The Central Presbyterian Church Blog.
For more information about the church, click the links above!
Welcome to the home of Central Presbyterian Church!
The 1-29-2022 worship service is featured above. Bulletins can be found by clicking publications above.
- Advent Services
We’ll be holding four Advent Services in the coming Days. This coming Sunday is our annual Christmas cantata, “The Thrill of Hope”.
On Tuesday, December 20th at 6:30pm we’ll be holding our Blue Christmas Service. A Blue Christmas worship service provides the opportunity for us to gather to carve out a time of quiet reflection, to honor the emotions of the season that are not so joyful, and to be reminded that we are not alone in this season.
Join us for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5:30pm. Christmas Morning we’ll be holding our regular Sunday worship service at 11am. We hope you join us for all these wonderful services! And don’t forget to bring a friend!
- Christmas Joy & So Much More
Samual Polanco is no stranger to the power of walls.
Samual, a 2022 graduate of the Menaul School — a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related, grades 6–12 college preparatory school in Albuquerque, New Mexico — has known and seen walls, both literal and figurative, that separated him and others throughout his life. Now, he credits his experience at Menaul as being instrumental in breaking down life’s many barriers.
His education at Menaul was made possible, in part, by gifts to the PC(USA)’s Christmas Joy Offering, which helps provide scholarships to students. A Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s, the annual offering distributes gifts equally to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Menaul’s student body is currently represented by 21 different countries.
“When I first came to Menaul, I was able to explore the ideas I wanted to explore, learn what I wanted to learn and just be myself. And that’s what Menaul has done for all of us. We can just be ourselves here,” Samual said.
This past April, the 35 members of the class of 2022, including Samual, became student volunteers through Frontera de Cristo, a Presbyterian border ministry whose mission is to build relationships and understanding across borders. The students spent five days on the U.S.-Mexico border for the school’s traditional “mission week.”
John Sitler, who teaches Upper School religious studies at Menaul praised Samual and his friends, Michael Hedenberg and Abi Nyase, as among their class’s top leaders. They were all profoundly moved by what they saw and heard during mission week, especially walking the Migrant Trail to the border wall.
“It may sound like a cliché, but one thing the students got out of the experience of seeing this ‘scar’ on the earth is that the most dangerous walls are the walls in our mind,” John said. Menaul teaches breaking down walls toward our common humanity to be like Jesus, who broke down dividing walls and welcomed everyone.
John continued, “We teach that faith is to be lived out in the world. Because so many young people today see the church as building walls to isolate and separate, we at Menaul are all about opening doors to the richness of God’s Creation.”
Abi said, “To support Menaul is to support kids who are going to be the future leaders of our country.” Our gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering take down walls, break barriers, and build potential and future leaders of the Church. Please give what you can; for when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot. You can give through our congregation during the Christmas Eve Service, by credit card online at pcusa.org/christmasjoy, or you can text CHRISTMASJOY to 91999
- The Bake Sale Returns
The Annual PW Bake Sale returns! Need a pie, cake, rolls, or a selection of other baked goods for your Thanksgiving feast? Stop by on Saturday, Nov. 19th and pick up some delicious treats while helping our Presbyterian Women fund their mission campaigns! We’ll see you there!!!!
- Go Forth In Peace
The words of Isaiah 55 convey a profound message to us during A Season of Peace:
For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace.
Go out in joy. When we look around our world these days, it is sometimes hard to feel joyful. Yet joy inherently embraces optimism. Joy is the companion of faith and hope. In our polarized world torn by war, famine, and marginalization of the poor and disenfranchised, we are in desperate need of joyful and brave people who are willing to ask the hard questions and live the difficult solutions that make peace possible.
Be led forth in peace. Through the Peace & Global Witness Offering, we connect with each other, as the Church, together, to confront systems of injustice and promote reconciliation in places around the world and right here at home.
Throughout A Season of Peace, we have heard these inspiring stories:
~ The members of Faith Presbyterian in Indianapolis who go forth in peace with Indy TenPoint, a not-for-profit using a “boots-on-the-ground” approach to reducing gun violence, increasing employment and enhancing educational achievement. Indy TenPoint connects young people with loving and caring people who help them find what God designed for them to be in life.
~ On the island nation of Fiji, the effects of climate change and violent cyclones force more and more people each year to leave the security of their homes. The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program reminds us that our Commitment to Peacemaking includes “making peace with the earth,” meaning — protecting and restoring God’s Creation through environmentally mindful advocacy.
~ As we see in the news every day, millions of people desperately seek peace far from their native lands. Lesvos Solidarity, on the island off the coast of Greece, is one of the Church’s global partners in peacemaking and is a living example of how we can show love to the stranger and promote dignity among those who flee war and poverty.
Through our gifts to the Peace & Global Witness Offering, we are able, as a single congregation, to participate in this larger work that we would not be able to do on our own. Because this a shared Offering, we can help those whose challenges are very present to us. Twenty-five percent of the Offering will stay with our own congregation to pursue peacemaking and reconciliation ministries; 25% stays with our mid council for similar work in our region. And 50% will be used at the national level for ministries of peacemaking and global witness. Remember — peace is active, not passive. Peace is doing, not waiting.
So let us go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Please give whatever you can. For when we all do a little, it adds up a lot.
You can donate during our worship service on Sunday, October 2nd, by credit card online at pcusa.org/peace-global, Text PCUSAPEACE to 41444, or visit pcusa.org/peace-global for more information.
- A Back to School Bash
Central Presbyterian Church is proud to announce we’ll be holding a Back to School Bash! We’ll have free food, drinks, and school supplies for those in need! We’ll also have a bounce house for children to play on! We hope to see you there!
- Building a Life of Faith
“We plan and God laughs” is identified as a Yiddish proverb, the title of a book or two and the headline of multiple online articles meant to help people navigate periods in life when personal plans seem to disintegrate in front of our eyes. When we hear or read the proverb, it can be difficult not to nod along, especially when the phrase encapsulates something most of us have experienced: a perfected resume or proposal sent, but no word back; a flawless itinerary dissolved by the smallest delay; an event set to begin, upended by a storm; a setback or an entirely “new normal.”
As much as we might nod along, or wince at our own experience, the proverb points us in the other direction, too. And if not the proverb, Scripture certainly does.
In the Book of Jeremiah, the tone and task are predominantly focused on God’s judgment, but then Jeremiah shares the statement: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans … to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). These words were sent by the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites who had been taken into Babylonian exile. These striking, comforting words reminded them that, despite their experience of the present, God’s gesture, thoughts and plans for them — and for us — are peaceful, abundant and hopeful. “We plan and God laughs”? Perhaps. But it is just as possible that “we plan, and God imagines a future with so much more.”
At Pentecost, we celebrate that God offers more than we can plan. Our gifts to the Pentecost Offering connect with God’s hope and future, supporting ministries with children, youth and young adults by building a life of faith. Through the Young Adult Volunteer program, Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, the “Educate a Child, Transform the World” initiative, we join in ministries that connect young people with one another and with caring communities, helping them shape a life and a future beyond even the one we could plan.
Please Give Generously to the Pentecost offering on Sunday June 5th at our worship service, by clicking this link, or by mailing a check to Central Presbyterian Church 6300 Trinity Dr. Pine Bluff, AR 71603 and putting “Pentecost Offering” on the subject line.
Because, when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
- Holy Week 2022
Holy Week starts next Sunday with our Palm Sunday Service. Holy Week continues with our Maundy Thursday Service at 6pm. This will be a small service with a soup/sandwich potluck meal. We will have 2 opportunities to worship on Good Friday. The Sanctuary will be open for quiet mediation from 11am till 2pm . Our Worship service will begin at 6pm. Our Easter Services will start at 8:00am with a Easter Breakfast. An Easter Egg hunt is happening at 9:00am. And our Easter Morning Cantata Service will take place at 11am. Please make note of this slight change from our usual Easter start times. We’ll be celebrating the One Great Hour of Sharing offering on Easter Sunday. For information can be found below. We hope to see you as we celebrate this Holy Week.
BUILDING CONNECTIONS TO LAST … Advocating for Environmental Justice
What does July 16 mean to you? If you are part of the Navajo nation, or have connections near Church Rock, New Mexico, that date might stir a heartbreaking memory of a preventable disaster that continues to have disastrous impacts.
Over 40 years ago, the earthen dam of a nuclear waste disposal pond broke near Church Rock and dumped tons of solid, radioactive waste and 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco. The resulting contamination of the land, air and ground water affected nine Navajo municipalities.
The toxic and cumulative effects of this human-caused disaster have impacted the Navajo people for generations — especially in the form of such chronic health problems as asthma as well as a higher incidence of miscarriages, birth defects, and liver and pancreatic cancer. Each year, hundreds of Diné families and their allies come together near the tragic anniversary to pray, to heal and to act, together.
One Great Hour of Sharing connects us with these families through MASE, the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment. MASE’s mission envisions respectful, peaceful communities cherishing a healthy environment.
I like to think that’s a lot like our Church’s mission, too. It is part of what led the Committee on the Self-Development of People to connect with MASE, reaching out “like the arms of the Church,” as the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson with SDOP puts it, to address the systems and structures that perpetuate oppression, leading to poverty.
Susan Gordon, MASE’s coordinator, reminds us that “this is not short-term work. This is decades. And generations. Taking the long view has not prevented progress; the community took a very strong stand opposing new uranium mines on Navajo Nation and were instrumental in getting Navajo Nation to pass two fundamental laws. One prohibits new uranium mining and another prohibits the transportation of radioactive materials across the nation.”
Uranium Legacy Action and Remembrance Day (July 16) connects the importance of lament, especially in the face of an intergenerational trauma, with the opportunity to educate and expose Navajo youth to the realities of environmental racism.
Today I am grateful for Diné neighbors, Gordon, and Johnson, for this church, and the Whole Church, together, for reminding us that this day and every day are part of the decades and generations where we seek change.
Our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing connect us with people finding their voice and accessing their God-given power, and is the single, largest way that Presbyterians come together to work for a better world by advancing the causes of justice, resilience and sustainability. During Lent, we celebrate that
God connects with us through Jesus’ resurrection and connects us with those “who have the least” — that’s how Matthew 25 puts it — and that’s what One Great Hour of Sharing is all about.
Thank you for your generosity! For as we always say … when we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.
To give to the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering you can click here, or you can text OGHS to 91999, or you can give at Central Presbyterian on Easter Sunday.
- February Update!
Our Lent schedule starts with our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper on March 1st at 6pm. We’ll be holding our Ash Wednesday Service at 6pm on March 2nd. We hope to see you there!
We were able to raise over one hundred dollars and over one hundred breakfast food items during the Souper Bowl of Caring! We Donate our breakfast foods to the local school district and the monetary donations have been sent to Neighbor to Neighbor of Pine Bluff.
- The Perfect Gift
In the story of God, as we tell it, there is a barrier that exists between the Created world and its Creator. A wall. Sin, we say, separates us from God, and separation from God is unbearable.
And our story goes on to say that God, seeing that we had no hope in ourselves of getting over, or through or around what separates us, offered us a gift in Jesus Christ who opens a door — a door we could not open ourselves.
What a gift!
But the story goes on to say that Jesus is the perfect gift; not only opening a door but coming through it. Our story says God is with us.
In Jesus, God joined with humanity, pointing the way to the end of our separation. And in his life, death and resurrection, so our story of God goes, Jesus is the door, now standing open. The giving continues because God is with us, still — and always.
Because being with us is part of God’s story, being with others is part of our call.
The Christmas Joy Offering opens doors of opportunity for the leaders who are shaped and supported through our gifts — doors that lead to hopeful futures for young people at Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Our gifts open doors that lead to relief for church workers and their families when emergency needs arise.
Proverbs, a book of wisdom sayings, states that it’s a person’s gift that opens doors. As we give generously to the Christmas Joy Offering, we seek to not only meet needs, but to meet people, to come through the door that generosity opens. We open the door to celebrate “God with us!” We open the door with each and every student who will soon inspire and lead the world. We open the door with each and every church worker who helps us share God’s story with the world.
The story of God, as we tell it, is not about a barrier, but about a gift. It’s not about the separation, but about the gift of “being with.” Please give generously to the Christmas Joy Offering, in celebration of God’s perfect gift to us. Give because it brings us together, to open doors of relief and opportunity and to relationships that are part of God’s story, a part of God’s perfect gift to us.
Give Sunday Dec. 19th at Central Presbyterian Church, Text CHRISTMASJOY to 91999 to give to the Christmas Joy Offering, or visit pcusa.org/christmasjoy to give online or for more information.
- A Light in the Clearing
When the prophet Elijah, deep in the throes of an existential crisis, fled to Mount Horeb in search of God, he was met instead with the sound of sheer silence.
Natalie Pisarcik knows just how he felt.
“There was a time in my life where I was on the bottom,” Natalie testified during Sunday worship in her home congregation, First Presbyterian Church of Boonton, New Jersey. “I cannot even describe how hard and difficult that time was. Only those who have been there know how it feels.”
Natalie’s story recollected a significant turning point in her life. “On that fateful day, I went for a walk in a wooded area where I kept repeating over and over in my wounded brain how I would end the pain. As I walked, I came across a field, which oddly seemed to call to me. As I walked into the field, a beam of warm sunlight hit my face. It was at this exact moment that I realized I had a made a terrible mistake. It was like God was saying to me, ‘What are you doing? You have a reason to live.’ I was so overcome.”
Natalie found herself compelled to address the growing mental health crisis not only by sharing her story with her church, but also by getting her congregation more involved. The church’s board of deacons was persuaded to take immediate action to address the suicide crisis.
Because deacons in the Presbyterian tradition are called to a ministry of “compassion, witness, and service,” the board voted to designate the church’s share of the Peace & Global Witness Offering to support the New Jersey Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization in which Natalie had participated for years.
Natalie’s personally moving experience resonates anew during the pandemic, and underlines the importance of this work. “Sadly, and tragically, our community has lost more people to suicide in 2020 than it has to COVID-19,” said Natalie.
Through the Peace & Global Witness Offering, congregations are encouraged and equipped to find and address the anxiety and discord that is prevalent throughout world. The offering supports ministries that work for reconciliation and facilitate healing. Half of the Peace & Global Witness Offering goes to the national church to address these issues around the world, 25% is retained by congregations for local peace and reconciliation work, and 25% goes to mid councils for similar ministries on the regional level. And as you may be aware, our own church has used/will use our portion of the offering to support Neighbor to Neighbor of Jefferson County. Natalie has a message to share with us all during these unsettled times. She reminds us to “listen and look for the light, and remember that you have a purpose, too. God is with you.”
Text PCUSAPEACE to 41444 to give to Peace & Global Witness or visit pcusa.org/peace-global for more information.