The mission of Savannah Presbytery is to engage, encourage, and equip its members and congregations as together we serve the church of Jesus Christ in southeast Georgia. This mission is fleshed out in multiple ways globally, nationally, and locally.
Each year, congregations cluster together to minister to the “least of these” in places like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. One such ministry, the annual Faith in Practice effort in Guatemala, brings together members of Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church and other congregations for a week of providing free medical and spiritual care to those in need.
Our yearbook stories in recent years have highlighted our Latina Iglesia ministry serving migrant workers in Swainsboro. This fellowship is now a 1001 worshiping community in its third year. We have continued also with our traveling mission, an annual youth mission trip that allows our young people to minister throughout southeast Georgia.
This past year, our annual summer camp took on a mission component. Through its feeding ministry and mentoring outreach with local elementary school students, First Presbyterian Church in Brunswick identified four children who had never been to camp. The session and presbytery provided scholarships so that these children could go for the first time. It was a blessing for the kids in our congregations to interact with these children during their first camp experience. Our prayer is that these four would experience the love of Christ through this ministry, and that we would learn from these four as they give back to us.
Savannah Presbytery is home to 41 congregations and one new worshiping community.
—Russell Gladding, general presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy Spirit, you bring us life both as we receive Christ’s love and as we give it to a world that needs it so desperately. May others see Jesus in us, and may we see God’s face in the faces of those we seek to serve! In the strong name of Jesus we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In living into our mission statement to “equip, support, and connect members of Providence Presbytery,” we have committed to walk beside the youth of our presbytery in their confirmation journey.
This year, 18 youth from eight different congregations participated in our confirmation cluster, which included three Sunday-afternoon sessions and two weekend retreats at Bethelwoods Camp and Conference Center. The youth gathered to fellowship with one another, to learn what it means to be a follower of Christ and a member of a Presbyterian church, and to spend time with their covenant partners—elders from their respective congregations—in order to grow in their faith.
A different pastor taught each session from the Professing Our Faith confirmation curriculum, and as a culminating activity the cluster created a group faith statement, which was professed by our 58 congregations during worship at last fall’s presbytery meeting.
Some congregations in our presbytery have just one or two going through confirmation each year. The cluster allows those youth to be a part of a larger group and learn from others during this critical step in their faith journey.
During a retreat, I was introduced to a new way of praying. As you join in a circle, your right palm is facing up so that you are uplifting the person on your right, while your left palm is facing down so that you are being uplifted by the person to your left. What a blessing it is to be part of a connectional church!
—Rev. Sarah F. Hegar, interim associate for resourcing and education, Providence PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. T. Mark Verdery , general presbyter /stated clerk
Rev. Sarah F. Hegar, interim associate for education and resourcing
Dorothy J. Killian, associate for congregational development and mission
David Weber, associate for camp and conference ministry
Jill Wilson, communications coordinator
Rose Lemmons-Berry, business administrator
Inez Glasgow, administrative assistant
Mary Love Hammond, office staff
Barbara Kurz, interim consultant for mission
Jacquie Scoates, program director, Bethelwoods
Nate Mallard, director of church relations, Bethelwoods
Colleen Johnson, office manager, Bethelwoods
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy One, we give you thanks for Christ’s church and for the many ways the Spirit moves to do new and different things. Bless our young people as they struggle with issues of faith and love, acceptance and forgiveness. As we continue to seek out ways to best nurture and guide them in their faith, may you uplift us in our efforts. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityMinute for Mission: Criminal Justice
The doors inside the jail never close gently. Every time I walk through them, the heavy double set of steel doors leading to the housing unit slam shut. It’s disturbing. Maybe it’s supposed to be.
The psalmist cries: “For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken” (Ps. 62:5–6). That overwhelming sense of waiting in silence is one of the most common things that I hear from people in jail. It’s hard not to be shaken when your waiting is measured by the slamming of steel doors. But the hope we find in Christ can change everything.
A few months ago, while I was teaching, one of the inmates was called to be released. He got up, quickly gathered his belongings in a clear garbage bag, and made his way to those heavy double doors. He went through the first door. It slammed shut. As he waited for the second door to unlock, he looked back. Several of the other guys raised their hands in the air. They weren’t waving goodbye or congratulating him on going home. It was a gesture of solidarity, a way to say, “Stay strong. Don’t give up hope.” Hope goes a long way.
Leaving prison can be difficult. You may have been waiting for months or even years, but the world kept moving. For a lot of people, it’s hard to jump back in at full speed. Unfortunately, all it takes is a little mistake for people to end up right back behind bars. But people who are able to connect with a faith community—a church just like yours—are less than half as likely to ever return to jail. It takes hope to stay strong. And hope is what Jesus has given us in abundance.
The Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network is a grassroots network of the Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association. Visit pcusa.org/pcjn to find our how your congregation can get involved.
Loving and merciful God, in Christ you welcome all your children with hope, grace, and forgiveness. Lord, let your Spirit move in us. Help us to open our hearts, our arms, and our doors to welcome your children home. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Jonah 3:1–5, 10
“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”
GTG 438, HB 271
“In Silence My Soul Thirsts”
1 Cor. 7:29–31
“God of Grace and God of Glory”
GTG 307, HB 358, PH 420
“Take My Life”
GTG 697, HB 310, PH 391
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityPeace River Presbytery
In 2006, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma, a mission partner of Peace River Presbytery, expanded its multifaceted assistance program for farm workers to the city of Immokalee in south Florida. The immigrant farmworkers there, primarily tomato pickers, needed food assistance, counseling, and worship opportunities—things Beth-El does well. Beth-El called a pastor from Guatemala, Rev. Miguel Estrada, and opened Mision Peniel to improve the lives of a population that most of us take for granted.
Last year, Peace River was given the opportunity to assume full responsibility for the oversight and support of Mision Peniel, which is in essence a ministry of compassionate and prophetic discipleship. The ministry, which has committed itself to serving as “a Christ-centered, compassionate bridge connecting migrant farm workers in Immokalee, Florida, to faith communities and the world,” is now prospering.
As many as 1,000 people per week are served by its food distribution program, and 15 Peace River congregations and over 1,000 volunteers participate in the ministry each year. Rev. Estrada is seen as a trustworthy pastor by the farmworkers and works closely with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which continues to advocate for fair wages and working conditions for migrants. The needs and realities of the migrant community in Immokalee have been well documented by the PC(USA)’s Fair Food Campaign.
Peace River Presbytery was offered an opportunity for compassionate, prophetic discipleship and took it. Thank God for the chance to serve.
—Rev. Graham Hart, general presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Graham Hart, general presbyter
Rev. Dr. Clinton Cottrell, stated clerk
Alan Penick, treasurer
Alesia Sharpe, office manager
Lori Doyal, administrative assistant /financial secretary
Rev. Miguel Estrada, presbytery evangelist
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
We thank you, Lord, for the chance to be of service to your people. Direct us, we pray, as we do your will. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityNortheast Georgia Presbytery
Covenant Presbyterian Church in Athens, a congregation of 350 members, demonstrates compassionate and prophetic discipleship in a host of ways: language and cultural training for refugees, ministries and hands-on service with the homeless and other people in need, Habitat for Humanity projects, and ecumenical cooperation for racial justice—just to name a few. Additionally, many Covenant members are involved in agencies and projects across the Clarke County area. Rev. Mark Harper has pastored the church for nine years.
In 2006, Covenant began an outreach to community youth. Located on a main road, the church property includes a recreational area that has become a pass-through for students from Hilsman Middle School and Cedar Shoals High School. After school, many of these young people buy snacks and drinks from local businesses but then don’t have anywhere to go to hang out. Instead of heading home, they began gathering in the church’s recreational area. While some raised concerns about possible drug sales and other inappropriate behavior, rather than ask these young people to leave, Covenant decided to open its youth rooms for fellowship after school.
Over the years, the Cave (named for the cavernous recreation space) has served more than 1,500 young people, including a large percentage of multicultural youth. Currently, about 50 students meet on Fridays, and more than a dozen church members provide supervision. Beecher Mathes, associate pastor of 20 years, comments: “Even though these youth are culturally diverse, they are finding that they have more in common than they realize.”
Northeast Georgia Presbytery is home to 55 congregations.
—Rev. Jim Choomack, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, GreensboroLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving God, we thank you for the young people of our community and for our ministry with them. We pray that this partnership will touch our community in redemptive ways. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityPresbytery of New Harmony
W henever I drive past here, I see all that grass you have to mow. Have you ever thought of having a community garden?” That was the prophetic question another pastor asked me during the Presbytery of New Harmony’s Sumter Cluster 2013 Lenten lunch series. It sparked a time of prayerful discernment for 25-member Fraser Memorial Presbyterian Church in Sumter, one of 70 congregations in our presbytery.
It wasn’t long before I presented the idea to the faithful folks at the Wednesday-evening devotion and prayer group. Present that night was a member who had recently returned to the area. Carol just happened to be working toward her Master Gardener certification, and the idea of a community garden lit a fire inside her heart.
The idea was soon shared with the session and then the entire congregation. Not quite sure what this might look like or mean, the Fraser family began designating some of our offerings to support the garden project. The Seeds of Faith Community Garden began taking shape. And by the winter of 2013, initial plans were in place to prepare raised-bed garden plots for the 2014 growing season and to begin receiving applications for growers.
Our congregation’s hope is that the garden can be a source of fresh vegetables for families, their only cost being sweat. Our vision also includes classes on gardening, nutrition, and cooking and preserving vegetables.
—Rev. Christopher Scott, former pastor, Fraser Memorial Presbyterian Church, SumterLet us join in prayer for:
Teaching Elder Bruce E. Ford, executive presbyter and stated clerk
Ruling Elder Julie L. Cox, associate executive presbyter and associate stated clerk
Netanyia G. Samuel , secretary/receptionist
Linda M. Borgman , office administrator
Elise H. Walker, financial administrator
Jason Steen, facilities director, Camp Pee Dee Retreat Center
Kelly Boone Sloan, program director, Camp Pee Dee Retreat Center
Mike Smith, maintenance staff, Camp Pee Dee Retreat Center
Bonnie Lewis, barn manager, Camp Pee Dee Retreat Center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Almighty God, we thank you for the resources of land and spiritual gifts and talents. Transform Seeds of Faith into a source of fresh vegetables, and grow Fraser Memorial as a food education center for the entire community. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityPresbytery of Greater Atlanta
The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta is made up of almost 100 congregations and nearly 40,000 members. We have congregations that represent people and cultures from across the globe. We are of every theological persuasion, and our congregations, which come in all sizes, can be found in urban, suburban, and rural settings. We are therefore always looking for ways to unify our diverse presbytery, in particular through missions and justice opportunities that can speak to all Christians.
Our own Emory Presbyterian Church found just that in Life Sentence, a music project that tells the gripping tale of Clarence Harrison through live performances and a series of recordings. Wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, Harrison was changed through the amazing love and witness of a stranger. The live performances, presented by Harrison and musicians Melanie Hammett and Ben Holst, offer a deep and moving testament to the strength of love and faith. The Life Sentence project has also become a way of telling the story of the Georgia Innocence Project, the nonprofit that secured Harrison’s release and works do the same for others who have been wrongly convicted.
Emory Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of Rev. Jill Oglesby-Evans, is right in the heart of the Emory University and Emory Hospital community. It is a congregation willing to take risks and to get deeply involved in justice issues that call for a true witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its people are open to changing in order to stay relevant to an intellectual and sometimes very secular local community. They are sponsoring a 1001 new worshiping community called the Well, pastored by Rev. Schaap Freeman.
Emory Presbyterian is to be admired for its deep commitment to the PC(USA) and the larger body of Christ. The congregation and the other pastors who saw Life Sentence have been forever changed. The presbytery itself sponsored a live performance for early fall 2014 as a way of inviting even more congregations to get involved in this vital ministry of testimony and justice.
—Rev. Penny Hill, executive presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Steve Bacon, corresponding member, PMA Board
Rev. Penny Hill, executive presbyter
Donna E. Wells, stated clerk
Mark Sauls, director of communications
Cassandra Morrow, congregational consultant
Joy Fisher, congregational consultant
Chip Blankinship, director of operations /congregational consultant
Gwen Hairston, financial support specialist
Young Adult Volunteers
Bethany Apelquist, Ji-Hye Chung, Katherine Leware, and Kenya Philipps
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of mercy, we are privileged to be called to join Christ in the world as we seek to do ministries of justice and kindness and to bring glory to your name. Give us the courage to act boldly, and let all that we do be conducted in a spirit of humility and love. In Christ’s name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityFoothills Presbytery
W hen congregations make baptismal promises to love and nurture the children in their midst, that promise should extend to caring for and loving all of God’s children. First Presbyterian Church of Greer is finding joy and hope as we live out baptismal promises in our relationships with children and youth. We understand that mission means relationships—both in the congregation and in the community and beyond.
Our congregation offers love and care through a relationship with the boys of Georgia Beatie Cottage at Thornwell Home for Children in Clinton. Congregation members and Thornwell boys work together each December to decorate cookies and then deliver them to residents of the local Presbyterian retirement community. As they work side by side, the Thornwell boys show the children of our congregation what it means to be church.
More than 50 adults from our congregation volunteer at a local child development center at least 30 minutes every week during the school year to help four-year-olds acquire needed school-readiness skills. These volunteers (“Dunbar Buddies”) see that showing up makes a difference: the children’s test scores are improving, and they are learning their numbers and taking pride in being able to write their name! The program has since expanded to include Dunbar Backpack Buddies, in which church members bring in nonperishable food to fill backpacks for the weekend for students who might otherwise return with hungry tummies on Monday.
Foothills Presbytery is home to 61 congregations.
—Whitney Moss, director of youth and mission, First Presbyterian Church of GreerLet us join in prayer for:
Gordon Raynal, presbytery pastor and stated clerk
Debbie Foster, presbytery associate pastor
Steve Cummings, director, Camp Buc
Donna Templeton, youth and young adult coordinator
Warren Templeton, bookkeeper, office administrator
LeAnne White, administrative assistant and registrar, Camp Buc
Tim Huitt, ranger, Buc Outdoor Center
Barbara Huitt, registrar, Buc Outdoor Center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Patricia Bennett, PMA
Rev. Nancy Benson-Nicol, PMA
God our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and friend: through Christ you demonstrate, in fullness, the depth of your love. May we reflect his compassion, which permeated all his actions, as we serve. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityChristian Unity Minute for Mission
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (John 4:7)
Today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians join in study, prayer, and action seeking the unity of the church. This year’s theme is drawn from the familiar encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well as recorded in John. It’s an encounter between two people who normally would have nothing to do with each other—people separated by social and religious boundaries. Jesus crosses the divide and asks the woman from Samaria for a drink of water. This opens the door to a deeper conversation in which differences are acknowledged, commonalities are considered, and evangelism explodes.
The quest for Christian unity often involves the risk of making ourselves vulnerable, recognizing that we are called to live an interdependent life of faith. We need the gifts of other Christians, and we also have particular gifts to share. We hear and feel God calling us to transcend our differences and encounter the presence of Christ in one another. This calling is not for our own sakes but so that the good and liberating news of Jesus Christ might be made known to the world.
The 221st General Assembly (2014) received the final report from the dialogue between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Historically, our two churches have not been in ecumenical relationship. We didn’t know a lot about each other. We probably had stereotypes. The dialogue invited representatives of our churches to listen to each other and work toward mutual understanding.
While acknowledging our differences, we were also able to celebrate each other as church and realize that we both are seeking to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We drank from one another’s wells and realized that, individually and collectively, each could support the other in sharing the living water of Jesus the Christ with the world.
—Rev. Robina Marie Winbush, associate stated clerk for ecumenical relations, Office of the General AssemblyLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving and liberating Jesus, grant us the humility to recognize you in others and to receive the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to communities and churches of whom we know very little. May all our encounters give witness to your transformative and liberating power. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Week of Prayer for Christian UnityMinute for Mission: Race Relations
True or false: Race is a social construct. Would it surprise you to learn that this statement is true? Well, it is. There is widespread agreement among scholars that race, as understood in the United States, is a social construct rather than an innate characteristic of a person or group of persons. There is only one race, the human race. Evidence from the Human Genome Project indicates that all humans are more than 99.9 percent genetically identical. There are more differences within groups (all races) than across groups.
Race Relations Sunday is a reminder for us to rededicate ourselves to eradicating racism and to recommit to ministries of justice. In Peter’s “Race Relations Day” sermon, he says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears [God] and does what is right is acceptable to [God]” (Acts 10:34–35). The Good News Translation of verse 35 is my favorite: “Those who fear [God] and do what is right are acceptable to [God], no matter what race they belong to.”
God shows no partiality—or, literally, “God accepts no one’s face.” It doesn’t matter how you look. The color of your skin does not correlate with your value. Race, this human construct that brainwashes us into thinking that something as arbitrary as skin color, hair texture, and other physical features could make some people more valuable than others and place some people in a privileged category and others in a disadvantaged category, is wrong. It’s unjust, and it’s sin.
We were anointed at our baptisms, and a new humanity, a new people, a new race was created, where all are one in Christ Jesus. So, today we reaffirm our baptisms as the covenant community of God, of every race and people, created equally in God’s image and anointed to God’s service.
—Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter, director, Racial Ethnic & Women’s MinistriesLet us pray
O God, help us not to be afraid but to risk getting to know each other and to appreciate the rich, cultural diversity that defines our sisters and brothers in the world. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
1 Sam. 3:1–10 (11–20)
“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” /
“Here I Am, Lord”
GTG 69, PH 525
Ps. 139:1–6, 13–18
“Search Me, O God” /
1 Cor. 6:12–20
“O Jesus, I Have Promised”
GTG 724-, 725, HB 307, PH 388-, 389
“Jesus Calls Us”
GTG 720, HB 269
W hen the Presbytery of Florida met in Tallahassee on April 28, 2014, many ruling and teaching elders were unable to make it because of weather conditions and closed roads. Rain fell all day and into the night.
The Florida panhandle received more than 26 inches of rain in 24 hours. Roads were washed away. Homes were flooded. Some of the worst flooding was on Piedmont Road in Pensacola, home of Trinity Presbyterian Church. Many refer to what happened in that area as the Piedmont Road flood. Two feet of water slammed against the church’s buildings and turned its parking lot into a sandbar. Slabs of pavement from the road broke loose and floated on the floodwaters. Homes were left without electricity, water, or sewer. Two ruptured water mains added insult to injury.
How did Trinity Presbyterian respond to the flooding? Church staff and members, assisted by over 30 volunteers from the Pensacola Naval Air Station, began stripping carpet, vacuuming water, mopping, and moving furniture. The church parking lot became a distribution center for water, ice, meals, and portable toilets.
Two days later, plans had already been laid for “Prayers and Potluck for Piedmont” on the church grounds. Pastor Hugh Hamilton and other folks from Trinity went out into the neighborhood on foot, house to house, inviting their neighbors to come to church on Sunday, or at least to the home-cooked potluck lunch afterward and to take home extra meals.
On Sunday, May 4, amid the debris and ruin from the flood, Trinity Presbyterian in Pensacola demonstrated compassionate discipleship by worshiping God and feeding its neighbors.
The Presbytery of Florida is home to 44 congregations.
—Rev. Dr. Ted W. Land, coordinating presbyterLet us join in prayer for
Rev. Dr. Ted W. Land, coordinating presbyter
Melissa Morgan, administrator
Joy Gilbert, hunger action enabler
Pam McVety, stewardship of creation enabler
Elder Jeannie Dixon, stated clerk
Rev. Dr. Jonas Georges, director, Dogwood Acres Camp and Retreat Center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Creator God, we give thanks for the gift of compassion shown amid turmoil. We pray for comfort for those affected by floods and other disasters. Amen.
Encompassing the southwest corner of Georgia, Flint River Presbytery is made up of 47 congregations, three campus ministries, a presbytery-wide youth group, the presbytery staff at its Albany headquarters, and one coffee shop: 53 worshiping communities of one sort or another.
In order that we all might better serve as compassionate and prophetic disciples in the region, our presbytery has established the Reformation Project. Participating congregations covenant with one another for three years, in which they gather together regularly to pray, worship, study, reflect, and serve—enhancing their ability to discern and follow the Spirit of God.
Pastors of participating congregations meet together in monthly retreats for prayer, Bible study, support, encouragement, and discernment. The covenanting congregations form small groups of dedicated disciples (“think tanks”) that engage in research, brainstorming, and reflection. The think tanks meet and share with their pastors, who in turn share with them the results of their monthly reflections.
As a collective exercise in divine discernment and intentional growth, the Reformation Project equips both pastors and congregations to pray, learn, and serve with deeper faithfulness and fruitfulness as the people of God.
“As a young minister, the Reformation Project has been incredible for me and my ministry,” says Dan Jessop, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Donalsonville. “This is something that needs to be done in every presbytery across the country. Through self-examination, authentic time with colleagues, retreats, and time spent in prayer and Scripture, I have been able to realize who I am as a child of God and how I am supposed to serve and lead the people in the place God has called me. My ministry has blossomed because of the Reformation Project; I have been able to be my truest self.”
—Glenn Gilstrap, pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Warner RobinsLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Guide us, O Lord, as we seek to follow you wherever you lead. Hear our prayers for our sisters and brothers in Christ. Surround us with peace, hope, and love, and help us to behold and celebrate your hand at work in the world. In the name of Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Cherokee Presbytery is located in the northwest corner of Georgia. The region is home to colleges and universities as well as the great natural beauty of lakes, rivers, and the southernmost section of the Appalachian Mountains.
Our presbytery is also home to some of the most economically disadvantaged counties in the country. Our 32 congregations and one new church development provide numerous ministries of compassion and care for those who are most in need. More than half of our congregations are involved in feeding ministries, including regular community meals, food pantries, community gardens, food drives for local food banks, and more.
Many congregations also are beginning to partner with one another to serve the transitional housing needs of families experiencing homelessness, while still other congregations continue to run a host of additional ministries: GED programs that provide people better employment opportunities, prison ministries that encourage new life habits, health clinics that provide medical and dental care for those in who have no other access, and educational opportunities for the children of neighbors in need.
—Rebecca M. Blackwell, mission coordinator and stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Deacon Andrew Kang Bartlett, PMA
Frances Bass, OGA
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow human beings throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen. —Mother Teresa of CalcuttaDaily Lectionary
For residents of our local school district, computers and Internet access are prized commodities. Even among families that own a home computer, Internet access is limited, and among the five small towns that make up the district, libraries offer fewer than 10 computers for public use. In a technologically driven world, district residents are often sidelined in their ability to complete computer-based school assignments, participate in Internet GED programs, and apply for jobs online. As a result, the cycle of poverty continues.
In 2013, a grant from the presbytery’s Self-Development of People committee allowed CORE (Community Organization for Rights and Empowerment) to refurbish and reopen computer labs in the community. CORE’s computer literacy center maintains open hours for drop-in use and offers basic computer classes on email, word processing, spreadsheets, and publishing. Graduates often volunteer as classroom assistants, sharing their newfound expertise.
The leaders of CORE recognize the power of computer literacy to boost confidence, strengthen connections within and beyond the community, enhance education and employment, and, ultimately, restore hope and prosperity to a people in despair.
Charleston Atlantic Presbytery’s 48 congregations are proud to stand in solidarity with these friends and neighbors to be a prophetic witness of renewed hope.
Kristin Beckstrom Widrich, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Moncks CornerLet us join in prayer for:
Donnie R. Woods, executive presbyter /associate stated clerk
Deane A. Kemper, stated clerk
Jessie A.“Pie” Mikell , associate for congregational nurture
John H. “Jay” Jackson, business manager
Michael L. Fitze, new church development and church transformation consultant
Eric Doss, director of communications
Chris Sarkowski, director of youth ministry
Margaret Mitchell-Rivers, treasurer
Barbara A. Burger, director of administration
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord, we are grateful that you come among us speaking good news to the poor. We pray for the residents of Orangeburg County Consolidated School District Three and the work of CORE. Guide and equip the presbytery’s congregations to continue to serve brothers and sisters in need. For the glory of God. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Two years ago, members of Central Florida Presbytery were given an opportunity to visit with Christian brothers and sisters in Cuba. Three different groups traveled there to explore the possibility of establishing a partnership with the Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Cuba’s El Centro Presbytery. In March 2013, a team of 11 visited El Centro and toured its 14 congregations. They came back passionate advocates for partnership and have led our presbytery in forging a strong connection to El Centro.
Diane Watkins, who chairs the presbytery’s partnership committee and was an earlier visitor to Cuba, shared the following: “My biggest memory of my trip was having every one of my questions answered with ‘That is complicated.’ Our governments make everything so complicated. And yet how simple was the love and laughter I experienced when talking with a young man one on one, using only my Spanish-English pocket dictionary to bridge the language gap. We both were able to enjoy our time together and shared in the love and fellowship of being children of God together.”
This partnership has been full of lessons in being compassionate and in listening to prophetic voices. We have had to learn to be patient, to move forward only when our partners are ready. And we have practiced listening carefully to their needs, hopes, and words of caution, to make sure that what we create will be healthy and lasting. Most importantly, we have learned that no matter how complicated a situation becomes—and working with multiple languages, churches, presbyteries, and even countries does present frequent complications!—God’s love shows forth best in the one-on-one moments. Conversations, emails, visits, hugs, smiles—these are the tools of partnership and provide the inspiration to become better disciples at home and abroad.
In February 2014, two representatives of El Centro visited Central Florida, evidence that our partnership continues to take root and grow.
Central Florida Presbytery is home to 71 congregations.
—Rev. Debra Cox, chair, mission development committee, and Diane Watkins, chair, global mission subcommitteeLet us join in prayer for:
Dan Williams, executive presbyter / stated clerk
Karen Daniel, office and finance manager
Cheryl Carson, leadership and resource coordinator
Barbara Sayles, hunger action enabler
Daurice Dawson, collegiate ministry coordinator
Jody Mask, administrative assistant
Grover Crawford, treasurer
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord of all times, nations, and peoples, help us to see each other through your eyes, celebrating the love you have given that binds us together. We ask your blessing upon the churches and peoples of Cuba and at home, so that we might be and make disciples in your name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The Hispanic/Latino Council of the Synod of South Atlantic is organized into three chapters, each with its own coordinating committee. They share a focus on spiritual and leadership development and a vision to start new worshiping communities.
In the Central Chapter, El Redentor Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Florida, celebrating 33 years of mission work, joined with Seminole County Schools to address child hunger. They prepared 1,500 pounds of food in 80 bags for the children in one month.
The North Chapter organized a spiritual retreat for ministers, lay leaders, and spouses. At this inspiring event, participants took turns sharing how God is working in their ministries as newcomers and immigrant brothers and sisters arrive. One of these ministries, El Nazareno new church development (NCD) in Hapeville, Georgia, hopes to become a chartered PC(USA) congregation soon.
The South Chapter is excited about the Grace Point NCD, a multicultural congregation that started in Miami Shores, Florida, in 2012. A lively worship service and an inspiring sermon draw a group of 60 participants, who share the message of Jesus Christ with neighbors who have not yet heard.
The Synod of South Atlantic has 16 presbyteries and is home to 908 congregations.
—Rev. Adrian Orozco, Hispanic consultant to the Synod of South Atlantic, and Kerri Nichols, synod administratorLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Heavenly Father, we pray for the Hispanic/Latino ministries in this synod. As they grow and continue to reach out to their communities, grant them wisdom, creativity, and the courage to embrace prophetic opportunities. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Whether working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children with ECPAT-USA or partnering with the Campaign for Fair Food and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Human Trafficking Roundtable connects Presbyterians to partners in the United States and around the world to end human trafficking. By linking congregations, presbyteries, and groups such as Presbyterian Women and Presbyterian Men to anti-trafficking organizations in this way, the Human Trafficking Roundtable helps to make the world a safer and more just place for all God’s children.
Human trafficking takes many forms, including, but not limited to, sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, and the use of children as soldiers. The Human Trafficking Roundtable includes staff members from various agencies and offices of the PC(USA) who connect the work of their offices to the broad work of the church to stop human trafficking.
Presbyterian General Assemblies have repeatedly called for an end to human trafficking and for changes in the unjust systems that perpetuate human rights abuses like human trafficking.
The evening psalm for today closes with two impassioned pleas: “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!”
May it be so.
—Ryan Smith, Presbyterian representative to the United NationsLet us pray
May the Lord give strength to his people, especially persons who have been trafficked. May the Lord give strength to his people, especially persons working to change unjust systems. May the Lord bless his people with peace, with a promise for a just and better future, a future without slavery. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Morning Has Broken”
GTG 664, HB 464, PH 469
“Sing Praise to God Who
GTG 645, HB 15, PH 483
“Take Me to the Water”
“Christ, When for Us
You Were Baptized”
God of Compassion, in mercy befriend us; / Giver of grace for our needs all availing, / Wisdom and strength for each day do Thou send us, / Patience untiring and courage unfailing. —“God of Compassion, in Mercy Befriend Us” (verse 1)
In Yellowstone Presbytery, every congregation is encouraged to become a compassionate and prophetic voice of mission within its community. St. Andrew Presbyterian in Billings is answering the call by hosting a community garden; First Presbyterian in Miles City by offering a growing preschool; and First Presbyterian in Bozeman by reaching out to students at Montana State through PresbyCats, a pilot campus ministry in the PC(USA)’s UKirk network. Other congregations are teaming up to send mission teams across the state and to Central America. Please join us in thanking God for the 25 Yellowstone congregations joining in God’s mission.
But greater yet is the compassionate and prophetic ministry of the disciples in each congregation who gather every Sunday for worship, for nurture, for formation—and are then sent by God as missionaries throughout Montana and the Rocky Mountain region. In them, with them, and through them Christ lives, speaks, serves, and loves every day and everywhere they go.
With this vision in mind, we are helping pastors and sessions ask what kind of people they hope to send into the world and what these people need to know to live the gospel dynamically, wisely, and lovingly day in and day out wherever God has planted them.
In other words, we are attempting to create a culture of spiritual formation and discipleship that will permeate the presbytery and strengthen every congregation. And we have begun by regularly gathering pastors across the presbytery for dwelling in the Word, mutual support, prayer, and envisioning what God might want to bring about through them in their corner of the world.
—Rev. George Goodrich, co-general presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
How shall we stray, with Thy hand to direct us, / Thou who the stars in their courses are guiding? / What shall we fear, with Thy power to protect us, / We who walk forth in Thy greatness confiding? —“God of Compassion, in Mercy Befriend Us” (verse 3)Daily Lectionary
With 29 congregations, most with fewer than 100 members, the Presbytery of Wyoming faces many challenges, not least the work of caring and connecting across 97,184 square miles. With the exception of the three congregations in the capital city of Cheyenne, most of the presbytery’s churches are at least a hundred miles from another PC(USA) congregation.
Despite the distance, our presbytery takes seriously the call to bring good news to those who have recently come to the United States. We do so in partnership with Cheyenne Korean Presbyterian Church, which has an active outreach among the sizeable Korean population living within 50 miles of the capital. Some are wives of active or retired military personnel stationed at the F. E. Warren Air Force Base. Some are immigrant families. Some are students at the University of Wyoming. During the academic year, the church van, purchased through contributions from the presbytery’s congregations, transports the students back and forth from Laramie.
The congregation’s pastor, Rev. Yoon Kak Cho, preaches in both English and Korean at every worship service. He focuses on pastoral care for the 100or so members, as well as equipping them to reach out to others.
Although the presbytery meets only three times a year, everyone looks forward to coming to Cheyenne Korean Presbyterian Church to enjoy its lively spirit and delicious food. The presbytery is grateful to God for the way the congregation challenges us all to care for and connect with immigrant families, students, and Air Force women and men and their families.
—Rev. Dr. Lynn Williamson, Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church, Casper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of all nations and peoples, you bless us with the bounty of creation and with neighbors made in your image. We thank you for the congregations who offer the first welcome to those from other lands, cultures, and religions. Grant us the vision to see your presence in our immigrant sisters and brothers, and stir us to offer them your hospitality, which you have made known to us in Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
“One local, one global. That’s the goal. And we’ll be in it for the long haul.”
This vision, for a local and a global partner with whom our congregation could serve and learn while blessing others for the sake of Christ, is the vision God cultivated among us at First Presbyterian in Grand Junction, one of 15 congregations in the Presbytery of Western Colorado. Desiring to follow the Great Commission and make disciples of all groups of people, we targeted these two frontiers for long-term mission relationships.
Our local mission partner is a shelter for homeless teenagers called the House—a place where they can rest, recover, and set their sights again on the future. Teenagers who come to the House are shown compassion and led into relationships of hope by adult volunteers and caseworkers. Most of all, our congregation desires to see these teens come to know the saving grace of Christ, and we continue to build real relationships with them that show the love and mercy of Christ in tangible ways.
Our global mission partner also exists to serve young people, but in a very different setting. The Amani Baby Cottage is an orphanage situated near the banks of the Nile River in Jinja, Uganda. Over the past three years, we have sent teams to Amani to learn about the local culture, the needs of the city, and how to care best for the orphans who have no other place to go. Amani specializes in reuniting orphans with their birth families—a metaphor for the gospel that is both profound and life-changing for these children and youth. We hope to continue alongside our Amani partners by resourcing them in helpful ways and assisting them in reaching families for the sake of Christ.
Our church’s mission is to follow Christ and share God’s Word. We’re grateful for the opportunity to engage in compassionate, prophetic discipleship as we pursue this mission in partnership with the House and Amani Baby Cottage. May God continue to build his kingdom through Christ’s church.
—Travis Fletcher, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Grand JunctionLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Kristina Archuleta, PMA
Rev. SanDawna Ashley, OGA
Gracious God, we pray that your greatness would be known throughout the world. We are humbled that you would call us into mission for the sake of Christ, and we are never worthy of this task. Fill us with your Spirit as we look to our neighborhoods and around the world for your activity and your calling. In Christ’s name. Amen.Daily Lectionary