W here do universal human rights begin?” Eleanor Roosevelt’s question concerns the crowning achievement of her public service. In 1947 she chaired a United Nations committee of members from various political, cultural, and religious backgrounds charged with drafting a human rights declaration for all the world’s peoples.
Over a year and 1,400 votes later, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This landmark document represented the first international recognition that human rights and fundamental freedoms apply to every person, everywhere. The declaration provides a bulwark against oppression and discrimination and serves as the foundation of international human rights law. Sixty-five years after its adoption, it inspires people to protect and extend human rights around the world.
Where do universal human rights begin? Eleanor Roosevelt answers in practical terms. They begin in “the world of the individual person: the neighborhood [he or she] lives in; the school or college [she or he] attends; the factory, farm or office where [he or she] works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”
For followers of Jesus, universal human rights begin in the affirmation that all people are made in God’s image with inherent worth and dignity. They begin in the biblical message of justice, freedom, and peace. They begin in Jesus’ call to love “God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37–39). They begin in the belief that every person deserves to live the abundant life proclaimed by Jesus.
As we live into God’s vision of justice and peace, as we love one another, we work for human rights in our homes, communities, schools, workplaces, country, and around God’s world. God grant us grace so to do today and every day.
Let us pray
Creating God, help us recognize your image in one another. Inspire us to join your transforming ministry that protects the weak, challenges the strong, frees the prisoner, proclaims peace, and heals the broken. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Yellowstone Presbytery includes 26 congregations and their 2,093 members. These numbers are spread over 600 miles, from the mountains in the west to the eastern boundary of Montana. Resources of people and dollars are limited, but a love for God and his mission abounds.
In the recent past, our congregations have undertaken mission projects to Mexico, New Orleans, Kenya, India, and two of the three Native American reservations within presbytery bounds. Also, students from Montana State University, Eastern Montana College, and Rocky Mountain College have participated in short-term mission trips to serve fellow inhabitants of God’s earth. Rocky Mountain College is the successor of the College of Montana, which was organized by Presbyterians and was the first school of higher learning in the Territory of Montana. The Peace Institute at Rocky is another mission of the presbytery.
Two camps within the presbytery are preparing tomorrow’s leaders to take their place in the mission and ministry of the church. Westminster Spires is a rustic camp located high in the mountains near Red Lodge. Rockhaven is a more modern facility located along the Gallatin River.
The huge challenge before the presbytery is how to minister to the people affected by the oil boom in the Bakken Oil Field of northeastern Montana. The influx of workers has severely strained the capabilities of local governments. The presbytery’s initial response has been to undertake an assessment, titled “Faith in the Oil Fields.” The presbytery recognizes that the magnitude of the challenge will require the cooperation of many denominations.
For Yellowstone, the loaves and fishes are in short supply, but through the Holy Spirit and the prayers of you, the reader, mission will continue to go forward locally and across the globe.Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Gracious God of the possible, continue to give your congregations in Yellowstone Presbytery optimism and strength for the tasks you have set before them. Give them a spirit of cooperation so that the needs of the residents and workers in northeastern Montana will be met. Please also keep them ever mindful of, and responsive to, the other needs in your world. Amen.
If you ask pastors about how coaching influenced their ministry, each one will tell a different story, yet one with a common theme: hope. One describes how coaching helped her work with her congregation to discern and embrace a whole new direction of ministry when she had been doubtful that such a transformation was possible. Another tells how coaching helped her to keep from being consumed by a significant conflict in her church and to discover a sense of new direction to move beyond it. A third describes a basic shift in his whole approach to pastoral leadership: “Before coaching, my basic strategy was like a ‘whack-a-mole’ game at a carnival: I felt like I was always just reacting to the last thing that had popped up. Coaching helped me figure out what the church needed me to focus on and how to stay focused to do what I was called to do. The difference is amazing; this is what I’d always hoped ministry would be like.”
Paul tells the Romans that it is through steadfastness and encouragement that we have hope, and at Auburn Seminary we see its truth embodied in our pastoral-coaching program. Auburn’s mission is to “equip bold and resilient leaders,” and our coaches work one-on-one with pastors to build the resilience and encourage the boldness they need to lead their congregations into new vitality and opportunity. Together, they discover anew that the God of steadfastness and encouragement is at work in their midst, giving hope for a vibrant future of ministry and mission.
—Rev. Katharine Henderson, president, Auburn Seminary, and Rev. J. C. Austin, director, Center for Christian Leadership, Auburn SeminaryLet us pray
O God of steadfastness and encouragement, give us hope not in ourselves but in you. Remind us that you continue to call us to your work and that you work through us to share your love and grace, taking what we have and multiplying it that all may receive and have their deepest hunger satisfied. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
PH 48, HB 162
Ps. 72:1–7, 18–19
Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun
PH 423, HB 496
Hope of the World
PH 360, HB 291
Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice
The mission statement of the Presbytery of Wyoming is, “The Presbyterians of Wyoming . . . living to make Christ known.” But the presbytery is huge—97,814 square miles—and there are only 31 Presbyterian congregations scattered from border to border, which works out to one congregation for every 3,155 square miles. With many miles separating them and only three presbytery meetings a year, it’s hard to find ways to live up to their commitment to “care, connect, and challenge” each other as they live out their calling in the Wild West.
Borrowing a page from the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook, the presbytery council decided they would create their own Presbytery of Wyoming Mission Yearbook in order to lift up the mission and ministry of each congregation, the committees of the presbytery, and the presbytery personnel. Each entity was asked to provide a favorite scripture, its mission/vision statement, a short narrative about its primary missions or ministries, and a short prayer.
The committee began collecting material in November 2011, and the first yearbook, with an entry for each week of the year, was ready for distribution at the February 2012 presbytery meeting.
Begun in 1892 as a calendar of prayer, the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook has gone through many changes but remains an important resource for inspiring stories about how the Spirit works through those who respond to the call to serve their brothers and sisters in the faith. It is the hope of the Presbytery of Wyoming that its yearbook will be as inspirational and connectional for the congregations in Wyoming, and that it will have as rich a history as the prototype that inspired it.
The Presbytery of Wyoming’s 31 congregations have 4,140 total members. It is also home to Camp Story and Skyline Camp.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Steve Shive, transitional general presbyter
Fred Feth, stated clerk
Alayne Stevens, administrative assistant
Art Elkins, treasurer
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Nadirah Van Beverhoudt, BOP
Gloria Van Dyke, FDN
Rev. Jerry Van Marter, PMA
Let us pray
God, you connect us to you and to each other in so many ways. Help us to inspire as we are inspired, to challenge as we are challenged, to nurture as we have been nurtured, and to live in order to make Christ known to all the world. Amen.
Community” is key to describing Calvary Presbyterian Church in Bayfield. Pastor Brian Caselles describes Calvary as “a congregation that cherishes its unity in Christ and is eager to share that community with its neighbors.” For example, Calvary’s summertime vacation Bible school is truly a community event. Not only does it involve almost every Calvary member, but members of other congregations join in to supply staff, outreach, and students. For a congregation of its size in a community of its size, Calvary’s VBS is quite an undertaking!
Similarly, community members come together again in December to celebrate Christ’s birth. Carolyn Brown (who also organizes the VBS program) guides helpers in turning Calvary’s fellowship hall into a Bethlehem village. Folks of all ages come together to become shepherds, centurions, beggars, and townspeople. Shops are set up for presenting woodworking, pottery, weaving, jewelry, spices, baked goods, and games. A tent is also set up to provide a live nativity, which uses a vintage pioneer doll as baby Jesus.
Also during Christmastime, Calvary shares its sense of community by providing local families with financial help and—in partnership with the local Lion’s Club—coats, snow boots, other clothing, and like-new refurbished bikes.
The recently renovated 115-year-old church exterior bears witness to Calvary’s longevity. Its historic presence has an impact on everyone in the town, either directly or indirectly. As the story goes, W. A. Bay, an elder in the church, deeded land for the founding of the town of Bayfield so that the church would have an address.
The Presbytery of Western Colorado is home to 16 congregations and their 1,989 members.Let us join in prayer for:
Beth Gilleece, administrative assistant
Bill Postler, interim stated clerk
Gary Hendrix, accountant
Let us pray
Loving Spirit, you bind us to yourself and to one another. Send us into this world joyfully proclaiming our risen Savior, that the world might know your boundless love as it is lived out in us. Amen.
The Presbytery of Utah serves 3,455 members of 24 congregations spread throughout the state of Utah and a small portion of southern Idaho. Community Presbyterian Church in American Fork, Utah, is a small congregation seeking to make a positive and meaningful impact in its community. Laura Mitchell, an energetic and vibrant ruling elder, became aware of a growing need in the community for a playground that was suitable for children with autism.
Not deterred by a small church budget or the tired and neglected playground equipment occupying one corner of the church’s property, Mitchell pressed on. Thanks to generous donations of money, time, and construction skills, the new playground is now open for use by the community. Joint efforts of the City of American Fork, corporate sponsors, nonprofit foundations, local faith organizations, and members and friends of this small congregation and its Latter-day Saint neighbors made it all possible.
Shortly after the playground’s completion, a local mother watched her autistic child enter the space and engage in interactive play. This child had never expressed any interest in traditional playgrounds. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” and the congregation of Community Presbyterian Church is convinced that children with autism are included in that call to participate in the body of Christ. Now, thanks to the joint efforts of many people within the community, these children and their families experience a grace-filled welcome in the name of Christ.Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Holy Lord, may our words, our work, and our hearts welcome all your children into the broad and beautiful kingdom of God. Amen.
The Ecumenical Church of Pueblo West (ECOPW) was started in 1972 to meet the faith needs of the planned community of Pueblo West. A group of residents from Baptist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Lutheran churches wanted a church that accepted the people and practices of all Christian traditions. They approached various denominations but most were not too enthusiastic about an ecumenical venture. But the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the American Baptist Church, USA considered the idea a great expression of the body of Christ.
About 20–25 denominations are currently represented in ECOPW’s 200 members. A recent baptism was conducted by an ordained American Baptist (head of staff), a retired ordained Methodist (the associate pastor), and a PC(USA) commissioned ruling elder—and the pre-baptism class was taught by a Lutheran and a Roman Catholic!
In the late 1970s, a member of the congregation started a Mom’s Day Off club. Thirty years later it has developed into Kinderkirk Pre-School and Child Care, with about 100 children enrolled. Families, many of whom are unchurched, have come to Christ through this ministry. Along with parenting classes, Kinderkirk also offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to the parents, community, and church family. It has been exciting to see this ministry grow to reach hundreds.
ECOPW believes that the body of Christ is one body. It celebrates the beauty of members’ own traditions and allows all to maintain their tradition’s uniqueness. The pastor is involved in both covenanted denominations and attends various presbytery and regional activities. The congregation divides its mission giving between the two denominations and supports several local and overseas mission projects too.
The Presbytery of Pueblo serves 2,300 members of 19 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
CRE Ronald Anderson, transitional executive presbyter
CRE Pricilla Hill, stated clerk
Elder Janet Thurston, office administrator
Carolyn Brown, camp and retreat director
Elder Ed Brown, hunger action enabler
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Virginia Turnage, PMA
Hope Turner, PMA
Let us pray
Gracious Lord, you alone are the head of the church. We praise you that your Holy Spirit is alive and moving throughout the body. We thank you for the love given and the gifts shared in our congregations and their communities. May we always give you the glory and honor in all we do. Amen.
Weldon Valley Presbyterian Church had fallen on hard times. Its part-time, tentmaking pastor was retiring, and this small, aging congregation of ranchers and dairy farmers was worried the church might have to close its doors. A group of 15 members agreed not to miss a single worship service, for fear that no one else would come.
The arrival of Commissioned Ruling Elder Mark Kenning signaled a turnaround for the congregation, which now numbers 67 members. It began with a small act of faith: the congregation had to choose between a lower-cost roof replacement and a higher-cost 50-year metal roof. They chose the latter, trusting God that the church would continue well beyond their lifetimes.
God blessed their faith in amazing ways. Weldon Valley has become one of the fastest-growing congregations in the presbytery. It has attracted families from over 15 miles away. Its Sunday school has as many as 23 youngsters overflowing the small church building, prompting a remodeling of its classroom space.
In partnership with Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center, a ministry of the presbytery, Weldon Valley hosts a free summer day camp providing quality programs to the community.
Weldon Valley cooperates with two other congregations in the presbytery to offer a joint confirmation class. The three congregations also combine worship services one Sunday a month in the summer for a special service featuring a Dixieland jazz combo and a country picnic potluck.
The Presbytery of Plains and Peaks consists of 41 congregations and three immigrant fellowships that have 8,322 total members.Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Ashley Triplett, FDN
Rylan Truman, PMA
Hannah Truxell, PMA
Teresa Turek, BOP
Let us pray
O God, who transforms seeds of faith into a great garden of blessings, we thank you for the witness of small congregations that see beyond their limited numbers to the unlimited resources you provide. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
The great territory inside the boundaries of the Presbytery of Glacier includes vast high plains that hug the Canadian border and hulking mountains of the continental divide. It is not unusual for people in the presbytery to travel over 10 hours and traverse at least one mountain range in a single round-trip commute to a meeting. These geographic considerations often make it difficult for the pastors, elders, and congregations to build meaningful relationships, support one another, or collaborate in mission.
Recently, the presbytery received a two-year grant from the Cousins Foundation to fund five retreats for its pastors each year. These retreats allow them to have concentrated time together without the distraction of presbytery business. During the retreats, the pastors focus on spiritual development for themselves and their congregations, congregational revitalization and numerical growth, developing a climate of teamwork within the presbytery, and creating a presbytery-wide outreach ministry focused on fostering new expressions of church within the presbytery. They also have several opportunities to study with Eugene Peterson.
In addition to attending the retreats, in 2011 the pastors took a 14-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was a time to walk (not run!) where Jesus walked and included daily time for reflection and worship.
The Presbytery of Glacier is home to 18 congregations and their 2,674 members.Let us join in prayer for:
Elder Marsha Zell Anson, member, PMA Board
Ed Albright, general presbyter
Marsha Anson, stated clerk
Dick Siderius, treasurer
Dave Saugen, director of Glacier Presbyterian Center
Chuck Paulus, web manager
Young Adult Volunteers
Maggie Lewis, community development intern, Chinook Hi-Line YAV site
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Michael Trier, PMA
Becky Trinkle, PMA
Let us pray
Gracious and wonderful God, we thank you for the magnificent world you created. We thank you that you have made us a people who seek relationships with others and with you. Keep us ever mindful of your presence among us. Amen.
One of the many ways that God multiplies the loaves is through partnership. PC(USA) partner the Presbyterian Community of Congo (CPC) is addressing the needs of children orphaned by HIV and AIDS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UNICEF estimates that as of 2009 more than 16 million children under 18 have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS. Ninety-three percent of these orphans live in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite these overwhelming statistics, significant progress is being made.
Trained volunteers from the Action Presbyterienne Contre la SIDA (APCS), the AIDS program of the CPC, work to address the needs of the many orphans in the area. To help carry out this work, the APCS created in many of the local communities charity committees responsible for visitation. The volunteers visit the families who take care of the orphans (sometimes relatives, sometimes not), encourage them, and assess their physical and emotional well-being. The volunteers also work with the local parish to identify ways to assist the orphan(s) and the host family by providing food, clothing, money for school support, etc.
The APCS has found that the most effective way of caring for an orphan is to encourage and support the whole family. When the family is healthy, all the members thrive.
—Joy Raatz, former facilitator, HIV/AIDS InitiativeLet us pray
O compassionate God, continue to provide hope to children around the world whose lives have been impacted by HIV and AIDS. Guide the motherless and fatherless children, and let them know that you are with them. Open the hearts of women and men so that they will reach out to these children and provide them with a loving family who will care for them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
PH 1 and 2, HB 151
With Joy I Heard My Friends Exclaim
PH 235, HB 439
“Sleepers, Wake!” A Voice Astounds Us
Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending
PH 6, HB 234
We heard Jesus ask us, ‘How many loaves have you?’ as we listened to pastors struggling to feed their families in a Malawi village. We gathered together our loaves and fishes to form a microbusiness lending program that allows pastors to learn new skills and provide for their families.” That is the answer to Jesus’ question provided by members of one of the Presbytery of Denver’s mission partnerships. Others also obeyed his command to “go and see.” For more than a decade, Carpenter’s Helpers has seen the need for homes for families. They have seen people come together to offer resources of labor and funds to make this happen. Through another mission partnership, a well was dug in Zimbabwe. Seeing the thanksgiving of the people when water flowed brought tears of rejoicing. Presbyterians affiliated with Second Wind Fund saw the need to prevent teen suicides in Colorado. They responded with resources. To those who received the resources it “feels like the multiplication of loaves and fishes!”
Self Improvement Opportunities sees people who want education and the possibility of new life. “I was able to get help to get my GED,” says one. “Now I have started in a nursing program. Thanks to all who helped make the GED program available to me!” Central Visitation supports the safe visitation of noncustodial parents with their children. Those who answer and go and see are also fed and nourished. Says one volunteer, “Our efforts bring the ‘food’ of parental involvement into children’s lives, the way Christ gives his body to our personal nourishment.” Three congregations covenant together to serve cooperatively in the city of Denver. “Within this Covenant Community,” says one member, “I have been enriched in my faith and strengthened in hope for the church by gathering with colleagues.”
The presbytery’s 51 congregations and one new church development have 11,596 total members.Let us join in prayer for:
Thomas C. Sheffield, presbytery pastor
Anne W. Bond, stated clerk
Amy Mendez, pastor for church development and multiracial ministries
Judy Franconi, office administrator
Paul Neshangwe, pastor for partnership and church development
Young Adult Volunteers
Lacy Morris, Lauren Seyforth, Emily Warren, Maggie Watters, Matt Watts, community development interns, Denver DOOR site
Let us pray
We hear your question, loving Lord. We go where you lead. We see what you want us to do. And we are grateful. For we have found and offered loaves. And in our feeding, we are fed. Amen.
Most of the presbyteries in the Synod of the Rocky Mountains are not totally self-supporting entities, as the geography is so vast and the population sparse. These presbyteries have therefore relied on monies given to the synod through Domestic Mission Partnership Funds provided by the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Anticipating the ending of that program this year, all of the presbyteries have been conversing with each other about partnerships and the sharing of resources.
The challenge in our synod, as in several other synods covering very large regions, is how to be creative and resourceful in providing programs that support shared ministry. Some of the proposed partnership activities have centered on leadership development, officer training, youth ministry, conflict management, and mission projects—just to name a few. There is no predetermined agenda or expected outcome other than each sharing something for the good of all and uplifting the mission of Christ in the world.
But these resourceful presbyteries are also expanding beyond themselves to partner with seminaries across the denomination and with various foundations and groups. For presbyteries in this region, partnerships are not just buzzwords; they are lifeblood.
The Synod of the Rocky Mountains serves 40,986 members of 233 congregations, new church developments, and worshiping fellowships.Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Lord, we are humbled that you gave us the life-changing message of the gospel to share with the world. You made us partners by calling us your friends and giving us everything we need to accomplish the task, even your authority. May we wisely use the abundant resources you have given us in and through Christ Jesus. Amen.
The Southwest Presbytery of the Boriquén Synod of Puerto Rico is committed to serving others in Jesus’ name. The presbytery serves over 100 homeless men and women in Mayagüez. Every third Sunday of each month, congregations throughout Southwest Presbytery feed women and men who are homeless. Not only do they provide physical food for 100 people, they spread the gospel, pray for them, sing with them, and serve them with love and commitment.
When Jesus saw a large crowd, he saw people with needs. He asked, “How many loaves have you?” thinking about not only the physical need for food but also the spiritual need of people. He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” Ministry is an issue of the heart and requires time and passion. This is what the Southwest Presbytery has. As the 2,297 members of the 29 congregations in the presbytery serve people in need, the Lord is being served. In this time of financial crisis, not only in society but in the churches, this ministry is making a difference.
“How many loaves have you?” Jesus asks again. It isn’t required that we have a lot. The Southwest Presbytery, regardless of scarcity, shares what it has. Every third third Sunday of each month, the presbytery gives thanks to God for what it shares. Breaking the bread not only gives God the opportunity to provide enough for everyone, it reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross not just for each member of the church throughout the world but for all people in need.
Jesus asks one more time, “How many loaves have you?” God is the center of all, and the satisfaction of the congregations that participate in this ministry is overwhelming. By setting a table for the homeless, the Southwest Presbytery serves not only them but the Lord.Let us join in prayer for:
Elder Ángel Casasús Urrutia, stated clerk
Rev. Mirna Rivera Rodriguez, moderator
Elder Maribel Cardona Sepúlveda, treasurer
AVG Ana Victoria Eleutice-Báez, assistant administrator PSO
Let us pray
Thank you, God, for the opportunity to spread seeds of life through the Word of God. We ask that you would help us grow in love and service to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
One of the hardest realities we face in our times is the lack of youth in our congregations. The reasons for this are various. More important, however, is the challenge we face to change this reality in our presbytery and its congregations.
In April 2012, the Presbyterian Church in Villa Carolina was given the task of starting a project to meet this challenge. At that time it began to take the first steps in what is now known as ACE: Adoración (worship), Confrontación (confrontation), and Educación (education). This project invites young people of different ages to participate in a series of activities and meetings that strengthen friendships, improve Bible knowledge, and foster spiritual development. Today, after a number of activities, the youth group averages 30 to 40—tremendous growth considering it had only five active young people a year ago.
This new program is run by several members of the congregation: Roberto Morales, Cynthia Nieves, Stephanie Negrón, Carmen L. Flores, and Noé Morales. Villa Carolina members pray that this youth ministry continues to grow and to be a blessing for the congregation and an example to other congregations in the presbytery.
The Presbiterio de San Juan’s 14 congregations have 1,576 total members.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Cruz Negron-Torres, member, PMA Board
Anc. Luz A. Vega Rodríguez, moderator
Rev. Jorge Zilstra, vice moderator
Rev. Edwin Gonzalez, stated clerk
Elder Ruth Vega, associate stated clerk
Anc. Raul Santiago, treasurer
Let us pray
Sovereign God, help your church in every corner of the earth to be committed to and effective in ministries with children and youth. Amen.
In times of need, the church must withstand the hardship that afflicts its parishioners, be present with them as the church, and provide for its people. The church is accustomed to providing peace, hope, and the Word of God, but these don’t cover all the needs people have in difficult circumstances.
Through the Church Council of Puerto Rico, the Northwest Presbytery has been giving out grocery vouchers to members of various congregations. Participating congregations receive a minimum of $500 in vouchers. Each congregation selects which families receive vouchers according to the hardship they have experienced.
These grocery vouchers not only bless families by supplying the much-needed food they lack, they also free up money that would have been used for groceries but can now be used to cover other necessities or debts.
In times of scarcity, it is the church that must walk the extra mile to help those in need.
Northwest Presbytery in Puerto Rico is home to 3,773 members of 30 churches and three fellowships (misiones).Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Gerardo López-Vigo, stated clerk
Elder Jorge Cartagena-Cruz, treasurer
Elder Marilyn Luciano-Rivera, administrative assistant
Let us pray
Holy and loving Father, we praise you and glorify your holy name. We are grateful for all your gifts to the church. Give us your mercy and compassion for the sake of our brothers and sisters who need it more, so we can share with them your gifts of love. In your holy name we pray. Amen.
Imagine waking up—after falling asleep serenaded by coquís (small frogs)—to the singing of birds you didn’t know existed and the rushing sound of a nearby river. Where are you? In El Guacio Camp and Conference Center, situated in the middle of mountains, lush vegetation, and colorful tropical flowers and bordered by a refreshing river. It’s almost paradise.
But not quite: the 60-year-old buildings have plumbing and electrical problems and are badly in need of paint and repairs. Guacio is showing its age!
Started in January 1946 by Stan and Jean Harbison, Guacio is now run by the synod as a retreat and conference center. Under the leadership of Lisi González Cubero, a recent graduate in agronomy from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, there are many plans for Guacio to once again serve the nearby community and the Presbyterian church. To this young woman, serving in Guacio is not a job but a mission. However, even the best plans need funds.
God’s call and the camp’s need have brought forth action. ¡Guacio, Vive! (Guacio Lives!), an ambitious fundraising project, has been appointed by the Synod Mission Council. The council has scheduled the exciting three-day event for this coming July, with the goal of raising $10,000. The family-style festival, replete with music, food, and games, is expected to draw Presbyterians from across the island to experience a piece of God’s creation—almost paradise—at Guacio.
Sínodo Boriquén en Puerto Rico serves 7,646 members of 73 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
Elder Antonio Roldán Rodríguez, stated clerk
Elder Salvador Gavalda Corchado, synod moderator
CRE Fernándo Rodríguez Barrios, president of Advisory Council
Lisi A. González Cubero, interim executive director for El Guacio
Raúl F. Santiago Rivera, treasurer
Diana Velázquez Santiago, administrative finance assistant
Lilliam Rodríguez López, administrative assistant
Gladys Hernández Santiago, administrative secretary
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Laura Stricklen, PMA
Rev. Teresa Stricklen, PMA
Keren Strothman, PPC
Let us pray
Creator God, thank you for the men, women, and youth you have called to serve in this ministry. Bless the work that is done in your name. Amen.
W hat can you do?” muttered the grief-stricken teenage son of a heart-attack victim during the dark morning hours at a community hospital. Having only been a hospital chaplain for a few weeks, I had no answer for him. Instead, I offered what I could: “I could pray with you or call your spiritual leader?” He shook his head and turned back into the dim room where his mother and siblings were.
I sat down at the nurse’s station, feeling completely helpless. I was only a student chaplain, there to fulfill a requirement for ordination. Yet somehow here I was: the chaplain to a grieving family; helpless.
It is easy to keep those who sit in darkness at arm’s length, whether they are grieving the loss of a loved one, drowning in debt, or dealing with abusive relationships. We can sit next to them and have no idea how dark their shadows are. That night I could no longer keep those sitting in darkness at arm’s length, and I saw with new clarity how that person was me. I and this family sat in death’s shadow that night—the death of a loved one and the death of the self-reliant me.
The reign of Christ is no longer an abstract concept for me. In Luke 1:78–79, we are reminded that even in the midst of the deepest darkness God will bring the dawn and somehow guide our lives and world into the way of peace. Christ’s reign can be embodied in us each time we act on the prayer “Thy will be done.” It is not our helplessness that makes us weak but our unwillingness to be the body of Christ for the world.
I was not helpless that night, but I had made a mistake. My mistake was thinking that what the family needed was me.
May the tender mercy of Christ cause God’s love-light to shine upon us so we can reflect light to those sitting in darkness and together follow the Spirit’s guidance into the way of peace—for ourselves, our neighbors, and the world. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
Song of Zechariah
PH 601 and 602
Christ, You Are the Fullness
Come, Christians, Join to Sing
PH 150, HB 131
The year 2011 was a time of change for Stockton Presbytery, as it finished dissolving the Sierra Mission partnership. After much study, the presbytery’s mission is clear: “Stockton Presbytery exists to equip the local church to love God and each other as we make disciples of Jesus Christ.” The three priorities of the 20 congregations and their 3,510 members are the Great Commandment, the Great Commission, and the health of the local church.
Toward those ends, in July 2011 they hired their first executive presbyter, Rev. Julia Leeth, to serve with the clerk of the presbytery, Elder H. Keith Drury. The presbytery completed an overhaul of its bylaws, manual of operations, Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives document, and Gracious Separation Policy.
In addition to great discussion and clarification, Stockton Presbytery began the process of intentional leadership development. The Healthy Congregations committee has been funded and empowered to help equip local churches. It is excited to see what God will do in and through this program in the next few years and is anxious to be a good steward of the many gifts that God has given. The presbytery recently invited Rev. David Loleng, associate for Evangelism and Church Growth, to teach about the changing landscape of our culture and how that impacts the Great Commission. His words were challenging!
As this new presbytery continues to grow and to respond to God’s leading, please continue to pray as its people seek together to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” God is so good.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Julia Leeth, executive presbyter
Elder H. Keith Drury, stated clerk
Let us pray
Good and gracious God, we pray that you would continue to show your face to Stockton Presbytery and to all of us as we step out in faith to see what you have for us. We pray that you would make us good stewards of your good gifts. Amen.
Next to the sanctuary, the most valued room in the church might be the kitchen. In our presbytery we have kitchens filled with willing members ready to cook. One of our congregations, Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, has mobilized its kitchen to serve literally thousands of people each year, an ongoing miracle of loaves and fishes.
Each Sunday morning some of the church school students learn about the Bible through cooking (e.g., making unleavened bread). Later on Sunday, there may be a luncheon for church seniors or lunch provided to a local agency serving homeless teens. Each Wednesday during the school year, parents prepare dinner for more than 100 children and their adult mentors and friends involved in the LOGOS program. On weekends, there might be special events to cook for. A special dinner is frequently organized for the 200 or more people at the local homeless shelter.
Each Thanksgiving the church coordinates a complete meal for some 350 hungry people who come to celebrate the holiday. Church members donate turkeys and help cook, serve, and clean up after the meal.
Sunnyvale’s pastor, Steve Harrington, says: “So much of Jesus’ ministry happened around a table, and we remember his greatest sacrifice of love as we gather at the Lord’s Table for Communion. How could we not then reflect that momentum of ministry and use our kitchen and its tables for ministry to seniors, youth, children, and the homeless? When we are at table together, we are home!”
The Presbytery of San José serves 10,879 members of 41 congregations, two ethnic fellowships, and two new church developments.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Joey Lee, executive presbyter
Rev. John Kelso, stated clerk
Elder Jane Odell, safe church practices coordinator
Diane Case, accountant
Natasha Jackson, administrative assistant
Rev. Geoff Browning, peacemaking advocate
Elsa Amboy, Melissa Kreisa, and Coleen Hausler, refugee ministry advocates
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Brenda Stoney, PMA
Rebecca Storti, BOP
Let us pray
Creator God, you send us miracles that help us know that in you everything is possible. When we work together and gladly serve one another, great things happen. We are grateful for anyone who takes the equivalent of loaves and fishes and generously feeds others. Amen.
On World Communion Sunday, congregations, new church developments, and fellowships of the Presbytery of San Joaquin held a special time of celebration. The many participants, representing many cultures, demonstrated their “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord” (the anthem of the presbytery-wide choir that practiced individually and sang together for the first time that Sunday). The service began with an African processional, which was followed by, and interspersed with, Hispanic congregations leading singing in Spanish, Lao dancers performing the “Holy Spirit Dance,” traditional songs such as “The Church’s One Foundation,” Korean dancers offering the Lord’s Prayer, and video messages from mission workers around the globe. While the Scriptures had been read in several languages before the sermon, no interpretation was needed when everyone gathered around the variety of breads to celebrate Communion. Worship continued with the assembly of hygiene kits for disaster relief, which were filled with items brought by each congregation. In good Presbyterian fashion, an enormous and enjoyable potluck followed.
As groups in the presbytery focus on what they share in common, they are discovering new ways of ministering together. The presbytery’s 26 congregations and new church developments and their 3,391 members are sharing ideas that are working to reach their communities. The presbytery’s camp, Calvin Crest Conferences, is a training site for Clean Water University and is developing a new ministry to those with special needs, who don’t ordinarily get the opportunity to enjoy God’s creation in the mountains.Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
Heavenly Father, help us to keep our focus on you and on what we have in common through Jesus Christ. Keep our eyes on your mission, so that we will see what is possible and what is already happening when we work together. In Jesus’ name. Amen.