Pop-Up Mission Conference

Dear NAPC Family & Friends,

This coming Sunday will be a true highlight in the life of our congregation with our first ever “Pop-Up” Mission Conference. Our guests include two especially dynamic and gifted global Christians who are pastor-theologians, the Rev. Dr. Riad Kassis and the Rev. Dr. José Pezini. Both men have been personal friends of mine for many years, and both have a long and rich history with NAPC.
 
Dr. Pezini and his wife are originally from Brazil and were members of North Avenue for a number of years. He served The Outreach Foundation as a church planter of Portuguese speaking congregations up and down the East Coast of the United States.  His ministry among these communities is legendary, as God has gifted him with strong gifts of vision, preaching, leadership, and mentoring.  He will be speaking in the Gym at 10 a.m. in the Foundations Class about his current ministry in Brazil.   
 
Dr. Kassis is also an esteemed pastor and theologian and good friend of North Avenue. He and his family sojourned with us during the year he was on sabbatical at Columbia Theological Seminary.  His messages to our congregation during that year were riveting as he shared theological insights from the perspective of a Middle Eastern theologian. He will be preaching in both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services, drawing on the Book of Habakkuk. 
 
An additional Sunday opportunity will take place at 12:15 p.m. in The Underground, the youth space on the first floor.  That discussion will focus on how all of us can learn from one another across our cultural and racial backgrounds.  Then, on Sunday evening at 5:45 p.m. in the Broyles Auditorium, Matt Seadore will interview Dr. Kassis about what the Middle Eastern Church and North American Church can learn from one another.
 
Please join us for any or all of these important occasions to grow our faith and deepen our connections with the global church.
 
With joy and anticipation,

Scott

Following the Resurrection

Dear NAPC Family & Friends,

Please take a moment to read my column in the April Newsletter about my reflections on Easter Sunday at North Avenue Presbyterian Church!  The message, in brief, is that it was a joy-filled day throughout all three worship services in celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!  Thanks be to God!  He is risen indeed—on Easter Sunday and every day of our lives, as we abide in Him, by God’s grace. 
 
This week we are pleased to continue in the Easter season with a focus on the events just following the Resurrection.  At 9 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., our staff lead for Young Adult Ministries Ben Allward-Theimer, M.Div. (Duke Divinity School), will be preaching an important message about “Doubting Thomas.”  As the word of the resurrection of Jesus spread among the disciples, Thomas simply had a hard time believing it could be true.  He needed to see the risen Jesus for himself, up close and personal.   Ben has deep insights into the Scriptures, and his message will be a blessing to our congregation.  I look forward to co-leading the service and offering the Prayers of the People for our congregation, our city, our nation, and our world!
 
At 11 a.m., we look forward to a special Service of Ordination for North Avenue Elder Irene Wong, M.Div. (Fuller Theological Seminary).  Irene will be ordained at North Avenue on behalf the broader church of Jesus Christ, within the PC(USA), to her new position as Executive Director of AMIS (Atlanta Ministry with International Students).  I look forward to serving as the Moderator of the  Ordination Commission of special guests, both clergy and elders, on behalf of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.  Upon Irene’s request, the Session has invited the Reverend Jihyun Oh, ordained PC(USA) pastor, and mentor to Irene, to deliver the sermon.  Her text will be that extraordinary passage that is found only in Luke 24:13-35, often referred to as The Road to Emmaus.  This Service of Ordination will be an enormous blessing to our congregation, as we once again ordain one of our own to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. 
 
Cynthia and I look forward to worshipping you on Sunday!
 
With anticipation,

Scott

Palm Sunday at NAPC

This coming week is the most important of the Christian year for the followers of Jesus around the world. It begins with a focus on Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. As the people in first century Jerusalem witnessed his entry, we too will celebrate the coming of our Lord into Jerusalem. The King is coming—Shout Hosanna! 
 
You will not want to miss worship this Sunday (March 25)! The Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell will be preaching in the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services. The founding Executive Director of Macedonia Ministries and former pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, he is one of the truly great preachers in North America. He will incorporate into his sermon how he and Fifth Avenue Church responded to the horrific events of 9/11/2001.  We also are privileged to have North Avenue’s Young Adult Ministry Coordinator Ben Allward-Theimer preach at the 5:45 p.m. service.
 
One of the festive traditions of North Avenue on Palm Sunday is the hosting of a petting zoo. The animals help remind us that they were likely everywhere present in the streets of Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, roaming here and there. Members and friends of all ages always love seeing the animals. The zoo will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. and continue until after the 11 a.m. worship service. Weather permitting, the zoo will be on the upper parking deck; if we have inclement weather, the zoo will be on the lower level of the parking deck. 
 
A special feature of the 11 a.m. worship service is the Procession of Palms. Again, weather permitting, we will gather at the front of steps of the church on Peachtree Street. From there, we will process down Peachtree Street, across the parking deck, and into the Broyles Ministry Auditorium. If the weather is inclement, we will gather inside the church in the Welcome Center, just off the upper parking deck. From there we will process into the Broyles Auditorium. 
 
The day also has a hint of heaviness to it, as the people in the original crowd began to realize that Jesus was not coming as a powerful military messiah; instead, he came as a humble servant to give his life on a cross.  Instead of restoring the ancient glory of Israel by earthly might, Jesus does something vastly more extraordinary and transformational. He gives his life for the salvation of the world, as he becomes the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In and through his death and resurrection, Jesus brings about reconciliation between the God of all Creation and all people who trust in him. That reconciliation spills over into the reconciliation of all things in heaven and on earth! 
 
On Maundy Thursday (March 29), our congregation will gather in  homes across the city to observe fellowship in Christ’s name and to share in the sacrament of Holy Communion on the night of Christ’s arrest. We urge you to sign up here to attend one of these gatherings.
 
On Good Friday (March 30), you are invited to a worship service at noon at our partner church, First Congregational Church, 105 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta. (Their congregation will join us on Easter Sunday morning for our combined Jazz Urban Sunrise Service).  If you are interested in meeting at North Avenue on Friday at 11:30 a.m. for a ride to First Congregational Church, please send a message to andrea@napc.org by Tuesday,
March 27 at 5 p.m. 

 
Then we wait in silence and in prayer for the glorious celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday!
 
Please make every effort to join us in these important services of worship. Your presence means so much to all of us!
 
With prayerful anticipation,
Scott