May 26, 2017

Who are we as a church? As a denomination? As individuals? What is our purpose? How do we fulfill that purpose? What are our distinctives? What is our place in history? These are a few if the questions we are asking at Parkway United Church of Christ. Explore answers here.

Oxymoron

oxymoronIt is heartwarming when we find out we are making a difference. Last week  we received this wonderful email about our outdoor sign and have to share with everyone:

I drive past your signs every morning on my way to work. The words you put on your board are things that make you smile, think and nod in agreement.

I’m not religious and I stay away from churches because, well as a lesbian woman I am not typically welcome.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw your board… It was right after they legalized gay marriage. I saw your board, “We believe in Marriage, equality, and marriage equality.” I was beaming after that. It was nice to see religious organizations standing by our side.

The one you have on display now is just amazing. Even if I’m having a bad morning, this always puts a smile on my face. Such powerful words.

I’m sure it’s not the most popular board in town, but it certainly the one with the most truth. I just wanted to say thank you.

Calm in Heart

peace calm in heart

patiently practice peaceful presence

patiently practice peaceful presence

A Letter of Thanksgiving to Parkway UCC

A Letter of Thanksgiving to Parkway UCC
November 2015

1529In 2007 a rag-taggly family of two women, 6 children (ages 7 yr to 15 yr) and many assorted pets arrived in St. Louis from Denver. They came to start over—their “financial bubble” had burst a year ahead of the national/global impact; foreclosure and bankruptcy loomed. Extended family was here and it felt safer to be among them.

The first year was rough—many problems with the hours, job distress and disruption for both Brenda and Pam, major surgery/hospitalization for Brenda, a knee injury for Pam, an unwelcoming church and the finalization of foreclosure in Denver and bankruptcy here.
Then in summer of 2008, they found a “gay, family-friendly church” on the internet—Parkway UCC. From the 1st visit the kids felt “at home” and so did Pam. Our church family became the main support system for our family. Here is a short list of things given us and done for us with many left off the list I am sure:

  • A very loving and warm welcome of all of us.
  • A children’s program that made going to church a privilege the kids worked for rather than a Sunday morning “have to.”
  • An anonymous payment of our mortgage that got us through an untimely job loss.
  • Church monies that made it possible for the kids to experience “and fall in love with) Camp MoVal and to participate in youth activities like mission trips and fun days.
  • Someone to stay with and care for the children and pets so Pam and Brenda could watch Messeret graduate from Army boot camp out of state.
  • Prayerful, compassionate (with a very welcome touch of humor) great pastoral care and guidance through many ups and downs from Kevin.
  • The chance for Pam to participate in making music.
  • Wonderful opportunities to pray (Centering Prayer) and learn (TABS, TED) for Pam.
  • Monies and time and effort put forth to help Pam and Brenda’s son and his new family—repairing their home.
  • A spectacular baby shower for baby Dante.
  • A phenomenal outpouring of love and effort in providing an unforgettable wedding for Pam and Brenda November 14, 2013.
  • A member stepping forth to mentor one of the kids having a hard time.
  • The fifth of a cello and much encouragement for a young musician.
  • Deep friendships that sustain and nourish Pam every single day—open hearts, listening ears of gracious, wonderful people who are generous and kind.

I am sure that there are many, many other things which have been forgotten or overlooked, but, I could not go through another season of Thanksgiving without thanking God for you all and expressing my gratitude for your continued AWESOME support and love.

THANK YOU PARKWAY UCC!

Love from Pam, Brenda and the Walker (Watkins) clan

Parkway UCC: the Church that Keeps on Being Given

unnamedParkway UCC: the Church that Keeps on Being Given

Kris & Tom McKenzie

Kris and Tom McKenzie were brought up in very different religious environments. Kris’s entire religious experience has been under the guidance of the Evangelical and Reformed/United Church of Christ Church. Tom grew up under Roman Catholic guidance. Kris’s mother was very active in church life; her father went to church only for his children’s baptisms, confirmations and weddings. Both of Tom’s parents were very committed to Catholic Church life and raised their children accordingly.

When Kris was 15 she and her family moved from Iowa to St. Louis, MO. After almost a year of searching, her mother, Fran Rasmussen, decided to become a member of Parkway UCC. Fran gifted the opportunity to experience Parkway membership to her 2 youngest daughters, Mary and Kris. Kris has remained a member although taking several years “vacation” from church after her parents retired and moved out of St. Louis.

Tom has always lived in St. Louis, MO. When he was 15 he was questioning the Catholic faith. He spent most of his young adulthood searching for a church that was a good fit.

Tom and Kris met and in 1985 married at Parkway UCC. A couple years later their first child, Laura, was on the way. Both Tom and Kris wanted their children to be raised with strong religious experiences, just like they were. Kris offered the gift of Parkway UCC to Tom. He accepted the gift and embraced it.

As time passed Parkway UCC was gifted to the McKenzie children by their parents. Both Laura and Lucia were baptized, confirmed, and given faith based experiences at Parkway. Laura, 27, has lived away from St. Louis most of her post high school life but still considers Parkway UCC her church home.

Lucia, 24, remains a devoted member of the Parkway UCC family.

Lucia often offers the gift of experiencing Parkway UCC to her friends. It is hoped that those who have accepted the gift of Parkway UCC find it a warm and welcoming experience just as the McKenzie family has all these years.

Saying Yes to PUCC

tomandmarySaying Yes to PUCC
Mary and Tom Maxeiner

We discovered Parkway about the same time Parkway had gotten ready to discover us. We returned to St Louis in the winter of 2006. Our first morning in our new home we couldn’t get out of the driveway because of snow, but by noon the snow was gone.

We didn’t know that was an omen.

We still don’t know anything close to what it means, except for freezing and melting. Getting back to St Louis, where we both grew up, went to the same high school, and dated in high school and college; getting back here was the hard part. Both of us left more or less in our teens for different elsewheres, sometimes in the same state (California) but not in the same colleges or marriages.

From these marriages we have four children, three living on the coasts and one in Memphis. Both our marriages were problematic from the start; but we each felt it our duty to make them work. We had grown up Presbyterian and Lutheran, and married people from Christian backgrounds but practices different from our own. We stopped going to church regularly during our first marriages. We told ourselves, as many did then, “we’re spiritual, not religious.” But Christian shaping played a role in the jobs we both started out in—teaching, and we both shared the social justice concerns formulated so sharply in the late 60s.

Since leaving St Louis we had kept in occasional touch, mostly through third parties. By the 1990’s our first marriages were long ago over. Through a few chance phone calls, we decided to meet up together, and the experience was earthshaking:
Mary was visiting two of her kids in Los Angeles, where I lived, and before she could get to my side of town the Northridge Earthquake struck (magnitude 6.7), That seemed an omen too and before we knew it we were together in Los Angeles until, after some years, Mary persuaded me I had to retire—for many years I had not been teaching but writing proposals for an aerospace company. We wanted to get out of too big, too busy Los Angeles, and we came home, where we have learned that you can come home again.
Living in St Louis for the first time in over 40 years, we started taking Tom’s mother to Christ Lutheran in Webster. We decided we wanted to look for a church for ourselves. We went to various churches, but more UCC than anything—I think because of the combination of politics and worship.

Tom had read UCC writers before knowing anything about UCC in particular. He ran into an Eden professor at the gym, who invited him to a class at Eden. Responding to the PUCC sign (was that the omen?), we attended PUCC services when Margaret Phillips, filling in for Pastor Kevin, was raining fiery justice from the pulpit.

Soon we learned how Kevin’s natural gift for communing with God could help us, too, to “live in prayer.” Kevin has also nurtured in us a desire to live more meaningfully for ourselves and others.

We soon got to know Dick and Florence Simonson, Mary Jo and Jamie Cannon, Pam Watkins-Walker, Sue Stolze, and others —a real large lot of kindness and dedication.

The decision to join Parkway soon afterwards reflected our roles with each other: Tom looks around a lot, but never decides; Mary sees and says “yes” or “no.”

On our ride home from an early visit to Parkway, Mary talked about joining and I saw a Methodist church and said “well, a short while ago I didn’t know much about UCC or PUCC. I don’t know anything about Methodists. Should we look at that church.?”

Mary said, “No. Look at the parking lot—it’s full, and huge. I think Parkway needs us.”

And we have found that we need Parkway even more.

We’ve found personal solace and deep compassion for all here, through meaningful friendships and activities that suit our personalities—centering prayer, choir, bible study, community outreach, and opportunities for artistic and spiritual expression.
That’s how we said “Yes” to Parkway.

Let God sort it out.

let_God_sort_it_out

The first duty of love is to listen.

FIRST_DUTY

Be your best self and have love in your heart.

BE_YOUR_BEST_SELF

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

be_the_changee the Change You