Issue 1 | April 2023

Sharing the Heart and Happenings at Central

Welcome to the first issue of The Current, an online publication aimed at sharing the heart and happenings of the Central community. The Current will share personal stories and information about the wonderful work of our volunteers, staff, leaders, teachers, and organizations–the body of Christ at Central–and how their efforts affect the lives of people at Central, in the community, and in the world. Our goal is for The Current to be not only inspirational and informative, but also an invitation for you to consider ways you can serve. 

What You Can Look Forward To Each Month

The Current will be emailed to you and includes articles about people and activities along with other community-building information, such as:

  • Prayer requests
  • Leadership updates
  • Staff profiles
  • Scripture and sermon series focus
  • Milestone events in people’s lives
  • Local opportunities
  • Feedback booth

Be A Part of The Current

A felt need in the congregation to be better connected to each other and know what exciting things are happening at Central led to the creation of The Current. Vernon Strawhand, Fran Anderson, Susan Schulze, Linda Ferree, and Ray Almsteadt are coordinating with writers and editors to bring these stories and information to you each month. 

This seed of an idea will grow with your help. Do you have a suggestion for this online publication? Are you interested in building our community by sharing stories of God at work in and through the lives of this congregation? We need writers, editors, photographers, and more. The time commitment is flexible around your schedule. Use the feedback section below to share your ideas or to learn more about being part of the team. 

We hope you will be inspired and catch our enthusiasm for sharing stories and information from the heart of our Central family.

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It All Started With Jury Duty

Certain ministries at Central Presbyterian Church remain behind the scenes but are significant. One of those ministries is operating the media—the sound and visuals that drive our contemporary and traditional worship services.

So, what does that have to do with jury duty?

Meet John Davis. John is one of those media people, and his trajectory toward Central, and eventually the Worship Tech Team, was launched in the Baltimore City jury assembly room.

John grew up in the Roman Catholic Church but had a crisis of faith in college. After a friend came back from the Navy fired up for Jesus, John became receptive to Christianity as “something more than just going to church.” That’s where jury duty enters the picture. In December 1981, John was called to fulfill his civic responsibility and sat down in the jury room next to a young woman reading The Chronicles of Narnia. They got to talking and couldn’t stop. To make a long story short, John’s first date with Barb Troch came a few weeks later. Then he started worshipping at Central and participating in the young adult ministry with Barb, which was an answer to John’s prayer, “God, help me to know you.” Exactly 17 months after they met, John and Barb got married at Central, and they raised their two children in the church. (There are also two grandchildren, but that’s another story.)

Fast forward to 2019. John was attracted to the idea of working with the Worship Tech Team during the traditional service, which he and Barb attend. It seemed a perfect fit for his personality, aptitudes, passions and experience. Never one to seek the limelight, John could still be part of what makes the service go. With the support of James Loomis, Andrew Dixon, Doug Thomas, Rich Reichley (who runs media in the contemporary service) and other members of the team, he learned how to create the slides and run the ProPresenter program, helped by his own computer experience.

There are so many reasons why John finds the ministry fulfilling and a good fit. First, he’s happy behind the scenes and, as he says, “If I’m doing my job correctly, nobody knows I’m there. I don’t want to be a distraction.” Second, John loves music. Though he doesn’t play an instrument or sing, he can express that love by presenting slides so that the message of the lyrics complements the music. Similarly, creating good slides for sermons, confession and other parts of the service plays a part in advancing the gospel message. In addition, he finds it gratifying to receive the appreciation of the congregation and to work with Robin Mundey, Mark Domsic and other talented people involved in worship.

John says that he feels significant for having found his niche in the body of Christ, and he encourages others to explore whether they also might fill the Tech Team niche. The team rallies around anyone who wants to learn, including Caleb Gabrielse, who, at just eleven years old, is running slides during the traditional service. Mistakes are forgiven. As John says, “You cannot make a mistake that I haven’t made.” The time commitment is for the worship hour, about two hours during the week to make slides, a half hour before the service to set up, and about five minutes after to shut down. If you love worship but don’t see yourself up on the stage or in the choir stalls, this ministry may be for you!

Opportunities to serve at Central.

 

To learn more about serving at Central

Visit the volunteer page or fill out this form and someone will contact you to talk about ways to get involved. Take a risk - No Strings attached!

Click Here
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Discerning and Supporting God’s Call for Central

The idea behind this article and others to follow is to hopefully demystify the Session to the community here at Central, lift the curtain on who they are, what they're working on, and how they fit into the overall governance of our church. 

The Session is comprised of nine individuals who have been nominated, elected, and then formally ordained within the congregation to give spiritual guidance, shepherd, teach, pray, and set direction. 

At Central, elders are male and female, serve three-year terms, and also function as trustees. These folks are called elders and along with the pastors, have responsibilities for the life of the congregation as well as the whole church. 

See who is currently serving on Session

In this season of transition, after having the same pastor for more than 17 years, the Session is seeking clarification and agreement (unity) on what we believe God is calling us to become (vision). 

This is critical now as we are not the same church we were just five years ago. In that time, we planted a church (St. Moses) in the city. That plant required many leaders to leave Central to be a part of the leadership team. 

Then came Covid, a culturally redefining event that changed how we worshiped for more than two years. During that same time, we lost some key staff people such as Pastor John and Jim McClure to retirement, and long-time High School Ministry leader Joe Strube to other pursuits. 

During the past few years our organization and staff responsibilities had to be adjusted, as we eagerly await a new Senior Pastor.

We also have become a smaller congregation and, in addition to our Traditional and Contemporary congregations, we now have an online congregation to serve.

Therefore, the Session is looking at our vision and core values as these drive everything that we do including operations, budgeting, and staffing.

Our long-time vision of “moving people closer to Christ,” will remain intact, but the Session has been praying and working through a recasting of that vision in terms of:

  1. Transformation
  2. Community
  3. Discipleship
  4. Impact

 

Our core values also are being reexamined: do they accurately reflect how we do church and what we care most deeply about?

These values are:

  • Authentic Community
  • Clear Biblical Christ-Centered Teaching
  • Outreach and Missions
  • Dependence on God through Prayer
  • Embracing Ethnic Diversity
  • Expansion of Neighborhood-Based Ministry

 

In future articles, we will attempt to keep you apprised of how Session is working through these issues. We also want to introduce you to something we call the College of Elders. This is a group of men and women who have formerly served on the Session. The hope and the intent over the past several months has been to more regularly engage with this group of spiritually mature leaders, specifically in the areas of prayer and discipleship.

So, stay tuned!

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Milestones in April

Central celebrates these special birthdays and anniversaries!

If we missed posting one of your special days, please check your CCB profile to bring it up to date.

A Simple Meal, A Lifelong Impact…

Putting Christ's Love Into Action

white ceramic platter

When I had my first baby, I didn’t have any true friends here. My family and close friends were back home, and my husband and I were new in this big city. We didn’t know how to parent. We didn’t know how to raise babies. And we certainly didn’t have any practice in cooking meals while caring for a newborn. This was a whole new experience, and it was overwhelming. 

But we weren’t alone! While we felt like we were navigating new waters, the people at Central knew one thing we needed and organized a Meal Train. Let me tell you, those meals were such a blessing! They were hot and delicious, yes, but more importantly, they made me feel accepted! That I was one of them! People liked (and loved) us, and wanted to step into our chaos to lend a hand. 

This beacon of love led us to join a small group and get involved. That small group has lasted for 17 years! Imagine so much impact just from bringing a meal! The people who cared for us were such loving examples of Christ’s love and how we should love our neighbors. 

Now I’m a Deacon and have been able to show the same love and kindness to others in need for years, Christ’s love in action. 

The Deacons have recently begun a Meal Preparation Team providing meals for families who have had a baby.  

This team is also providing meals to individuals and families in short-term health problems or other unexpected life circumstances. Make a request if you or someone you know could use the blessing of a meal or two.  

All are welcome to join the team to prepare a meal for another family when you are available.

 

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Balancing Central’s Budget

On the financial front, Central continues to live into an important operational change with Jim McClure’s retirement beginning in early 2022. The Finance Committee, which had already been in existence for several years, expanded to allow for greater guidance and consultation to the church’s finance office, now under the leadership of Ann Hutson.

Members of the Finance Committee are Elizabeth (Liz) Iglesias, chair; Brenda Ames-Ledbetter, Bill Foxburrow, Jess Gardner, Ann Hutson, Andy Nagel, Ross Perkinson, and Jack Weber.

While the Finance Committee meets quarterly to review financial reports, to provide advice and feedback for the finance director and treasurer, it is Central’s Session that serves with fiduciary oversight of the church and is responsible for carrying out three primary duties in their roles: the Duty of Care, the Duty of Loyalty, and the Duty of Obedience (National Council of Nonprofits’ website, 2023).

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the Duty of Care ensures the prudent use of the church and its assets to advance its mission. The Duty of Loyalty means that current Session elders are guaranteeing they put the best interest of Central before anything and that there aren’t conflicts of interest in the activities and transactions taking place. Finally, the Duty of Obedience confirms that the church follows all applicable laws, regulations, and its own bylaws.

Recently, during the church’s Community Huddle on February 26th, Liz provided a brief financial overview to the congregation. Last July, the church budget was set with a goal of $1,957,000, which was intended to cover the cost of the future senior pastor as well as the current staff, programs, and mission expenditures.

For the first half of the fiscal year (July – December), the church has received offerings of $1,037,000 which is 4% more than the same period last year. While this is very encouraging, it is a bit short of the overall goal. At this point, it is projected that the church will end the fiscal year with $1,880,000 of offering, approximately $80,000 less than what we were planning.

The “good” news is that our expenses are also projected to be less than we were planning, mainly because we haven’t started paying a new senior pastor. While this is not precisely the way we envisioned toeing the budget line, we’re also convinced that God’s timing is impeccable and that He will supply all that we need.

One way you might help is, if every giving unit, that is households, were to give an additional $320 between now and the end of June, we would meet our budget needs. Learn more about ways to give.

Thank you all for entrusting Central with your gifts. We are all grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to join in moving people, ourselves included, closer to Christ.

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Prayer Requests

Please remember the following people in prayer as the Lord leads you.

Join the Prayer Team

Pastoral Nominating Committee

Gene & Dottie Ball

Pam Knight

Luke Trepanier

Joe Pollitt

Keith & Carol Pallante

Richard Davis

Kyle Hungerford

Opportunities

Positions available

Cambridge School
Cambridge School is seeking enthusiastic elementary teachers. Direct your cover letter, resume, and a third document describing your desire to work within Cambridge's three distinctives to Heather Strube.
Apply

Volunteer Opportunity

YoungLives
YoungLives, a ministry of YoungLife, serving teen moms, hosts clubs and needs groups of adults to set up, clean up, bring breakfast food, and offer childcare on April 1, May 13 & June 3. Contact Jessica Clark.
Contact

Housing Needed

Andrea Cook
Central member Andrea Cook is a 42 year young-at-heart Christian woman seeking a place to live in Towson with private bedroom and bathroom, and separate or shared kitchen.
Contact

Medical Equipment Available

The Deacons
The Deacon’s Closet has medical equipment - wheelchairs, rollators, standard walkers, canes and shower chairs available for personal use or for a friend. Donations of gently used equipment is always needed for others to use.
Email

Feedback Booth

We Want To Hear From You!​

What do you think about the newsletter?  We’d love to hear what you liked and want to see more of. Please send a brief message with your feedback.  Thanks!

Want to be part of The Current team? Send a note below and we will be in touch with you soon to talk about opportunities to get involved. Thanks!