August 27, 2020
The first half of this week for me was spent participating in a “virtual retreat” with the sixteen other Presbyterian pastors from across the country who are part of the Zick Scholars Preaching Program. By the miracle of technology, we spent the past three days learning, laughing, and praying together while participating in workshops on the theme of Spirit Led Preaching led by our two guest teachers at this retreat: Drs. Luke Powery (Dean of Duke Chapel at Duke University) and Sally Brown (Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary). The Zick program is made possible by the generous donation of George and Cathy Manning in memory of Cathy’s parents. It is facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Tom Tewell, a long-time Presbyterian pastor who has served in many capacities throughout the country. As I wrote in a newsletter this time last year, the Zick program is a life-giving gift to me and my ministry, and I pray will be a gift to our church as well!

As you scan this week’s newsletter, you will note that things are slowly resuming around church. There are many mission, learning, and fellowship opportunities on the near horizon. I also want to share with you that the session has approved a plan to begin offering an outdoor in-person worship service beginning on Sunday, September 13. Details are still being finalized and will be sent out in full as soon as possible. In the meantime, please know that even as we continue to seek out ways to safely resume in-person worship and other activities, we recognize that many of you are simply not able and/or will not feel comfortable resuming any in-person functions for some time. As such, all of our planning is being done with an eye to how we continue offering options and opportunities for worship online. Stay tuned for more details!

Finally, there is much for us to be in prayer for in our community and world this week. We pray for the many in our congregation and individual families who are facing serious illness and hospitalization. We pray for our health care workers, frontline responders, teachers, students, and parents. We pray for our neighbors on the Gulf Coast who are this very day feeling the full force of an extremely destructive storm. And we pray too for our nation as we continue to grapple with the deep wounds of our shared history and even deeper division of the present. In a world so steeped in the ways of violence, hate, and prejudice, may we, as followers of Jesus Christ, be sowers of peace and agents of change. 

“Lord, in your mercy… hear our prayers.”

Rev. Alan Dyer
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Musical Notes
Connections with others can be life changing. We are now all finding new and different ways to have fellowship.  In fact, ZOOM has helped the choirs get together and have some of that time together that otherwise wouldn’t be available. We usually don’t have any interruption in rehearsal, so before and after is the only chance.   

When musicians do gather for rehearsal, there’s usually a story told about some experience or something funny that happened in performance, or a musical joke or two. This fellowship is vital to great music making and adds interest and a break from the practice.  As I worked with Ann Nermoe and Bud Longley this week, the stories poured forth about their long-time experience with folk music. Both of them have had major illnesses, have recovered, and have kept on singing and playing. Did you know that Ann knows Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary and has sung with him before? He heard her singing and playing her guitar on a hotel balcony and stopped and met her. They’ve seen each other many times after that at their concerts over the years. Bud once walked into a Harry Chapin concert singing a song along with him thinking that everyone was singing along.  They weren’t and Bud was singing full voice.  Harry stopped the concert and came down and ended up singing a duet with Bud. Glenn Yarbrough of the Limelighters was his dear friend for many years until his death in 2016. Glenn was in concert here several years ago with a choir that I got to conduct. Bud was also a member of The Great Friendship, a folk group that was featured on the Tonight Show. They both have so much experience in this genre and are connected to some of the greatest folk singers of the 60’s and 70’s. This Sunday, they offer Kurt Kaiser’s timeless “Pass It On”. You will want to tune into this interesting setting – we had too much fun recording in Kate Buckley’s backyard.   

An interesting note about the title Pass It On. It’s actually part of The Foundation for a Better Life/ that publishes billboards and public service announcements that are of a very positive nature. The founder of this organization? Philip Anschutz, owner of the Sea Island Company. He quietly launched and backed this inspirational campaign in 2000. Check it out online. AND enjoy the campfire in August during our service!!   

For September 6th, Amy Bishop and I will offer piano and organ duets for the prelude and postlude. Ann and Bud’s recording of How Beautiful by Twila Paris will be featured.  Hymns for these Sundays assisted by Richard Hathaway: 49 The God of Abraham Praise; 203 Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love.  
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