A Letter from our Pastor
PASTOR GARY W. CHARLES
Welcome to Cove,
Drive south along highway 29 from Charlottesville and it will not be long before you arrive in the tiny village of Covesville. Keep looking to your left after you pass the large packing plant and you will be greeted by a small brick church with a large multi-colored sign that reads: WE CHOOSE WELCOME. I invite you to come inside the historic sanctuary and experience the truth of the sign.
Cove is not a community of Christians who hide behind a catchy slogan. They live into the conviction of that sign as they welcome one another in the name of Christ. They welcome noisy toddlers and noisy adults. They welcome ardent believers and tenuous believers. They welcome people with advanced degrees and those for whom life has been the primary teacher. They welcome fluent English speakers and those trying to learn the language.
In July 2016, Cove welcomed me and my wife, Jennell. Cove also welcomed our two young adult children, Erin and Josh, even though they are young adults now living in Atlanta. You might say, “Cove had to welcome you. They had called you to be their pastor.” In one sense, you would be right, but in a larger way, not. The welcome that Jennell and I have received is true for anyone who ventures out to join this quirky, eccentric, loving, and lovely group of saints.
So, if you are interested in being a part of a justice-minded, earth-loving, compassion-sharing community-building bunch of folks, then let me be the first to say: WELCOME TO COVE!
Grace and peace,
Cove Presbyterian Church
MESSAGE FROM OUR PASTOR
Pastor Gary Charles
Over the past few days, a good number of Cove members and friends have called or emailed me asking that I speak to the Attorney General’s use of Romans 13 to justify the new government policy that separates immigrant parents from their children.
I will say a few words now and I invite you to join me in the front of the church after worship so I can listen to you, and together, hopefully, we can listen to the Holy Spirit.
I speak today not as a lawyer. I am not one. I speak today not as a politician. I am not one. I speak today not as an expert on the complex subject of immigration. I am not one. I speak today as a Christian who has studied Scripture all his life and as a father who cares deeply about his own two children and about all God’s children.
Earlier this week, when the AG cited Romans 13 to justify this new policy, I wept. I weep whenever Scripture is used to advance hatefulness in the name of God rather than the radical welcome of God’s love. Later in the same chapter in Romans, the Apostle Paul gives law its proper context. He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself. Loves does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” Just law, in Paul’s argument, is appropriately manifested in loving action toward one’s neighbor.
The only times that the Bible records rulers ripping children out of the hands of their parents are in Exodus at the order of Pharaoh and in Matthew 2 when Herod orders the killing of all male Jewish infants, leading Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus to flee the land and become refugees in Egypt.
On this Father’s Day, I speak as a parent who is horrified by the policy currently being followed on our southern borders that result in fathers and mothers being forcibly separated from their children. I do not envy the job of the AG or of the ICE officers, but as a Christian I cannot remain silent before such an extreme abuse of Scripture and such a misguided defense of an immigration policy that has no defense from a biblical perspective.
I have shared my thoughts with our elected representatives and I encourage you to do the same, even if your views are opposite of my own.