kids to learn, pray, and know Jesus.

We asked our church adults, teens and community volunteers to step up in a big way, and wow, did they ever!! To Mars and Beyond was an amazing VBS experience for over 185 kids, supported by more than 80 adult and teen volunteers! I am incredibly grateful for the volunteers, both adult and teens, who gave up a week of vacation from work, a week of hanging out with their friends, or catching up on cleaning the house, to help share God’s love with our kids. They made this week fun, exciting, and a lasting memory for so many kids, some of whom this is their first experience with our church, and hearing about God!

Kimberly stepped up as our VBS Director this year and did an over the top job organizing so many kids and volunteers with contagious enthusiasm and positivity! New this year, we launched a double session VBS, adding in an afternoon session for elementary aged kids due to the overwhelming registration response that we’ve experienced in previous years. Kimberly rose above and beyond this occasion, meeting every challenge with a smile and a creative solution. I am deeply grateful for Kimberly and our volunteers! VBS would not be possible without you, and it is a joy and honor to work with people who truly exemplify what it means to live out Jesus’s call to us and share His love. If you see Kimberly or any of our wonderful volunteers this week, PLEASE join me in thanking them for equipping children during VBS to see where God’s power can take them, and spreading so much love and joy along the journey!

-Sara Dyson, Children & Family Minister

Welcome to Our New Children & Family Minister and Youth & Family Minister

It is with great joy that we share with the news that we have hired Michelle Galdames-Henry as our Children and Family Minister and Jon Galdames-Henry as our Youth and Family Minister.

As you have hopefully heard, Sara Dyson, our current Children and Family Minister, has decided to step down from her 30 hours a week position in order to focus her time and energy on being a mom. We will celebrate her ministry with us on Sunday, July 21 and look forward to continuing to have her and her family as part of the Abiding Presence faith family. After much discernment, research and prayer, the church council decided to move forward with two full time positions – a Children & Family Minister and a Youth & Family Minister.

We launched a national search for these positions and had the opportunity to interview several qualified candidates. What stood out to the interview teams about Michelle and Jon was their ability to articulate their faith and what it means to be followers of Christ in the world today. Jon talked about coming to faith in middle school when he started attending youth group for the first time and the profound impact youth ministry had on his life. Michelle talked about growing up in the church and realizing in high school that working in a church was a career possibility. Both of them have a passion for engaging children, youth and families in hands-on service to help us live out our core value of being “God’s hands and feet in the world.” They have experience, both independently of each other and together, in organizing ministry, leadership and working with volunteers.

Michelle and Jon graduated from Eastern University with degrees in Youth Ministry. They are recently married and moved to Springfield within the past month. Jon grew up in Centerville, Virginia, so he knows the area well.

We extended formal employment offers to Michelle and Jon this past Sunday afternoon and they started first thing Monday morning so they could experience Vacation Bible School (VBS). Following VBS, Michelle will then have the opportunity to overlap for two weeks with Sara Dyson, our current Children and Family Minister, in order to facilitate a smooth transition. Jon will be able to chaperone our confirmation youth at confirmation camp later this month. We’re grateful for their willingness to quickly jump into ministry with us.

Please join us in welcoming Michelle and Jon to the congregation and to these positions.

ENewsMeredith Keseley
Mental Health Ministry Grant

Earlier this year, our Mental Health Team partnered with NAMI-Northern Virginia, a local mental health organization, to submit a grant proposal to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to expand our mental health ministry. I have exciting news, Abiding Presence has been awarded a $10,000 grant by the ELCA for our mental health ministry plan!  

The grant will allow our Mental Health Team to continue to make a difference by working with NAMI-Northern Virginia to do the following:  1. hire a part-time family support partner to work on-site with families navigating the mental health system; 2. offer a support class for family members of those mental illness at Abiding Presence and 3. Offer more events and training to educate, support and raise awareness in our community. These funds allow us to be able to offer childcare so that more people are able to attend and access these vital programs and resources.  

Our Mental Health Team has been engaged for the past three years in a ministry of welcome, accompaniment and hope for persons with mental illness and their loved ones. Our Mental Health Ministry has brought healing and hope and has changed lives. With this grant, we’ll be able to expand our partnership with NAMI-Northern Virginia and offer more events, trainings, classes and support in our congregation and community.  

Over 50 churches submitted proposals to the ELCA and Abiding Presence is one of the 25 churches chosen to receive funding.  We are grateful for this amazing opportunity to continue changing lives and bringing hope in our community! Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks and contact Pastor Heidi or a member of the mental health team if you’d like to learn more or get involved! 

Looking for a Church Home? There's a Place for You Here!
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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!

Log College Project
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As many of you have hopefully heard, Abiding Presence is one of 12 churches in the country who have been chosen to be part of Princeton Seminary’s Log College Project Community of Practice. The Log College Project is focused on innovating the church’s ministry with youth in ways that build new ministries that take theology and young people seriously. This past week seven of us from Abiding Presence had the chance to spend five days on the campus of Princeton Seminary learning, dreaming and discerning with the other 12 churches.

Our intergenerational Design Team ranged from a rising 9th grader to retired members of our congregation (and several of us in between as well). We participated in workshops, worshiped, ate ice cream and talked—a LOT—about what we heard God calling us to do to address the problem of the amount of stress and anxiety facing our high school students today.

The picture below is our team on our last night receiving our grant check for $15,000. Now, however, comes the hard work! We are equipped, excited and enthusiastic about innovating our ministry in a way that creates both physical and relational space for youth experience God’s love and find their purpose as God’s hands and feet in the world.

I would ask that you please start praying specifically for our Log College Project ministry as it begins to unfold. If you want to hear more about what we’re up to, anyone from our Design Team would love the chance to talk with you. We’re also looking for some more amazing adults who feel called to come alongside youth to serve as mentors and conversation partners. If God might be nudging you in this direction, please let us know.

We are a Faith Family, Together

Here at Abiding Presence we talk a lot about being a “faith family.” One of the core values we discerned together this past spring captures that idea with the phrase, “At Abiding Presence we are a faith family, together.” But what exactly does that mean? Last weekend, I saw it in action at, of all places, the pool.           

My daughter is on swim team this summer, which means we spend a lot of our time at the pool. While we were parading into a pool with the rest of our swim team for an away meet last week, one of our church kids from the other team came running up to me to say hello. We stopped and chatted for a moment. I had no idea they are swimming at this particular pool. We enjoyed a bit of friendly banter back and forth about our teams, both of which have sharks as our mascot.  

When the time came to swim, however, our church family cheered my daughter on just as enthusiastically as if she had been on their team. She got out of the pool to a big high five from the dad who was serving as a timer from the other team. I switched my allegiance, too, cheering appropriately for the opposing team when our church kids were swimming.

When we got back in the car after the meet my daughter said to me, “Who were those people? Were they from church?” “Yes,” I said, as I went on to explain who they were. In her mind, people who she doesn’t know who do things like that are – of course – from church. They are part of our “faith family.”

Being a faith family is not just something we do at church. It is a way of being together out in the world. It is the joy of raising kids together, cheering on the opposing team because they are our team, too, stopping to say hello to one another in the grocery store and just doing life together. Being a family of faith means that we don’t have to go it alone in the world. We follow Jesus together in the sanctuary and in our daily lives.

So, when you see me at the next swim meet, come say hello so I can switch my allegiance at the appropriate moment. When you spot someone from church out in the world – walking through the pentagon, standing in the slug line, at the grocery store or shopping at the mall – stop and say hello. “Don’t you go to Abiding Presence,” is a great opening line. Be a faith family, together.

And, if you happen to need some family support, don’t hesitate to reach out. We cannot always see people’s needs, but we have a big family that is ready to offer support anytime. Just say the word and someone will be there.


VBS Help Still Needed

We still need 6 more adults - 3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon - to volunteer in order to make our Vacation Bible School a success. Please consider whether or not you can step up to fill one of these roles! VBS is the week of July 8-12 from 9:00 - 12:00 noon (morning session) and 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. (afternoon session). We also still need as many teen helpers as we can get! Teens, bring your friends! If you can help, please reach out to Sara Dyson, Children and Family Minister, or Kimberly, our volunteer VBS Coordinator.

ENewsMeredith Keseley