Monday, August 27, 2012

Morning Worship, 8/26/12

Think about the most important decisions you’ve ever made.  Can you force someone to love you?  Can you make someone respect you?  Are you compelled to worship God?


Morning Worship, 8/19/12

Why should education matter to people of the Christian faith?  What is the role of the church in the public school system?  How can faith be employed inside schools?  As our children head back to school, we'll address these questions this morning.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From the Moderator's Desk

Hello, friends! Do you have “school” on the brain?  I do!  In May, I was elected to the Greenbrier County Board of Education, and we are working diligently to prepare for the year ahead. Many of you are undoubtedly undergoing your own preparations.  Some of you are students, anxious about beginning a new year in a new class with a new teacher. Some of you are teachers, anxious about starting a new year in a new class full of new students! This time of year, when we have “school” on the brain, can be overwhelming, can’t it? 

Several years ago on a Sunday in mid-August at the Ronceverte church, we began a tradition of joining hands in worship, bowing our heads, and asking God to bless the school year and all those who participate in it—students, teachers, custodians, cooks, parents, administrators, counselors, and volunteers. Immediately, it resonated deep within our souls, for it turned our anxiety to anticipation, our hesitation to hope. 

In the midst of the busyness of the season, I invite you to join me in asking God to bless the school year ahead…for several groups in particular.

College Students.   Many of our college students are leaving home for the first time, but they do not have to leave the care of the church. Through the Westminster Foundation, our partner in ministry in the Presbytery of West Virginia, we support campus ministries across the state. If a young adult from your family or congregation is attending college, contact their Presbyterian campus minister so that they can reach out to the student. Contact information for campus ministers is available at

Mountain State UniversityBeckley Presbyterian Church sits adjacent to the campus of Mountain State University. As you may have read in the news, MSU lost accreditation this summer, resulting in a tremendous amount of anxiety amongst students, staff, faculty and the community at large about the future. The Rev. Janice Tiedeck, who serves the Beckley church and the MSU community, sprang into action alongside the congregation. They planned a luncheon for the entire campus community, offered daily prayer services, and reached out to offer pastoral support to students, staff, and faculty alike.

Praise God for the educational ministries of our campus ministers and the Beckley church! Yet, these are but two examples of the important ministries and missions we as Presbyterians in West Virginia undertake at the beginning of the school year. Many of you are gathering supplies for children in your community, opening after-school programs, and coaching athletic teams as acts of faith.  And all of you are in my prayers.  Will you join me in prayer?

Most Gracious God, you are trustworthy in all that you promise and faithful in all that you do. Therefore, we know that no matter where we go, you go. No matter what we face, you face. Go with all those returning to school this year. Help them face their fears as genuinely as they face their joys.  By the power of Christ Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit, let us all go and re-create your world by the transforming of our minds…in our friendships, in our families, in our places of work, in our play, in our streets, and in our schools. Amen!  

Many of us are overwhelmed this time of year. But please don’t be overwhelmed by busyness; be overwhelmed by God’s good grace, which transforming and teaching us all the time. 

Grace & peace,

Rev. Stephen Baldwin, Jr.
Moderator, Presbytery of West Virginia

Bluestone Summer Newsletter

The latest newsletter from Bluestone, the Beech Tree, is available...HERE. Check it out!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Morning Worship, 8/12/12

We often think of "prophets" as fortune-tellers. But biblically-speaking, prophets are truth-tellers. They speak truth to power, even in the face of dire consequences! Nathan provides a powerful example of prophecy as truth-telling in today's story.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Morning Worship, 8/5/12

            One time a young man came to me to confess something he had done.  His friend had mistreated the young man’s girlfriend, and it made the young man so angry he punched and kicked his friend until he had no energy left.  “And you feel bad about that today?” I asked him.
            “I do,” he said.  “There was probably a way I could’ve made my point without letting it get that far.” 
            The young man was onto something.  Retribution—the kind David wanted against the rich man—gives us the allusion of righting a past wrong.  Rectifying an injustice done to us.  But the next morning, we realize that nothing has changed.  Only compassion can open the door to a new future.  Only compassion, like the compassion God shows David, can create something new.