Worship Assistants Needed

Worship assistants are always needed, but especially during the summer months. Summer is a great time to try out and learn about how to be an usher, greeter, assisting minister, lay reader, communion assistant, acolyte, crucifer or member of the altar guild. If you are willing to serve (we’ll train you on the spot), please email our the church office to get connected to our volunteer worship assistant coordinator.

Holding the Mission Team in Prayer
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Our 2019 Mission Team will be on the ground in the Dominican Republic June 15-21. Together, we will hold in our prayers the eleven travelers who are going to serve on behalf of us all.

The picture is of the church building being built by Luz Divina. Three summers ago, our Mission Team worked on the foundation of the building. Next week they will work to continue raising the structure.

Stay tuned for updates!

Life Together at Abiding Presence

As hopefully you have heard by now, we are getting ready for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Abiding Presence. VBS is a week of fun, faith, friends and learning about God’s love. Recently, however, concerns have been raised with Group Publishing’s Roar VBS curriculum, especially in regards to racial and cultural insensitivities. Sara Dyson, our Children and Family Minister, our VBS Director and I have spent the past few weeks wrestling with these matters and discerning how to move forward.

While the publisher has recently released revisions to the curriculum, we still do not feel comfortable using it. Therefore, we have made the decision to switch to a different VBS curriculum. One of our core values at Abiding Presence is “All are Welcome,” which helps us to create an environment where we can share the message that God loves each and every one of us. We believe that the new VBS curriculum we have chosen, To Mars and Beyond, will encompass our core value beautifully. 

For those of you who have already signed up to participate or volunteer, there are no changes that you need to make at this time. We’re looking forward to a great week when we launch VBS on July 8.

I want to make sure that the congregation is aware of our position on the curriculum and the switch that we have made. As always, we seek to be a faith community that creates a positive and loving environment for everyone. Being this kind of welcoming community takes intentional work.

One of the quotes on my office wall attributed to Martin Luther says, “We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it...” Together, may we keep growing toward what God is calling us to do and be as the people of God at Abiding Presence.

If you have any questions or want to talk further about VBS curriculum, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Statement on Changing of VBS Curriculum

As we get ready for VBS this summer, we want to reach out to you about concerns have recently been raised with Group Publishing’s Roar VBS curriculum, especially in regards to racial and cultural in-sensitivities. Our VBS team has spent the past few weeks wrestling with these matters and discerning how to move forward. While the publisher has recently released revisions to the curriculum, we still do not feel comfortable using it.  

We have, therefore, made the decision to switch to a different VBS curriculum. One of our core values at Abiding Presence is “All are Welcome,” which helps us create an environment where we can share the message that God loves each and every one of us. We believe that the new VBS curriculum we have chosen, To Mars and Beyond, will encompass our core value beautifully.

For those of you who are already signed up for VBS, there are no changes that you need to make. At this time, we simply wanted to make you aware of our position on the matter and the switch that we have made. We hope this creates a positive and loving environment for everyone. If you have any questions in this matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of us.

We’re looking forward to a great week of VBS!


Sara Dyson (Children & Family Minister)

Kimberly (VBS Director)

Pastor Keseley (Senior Pastor at Abiding Presence)

Meredith Keseley
Outdoor Worship and Picnic
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Sunday, June 2 at 10:15 a.m.

We're worshiping outside on Sunday, June 2 for our annual Outdoor Worship Service and Picnic. There will only be one Sunday morning service at 10:15 a.m. (Saturday worship will happen as usual at 6:00 p.m.) Grab a lawn chair or use one of the many folding chairs we'll have set up. After a 45 minute worship service with Holy Communion, we'll have a picnic. There will be a moonbounce by the playground for the kids. The church will provide hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks. Each family is asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share. We welcome all from the community to join us! It's a great service to invite a friend or neighbor to come along.

A Story, an Update and a New Opportunity

Happy Summer! As we head into summer, let me share with you a story, an update and a new opportunity.

First, the story...Ben, my husband, and I were sitting around the other night when he said to me, “Did you see that someone on the Living In Burke Facebook page is looking for a church?” Ben knows that I regular watch pages like this for people who are looking for churches. It is a great way to get the word out about Abiding Presence and invite the community to come check us out. Before I could even open the app on my phone, though, Ben followed up, “Oh, never mind! Your people already covered it.” Sure enough, there were multiple posts from all of you sharing your experiences at Abiding Presence and inviting this person to come join us.

In this season of moves and transitions, there will be many people looking for a church. They could be your friends, new neighbors, new coworkers or random people you don’t know on social media. I encourage you to be talking about Abiding Presence and inviting people to come see what we are all about. Why? It’s not just because we have something special happening in our faith family (although, I think we do!). Even more importantly, it is because others are searching. They are actively seeking a place to connect, to grow in faith and to hear the good news of God’s love for all people. When we offer an invitation we are helping them to find that community for which they are searching.

Second, the update...as you have hopefully heard by now we have two open positions for which we are hiring - a Children & Family Minister and a Youth & Family Minister. I have been actively working my contacts, learning how to us LinkedIn (come connect with me there!) and talking to various people in the children and youth ministry world. Thanks to all of you who have helped to spread the word about the positions. I’ve had initial phone conversations with nine people, most of whom will now be moving on to first round video conference interviews with our interview teams. The hope is to have the positions hired in the next six weeks and for people to begin in the positions on September 1. Please be actively praying for the people who God is preparing to join our ministry team.

Finally, a new opportunity. This fall we will launch our fifth year of MOPS, our midweek ministry to moms and children ages birth through kindergarten. New this year, we will be adding a Moms Next group, geared toward moms of 1st grade and older kids and teens. This will allow us to expand the ministry to all moms in our congregation and community. If you are interested in participating in MOPS or Moms Next, there is more information and registration on our website.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you! Thank you for all the ways you support ministry at Abiding Presence. You are the church! What we are able to do as a faith family is only possible because of your involvement. I am grateful for the privilege of being your pastor!

Vacation Bible School

July 8-12

Children ages 3 (and potty trained) through rising 5th grade are invited to join us for a week of fun and faith at Vacation Bible School. New this year! There are two sessions - morning or afternoon - from which you can choose. Registration is open! Read our recent statement on our switching of VBS curriculum for this summer.

Worship Schedule this Weekend
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Special Worship Schedule for Weekend of June 1/2

Sunday, June 2

10:15 a.m. Outdoor Worship Service and Picnic
5:30 p.m. Contemplative Worship Service

Saturday, June 1

6:00 p.m. Vespers Service with Holy Communion

A few notes about Sunday’s outdoor service and picnic:

If you’ve never been to the outdoor service and picnic, it’s one of the favorite services of the year! Please plan to bring lawn/camping chairs if you have them. We’ll have folding chairs available if you don’t.

NEW THIS YEAR - Please bring a pop-up tent if you have one, too. Most of the church’s pop-up tents been well used over the years and are no longer functional. It would be great to have a few families bring theirs to help provide shade for everyone during the service.

Adult Contemplative Service

Sunday, June 2 at 5:30 p.m.

Join us for a space of stillness, silence, music, and prayer in our quarterly contemplative adult worship service 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.

Summer Memories

Some of my favorite summer memories as a child revolve around Vacation Bible School (VBS) in my home congregation. My mother, who spent several years as the volunteer VBS Director, always used to say that VBS happened on the hottest week of the summer. My home congregation wasn't air conditioned when I was growing up and the 2nd story classrooms of the education building got miserably hot. There were crafts and songs, games and snacks and, of course, Bible Stories, too. What I remember most about VBS, though, were the teenagers. 

Our VBS program involved a couple of hundred kids and a lot of middle school and high school teen helpers. They were old enough to be able to help with scissors, glue and glitter. At the same time, they weren't old enough to be moms and dads, which made them really cool. They ran around with us outside as we played games and laughed with us during snack. The teen helpers brought the "fun" to the week of Vacation Bible School (not that the adults weren't fun, too...but...well...they were adults). 

For years I waited until I was old enough to be one of those cool teen helpers. When I finally was, I came to love VBS even more. There was something incredibly special about that week and the relationships that were established. 

Now that I'm a pastor, I still love VBS. I say that it is the most exhausting and wonderful week of the church year. Nothing compares to it! And, it takes a whole church to make it happen. It takes amazing teens who are willing to wake up early (and stay late) to connect with the kids. It takes adults who are able to rearrange their schedules to come teach and/or lead groups of children around.

We've started the VBS countdown at Abiding Presence and would love to have you join us! If you are interested in helping, please be in touch with Sara Dyson, Children and Family Minister. Then you can be part of the fun, too!

Summer Worship Schedule
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Our summer worship schedule begins this weekend. We will worship through Labor Day weekend on Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:45 and 10:15 a.m.

On Sunday, June 2 we will have only one service at 10:15 a.m. for our annual outdoor service and picnic on lawn. There will be a service on Saturday, June 1 at 6:00 p.m. as usual.

Last Sunday of Sunday School

This Sunday is our last Sunday of Sunday School until September. There will be no Abiding Table as our 5/6th grade, 1st year confirmation and senior high classes will hold their annual “trash can game competition” in Bailey Hall.

A big THANK YOU to all of our Sunday School teachers! Our Sunday School ministry would not be possible without their dedication. If you think you might be interested in joining our teaching team next year, please contact Sara Dyson, Children and Family Minister, by July 15.

Next Sunday, we will move to our summer worship schedule - Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:45 and 10:15 a.m.

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Confirmation Sunday at Abiding Presence

A Note about Worship this Weekend:
Saturday at 6:00 p.m. & Sunday at 8:45 a.m. - Regular Services (60 minutes)
Sunday at 11:00 a.m. - Confirmation Service (2 hours)

Please plan accordingly as our confirmation service will be much longer than a usual Abiding Presence service.

It’s confirmation weekend at Abiding Presence! This Sunday at the 11:00 a.m. service 15 of our young people will affirm the promises made for them at their baptisms and we will pray for the Holy Spirit to be stirred up in them to confirm their faith. It is one more joyful, Spirit-filled opportunity to witness how God is at work in the lives of our young people.

What I remember about my own confirmation experience are relationships that I made during the two years of my life I spent in confirmation classes. There were a group of four of us who became the best of friends, hanging out at youth choir and confirmation each Tuesday night and during Sunday School on Sunday morning. In the midst of the trials of the rest of my middle school friendships, those three girls became the friends that I could count on not matter what.

Confirmation was also the time that my relationship with my pastors developed into something beyond just a hello in the handshake line on Sunday mornings. My pastors came to really know me and, in turn, I came to know them. They became people who I felt I could talk when I needed a listening ear and they became my trusted adult as I navigated tough decisions into high school and beyond.

Finally, confirmation was the time in which my relationship with God started to mean something. It was in the midst of my first year of confirmation that I heard the call to be a pastor. I often joke that I felt called to be a pastor before I even knew what a pastor did all day. Regardless, that call to the ministry was loud, clear and nurtured within me throughout those confirmation years.

As I prepare to now be the pastor who gets to lay her hands on our youth’s head as they are confirmed this weekend, I am filled with awe at this amazing group of young people. They are a fun, faithful and passionate bunch who don’t shy away from asking hard questions. I pray that the time that they have spent in confirmation may be as formative to their lives as it once was to mine.

This year we’re doing something new with confirmation. Each of our confirmation youth will receive sponsors – members of the congregation – who will invest in their young person is his/her post-confirmation life. During the confirmation service, the congregation will be asked, “People of God, do you promise to support these sisters and brothers and pray for them in their life in Christ?” The entire congregation will make the promise, responding, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.” We want to make sure, though, that each confirmand has two adults in the congregation (outside of their parents, pastors, confirmation mentors, senior high youth advisers and church staff) who are on board to actively fulfill this promise specifically for them. I believe that congregation sponsors have the potential of making a huge difference in the lives of our youth post-confirmation as they experience the care and support of the Abiding Presence faith family in tangible ways.

Thank you to our congregation sponsors and to all of you who will help us to support and pray for our confirmands in their life in Christ.

Looking Ahead to Next Sunday, May 19

Sunday, May 19

Next Sunday we have 16 young people who will be confirmed at the 11:00 a.m. service. It’s going to be a wonderful and Spirit filled service as the congregation gathers to witness their Affirmation of Baptism. It is also going to be a long service…a really, really long service! We’re planning for an hour-and-a-half to two hours for the 11:00 a.m. service. So, come, but plan accordingly. Our other two services on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday at 8:45 a.m. will be normal 60 minute worship services like every other weekend.

Reflecting on Mother's Day

As the calendar turns to  Mother's Day this weekend, we know that each person has varied experiences and emotions. For some, this is a day of great rejoicing. For others, this is a day of grief to great to be captured by words. Borrowing the words from Amy Young (http://messymiddle.com), we want to acknowledge the wide spectrum of mothering. 

 To those who gave birth this year to their first child - we celebrate with you.

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you.

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you.

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away - we mourn with you.

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and

disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you.

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you.

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you.

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you.

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience.

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of

motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst.

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths.

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you.

To those who placed children up for adoption –  we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising – we anticipate with you.

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

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!

Wanted: God's Hands and Feet

We may barely be into the May, but Vacation Bible School (VBS) will be here before we know it! Last year we hosted over 120 kids the week of VBS, but we still had a waitlist of families hoping to attend. Earlier this year we began praying, discerning and dreaming about how we could accommodate more children while still being realistic with the group sizes and the space that our building offers. Our solution was to offer TWO sessions during the same week--a morning session and an afternoon session. Now, over two months away from the start of VBS, we have over 155 children registered for the two sessions. Luckily, we still have room for more children to participate.

What this means is that we now need to double the number of volunteers involved in our VBS ministry. Yes, I know…many in our church frequently hear the need for volunteers and may tire of it. The reality, though, is that we need you, and the church wouldn’t be where it is today without you! The reason that so many families continue to come back to Abiding Presence’s VBS and tell their friends about it is because of their positive experiences. They hear God’s message, feel the love, and experience the community that is Abiding Presence. That wouldn’t happen without the core of our volunteers being members of this church. We cannot support a VBS ministry without our church members being our key volunteers. Together we, in our various ways, create a meaningful experience not only for our own church families, but also one in which families in our community feel safe and welcome.

Everyone is needed. Truly. Whether you have kids in the VBS program, adult aged kids or have no clue what Vacation Bible School even is, we need you. We need the heart and soul of Abiding Presence to literally be God’s hands and feet that week during VBS. There are so many ways to serve, some more involved than others, but we have a place for everyone! If you are out of town or unable to physically help, we are in need of your prayers for all of our children, youth, and adults serving and attending VBS.

This year, VBS is the week of July 8-12 with sessions from 9 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. We need folks willing to help with decorating, setup, being a crew leader (no prep!) to lead a group of elementary or preschool aged children from station to station, being a station leader (prep for each day is required, but a curriculum is provided), and lots of assistants everywhere! We are also always in need of rising 7th grade and older youth who would like to help. If you work both the morning and afternoon sessions, we promise to feed you an amazing lunch in-between the sessions. If you are willing to help with VBS or want to learn more about it, please either let me or our new VBS Director, Kimberly Symolon, know.

Let Me Tell You What It's Really Like
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Abiding Presence will kick off Mental Health Awareness Month with a performance of “Let Me Tell You What It’s Really Like: A conversation about living with mental illness in general and bipolar disorder in particular.” What's it like to live with bipolar disorder, a specific form of mental illness? What's it like for family, friends and coworkers of the person with that disorder? Join us for a powerful 30-minute performance, followed by a Q&A with the actors. The conversation will take place in the sanctuary. There will be no Abiding Table this Sunday.

AP's Mental Health Team hopes this Mental Health Month event will help lessen the stigma of mental illness, lead to greater understanding for everyone who deals with it, and create a sense of compassion and support for those dealing with mental health issues in our community.

If you have any questions, please contact Pastor Heidi. We hope to see you there!