Thoughts and reflections from Liberty’s Pastors

August 22, 2019

So, God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. ~Genesis 1:21

Dear Friends:
This Sunday at 10:00 a.m. is Blessing of the Animals! Liberty will be the host to a wagging, squirming, wriggling, fluttering array of beloved creatures. The Bible reminds us that in the beauty and diversity and complexity of the natural world, we see the hand of the Creator.

Father Zosima, in The Brothers Karamazov, exhorts his congregation:

“Brothers…love all creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

We bring our pets to worship to receive a blessing.  We, of course, are blessed in turn: blessed by our pet’s faithfulness, affection, care. We are blessed by how they expand our family and our hearts.  The German mystic, Meister Eckhart, proclaimed:

“Every creature is full of God and is a book about God.”  


Please join us for this furry, feathered, finned celebration – and invite a friend!


August 15, 2019

Dear Friends:

What a great Heritage Sunday! Many thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen – and who celebrated 209 years on the banks of the Olentangy River with us.

We have some more amazing August Sundays coming up! This Sunday, August 18, is Rally Day with “Touch-a-Truck”, Food Trucks, a Bounce House, Blessing of the Backpacks, and information on 101 ways to grow in faith and outreach thru Liberty. Then on the 25th, it is Blessing of the Animals – with our own St. Francis!

So, what’s the catch? It’s all a celebration – but we are also hoping that you will take advantage of these special Sundays to invite a friend. In fact, I’d like you to think of these coming Sundays as “Friend Days” – where we share the joy by inviting someone to join us.

The single most effective way to grow the church is by the power of a one on one invitation. Church consultants say that 80% of the people in a church first came “because a friend or relative invited them”. George Gallup Jr. surveyed non-churchgoers and was surprised to find that “70% of all people who do not now attend a church responded that if someone invited them, they would react favorably”.  Contrast these statistics with another statistic found in a recent Presbyterian publication, which concluded that “the average Presbyterian invites a friend to worship once every 24 years”. (No wonder we are known as the frozen chosen!) Do take the time to invite a friend, a newcomer to the neighborhood, a new face at the office, to join us in one of these special worship services and to discover (maybe for the first time) God’s great love for them in Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday!


Thank you to the Second Stringers and Fellowship Team for a great Heritage Sunday and Chicken BBQ! Special thanks to our Fellowship Elders Kristopher Steele, Angie Campbell and Melinda Wood, and to our firepit crew: Kris Steele, Jim Beck, Kevin Futryk, Jim Hardy, Todd, Griffin & Bennett Koehn, Gary Ufferman, and Wayne Wentz.

August 8, 2019

Dear Friends:

You have seen the headlines:

“Ohio Comes Together to Mourn Shooting Victims” (Columbus Dispatch)
“Carnage Numbs Nation” (The Star Tribune)
“Shaking a Bewildered Nation to its Core” (NY Times)
“Sorrow, Anger: Nation Mourns“ (USA Today)

The events of these last days are bewildering, heart-breaking, impossible to comprehend.

How can there be such hatred, such violence? How can it happen here in our great nation, over and over again? Why? What can be done? We are almost numb to the violence these days…almost. But then we watch parts of the scene or read about the victims, and something shatters inside of us.

Scripture speaks to our hearts, even in this.

Especially in this. There are times in our lives and in our nation when lament is the only response possible. I find myself turning to Psalm 137“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” and Dayton, and El Paso, and Orlando, and Parkland, and….

We often don’t know how to respond.

But, as followers of Christ, we can respond in love. We can pray. We can send help. We can build bridges with people who are different than us. We can decry racist chants and inflammatory oratory. We can speak up. We can extend the circle of Jesus’ embrace.

Above all, let us pray for those who have lost loved ones. I also want us to pray for our nation. We are people who have hope in Christ even when the worst happens. Let’s hold onto that hope and share it with those with whom we come into contact, with love and grace.

Lord, we are in shock and grief. The hatred and violence of this past week is so dark that it takes our breath away. We pray for the families and friends of those who died. Help them to know your hope and care even when the grief feels unbearable. Be with the injured as well. Heal them. Surround them with your comfort and care. We thank you for our first-responders and police and medical personnel, and all who rushed in to save countless lives. Comfort us as we lean on your love and compassion in the face of this deep loss. In Christ, who is our Hope. Amen.


August 1, 2019

“Do not come any closer,” God said (to Moses). “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3)

Dear Friends:

It is so exciting to see the construction work going on inside the Old Hall!  By the time the Hall is finished this fall, it will no longer be an Old Hall.  It will be the newly renovated “Fearing Hall”, named after longtime Liberty member Doris Fearing. It will also be a reminder of the faithful, faith-filled, ongoing commitment of each of you to Liberty, and to Liberty’s ever-growing mission and ministries. Great learning, sharing, fellowship and, yes, a million meetings will unfold in that renewed space.  Talk about holy ground.

Whenever Liberty is undergoing a construction project, (and we’ve had quite a few!), I turn to C.S. Lewis, who reminds us that it is not only our buildings that are under construction.  Each of us, as believers, are under construction, too. Lewis writes:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Now THAT is a construction project!

See you under the oaks this Sunday,

With Warm Summer Blessings,


July 25, 2019

Dear Friends:

It is wonderful to be back with you – and a special joy to be back for Vacation Bible School!  John & I are enjoying being secret S.N.O.W. agents, and Kyle is one great mad scientist trying to foil our mission.

There are 300 children on our campus, and over 100 teen and adults teaching, leading crafts, snacks, music, games and all kinds of special activities.  If you haven’t yet eaten “I Spy with my Little Eye Banana Cream Pie” – or played freeze tag with the chilly cubes or the frozen blizzards – well, you are missing out!

Our theme is evangelism – joyful, joyous sharing our faith.  If you are wondering how that fits in with secret agent skits, well, believe it or not, it works! So far, the children have helped us uncover clues that read “Spread News Over…” – so I think we are almost there!

These children’s excitement about learning about Peter and Paul’s adventures from the Book of Acts is contagious. Evangelism is a word that tends to give most of us the heebie-jeebies and conjures up images of televangelists threatening brimstone and fire.  At Liberty, our children are learning that it is a joy to share the good news in simple ways with those around you.

I want to thank everyone who is helping with VBS this year – especially our fearless leader Dawn Parr, music leader Angie Hurd, tech wizard Steve Banks and the amazing VBS committee: Emily St. John, Todd Beitelschees, Doug Benoit, Janet Bunnell, Casey Fuchs, Tina McClen, Christian McCloskey and Cheryl-Pieper Lima.  Every teacher I have spoken with has said, “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”   Neither would we!

I look forward to joining you under the oaks this Sunday,

With Warm Summer Blessings,

July 18, 2019


“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
~Matthew 28:19-20

At one time or another, all Christians are confronted with the command of Jesus found in the Great Commission. These are the last recorded words of Jesus, so they have utmost importance. With His limited time left on earth, these words were a significant message to the apostles. His message is a daunting task and one that cannot be completed without JOY. What is JOY? It is the knowledge of God in all circumstances. The emphasis of these words continue today, and we must keep JOY with us as we complete His work.

Let’s breakdown His message:

  1. “What is a disciple?”

    Jesus calls us to become disciples and to make disciples. We can begin this through hearing His word. Preaching the Gospel is an essential first step to fulfilling the Great Commission. Those who Preach must have God with them and be filled with JOY.

  2. “How does one make a disciple?”

    Once the word is heard and understood, it is important that we offer Healing, Encouragement and Care. We are called to be Jesus’ agents-doing His work. However, the work can only be completed if we carry JOY in our hearts. It is through His gospel message that we can heal the spiritually sick. With the Lord Jesus, we can encourage others as they understand and believe the Gospel message. As new Christians grow in JOY with Christ, we are called to care and prepare them for the mission field.

  3. “How are disciples sent to all nations?”

    The third question infers that they Go. However, this requires us to “send them”. So, how are they sent to all nations? The purpose of mission is to be intentional about going into the world with JOY, both locally and globally as we carry the Good News to a hurting world.

Next week, kids attending Liberty VBS will be led on a secret mission. As Agents in Training, kids are on a clandestine operation to discover the mission of the S.N.O.W. Agency. While seeking out the meaning of S.N.O.W., they will understand how to be filled with JOY as they learn the Gospel Message. Code words will be added to their list of clues and upon the conclusion of their training, the agency’s mission will unfold. Agents will be equipped to carry out His message with JOY to all nations.

The Great Commission spells out the central purpose for all believers. He is the Director of S.N.O.W. Agency and our mission is clear. Our lives belong to Jesus Christ. He redeemed us so that we might become useful in His Kingdom. Both His presence and His authority will accompany us as we carry out His disciple making mission. Be filled with JOY as you spread His Good News!


July 11, 2019


“God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of God’s power.”  ~ Job 37:5 

Dear Friends:

Having not grown up in Ohio, I still can’t quite get used to summers with a constant threat of rain. Ordinarily, a forecast of scattered showers and thunderstorms wouldn’t be enough to draw my attention. Add to the mix that we worship outside under the magnificent oaks on the church lawn, however, and I seem to be glued to my phone’s weather app.

Worshiping outside is a tradition that so many of us love.

With this year’s especially rainy start, I am always glad when we can gather together in nature’s beauty. This past Sunday as I began to preach, a distant rumble of thunder added a bit of urgency and unexpected excitement to our service. If you’re like me, it is so easy to fall into a rhythm and become complacent. Everything happens according to plan—”decently and in order” as Presbyterians like to say—and we can forget that when we gather for worship, whether inside or under the oaks, we are entering into God’s awesome, almighty, holy presence. And the Bible is full of stories that remind us that God wields power in all kinds of surprising ways.

Sometimes it takes a clap of thunder to surprise us and wake us up to God’s presence in our midst…

That peal of thunder reminded me that when we come into God’s presence in worship, our eyes, ears, and hearts must be awake and open to God’s powerful grace and graceful power at work among us. When Moses went up Mt. Sinai to be with God, he came back so radiant he had to put a veil over his face. Similarly, when we come to worship, we should expect that our time spent in God’s presence should leave us noticeably changed.

Perhaps it’s something to ponder this week. What do you expect to happen when you come to worship? How are you expecting to see God at work as you pray and praise and pay attention to his word?

And how are you expecting that you will be different as a result?

Grace and peace,

July 4, 2019


God’s Spirit Gives Us Freedom!

Dear Friends:
Here at our church, we have become especially familiar with the words from 2 Corinthians 3:17 which reads; “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty”. As we celebrate Independence Day, we are also thinking of the words, “Liberty” and “Freedom”. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we can live and worship freely.

When you include verses 16 and 18 to the passage in 2 Corinthians, it helps to further explain how when we turn to Christ, the Holy Spirit frees us from the grip of sin and evil, allowing God to completely work in our lives for His good as we properly and fully serve Him.

2 Corinthians 2:16-18
“But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Last week when I was in Seattle for a few days, I had the opportunity to throw a football for a while to two young African-American kids at a sports facility where my daughter was training. The kids were having so much fun catching and defending each other! We had a great time! It just so happened that a couple of nights ago, I had a dream about this experience. This time though, one of the kids came over to me in my dream and asked me why certain people treat them badly. It caught me off guard and without knowing what to say, I could only think of telling him that it was because some may not have Christ in their lives. I then told him that God looks at all of us equally and loves him as much as He loves me. In my dream, I also thought of the greatest commandment, Matthew 22:38-39, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I went on to tell the child that if everyone practiced this commandment, there would be no more hate. I then encouraged him to do the same for others, as difficult as that might be for him. I have no idea of why I dreamt of that, but it certainly has pertained to these verses.

True freedom as Christians is not the right to do whatever we want, but rather it’s when we turn to Christ that He gives us the desire and freedom to love and serve others.

In His Service,

June 27, 2019


Dear Friends:

Of the Bible’s sixty-six books, five books—Obadiah, Philemon, 2 & 3 John, and Jude—are only one chapter long. This summer, we’ll be looking at all five of them in a sermon series called, “One Chapter Wonders”. And, while the books we’ll be looking at might be small, they are filled to the brim with wisdom and Good News for us today.

These bite-sized books of the Bible are a great way to get started with reading your Bible. If you’re like me, it can be easy to get bogged down in the longer books that are filled with difficult-to-pronounce names and situations that seem far removed from our modern times. But these five short books are brief enough that you can read each them in their entirety in one sitting without getting bogged down in the details.

So often, we consume the Bible in chunks, so it can be easy to miss the context that adds color and meaning. Being able to read a book of the Bible in full is important because it allows us to consider the full scope of what the writer is trying to tell us. In Obadiah, for example, which we looked at last Sunday, we could easily get caught up in the fire of the judgement God announces against Edom. By looking at the full book, we can see that Obadiah is about more than punishment, but that everything God does is colored by grace.

I encourage you to read along with us this summer as we continue our look at these One Chapter Wonders. I hope you’ll find them to be inspiring and faith filling!

Grace and peace,

June 20, 2019


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
 Galatians 5:22-23

This summer, we are teaching lessons on the Fruit of the Holy Spirit—in a simple way for Sunday school. The kids have created their very own Fruit of the Spirit Tree. Each Sunday we are adding a new fruit as we learn about these gifts:

  • Strawberry of Love
    The strawberry is in the shape and color of a heart. God’s love is more special than any other love. We cannot do anything to make Him love us more, and the more we grow in our friendship with God, the more we will be able to share His love with others.
  • Oranges of Joy
    When we peel an orange, the pieces inside are in the shape of a smile. We define Joy as the comfort of knowing that God is with us all the time—whether we are happy or we are sad, God is always there.  This comfort will make you smile—that is Joy.
  • Pineapple Peace
    Did you know that a pineapple is already prepared in pieces to eat?  If you cut the crown off following the diamond pattern that you see on the rind, then you can pull apart the pieces, God gives us peace that we can rely on anytime.  Every piece of your life can have God’s peace.
  • Patient Watermelon
    Growing up, most of us had watermelons with seeds. It takes patience to remove the seeds when eating a watermelon.  There are times in our lives when we need God’s patience as we pick through difficult situations.
  • Goodness of Grapes and Kindness of Bananas
    Bananas are loaded with potassium—nature’s electrolytes for our bodies, and grapes are full of antioxidants—to stop free radicals in our body. God’s word and His relationship with us nourishes our soul and protects us from the world.
  • Faithful Cherries
    Cherries grow in bunches and stick together.  Jesus is faithful to those He calls His own.
  • Gentle Pear
    One must be gentle with a pear or it will bruise.  God is gentle with our spirit and when we draw close to Him, we can experience and share that gentleness with others.  
  • Apple of Self-Control
    The Bible tells the tale of Eve’s choice. She did not have self-control. Actually, none of us have self-control. Instead, we need to give ourselves over to the saving power of Jesus. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is the real power of God that we can experience in ourselves. The more we draw close to Him, the more fruit he will give us in lives.  Grow your FRUIT this summer and experience the Holy Spirit’s full presence in you!

Dawn Parr
Director of Children’s Ministries

June 13, 2019


Dear Friends:
Work has begun on the renovation of the Old Hall! 

Before the construction of the Carriage House in 2009, the Old Hall was one of the few adult meeting rooms at Liberty. When the Carriage House opened, all groups who had met regularly in the Old Hall moved across the parking lot to enjoy the new, clean, up-to-date rooms in the Carriage House.

But Liberty continues to grow, and more space is necessary to accommodate new groups. As the design renderings show, the renovation of the Old Hall will make it an inviting, desirable, and comfortable place for groups to meet for study or fellowship.

The renovation will take three months to complete, during which the Hall will not be usable (scheduled groups have been re-assigned to other rooms). With the Hall closed, a handicap-accessible portable bathroom — located in the northeast corner of the lower parking lot — will be available during summer outdoor worship.

When finished, the building will be re-named “Fearing Hall” in honor of long-term Liberty member Doris Fearing. Doris’ 2008 bequest of $500,000 made possible Liberty’s Endowment Fund, a major upgrade to the Barn sound system, an office computer upgrade, a strategic site plan study, and an advance gift to the Renew campaign.

The renovation of Fearing Hall will bring the two-year Renew Campaign to completion. Now that the Youth Room renovation is complete and the renovation of Fearing Hall has begun, please review your 2019 Renew commitment to be sure you’re up to date! Your contribution makes all the difference.

Serving Jesus with you,

June 6, 2019

Dear Friends:

This Sunday, June 9, we meet outside at 10:00 a.m. for worship under the oaks! What could be better than to worship in the beauty of God’s creation? We will also be simulcasting the service inside the air-conditioned Chapel. If you need steady ground underfoot, then we recommend taking the sidewalk to the Chapel, or handicapped parking by the lawn, where you can hear us and where the deacons and elders will check-in with you. Please help any visitors find a good spot!  In case of inclement weather, check the homepage @ 8:30 a.m.

This coming weekend is also Liberty’s Be the Church Weekend! Our youth leave on their annual mission trip – but they don’t get to have all the fun! We have all kinds of ways that YOU can be involved and make a difference for those in need in our community.

This Saturday you can join us in picking up litter and helping a local neighborhood. Or on Sunday you can join in creating tie blankets for foster children, assembling hygiene kits for the homeless and those in Women’s Shelters, making cards for homeless teens and those serving overseas, visiting the homebound and more!  Call the Church Office to register, or simply join us on Sunday! And if you can bring cookies to the kitchen Sunday a.m., or much-needed supplies by Friday a.m. (see list) – that would be greatly appreciated!

Below is a poem by a favorite Christian writer, Ann Weems.  May everything we do as a church – from Columbus to Chicago to Honduras – be a gift of living hope to another.

Our Gifts are Gift of Hope

Our yearning after God,
our hope for a better way
creates infinite possibilities
to touch the lives of the untouched

to reach the hearts
of the unreached

to feed the bodies
of the unfed….

Our gifts are gifts of hope;
O God,
and love us
that we might love one another.

~Anne Weems, Searching for Shalom

Serving Jesus and His beloved children with each of you,

May 30, 2019

Dear Friends:

The Apostle John writes,

“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18). In other words, “Love is a verb; without action it is only a word.” Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection are God’s love in action.  And us?

Well, we have to start somewhere – and June 7-9th, we hope to give you the opportunity to try all kinds of local missions!  Please join us in our Be the Church Weekend – where we will be making a difference for others who are right on our doorstep.  We want Liberty to be known as a church that cares – not only for its own, but for our those in our community.

Are you good at minor repairs and painting? Join our Furniture Bank crew.
How about baking cookies, or visiting the homebound?  Join our cookie or visitation crew!
Maybe you want to make a difference for foster children – then sign up to help with tie blankets.

Or maybe you and yours can help pick up litter for an hour on Saturday morning?

Or serve a meal?

Or bring in or assemble supplies for our military serving overseas?

We have endless possibilities – for all ages! Details below.

SIGN UP on SUNDAY or Click Here to Follow this LINK!

Help to make Liberty the Church that Cares – with arms outstretched all over Columbus.

Serving Jesus with you,


May 23, 2019

Dear Friends:

“Our ‘safe place’ is not where we live, it is in whom we live.” (T. White)

I ran across this quote the other day and have been savoring it. Our safe place – our refuge – is not a physical place or even our outward circumstances, even though both feel like they define our lives. The reality of what is happening around us – at work, at home, in the daily news onslaught or even our physical bodies – feels like it creates a foundation that is either shaky or strong. But it is the Lord – the One in whom we “live and move and have our being” that is our safe place (Acts 17:28). The Lord is the one who is our center, our dwelling place – our “rock and refuge” as the Psalmist repeatedly cries.

When storms threaten us, and circumstances become too much, we can cling to Him in faith, thankful that our Rock is our unshakable refuge.

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;
So sinful, so weary—Thine, thine would I be:
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.


May 16, 2019

May 9, 2019

For You, Lord, are good …and abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon You.
~Psalm 86:5

Dear Friends:
It is almost Mother’s Day, and we are being bombarded with ads for flowers, all kinds toiletries (I have a closet full!) and even jewelry! I have to admit, however, that what I loved the most at Mother’s Day was not the gifts. What I loved were those cards my children made when they were small. You know the ones – the kind that they made themselves, drawing a picture of the family or some big hearts, and then covering it all in glue and glitter. I also loved the breakfast-in-bed attempts, and the extra hugs and sticky kisses.

There are so many seasons to parenting – from rocking a newborn to chasing after little chubby toddler legs to those amazing car conversations with the teenager who only shares certain things when you are on the road!

What I’ve been thinking about lately is how God is with us through all those seasons. Sometimes being a Mom can be a lonely business. We feel like we should have all the answers, or the perfect child, or even the perfect family (just see Facebook!) But the Lord walks with us through it all – the good times and the bad, the joyous celebrations and the sleepless nights. He isn’t the one expecting perfection – He is the one covering us with His tender mercies and calling us His beloved. As Augustine said: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

So, I hope this Sunday brings joy or joyful memories for each of you.  But above all gifts, I hope you know just how treasured you and yours are by our Lord.

In His abounding love,

May 2, 2019


How Do We Celebrate After Easter?

Now that the candy has been eaten, the hidden eggs have been discovered, and we have resumed our over-scheduled lives, how can we continue in celebration of Jesus Resurrected?

The Bible gives us that perfect example in Jesus reinstating Peter. John 21 reveals Jesus teaching Peter, the Rock of the Church, how to live in the Resurrection. Jesus commands Peter—and us—to love others and this is so important that He reiterates it three specific times. Jesus wants us to… Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep, Feed my sheep.

It’s not enough to simply show up for worship. It’s not enough to participate in the Lord’s Prayer or join in the praise and worship. It’s not enough to show up for Sunday School. Jesus commands us—You need to feed my sheep. Feeding His sheep is showing love. When we do this we are celebrating the Resurrection.

So how do you love sheep? How do you feed them with love? Paul spells it out beautifully in I Corinthians 13: Patience, Kindness. No arrogance. No rudeness. Humbleness. Rejoicing in what’s right. Sharing hope and truth. This is how you feed sheep.

Do you love me? Then among the sheep — do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. I really, really, really mean it.

Imagine a world in which everyone experienced such a resurrection of spirit and purpose. You might call it, The Kingdom of God. Or perhaps, “living in the Resurrection!”