Posts tagged Pastor Heidi
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! 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! How are those New Year’s resolutions going? I admit, I haven’t been perfectly adhering to my resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and finally use that Rosetta Stone software I bought to learn German!

But resolutions, even if they’re not perfectly kept, are worthwhile in helping us think about how we are living our lives and if our lifestyles really serve our well-being. I invite you to consider some resolutions to tend to your spiritual well-being this new year. Perhaps it’s by setting your alarm clock 5 minutes earlier so you can spend a few minutes talking to God to start your day.  Or by downloading an app on your phone with devotions that you can read or listen to: Pray as You Go or Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals are two that I use every day. Or perhaps you can download a bible app and read a chapter or two a day…I have a Year-long Daily Bible Reading Plan I can share if you’re interested!

I encourage you to consider some of these more spiritual resolutions, not because God requires us to be perfect or because we’re trying to level up and unlock saintly status. I invite you to consider some of these practices so that you may grow in relationship with God: trusting in God’s love and will for our lives instead of operating out of our own insecurities, fear and desire for control.

God doesn’t ask perfection, just our presence. Consider what you can let go of so you can be less frantic and more present with God and those around you. Be present in 2019 with the God who loves you beyond all understanding, in your daily life and also with the Body of Christ here at Abiding Presence. Life and faith are not a solo journey; abide and be present with us as we walk the way of Christ together. Jesus didn’t walk alone; neither do we. Thanks be to God!

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Join a Small Group this Fall!
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What an amazing weekend of worship we had last weekend as we kicked off another year of ministry together! We had 120 kids in Sunday School, nearly 100 adults at the Abiding Table and 376 people in worship. We continue to love watching the Spirit work in and through all of you. 

At the end of the month we will be kicking off another congregation-wide small group experience. For those of you who have been around a bit, you will remember that we lifted up launching a congregation-wide small group ministry as an important part of the job description for our Pastor of Discipleship when we called Pastor Eickstadt last year. One of our 2018 goals as a congregation was to launch two sets of congregation-wide small groups. Last spring our first small group experience launched during Lent with great success with 45 people in 6 groups. Small groups help us live out our mission of Connecting People to Christ through Community by creating spaces for forming and deepening relationships with each other and which Christ.

The theme for our fall small groups will be “Gathered Around the Table: Fed & Forgiven.” We will be looking at Holy Communion and growing in our understanding of what happens each week when we gather around the Lord’s Table. In addition to our adult small groups that we will be studying this theme, we will be preaching on it in worship from September 29/30 through October 20/21. During that time our preschool, elementary and senior high Sunday School classes will be following a curriculum learning about Holy Communion, too. This really will be a congregation-wide time of learning and growing in our relationship with Christ and each other.

Unlike our Lent study, our fall small groups will not require you to read a book or prepare in any way. You just need to show up! Small groups will meet at leaders’ homes or at the church for five weeks, starting the week of September 23rd and running through the week of October 21st.  There are several opportunities to join a small group and we hope you will take a look and pick one to join by signing up here. If you don’t see a group at a time that works for you, please contact Pastor Eickstadt to talk about hosting one.

Sign up to join a small group, try it out and experience how God shows up when we gather around the table, at church and in the world! We cannot wait for our congregation to learn and grow together in our understanding of the sacrament of Holy Communion.


Pastor Keseley and Pastor Eickstadt

P.S. – If you have a child who would be interested in receiving their first Holy Communion this fall, please contact our Children and Family Minister, Sara Dyson. We welcome children to begin receiving Holy Communion at any age and at any time. For those families who would like the more formal “Rite of First Holy Communion” for their child, that will be available this fall as part of our “Gathered Around the Table: Fed & Forgiven” series.  

Gather with a Small Group this Fall!
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Every week, we come forward and receive a bit of bread and a sip of wine or grape juice.  We call it Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist…but what do all these names mean?  Why does it matter that we have it?  Is it just because it’s tradition, the way we’ve always done it?  And why do we have it every week?   

Maybe you’ve wondered about these same questions.  Maybe you grew up in a tradition that celebrated Communion differently and you wonder why we at Abiding Presence do it this way.  Maybe you grew up Lutheran but don’t quite recall those long-ago confirmation days and what Luther said about Communion in the Small Catechism.  Maybe you don’t even really know all that much about Luther and have never heard of a Small Catechism!  Don’t feel too bad if that’s the case because prior to joining the Lutheran church, I would have said yes to both of the previous questions!  (Even after attending Luther College!)

These are some of the questions many of us have had and which we’ll be exploring together in small groups this fall. The small groups will meet at various times at leaders’ homes or at the church for five weeks to listen, share and reflect.  We’ll explore the what, why and how but also the bigger question:  What difference does Holy Communion make for our everyday lives?

Specific small group times and places will be announced in September and sign-up sheets will be available in the narthex and on our website.  This will be our 2nd small group experience at Abiding Presence; our 1st was during Lent this past year and we had over 50 people participate in 6 small groups!  Unlike Lent, this experience will not require reading a book…all you will need to do is show up! 

So sign up and try it out for 5 weeks and experience how God shows up when we gather around the table!


Pastor Heidi

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 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.

Participate in Worship in a New Way!

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!


Pastor Heidi