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  Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Rev. Gray Preaches at Fourth
By Rick Winterson

     It was a beautiful summer Lord’s Day at the Fourth Presbyterian Church.  The Kuehls were commissioned by Pastor Burns Stanfield, and the Rev. Joan Gray, Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in America, delivered the sermon.  The Stanfields hosted a picnic afterwards.  The Fourth’s Gospel Concert is Saturday, August 19, at 7:15 p.m.

     The Fourth Presbyterian Church is recognized as a very active urban religious organization, with extensive participation among the members of its congregation.  As the summer comes to a close, the church’s activities continue in high gear.

     The Fourth’s summer meals program will conclude next weekend with a children’s ceremony.  A new church directory with photographs is being assembled.  Last Sunday, amidst some wonderful singing by the “Summer Singers”, Phil and Elizabeth Kuehl were commissioned into the Fourth Presbyterian Church.  It was so pleasant outside that a few of the windows were propped up with Hymnals to let in the air.

     One of the high points in last weekend’s Service of Worship was the preaching of Rev. Joan Gray.  Rev. Gray was elected Moderator of the General Assembly in the Presbyterian Church (USA) earlier this summer.  For the next two years, she will represent the Presbyterian Church at worldwide assemblies, as well as assuming certain responsibilities for the Church in America and its missionary efforts.

     Rev. Gray lives in Atlanta with her husband and an extended family.  She attended the Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and then went to Presbyterian College in South Carolina.

     The topic of her sermon was the Old Testament figure of Jacob, whose sons became the forefathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.  The Genesis Scripture reading was about Jacob.  The Summer Singers rendered “Jacob Was a Rascal”, a bluesy spiritual by Rev. Burns Stanfield, which led nicely into Rev. Gray’s words.

     Her approach to Jacob was attention-getting to say the least.  She called him a “jerk”.  That might sound surprising, unless you happened to have read Anita Diamante’s “The Red Tent” recently.  And remember, Jacob cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright.  Rev. Gray also reminded the congregation, “He married the boss’s daughters – two of them, in fact.”, which refers to Rachel and Leah, the daughters of Laban.

     But then, she told how Jacob wrestled with the angel all night long and wouldn’t give up until the angel blessed him.  In fact, Israel, the name given to Jacob, means “he who wrestles with God”.  Rev. Gray compared Jacob’s ordeal to her own spiritual experience:  “I know there’s a God, not because he answers my prayers, but because he confronts me, sometimes in dark places, and we somehow come together.”

     After the service, Rev. Burns and Dr. Lorraine Stanfield threw a picnic at their home in the Ashmont district of Dorchester for the congregation. 

     The next major event on the Fourth’s calendar is the Annual Gospel Concert next Saturday, August 19, at 7:15 p.m. in the Church.  The music will be nothing short of uplifting – it’s not to be missed. 



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The Fourth's "Summer

Singers" render "Jacob

Was a Rascal Man" by Burns Stanfield. Dave Courage

(center) is singing the verse.


The Rev. Burns Stanfield commissions Phil and

Elizabeth Kuehl into the

Fourth Presbyterian Church.