“To Thee we dedicate this house"! This was the declaration made by a congregation of members on February 1875 when the Second Presbyterian Church was established in Portsmouth Ohio. An 1895 fire and an 1896 explosion did not stop church expansion. In 1910, a temporary tabernacle was raised on the Waller Street side of the site. A membership of 1030 was listed as of April 1, 1911.

Towering above the streets of Portsmouth Ohio, this beautiful church, built in 1917 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is surrounded by an ultra modern Portsmouth School System facility on three sides making it a beautiful site to behold. On a Summer Sunday Beverly, I and the Neffs joined the Second Presbyteriaan congregation in a beautiful service of worship!

Recently at a bicentennial service of the First Presbyterian Church in Portsmouth Ohio we met Mikel and Larry Stone. Mikel began following my blogs about our church visits and had invited us to attend a service of the Second Presbyterian. As I made arrangements to attend their church I was surprised to find that Beverly and I had sat with Mikel waiting for her mother to pick her up following a week at the Tar Hollow 4-H Camp many years ago. She spoke of her positive experience being a Scioto County 4-H camper and good memories were flowing. After the morning service we joined the Stones and their son for dinner at a local restaurant.

We found the church bells to play an important part in “the gathering of Gods people". The church bulletin proclaims that the sound of the bell is a call to silent, personal preparation for the worship of God.

In the call to worship, leader: God calls us to be witnesses from Portsmouth to the ends of the earth. People: The Holy Spirit has come upon us and will give us the words to say. Leader: The Lord knows the hearts of all and has chosen us to serve in his name. People: God gathers us together for worship and then sends us out in his name. All: Like the early church, we pray that you would give us glad and generous hearts that we might praise God and have favor with all people.

Then there was the hymn, “immortal, invisible, God only

wise". This was followed by a call to confession and a unison prayer of confession. Then there was an assurance of pardon with the hymn Gloria Patri. Glory be to the father, and to the son, and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen!

Other hymns included “the word proclaimed", “Lord, whose love in humble service,” “O master, let me walk with thee" and lastly Doxology, the favorite 4-H Camp vespers song that Mikel would remember. Such a favorite I have to quote it now, Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him all of ye heavenly hosts, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Allison T. Bauer is the minister of Second Presbyterian and her message for the day was “Chosen to Serve". She said we have been chosen to serve. God chose Mary to serve. In the days of a Jewish Church only the privileged were allowed to serve but then there was the Jesus movement and all were called to serve. In a letter to the Chorinthians Paul said that “all people have abilities to offer in service”. People of the young church were learning to use the gifts God had given them. The pastor said, “we should come to serve, not to be served". Today’s message was a part of the message on reading the bible book of Acts in 43 days.

She said that in the early church, people were taught not to store power, but give it away. It was a lifestyle that people had never known before. The people were humbly invited to become a part of the ministry of this early church and in that their hearts were said to sing. She said we have been chosen to serve by God himself.

She asked the question, how has God gifted you as God gifted the early church? In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen!

In closing minutes of the service Pastor Bauer cited a beautiful prayer of the people. Holy God, you are the one who answers prayer and walks with us in times of celebration and especially in grief. We believe you have a purpose more glorious than we can imagine even for the most difficult times in our lives. Therefore we offer our prayers and give thanks to the one who comforts, restores and heals.

This morning we pray for our leaders and people of the world. You have created us to live as one human family, flourishing in peace. Give us the wisdom and order to our world that all may find shelter, sustenance and love.

We also pray for this church and for all the churches in our community. You have given us all the gifts of the indwelling Christ, that we may be faithful, loving and wise. Give us strength to follow your Son until all are reconciled by His grace and love. And we also pray for the servant leaders you have chosen to serve in this congregation at this time.

Beverly was very impressed that the minister individually named a large list of church workers and leaders at this point.

Lastly she said, “you call us into communion in worship to glorify you and sing your praise. Make us one with the saints, who have found the eternal rest with you, Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. And hear us now as we pray the way Jesus taught us: “Our Father, who art in heaven….” (The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6: 9-13)

Toward service end another call for the church bells touched us with the joy that all who attend weekly experience.

At one point the pastor called for announcements which brought a whisper of remembrance to me about 4-H Camp that I wondered if Mikel remembered, that traditional singing of anouncements, announcements, etc. I sang it to her family at our dinner table later!

Second Presbyterian would welcome all to the love and service of their church and worship. Why not drop by and visit them?

As believers let us share the good news of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. Each one reach one….see ya in church!

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