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16Jun 18

Hope is Born

TBT to “Hope is Born,” a sermon Pastor Erica gave on January 21st, 2018, which retold the story from the Book of Exodus about a ruthless king who created policies to tear children from their parents and the ordinary women who worked to save them; read or listen to it and may you be empowered to be agents of hope in the world. In these challenging times, do you believe that you can change the world? I think you can; let me tell you why through a two chapter story from the Bible, one that specifically plays out in the Book of Exodus yet is timeless, having replayed itself again and again across the ages. Chapter one: A new king rose to power in the nation of Egypt; this king, like many rulers, was intent on increasing his influence and quickly found that fear and blame were effective tools to…

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19Apr 18

In His Own Image – A Poem

Graduate student, Rebecca Jane Bedell, composed this poem for Worship on April 8th, 2018, as Rev. Mark Elsdon preached the sermon, "Is God a Man?" You can listen to her reading the poem at the end of sermon. Rebecca is a candidate in the MFA program at UW Madison. In His Own Image Michelangelo stands crammed against the chapel ceiling, his weight swaying the wooden scaffolding, neck craned back as he frescoes the hands, eyes, and beard of a man he could meet on the streets of the Vatican.  A regal man with traveled eyes. And why not?  By 1508, artists had overcome their awesome fear of depicting God the Father.  So it has been.  Holding a brush, a pen, a keyboard, our imaginations feel a tremble in their climbing muscles, fall back and tumble down the smooth riverbeds of what we know, back into the arms of those we came…

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20Feb 18

Hope Endures – A Reflection from BWAP Louisiana

Hope Endures - A Reflection from BWAP Louisiana by Clare Aeschbacher If you’ve been present in Worship or keeping up with the Pres House blog the past couple of weeks, you’ve already heard some of the stories from the winter Break With A Purpose trip to Denham Springs, Louisiana. First we heard Taya share about ‘hope is born’ and how we saw hope fill Mawmaw, the 80-year-old owner of the house we worked on, as she was able to walk on her new floors for the first time since the flood ruined them in August 2016. Next, Steven shared about hope being tested in Mary, our host at the Fuller Center where we stayed, as she gave away her last towel, but received many more to give away shortly thereafter and as Mawmaw watched the flood waters rise closer and closer to her home, eventually coming in through the floors…

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08Feb 18

Hope is Named – A Reflection from BWAP Louisiana

A Reflection from BWAP Louisiana by Mary Murphy Hope is Named. As I reflected upon this phrase, I pulled out my sketchbook to help me express my thoughts. I resulted in the displayed drawing. I reflected on the stories I heard throughout my trip to Denham Springs, LA and I ended up with three elements of hope--Pain/Darkness, Possibility/Light, and Trust/Community. As I continued to draw, I ended up adding words that resonated with each attribute. While doing so, I asked myself a few questions; What pain did Denham Springs suffer from? What do they hope for? And How did they cultivate those hopes into something tangible?  Today I would like to share two stories that guided me in this artistic reflection. Pain/Darkness and Possibility/Light One particular story stands out to me in this regard is from the daughter of Director of Hospitality (Mary), Her daughter, a high-school sophomore I believe,…

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05Feb 18

Hope is Tested – A reflection from BWAP Louisiana

Hope is Tested - A reflection from BWAP Louisiana by Steven Martell When I think of the phrase “Hope being tested”, I tend to think of the word “Faith”, so when I was asked to speak about a time that hope was tested, I knew I wanted to share a brief story of faith in action. Although there are times in my life when my hope was tested, I discovered through our interactions with the people of Denham Springs, Louisiana, that those who were present during the flood in August of 2016 all had their faiths tested by the difficulties presented by the disaster.For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, last August there was a large flood that was the result of extensive raining and the inability of the water to drain from the region. This resulted in a flood that had standing water for several days,…

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30Jan 18

Hope is Born in Louisiana

Hope is Born in Louisiana - A reflection from BWAP 2018 by Taya Briggs As some of you know, twelve students and young professionals from Pres House went to Denham Springs, Louisiana over winter break to provide relief to flood victims. While the damage happened a year and a half ago, the community has all but been forgotten. However, going with the theme of the week Hope is Born, I saw a lot of hope being kindled during our short week on the work site. We broke into two work groups while we were there, and while the other group did amazing work moving a several ton ramp for a couple who had mobility issues after their relief trailer was taken away, my story about our trip comes from the work site I was on, with an eighty year old lady that the community called Mawmaw. When the flood happened,…

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19Dec 17

Bring Back the Basement – 3 Year Anniversary

Almost exactly three years ago we took back the basement at Pres House from a Subway restaurant that had been renting the space for a number of years. While the income from Subway was necessary to cover costs associated with our 2007 renovation of the Pres House Chapel, we were glad to reclaim the space back for mission and ministry. Shortly after regaining the space a major renovation of the basement began, transforming the basement into what is now known as Lower Hall and the Conger Meeting Room. This project, dubbed, “Bring Back the Basement,” was made possible through the generosity of 183 donors who gave more than $700,000 to install a commercial kitchen, renovate the hall, and provide programming funds to engage in ministry in the new space. As we remember the anniversary of this exciting moment in Pres House history we are pleased to share with you an…

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19Dec 17

Two+: Christian Community

Jenni Geurink graduated in December 2017 from UW Madison. She shared this reflection at Sunday Worship (12/10/17) about the importance of Christian community. I didn’t know if I was going to go to church in college, but still I followed the sidewalk and soon found myself in Pres House.  That first Sunday I sat next to Billie not knowing that she was soon to become one of my best friends throughout college.  But, my freshman year didn’t go exactly as planned.   I was doing all the normal freshman things- making tons of friends, eating all the pizza of my heart’s content and loving my studies, but I was also really sick.  At the end of high school, I found myself dealing with a myriad of chronic health problems that no one knew how to fix, and then suddenly, I was also transitioning into college. My body didn’t handle it so…

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