June 15, 2023

“Stop and smell the roses,” we are told. Summertime becomes our down time when we finally try to slow our lives a little bit and take a vacation. Yes, this is very much a privilege of economically advantaged people in our culture. Most people don’t have the opportunity to get away from it all. I have found alternatives on my back porch—birdwatching.

“You’ll never hear birds here,” my friend explained. We were looking for a new home and I had a prerequisite—birds! But the house we were considering was near the world’s busiest airport and my friend explained that flocks are a danger to airplanes and airports therefore have some mitigation to discourage their presence. The house was too right to pass up and the airport noise seemed to be white noise on all our visits. So, I gave up the birdsong.

Our first night I was awakened by two sounds. Trains! Not pleasant! Eventually, I did not awaken to these nightly horns, as long as I was asleep before their scheduled arrival. The other sound, like an alarm clock for the rest of the summer, was the mockingbird. Right outside the window. Definitely a full-throated singer. Probably as loud and nearly as annoying, as the trains. Eventually, it, too, only disturbed restless sleep from which I probably needed waking up anyway.

The good news is there were plenty of other birds, some interesting singers, some just noisemakers. I could sit all day and watch and listen to birds. It makes me feel — content, at peace. Turns out that is not just me.

The Washington Post shares news of two studies finding that birdsong has a “time-lasting link” to improved mental wellbeing. Listening to birds, and even listening to recordings of birds, for as little as six-minutes a day improves your state of mind, and reduces things like anxiety, depression effects, paranoia, and general negative moods and emotions. Perhaps the songs of nature are a gift from our God, who desires that we enjoy life, abundantly. Listen Here!

By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,

and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?   
Ps 104: 12-13, Mt 6: 16
I hope you’ll take time to smell the roses, but better yet, listen to the birds.
Peace, Rev Bev
Rose image, MarcusObal, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Mockingbird image, By GenQuest – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Ryan Hagerty -:Images from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service., Public Domain,


Summer Sundays Roamin’

Summer Series

Who’s here this summer? Are you on the road again? Off to the beach or mountains or grandparents? Maybe you are planning a staycation, chilling on your patio or if you’re lucky by a cool stream or pool around the neighborhood. Do you love to share vacay photos? (Read on.) Renewal is essential to healthy spiritual growth.

Wherever you are, you can take in the stillness of a summer sun and know the hug of love from God, or the loud thunder of a summer storm and read Scripture about God’s booming voice. The point is, wherever we wander, there we are found by God’s Spirit. The Lord is never absent from your presence and longs to see you enjoy the gift of Sabbath and re-creation.

Here at SAPC, we will have a “vacation” summer, too. We are going:
Roamin’ with the Romans.

Roman roadbuilding enabled their culture, their armies, their law to spread out across the west and middle eastern nations. The same roads allowed those nations to go to Rome. Paul had dual citizenship, and his last stop in life was Rome. His letter to the new church in Rome is the first of the letters in our New Testament.

While we read this book of the Bible and learn about the beginnings of the western Christian church, we will take a look at the world where the PCUSA is engaged in mission, too. We will wander, having worship in the sanctuary, in Fellowship Hall, outside, and possibly even off campus.
 Wanna share your favorite vacation stories?

I’d love to hear your vacation stories. If you are travelling this summer and want to share a few minutes of your trip (or home vacay) and how you experience God outside the building and life of SAPC, consider sharing this good news with the church. Please email me at or call me.

If you typically worship online, this road show will affect what you see on Sunday mornings. Likely there will be a hymn, a scripture, a devotional sharing related to the Sunday sermon, and a prayer. There may be some Sundays without a live event, only a recorded one. What would you like to see? This is your chance to shape what is most important to you for home worship.

Ready, Set, MOVE!

Oh—that just happens to be the name of VBS, which begins Monday! Let’s go!

Peace, Beverly


Songfest, Supper, Sunday Funday

June 1, 2023

Neon Music Sign

It’s a Songfest Sunday! Many church people can and do say they believe in the God of the Bible. They do not read the Bible though. They sing songs and trust that the lyrics are reliable words from the Bible.

For some of us our faith is significantly shaped by the theology of our favorite music. My 2 favorites: Go Tell It on the Mountain and I Love to Tell the Story. So, you know why I preach, since I struggle to carry a tune!

Sunday, when we honor the doctrine and God who is the Triunity (yes, that’s a word you haven’t used), we will not try to describe this 2000-year-old declaration. We will sing songs that make our hearts open to the mystery of God.

For those in the sanctuary, you will be offered the chance to request a song from the hymnbook. For those online, (or others) worshipping on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., you are asked to email with your preferred hymns.

If you need a hymnbook for home worship, please call the church office or come by to pick one up.

As we listen to the choices our friends make, we will learn more about how God is part of the lives we share in this church. We will learn more about the mystery of who God is to people at St. Andrew. And we will begin to see the doctrines that shape our faith as a group and connect with each other in new ways.

Please plan to come, even if you don’t like to sing, so that you might hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
We will also share communion.  IF that doesn’t entice you, come early and hang out after for the picnic.
We kick-off summer with Songfest, Supper, Sunday Funday. See you there!

Rev Bev

Sing to God; sing praises to his name;

lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—

his name is the Lord—

be exultant before him. Ps 68: 4


Fresh Wind

May 25, 2023
Today is the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Can you breathe any better today than the 3 years and 1 day ago?
Perhaps you are offended by the way people have used the Christian name to pronounce a white nationalist agenda, or any number of dehumanizing paths of bigotry, misogyny, heterosexism, and hatred. Perhaps you can’t find a spiritual space to breathe, to find hope that faith in something greater than ourselves is present and at work to bring peace and abundant life for all. It that is you, you are waiting on the Wind. That is, you are waiting on a life-giving breath of fresh air.
Perhaps you are looking for something other than “traditional” church-life. Check out this innovative pastor (who happens to be a friend of mine), Marthame Sanders. His podcast church is called aijcast: art inspiration justice. In his words, “we explore the connections between the artist and their art, their sources of and hopes for inspiration, and how it all tries to make the world a better place.”
If you need places that touch your spirit through art or music, this might be the place.
His church just might help you breathe and work for a better world.
And join St. Andrew online or in-person on Sundays, 10:00 a.m eastern, as we, too, seek fresh winds of the Holy creating a space where everybody belongs, and can breathe.


Ordinary Time

May 18, 2023

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. Ps 90: 12

How much longer?
Are you counting the days? Yes, to your vacation, probably. Or at least until school is out and routines and traffic and crowd patterns change. Churches do, count days that is.

Three Sundays away is Trinity Sunday and then—Ordinary Time begins! 

In other words, we are counting days until the next holy day (holiday). People look forward to soul-refreshing moments. Perhaps we need to pay attention to soul-sucking lifestyles that make us look for something better, and anxious to get away from our ordinary lives. Imagine if everyday was a holiday. Imagine creating a life to which every morning was a breath of fresh air and you couldn’t wait to start the day. Imagine opening your eyes excited about the adventure ahead, the possibility that something wonder-full was about to happen.

I’ve been thinking about two aspects of churchy life. One is the soul-draining busy-ness of church. Planning, meetings, leading, fixing, recruiting, meetings, promoting, administering, did I mention meetings? Business as usual. And that doesn’t take into account the upkeep of property.

Within this administration is ministry. When a person is working within their spiritual gifts, business to one becomes purpose to another. As a pastor I have enjoyed a great sense of purpose. I have also had days when I wondered if what I was doing makes any difference. In my work, I have discovered that everyone I meet has that spiritual quest in common. We all want to know our own lives mattered and made a difference, to someone, to anyone. We want purpose.

Burned out or Breathing?
If you are feeling burned out by yor ordinary life, by your work, or by your church work, ready for a break, hoping no one asks anything else of you—take the gift of Sabbath. During that time, patiently, prayerfully, joyfully, studiously, honestly ask, “what’s the point and where do I fit best?” Allow yourself time in your ordinary day, the counting down time, to think about the coming of the holy moments when you have said, “this was worth it.” 
If you’re looking, feel free to join us at St. Andrew as we, too, learn together about our God-given purpose. 

And whatever you do, breathe. “Breathe in peace. Breathe out love.” (song here)

Breathe in the wonder of new sunlight and summer showers. Breathe in the gifts of summer laughter whenever you can. Breathe in the pace of people being away, or present during summer travels. Let the wonder of Ordinary Time become the way to the holy in every day. You might also note, once you’re on that getaway, there is a moment when you start to think, “how much longer,” until I go back.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Ps 90: 14
 We count our days. Let’s make each one count.


Changing Earth Changing Ourselves

May 11, 2023

I recently watched the documentary, “The Year the Earth Changed.” Our world came to life when human beings went into hibernation during the 2020 lockdown. People in India saw the Himalayas from their homes hundreds of miles away for the first time. Whales fished in community while their calves were safe in the distance, because “mom” could hear them if needed. The same was true for Cheetahs who could hunt and then call their cubs from hiding more safely. Penguins survived in Cape Town because they could fish and feed more than once a day. Turtles survived in record numbers because beaches were deserted. New ways to manage food harvests were developed in lands where elephants needed management, increasing the human harvest and feeding the animals. This real time event demonstrated the devastating impact human choices have made on our environment.

It also showed us, especially Christians who believe we are meant to care for creation, that whatever we can do to make a positive impact we are called to do for the glory of God.

Maybe you are like me. A lot of good intentions and some labor towards change. Recycling. Trying to eliminate plastic. Reusable shopping bags and, from time to time, I even remember to take my dishes to restaurants for my leftovers to keep from bringing home another Styrofoam box. I have a confession. I’m not very good at earth stewardship.

“You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers,
whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.” Deut 24: 14
 Fair Trade
Saturday is Fair Trade Day in the PCUSA. Fair Trade certified products have to meet particular labor, material, and growing conditions that are just. There are a number of organizations that support Fair Trade practices. Check out this PCUSA website as one example of the impact of shopping Fair Trade:

SAPC is committed to a number of hunger ministry opportunities. We also contribute to the One Great Hour of Sharing, which supports reducing hunger. Fair Trade is part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.

Jesus said, “do you love me,” and his disciple replied, ““Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21: 17
Practicing Peace and Love
I’ve been thinking about the ways I shop. Why don’t I always buy fair trade goods? Sometimes they are not available. However, remember when there were no organic products in the grocery? Now there are whole sections and the prices are drawing closer and closer to equal or better than non-certified organic.

We can have the same impact if we ask our stores about fair trade products.

We can have a positive impact if we served Fair Trade coffee and tea here at church and home.

This week I invite you to learn more about Fair Trade products and let’s strive together to do one thing this month to support Fair Trade. In this way we may,

Practice peace and love through acts of healing and reconciliation.
From the 2023 Ministry Plan, SAPC


Names Matter

May 4, 2023
What’s in a name?

“So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi.” (Gen 16: 13)

Hagar, an enslaved woman, impregnated by her mistress’s husband and then cast out and abandoned, is met in the wilderness by God. She is the first in the Scripture to name God: El-roi—God who sees.

Generations later, another enslaved person, Moses, encounters El-roi in the wilderness, in the apparition of a burning bush. But he does not know this name and says to the enlightened one, “If they ask, ‘what is his name, what shall I say to them?’” The name offered is not fully translatable but is considered to mean, “I am,” or “I will be who I will be.” It is considered so holy that Jews do not speak the name.

God names some of the people in Scripture: Abram becomes Abraham, and Sarai becomes Sarah, and Jacob becomes Israel. John the baptizer, and Jesus both received their names from God.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20: 7)
Naming matters.
It defines relationships, unites families, and often confers power to the one who gives the name for another. It binds a person to their word and their works. The way we use another’s name can hurt or help us connect.

Jesus once asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am.” He was asking about how his life and ministry was understood by them. He was asking whether the witness he offered to the people was helping them understand the relationship God wanted with them.

Names matter. Have you had your name mispronounced? Or been confused with another? Or been forgotten? Have you had nicknames you loved, given by people you cared about? Or names you wanted to get rid of but couldn’t?

Imagine for a moment spending your entire life being called by the wrong name? Imagine not being able to convince people to use your proper name? Such disrespect is almost inconceivable. Yet, across our county and nation, lawmakers are prohibiting people from naming themselves, and choosing pronouns that match their name. “Who do you say that I am,” our trans neighbors want to know. Their teachers are being forbidden, or freed from being required, to call students by their chosen names.

St. Andrew is a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs for such a time as this!
Let us, called by the name of Christ Jesus, who believe that human beings bear the image of God, who love God, always love our neighbors as ourselves. When they ask us, “who do you say I am,” use the name by which they introduce themselves, and the pronouns they request, just like you do for every other human being you meet. Just like you want when you introduce yourself.

Really, it is that simple. Even Shakespeare got it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”


Wake Up

April 27, 2023

Wake up.
SAPC is aiming to be a place “where everybody belongs.”

what are humans that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
Ps 8: 4-5

“Grooming.” “Woke.” Two words that have become politically divisive language instead of being words which describe the forces that shape our behavior and thinking in particular matters. All of us have been groomed on some level regarding sexuality and other interests. All of us have awakened on some level to disparities between the races, and genders.

Being woke allows me to recognize misogyny and racism (and other sins). Just think of clothing and the way we characterize women’s bodies based on what they wear. No one is banning “Victor, Victoria” with Julie Andrews, or complaining about women wearing business suits with pants to work, only drag shows where men and transwomen wear women’s clothes to their work as entertainers. The anti-drag movement is a statement of grooming about their (de-) valuing of women and the shaming of men and transwomen “acting” like a woman, dressing like a woman.

Being woke is what allowed me to gasp in shock earlier this week when I read that Monday was a state holiday in AL and MS to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Yes, they still do that.

Wake up and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard; obey it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. Rev 3: 2-3

 Grooming is subtle and pervasive.
Now, I have a great-great-grandpa whose picture hung over the bed I used to sleep in when I visited my grandaunt. He was scary looking to my little self. His hands were crossed in front of him, large and swollen.

I was told he was a war veteran, got shot, hence permanent swelling in his hands, and was a POW. We honored his status as a Confederate soldier. He owned a few slaves, “but he was good and treated them well.” I lived in Stone Mountain, GA, where the granite outcropping became home of the 1915 re-birth of the KKK, and is a state park monument to the confederacy. Though acknowledging our family history, no one in the circles my family were part of ever behaved in overt racist actions, nor spoke ugly of Black people.

(Is there any way to describe racism that is glad it was only this much and not that?)

Nevertheless, from sleeping under a soldier’s watchful gaze to celebrating the completion of the carving on the mountain, I was groomed by my familial and societal experiences to know my place as a white child of the south.

Becoming woke is the arc of the moral universe–it is bending always toward justice!
Today, April 27, 2023, is a day to celebrate. Because Americans continue to become woke, we are slowly erasing the honor we bestow on reprehensible behavior and public action. Today, a US Army post will be renamed, Fort Gregg-Adams. The general whose face remains on Stone Mountain will no longer be the inspiration for our soldiers’ service at this post in Virginia.

Instead, LTG Arthur Gregg and LTC Charity Adams, a Black man who rose from private to 3-star general, and a Black woman who was the first Black officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the first to lead a predominately Black unit in overseas service, will be the face of history for our current servicemembers.

Following Christ, who lived and died and rose again that the whole world might be saved, surely we are called to be woke from the sorry history (old and currently being made) that grooms us to believe powerful, white men are the one and only supreme definition of full humanity. We strive to be like Christ, who creates a new humanity, in which all people bear God’s image, and together, equally, reflect the glory of God.

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3: 27-28

Will you join St. Andrew PC as we strive to be a beacon of peace and love where everybody belongs?


Sanctuary and Safety

April 20, 2023

“Many people think of a house of worship as a safe area where violence and emergencies cannot affect them. However, violence in houses of worship is not a new phenomenon. In addition to violent acts, fires, tornados, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and arson also affect houses of worship.” The preceding sentence comes from a PCUSA document.1 It was originally written in 2013. Does that raise your angst higher to know we have been intentionally addressing the dangers in the world, including intentional acts of violence, for years, or lessen your worry?

Sibling Rivalry
It is not as if the church of Jesus Christ suddenly became a target in the last few weeks following the events in Nashville. We only need to open our Bible to Genesis 4, barely into the story of God and humankind, to discover our violent choices against our own kind. I have always been intrigued by the very honest way Scripture reveals God’s way in the midst of the tragedies of natural and human-made destruction. Neither Judaism nor Christianity hide from the daily sorrows or violence of life.
We also never give up in the face of disasters. We believe in Jesus Christ, who “commands even the winds and the
water and they obey him.” (Luke 8: 22-25) He is the Prince of Peace who also reminds us to keep our swords put away lest we die by the sword, and whose ancient vision calls us to beat our swords into plowshares. (Mt 26: 52 and Isaiah 2: 4)

Nevertheless, or because, we Presbyterians take seriously the “persistence of sin in our lives,” and the “human tendency to idolatry and tyranny,”2 we also have a response-ability to develop plans for the safety and well-being of all who are engaged in the ministries of the church.

As an interim pastor, it is one of the avenues I usually discuss with the leaders, sometimes including a practice fire-drill before the end of my time. As it happens, with a full-time childcare center here, your leaders are taking a new (old) look at our protocols and policies. The session formed a Security Task Group this month.

They have three goals:

  1. Implement some immediate and long-delayed changes to improve security – cost up to $5000.00 (already within 2023 budgeted funds).
  2. Apply for FEMA grants for ongoing projects as we develop other solutions for our safety and security.
  3. Design and recommend changes, policies and procedures for review and approval by the session and implement those changes as directed.

(For the exact phrasing of the motions and rationale, you can ask the clerk of session, Marcia, for a copy of the approved motions.)

The Security Task Group core members are: Ally Fetch (elder, NLC Bus. Mgr.), Josh Shields (elder elect and former trustee), Kevin Burel (elder in reserve) and Randy Dragon (trustee, elder in reserve). They have been encouraged to seek out others in the church’s membership who may have specific knowledge to be part of this work as well.

As they move forward and we adapt to new measures (yes, access codes or keyed entry may be changing), please be encouraged by this visible response of faithful care for each other. It will be a challenging balance between being an open and welcoming church where everybody belongs and a safe environment where every body is appropriately protected. Please pray for wisdom as we consider and introduce changes.

As always, may we yet shine as a beacon of peace and love, following the light of Christ.

Peace be with you,

Rev Bev
1Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship. June 2013
2PC (USA) Book Of Order 2019-2023, F-1.0303b and F-2.05.
-Swords to Ploughshares, benito roveran from verona, Italia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons, Mosaics Yael Portugheis in Beit Habad Gallery, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem.
-Swords to Ploughshares, Sculpture at the United Nations, By Neptuul – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Great is God’s Faithfulness

April 13, 2023

Happy Easter!

Great is God’s faithfulness! Oh-you thought that was over and done? This is actually a “season,” as in “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I should say, the risen Christ is the reason we celebrate resurrection every Sunday on “the Lord’s Day,” and the immediate experience of resurrection for the disciples from now through the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Too much churchy stuff to keep reading?
Consider this. Yesterday was a good day in some ways and a lousy day in others. For you, it may have been great all day long and another minute or hour in bed to savor the memory is not long enough. Or it might, for you, have been a terrible, awful, no good day and the sooner it ended, the better. Then, the sun came up this morning.

Whatever happened yesterday, today is new. Today is a day to enjoy the hope of resurrection. Resurrection is not a theology about life after death.

In its fullest form, resurrection is a gift for living life after life. It is the gift of everyday’s new beginning.

I awoke this morning thinking, “If today was the last day of my life….”

I’m here now, at my life, in all its routine, watching for surprises, waiting for the other shoe to drop, creating the moments of joy and possibility, and going through the motions, all of it–with resurrection in mind. Whatever comes, for good or ill, resurrection gives me hope that I can endure with  patience and hope, enjoy with celebration, and confidence, that with my next breath, life is everlasting. Even if mine is not here, I can leave rejoicing in the wonder of new life every morning for you and yours.

Great is the faithfulness of God! Morning by morning, new mercies to see….

Peace be with you!

Rev Bev
photo credit:

Ikonact – Own work Bulgarian orthodox Easter Eggs CC BY-SA 3.0