Wild patience: Years of discussion lead to signing of covenant between presbytery and Islamic communities in Chicago

195-23 digital finalPresbyterians and Muslims in the greater Chicago recently sat down to dinner together in celebration of a new relationship and a new covenant.

Although preparatory discussions have been percolating for a few years, the convening dinner to celebrate the covenant officially marked the beginning of the journey for the Presbytery with the Muslim community at the grassroots level.

The covenant between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago is a single-paged document that outlines common values between both faith communities (including care of the earth and the pursuit of justice for all), recognizes that both faiths do not agree on all things and commits to model respect, deepen understanding of the other faith and work together on issues consistent with our religious values.

Click here to read the featured cover story on pres-outlook.org.


Editorial – A week of holy mischief

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 12.30.20 PMThe 2013 edition of the Big Tent event claims front-cover status this week. At least in number, however, Big Tent’s nearly 1,500 mostly adult participants come in a distant second place to the more than 5,200 mostly teenage participants who met in this year’s Presbyterian Youth Triennium, held July 16-20 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

A collaborative effort between the PC(USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Triennium is held every three years. Attendees are high school age youth from around the country, plus a number of international partners.

On the Monday night preceding this year’s Triennium, speaking to the volunteers who would lead the youth throughout the next few days, Mark Yaconelli, author of “Contemplative Youth Ministry,” encouraged the leaders to support a week of “holy mischief.” He urged leaders to help kids be free and to remind them, “you’re here because someone loved you into the faith.”


 Click here to read the full article on pres-outlook.org.

Sunday’s coming!

This Sunday, at First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, I will be preaching at the 9am service in the chapel and the 10:30 am service in the sanctuary.  At 4:00 in the afternoon, we will gather again for worship in the sanctuary for a service or ordination and installation into my new role as teaching elder and Associate Editor of Connection for the Presbyterian Outlook.

The 10:30 service and the ordination will both be webcast and archived.

For more information, bulletins, directions, etc – visit janablazek.com/ordination


Thank you for continued prayers on my walk and my ministry!



Ordination news!

The Presbytery of Chicago
and First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights
invite you to the ordination and installation of Jana Blazek
to the Office of Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
and as Associate Editor for Connections of the Presbyterian Outlook

Sunday, July 7, 2013
at 4:00 pm

The service will also be webcast here.

Thank you to all who have supported and encouraged me along this journey. Jack Haberer says he thinks that this is the first ordination the Outlook has had in its 200 year history!

On the morning of July 7, I will be preaching at the 9:00 and 10:30 am services in the sanctuary.

The ordination worship service starts at 4:00pm.
Rev. Dr. Timothy Slemmons will be preaching.

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights
302 N Dunton Street
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Click here for a map to the church (and a few words about parking)

For more information, e-mail me.

Book Review: The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church

This was reviewed for The Presbyterian Outlook is an also online here.


by Bruce Reyes-Chow

Shook Foil Books, 99 pages



Whether you are mystified by “yelpers” and “tweetups” or consider yourself fluent in the realm of social media, Bruce Reyes-Chow’s guide to social media in the church can help you become more faithful in your digital engagement.


But pure traditionalists and digital outsiders will have a difficult time getting their hands on this book — it has been released only in e-book form.


A relatively short read, this book introduces readers to the key social media tools and provides guidance for determining the most helpful approaches in a particular context.


“Social media will not save the church,” declares Reyes-Chow. Collectively, social media provide an expression, a medium, a tool — and as such, are naturally devoid of the institutional church’s bureaucratic structures. Therefore, in an era that is both increasingly skeptical and digital, social media invite people to build relationships and collaborate on a new, level playing field.


As a resource, “The Definitive-ish Guide” offers a full glossary of terms and tools, including items like “cloud computing” and “tagging.” In depth, it explores Reyes-Chow’s top five tools: Facebook, blogs, Google docs, Yelp, and Dropbox. With care, he outlines how these tools can be used to support worship, pastoral care, evangelism, education, preaching, congregational life, mission and administration.


You may be surprised to see Twitter missing from this list — especially if you are a Twitterer yourself and aware of how prolifically the author himself tweets. However, lesser attention is given to Twitter and even newer entries into the social media realm, such as Pinterest.


Most notably, Reyes-Chow points out that social media compel the church to be an active participant and conversant in the world — a world being transformed by interactions that happen on social media.


Fear not: Reyes-Chow reminds readers that this brave new world does not and will not replace face-to-face interaction. Yet, hallmarks of personal interaction — authenticity, transparency, reciprocation, grace and compassion — can be just as present in social media encounters as they are in interactions in the fellowship hall.


Our churches must be open to trying new things without straying from the principles of faith that inform our understanding of what it means to live and serve in community. For example, when the church engages social media authentically, visitors have a chance to see who we are at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing.


Guides for caution and accountability are stressed. Yet Reyes-Chow urges boldly entering digital interactions, because “a prophetic word delivered on the shoulder of a healthy interaction can have great impact on people.”


If pastors remain guided by the current comfort level of the church, does that mean we feel the only people worth reaching are those already being reached? Building up community, Reyes-Chow asserts, requires new tools and new disciplines.

Book Launch Team: Liturgical Elements for Reformed Worship

Want to be part of a book launch team for lectionary-based worship resources?


The fabulous author/writer/theologian Timothy Matthew Slemmons has created a series of worship resources for the lectionary cycle, including the first of it’s kind for the proposed Year D.

I am coordinating the launch team to plan and promote these innovative resources. Want to join us? Visit his blog to learn more!