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Developing a closer relationship with God shouldn’t be intimidating. It can begin with reading a Bible passage or a devotion each day. It only takes a few minutes. Perhaps you can find that time in the morning as you rise, right before bed, or during those unexpected times in the day when you have a free moment or two.

Many people have asked, “Who are Presbyterian Women?”  YOU! Yes, all of the women of IPC are Presbyterian Women. “What do we do?”  Presbyterian Women support ministry through teaching, study, baking, knitting, praying, yoga, centering prayer, grace groups, lectures, luncheons, book swaps, polishing silver and brass, singing, arranging flowers, greeting, and sending notes.

Friends and family have returned from holiday adventures. Christmas decorations are down. Classes have resumed. As you are getting back to a steady routine, I ask you to consider how you are engaging and will engage in the life and ministry of IPC in 2020.

As the crow flies, it’s 8,116 miles from Birmingham to Mwandi Mission in the western province of Zambia. Unfortunately, you can’t take such a direct route; the IPC 2018 Mwandi Mission Team’s journey covered 12,000 miles and took several days to complete. Why would anyone travel so far by planes, trains, boats and buses when there are worthy missionary opportunities blocks from our church? The people of Mwandi.

The Session tasked the Christian Education Ministry Team with putting together a class about our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The objective of the class is to address a range of questions that have been posed about the denomination over the past year. Some questions are simply a matter of structure: How is the PCUSA governed? Who makes the decisions and how? Other questions relate to theology: What does it mean to be “Reformed?”

As we say goodbye to one year and welcome in a new one, there is always a mix of emotions. We have certainly had some ups and downs, but as Rev. Brian Lays noted in his sermon last Sunday, one thing we know for sure is that we have Christ in common as we move together into 2020.

Welcome to 2020! In years past, I’ve asked you to use this new beginning to resolve to find ways to use your talents at Independent Presbyterian Church. But my request is a bit different this year: let’s resolve to work together.

We often find ourselves reminiscing around the holidays and sharing cherished Christmas memories. Last weekend’s Holiday House Tour certainly brought back lots of memories! Several people recalled the words of our founding pastor, Dr. Henry M. Edmonds, following the first tour in 1949. He wrote, “I salute the church for its Holiday Houses; and the owners who open their houses, forgetting trouble, expense and risk to carpets and furniture, that we young people, contemplating building or change, may get new insights into beautify, convenience, charm or just a chance to get out of old ruts. And this for Christmas: God is, not was; He speaks, not spoke.” Seventy years later, we are saluting new homeowners and new volunteers for making this tour such a great success. Hundreds of you gave your time to bake cookies, drive shuttles, serve as hosts or hostesses in homes, serve tea, sell tickets, and decorate. Thanks to your support, we welcomed nearly 1,000 people into three homes as well as here at our beloved church home. Some of those guests even attended worship with us last Sunday! In all, we raised around $27,000 for the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, First Light and STAIR. We made all of that happen together.

Christmas is quickly approaching. All around us, you can see preparations in full swing. You can feel the excitement growing as we approach the celebration of the arrival of the Christ-child.

The season of Advent is a special time shared with family and friends. It’s marked with traditions and celebrations both inside and outside IPC. It’s also a time for renewed hope as we anticipate and prepare for the arrival of the Christ-child. His birth brought hope, forgiveness, peace and Good News to Christians 2,000 years ago just as it still does today.