A Bible and A Newspaper Walk Into A Church…

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Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer

While visiting First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, VA this past Sunday, I was privileged to spend some time with their “Faith Exploration Class” during the Sunday School hour. This class is currently reading the book “Be Holy” by Brian Coulter. As discussion around the book began, one person mentioned that it was hard to read this week in light of all that was going on in the world, especially the most recent mass shooting in Oregon. As the hour progressed, conversation turned toward a discussion of how we, as Christians, respond to these shootings, the refugees in Europe, and the debate surrounding the Confederate Flag.

Karl Barth once said, “We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”  During my time as a student at Union Presbyterian Seminary, we discussed this quote in a number of my classes as we discerned what it meant in different situations. This week, on a gloomy Sunday morning following over a week of almost constant rain and flooding in many areas, another shooting, and more stories about refugees fleeing to Europe, I experienced the importance of this.

Dr. Carol Schweitzer told my “Preaching as Pastoral Care” class that in order to begin to honestly talk about something, we have to name what it is and how we feel because until we can name and claim those thoughts and feelings, we can’t go to the next level. Many public schools are teaching our children, as early as Kindergarten age, to describe how they feel when something happens and then helping the student to put a name to the feeling as they work through it.

On Sunday morning, the “Faith Exploration Class” provided an opportunity for individuals to name and discuss how they felt about what they were reading in the newspaper in the light of scripture. This week, I think that is exactly what was needed for many of us.

Scripture-based Bible studies are fantastic and I think that we all need to be a part of one at least twice a year so that we can continue studying and understanding our faith at a deeper level. However, unless we put scripture with real-life we can lose a big part of it.

What opportunities are available in your congregation for individuals to understand what they read and hear in the news in the light of scripture? Where are the safe spaces to be able to name and discuss what each person is feeling, not just after a week like last week, but any time?


First Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg is led by Interim Pastor, Dr. Fred Holbrook (D.Min.,1982) and Interim Director of Christian Education, Laura Holbrook (M.A.,1980). Learn more about this congregation and their ministry at http://www.fpcly.org/.

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