I will long remember the rich fellowship that we shared last year.
Though it may sound like something Paul wrote, this sentence is from a letter dated November 2, 1960. Addressed to Dr. Arthur McKay, then president of McCormick Theological Seminary, the letter is signed, “Very sincerely yours, Martin Luther King Jr.”
While planning for last year’s Black History Month celebration, Veronica Johnson (our alumni/ae director) and professor Ken Sawyer were rummaging through storage and came across letters, photos, and news clippings in a box labelled “MLK.” The above letter was one among many shared between President McKay and Dr. King from 1959 to 1960. The box also contained an order of service for April 20, 1959, when Dr. King preached “Paul’s Letter to American Christians”—first delivered in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956—for the McCormick community.
When news of this discovery spread, 1962 alum David Bebb Jones searched among his materials and found a live recording of Dr. King’s address. Professor Reggie Williams later shared the audio with students in a session for his course on the ethics of King and Bonhoeffer.
History often documents moments of serendipity: the surprising fellowship between a seminary community and a young civil rights pastor, the chance retrieval of words and sounds that capture a legacy of justice, and a community sustained over the centuries through the breaking of bread among friends on this journey toward prophetic discipleship.
God of justice and of peace, you call us in Jesus Christ to bear witness to the mysterious surprises of your grace. Strengthen us through the Holy Spirit to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you as we sustain each other through the bonds of fellowship that hold us together. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Were You There”
GTG 228, HB 201, PH 102
“O God, Be Gracious”
1 John 3:1–7
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
GTG 366, HB 399, PH 376
“Fairest Lord Jesus”
GTG 630, HB 135, PH 306
In January 2014, Jeanne Clapp traveled to rural Nicaragua to visit with farmers whose lives are being improved through the Presbyterian Coffee Project. She stayed in their homes and trekked a mountainside to see where the coffee beans are grown.
“If it were up to me, I would be charging $100 for a cup of coffee,” says Clapp, hunger action enabler for Washington Presbytery. “It took us an hour to get up to this coffee patch in the jungle. These farmers work so hard in very difficult conditions!”
In the past, middlemen set a paltry price for the crops, leaving the farmers little money to support their families. But thanks to the fair-trade organization Equal Exchange, the farmers now get a fair profit for their crops.
The presbytery designates 25 percent of its coffee sales to a different mission project every year. Several congregations also sell the coffee and fund other missions. In addition, 15 cents from each pound of coffee goes to the PC(USA)’s Small Farmer Fund, which supports an integrated sustainable-agriculture development program in Haiti. Now the Nicaraguan farmers can provide their children a better education and medical care.
“Just by buying a bag of coffee, Presbyterians are affecting so many farmers in so many ways,” Clapp says. “It is the easiest mission that you can be a part of.” The organic coffee is superior in flavor and quality, and although it costs more than the average coffee you find at the store, it’s worth it. “There’s a reason it does,” Clapp says. “It’s a reason that I think faithful people will believe in and want to support.”
Washington Presbytery has 54 congregations.
—Don HerschelLet us join in prayer for:
Craig Kephart, executive presbyter
John Rodgers, stated clerk
Wil White, transition consultant
Patricia Lutz, resource center
C. Jeanne Clapp, administrative assistant and hunger action enabler
Rebecca Washabaugh, administrative assistant
Susan Halulko, financial secretary
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Eric Garretson, PMA
Linda D. Garrett, PMA
Almighty Creator, we pray that the simple choices we make—what coffee or tea we drink—will always honor your name and benefit all the members of your family. We ask you to help us give our lives generously in service to you. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Ohio, West Virginia
By 2008, First Westminster Presbyterian Church of Steubenville was a congregation in decline. Worship was no longer held in the sanctuary but in a small chapel that could comfortably hold the 15–20 people who came.
The congregation hired Jason Elliott, an MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, as Christian education director. The hope was that he could get the young people back in church. The people of First Westminster rallied behind him, and in 2010 Rev. Jason Elliott became the installed pastor.
YouthWorks, a national Christian summer outreach organization, began working with Steubenville young people in 2007 and had by 2008 become a spiritual partner with First Westminster. Starting with a small group of children in the downtown area, the summer program has grown to over 600 kids each summer who can’t wait for the program to begin.
Out of this work came Soles for Christ, a program in which First Westminster provided shoes to children in need through the local schools. The congregation also developed an after-school tutoring program. During the school year, members follow up with the children who participated in the YouthWorks summer program.
The congregation also hosts ecumenical Bible studies, with 45–60 regularly in attendance, about a quarter of which come from First Westminster. The rest come from different denominations in the community.
One of the blessings of community involvement is that more people in need are being reached. But blessings bring challenges, including the need for additional staff, so a community outreach director, Rev. Samuel Gibb, was hired to create more relationships in the community and to get the people of the congregation more involved in them. The goal is not to “do for people in need” but to work alongside them to give them skills to “do for themselves.”
Having a session that is able to think outside the box and a congregation that understands what it means to be Presbyterian and always reforming has allowed great things to happen through God’s leading.
Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery’s 85 congregations have 6,769 members.
—Connie Quinn, commissioned ruling elder, administrative team, Upper Ohio Valley PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. David Demarest, administrative team
CRE Connie Quinn, administrative team
Rev. Andrew Woods, administrative team
Rev. Franklin Lewis, stated clerk
Kandy Dunn, bookkeeper
Patty Oleska, office manager
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord God, help us to discern your guidance for all that we think, say, and do, and strengthen us to walk in the paths that you have set before us. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Holocaust Remembrance DayPresbytery of Shenango
Shenango is a presbytery undergoing internal change while ministering in a constantly changing world. We are continually reminded of these words of Jesus: “Go! I am sending you” (Luke 10:3 NIV). Even as life changes around us, Jesus remains the same, and the communities that our congregations serve remain ever needful of Christ’s love.
For more than 15 years, the Presbytery of Shenango has been involved in missional church work. We are learning to work with our neighbors—to see them as partners in God’s mission—and it is making a daily difference in the way we do ministry. A group of 8–10 Shenango pastors has joined with other pastors in western Pennsylvania in an ongoing learning process that is helping them to deepen their missional thinking and lead their congregations in engaging their communities.
Several congregations in our presbytery have participated in Engage workshops with Ray Jones, PC(USA) coordinator for evangelism, that were provided by our evangelism committee. These congregations are learning to rethink their roles in their communities, share their faith, and get involved in the world beyond their church’s walls.
From backpack programs in local schools to community Bible schools in public parks, the congregations of the Presbytery of Shenango are actively participating in their communities. They are finding willing partners both inside and outside the church to join them in making a lasting difference in the places where they live. They are sharing Christ’s love and experiencing a change in themselves as a result.
The Presbytery of Shenango consists of 50 congregations and their more than 8,000 members. Westminster and Grove City colleges, along with the New Wilmington Mission Conference, are located within the presbytery.
—Autumn Covert, executive secretary and associate clerk, Presbytery of Shenango Let us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Krystal Ann Garcia, PMA
Napoleon Garcia, PMA
Pablo Garcia, PMA
Gracious Lord, please open our eyes to the opportunities that exist all around us. Help us to move when you call us, and enable us to engage our communities so that together we might accomplish the tasks you have put before us. Amen.Daily Lectionary
"I never thought I would be able to go on a mission trip, because of all my health problems,” was the comment made by a woman on our trip home after working at the SERRV center in New Windsor, Maryland. She had supported SERRV and the Heifer Fund and other mission projects by giving money, but this time she was able to be the “hands” as she packed and priced items for sale. Because the organization pays producers a fair price, purchasing SERRV items made by artisans from around the world helps to fight poverty.
Redstone Presbyterian Women groups have always had a heart for mission. They have assembled the hygiene kits, baby kits, and cleanup buckets that are distributed following disasters. After a trip to deliver the kits to the distribution center at New Windsor, we went on a tour of the facilities and saw volunteers at work. We organized a work trip, and 10 women from four congregations participated. We heard stories about the artisans, such as the family who carves nativity scenes on pieces of gourd with a sharpened nail in order to make enough money to supply its needs.
I had traveled to rebuild houses in New Orleans, but most members of my congregation were not able to do that type of work. Those 10 women returned home carrying many memories and fair-trade items that they had purchased. The enthusiasm spread, and last year we had 31 volunteers from 15 congregations, aged 16 to 80 (grandmothers and granddaughters, sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends). Plans for the next trip are already under way. The women of Redstone believe mission is a verb!
The Presbytery of Redstone has 78 congregations.
—Elder Judy Koontz, Redstone Presbyterian Women mission coordinatorLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, we thank you for providing us gifts to share and the strength to serve you faithfully. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In the heart of one of Pittsburgh’s most distressed neighborhoods, Presbyterians have banded together to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, just where it’s needed most. Several years ago, Rev. Eugene and Dina Blackwell felt stirred to reach out to the people on local streets long ravaged by the kind of violence that too often makes the news.
Pittsburgh Presbytery joined with the Blackwells to launch a new ministry, House of Manna, in 2010. In addition to gathering neighborhood folk each week for meals, prayer, and teaching, the Blackwells enlisted the financial and volunteer support of several of Pittsburgh Presbytery’s 143 congregations. A vision emerged for what has become the Homewood Renaissance Association—Christians refurbishing neighborhood homes, offering apprenticeships in construction to the unemployed and underemployed, and providing shelters for the homeless. A local bank donated a building that was formerly a store to be the home for House of Manna’s worship and Homewood Renaissance’s offices.
For five years, the Blackwells have invited people who want to make a difference in Homewood to join local residents in marching through the community on Good Friday to proclaim the good news of peace to this community long assailed by violence. On Good Friday 2014, that message was underscored powerfully as Rev. Blackwell rose for the first time in several months to speak publicly after having undergone surgery to remove a massive cancerous tumor from his thigh. He simply recited Psalm 91, a powerful declaration of God’s care for him through his personal trial and a declaration of hope for his beloved neighborhood.
—Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge, general minister, Pittsburgh PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
Elder Kears Pollock, member, PMA Board
Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge, general minister
Rev. Dr. Douglas Portz, senior associate minister
Rev. Dr. Beverly James, associate minister for discipleship
Rev. Ayana Teter, associate minister for outreach
Rev. Jeff Tindall, stated clerk
Rev. Betty Angelini, executive director, Crestfield Camp and Conference Center
Elder Roy Burford, business administrator
Lana Dumrauf, administrative assistant, senior assistant stated clerk
Elder Cindy Miller, administrative assistant
Elder Cathy Nelson, administrative assistant
Kenny Summers, custodian
Dorothy Winter, financial secretary
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Rosemary Gallagher, BOP
Ricky Galvan, PMA
God of mercy, in tender compassion bring your peace to all who suffer violence. Make whole those who are broken, and use us as your Spirit’s instruments of healing, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.Daily Lectionary
First Presbyterian Church in Kensington used the occasion of its 200th anniversary to celebrate the church’s legacy while affirming the new and exciting things the Holy Spirit is doing among the congregation of today.
First Kensington sees itself as a primary stakeholder in the community of Fishtown and is therefore committed to prophetic and compassionate witness. With help from the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s Covenant Fund, the church offers a free meal each month in an effort to cultivate fellowship among area residents of all generations. The church has also expanded its food cupboard after initiating a conversation with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation about unmet needs and how they might work together to address them.
That conversation has led First Kensington to start yet another community ministry: a children’s clothing closet. Families in the neighborhood rely upon thrift stores to fill their children’s wardrobes, but prices are simply too high for some neighborhood families. In response, the church is collecting new or lightly used children’s clothing and offering items to the public at no cost during “shopping days” on One of 124 congregations, one new church development, and three fellowships in the Presbytery of Philadelphia, First Kensington is committed to finding new and relevant ways to engage the community by discovering people’s needs and matching the church’s gifts to those needs.
The congregation is excited about the next 200 years!
—Rev. Shawn Hyska, pastor, First Kensington; Rev. James Poinsett, interim pastor, Newtown Presbyterian; Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, executive presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, executive presbyter
Rev. Kevin Porter, stated clerk
Elder Lawrence Davis, business administrator
Amy Ayres, office manager
Andrea Cameron, accounting manager
Luis Mercado, computer consultant and properties manager
Cassie Paulk, administrative assistant
Elder Betsi Moise, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of eternity, you call us to be a people faithful to your call. May we find our prophetic hope in your voice. May we find our compassion in the depth of your heart and love. In Jesus, we pray these things. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Noticing what God is up to in the world is an essential element of discipleship. The author of First John said as much when he wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1 NIV). Students of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary recently discovered how this element of discipleship can take a surprising turn.
Our visiting professor for interfaith studies, Wesley Ariarajah, former deputy secretary of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, was speaking at a seminary forum in connection with our school’s Doors to Dialogue (D2D) program. D2D is designed to equip our students to build bridges of generous listening and cooperation between and among people of different faiths. Ariarajah was asked a simple question: “Why is it important for seminary students to learn to deal with persons of other faiths?” His answer surprised everyone. “The United States,” he said, “is the most religiously diverse country in the entire world.” Once we thought it was necessary to travel thousands of miles by air to engage different faiths; today we can engage half a dozen on a street corner just waiting for a bus.
As we wait for that bus, what do we have to say? Do we see the people waiting beside us as beloved of God? Or do we just see the things that set us apart as different? “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:3 NIV).
God, we pray that we may discover Jesus Christ in the face of every stranger; that we may know through your Holy Spirit that love eternal that is the essence of your character and the true end of our humanity. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Called as Partners in
GTG 761, PH 343
“How Very Good and Pleasant”
1 John 1:1–2:2
“I Danced in the Morning”
GTG 157, PH 302
“We Walk by Faith and
Not by Sight”
GTG 817, PH 399
We at Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church in Mill Hall consider ourselves a family of God. And when a need arises, our family comes together, with members giving freely of their time and talents to anything placed before them. That is exactly how our prosthesis ministry started. We had recently learned that 35 percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer have a mastectomy and that 35 percent of those have no insurance coverage for reconstructive surgery.
We could not find any groups in the state that provided prostheses as a ministry, so we decided to move forward and see where God led us. We presented the idea to our very active prayer-shawl ministry, and they decided to take up the challenge. Our goal was to hand make prostheses and provide them to anyone in need, free of charge. Many in our church family have breast-cancer stories, and some have even lost loved ones to this terrible disease. This ministry was our way of helping and giving back to others.
We started making prostheses right away. Some we sewed. Others we knitted or crocheted using an ultra pima cotton yarn that is very soft against the skin. Our local newspaper did an article. Word spread, and women started calling, some from as far away as Maryland. Some wanted to help make prostheses. Others were just recovering from surgery. All we needed was an address, and the prosthesis was sent out. Some are delivered by hand. Some are custom fitted. God is working through this ministry. Through the dedication and hard work of our wonderful ladies, they are helping many.
The Presbytery of Northumberland is home to 41 congregations.
—Susan Champion, pastor, Bald Eagle United Presbyterian Church, Mill HallLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dear Lord, we thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Help us to continue doing your work and advancing your kingdom. Allow others to see the love we have for you through our service. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Dale Smith drives over 26 miles to worship at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown. When asked why he travels so far, he is quick to say, “Because I can see God at work through this church, and I want to be part of that community.” Dale read a couple of books recommended by fellow church members—Halftime by Bob Buford and Hole in the Gospel by Richard Stearns. They led him further in his journey to discern what’s next. He felt strongly that God was calling him to apply his professional skills in a more significant way.
In May 2011, Dale participated in training for the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which had intrigued him following the deaths of several people on the streets of Allentown the preceding winter. Following much prayer, many conversations with his men’s discipleship group, and heartfelt reflection with his wife, Elaine, Dale said yes to this emerging call to become an advocate for the homeless. In June 2012, he resigned from corporate life and immediately got involved with Allentown’s Commission to End Chronic Homelessness, to which he brought his professional skills and experience as well as the best practices of 100,000 Homes.
With a $25,000 start-up grant from First Presbyterian and contributions from other congregations and the community, Dale cofounded a new nonprofit called the Grass-Roots Alliance for Neighborhood Development (GRAND).In 2013 the GRAND paid for interim lodging for over 30 homeless men and women in single-occupancy rooms in a refurbished hotel. Through his leadership, the GRAND has been able to place 22 of these individuals in long-term housing. Dale has also become a prophetic witness to the city and its business and faith communities in calling attention to the plight of the homeless. “I serve the homeless because I believe that no citizen should live his or her life in the rough,” Dale says. “I know that I need to apply my gifts in this way to be the disciple that Christ has called me to be.”
Lehigh Presbytery serves 34 worshiping communities and their 8,352 members.
—Steve Shussett, teaching presbyter and stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Lindsay Harren-Lewis, member, PMA Board
Thomas Paisley, corresponding member, PMA Board
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy One, may we hear you calling us to participate in your inbreaking kingdom. May we recognize just how you have prepared us. And may we, with gratitude, give as you ask. In Christ’s name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
On December 3, 2012, the door opened and the first guests arrived at the Open Door Cafe in Oil City.
Believing that God was already present in the lives of each person in the community, a small group from Second Presbyterian Church began having conversations around creating a place outside church walls where God’s mission in the neighborhoods could be discovered.
The group decided it would open a cafe where all might feel welcome, regardless of means; payment for food and beverages would be optional, in the form of a donation. The cafe would be a place where people could gather over soup or coffee and have conversations possibly leading to relationships. It would be a place where one could become a “detective of divinity” alert to opportunities to join God in mission. To sharpen these detecting skills, they developed a training program based on Luke 10:1–12 called EARS (engage, accept, respond, serve), which is designed to cultivate beliefs, attitudes, habits, and skills for listening in order to discover what God is up to.
Today, over 20 volunteers serve at the Open Door Cafe, and people from all over the city provide soup, ingredients, and supplies. Church members and folks from the neighborhood are working side by side to renovate an adjacent house for a soon-to-be expansion. In its first year, the cafe fed more than 3,000 and was a catalyst in forming numerous caring relationships. More than just a cafe, Open Door is a space dedicated to God that invites conversations and welcomes God to be a part of them.
Second Presbyterian Church is one of 59 congregations in the Presbytery of Lake Erie.
—Josh Botts and Kathleen Massie: members of Second Presbyterian Church, Oil City; board members of the Open Door InitiativeLet us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Father, thank you for your love that enables us to love others. Help us to reflect the free gift of your grace to all who cross our path. Amen.Daily Lectionary
"Feeding the Need; Planting the Seed!” is the catchy slogan of First Presbyterian Church of Honesdale’s Abraham House, and the words inspire a service-faith connection that draws the congregation into the heart of this northeastern Pennsylvania community.
Abraham House opened in September 2010 after the Honesdale congregation purchased the vacant Seelyville Union Chapel nearby for the purpose of providing clothing, food, and fellowship to anyone experiencing financial strain or social need. Guests shop for free clothing during open hours and are invited to a brief worship service followed by a family dinner each Thursday night. Church volunteers serve and dine with 20–40 guests each week and are aided by helpers and donations from throughout the area.
Abraham House was born of a commitment to share the good news with the surrounding community. Volunteers enjoy opportunities to build relationships with guests and to encourage them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Each week’s simple Bible message is supported with devotional handouts and by the willingness of workers to join their guests in prayer. Pastor Michael Lyle describes the ecumenical outreach program as a challenge “to reach beyond our walls and love people where they are.”
First Presbyterian Church of Honesdale is one of 51 congregations in the Presbytery of Lackawanna working to meet that challenge and to plant seeds in northeastern Pennsylvania.
—Margaret Zeigler, administrative coordinator, Presbytery of LackawannaLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
When we feed your people, Lord, your Spirit feeds us all. When we clothe them, we wear your good news as a message of hope and love. Bless your servants as we offer ourselves to care for our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is at the heart of what we are called to do as Christians. And it can be so exiting! One way the 81 Kiskiminetas congregations have been doing this together is through the presbytery’s partnership with Gitarama Presbytery in Rwanda. In 2014 we sent a missionary couple to Rwanda for six months.
The partnership began in 2006 and has primarily involved short-term exchange visits to allow our two presbyteries to become better acquainted. We have also been able to assist our Rwandan partner with the construction of new churches, a new fresh-water well, water-filtration kits for families, and heifers, among other things. However, for our partnership to grow, we found that we needed to overcome a substantial stumbling block.
Improving communication—specifically, understanding the Kinyarwanda language—became the focus of our mission. Meeting this challenge would help us discover new and exciting mission opportunities from our Rwandan partner and help move our mission forward.
Rev. Boyd Edmondson has been a pastor in our presbytery for over 15 years. His wife, Shirley, is a guidance counselor for the local school district. Both are very humble servants of God and have felt called to this God-sized adventure. We sent them on their way in June 2014, filled with hope that their six-month sojourn of ministry and fellowship in the Gitarama Presbytery would reveal new mission opportunities for us to explore.
We pray that God will continue to show us the way forward as we work with our partners in Rwanda.
—Mark Phoebus, moderator, Rwanda Partnership CommitteeLet us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving Father, we thank you for the courageous and faithful people of Rwanda. They have so much to teach us about loving you and trusting you for all of our needs. As we serve, let us all walk humbly with you as we follow the example given to us by Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
There are times when the members and congregations of Huntingdon Presbytery do not feel as connected as they would like. Retreats and training programs, social gatherings, and combined worship events bring people together, to be sure, but the feeling was that we needed something
to help us connect at a deeper level.
The Discipleship Umbrella Team, the presbytery’s mission working group, sponsored the first annual Huntingdon Presbytery Mission Fair in April 2013. Each of the presbytery’s 46 congregations was encouraged to bring a display highlighting its mission work. These were later brought to a regular presbytery meeting and allowed everyone to learn more about mission work around the presbytery.
Upper Spruce Creek Church displayed its miniature garden shed to highlight its Seeds of Hope initiative. Seeds of Hope is a community garden in Tyrone (near Altoona), but it is not your regular community garden. The goal of Seeds of Hope is to foster cooperation and compassion by pairing individuals unable to work a garden plot, for physical or other reasons, with someone who is more able. Seeds of Hope currently has 10 regular raised beds and four wheelchair-accessible beds. A grant from the presbytery’s Hunger Fund provided the initial support for the initiative. Additional support comes from personal and business gifts and in the form of donations of compost, lumber, and garden supplies.
Seeds of Hope exists to display God’s love through personal, down-and-dirty discipleship. To learn more, check out Seeds of Hope (Tyrone Community Gardens) on Facebook.
—Rev. John Diller, pastor, Upper Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania FurnaceLet us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God, tend to your seedbeds wherever you have planted them. When the wind blows, allow the plants to spread the goodness of your work in this world. Bring all your people and their works into your harvest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Huerto de Familia means “the family garden.” But don’t let the simple name fool you. The programs offered through this community organization are a catalyst for change among a part of the population often forgotten—Latino immigrants. Though they contribute more than any other group to the food system and economy that supports each of us, Latino immigrants have the highest rates of food insecurity.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program works in partnership with Huerto as it addresses the needs of Latinos in and around Eugene, Oregon. And Huerto is funded, in part, by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.
“Instead of getting something from the food bank or a dining hall, those who take part in our programs are able to grow food for themselves and their families,” says Sarah Cantril, executive director of Huerto.
Celia Ramirez, an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, is an example of these ideas in action. She was able to harvest enough food to feed her and her three children, with some left over. Ramirez has done so well with her garden that she began making tamales and selling them to her coworkers. That, in turn, led to a business where she now sells lunches to local farmworkers.
Ramirez also has gone from one who is served to one who is serving. Now a member of Huerto’s board of directors, she provides a strong voice for immigrants and helps to, among other things, strengthen the group’s microdevelopment program.
“Resiliency comes out of all our programs. It’s so much more than just a community garden,” Cantril says. “It’s lifting people up and having a place for their culture to thrive in a new setting.”
—Jessica Denson, freelance communicatorLet us pray
God, as you sow seeds within our hearts, let us also reap love throughout the world by supporting those who need our help and serving others as Jesus did. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Acts 10:34–43 or Isa. 25:6–9
“God Welcomes All”
Ps. 118:1–2, 14–24
“This Is the Day” / “Este es el día”
GTG 391, HB 69, PH 230
1 Cor. 15:1–11
“Christ Is Risen! Shout Hosanna!”
GTG 248, PH 104
“In Christ There Is No
East or West”
GTG 317, 318, HB 479, PH 439, 440
“In the Darkness of the Morning”
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!”
GTG 245, HB 204, PH 113
Morning Psalms 93; 150
First Reading Exodus 12:1-14
Second Reading - morning John 1:1-8
or Second Reading - evening Isaiah 51:9-11
Gospel Reading - evening Luke 24:13-35
or Gospel - evening John 20:19-23
Evening Psalms 136; 117
Think of it as a “collaboratory”—three different cultures discovering together what it means to worship side by side in the same building.
An aging Anglo congregation, Bethany Church in Lancaster, was struggling with shrinking membership and funds. Yet it had a spacious building ina promising neighborhood and had discovered the blessing of partnershipby creating a nest for an Oromo Ethiopian fellowship.
The two congregations had found a few opportunities to join for worship or meals and were building connections amid their diversity. And when Donegal’s Latino fellowship, Iglesia Resurrección, needed a new home, the vision expanded.
Bethany again opened its heart for another group to come to live with them. How would this work? There are three languages, three worship styles, three kinds of music, three cuisines. Open hearts and flexible leadership helped resolve concerns about worship schedules and space. The staff includes a part-time covenant pastor for the Anglos, a commissioned ruling elder for the Latinos, and a newly installed Oromo pastor.
Mutual planning enables the groups to live together in harmony. They come together for World Communion, Advent, and Pentecost, when praise, prayer, and the Word flow out in three languages. Food from each group gives shared meals a mix of wonderful flavors, and deepening relationships enhance this wonderfully diverse group of fellow disciples.
God’s blessings continue to unfold in this amazing configuration at Bethany Church, one of 52 congregations in the Presbytery of Donegal.
—Nan Best, commissioned ruling elder and equipper for vital congregations, Presbytery of DonegalLet us join in prayer for
Rev. Dr. Erin S. Cox-Holmes, executive presbyter
Rev. Dr. William J. Netting, stated clerk emeritus
Rev. Dr. Michael R. Wilson, associate stated clerk
CRE Nan Best, equipper for vital congregations
Susan Harner, business administrator
Christine A. Wells, executive administrative assistant
Ruling Elder Amy Wade, director, Camp Donegal
Rev. Daniel Snyder, coach for emerging ministries
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Steven Falk, PMA
Michael Fallon, BOP
Creator God, we give thanks for opportunities to embrace the diversities among humankind. May this collaboratory be a place where the community finds your unconditional love. Let their light shine with your grace. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—let him rescue the one in whom he delights! (Ps. 22:8)
If anybody knows what happened to Don, that story has never come forth. Police found his body in a mangled vehicle near the place where he loved to go and pray.
He was born a white South African. In 1975 he arrived at the Presbyterian church in Fort Victoria, Rhodesia. The young assistant pastor often comforted government soldiers. Five years later, though, the rebels won the war. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Many white Presbyterians left.
Don stayed on. He started a family and took charge of the dwindling congregation. When the church could no longer afford its building, he rented a classroom—and kept searching for hope. Outside the town center was a large black community. Don discipled some local youths. Together they ran crusades.
The church they planted in the black community soon outgrew its parent church. Don remained true to both sides, however: one parish, one pastor, one biracial session. In terms of prophetic and compassionate ministry, he was way ahead of his time.
On a summer night in the year 2000, Don experienced a spiritual crisis. Accused of moral failing by an unstable acquaintance, he drove to his quiet place and never returned. Some believe that he never saw the truck that hit him. Others call it suicide. Still others suspect foul play, wondering if government agents framed and ambushed him and then faked the accident. I once witnessed Don confront the ruling party over a matter of human rights. In Zimbabwe that can be highly dangerous.
Four men whom Don mentored, all of them black, lead congregations today. When I served that region on behalf of our denomination, I also experienced part of his legacy. Don’s death was tragic, but it was never the last word. Good Friday teaches us not to be surprised.
—Rev. Ted Wright: pastor, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, Maryland; former PC(USA) regional liaison to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and MozambiqueLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord Jesus Christ, your sacrifice came in dying. May ours come through living—in the shadow of the cross. Amen.Revised Common Lectionary for Good Friday
Isa. 52:13–53:12; Ps. 22
Heb. 10:16–25 or Heb. 4:14–16; 5:7–9
Christ’s call to go out into the world to serve is for every congregation, but not all are able to coordinate the details of mission trips. A group from several of the Presbytery of Carlisle’s 51 congregations has responded by founding Lend A Hand. Since its founding in 1989 as a local disaster- response and assistance program, Lend A Hand has carried out its mission to coordinate all the details for frequent presbytery-wide mission trips to help people suffering extraordinary hardship as the result of natural disasters.
The all-volunteer organization works only on privately owned residences and concentrates on helping people who are elderly or who live with handicaps or on small incomes. In addition to work in the region, over the last few years teams have traveled to the South, the Midwest, and many other places to repair damage from floods, tornados, hurricanes, fires, and blizzards. Work these last two years has been focused on the New Jersey coast and continued cleanup from Superstorm Sandy. Lend A Hand has stayed around long after the nation has forgotten residents who are still recovering.
While Lend A Hand works to repair damaged homes, one of the most valuable things its volunteers do is listen. Victims of disaster need to tell their stories of loss, hardship, and recovery to a sympathetic listener. Because Lend A Hand makes relationship building so central to its mission, volunteers of all skill levels are able to participate. The organization has achieved national recognition for its work and received two local awards in 2013.
—Rev. Kimberley Wadlington, chair, mission and advocacy committee, Presbytery of CarlisleLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Mark Englund-Krieger, executive presbyter
Jim Speedy, stated clerk
Suzanne Souder, associate for communication and office management
Fran Heid, bookkeeper
Beckie Drover, regional associate
Edd Carlson, regional associate
Candace Veon-Nyiri, regional associate
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy God, you honor us by calling us to be your people and sending us into the world to be your servants. May all those who suffer hardship due to natural disaster know the comfort of your Spirit. Prosper the work of the hands that reach out to help rebuild homes and lives. Amen.Revised Common Lectionary for Maundy Thursday
Exod. 12:1–4 (5–10) 11–14
Ps. 116:1–2, 12–19; 1 Cor. 11:23–26
John 13:1–17, 31b–35
W hen friends in his small, semirural community in Butler County told Jason Bell that their wells were no longer producing usable water, he heard God’s call. He began to work on two fronts: seeking immediate help and working for a long-term solution to the problem. A message to churches in the area brought supplies of bottled water and money to purchase more. Neighbors offered shower and laundry facilities. White Oaks Springs Presbyterian Church and its pastor, Rev. Lee Dreyer, volunteered to coordinate the “water bank,” from which 35 families each get weekly deliveries of 20–25 gallons. Through newspaper articles, letters to editors of local papers, and appeals to local, county, and state government agencies, Jason and the homeowners are working for a permanent solution to the problem. After two years, there is no end in sight. Support continues, not only from presbytery congregations but also from people as far away as Philadelphia and Buffalo. “I was thirsty . . .”
Steffin Hill Presbyterian Church (Rev. Judy Angleberger, pastor) in Beaver County is a congregation with a compassionate heart, says Fran Hupp, mission committee chair. Talking with Fran about mission is to be caught up in a whirlwind of people and programs. Her deep concern that children learn the joy of serving and sharing inspires many projects. Above all, Fran is committed to enabling others to find their calls to mission. Bring an idea and she will encourage you to work out the details, help you with promotion, walk with you through its implementation, and celebrate with you at its completion. Warm winter coats for children in the area, medical help for women in Africa, worship services and Communion at three nearby nursing homes, scores of people stopping at the prayer tent on the street corner, and many church members serving as their prayer partners—these are samples of mission at Steffin Hill. What motivates Fran Hupp? A conviction she has held since childhood—God calls us to help each other.
Beaver-Butler Presbytery has 8,397 disciples in 74 congregations.
—Agnes Peebles, member, peacemaking committee, Presbytery of Beaver-ButlerLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Alan Adams, executive presbyter
Rev. David Byers, stated clerk
Rev. Dennis Burnett, assistant stated clerk
James Gray, treasurer
Rev. Allison Bauer, presbytery moderator
James Ihlenfeld, presbytery vice-moderator
Rev. Randall Clow, coordinating team chairperson
Sidney Fisher, resource center director
Lauren Cesnales, accountant
Barbara Paff, secretary to the executive presbyter
Mary Clow, secretary to the units and committees
Diana Mermon, youth outreach coordinator
Dan Brady, technology assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God, your compassion for all your children is reflected in the lives of so many people in your church. We thank you for their quiet faithfulness as they minister, each in his and her own way, to those around them. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The people of northeastern Pennsylvania will not soon forget the storms that ravaged the area in the late summer of 2011. Along the Susquehanna River, far west and south of Scranton, anxious locals waited to see if (and where) the mighty river would burst its banks.
It did. And once the surge had passed, one community left with water-filled basements and extensive devastation was the town of West Pittston.
Members of First United Presbyterian Church gathered to deal with major damage to their building. A grant from the Synod of the Trinity was sent to the Presbytery of Lackawanna to help out. Leadership soon realized the need to issue a call to the larger Presbyterian family. PDA was contacted, local leadership designated, and two camps, one near West Pittston and another in Towanda, were created to facilitate cleanup and recovery in affected areas. Volunteers came from across the region and beyond to live Christ by walking with area residents. Bone-weary locals found energy, friendship, and faith-fed hope while working alongside these eager, God-sent colaborers.
One volunteer writes: “To be invited into the home of the displaced was emotional. To walk among memories—magnetic letters swept under the fridge, a forgotten birthday card, is a twofold life lesson: to have been spared is the luck of the draw, but to be privileged enough to serve in the effort to restore order to life is the grace of God.” For more, see “Spectacles of Faith 1” on YouTube.
The Synod of the Trinity serves 16 presbyteries and 1,167 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
Teaching Elder Susan Faye Wonderland, synod transitional executive
Teaching Elder Dr. Wayne A. Yost, synod stated clerk
Chantal Atnip, synod treasurer
Gwenn Egresitz, administrative assistant for office services and bookkeeper
Ruling Elder Catherine L. Gray, administrative assistant for staff support
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, you have taught us to celebrate with those who are celebrating and to cry with those who are crying. May our eyes be open to see and distinguish between the two. Keep us mindful of all those who need your Spirit shining through us as much as they may need our monies and our labors. Amen.Daily Lectionary