On Being Church - a blog

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

In 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, 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.

  • 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. What does this mean to you?
  • We often hear phrases like “voting our values.” What are the gospel values that you want to translate into how you vote this fall?  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.

Inspired by Sacred Threads

Written by Martie Leming


The Sacred Threads exhibit has again brought us 36 amazing quilts to enjoy.  The quality of the work is stunning. 

Comfort Food

Years ago my Dad walked into the kitchen while my Mama was cooking. He took one look at the noodles boiling, parmesan cheese grated and olives drained and said, Who died?

Body of Christ

Dear Church,

thanksgivingThere are weeks where your movement makes me feel like I am truly part of the Body of Christ. THIS has been one of those weeks. It actually started this time last week when the Building & Grounds crew rented a hydraulic lift to change all the lightbulbs in the Sanctuary and ended up completing scraping and repainting the louvers in the steeple tower (courtyard side). In a note to B&G, Eric Baucom wrote, “This is a huge milestone in a difficult and important project for this church, and it was only possible thanks to all the previous hard work on the steeple project, plus the dedicated volunteers willing to give so generously of their time…” On Sunday, West Raleigh hosted PCUSA Mission Co-worker, Elizabeth Turk, reminding us of how connected we are to the international Body of Christ, while the choir and instrumental ensemble lifted us with their music. The Hospitality & Fellowship Committee hosted Explore West Raleigh, connecting four folks into membership. Then, on Monday, instead of the usual brown bag lunch, members of the Feeding Ministry prepared and served a hot meal in the courtyard. Also on Monday the Arts Ministry arrived to hang the 36 quilts that are part of Sacred Threads, a traveling exhibit that will be at WR through the end of January. They finished late Tuesday and offered their first guided tour on Wednesday. While all of that was happening, Beth Harris was working with our friend Samia Touti to ready our Syrian friends to host 100 people for A Community Thanksgiving.


view from up topIn the background of it all, committees are working to prepare for Advent, train a new class of Stephen Ministers, ready the church for winter Christian Formation opportunities, finish a job description for an Interim Director of Discipleship & Christian Formation (see Special Notes for an update from the Personnel Committee), complete the 2020 Pledging Season (click here to make your 2020 pledge if you have not already done so) and start work on the 2020 Budget. It is not always easy, smooth and gracious – we bump into one another and have to navigate differing expectations. We get weary, feeling sometimes as if the work will never be done, which it will now. Yet, if you take a step back and look at it all, it is quite remarkable how the West Raleigh Body moves. Sometimes, on the really good days it actually does bear witness to the Body of Christ. Thanks be to God!



See you in church,