The messages Pastor Bob preached this past Sunday were powerful and so inspiring. Sunday morning was titled "The Hedge." Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, (meaning Job) and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. No matter what Satan took from Job, he still kept his faith in God.
Satan is still trying to get you to turn from God, and he is trying everything and everyday and he will not stop. Keep that faith and build that hedge and hold on to what God has waiting for us. Our victory is in Jesus and our heavenly home is worth so much more then what Satan can take away.
Sunday Evening message was on "The Path of God" and that went along with the morning message of what Job had gone through and still he stayed on the right path. Job 28:7 "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the falcon’s eye hath not seen. How many of us can and will stay on the straight and narrow? Remember "Satan can quote Scripture for his purpose."
In this moral conflict now raging around us, whoever is on God’s side is on the winning side and cannot lose; whoever is on the other side is on the losing side and cannot win.
Birthday wishes for September goes to Melissa Heathcote, Techler Clark, Eddie Martin and Rose Schwarz, and happy anniversary to Eddie and Jeanette Martin.
Catholics Returning Home Ministry is in its 10th year at St. Joseph Church in Conway.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis recently published a paper entitled, Disciples Called to Witness, The New Evangelization. This call to witness is nothing new. Pope Paul VI expressed the need to "reawaken" the evangelizing mission within the church, Pope John Paul II entitled it the "New Evangelization" and Pope Benedict XVI has reaffirmed the need.
According to the paper, it is estimated that only 23 percent of Catholics actually attend Mass each week. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate cites the reasons as increased secularization, materialism, and individualism. While the New Evangelization is directed to all people, its primary focus is on reaching those who have Catholic roots but who have "lost their sense of faith" or no longer consider themselves members of the Church.
When St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway conducted a parish-wide survey in 2002, reaching out to inactive Catholics was at the top of the list of concerns and needs as seen by parishioners. Father Tom Byrne, C.S.SP, pastor at the time, appointed Associate Pastor Father Brandon Bay Nguyen to develop a program within the parish that would address the need. Nguyen, who served as the staff resource representative on the Social Justice/Outreach Commission of the Pastoral Council, chose the program Catholics Returning Home because it of its endorsement by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Sally Mews, CRH founder and author of Inviting Catholics Home, A Parish Program developed the program based on her own experiences as a Catholic returning to the faith and after years of trial and error.)
An organizational meeting was advertised in the church bulletin seeking those interested in helping to start the program. Fifteen parishioners, including Father Nguyen and members of the Social Justice/Outreach Commission attended the first meetings resulting in the selection of Judy Nadboralski as Chair and Gary Senko as Co-Chair. The first class took place in April of 2003.
St. Joseph’s has offered as many as three sessions a year with classes starting after Christmas, Easter and in the Fall. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 people have attended the sessions. Parishioners James and Charles Lock and John Abbot have been team members since the beginning. Although members of the team have rotated on and off over the years, Mary Eubanks, Robert Stringer and Nancy Mitchell currently assist on the team. Returning team members share their own individual experiences in finding their way back to the Church. According to the Locks the program has been, "Very successful. Almost all that have gone through the program completely (5-6 sessions) are still attending church regularly. I don’t think there is a Sunday that goes by, regardless of the Mass, that you don’t see someone that has gone through the program. To see them faithfully attending Mass and other parish functions is a good feeling. It’s been a very rewarding experience having an opportunity to participate in the mission of the church."
There are many varied reasons why Catholics leave the church. Most leave during their high school and college years when they are searching for their own identity and making new life choices. Some leave when they marry someone from a different faith or move into an new area where they never join the local parish. For whatever reason, at some point in their lives many want to return and a program suited to their needs provides them with a starting point to return.
Local parishioner, Robert Stringer, said, "I know deep in my heart it was the Holy Spirit that led me back to my faith in God and to St. Joseph parish. On Dec. 15, 2008, I had a heart attack.
The cardiac surgeon at Conway Regional placed two stints into my heart and a well intentioned ominous whisper into my ear, "Thirty more minutes and you would not have made it to my table." Not once in the month that followed, did I think of God; not one single prayer in the ambulance or the week in the hospital. One day while channel surfing I stopped on EWTN. A dynamic priest was sharing his reconversion story. I related to almost everything he said, lived a life similar to his, and at that moment realized I felt as lost.... As the priest on EWTN pointed out I was a lost sheep, a prodigal son. I went to the church on a Saturday to see what time mass was on Sunday. On the way out I saw a brochure for Catholics Returning Home. My journey in discovering God, my faith, and how I could get involved began right there. It has been almost four years now."
A Fall session is set for September. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can call the Parish Administrative Offices at 501-327-6568.
Arlene Biebesheimer will be featured in "Under the Dome" recital Aug. 26 at Conway First United Methodist Church.
Soprano Arlene Biebesheimer and Organist/Pianist Betty Cohen will present our next Under the Dome recital at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Conway.
The recital, "In Praise and Honor," will be a program of sacred vocal music. Dr. Biebesheimer will be accompanied by Betty Cohen, organ and piano; and assisted by Larry Jones, trumpet.
Featured compositions include J.S. Bach’s opening aria from Cantata No. 51 "Jauchzet Gott in Allen Landen," "Let the Bright Seraphim" from the oratorio Samson, and "Oh Had I Jubal’s Lyre" from Joshua by G.F. Handel.
Also featured will be Antonin Dvorak’s "Biblical Songs," a set of 10 songs with texts from the Book of Psalms. These were written in 1894 during Dvorak’s stay in the United States. "The composer turned to the Bible against a personal background of grave and disturbing news: A close friend of Dvorak had died a month earlier in Cairo, and Dvorak’s
80-year-old father lay gravely ill in distant Bohemia," said Dr. Biebesheimer. "His father died two days after the last of the Biblical Songs was completed. The songs were first published (with Czech, English and German texts) in 1895. They will be sung in English."
The recital will also include American Gospel Songs such as "His Eye is on the Sparrow," "Amazing Grace," "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us," and "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me," arranged for voice and piano by Luigi Zaninelli.
"The beauty of these settings and Zaninelli’s choice of these old songs inspired me to do an all-sacred concert," said Dr. Biebesheimer.
"These are the songs, sung by my grandmother, parents, aunts and uncles, fellow congregation members, and sometimes by me as a soloist, which gave me the hope and faith I needed to choose the path which eventually led to becoming a professional singer. This program is in gratitude to all who have encouraged me and inspired me to ‘Sing a Joyful Song.’"
Dr. Biebesheimer received a Bachelor of Music from North Texas State University, a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of South Carolina. She began her professional career with the Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, after having won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in the Wisconsin District. She has sung professionally both in the United States and overseas, most notably as the leading soprano with the Passau Opera in Germany. She has also directed music in churches and taught in public schools and institutions of higher education across the United States. Currently she teaches voice for the University of Central Arkansas and at Arkansas Tech University.
She serves on the board of MONCA or Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which plans and carries out the Arkansas auditions for the Metropolitan Opera. Her latest project is as a board member for "Arkansas in the Rock," a new opera company which will provide professional opera in our state.
This is the first in a series of recitals planned for the 2012-2013 season. Other artists to be featured include Larry Jones, trumpet, in September; Norman Boehm, piano, in October; and Curtis Sebren, clarinet, in November. All the recitals are free and open to the public.
The church is at 1610 Prince St. (corner of Clifton and Prince) in Conway. For more information, call the church office at 501-329-3801 or visit the church web site at www.conwayfumc.org.