Seven years ago, when I read the Citizen column written by the then-new pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, I said to my wife Sue, “We have to go and hear this guy.”
Although we are active members of a church in North Carolina, we live in the Auburn area every May through October. As a retired minister and spouse, we hunger to be part of a church community that truly lives out Jesus' words of love and compassion for all people and for all of God's creation. Too many have been hurt by churches and clergy who twist the words of the Bible into messages of condemnation and hate through their doctrines and judgments.
In his column, Rev. Heery said, “I'm in love with a God who loved and knew me, without condition, before I could even say the word love. I'm in love with a church – Westminster – which, while by no means perfect, is eager to swing wide its doors and embrace this community.”
It has been refreshing for Sue and me to attend a church that welcomes all people: those without a home; those who live in group homes; those of the LGBTQ community; Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Whites. After all, these are only human distinctions – God loves all.
We are, all of us, God's children. That means the God-given task for us is to learn to live with each other as brothers and sisters here and now. As Jesus said, he came to announce the kingdom of God here. Isn't that the meaning of the words in what we call, “The Lord's Prayer:” “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”? Recently, a couple at Westminster shared with us that they had left their former congregation because their son, who is gay, was not welcome at it. They found that welcome – that Holy Welcome – at Westminster!
It's a joy to have the solemnity of worship interrupted by the shouts of toddlers and the welcoming wave of one with a speech disorder. At Westminster, it happens beneath the Tiffany chancel window reflecting the words of the Twenty-third Psalm, “He maketh me lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
Westminster is currently awaiting a new permanent pastor while under the temporary pastoral guidance of the Rev. Dr. Stacy Smith, but its life, love, and worship continue without a hitch. In April, we took part in an adult forum featuring the Owasco Watershed Lake Association. Two months ago, we attended Auburn's annual Pride service, celebrated in the sanctuary, under that Tiffany window. Last month, we joined about fifteen others on the monthly lay-led Contemplative Hike at Green Lakes State Park. This month's hike will be at the picturesque Treman State Park.
Rev. Heery has departed, but in our experience, the Westminster he loves remains. It is a people, swinging wide the doors, embracing the community with God's love for all.
Westminster Presbyterian Church: “Where you're already home.”
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Kuhn and his wife Sue are permanent residents of North Carolina, but have spent forty-six summers at their property on Owasco Lake with their daughters and now their grandchildren. Dan served congregations in Chili and Liverpool, New York, Troy, Michigan, Nashville, Tennessee, and Elon, North Carolina.