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Bellefonte Update - March

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BY OWEN HUGHES, Associate Pastor, Oakwood Presbyterian Church

     The Oakwood Church Plant in Bellefonte continues to thrive as we seek to live out our vision of being a loved, placed, and blessed people. Because we have been blessed by the Lord, we are looking to bless Bellefonte and our communities! God’s faithful blessings have been evident, specifically in two areas: Sunday morning worship and small groups.  

     Sunday morning worship is a great encouragement as the body of Christ comes together to experience God’s glory revealed through singing, praying, hearing the Word read and preached, and having weekly communion. Weekly communion especially has been a much-needed “means of grace” as we have all experienced the attacks of the enemy who does not want to see this church succeed. At the table, we are reminded of who we are and “whose” we are in Christ and that we are empowered to keep going on this mission because of the grace we have been shown.

     Small groups were launched at the beginning of February. We have five groups meeting throughout the week in the following communities: Bellefonte, State College, and Boalsburg. We are all going through a book called B.L.E.S.S. which is an acronym for:

  • Being with Prayer
  • Listen
  • Eat
  • Serve
  • Story

      It is a very simple book about how to engage your neighbor, genuinely befriend them, love them, do life with them, and look for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with them. It has been really encouraging to hear the different stories and interactions that people have had since implementing some of these simple principles.

     Also, in order for Bellefonte Presbyterian to flourish, evangelism must be more than a value, it must be a behavior, not just something we believe in, but something we actually do. With this in mind, we invited a pastor from our Presbytery, Shibu Oomen, to do a one-day seminar in February. He shared a tool called “Share Your Faith,” which can be used to share the Good News of Jesus by using your hand. With its five major points: Grace, Man, God, Christ, and Faith, this tool is an easy way to share the Gospel in a conversation with a friend, neighbor, or family member. 

     Equipping the people of Bellefonte for ministry is the main focus of the leadership of this church plant and we are encouraged by how God is equipping those He has called to this work.

     How can you pray for Bellefonte Presbyterian?

  1. Pray for our Easter Service. Our hope is that many people from the community will come and spend Easter with us. Pray we will be bold and winsome in asking people to join us, but more importantly that we will be looking to have genuine relationships with our neighbors and friends.

  2. Pray for the small groups that are meeting regularly.  Pray that our small groups will be safe places where people can grow in their relationship with each other and in their relationship with the Lord.

  3. Pray that as a church we will keep our eyes on Christ. He is the one who is building this church, so we can rest in Him and in what He is doing.

     On behalf of your brothers and sisters in Bellefonte, I want to thank you for all your prayers and support of this work. Planting a church isn’t easy on those going or those sending, and we know that Oakwood’s support of this church plant is an investment, so keep your eyes on Christ, for He is doing something new in Bellefonte.

For the Kingdom,
Pastor Owen

Posted by Rev. Owen Hughes with

Who Are You Owin’? (8)

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 BY OWEN HUGHES, Associate Pastor, Oakwood Presbyterian Church

Who Are You Owin’?

DISCLAIMER: My blog posts will be about gratitude. Gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation do not come naturally to me, but there are so many people that I owe so much to. People who invested in me, who spent time with me, who pursued me, and who shaped me. Some were intentional, others were unintentional, and others were just being themselves. So, my blog posts will be about people who have made me who I am today. People I am “owin’” for making me, well, Owen. Disclaimer: I am not a writer and I’m not an aspiring writer. So, if my writing is “offensive,” either because of structure or grammar or both, please forgive me.

My mum

     I call her Mum not because I am trying to be pretentious, but because I never lost that part of my British heritage. There is also something about the way it sounds that I really like, it's nostalgic in some way, perhaps even regal. In the UK they refer to Queen Elizabeth as the “Royal Mum.” There is something familiar, comforting, truly motherly about “mum.” For me “mum” carries a breeze of nostalgia. The breeze that blows through your memory when I hear that name carries you back to being 10 years old and playing outside on a late summer evening and my mother calling from the front door to my brother and me, “Boys, it’s time to come in now and get ready for bed.” And we reply in unison, “Ok, Mum.”

     I remember one time after we had lived in the US for a few months, and I had started making friends, my mum began telling me something and I said, “Ok mom.” She furrowed her brow and said, “Mom! Mawm! You will call me Mum.” And Mum it has been ever since.

     The story I want to share with you about my mum illustrates something I have encountered over and over again with her. It is her compassion for the unlovely.

     When I was growing up, our home was open to lots of people. We would have a family over for lunch most Sundays after church. We regularly had missionaries, visiting pastors, friends, and friends of friends stay with us.

     My mum has the gift of hospitality, but more importantly, she has the gift of seeing people, especially people that others don’t see, and welcoming them.

     Many Sunday afternoons when I was a little boy of perhaps five or six, there would be a knock on the door by a neighborhood boy named Brian. Upon opening the door, Brian would ask if he could come in, and my mum would greet him with a smile, welcome him in, lead him to the living room, take out a puzzle, and get him a snack. Brian would do the same puzzle every time he came to our house. It was a puzzle of all the characters from Disney’s Robin Hood (if I remember correctly). I don’t remember how long it took him, but he would do the puzzle, eat his snack, get up, thank my mum, and leave.

     I found out years later that Brian was in his late teens, and my mum was friends with his mum. Brian had down syndrome and a significant cognitive disability. Brian loved my mum and he loved to come over on Sunday afternoons to put that puzzle together, have a snack, and be loved.

     My mum saw Brian as an image-bearer of the Creator, worthy of time, love, and a snack. I have watched my mum do that for many, many people over the years. People that many others have overlooked, my mum has taken in and shown dignity toward. I believe she does that because she sees people as God sees people.

     My favorite story about Jesus is when he was being pulled on by the crowd and demanded upon by everyone. He walked among them, not 3 inches above the ground, disenfranchised from their needs, or disconnected from who He saw. He walked among them as one of them. Seeing them, knowing them, feeling them, loving them. The Bible says that Jesus saw the crowd; loud, obnoxious, pulsing with self-interest, broken, dirty, desperate. And He saw them with compassion because He knew they were “helpless and harassed.” Of course, that is not only a description of the thronging crowd, but also a description of us as well. He moved toward that crowd, just as He moved and moves toward us.

     My mum knows Jesus. He met her many years ago in her “helplessness and harassment” and comforted her, healed her, and saved her. He also gave her His eyes to see people as He sees people. Not as projects or problems, but as precious.

     I like to think that my mum has given me a lot of my finer features. My great head of hair, my ability to give a backhanded compliment, my athletic prowess, and, I hope, I have my mum’s eyes for the helpless and the harassed, because I know who gave her those eyes.

     I am, without a doubt, owin’ my mum, and Owen because of my mum.

     Who are you ownin’?