Check out the third in a series that explores different faith communities here in Southeast Michigan, where viewers get to learn through the eyes of students. It’s part of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit’s program called ‘Religious Diversity Journeys.’ In this video, we join local students, Lucia and Mariah, as they learn more about Christianity at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, MI.
This project is funded in part by Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Hi, my name is Reverend Bethany Peerbolte, I am the Associate Pastor for youth and mission here at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. We call ourselves everybody’s church. Our mission is to cultivate Christ’s love through mission, inclusion and community. So, Christianity is really diverse, it’s got 33,000 denominations worldwide. There’s 2.5 billion Christians in the world, at our core, we all follow Jesus and the teachings that we find in the Bible. So today we’ve invited Mariah and Lucia to join us on this religious diversity journey through Christianity to learn a little bit more about Christianity and how we practice and what this is. So, I hope that they just learn something new, something they didn’t think was in Christianity before.
John Judson, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church member Hi welcome!
Mariah Hi, thank you so much for having us; I’m Mariah.
Lucia I’m Lucia.
First Presbyterian Church members I’m John, I’m Bethany, I’m Lilly, welcome. Come on in, yeah, we’re glad you’re here.
Lucia My first question is, what is the Bible?
John, First Presbyterian Church member Christians have lots of ways of talking about the Bible. Many of us refer to it as the word of God, because we believe it was inspired literally by the spirit of God. We as Presbyterians talk about it as the rule of faith and life, meaning it teaches us everything we need to know about faith in Jesus Christ and about how to live our lives.
Lilly, First Presbyterian Church member I love to look at the Bible and see all the ways that God has taught us and shown his love towards us in so many different ways.
Mariah How do you use the Bible?
John Judson, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church member Personally as a Pastor I use it as the basis for my preaching and my teaching, but the other way that I use it is devotionally. Meaning we, I read it and then allow the spirit to speak to me through what’s on the pages.
Lucia Are their beliefs most or all Christians have?
John Judson, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church member Yes, there are two beliefs that most Christians have. The first is what we call the divinity of Christ, meaning we believe Jesus is fully human and fully divine. And the other is this thing called the Trinity, which is probably one of the most confusing of all Christian beliefs. But I think Bethany is going to talk a bit more about that inside in a few minutes.
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Trinity is a very complicated idea, and some adults don’t even understand it. I’ve heard it explained a lot of different ways, but this is my favorite way. So, Lilly what is this?
Lilly, First Presbyterian Church member It’s an egg.
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Good. What is this?
Lilly, First Presbyterian Church member The yolk.
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church And that is
Lilly, First Presbyterian Church member The whites
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Good, so we have three parts that make up an egg, just like we have the creator God, Jesus, God and Holy Spirit God, these three parts that make up what we think about as God.
Mariah What do you think are some misunderstandings that people have of Christianity?
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church A common misunderstanding is that Christianity is only one way, and there are so many different kinds of Christians. Like I said, we’re reforming and we’re always moving forward in the Presbyterian Church. So, we have accepted LGBT people into full inclusion. They can be ordained, they can be elders here, but some other churches still consider that a sin. Women in leadership is something that a church might differ on, so there’s lots of different belief systems within Christianity, so we’re not all the same
Lucia So, Reverend Bethany, why is Jesus so important
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church So, Christians believe that there’s a problem in the world called sin and sin is anything that’s not loving. And God and humanity have tried to fix this problem in lots of different ways. But God’s final way of fixing this problem was to send Jesus. And Jesus lived a perfectly loving life and taught us how to do that, and then died on the cross so that we could be saved from our sins as well. So, Jesus is really important to us. Gustavo why is Jesus important to you
Gustavo, First Presbyterian Church member Well, Jesus was the messenger of God and the son of God. He showed us how to live a good Christian life by example, showing love and treating the others, treating others the way you want to be treated. He died on the cross for us, and I respect him a lot for that.
Lucia That makes sense. What is the white thing that you wear in your neck?
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Yeah, so this is a clerical collar or a tab collar. It started, you know, way back in the Victorian era where they have those big frilly collars and pastors wanted to be more simple. And so, they made this more official. It was actually a Presbyterian pastor who created this as the sort of clerical collar. And when I go out shopping, I can take it out, so I don’t have to be a pastor anymore. And then I can put it back in when it’s time for me to visit someone and be a pastor again.
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church [00:05:05] Pastors also will wear a special robe during worship or stoles, and the stoles are different colors. They usually go along with whatever the color of the season is, so right now we’re in ordinary time, so it’s green. We have Advent is purple. We have Pentecost, which is red, weddings I might wear one that’s a little bit more frilly and white. So, there’s lots of different reasons and they convey different things. I have one that’s a rainbow stole and that’s to show that this church is open and affirming of LGBT people
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Thank you so much for being here, you and Mariah had such good questions, we’re so thankful that you came
Lucia Thank you for having me, I learned a lot
John Judson, Senior Pastor, First Presbyterian Church member Well, we’re glad you guys were here. It was a great time.
Bethany Peerbolte, Associate Pastor, First Presbyterian Church Yeah, come back and visit anytime.