More From Baltimore

Today’s blog from the Mission Trip Team comes from Avery Smith. Avery is a 9th grader on her very first mission trip. You can hear more from her, and the rest of the Mission Team, today in worship!

Going on this trip, I had literally no idea what to expect (this was mostly because my parents told me nothing about the trip). I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Getting to work with kids at a summer camp was so inspiring because I went into it expecting to “fix” them but they fixed me. There were some hard times, like when all three of the vans got towed, and being the most exhausted ever from playing Werewolf (mafia as a card game) until extremely late and then having to get up unnaturally early (7:00 am, I know, the devil’s hour*). There were also some more serious moments, like getting little snippets into the kids’ home lives, realizing that they really have it so much harder than we do and realizing that they are so many people that we see on the street or anywhere, maybe we wave to them, maybe we say hi, but that’s it, we have no idea what is happening with anyone… why a kid threatens another kid, why people leave their homes to seek refuge here, why people are so close minded that it sometimes makes you not want to get out of bed. Of course, the most memorable moments were the happy moments. Learning a kid’s favorite food, getting a hug from someone you’ve never even met, having a kid who had just promised that they “weren’t even tired” fall asleep on your shoulder and then proceeding to pass out with them because, let’s face it, kids are pretty exhausting. This sounds like a cliche even writing it, but it was a life changing moment. It’s inspired me to work harder to make connections, to learn about other people. I can’t wait until the next mission trip, and although I want to try a new way of serving as well, I would go back to Baltimore to hang out with those kids in a heart beat.

*going back and proof reading this, I don’t know if I should include a joke about the devil in a church blog post but it’s just gonna happen

An Update From Baltimore

Our Mission Committee Chair, Dena Roper, sent this message last night about the team’s experiences learning and serving in Baltimore so far this week. Mission Committee member Donna Cook shared the photos…

Today was our second day working at the Soaring Eagles camp in Baltimore.  The first day was full of kids coming in and being shy and reserved around these new people who wanted to spend time with them.  The 1st through 6th graders at Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary school were in their space and these strangers were making it weird.  I was the lunch lady.  I see the kids as a large group twice a day.  By lunch time of the first day, they were playing and seemed comfortable and were a joy to watch.  The counselors were bonding with the kids and learning how to lead.  As I passed out veggies and dip some of the kids would ask for specific numbers of things. “Could I have 6 carrots?”  One little girl asked me shyly, and counted to make sure she got all she asked for. On Wednesday we’ll head out for an outdoor experience with science activities, games and hotdogs galore!

And they’re off!

A faithful and willing bunch from Oak Hill Pres have headed off to Baltimore to pass off the torch of the PCUSA’s Hands and Feet Initiative to The Center and to spend a week learning and serving in their community.

In 2016, newly elected PCUSA Stated Clerk the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson shared a vision with those gathered for General Assembly 222 in Portland- that the assembly could really make an impact on the cities in which we gather every 2 years. With the GA223 meeting in St. Louis in 2018, he challenged us and invited us to dream up what this might look like. Here in Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery we felt God was already up to some good work, some good teaching, some good sharing in the work of mission ministries already happening. So we invited the PCUSA to join us in that work, here at AMEN St. Louis (a ministry of Oak Hill Presbyterian Church) and with our friends at First Pres Ferguson and their Urban Mission Work Camp. This vision, this invitation, this ministry became known as the Hands and Feet Initiative.

At the end of GA223 here in St. Louis in 2018, we passed Hands and Feet on to the ministries of the Presbytery of Baltimore (host city for GA224) and The Center, their own very-AMEN-like ministry.

So, when Oak Hill folks wanted to go on a mission trip this year, we couldn’t miss this fabulous opportunity to keep supporting Hands and Feet, to serve alongside our Presbyterian siblings in Baltimore, and to swap stories and experiences and moments and laughs.

Today, our crew left on their own Hands and Feet adventure. You can follow along on this blog and on our Facebook page for pics and updates throughout the week.

Keep our mission team in your prayers, keep our Presbyterian pals and local community leaders in Baltimore in your prayers, and especially, keep our Baltimore neighbors in your prayers this week.

Thanks be to God.

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New Bible Study Class

Pastor Erin is teaching a new Wednesday class on the journey in the early Church from renegade, outsider, persecuted Jesus movement to Constantine’s Church of the Empire.  We’re using a number of texts, but leaning heavily on Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity.  Join us on Wednesdays at 11:00 AM in the Faith and Fellowship Room.  Materials will be provided.

Pot Luck Lunch!

Hey friends,
This Sunday is the first of the month, which means, YEEESSSSSS! Pot Luck Lunch! Bring a dish to share, bring a friend who likes to eat, bring a bag to bring some leftovers home with you.

Also, this Sunday, the session will be hosting conversations about safety during our meal. We had an incident in the parking lot two weeks ago, and we want to check in and chat and know what you think.

See you all on Sunday!

Micah 6 Summer Camp

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AMEN and Oak Hill are teaming up to host a summer day camp for middle schoolers, focused on social justice, community service, and faith!

This one-of-a-kind day camp will offer your kiddo a chance to learn more about the Bible and their faith, to do service projects for community organizations, and to learn about social justice and becoming an agent for change.  

From 8 am – 5 pm each day, campers will complete service projects at local non-profit organizations, explore their faith formation, and hear from diverse leaders in the community about standing up for social justice.  And of course, we’ll have lots of fun, too!

For more information, to see about camp fees, and to register, please go to:

Lenten Devotional 4/21/19

April 21, 2019                   John 20:1-18                          Rev. Erin Counihan

It’s Easter morning and we’ve made it! (Or else you skipped ahead because you’re a big ole cheater.)

But before we jump to the joy and wonder, the lilies and chocolates, I like to spend a little time with our sister Mary at the tomb. Imagining the despair, the frustration, the grief she must have felt, walking that morning, while it was still night, but he was already risen. Still lost in all that had happened, still remaining faithful, serving him past the end, even in her loss, even with it all seeming to be over. And he is already risen.

That morning Mary, that still serving Mary, that still walking in the night Mary- she gives me hope for all the times when I am lost, or grieving, or frustrated, or really, really unsure. That somewhere, somehow, even in my own despair, Christ has already risen, Christ is already making things right, Christ is already conquering evil, Christ is already changing the story… I just don’t know it yet.

God, I pray for us who are still journeying toward Jesus, especially when we’re trudging along in the night, especially when we’re praying for some wonderful, unimaginable, but desperately needed resurrection morning. Amen.

(And Happy Easter, friends!)  

Lenten Devotional 4/20/19

April 20, 2019                      Romans 8:1-11                            Rich Weithop


The scripture talks about God’s law and Man’s law. God’s law is superior to Man’s law. God’s law deals with sending his son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. Man’s law deals with the flesh and sin. Following God’s law is life and peace. Man’s law set on flesh is hostile to God. If you are under God’s law, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life. You will have eternal life.

Man’s law can lead to people being materialistic, selfish, judgmental, untruthful, hateful, prejudiced, power hungry, etc. God’s law leads to people doing the right thing. This includes; helping, sharing, being positive and honest, calling out injustices, being courteous and respectful, etc. Following God’s law will reward you with peace and everlasting life.


Thank you, God, for offering your word to us. Continue to remind us that following your word will lead us to happiness, peace, and everlasting life. AMEN

Lenten Devotional 4/19/19

April 19                                   John 19:40-42                                     Dena Roper

“They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with spices in linen clothes, according to the customs of the Jews.  Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.  And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

This poem was shared by Erin and Korla a year or two ago.  It spoke to me so I saved it.  Sometimes we just have to feel the feels even the bad ones.

“Blessing When the World is Ending”

Look, the world

is always ending



the sun has come

crashing down.


it has gone

completely dark.


it has ended

with the gun,

the knife,

the fist.


it has ended

with the slammed door,

the shattered hope.


it has ended

with the utter quiet

that follows the news

from the phone,

the television,

the hospital room.


it has ended

with a tenderness

that will break

your heart.

But, listen,

this blessing means

to be anything

but morose.

It has not come

to cause despair.

It is simply here

because there is nothing

a blessing

is better suited for

than an ending,

nothing that cries out more

for a blessing

than when a world

is falling apart.

This blessing

will not fix you,

will not mend you,

will not give you

false comfort;

it will not talk to you

about one door opening

when another one closes.

It will simply

sit itself beside you

among the shards

and gently turn your face

toward the direction

from which the light

will come,

gathering itself

about you

as the world begins


—Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace

Dear God, you are there and listen when we are going through stuff.  There is comfort know we are not alone when we are felling all the feels in life. Amen

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