Good Shepherd Sunday
 Photo by  Mehdi Genest  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mehdi Genest on Unsplash

Happy Good Shepherd Sunday! The fourth Sunday of Easter is unofficially known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It's the Sunday when our scripture, music, prayers and preaching revolve around the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. 

I spent my first call serving as the Associate Pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in DC. Every year on Good Shepherd Sunday the Senior Pastor of the church would dig out of his desk a clergy shirt that he bought in the wrong size at a clergy conference many years prior. He would carry it with his bulletin into worship and hold it up in front of the congregation. Then he would announce that he and the church were looking for people who might want to wear that shirt. It was his way of planting the seed in people's minds that God might be calling them to be a pastor. He used Good Shepherd Sunday as a way to remind the congregation that the church was in need of good people willing to serve God's flock. 

This weekend, let me carry on the tradition by using Good Shepherd Sunday as a way to remind all of you that God needs good people willing to serve God's flock. You don't have to be the shepherd! There's only one Good Shepherd and that role is already filled by Jesus Christ. There are, however, a whole lot of "head sheep" roles up for grabs. That is, after all, what pastors are. We are "head sheep," of sorts. We are called out of the flock to help lead, comfort, watch over and keep together a portion of the flock who is ultimately led by the Good Shepherd. 

The Good Shepherd's flock is large, diverse and made up of all sorts of sheep who need leaders who represent the flock's diversity. These leaders are people who feel the tug of the Holy Spirit on their hearts and have a love for all God's sheep. They are people who are willing to pray and discern God's will for God's flock in whatever place they are called. 

I invite you to take a moment in the coming days to pray about how God might be calling you to help lead God's flock. Maybe it is as a pastor...maybe not. Maybe it is as a Sunday School teacher, Stephen Minister, choir member or something else entirely that our church doesn't even yet know we need. The sky is the limit! Pray, listen, open your ears to hear the call of the Good Shepherd in your life. 

Sing with Anniversary Choir on May 20!

Have you sung in choir any time during the 40-year history of Abiding Presence? Know anyone else who has? We're going to make our 40th Anniversary Festival Service at 10:00 a.m. on May 20 an opportunity for a giant music ministry REUNION! Spread the word, and see below for more info and music selections. You can even sing in Anniversary Choir if you've never sung before!

What are we singing?

In addition to leading the congregational singing, we will also be sharing two pieces during worship:

When are we rehearsing?

Please come to at least one (or both) of the following rehearsals:

  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary
  • Saturday, May 19, 2018 in the morning (exact time TBD) in the Sanctuary

On May 20, we will gather at 8:45 a.m. prior to the start of the festival service at 10:00 a.m. Plan to get to Abiding Presence (directions) a little before 8:45 a.m. to find parking.

What are we wearing?

Since we hope to have a lot of singers, we won't wear choir robes. Everyone is asked to please dress nicely (decent slacks/shirt or dress) and include something red for Pentecost! The red can be a tie, an accessory, or as much of your outfit as you like!

Do we need to bring choir folders/binders?

Not necessary, but if you have one you prefer feel free to bring it. We will provide sturdy black binders for all who need them.

Who do I ask if I have questions?

David Chavez, Music & Worship Minister. Just send an email to

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ENewsDavid ChavezMusic
ELCA Youth Gathering Investors Needed!
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Abiding Presence is sending 13 senior high youth and three adult chaperones to the ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, TX this summer. 

We're looking for members of the congregation to invest in our youth by providing financial contributions to make the Youth Gathering experience possible. The youth designed their own "start-up company," APSOF, which is the acronym for Abiding Presence Seeds of Faith. They are hoping the congregation will invest in this company (i.e. in the youth!) so that they can experience the Youth Gathering this summer. The APSOF initial public offering (IPO) launched at the Abiding Table on Youth Sunday with much excitement and a price of $25 per share. 

For more information you can read the APSOF prospectus, visit the display in the narthex, or talk with one of the teens that is planning to attend.  Please consider investing in our AP teens and this exciting part of their faith journey. 

Donations can be made online or by taking an envelope from the display in the narthex. 

Check out the video put together to tell the story of why investing in our youth to attend the ELCA Youth Gathering is something important for the church to be about. 

Meredith KeseleyYouth
RSVP and Volunteer to Help for the 40th Anniversary

Abiding Presence is celebrating our 40th anniversary on Sunday, May 20. There will be a festival worship service at 10:00 a.m. followed by a luncheon. (Please note, only one worship service this weekend.)

RSVP if you are attending the luncheon by May 2 so we can get an accurate count for the caterer. There will be a basket for freewill donations for the luncheon. There is no need to RSVP if you are just planning to attend the service. 

Volunteers are needed Sunday morning to help with various tasks. Please sign up to volunteer

It is going to be a fabulous morning of giving thanks for God's Abiding Presence that has led this congregation for the past 40 years and will now lead us into the next 40 years! 

Refugee Ministry

One of the ways that Abiding Presence is about living out Jesus' commandment to "love our neighbors" is to support refugees who are resettling in our community by partnering with Lutheran Social Services. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we remember that supporting refugees is part of our congregation's history. Abiding Presence helped to resettle a Polish family back in the early days of our congregation's existence. For the past few years, a group has been meeting to pray, discern and plan how Abiding Presence might support refugee resettlement once again. 

Those who are interested in working with refugees are encouraged to attend an information and training session on Thursday, April 26 from 7:00-9:30 p.m. at Abiding Presence with the Abiding Presence Refugee Ministry Team. Learn how you can make a big difference in some seemingly small ways in the lives of refugees, helping them rebuild their lives and adjust to their new surroundings. The session will be held by Lutheran Social Services and is required for our refugee ministry volunteers. Contact the church office with questions or for more information. Come be a part of serving God and walking with our neighbors, following in the way of Jesus in our community!  

Investing in the ELCA Youth Gathering Experience
 The Board of the Lutheran Youth Organization at the ELCA National Youth Gathering. You can find Pastor Keseley in the second row.

The Board of the Lutheran Youth Organization at the ELCA National Youth Gathering. You can find Pastor Keseley in the second row.

When I was in high school I had the opportunity to attend the ELCA Youth Gathering. My congregation didn't have any high school youth interested in going, but my friend's congregation invited me to come along with them. I have many, many memories of those fives days that were filled with thousands and thousands of high school Lutherans. 

Standing at the pay phone (back then...remember...there were no cell phones) I met Melanie, who would later become one of my dearest friends and Julia's godmother. We were both calling home at the same time to share the news that we had been elected to the Board of the Lutheran Youth Organization. It was the beginning of a three year term of serving the larger church that played a huge role in discerning my call to ministry. 

All this is to say that when I think back on the formative faith experiences of my teenage years, the Youth Gathering is high on the list. I encountered a church far different from the one I worshiped at on Sunday mornings. It was filled with energetic young people from a variety of backgrounds who were excited about following Christ. I heard speakers who talked about faith in ways that made it real and accessible. I was entrusted with responsibility and treated like an adult as we traveled around the city participating in the events. I witnessed the power of faith at work in the world, making a difference in a city that needed in an influx of young people willing to serve.

This summer, I have the opportunity to head back to the Youth Gathering as one of the chaperones for our 13 senior high youth from Abiding Presence who will be attending. I cannot wait to see how God works in their lives through this experience. Having met with them this past week, I can assure you that they are  excited and ready to see the church in a whole new way. 

As a congregation, we have the opportunity to invest in our young people. The Youth Gathering is one of the faith experiences that we know grows roots in young people that keep them connected to Christ and the church into adulthood. Your investment in their Youth Gathering experience will reap the benefits as these young people grow in faith and become the next generation of Sunday School teachers, church council members, service ministry team leaders and maybe even pastors. 

Our youth attending the Youth Gathering will be leading The Abiding Table this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. They will be sharing a bit about their hopes and dreams for this experience. Over the course of the next few weeks, there will be opportunities to offer financial support to make this experience happen for them. Thank you, in advance, for investing in our young people. Knowing this group of teens, I can assure you that it is an investment well worth making.

Christ is Risen! The Easter Celebration Continues

Easter isn't just a one day celebration. In the church, we celebrate Easter as an entire 50 day season. Over the course of the next several weeks we'll be hearing the stories of the risen Christ appearing to his disciples, singing Easter songs and hymns and continuing to proclaim, "Christ is Risen!" Come join us for worship and discover what it means to be "Living in God's Abiding Presence" as Easter people. 

Bishop Richard Graham to Visit Abiding Presence
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As part of the celebration leading up to our 40th Anniversary, Bishop Richard Graham, Bishop of the Metropolitan Washington DC Synod, will be visiting Abiding Presence to preach and preside the weekend of April 28 and 29. Bishop Graham will preach at all services that weekend and host a question and answer session for adults and high school youth during The Abiding Table. We look forward to welcoming Bishop Graham to our congregation. 

Meet our guest artists for Maundy Thursday (7:30 p.m. service)

This Maundy Thursday at 7:30 p.m., we welcome a special group of jazz musicians to help lead our worship service. Meet them below, and catch a preview of the service with this video of Christal singing Craig's arrangement of "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger."

Christal Rheams

Read Bio | Listen

Craig Fraedrich

trumpet & arranging
Read Bio | View Website
Listen: Spotify | iTunes | Amazon

Chace Washington

Read Bio

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Jacob Pembelton

Read Bio

David Chávez

piano & additional arranging
Read Bio

David ChavezMusic
Making All Feel Welcome on Easter

              Easter is a “family reunion,” at least according to one of the blogs geared for pastors that I regularly read. It’s the Sunday during the church year where everyone tends to show up. The whole church family gathers together to rejoice and share in the good news that Christ is risen. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to embrace this image of the family reunion as what I hope Easter Sunday feels like at Abiding Presence. I grew up going to family reunions almost every summer and have lots of great memories of them.

              Some of my family reunion memories, however, are also of being the awkward kid who didn’t really know anyone. My grandfather had moved away from the family “hometown” shortly after graduating high school, which meant we only ever saw my extended family at the annual family reunion. Everyone else, it always seemed, saw each all the time.

              To those of us who are well connected, Easter Sunday can feel like that wonderful, warm and welcoming family reunion. To our guests, though, I can imagine that Easter Sunday at Abiding Presence might feel like that family reunion where everyone knows everyone else except them. So, I hope you will join me in helping everyone feel welcome at Abiding Presence by:

·       Practice the 5-Minute Rule – Spend the first 5 minutes after the service ends talking to people you don’t know. The reality is that your friends and family will be sticking around longer than 5 minutes (especially if they are practicing the rule, too). People who don’t have anyone to talk to, however, will be out the door and in their car within 5 minutes after the service ends if no one engages them.

·       Use the “Connection Pads” – Make sure you pass the pad in your row during the announcements on Easter Sunday and take a moment to read the names of the people worshiping in your row. Greet the people in your row by name at the sharing of the peace and at the end of the service.

·       Be Someone’s Reason to Come Back – Almost everyone I talk to who is an active and involved member of Abiding Presence can tell me the story of their first Sunday at Abiding Presence and the name of the person who welcomed them. Be someone’s story! If someone is worshiping with us for the first time on Easter, take a minute to talk with them. Grab one of the welcome bags we’ll have at the back of the church and give it to them. Tell them you’ll be looking for them next Sunday and remind them that the service times will change back to our regular schedule.

·       Offer Grace – Holidays can be stressful, especially for families who aren’t use to the routine of getting up and out the door for worship every week. Heck! They are stressful even for families that worship every week. Offer grace to the people who may be having a hard morning. Remember your words of welcome and encouragement could be what makes the good news of Easter become real to them.

We say “All Are Welcome” at Abiding Presence…and we mean it! On Easter Sunday, and every other Sunday of the year, too, we can make sure people feel like they are welcome whether they are walking in the door for the first time or they have been here forever.

Christ is Risen! Easter Celebration!
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Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
Risen our Victorious head!
Sing his praises! Alleluia!
Christ is risen from the dead!

"Christ is Risen! Alleluia!" ELW  382

8:30 a.m. - Contemporary Service with Praise Band and Brass
10:00 & 11:15 a.m. - Traditional Services with Choir, Organ and Brass

Come Celebrate! Christ is Risen! Our worship services will be filled with joy as we proclaim and celebrate the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ with music, scripture, prayers, preaching and Holy Communion.

All of three of our worship services are family friendly experiences. Children will receive an Easter activity book at the beginning of the service as a way for them to follow along with the Easter story during the service. We also have a professionally staffed nursery open during all of our services.

We'll have a petting zoo in our fenced in lawn from 9:30-11:30 a.m. that you can visit and help feed the animals. 

Journey through Holy Week

This weekend we begin the end of our Lenten journey that will take us through the events of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Our services will begin with waving of palm branches, shouts of, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" and singing one of my all time favorite hymns "All Glory, Laud and Honor." I wait the whole other 51 Sundays of the year for the once-a-year occasion of belting out, "All glory, laud and honor to you redeemer king."

This year at our Palm Sunday services we will read through the passion narrative in Mark's gospel. Mark's gospel is known for being a fast-paced, always on the edge of your seat account of Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection. "Immediately" is one of Mark's favorite words.

As I have slowed down to read, reflect and study anew Mark's account of the last week of Jesus' life, I have been struck once again by the power of it. The story of the Jesus' anointing at Bethany (Mark 14:3-9) with which the passion narrative begins is a beautiful story of preparing Jesus' body for burial - a task that wouldn't be able to be completed when his body was put into the tomb because of the quickly approaching Sabbath. The woman would head to the tomb at dawn on Easter morning to complete the task of anointing Jesus' body.  

From beginning to end, the story of Holy Week is the story of God's love for us going to all lengths to do for us what we could not possibly accomplish on our own. We see this most specifically as Jesus takes Barabbas' place when the crowds shout for Pilate to release Barabbas and crucify Jesus instead. As you hear the story and participate in the retelling of it, I invite you to step into it and take your place among the crowds who call for Jesus' crucifixion, the bystanders who mock him throughout and the disciples who flee. Experience the story as the story of God's love for you and Jesus Christ taking your sin and your punishment upon himself. In the midst of this fast-paced narrative, slow down to hear God speaking to you and to us in the our time and place. 

Also, I invite you to make it a priority to worship this Holy Week. I know it's spring break for many of our families. I also know busy schedules of work, family and life can make worshiping both Thursday and Friday a challenge. Yet, we call this week "Holy Week" because it is a week that is "set apart" and like none other. 

So, I encourage you to set it apart in your lives. If you have young children who go to bed early, check out this blog post about about how to worship at home as a family on Maundy Thursday then participate in our Children's Service on Good Friday. If you're traveling, take a few moments to read the passion story in Mark 14 and 15 and pray each day. If you're in town, come worship! You won't regret it! Make our services Thursday and Friday a priority so that when we all come to Easter Sunday we can rejoice together in the richness of God's love for us and for the world. 

Wednesday mid-day Worship & OWLs luncheon

The last of our midweek Lenten services will happen at 12:00 noon followed by the monthly OWLs senior luncheon at 1:00 p.m. Gather for a service of Morning Prayer with Holy Communion in the sanctuary then enjoy lunch with friends old and new in Bailey Hall. The suggested donation for lunch is $5-10. 

David ChavezChildren, Adults, OWLs
Palm Sunday Worship & Festival

Hosanna in the highest! Join us for worship as we have the procession of the palms at the beginning of both worship services at 8:45 am and 11:00 am.

Between services at 9:45 am, couples, adults, families, and children of all ages are invited to participate in a Palm Sunday Festival that will be held in place of the Abiding Table and Sunday School. Adults and families will travel together to stations of many kinds to experience what Jesus went through, to reflect with different generations, to pray, and to prepare for the Holy Week journey to Easter. If you would like to volunteer to head up a station, please talk to Sara Dyson (

Experience Maundy Thursday and Good Friday through music

This year, on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we take a deep dive into worship enriched by three specific musical traditions: jazz, shape-note hymn singing, and African-American spirituals.

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday (March 29) at 7:30pm, as we remember Jesus' gift of Holy Communion and his example of servant leadership through footwashing, we'll get to hear musical reflections in high-quality jazz. Our own Craig Fraedrich has created some new arrangements especially for this service, taking classic hymns like "Amazing Grace" and "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" and reimagining them for a professional jazz combo. If you didn't make it to our Advent Jazz Vespers service in December, just ask someone who was there and they will assure you: this is a can't-miss worship opportunity, and a great evening to invite a friend to church!

A review of Craig's latest album All Through the Night sums up his music and playing this way:

"Fraedrich is one of those players known by those in the know as a swinging, technically superior, jazz artist."

For a taste of Craig's work with outstanding vocalist Christal Rheams (who also joins us on Maundy Thursday!), take a listen to the album (Spotify | YouTubeApple Music) or support the musicians and buy a copy (CD | iTunes | Amazon)!

Good Friday

  Detail from a page from an early edition of  The Sacred Harp , a shape-note hymnal. Source: The Library of Congress ( ).

Detail from a page from an early edition of The Sacred Harp, a shape-note hymnal. Source: The Library of Congress (

On Good Friday (March 30) at 7:30 p.m., we'll remember Christ's Passion with a service of early American hymnody, featuring our Choir and Orchestra musicians. Our service follows the ancient practice of tenebrae ("darkness"), the successive extinguishing of candles at the end of Holy Week.

Many of our most beloved hymn tunes in America today sprung from the practices of shape-note singing and African-American spirituals. If you've ever sung "Amazing Grace," "What Wondrous Love Is This," "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need," "Let Us Break Bread Together," or "Were You There?" in our Lutheran hymnals, you've participated in these musical traditions! You're the latest among generations of Americans who learned to read music notation and/or remember melodies while learning the stories of the Bible to these same melodies. Click here to learn more about the history and significance of shape-note singing and African-American spirituals.

And don't forget: we actually have three services on Good Friday to fit almost any schedule: 12 noon (traditional), 6:30 p.m. (especially for young children and their families) and 7:30 p.m.!

Our Children's Service at 6:30 p.m. is a 30 minute Good Friday service geared towards toddler through elementary school kids and their families. Wiggles are welcome and kids will have the chance to worship with their whole bodies and learn the story of Jesus' death and resurrection in an interactive way. Together we will hear the story, pray, sing and reflect on what it means that Jesus died for us. Dinner will be served prior to the service at 5:45 p.m. Everyone is welcome, and a freewill offering will be taken during dinner.

I hope you'll join us for these meaningful worship services as we mark the sacred days of Holy Week, journeying together to the cross, with the hope of resurrection on the horizon!

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David Chávez
Music & Worship Minister

David ChavezWorship
More about the history and significance of African American Spirituals and Shape-Note Singing

These two rich American traditions of hymnody and music learning form the basis for our Good Friday worship this year at 7:30pm. Learn more about the fascinating history behind the music...


It's hard to overstate the importance of spirituals in African-American culture. Here are some starting places to learn more about this rich heritage of music and its significance.

Shape-Note Singing

  • The Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association sponsors a fantastic website packed with resources at
  • (sponsored by Western Carolina University and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area) has some wonderful information on how shape-note singing is part of Appalachian culture
  • Smithsonian Folkways provides a detailed Shape Note Singing Lesson plan and associated resources intended for grades 3-8
  Detail from a page from an early edition of  The Sacred Harp , a shape-note hymnal. Source: The Library of Congress ( ).

Detail from a page from an early edition of The Sacred Harp, a shape-note hymnal. Source: The Library of Congress (

David ChavezMusic
Spring forward! Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend

Daylight Saving Time starts this Sunday, March 11, 2018, at 2:00 a.m. (clocks spring forward to 3:00 a.m.).

Worried you'll miss church? Don't be! You've got options

Bored? Learn more about DST! Or, check out this list of 9 Things to Do biannually when DST starts or ends.

David ChavezFamilies
Strong Roots
 One of the trees toppled by the wind in our new backyard 

One of the trees toppled by the wind in our new backyard 

As many of you know, Ben, the girls and I have been moving four houses down from the parsonage into the house we recently purchased. We're excited to be "putting down roots," so to speak, as look to the next phase of life together as a family and ministry at Abiding Presence. 

I've been thinking a lot about roots recently. We lost two large trees during the windstorm that exposed their root balls. The massive root structures of these trees just couldn't hold up to the heavy winds that toppled them. Strong, healthy and deep roots are what keep trees from (usually) crashing down in the midst of storms. 

Roots aren't just important in trees, though. They are important in people, too. We often talk in the church about planting seeds. We seek to sow the seeds of God's love, forgiveness and call to follow Jesus in the lives of the members of our faith family and the larger community. We do this through prayer, conversation, worship, learning and just being part of a faith community. Sometimes we get to see these seeds grow.  Other times, we never know what will happen in the future through the work of the Holy Spirit as they are nurtured in our community and various other communities. Seed planting is important work! 

BUT, seed planting isn't the only work to which God is calling us as a church. I believe God is calling us to root growing, too. I hear God nudging us to think about what it means to offer relationships, learning and experiences that will help people grow strong, healthy and deep roots that will keep them connected to Christ and the church for a lifetime. These roots are what will enable people to withstand the storms of life that can challenge and, at times, topple faith. 

The larger church has done a lot of research on what kinds of experiences help young people (and not so young people) grow roots of faith that keep them connected to Christ and the church for a lifetime. They include experiences such as Lutheran summer camp, Lutheran campus ministry global mission experiences and the ELCA national youth gathering. As we look to the next 40 years of ministry at Abiding Presence and beyond, one of the things I hope we will do is think, pray and discern together how God might be calling us to be both seed sowers and root growers in partnership with the Holy Spirit. I'd love to be in conversation with you about this if you are interested. Feel free to give me a call, email or find a time to get together to chat over a cup of coffee.