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BRANCHES

september 2012

Presbyterian Church Government


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SESSIONS, PRESBYTERIES, AND GENERAL ASSEMBLIES OH MY!

Celebrating Summer

Non-Pro Non-Prott Organization Organization U.S. Postage Paid U.S. Postage Paid Permit #153 Permit #153 Huntsville, AL Huntsville, AL

PREPARING FOR FALL

P R E S B Y T E R I A N

C H U R C H

JEAN F. LARROUX, III Senior Pastor MELISSA PATTERSON Executive Assistant BOB BRADSHAW Executive Director/Director of Adult Ministries

pastors note
Eschew Obfuscation...
Someone once told me that you dont know what you have said until you know what others have heard. I thought that was helpful. You DONT KNOW what you have said, until you know what others HAVE HEARD. Makes sense doesnt it? For someone like me who says things for a living, that statement can be a blessing and a curse. I regularly get asked by people about the Mission and Vision of Southwood. The question comes in many forms: some will say, I dont really know what our Mission and Vision is. Others ask for clarification and say, I dont really understand what our Mission and Vision means.
Jean F. Larroux, III

Adult Ministries

BILL NASH Associate Pastor/Director of Small Groups SARAH NIEMITZ Director of Community Development/Assimilation JAMES PARKER Chief Musician WILL SPINK Associate Pastor/Director of Shepherding SHARON DUTCHER Administrative Assistant

Student Ministries

KIM DELCHAMPS Administrative Assistant NINA BANTA Director of Creative Arts KEN STUART Associate Pastor/Director of Childrens Ministry NANCY McCREIGHT Assistant Director of PreK - 2nd CHAD TOWNSLEY Associate Pastor/Director of Junior High-Life KEN LEGGETT Associate Pastor/Director of High-Life KAYLA STANFIELD Assistant Director of 11th & 12th Grade WINNIE WINFORD Assistant Director of 9th & 10th Grade

To some people I think my response to those questions sounds like Charlie Browns teacher: Bla blabla, bla, bla, blabla, blaMISSIONbla, bla, blaVISIONbla.bla, bla, bla, blaaaaa GRACE bla, bla, bla No real communication is occurring even though I might think it is. Telling people that our Vision is to advance the Kingdom of God will get them to nod. Following that with the explanation that we accomplish the Vision by embracing the Mission to experience and express grace will get people to nod again. The nodding indicates that they are hearing, but not that weve achieved understanding. When people say to me, I dont really know what our Mission is. I have learned they arent saying that they have trouble parsing those vocabulary words EXPERIENCE and EXPRESS GRACE which are written on the back of our bulletin every week. They are actually saying that they are having difficulty parsing those concepts into their daily lives. People might say, I dont know what our Mission is. but what they mean is that they need help putting the EXPERIENCE and EXPRESS GRACE into practice on a day-to-day basis. It is my job to take the bla bla bla out of the explanation and try to give practical input so that what is heard is actually the substance of what is being spoken. So, what does it mean to EXPERIENCE and EXPRESS grace? First of all, it isnt a slogan. It is actually a substantive statement with Biblical foundations. Jesus taught us to love one another the way He had loved us. You could restate Jesus command by saying that he taught us to EXPRESS love to others in the same way that we have EXPERIENCED love from him. To further apply this truth we must ask ourselves what the expression of His love toward us looked like. That is where grace comes in. The expression of His love toward us is summarized by the word grace.

Ministry Support

PAT TRAPANE Bookkeeper JULIA VESS Receptionist JONATHAN BARNETTE Director of Communication JACKI GIL Graphic Designer JANICE CROWSON Director of Facilities/Office LYNDA CLAYDON Facilities MIKE MARREN Facilities JEFF TOWNSLEY Facilities

BRANCHES
Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Barnette Designer Jacki Gil CONTRIBUTORS Bob Bradshaw Chad Townsley Will Spink Sarah Niemitz PHOTOS Jonathan Barnette

Grace is simply an all-inclusive term for Gods unmerited favor toward sinners. We dont deserve His favor. We cant earn His favor. We are unable to merit any positive disposition from a Holy God toward us. Therefore to postulate that God would have a favorable disposition on His part toward us (i.e. love) for reasons that are utterly outside of and in spite of ourselves must have something more to do with His character than ours. His positive, unmerited and favorable disposition toward us is called grace. As Christians we initially EXPERIENCE that unmerited favor at our conversion, but we re-experience and renew our understanding of that unmerited favor on a daily basis. Our sin gives us many opportunities for that! This daily experience of grace becomes the foundational motivation and platform by which we express grace to other people. Again, to use Jesus words, he taught us that those who have been forgiven much, love much. In Jesus teaching there is a direct correlation between the expression of love (or grace) toward others and ones own personal experience of love (or grace) from Christ toward them. In Christianity there is a profound and correct emphasis on the expression of love. This is Biblical and correct. However, our motivation for this expressive love is not found in oughts or shoulds (i.e. the Law). It is found in the changed heart. The Scriptures teach that we love because He first loved us. We EXPRESS love because we first EXPERIENCE love. The Bible does not set up a paradigm where we love because he first told us or taught us or commanded us to love. It is because He first showed us His love. We express grace toward others because of our profound experience of grace from Him toward us. This month we will resume our study in the book of Galatians. Paul will argue that the experience of grace ALWAYS LEADS TO the expression of grace! As we head toward Galatians chapter 5 we will see Pauls argument that the fruit of the Spirit must be expressed in the lives of those who claim to have experienced the grace of God! Additionally, for the next few months in BRANCHES we will continue to unpack these concepts to ensure that what is being said is actually being heard.

Photo taken by Jonathan Barnette of Ordination and Installation of our new Elders.

cover photo

1000 Carl T. Jones Drive | Huntsville, Alabama 35802 (256) 882-3085 | www.southwood.org

sunday seminars
by Bob Bradshaw
We will begin a new trimester of Sunday Seminars beginning the Sunday after Labor Day (there will be no Christian Education on Labor Day weekend). Our goal hasnt changed: to teach seminary level class curricula in a relaxed, interactive environment. The fall trimester of seminars will begin Sunday morning, September 9th, at 9:45am, with each seminar teacher providing a ten-minute overview of his class curriculum. This will allow for anyone interested in attending one of these classes to hear a little about each class curriculum to better understand the course. The courses, teachers and a short summary of each are provided for your review. and John). It is considered the model and often the source for the other gospels. Marks Gospel is about the gospel of the kingdomthe return of the kingdom of God that has come back into the world and history because Christ is the true King. Christ comes in a way that reverses the values of the world. He comes in weakness and service, not strength and force to die as a ransom for us. During this Sunday Seminar we will study the life of Jesus as told in the Gospel of Mark.

Discipleship: A Walk to Remember


By nature, disciples of Jesus are producers, not consumers. And so, discipleship fails when we reduce it to a passive act of being taught about Jesus. It certainly isnt less than this. Its more. True discipleship is costly. Our time, energy, relationships and resources are to be held with open hands ready to be gladly given away to the glory of God. This seminar will explore the source for a lifelong walk of radical self-forgetfulness and profound love for God and others. Whether youre new to Christianity, or youre longing for a new beginning, this seminar is for you.

Welcome to Southwood
This class will introduce you to the basics of Christianity, Southwood, and church membership. While you may pursue formal church membership at the end, this is not the primary goal. The objective is to help you get connected to the body of Christ, to answer your questions, and to help you get involved with the mission of Southwood.

The Gospel of Mark


For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). The Gospel of Mark is generally believed to be the first of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke

The Peacemaker: Changing conflict resolution


How do we act like the Body of Christ when it matters mostwhen we do not want to? We will study what scripture says about conflict resolution and seek Gods direction for the future of Southwood as it relates to conflict resolution.

session update
With great excitement the newly constituted Session of Southwood met for its first meeting Monday, August 20th. The Session began with prayer and then received an update and exhortation from the members of the Temporary Session of Southwood. The Session thanked the members of the Temporary Session for their hard work and dedication to Southwood. As a part of general business, the Session received the following statement from the Associate Pastors of Southwood: As the Care Committee recommended to us, we hereby conclude our voluntary sabbaticals and resume our Session membership at this time.1 We desire to serve until we as the full Session can address the recommendations of the Care Committee and consider a rotation system and/or other policies for the makeup of the Session moving forward. We eagerly submit ourselves to our brothers on the Session and hold our service on this Session as a high privilege and calling but one that we hold in an open hand for the sake of Christ and his church. The Session of Southwood received this statement with thanksgiving and committed to study such a rotation plan and voting policy for the full membership of the Session including both Associate Pastor Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. The Session received a financial update and began to develop a strategic plan for short-term spending, cuts and any necessary alterations to the budget. In light of this, the Session called a congregational meeting on September 16th for the purpose of updating the congregation on the current status of our finances, discussing the upcoming 2013 budget and the election of church trustees. The Session has planned a budget workshop for Saturday, September 8th and requests prayer from the congregation that God would give them wisdom in their deliberations. The Session received notice that Executive Director Bob Bradshaw would be resigning effective September 8th to transition to the position of Director of Ministries at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee with Rev. Scott Sauls, formerly of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, NY. Hands were laid on Bob as the Session prayed for Gods blessing on his future ministry. Executive Director Bradshaw noted to the Session his deep love for Southwood and concurrent sense of calling to Nashville. The Session received his resignation with thanksgiving for his years of service. A Diaconate update was given as the Session received and approved resignations from the following deacons: Paul DuPre, David Hoover, Scott Johnson, Carl Jones, Jack Loose, Randy Petcher, David Ricks, Philip Sommers, Chip Sullins, Sean Williamson and Brand Griffin. The Session is thankful to God and each of the men for the service they have provided to Southwood. The Session approved the Fall 2012 slate of classes for Christian Education including Welcome to Southwood for potential new members; The Book of Mark, Peacemakers and The Walk by Stephen Smallman. In the conclusion of business, church memberships were received and transferred and updates where given on reconciliation within the Southwood body. Though Southwood remains in a challenging season, the Session is constantly encouraged by where God the Father is leading her. Please continue to pray for the leadership of Southwood as they lead Southwood in making a lasting mark on the city of Huntsville and on the kingdom of God across the world.
1 Report from the Ad Hoc Committee of the Pastoral Care Committee of Providence Presbytery

september 2012

What is an elder, and why do we have them?


The word Presbyterian comes from the Greek word Presbuteros, which means elder. Thus a Presbyterian church is one led by elders. Southwood recently nominated, elected, ordained, and installed new Ruling Elders to be the Session of Southwood, to lead, nurture, and govern this particular congregation. Why do we bother to have elders anyway? Where does an elders authority actually come from? Where does a Session fit in our denomination as a whole? Keep reading! One of the theological emphases of Presbyterians is the sovereignty of Godthat Jesus is the Ruler of all the world and particularly the King and Head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23). Thus, Jesus is the source of all true authority, and He is the one who has commissioned his church to exercise spiritual authority through his Word and sacraments (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus gives this authority to the entire church (all his followers) and in particular to those whom God calls and the church selects to be officers in the church. Elders ordained in our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), are a part of three groups (church courts) to help govern the church: Sessions, Presbyteries, and the General Assembly. The PCA teaches the plurality and parity of elders. Plurality means that there should never be an elder ruling by himself; more than one is necessary for the establishment of a church. Parity means that all elders, whether teaching or ruling, are equal in authority and vote.

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What Were Reading


On Being Presbyterian is a great introduction to the theology, practices, and history of Presbyterianism. This book will help readers appreciate not only the what of Presbyterian characteristics but also the why behind some Presbyterian distinctives. Sean Michael Lucas has been both a pastor and a seminary professor and writes in a way that is accessible and helpful to new and old Presbyterians alike.

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GENERAL ASSEMBLY
WHO? WHAT? WHEN?
All denominations Teaching Elders (pastors) and representing particular churches Ruling Elders Speaks for and directs denomination as a whole, approves changes in constitution (approved by lower courts) Meets annually

In recent years there have been around 1,000 voting delegates (teaching elders and ruling elders) participating in a given General Assembly. Many other guests attend these open meetings. The first General Assembly is recounted in Acts 15 and is often called the Jerusalem Council. Attendees included Paul, Peter, Barnabas, and James. This first gathering of church leaders focused on issues between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus.

PRESBYTERY
WHO? WHAT? WHEN?
A geographical regions Teaching Elders (pastors) and representative Ruling Elders sent by each local church Organizes new churches in area, Ordains Teaching Elders, Reviews records of each Session Meets quarterly

Southwood is a member of Providence Presbytery, which consists of 17 PCA churches in North Alabama, from Cullman up to the Tennessee state line. Providence Presbytery was formed in 2009 out of Evangel Presbytery. Evangel had grown very large and still includes PCA churches in the Birmingham area and beyond, but Providence is now able to focus its efforts more particularly to North Alabama.

SESSION
WHO? WHAT? WHEN?
A local churchs Ruling Elders, Senior Pastor, Associate Pastors elected by the congregation Oversees and cares for local church and its members Meets at least monthly

The biblical basis for organizing a church with elders (and deacons) comes primarily from the New Testament epistles, where Paul addresses the elders and deacons of particular churches (e.g. Philippians 1:1) and also commands Timothy, Titus, and others to appoint elders in various churches (I Timothy 3, Titus 1). In the PCA there are two classes of elders: ruling and teaching. Ruling elders are members of local churches and elected by their congregation. Teaching elders (pastors) are members of the regional presbytery and are called to serve by a local church. I Timothy 5:17 implies some distinction among elders.

celebrating summerpreparing for fall!


by Chad Townsley
Our bodies and hearts are resting, we have finished unpacking our bags, and our towels and swimsuits have just finished drying off. What does this mean? It means that another memorable summer of ministry is over. The youth staff and volunteers of High-Life were blessed to spend great time with a lot of our wonderful students during the summer. Heres a snapshot of some of what the summer included. In late June, the staff and volunteers of Jr. High-Life spent a fantastic week together at Covenant College with over 50 of our students, as we engaged with 600 other students from around the country. Our week was filled with laughter, late nights, unforgettable worship, challenging teaching, small group time, one-on-one time with students, a water park, junk food and all the bonds that come with the memories made during a summer week together. Rock River Retreat, a new trip for the freshmen and sophomores of Sr. High-Life was a wonderful success. Our 75 students and volunteers spent the first weekend of August at Horns Creek Lodge in Ocoee, TN making memories with each other and learning more of what engagement in Sr. High-Lifes community and small groups looks like. This was an extremely valuable time, as we look to reach the students of High-Life and Huntsville early in the school year and give them a place to belong before the hustle and bustle of another semester begins. As you have hopefully heard the youth department say, High-Life never resumes but rather, continues into the beginning of each semester. In that spirit, we took two days in the middle of August to cleanup and prepare for the guests who will be in our midst this semester. We were excited and overjoyed to sweep the corners and crevices of the Lodge and even clean and polish the furniture and fixtures of the building. We do this so that we might present a truer picture of the splendor and beauty of the kingdom to our students as they spend time in the Lodge. Will you pray with us as we look forward to spending time in teaching, worship and small groups with each student who comes through our ministry this semester. Please pray that God will work despite and through our brokenness and that each student would be eternally changed by the gospel during the coming season of ministry.

on changing at tires and serving in the nursery


by Sarah Niemitz
I will never forget one of my first dates in college. We were driving back from a concert when the tire on my dates brand new BMW blew out. I learned then that my date did not know how to change a tire. My father had taught me how before I received my drivers license and I was confident about every detail except where I should place the jack. This was not my Jeep; this was a BMW, and I knew that if I placed the jack in the wrong spot I could do serious damage to the car. So at 2:00am my date made the near-fatal error of asking me to call my father to confirm where to place the jack. My dad was furiousnot that I was out at 2:00am with a boy, mind you, but that I was on a date with a boy who could not change a tire! A man who wears a suit to work and does not change his own oil, my dad still believes there are certain responsibilities that come with car ownership, and changing a tire is one of them. Dad was not about to let me date a young man who enjoyed the privileges of ownership but was unprepared for the responsibilities that came with it. Much like car ownership, membership in a church body comes with both privileges and responsibility. When we take our membership vows we promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of our ability, but all too often we are wondering who else we can call to change our flat tire because we were not prepared for the responsibilities that come with membership. Below are four ways that you can roll up your sleeves and take ownership of the responsibilities that are yours as members of Southwood. These are not the only ways to serve, but these are four particularly pressing needs we face today. First, our nursery age children need 49 volunteers to serve once a quarter, and 2 co-teachers for the two-year-olds each Sunday. Second, our PreK-6th grade children need 5 more teachers once a month, and 15 more coleaders for weekly small groups. Third, our Junior High-Life students need volunteers willing to serve on Sundays from 9:45-10:45am during Sunday School as well as volunteers to serve on Wednesday nights from 6-7:30pm at Junior High-Life. Finally, our adults need volunteers willing to serve quarterly or more as ushers on Sunday mornings during the worship service. If this is your church I encourage you to press the Big Red Button and take ownership of the responsibilities that are yours. We need you!

Harvest HeyDay is always fantastic, and this year we are adding a little something extraa Chili Cook-off! Small groups will sign up to compete for the best chili and the best thematic decorations; there will be prizes! We encourage you to sign up with your small group, or with a small group of friends. You make the best chili you can, bring whatever fixings make it perfect, and plan to decorate your tailgating tent and table with your teams theme! Email Sarah Niemitz at sarah.niemitz@southwood.org to sign up and get more details.You wont want to miss it!

Help us tackle a few big projects and spend time with each other in the process. Your participation with this event will help Southwood save money on some necessary facility maintenance and repairs. Families with young children are welcome as long as parents are supervising. Plan to wear long pants and sleeves, and bring a sack lunch and gloves. We will have work suitable for different skill levels, but we will need a few tools. If you have any of the following items please bring them with you: shovels, rakes, hand spades, landscaping picks, paint brushes. Email sarah.niemitz@southwood.org to RSVP so that we can september 2012 plan our work for an accurate number of people.

SEPTEMBER 16
Congregational Meeting
Updates on nances, 2013 budget, and election of church trustees at 9:45am.

OCTOBER 21
Harvest HeyDay
Join us from 3-6pm for childrens games, live music and a chili cook-o !

@southwood.org
How to find an area where you can serve.

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Go to southwood.org and click the Big Red Button.

Choose a category and a specific area where you would like to serve.

Click the Serve Here button and you will be connected to the coordinator of the serving opportunity.