Sunday, June 5, 2011

Parkwood United Presbyterian Church

Today we worshiped at Parkwood United Presbyterian Church, 4289 Mount Royal Boulevard, Allison Park, PA 15101, 412.486.9220,, Rev. Jeffrey J. Potter, Senior Pastor.

Bob’s thoughts:

We worshiped in a beautiful church today with some incredibly vibrant stained glass. I have no idea how sunlight could be streaming through the front and rear windows at the same time, but it was a beautiful effect.

Most of the doors were identified, but there was little directional signage. There were enough crosses to satisfy even me, including a handsome large wood cross and rustic cross in the corner. There is an interesting mix of woodwork including many carved pieces on the walls.

The effect from raising the large screen and exposing the stained glass it obscured was like the view of Pittsburgh upon exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnel. From the rear of the Sanctuary I could see the joy radiating from the choir, and upon meeting the director I suspect a lot of it started with him.

The quiet time for personal confession could have been longer.

The sermon wove around our striving for meaning and direction in our lives and, for me, how God intercedes in our craziness and busyness to get our attention. With us it was the loss of our son…we will never again be who we were. Prayer does change us and those around us; we need the experience of prayer.

There were a couple responsive readings added to what we normally experience for Communion. It was by intinction and the elements were offered verbally. Those who couldn’t come forward were served and the Pastors served each other. Well done.

The Pastor seemed comfortable with the congregation and I was impressed with how at ease the Assistant Pastor appeared.

Jan’s thoughts:

I remembered that someone from this church had participated in one of my trips to Malawi but I couldn’t quite recollect who it was, so it was helpful that he was presenting the Minute for Mission today and his name was in the bulletin. I had seen him a few times since our trip in 2003, but it had been quite a while and it was great to see him again. The hospitality shown by even one person makes a difference, although the members we encountered before, during and after worship were very friendly and welcoming.

The area is bucolic with a charming Prayer Garden. I’m sure it’s not easy to keep an area this size looking so well tended.

The building is white brick with a green roof and matching accents. We walked directly into the Welcome Center which seemed to act as a fine social and informational area. Everything was very well labeled, but there was a lack of directional signage. We hoped to find directional signs pointing toward restrooms, but managed to locate the restrooms even without the signage.

Parkwood is in partnership with several nearby churches, some members of which were present today. This is part of the reason I believe this church has had some experience greeting visitors and is not afraid of them.

We observed much evidence of mission activity along with a strong emphasis on prayer.

The Sanctuary contains lots of well-blended wood and neutral tones which cause the windows to really stand out. The rear walls of the Chancel and Sanctuary and a very large side wall boasted large, bright stained glass in mosaic designs that created vague pictures. The bright colors were mood-enhancers, and the windows were exquisite works of art. The wooden plaques lining the side walls, along with the two on the rear Chancel wall, were depictions of various Christian symbols.

The choir was excellent, as was the piano and organ. Some church musicians have a way of playing the music that seems to draw attention to themselves, but I sensed the purpose of this music was to point to God.

The bulletin is user friendly (e.g., the outer page contains the Order of Worship and I can fold it and place the inserts inside during worship).

The Sacrament of Communion is somehow more meaningful when accompanied by a verbal reminder of its meaning, so I was delighted that that was the case today.

The Message, entitled “A Heart for Prayer,” was centered on John 17:1-11, Christ’s prayer for the Church. The pastor began by referring to “The Gospel According to Peanuts” in talking about our common search for meaning in life and our attempts to deal with the various challenges with which we’re faced. He pointed out that if a life of prayer was essential for Jesus, we need to know it is also central for us, and that if Christ found it necessary to be attached to the Source of life during His time on this earth, we should realize the same is necessary for us.

I appreciated the reminder, and the opportunity to be present today.

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