Sunday, April 10, 2011

Northminster Presbyterian Church/New Life Community Church

Today we worshiped at Northminster Presbyterian Church/New Life Community Church, 45 N. Fremont Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15202, 412.761.1600, Rev. Don Brown, Pastor.

Bob’s thoughts:

We have been confused many times over the lack of signage, but I think this was a first: we knew we were at the right address but the name was different.

From some Annual Reports we found I assume there was a merger and thus the need for a name change. We did see a small plaque outside identifying the church as Northminster and the bulletin had both Northminster and New Life. There was only some signage inside.

The Sanctuary is simple and ornate with an interesting mix of woodwork, and a large cross incorporated into the front.

The Children’s Message seemed to capture their attention even better than the pastor expected, but ran a bit too long to keep their attention.

The hymn “It is Well with My Soul” was sung omitting the fourth verse, the one with the best lines.

The sermon was a part two and posed something interesting to consider: by the end of Genesis there were 70 followers of God, and closer to 2 million when they exited Egypt. Not the circumstances we would readily imagine for growth, but God works beyond our comprehension.

God’s people then were no different than we are today. We likewise are busy creating new levels of corruption.

The honor fell to Solomon to build the House of God, which was grand. Then he built his own house four times as large. The pastor brought up a favorite point that God works like judo, turning our efforts to accomplish His direction.

I thought the pastor did a good job of leading the congregation through the sermon and was encouraged when I read his message in the Annual Report stressing mission. I was pleased to pray for this church and pastor.

Jan’s thoughts:
We began this visit in a state of confusion as to whether we had the correct location – the plaque on the front of the building indicated Northminster Presbyterian Church, but the sign on the marquee read New Life Community Church. Whatever church this was, God had led us here so we opted to stay.
After reading a couple of Annual Reports, it seems that last year Brighton-McClure Presbyterian Church merged with Northminster, and hence the “New Life” name I suppose.
A gentleman immediately inside the front door welcomed us and handed us a bulletin. We had just enough time to find a seat. Several people in the vicinity and walking past greeted us.
The Sanctuary is tastefully decorated with a cream color on the walls and ceiling and trim in various shades of tan/caramel/brown with purple accents behind the cross on the rear wall of the Chancel and on the banners framing the Chancel. It’s quite lovely and it all blends well with the stained glass.
The bulletin was nicely done with an interesting drawing on the front of the tomb of Christ and the stone in front being blown away from the opening by the power from within the tomb.
The pastor’s energy and enthusiasm was evident early on, and I quickly came to appreciate his sense of humor.
It’s been a while since I saw sign language in use during worship so I had to smile when I noticed the pastor signing the Gloria Patri.
The Scripture readings were re-printed on bulletin inserts. Prior to the first reading, the pastor pointed out strongly that God’s Word is His Word regardless of the medium. I appreciated the superb reminder.
The Children’s Message was entertaining and educational. The pastor used a rainbow-shaped crayon and marker holder to illustrate that each instrument has its own place to be, that to be blessed means to be in its proper place with God at the center, and that order originated with God.
The sermon was called “God’s Amazing Love and the Chosen King II: The Rise of the Prophets” and was based on II Kings 9:6, 11-13, and II Chronicles 33:1-9.

There were many excellent points of which I made note, but I can’t connect them without duplicating the sermon, which won’t happen. Therefore I’ll simply list the quotes I noted and trust you to follow the yellow brick road:
• Israel became more evil than the people they displaced;
• At the end of Genesis there were 70 people following God;
• Approximately 2 million Israelites left Egypt;
• Judges became necessary because there were too many people for Moses alone to judge;
• Priest = intercessor;
• This created yet another level of bureaucracy between God and the people;
• Solomon’s palace was four times larger than the temple Solomon built for God;
• Every time His people took a step farther from God, God made a way to bring His people closer to Him;
• God does unexpected things in ways we would never consider;
• In the face of power, God came in utter poverty to rescue us;
• Jesus spoke perfectly because our lives hung in the balance;
• We have nothing to do with our blessings.

I have often marveled at the “oppositeness” of God…how humans expect Him to behave in a way that makes perfect sense to us (i.e., the expectation of the disciples that Jesus would establish His kingdom on earth using swords and force) and He follows none of our rules. He does things His own way and from a perspective we must be guided into seeing, accepting, and understanding. As so many have learned it’s one of the things that makes following Him an adventure – around every corner is a surprising growth experience. I can almost picture Him smiling when we finally “get it.”
Speaking of surprises, following the service we encountered a co-pilgrim with whom I traveled to Malawi in 1999. He is now a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and if you’re a music lover you might consider attending an event he mentioned would be held there. On Tuesday, April 26, PTS will present “Baroque to Blues: A Concert of Music for Two Pianos,” which promises to be an uplifting experience. For further details, check out the website at

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