Tuesday, 5 January 2016

An Epiphany illustration for
a church magazine in Virginia

My photograph of an Ethiopian icon on the cover of ‘Peaks Postings’

Patrick Comerford

My photograph of an Ethiopian icon of the Visit of the Magi is being used this week to illustrate the cover of a Presbyterian church magazine in Virginia. Peaks Postings is the magazine of the Presbytery of the Peaks.

My photograph appears on the front cover of Peaks Postings vol 10, issue 1, which is published today [5 January 2016], edited by the Revd Jeff Binder.

The Presbytery of the Peaks, located from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Southside Virginia, has 124 Presbyterian congregations with over 15,000 members sharing in ministry and mission.

The Presbytery of the Peaks includes 129 churches, spanning parts of Central Virginia, Southside, the New River Valley, and Allegheny Highlands. The antecedent presbyteries had their origin in some cases as far back as the 18th century. The Presbytery of the Peaks was formed in 1989 following the reunion of the Presbyterian Church, US, and the United Presbyterian Church, USA, in 1983.

In whole or in part, congregations from Southern Virginia Presbytery (UPCUSA), Fincastle Presbytery (PCUS) and Blue Ridge Presbytery (PCUS) came together 121 years after the division arising from the American Civil War.

Each of these presbyteries came into this union with its own rich history of mission. The oldest congregation, Old Concord Presbyterian Church in Spout Spring, was founded in 1735. The most recent congregation, Forest Presbyterian Church in Forest, was planted in 1998 in the burgeoning suburbs west of Lynchburg.

Several African-American congregations owe their origin to Presbyterian mission work among the newly-freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. Three of the ‘rock’ churches were established in the depression years of the last century by the Revd Bob Childress (1890-1956), the Presbyterian minister known as “The Man who Moved a Mountain.”

His congregations did much to bring education and economic development to the Buffalo Mountain area of Floyd County, Virginia. And three of these ‘Rock Churches’ continue to carry out ministry along the crest of the Blue Ridge.

The presbytery’s work in international mission in Haiti and Central America – involving annual study and travel exchanges, sister church relationships, and mutual sharing of gifts – has enriched the life of many of the congregations over the last 25 years.

Some 100 of Peak’s 133 congregations have fewer than 100 members, while large city congregations are based in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Martinsville, and Danville.

As the Presbytery faces the challenges of the new century, it declares its mission is to enhance, equip and empower congregations and leaders to become bold servants of transformation for the glory of the Triune God.

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