South Plains Presbyterian Church

Honoring our traditions and building the future

Reflections From the Pastor PDF Print E-mail



To the members of Christ’s body,
To the branches of the Vine,
To the church in faith assembled,
To her midst as gift and sign
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
(Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song)
One of the lesser-known feasts of the church is that of Pentecost. We know about Christmas, and we enjoy the festal activities. Easter is in our rearview mirror. I have discovered over the years that the third holy feast of the church, Pentecost, passes by with only a pastoral nod. Maybe, because it usually falls after Memorial Day, when schools are out or ending, Sunday School has closed up shop for the summer, and vacations begin to occupy our minds, that we know so little about it. Maybe it is more the case of fear of the mystery that keeps Pentecost on the shelf. After all, it is about the Holy Spirit.
Will Willimon writes, When Christians say Holy Spirit, we are talking about God. More pointedly, we are saying Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. When you are third in a list, for instance, like the Apostles’ Creed, third can seem an afterthought. The Father creates, the Son redeems, and the Spirit - well, what does the Spirit do? I assume that because we cannot explain, grasp, identify, or nail down the Holy Spirit, we shy away. Dancing tongues of fire and speaking in strange languages are beyond our experience. Anything we cannot define in concrete terms is unnerving, disruptive, and disconcerting. Disappearing airplanes and other unexplainable events are unsettling. So we give a passing acknowledgement to the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, and we quickly move into what the lectionary refers to as Ordinary Time. We like ordinary.
Back to Dr. Willimon’s question, what does the Holy Spirit do? The question itself begins the discussion. The Holy Spirit does something, or some things. It is active, not passive. It disrupts the norm. In Genesis 1, the Spirit broods over the primordial chaos. In Matthew 1:18, Mary “became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.” At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove (Matthew 3:6). Immediately following his baptism, Jesus is “driven” by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Filled with the Spirit, Jesus explodes onto the scene in Galilee. In the synagogue in Nazareth, it is through the presence of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is able to preach. As he approaches his own death, Jesus promises in the 14th chapter of John to send the “comforter,” the “advocate,” and the Spirit will teach you everything, and remind us of all that Jesus taught.
Then on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came rushing like a tornado into the upper room and filled the disciples with a burning desire to share the good news. The Holy Spirit pushed them out of their comfort zone, out of the safety of their little group, into a dark world thirsting for the divine light of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is not passive, experienced only in the privacy of our prayers, within the walls of monasteries, or only in certain denominations. The Holy Spirit is active, powerful, disruptive, challenging, burning, brooding, impregnating the believer with boldness and courage.
At the top of this article is the second verse of a hymn, which we will sing on the Day of Pentecost (May 15) pleading for the Holy Spirit to come to our church, to come into our lives, to come to us. Is that a prayer we are ready to pray? And what would it look like if God answered that prayer?
Summer Mission Trip PDF Print E-mail
Travel to Guatemala
Once you visit, your life and faith will not be the same
Join the mission trip to Guatemala July 23-30, which is jointly sponsored by the Presbytery of the James and the Presbytery of the Peaks. Grow in your experience of how God is at work through the unique ministry of our Presbyterian mission partner CEDEPCA (Center for Pastoral Education).
• Participate in Biblical classes in the rural areas of new outreach
• Bring hope and affirmation to those seeking to follow Christ
• Meet and encourage child laborers who are fed through our Hunger Offering
• Learn about immigration from a Guatemalan perspective
• Discover the culture, history, and economic context of Guatemala, as you enjoy the exquisite beauty of Guatemala and Mayan culture
• Learn and grow in your faith as you make new friends in a shared witness
Estimated cost $1,700 (all inclusive)
Contact Mary Jane Winter, Moderator, World Mission Purpose Group
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 804-359-5599
Alliance for Interfaith Ministries PDF Print E-mail

Vacation Bible School 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Worship and Music News Update PDF Print E-mail
Celebrating 20 Years - The History of the South Plains Praise Team
In May 1996, Ruthanna Foard’s adult Sunday School class was studying Blackaby’s Experiencing God. We were presented with the situation of a neighbor of Grace Hampton, one of the class members, being admitted to the assisted living facility known as Winterhaven in Pantops. The neighbor, Nellie, had no family except for some 4th cousins in the Midwest. She was in her late 90s, and social services had determined that she could no longer safely live alone on her farm. We determined to act as her family by visiting her weekly with devotions and singing. Experiencing God had just reached the part where we were asked to respond to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to ALL people.” Previous chapters had challenged us to act on our recognizing needs in others. Thus was born the Friday AM Praise Team from South Plains PC.
Marion and John Thompson were familiar with the staff at Winterhaven, having been frequent visitors to Marion’s sister, Rebecca, who was a resident there for a while before moving to another facility. They helped us set the routine with the administration so that we could hold group devotionals for any who cared to attend.
Ruthanna brought her keyboard, and Marion created songbooks (in LARGE PRINT). We received permission from session to act on behalf of SPPC, and launched our regular Friday morning congregation. When a second side was opened, the visiting group split in two, Ruthanna leading one side and Marion leading the other. Marion played her own keyboard, and we shared song leader/devotion leader. Grace Hampton, Charlotte Durham, Annette Behnke, Joanne Addotta, Mitt Clabaugh, and Anna Koontz were some of the original members of the group. We tried adding Riverside Assisted Living Facility for a couple of years, but they could not accommodate us after a while. Winterhaven changed hands and name a few years ago. It is now called Heritage Inn. The members of SPPC’s Praise Team share God’s love with anyone who wishes to attend our gatherings, making sure we visit those who feel a little under the weather and stay in their rooms. We try to keep God’s presence apparent to widows, orphans, the needy, the forgotten, the weak and the sick.
New members are always welcome to join us, His loving presence is always here. We are still experiencing God.
PW News Update PDF Print E-mail

Presbyterian Women News


Presbyterian Women News –May 2016
This month we will be studying Lesson Nine, the final lesson, of the Presbyterian Women Horizons Bible study: Come to the Waters.
Please join us Monday, May 16 for a combined morning and evening group potluck and Bible study at: 5:30 p.m. at the home of Lonne Clapp (149 Tulip Drive, Palmyra, VA 22963 589-4585). Lonne lives off of Route 53, close to the Food Lion in Palmyra. If you would like to carpool for this gathering, please let Barbara Shaffer know.
We always welcome new members to join us at any point during the program year for Bible study, mission work, sharing each others’ joys and sorrows, and growing together in faith as Christian women.
For more information, please contact Kellee Eastwood at 589-2705 or Barbara Shaffer at 207-4355.
Bits 'N Pieces PDF Print E-mail



---Mark your calendars: Ungroup Picnic May 22, 1pm at the Elks Pavilion (389 Elk Drive, Charlottesville). Fried chicken will be provided.
You’ll bring drinks (alcohol permitted) AND a side dish to share. Feel free to bring any outdoor games (especially for children). RSVP to the church office or sign-up on sheet in fellowship hall by May 15 .
---The Vine is a publication from The Presbytery of the James and is sent to every member or friend in our congregation. The list of recipients has just been checked, but if you are not receiving a copy, please contact Dana in the church office.
---The 93rd Annual Bible Conference at Massanetta Springs will be held July 24-30, 2016. More information in the church office or contact Nola Avey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
---New sign-up sheet on the kitchen door. If you need to borrow items from the church OR reserve items you will need in the future, please use this sheet with name/date(s).
---JABA Resource Fair, May 4, 11am- 2pm, Mary Williams Community Senior Center, Jefferson School. The Fair will address questions about local resources for seniors as well as caregiver support, adult care options, volunteer opportunities, options counseling, insurance counseling, and more. Contact Kelly Boyer, Center Manager 987- 8433.
---Massanetta Springs Adult Retreat - May 5. “Living in God’s Time”. The retreat leader is the Rev. Nancy Summerlin, and she will explore what it means to change course and sometimes to live life “out of order” because God says: “Your thoughts are not my thoughts; and my plans are not your plans” (Isaiah 55:8). Retreat cost is $20 - brochures and registration forms are in Kirk Hall.
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