Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Community Memorial Garden Dedicated

Thanks to David P. Moore for submitting the following story by e-mail:

First Presbyterian Church in Greenbush
Dedication of the Community Memorial Garden and Peace Pole

On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, members of the First Presbyterian Church in Greenbush, Rensselaer, gathered with members of other faith communities, government and civic organizations to dedicate its Community Memorial Garden and Peace Pole.

Though the church membership and finances are limited, the spirit of the people and willingness to trust the future to God is great.

The dedication ceremony included a reminder from the prophet Jeremiah to the exiles that the people of God were to “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

The ceremony also acknowledged the unique political context in which we live. We listened to the reading of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. “Congress shall make now law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Emphasis was placed on the fourth phrase of the amendment, but the other phrases were not unnoticed.

A funny moment happened when three police officers showed up with smiles and a digital camera drawn to take pictures of the Sergeant representing the Police Department. They usually show up with pensive faces and guns drawn because, due to human error, the security alarm has gone off.

The Peace Pole was passed down the aisle of the Sanctuary as fourteen representatives expressed their commitment to work for peace, then the Peace Pole was planted in the new garden. The participants shared the names of those to be remembered and their concerns for situations in need of peace and healing.

The ceremony seemed to touch a hunger in the hearts of members of the church and the community. At the reception people were making plans to meet together to discuss matters of concern and sharing ideas for ways that the faith community in the City could take ownership for a similar gathering on Pentecost 2010.

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