Welcome to Northminster

We are a biblically-based Presbyterian church seeking to experience and share God’s love to transform our homes, community and the world. We hope you will join us.
 

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We have an appropriately physically distanced worship service at 11am, and the facilities are sanitized regularly. We look forward to seeing you! Click here to find out where we are and get in touch. If you are not able to join us in person, we invite you to follow our livestream, which you can find here.

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January 2021 Pastor’s Corner – Reset

We are a biblically-based Presbyterian church seeking to experience and share God’s love to transform our homes, community and the world.

Last year was something special, wasn’t it? The trouble we knew was brewing when the year began pales in comparison to how 2020 actually unfolded.  We faced challenges and difficulties that we never could have dreamed or imagined.  We found our lives disrupted in unprecedented ways.  And what we thought was going to be a problem and challenge for a few months has persisted into this new year as well.  Out of necessity and concern for our own well-being, and that of others, we have found ourselves retreating from much of the normal rhythms and patterns of our lives.  Some of us haven’t left the house, other than for work or groceries, since April.  In times of trial and struggle, it is a natural, human reaction to withdraw and become insular, to focus on yourself and your family.  Sometimes, doing so is a necessity in order just to survive.

What is true for us as individuals has also been true for us as a church.  We have had to adapt to an entirely different way of being and doing the work of the church, and that adjustment is still ongoing.  The changes and shifts in our culture over the past decade or so kicked into overdrive because of this pandemic, and to be honest, we were kind of caught off guard.  While some adjustments happened quickly and relatively smoothly (such as shifting to online worship), many of the changes and shifts we need to make are still ongoing.  As we’ve wrestled and struggled this year, as a church we have focused more on ourselves than on our community and our mission.  Not entirely, but significantly.

Time for a Reset

When your computer or phone starts acting weird, one of the first things to try is to reset your device.  Often, this is as simple as doing a restart — just shut it off and then turn it on again.  Sometimes, you might need to reset the device — erase everything and restore it from a backup.  A reset is more time consuming, but is also more effective at cleaning out the bugs and the junk that build up over time.  I wonder if we, as individuals but perhaps more as a church, aren’t in need of a “reset” as well?

The quote at the top of this article is the first sentence on our church website.  It is Northminster’s purpose statement, a sentence that explains in a succinct manner why we exist as a community of faith.  While the world and culture around us has changed, our mission and purpose have not.  While we are all struggling to address and adapt to our pandemic-ravaged world, the Gospel has not changed.  How we present the Gospel might change, how we go about Gospel work might change, but the Gospel itself is timeless and unchanging.  …to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12–13)

Perhaps we need a reset — as Christians and as a community of Christians.  Reset our faith and our mission by doing a “factory reset” on our spiritual lives.  Get back to the simple basics of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  Let’s start this year off by asking if we are truly experiencing and being transformed by God’s love in our lives and in our homes, and if not, why not?  Let’s resolve to get rid of anything in our lives that is keeping us from knowing that love which surpasses all understanding (Eph. 3:12) so that we might love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:28-34).  Then, let us come together as a community of faith ready to take the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ to those who don’t yet know the hope, life and love that can only be found through Him.

The challenges of 2020 haven’t stopped with the flipping of the calendar, but the Gospel has never been hindered by worldly circumstances.  In fact, the Gospel has often thrived in circumstances much more challenging than what we’ve faced this past year.  I believe the best is yet to come for Northminster and that God is going to do some amazing and special things through this congregation in the months and years to come.  Let’s commit together to resetting our faith and lives so we can embrace the mission He is inviting us to join Him in doing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:17–19)

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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Drive-In Food Drive & Caroling – This Sunday, December 13 @ 1PM

Food Drive Drive-in

Mark your calendars! It’s coming—the first ever Northminster Food Drive Drive-in! We will be collecting for Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN). The items most needed are listed below. Please bring your donation to the back parking lot at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 13, and stay to sing some favorite songs of the season with Gospel on the Grounds.
 
Items requested by NHN:
  • 14oz. yellow mustard
  • 32oz. pancake mix
  • 4 lbs. sugar
  • 24 oz. pancake syrup
  • 15 oz. ketchup
  • 6 pack of fruit cups
  • 15 oz. mayonnaise
 

Drive-in Caroling

We invite you to enjoy the songs of the season on Sunday, December 13, at 1 p.m. Maggie Brockman and her group, Gospel on the Grounds, will be playing some beloved Christmas carols while we listen. You’re welcome to sit in your car with the windows up or down to enjoy the beautiful music. You can even sit outside on your lawn chair if the weather is nice. We hope you’ll join us for this out-of-the-box, drive-in Christmas caroling for 2020.

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December 2020 Pastor’s Corner – The Importance of Advent

“The special note of Advent is its primary focus on the second coming of Christ, who will arrive in glory on the last day to consummate the kingdom of God — its orientation toward the promised future.  Advent…differs from the other seasons in that it looks beyond history altogether and awaits Jesus Christ’s coming again “in glory to judge the living and the dead.” — Fleming Rutledge, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ

This past Sunday, November 29, was the First Sunday in Advent.  It marks the beginning of the Christian year.  For most of us, Advent is the season preparing us for Christmas, as if it were simply the pre-Christmas season… after all, it does end on Christmas Eve.  But Advent isn’t pointing to Christmas at all, it points far past Christmas.  As the quote from Fleming Rutledge above states, Advent points not to Christ’s first coming, but to his Second.  While we tend to treat Advent as a “countdown to Christmas,” it’s actually far deeper and meaningful.

It seems that, each year, we are in a bigger and bigger rush to get to Christmas.  Stores have been pushing the “unofficial” beginning of the Christmas season earlier and earlier, and this year has pushed it even further — I saw Christmas decorations in stores this year weeks before Halloween!  It is a strange and confusing thing to see Halloween and Christmas decorations side-by-side.  Jack Skellington would be furious!  But I also get it — 2020 has been an amazingly difficult year (although not even close to the worst year ever.  That honor goes to 536 AD.  No, seriously.  Look it up).  After months and months of the pandemic and social distancing, a terribly contentious presidential election cycle, murder hornets, and record-breaking natural disasters, we’re all pretty desperate for a little light and a dash of Christmas cheer.  While I’m personally a staunch “no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving” Scrooge, I won’t judge anyone who has already put up a Christmas tree, some decorations, or gone all-in on Christmas music.

But don’t rush past Advent in order to get to Christmas.  While Advent has a particular emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ, it does so with its feet firmly grounded in the present reality.  As Fleming Rutledge explains, “Advent contains within itself the crucial balance of the now and the not-yet that our faith requires. [T]his book will explore this theme in relation to the yearly frenzy of “holiday” time in which the commercial Christmas music insists that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” and Starbucks invites everyone to “feel the merry.” The disappointment, brokenness, suffering, and pain that characterize life in this present world is held in dynamic tension with the promise of future glory that is yet to come. In that Advent tension, the church lives its life…The Advent season encourages us to resist denial and face our situation as it really is” (Advent pp. 7-8).  The hope of Christ’s Second Coming, even the joy of celebrating his First coming at Christmas, is all the more bright and joyous because of the dark, brokenness of this present world, not in spite of it.

Advent is not for the faint of heart.  But there is a gift waiting for you, if you are willing to slow down and find it.  They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn…is it not the darkness of the night that causes us to appreciate the light all the more?  Allow yourself to be present in the hardness and pain of 2020 and in Advent’s much-needed reminder that, one day, Jesus Christ will come back and make everything sad untrue and make everything broken whole.  In doing so, we find that Christmas takes a place in our life and our hearts far more true than decorations, songs and presents.

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:5)

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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November 2020 Pastor’s Corner – Being, Having, Giving Thanks

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. — Colossians 3:17

 
As I’m sitting down to write this article, I’m also preparing a sermon on Colossians 3:12-17, which I’ve probably already preached before you’ve read this (if you missed it, you can find it here).  But it’s worth taking a bit of extra time in this space on it, particularly as we begin the month of November.  Three times in three verses Paul stresses thankfulness.  “Be thankful” (v.15), have “thankfulness in your hearts to God” (v.16), “give thanks to God” (v.17).  Paul uses three different Greek words, which our English translations capture pretty well.  Being, having, giving.  As we begin this month in which we are intentional in giving thanks, I find myself particularly doing those very things: being thankful, having thankfulness, and giving thanks.
 

Being Thankful

Whenever I have opportunity to talk with the Presbytery leadership about Northminster, I am always quick to talk about how loving and supportive you are of my family and me.  Over the past month, we have been overwhelmed with the cards and gifts you have sent for Pastor Appreciation Month.  What I appreciate even more is that you share your appreciation throughout the entire year.  I am so grateful and thankful to have the opportunity to serve alongside you in service to our Lord and Savior.  It is easy to “be thankful” when one gets to serve a congregation as wonderful as you are.

Having Thankfulness

This has been a very challenging year, to say it lightly.  We have all faced difficulties we never would have expected or anticipated, both individually and as a society.  But even in the midst of the hardship, God is still good and His blessings abound.  Each day, the sun continues to shine, our lungs fill with air, we have clothes on our backs, food on our tables, and a roof over our heads.  While we all wish and yearn for this pandemic to come to an end, there are countless blessings for which we can have thankfulness in our hearts to God.  If “being thankful” is something we do in a moment, “having thankfulness” is more of a continuous state of being.  I invite you to think about ways you can cultivate an “attitude of gratitude,” even in these difficult times.

Giving Thanks

An important part of that “attitude of gratitude” is to express it by giving thanks.  On behalf of the Session, I’d like to give thanks to God the Father for each of you.  Throughout the difficulties and challenges of this year, you have faithfully continued to support the work and ministry of this church.  Your monthly giving has exceeded last year’s every month except for two, and our income has exceeded our expenses each month except for two.  Where last year at this time we were facing an uncertain financial situation, because of your generosity we are much more stable this year.  We do not know what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future.  We are excited, even in the midst of the uncertainty, about what God has done, is doing and even more for what God has yet to do through you and this church in the months and years to come.

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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October 2020 Pastor’s Corner – Pulling Together — For The Kingdom

He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.— Eph. 4:11–13 THE MESSAGE)
 
I’ve been watching a trend recently that has me concerned. It has become increasingly difficult to find people who are able and willing to serve in the various ministries and missions of the church. Our committees have been shrinking and appeals for folks to get involved and help out have gone unanswered. As a pastor, I am concerned about this trend and spend much of my time praying about why this is and what we might do about it.
 
Perhaps you might be thinking, well, we are in a pandemic. We are discouraged from participating in the very things that are part-and-parcel of church ministry. This is true. But what the pandemic has done is accelerate what was already happening. Even in my short three years at Northminster, I’ve noticed a very steady decrease in volunteer activity in the church. The pandemic creates problems with solving this issue; it doesn’t explain the cause.
 
A better diagnosis might be found in the reality that we are an aging congregation. Many of you have served the Kingdom of God and this congregation faithfully for decades. You have tirelessly poured yourselves out for the sake of Northminster, and have done so willingly and gladly. There are not enough words to express the gratitude I, and everyone else, feels, for your service. You have earned a rest, and you deserve a rest.
 
The hard truth is that aging congregation or not, global pandemic or not, the work, ministry and mission of the church goes forward. No church can function without its volunteers — for small churches like ours, though, it’s more than essential. God has gathered this congregation together, and He has given each of us gifts and abilities meant to be used for the building up of the Body of Christ. An essential part of our growth as disciples, of our maturing as Christians, is putting into practice “skilled servant work” as we read above. In order for the church to be healthy, we all need to participate. How we go about that work might look a little bit different in the midst of a pandemic, but nevertheless the work goes on.
 
Why do I bring this up? For several reasons. While some ministries are still on hold due to the pandemic, others are still moving forward and we need folks to serve in those areas. One such example is the youth ministry — we have enough students and a broad enough age range that we need to have separate high school and middle school groups. But more than that, it’s time to find our next class of elders to begin serving in 2021. We have two or three elder positions to fill. One of those positions has remained empty since I arrived in 2017. Each year, the challenge before the nominating committee to fill the open seats has increased. This year, we go about this work in the midst of a pandemic.
 
I invite you to search your heart humbly and prayerfully to see if the Holy Spirit is prompting you to step into one of those positions. Under normal circumstances, that can be an intimidating nudge. I know that under these circumstances it’s even moreso. I leave you with these verses to guide your prayers:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. — 2 Tim. 1:6–7
 
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. — 1 Tim. 3:1
 
Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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