Category Archives: Church Family

growing in grace


Over the weekend, 21 of our middle school youth got together for fun and fellowship. They made homemade pizza, played team building games, learned about each other, and thought about what it means to be community.

One of the games we played really makes you think. In the first, all but a few of the youth join hands in a circle. Those outside are told to find a way to join the circle. That’s all the instructions that are given.

Almost immediately, the circle tightens, clumps together, and starts trying to keep the “outsiders” out. The “outsiders” then look for ways to force themselves into the circle.

Interestingly, of course, never was there an instruction given to keep anyone out–only for those on the outside to find a way to join. That those in the circle must keep the others out was an assumption made by everyone in the circle, and all but one of the youth outside the circle too.

Why is this our immediate assumption? What does it say about our understanding of community if our first reaction is to keep “them” out? How can we think about ways to widen the circle of grace, to grow in our understanding of God’s grace, to bring the outsiders in rather than looking for ways to keep them out?

In youth group, we used this game as a way to start talking about who we are and how we treat people, how we are a community, and what it means to welcome–who do we welcome, and how, and why?

So…what do you think? Who are we closing the circle against, and why, and how? What would it look like for us to let go of the assumption that there’s an us-and-them, and to let people in? What would that mean for our community going forward?



there are people here, not just cool old buildings!


yay–we solved a technical challenge, and herewith bring you pictures with actual people in them!

at Edinburgh Castle

It’s John Knox!

learning a bit about the Scottish Parliament building

at dinner Saturday evening

to say we do not understand this sculpture would be an understatement. “even more disturbia” was a phrase used….


Today we went to worship at St. Giles, the High Kirk of Scotland. And believe us when we tell you, it was HIGH. Any Catholic or Episcopalian would have felt right at home. They read from the King James, sang extremely traditional music, and the organist and choir were both extremely excellent. There’s nothing quite like a pipe organ and a 30 voice choir in a 12th century stone cathedral. The acoustics are just delicious.

After worship, several of our members had their first ever Indian food experience. Yum!

We spent part of the afternoon at Mary King’s Close–a tour that lets you see a glimpse of what Edinburgh in the 1600s was like. Narrow streets crowded with people, animals, rubbish, and excrement….14-story buildings crowding these narrow lanes, which means very little natural light reached the lower levels…prone to plague…it was quite the place in those days. Our guides showed us both below-ground and above-ground sights and explained some of the history and social life of the period. Intriguing!

Afterward we headed over to meet a friend who’s working on a PhD in Scottish Reformation history. She spent an hour telling us about the Scottish Reformation (shocking, I know!) in the National Museum of Scotland, and how the new church differed from the old. We also explore a bit of slightly later history, reviewing the Covenanter period of 1638-88 (ish) and visiting the Greyfriars Kirkyard. Then it was off to a bit of afternoon tea, where Nikki told us more about John Knox…and then a bus ride to dinner, where we just got to have a bit of fun! (when discussing this great opportunity to learn from an expert, Steve said “I don’t want to miss anything–I just want to learn everything!” teehee!)

Tomorrow, we visit Saint Andrews–pray for the rain to hold off a bit! We’ve had three gorgeous days in a row now, and since the sights in Saint Andrews are all ruins, we could use another dry day tomorrow!





RCLPC in Scotland, day 1


Well, okay, in some technical sense this is day 2, because of how travel works, but we’ve now had just over 24 hours together as a group. It’s been pretty fantastic as we’ve explored, eaten good food, had some good laughs, and learned lots of new things. Today we traipsed around the castle, listened to bagpipes, learned a bit about the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-6, learned how to wear a tartan, seen the National Covenant (1638), visited John Knox’s house, checked out the cemetery at the Canongate Kirk, toured Holyrood Palace (including the rooms of Mary Queen of Scots, among many others!), and learned about the Holyrood Abbey. In the midst of all that we’ve discussed religious and political history, sources of information, and economic philosophy. And, of course, the finer points of beer, whiskey, and dessert.

It was a busy day.

Tomorrow we’re headed to worship at St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk of the Church of Scotland. Then we’re exploring more of Edinburgh’s past via Mary King’s Close, Greyfriars Kirk, and the Grassmarket. We may even have the opportunity to learn more about the Scottish Reformation from one of Teri’s friends who’s working on her PhD in the subject!

The weather today was beautiful–not one drop of rain. Tomorrow promises to be wet, but we’re prepared to be out and about, rain or shine–so pray for shine. 🙂

part of Edinburgh castle

the entrance to Holyrood Palace

the old front entrance to Holyrood Abbey, now with palace attached

in the nave of Holyrood Abbey

holyrood abbey ruin


(don’t worry–pictures with people in them are coming soon. Most are on Steve’s phone, so we have to figure out how he can get them onto the laptop and therefore into the blog…when we have time to address our technical challenges, we will.)

You can also follow our church facebook page for occasional updates and spontaneous photos when we happen to be near the internet. 🙂





10 reasons to go to church


(I came across this last week while doing some research…things to think about, and to share!)

10. Coming to church doesn’t mean you have no doubts about God or faith or religion. It means you have a place you can share with people who have their own doubts.

9.            Bad stuff is going to happen in your life. It just is. A church community cannot be everything to everyone in times of crisis, but when the bottom falls out of your world, it’s great to have a community to lift you back up.

8.            Bad stuff is going to happen in your life, part two. The time to build a relationship with God is not when life turns ugly, and you’ve run out of all other options. Attending worship regularly helps build a relationship with God and others that will give you a solid foundation when the winds blow and storms come.

7.            Not all churches are anti-something. Most of us are for people, for acceptance, for hospitality. Really, we’re out there. We just don’t get the good press.

6.            Any church worth its salt has really good food on a regular basis.

5.            churches offer paint-by-number opportunities to serve. Many people would like to help the poor, the hungry and the homeless, but they don’t know how to get involved, how to make the time to be involved, or what they can do to really make a difference. Churches offer you ways to plug in to help those who need it most.

4.            You’ve got a gift. Probably two or 10 of them. Becoming involved in the ministry of a church will help you discover and use gifts you never even knew you had.

3.            Not all churches are after your money. Good churches want you to have a healthy relationship with money. Sure, churches need to pay the electric bill and the pastor and the youth director, but money and the church is more about you than it is about the church. It’s about your own relationship with money. World events have proven that it’s much better to put faith in God than in a bank account. Church can help you with that.

2.            Taking a break from our hectic lives to come to church is accepting the gift of Sabbath. Wayne Mueller says “(Sabbath) dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.” We don’t take Sabbath and come to worship because we have time and have finished up everything that needs to be done. We take Sabbath because it is a time to stop, and we are designed to stop, rest and reflect. Those who don’t are destined to crash and burn.

1.            Jesus is really cool. Even if you don’t know if you can believe in the whole Son-of-God thing, even if you refer to the resurrection as the Zombie Jesus event and even though those of us already in church often do a lousy job of following him, come to church to get to know Jesus. The more you get to know him the more you’ll understand why people call his way The Way.

-Rev. Anne Russ


Why do you go to church? Add your reasons in the comments! And maybe take the opportunity to share the good news of RCLPC with someone this week!



remember when we all used one word to describe RCLPC? Here they are…our community of believers, in a wordle! The bigger the word, the more times it was said.

What do you think? Does this describe RCLPC? How would you describe RCLPC to a friend? Go for it–and help us grow our community! 🙂