South Plains Presbyterian Church

God so loved the world

PDF Print E-mail

Now Accepting Applications





South Plains Presbyterian Church is seeking a Director of Music to serve as organist and choir director for this small historic church in beautiful Keswick, Virginia, just east of Charlottesville. The right candidate will enjoy playing the classic liturgical organ repertoire on our unique two-manual hybrid ipe organ, leading a small and dedicated choir in anthems, service music, and providing inspiring accompaniment for traditional congregational hymns.


We offer a competitive salary for this position, a caring congregation of all ages that is actively involved in church programs, local outreach, and the support of international missions. This is a great opportunity for you to help build and grow an outstanding music program with your vision, enthusiasm and leadership.


Interested?  Please send a cover letter and resume to:  music@SouthPlainsPresbyterian.Church



First Thoughts PDF Print E-mail

Recently, as I was studying the biblical text for the upcoming Sunday, a thought came to me, “Would the members of the church enjoy reflecting upon the passage beside me?”  I decided that during the middle of the week, I would post my questions, thoughts, and learnings that come from my engagement with the text.  I thought about posting in on the Web Page.  After mulling it over in my mind, I decided to not only post it on the web page, but to email it to everyone.

If this is something you find useful, then please walk with me.  Here is this weeks “First Thoughts.”


First Thoughts           Acts 15:1-18


The Council at Jerusalem

15 Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 10 Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

12 The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me.14 Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name.15 This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written,

16    ‘After this I will return,

and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;

from its ruins I will rebuild it,

and I will set it up,

17    so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—

even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.

Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things 18 known from long ago.’


Notes and Questions

In the preceding chapter, Paul and Barnabas are in Antioch which is about 250 miles northeast of Jerusalem.  It probably took them a month to travel from Antioch to Jerusalem.


Church conflicts are nothing new!  In this passage, verses 1 and 5, we discover the conflict was over requirements for salvation.


Those who were former Pharisees, who converted to Christianity, do not oppose the Gentile mission.  However, they believed that since Jesus was a Jew, then one must first become a Jew before one can follow Christ.  Becoming a Jew required males to be circumcised.


Paul and Barnabas (a gentile) believed that one was saved by faith, not by becoming a Jew first.  How did Paul get from being a Pharisee and one of the circumcised to this new understanding of being saved apart from circumcision, while many of the disciples did not?


How do individuals with opposing ideas resolve their issues?

            In the text, no one left the community

            They brought it before the church

            They debated the issue

            They searched scriptures

            They reached a conclusion

                        Were all happy with the decision?

                        Paul meets up with the issue later in the church at Galatia (Gal. 1)


Peter is not the head of the church, but James, the brother of Jesus, who was not one of the apostles, is the president or leader of the community.


Do we place unjust expectations on those who become part of our community? 


            What are they?

            Where do they come from?


What does it mean to be “saved by faith?”


James uses scripture, a passage from Amos to resolve the conflict.  Do we know the scriptures well enough to allow them to direct our lives?


If faith is all that matters why do we get caught up on one’s behavior?


One of my approaches when studying a text, is to ask four questions


1.       What is being said/revealed about God?  Where is God active in the text?

It appears that God changed the rules of the game?

God reveals his will to us – through dreams, conflict, debate?

Is God’s will stagnate or are we continually, gradually opened up to his plans?

God is at work through human activities and daily interactions.  God used the conflict in the church to broaden our understanding of grace. 


2.      What is being said/revealed about human beings (us/me)?

Human beings do not like to be kept in the dark.  We want to know, and sometimes think we know the truth, but we only understand the world through our own experiences, traditions, and beliefs.  It is hard to for us to accept the fact that we do not know the mind of God completely and do not like when he challenges our expectations.


Even though we believe that we are saved by faith and that we cannot save ourselves but God did that through the cross, we have trouble with the concept of “free gift.”  We still feel that we or others need to do something.


3.      What is being said about the relationship between humanity and God?

God is gracious to us and does not condemn us outright, but works with us, through us, and in spite of us.  God is continually enabling us to mature, to be challenged, to grow beyond where we are.  As God works toward his purposes he reveals new things about how much he loves us.  He reveals himself in strange and unexpected ways, even within our debates and disagreements.


4.      What is being said about the relationship between human beings?

We tend to see those who disagree with us as our enemies—our opponents

Those who oppose or challenge us are bad or evil

The proponents for circumcision were concerned for purity of the faith

The opponents of circumcision were concerned with God’s grace

We are uncomfortable with change

We like conformity over diversity

We will go to great lengths (250 miles—a month’s journey) to defend our position

            Certain individuals traveled from Jerusalem to Antioch to encourage circumcision

            Paul and Barnabas traveled from Antioch to Jerusalem to defend their position


These are my thoughts and struggles as I engage the text.  What about you?  What challenges your understanding of God, the Church and salvation/the Christian life.


Reflections From the Pastor PDF Print E-mail



      A colleague related the following story. One day, in her seminary course on worship, the old professor who taught the class came in carrying a brown paper bag and declared that “today we are going to learn the significance of the Lord's Supper.” As he began to talk, he reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of buckeyes and began throwing them, one by one, to each member of the class. The professor then reached into his own pocket and removed a small, brown, shriveled up something. Holding it between his two fingers for all to see he said to the class, "See this? This is a buckeye like you have. I have been carrying it around in my pocket since 1942. I had a son who went off to the war that year. When he left, he gave me this buckeye, and told me to put it in my pocket and keep it there until he came home. That way, each time I reached in my pocket I would always remember him. Well, I have been carrying that buckeye in my pocket since 1942. And I have been waiting. Waiting for my son to come back, and each time I reach in my pocket I remember my son."
"You see, class," said the old professor, "putting aside all the theological stuff. Putting aside all the mystery. Putting aside all the questions of how, when, and how often, communion is simply about waiting and remembering. Each time we, as a community of faith, gather around the table to take the bread and the cup we are remembering, and we are proclaiming that we are waiting for our Lord to return."
That is it. You see, communion, the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, or by whatever name one may call it, is that simple. We can have great theological debates over how to do it, or when to have it, or how it works, but the reality is that this is a simple meal which remembers and proclaims to all believers the promises of a crucified and risen Lord.
A few months back, the manner in which we take communion changed. Members of the congregation approached the pastor and members of the Worship and Music Committee about doing communion at the 11:00 service differently. They asked if we could hold the elements (bread and cup) until everyone had been served, then consume them together as a sign of our unity in the Body of Christ.
We have tried this. Some in our congregation have appreciated this. Some have felt uncomfortable with the change. Most recently, I suggested during the service that we eat the bread as one in unity, and drink the cup separately as a sign of our individual discipleship. This raised the issue of what is the proper procedure? The answer to that is, there is none. Whether communion is by intinction, common cup, served in trays, held, or consumed at one’s discretion, the use of wafers or bread, juice or wine are all proper and right. The manner is a personal preference.
At South Plains, we have members who come from differing traditions, from differing regions of the country. People have experienced taking communion in many different ways. The Worship and Music Committee suggests that we hold the bread and eat as one, but take the cup separately and individually. However, this in no way binds any individual. You are free to hold or to not hold, to eat the bread and drink the cup in the way that is most meaningful for you. What is most desirable is that each of us feels welcomed to the table, fed for the journey, and that we remember while we wait for the coming of our risen Lord.
Pastor Kevin
Fellowship PDF Print E-mail
If you are enjoying the fellowship of your church family after each
service, please consider providing snacks every once in a while.
Nothing has to be fancy and coffee has already been made. Signup
sheet on the kitchen door. Ask Bernice Gibson about joining
the Fellowship Committee. It takes a village here too!
February Fellowship
February 5 8:30 Sue Tracinski
          11:00 Kellee Eastwood
February 12 8:30 Mary Anne Fitzgerald
           11:00 Lynn Anderson
February 19 8:30 Leah Wayner
           11:00 Linda Harrison
February 26 8:30 Barbara Higginbotham
           11:00 Pat Valentine
Worship and Music News Update PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, May 7 - Communion at both services - Choir sings at the 11 a.m. service.
Sunday, May 14 – Mother’s Day - Choir sings at the 8:30 a.m. service.
Sunday, May 21 – Guest Preacher – Diana Brawley, MDiv, ThM, MSW. Rev. Brawley received her degrees from Princeton Theological
Seminary and the University of Georgia. She brings an extensive background to the pulpit, including pastoral counseling through the Counseling Ministry of Charlottesville, and facilitating renewal retreats through the Center for Courage & Renewal. Choir sings at the 11 a.m. service.
Sunday, May 28 – Memorial Day – Choir sings at the 8:30 a.m. service.
On Sunday, May 7 following the 11 a.m. Worship service, Pastor Kevin and several of the Elders will be serving Extended Communion to homebound members and friends of the congregation. This will include Communion elements from the Worship service, Scripture readings of the day, a synopsis of the day’s sermon, and prayers. The Worship and Music Committee contacts each homebound member and friend ahead of time to see if they would like to receive Extended Communion on the 7th. We appreciate your keeping this ministry and our homebound members and friends in your prayers.
PW News Update PDF Print E-mail

Presbyterian Women News


On Sunday, May 7 Presbyterian Women will be celebrating the Birthday of Presbyterian Women by hosting both Fellowship Hours. We will be remembering a number of women from South Plains who were active in Presbyterian Women over the years and made a difference in the life of the church. Please enjoy a piece of birthday cake and special refreshments with us! Our final PW meeting of the 2016-17 program year will be a combined group potluck gathering at Kellee Eastwood’s home at 4 Fleetwood Drive, Lake Monticello, 434-589-2705. It will be on Monday, May 8 beginning at 5:30 p.m. If you live outside Lake Monticello, please let Kellee know so she can provide your name to the gate. Please bring a dish to share, other than a dessert. If you would like to carpool, please contact Barbara Shaffer . We welcome all ladies of the church to join us for this fun fellowship event! Beginning in September, we will start up the new 2017-18 Horizon’s Bible Study – “Cloud of Witnesses: The Community of Christ in Hebrews” by Melissa Bane Sevier.
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.
Library Update PDF Print E-mail

Library Report



Looking Forward to Warm Weather: There Are 77 New Books for Reading on a Ship or a Plane or on a Sunny Beach or in a Backyard Hammock

Thanks to a generous donation, 77 entertaining books have been added to the Church Library. These are mostly novels that appeal to people who enjoy a good mystery that takes place in ancient or medieval times, and in more modern times. Here’s a sampling. Have you ever heard of Edith Mary Pargeter? You might recognize her pen name: Ellis Peters. She wrote a series of novels about the adventures of Brother Cadfael, a Benedictine monk at the Abbey in Shrewsbury. Cadfael is a fictional character based on her study of medieval history and her own experiences as a pharmacist’s assistant. Cadfael is a returned crusader who serves as an herbalist and physician for his brother monks. He’s sophisticated, intelligent, and curious. He uses his worldly experience and his knowledge of herbal medicines to solve intriguing mysteries.
We have 19 of her books.
How about Edward Marston? That’s the pen name for Keith Miles, an Oxford (England) graduate who majored in history. He has written novels that take place in the time of William the Conqueror, in Elizabethan, Restoration, and Victorian London. We have 10 of his books.
Leonard Tourney? He has written scholarly articles on 17th century British literature; but not to worry, we have seven of his nine historical novels set in Elizabethan England. Constable Matthew Stock must solve mysteries that occur in castles and travelers’ inns.
Lynda S. Robinson? She’s an American writer best known for a series of whodunits set in … ancient Egypt. Her fictional mystery solver is Lord Meren, “the Eyes and Ears of the Pharaoh.” We have four of her books. Ian Morson? His fictional puzzle solver is William Falconer, a Regent Master at Oxford University in the 1200’s who loves logic and reads Aristotle. Morson is a 1965 graduate of Exford and an expert in folk-life studies. We have three of his books.
John Mortimer you might recognize as the author of the Rumpole of the Bailey series that ran on PBS for many years. We have over a dozen of his books on the rumpled barrister who deals with complicated mysteries in court and with “she who must be obeyed” – his wife.
There are other books that provide light reading for vacation travel or just resting quietly on a staycation: Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson, The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott, The Last Days of Pompeii by Bulwer Lytton, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, and Quo Vadis by … do you know who wrote Quo Vadis? Henryk Sienkiewicz. The book is famous because of the movie but the author is not exactly a household name.
So next time you’re looking for a good whodunit to while away a rainy day, don’t run to the store … stop by the Church Library. Take the elevator down to the basement and turn right; a good read is at the end of the hallway.
Bits 'N Pieces PDF Print E-mail


• Matt and Sherry Esch have transferred their membership to Cunningham United Methodist Church.
• Thank you to all who made our Lent and Holy Week services possible. The Worship Team made sure everything fell into place, and the Fellowship team was marvelous as usual.
• Camp Hanover announces that this summer they will be hosting Camp Jordan - a summer camp experience for kids with diabetes. The program is in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA.
• Retired camp director Bob Pryor at Camp Hanover has agreed to shave his beard - something that hasn’t happened in over 40 years - if $10,000 is raised as part of an online “FundRazor” for the Reach Forward in Faith Campaign. For more information: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
• Camp Hanover Fun Day will be Sunday, May 7. Hayrides, boating, camp tours, campfire cooking, face painting and more from 2- 6pm.
• Camp Hanover upcoming date: “Living in God’s Time” - a Retreat for Adults, - May 5-6, 2017.
unregistered template Template by Ahadesign Visit the Ahadesign-Forum
Site Last Modified On:Wednesday 17 May 2017