On Being Church - a blog

Your vote, your voice

Written by Dawn Comfort

The late Rep. John Lewis fought for the right of all citizens, especially minorities, to vote. He stated, “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”

"See No Stranger"

It was 2017 and I was newly pregnant with my first child. However, amid this joyous occasion hate crimes were on the rise, immigrants were being detained and caged at the border, black lives were continuing to be in jeopardy, and white supremacists were organizing and newly emboldened. It was the beginning of an especially dark time in our country’s history.  It was during that time when I also had the opportunity to hear these words from civil rights leader, Valarie Kaur:

Love the Lord your God with heart, mind and strength.

It matters that we continue to seek and dwell in the mind and heart of God, a voice often difficult to hear midst the clamor of the culture.

Though we miss gathering together in person on Sunday mornings the dedication of leadership and the magic of technology enables our continued growth and nurture in Christian Formation.  Three adult classes meet by zoom, either collectively around conversations such as the Friends of Oberlin Village panel or separately around specific topics they have chosen to engage.

Two important opportunities are being offered in October and November.  Whether you attend a class or not, come join in!

On October 11th and 18th Rev. Dr. Vanessa Hawkins (read bio) will facilitate conversation around the significant writing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.     Please read the letter here and/or listen to Dr. King read the letter here.

On November 8th, 15th and 22nd Rev. Katie Cashwell* will facilitate conversations utilizing the book See No Stranger; A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love written by Valerie Kaur.

The book may be purchased on line…print or Kindle….or contact Lori by October 21st when she will place a bulk order. (Cost will be determined by quantity ordered)

*Rev. Katie Cashwell and her family have been worshipping at WRPC since moving to Raleigh in the summer of 2019.  Katie has served congregations in Washington, DC and Annapolis.  Katie most recently served for five years on staff at Montreat, working with the youth, college and women’s conferences. In addition to being full time mom for her two young sons Katie enjoys yoga, baking, reading fiction and plenty of outdoor activities.  When recently received as a member of New Hope Presbytery Katie wrote: “I believe the church should be a leader in exploring how the Christian faith might best offer its voice to pressing contemporary issues.”

WRPC is fortunate to have the leadership of both these accomplished women on topics that are quite pertinent to our wider conversations during this challenging time of pandemic and political upheaval.

Thanks, again, to the Christian Formation Committee and Sunday School class leaders who facilitate these and other meaningful presentations that encourage spiritual care and centering.

Fall 2020 Adult Christian Formation schedule  

Dismantling Racism: What Can We Do?

Shortly after George Floyd’s death, many members and friends of West Raleigh joined the national reckoning on racism that swept the nation. The cries of generations of pain, trauma and lament burst into the open air and onto streets of the Summer of 2020.  The invisible and institutional walls keeping communities of Color separated, segregated from white people were pierced with protests and lament.  The gates opened; the flood of emotions released, and it remains my deepest hope and prayer that, ultimately, this painful moment in history will release us all from the prison of our own bias.

Taking Root in Tomorrow, Nourished by Yesterday

For our second Community Impact Challenge, we are celebrating Oberlin Village and support ing the efforts of Friends of Oberlin Village.

Worship Committee Update


The Book of Order reminds us, “The first Christians worshiped at the temple and in synagogues, homes, catacombs, and prisons. The important thing was not the place, but the gathering of Christ’s body— the people of God—and the presence of Christ among them in Word and Sacrament. Later the Church began to build special places to meet for worship. To this day, space for Christian worship is primarily established by the presence of the risen Lord and the communion of the Holy Spirit in the gathering of the people of God” (W 1.0203). 

Voting Conversation Starters

This is an update of a post that initially appeared in August. 

20201010 173648In an effort to trap Jesus, a group of church leaders asked him if it is lawful to pay taxes to the emperor.  Jesus had them pull a coin from their pocket as he replied, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Although they were trying to trick Jesus, he was not trying to trick them.  The answer was clear – all things come from God and all things belong to God.  Everything, including, especially, our money and our power are to be used to glorify God.  Money, paying taxes, how government spends our tax dollars, and by extension, voting are all ways that we participate in the right ordering of our common community.  Although Presbyterians strongly advocate in a separation of church and state, we advocate just as strongly that Christians engage and participate in the political process.  This week’s conversation starter is on voting. Below are some conversation starters to get us thinking and talking about how, as people of faith, we will engage in the political process this fall as well as some information on voting. 

  • The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) begins with the Biblical and theological foundations of our form of government. The Great Ends of the Church (F. 1.0304) provide order and shape to the Christian life.  Our call begins with “the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind” and culminates in “the promotion of social righteousness and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”  How does this ordering shape how we participate in the political process?

The Great Ends of the Church are:          
the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
the maintenance of divine worship;
the preservation of the truth;
the promotion of social righteousness; and
the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

  • 20201010 173609Although Presbyterians strongly advocate in a separation of church and state, we advocate just as strongly that Christians engage and participate in the political process. How does this institutional separation provide accountability for both church and government?  How does responsible civic engagement call believers to put faith into action?
  • We often hear phrases like “voting our values.” What are the gospel values that you want to translate into how you vote?  What research do you need to do to make gospel-informed decisions about candidates running in local, state and national races this fall?
  • Our national political climate is contentious at best and toxic at worst. This repels many Christians from the political process; yet, our call as Christians remains to stay engaged.  What does that look like to you?  How can we be a part of changing the way we talk to one another?  Will that change the outcome of the conversation?
  • Information is critical to making gospel-informed decisions. Here is some information on voting that has been compiled by members of West Raleigh.  This information will remain on our website through Election Day. 

Community Impact Challenge

Written by Renee Goldsmith

The many needs that have emerged in 2020 as we weather the pandemic, civil unrest, natural disasters and perhaps even pestilences (we hear the cicadas are coming back) make it difficult to know how and where best to try to help.  That’s one reason the Mission, Peace and Justice Committee has chosen to create a series of Community Impact Challenges to give members a chance to learn about the needs of a local group or agency and consider making a financial gift.

Your Vote is Your Voice

written by Susan Randolph

The late Rep. John Lewis fought for the right of all citizens, especially minorities, to vote. He stated, “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”

Race Equity Challenge

We have always been a confessing people, people who understand the necessity of confessing our sin and the way that our sin-sick souls infect the institutions we build, and people who confess our faith in the power of God to create, redeem and heal. We believe in the necessity of reformation and the promise that the church we love is always being reformed by God.

As we are holding our breath, nature is taking one

contributed by Dawn Comfort

We’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories: clear skies in China, India, LA where previously there had been a dense fog of pollution, bears rumpassing in Yosemite Valley, sheep cruising the village square in Wales, penguins going on field trips in Shedd Aquarium, people hearing bird calls instead of cars from their Brooklyn apartments.  It all speaks to the resiliency of God’s creation.

Emotional Health During COVID-19

As we all continue to navigate the impact of Covid-19 in our daily life, it is important to recognize the impact extraordinary situations will have to our emotional wellbeing. During any unusual time, be it one fraught with adversity or even happy events that are particularly stressful, it becomes even more critical that we tend to our emotional health.

Start Out So That You Can Hold Out

Dear Members & Friends of West Raleigh,

My father is a retired physician. He retired in the fall of 2018 after practicing internal medicine for 35 years. He also served as the Medical Director of Hospice of West Alabama for 36 years. He has decades of experience talking to patients and their families about matters of life and death, talking them through necessary lifestyle changes and sitting with them faithfully when grief overwhelms.

Critical Care

Dear Members & Friends of West Raleigh,

Since last Thursday we pivoted from being a church that depends on gathering, in-person and as a Body to a virtual reality for worship, Sunday School, gatherings and meetings. Instead of being full of people, the Sanctuary is full of cameras and chords. Instead of the monthly Deacons meeting, the Session and Diaconate held a joint meeting by Zoom on Tuesday night. The only people in the church this week have been staff and 2-3 volunteers keeping the feeding ministry going. It has been a strange and surreal kind of week as we find our way forward, but we are doing it.

COVID-19 Response

Dear Members & Friends of West Raleigh,

I wanted to write this week to let you know that West Raleigh church staff and Session have been thinking about how to prepare for and respond to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Holy Conversations on Gun Violence in America: A Beginning

Do we have to talk about guns at church? It is a good question. Many members and friends of West Raleigh say, yes, we do.