As director of assessment and institutional research at Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, a former mission coworker felt a deep sense of God’s calling to work for justice for the repressed Christian community in Pakistan. He and other administrators redesigned the admissions standards at Forman Christian College to make them fairer to minority students (Christians; many from poor families). He statistically combined results from annual exams students take at the end of 11th and 12th grade with those from a new online standardized admissions test in math and English. Because the annual exams in Pakistan are systematically biased against Christian students, Forman Christian College decided to give more weight to the new admissions test for minority students. Doug was delighted by the accuracy of his prediction that eight additional Christian students would gain admission to Forman by implementing this policy.
Naqash, Triphena, Shamroon, Adnan, Adeel, Shan, Suraj, and Harrison would not be at Forman Christian College had not the admissions criteria been adjusted. The Forman staff praises God for the difference a college education will make not only in these students’ lives but for current and future generations of their families.Let us join in prayer for:
Presbyterian Church of Pakistan: Rev. Arif Siraj, moderator, Maj. (R) Javed Rahmatulla, executive secretary, Rev. Ruban Qamar, deputy executive secretary • Church of Pakistan: Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore • Christian Hospital Taxila: Dr. Ashchenaz M. Lall, director • Forman Christian College, Lahore: Dr. James Tebbe, rector • Gujranwala Theological Seminary: Rev. Dr. Arthur James, principal • Memorial Christian Hospital, Sialkot: Dr. David Sohail, director • Presbyterian Education Board: Mrs. Veeda Javaid, executive director • Presbyterian Property Trust: E. Salim Bhatti, executive secretary • United Bible Training Centre, Gujranwala: Mrs. Salma Andrew, principal
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Heavenly Father, thank you that deserving Christian students are able to get an education at Forman Christian College. Bless them, so that they may be a blessing to their families and communities, and a loving testimony of Jesus Christ to all they meet. Amen.Daily Lectionary
For Majid Abel, the tensions between Muslims and Christians in Pakistan were real long before 9/11. His personal encounter with discrimination began when he entered college. Once the other students learned that he was a Christian, he was ignored and avoided. Most young Christian men in Pakistan become disheartened by similar experiences and lose the motivation to succeed, seeing fewer opportunities ahead of them.
Fortunately, Majid’s journey did not end there. “I survived on God’s Word. The Bible came alive to me; it transformed me from within.” He did not intend to become a minister, but the joy he experienced in reading God’s Word grew, as did his desire to share this joy with others. Thanks to the PC(USA), he pursued further education in the United States. From the beginning, he understood that his role extended beyond the pulpit: he was called to be a minister of reconciliation so that all might know the love of Christ.
Now, years later, he leads a vibrant church in the heart of Lahore. The Naulakha congregation welcomes people of all faiths, many who have never before met a Christian. Violence against Christians has greatly escalated in recent years, and the blasphemy law, by which the offending of a Muslim’s faith can be punished by death, looms over all. But, for a time such as this, God has raised up Majid and many others who care for those who suffer, speak forgiveness in the face of brutality, and offer reconciliation to those who want to live in peace.Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Please pray for people in mission in Pakistan.
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Thank you, Lord, for using those judged unimportant in the world’s eyes to reveal what is utterly important to you. As we consider those around us, help us to keep in mind that Christ died for all. Amen.Daily Lectionary
We have also opened a YAV site in the Philippines on Negros Oriental, where YAVs are involved in peace talks between Muslims and Christians, a nongovernmental agency addressing human trafficking, and advocacy for and accompaniment of women who are victims of violence. The YAV site in Thailand will open in the fall of 2014. It will provide opportunities for young adults to work in the system of schools, churches, and medical facilities of PC(USA) partner the Church of Christ in Thailand. In future years, we hope to open YAV sites in Indonesia and Taiwan.
Theological education is another important component of our mission in Asia and the Pacific. Many of our mission coworkers serve as professors and administrators in partner theological schools, seminaries, and institutions. In April 2013 a gathering was organized to enable mutual discernment on the challenges for theological education today and new paradigms and possibilities for the future. Those gathered entered into a Covenant of Shared Agreement, which contributes to a growing movement throughout Asia and the world calling for the transformation of theological education. Current realities have both inspired and required critical and creative thinking about new models and approaches. This covenant adds its collective voice to other emerging voices throughout Asia and the world to help bring about necessary changes in theological education. We continue to explore and discover ways to fulfill this need.
We are honored that you are journeying with us, and we ask that you continue. The ways in which God calls us are energizing as well as challenging. Our hearts and spirits are strengthened when we know that we are accompanied by your commitment to support and encourage us in prayer.
—Rev. Mienda Uriarte, area coordinator, Asia and the Pacific, Presbyterian World MissionLet us join in prayer for:
Pacific Conference of Churches: Féiloakitau Tevi, general secretary, Rt. Rev. Apimeleki Qiliho, moderator • Pacific Theological College [Fiji]: Rev. Dr. Feleterika Nokise, principal • Ulaanbaatar University [Mongolia] • Presbyterian Church in Singapore: Elder Wong Pock Yeen, general secretary • Trinity Theological College [Singapore]: Rev. Dr. Ngoei Foong Nghian, principal • Protestant Church in Timor-Lorosa’e
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Meagan Manas, PMA
Troy Marables, FDN
O God, your name reaches to the ends of the earth. We rejoice that we may go out and tell the next generation that you are our God, forever and ever. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In the pages to come, you will read stories of individuals whose lives have been touched by the Spirit of God through the work and witness of mission coworkers in a variety of contexts. Standing alongside partners in churches and institutions, we lift up the historical legacy of mission and ministry in Asia and the Pacific while looking to the future with great hope and vision for all we’re being called to do for the sake of God’s realm.
We celebrate the reopening of the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) site in Daejon, South Korea, on the campus of Hannam University. Working in community centers, YAVs have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of God for children and adults who are marginalized.Let us join in prayer for:
Uniting Church in Australia: Rev. Alistair Macre, president, Rev. Terrence Corkin, general secretary, Dr. Kerry Enright, director of mission • Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia • Khmer Presbyterian Fellowship [Cambodia] • Presbyterian Church of Cambodia • Lao Evangelical Church • Presbyterian Church of Malaysia: Rev. Chua Hua Peng, moderator, Elder Cheh Liang Mok, general secretary • Presbyterian Church of Myanmar • Myanmar Council of Churches • Myanmar Institute of Theology: • Tahan Theological College [Myanmar]
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Frank Maloney, BOP
Katy Maloy, PMA
God of love and life, hear us as we pray for the witness of your peace to permeate all of the places where we serve. We know that your Spirit is more powerful than all that challenges us, and so we turn to you and rely on your strength and your courage to see us through. Amen.Daily Lectionary
It’s Saturday morning at Laurelton United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. A handful of people are spread out around plastic dinner tables in the fellowship hall. A few are chatting; one is looking through today’s paper; another is intent on his pancakes. The kitchen nearby is buzzing with activity. A woman is flipping pancakes on an electric griddle while a young man runs full plates to guests at the table.
Three young women are talking about their new cat. They show off pictures like proud parents. One says, “I’ve never felt comfortable at a church, but I feel comfortable here.” Two men arrive and shout warm greetings to folks around the table. A young man comes in and hugs the woman in the kitchen. He sits down next to an older woman waiting at the table with another hug. It seems like they’ve known each other for years, but it’s only been eight Saturdays.
This is Laurelton’s Saturday café. The idea started with a session discussion about how we could use our assets (a building, heat, Internet, a kitchen) to welcome our neighbors in a new way. The first week we served five members of the congregation, but before long we were serving 15 people a week, most of whom hadn’t been connected with Laurelton before. Two years later, we serve 35 people a week, many of whom come every Saturday.
You can see community growing around the table: folks of different ages, from different places and backgrounds, sharing stories, joys, and sorrows; people rediscovering neighbors they haven’t seen in years; new relationships forming and deepening. It is simple, intergenerational, and holy. The congregation is reconnecting with the neighborhood, and God is doing something new in our midst. How might God be leading you toward your neighbors today?
—Sam Picard, pastor, Laurelton United Presbyterian ChurchLet us pray
God of love and surprises, as you bring a tree with shelter enough for all from the tiny mustard seed, you also bring great ministry from humble beginnings. Help us to follow you in our daily lives, trusting you not only to redeem us but also to guide our steps by your loving purpose. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Praise My Soul, the King
HB 31, PH 478, 479
Ps. 105:1–11, 45b or Ps. 128
“Seek Ye First”
“Like the Murmur of the
Matt. 13:31–33, 44–52
“Be Thou My Vision”
HB 303, PH 339
The mighty one, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. (Ps. 50:1)
We live in a rapidly changing world, more than half of whose population lives in Asia and the Pacific. Presbyterians have a long history of establishing schools, medical facilities, and churches in the far reaches and inner cities of East Asia and into South Asia and stretches of Southeast Asia. Today, some of those footprints have given way to other expressions of faithful service, while others have grown into state-of-the-art facilities that bear witness to the mighty and powerful ways of God, many continuing to faithfully serve with the creative imagination of the Spirit of God.
Continued on July 28Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Dr. Gary Van Brocklin, regional liaison for South Asia, Presbyterian World Mission, Marlene Van Brocklin, team ministry, Presbyterian World Mission
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy God, we ponder your steadfast love. Your Spirit is timeless, and your presence with us is unending. Continue to guide our path as we seek to serve in faithfulness. Amen.Daily Lectionary
First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Owensboro noticed a growing need among the people of the city and decided to do something about it. In the spring of 2012, the congregation created a new staff position, the mission action enabler (MAE). The MAE wears many hats: liaison to all Owensboro/Daviess County mission agencies of relief; first responder to emergency assistance requests; educator to the congregation and community on what aid is available, identifying services not being offered and creating and cultivating ways to fill those needs; and field placement officer for members of the congregation and community.
The MAE has allowed FPC to become a more mission-focused congregation. It has been able to fulfill more assistance requests while serving the community more extensively and wholeheartedly. New mission enterprises include initiating ecumenical partnerships for the maintenance of a community food bank and increasing support for our community help agencies through greater giving.
One new ministry for FPC is the Magi Project. Recognizing that some children are excluded from the joy of gift exchanges, the project provides children with a free “store” that allows them to “shop” for gifts to give their parents and siblings at Christmas. Once all children have shopped for their loved ones, parents are allowed to come and shop for their children to ensure that everyone has a gift on Christmas.
The creation of the MAE staff position has also made several other ministries possible. For instance, FPC has begun collections for a community diaper bank in order to help alleviate the growing need of low-income families for diaper supplies. And FPC is now partnering with the Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program to help provide free or low-cost prescriptions for those in need.
Western Kentucky Presbytery serves 34 congregations and one new church development.
—Anthony Marts, director of youth ministries, First Presbyterian Church, OwensboroLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, you showed us the meaning of compassion through your Son, Jesus. Help us to emulate his example as we work to become the church to our communities by demonstrating loving compassion. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The city of Ravenna, Kentucky, approached the two mission directors of the Burnamwood Appalachian Ministry (BAM) and asked, “Can you all build a playground?” These two young adults turned to each other, and after several moments of silent consideration, replied, “Why not?”
When the Canfield Presbyterian youth group arrived for a week of volunteer work, the BAM directors sat them down and explained that they were about to begin a big project—building Ravenna’s only public playground. No one had built a playground before. No one expected to finish it in a week. No one knew they would provide so much joy.
BAM, a mission outreach camp of Burnamwood Camp and Conference Center, a ministry of the Transylvania Presbytery, believes that every person deserves to have adequate housing and that nonprofit organizations deserve to have facilities that allow them to serve their communities well. When Ravenna needed help building its only public playground, the youth and adults of BAM responded faithfully and enthusiastically. The volunteers amazed everyone by building that playground within a week. They worked hard, in the hottest part of the summer, so that the children and families of that central Appalachian community could play hard.
The likelihood that the BAM staff and volunteers will come back to Ravenna to use the playground is slim. They do not live there. They do not travel there. The beauty of their generous mission did not end on Friday of that week. At the end of the summer, the playground was officially opened to the community and will continue to be a safe place for fellowship for years to come.
Canfield Presbyterian is one of 88 congregations in the Presbytery of Transylvania.
—Amy Carpenter, executive director, Burnamwood Camp and Conference CenterLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord of love, when we doubt that we can change things for the better, help us to remember the longer effects that a generous act provides. Grant us the strength to meet the service opportunities that we encounter with faithfulness and energy, in order to fill this imperfect world with joy. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Building upon its very successful Academy for Equipping the Saints model of training adults to be leaders in Christian education and discipleship, the Presbytery of South Alabama has started a new effort to equip youth for leadership within the church. The youth participating in Teens 4 Christ attend four weekend equipping events in a two-year period: two weekends in understanding Scripture, one in Reformed theology, and one in leading and teaching in the church. What a great group of young adult leaders they are, and what hope they offer for the church now and in the future.
As the presbytery begins a new partnership with Chisec Presbytery in Guatemala in 2014, it is excited about the relationships that will be fostered between young adults in both presbyteries. South Alabama youth will grow as they witness the vibrant faith of Guatemalan young adults amid shared work projects, fellowship, and worship, and everyone involved will experience the transforming power of the Spirit.
The presbytery’s focus for the next seven years is congregational transformation and the development of new worshiping communities. In committing to the “five practices of fruitful congregations” named by Methodist bishop Robert Schnase—radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity—our 30 congregations hope to attract and energize young adults. Vera White, 1001 New Worshiping Communities associate, was keynote speaker at the February 2014 presbytery meeting and shared about this vital churchwide initiative.
—Wm. Samford Turner, executive presbyter and stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
There are so many challenges before us, O God. Yet you have promised to go ahead of us, and with you nothing is impossible. Help us to live in full confidence that you hold us in the hollow of your hand. Help us to realize that it may be our young adults who will lead us into that future as they are led by Christ, through whom we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Campus ministry is vital and growing in the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley. There is so much joy to be found, so much to learn, and so many ways to walk with 18- to 24-year-olds as they figure out who God is calling them to be. Psalm 105 reminds the faithful to give thanks to God, and that is what college folks do. They could be doing anything else in the world, but they choose to come to churches and campus ministry centers. They sing to God in so many ways—by working with youth groups, playing music in worship, singing in the choir, laughing together, and praying for each other. They come to seek the Lord’s presence continually, because they have so many questions and concerns as they grow and experience new things.
College students also have a passion for connecting with others in mission. In fact, they are so passionate about it that Presbyterian campus ministry groups from the rival schools of Auburn and Alabama go on joint mission trips! Church members support campus ministries by inviting students into their homes for meals, delighting in their preaching, and praying for them daily.
The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley includes 83 congregations and their 11,819 members. The Presbyterian Home for Children and Stillman College are within its boundaries, as is the Living River Camp and Conference Center, which is currently being developed.
—Rev. Rachel Winter, First Presbyterian Church, Auburn, and Rev. Dan Stephens, associate executive for missional development, Presbytery of Sheppards and LapsleyLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Elizabeth Goodrich, stated clerk
Rev. Robert Hay, associate executive for nurture
Rev. Dan Stephens, associate executive for missional development
Linda Burrowes, office manager
Tammy Strickland, bookkeeper and program assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, help us to learn from young adults and college students. May their passion and willingness to serve inspire us all to serve you with openness, joy, and dedication. Bless the young adults and college students among us as they continue to grow into your calling for them. Amen.Daily Lectionary
From the rolling hills of the northeast to the Mississippi delta cotton fields in the west, more than 5,500 Presbyterians in northern Mississippi continue to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through the ministries and programs of their 64 congregations and the Presbytery of St. Andrew.
This year, the presbytery is focusing on the expansion of its ministry on the campus of the University of Mississippi. The ministry is a member of the PC(USA) UKirk network and has completed its UKirk rebranding thanks to a denominational grant for that purpose. It is also seeking funding as part of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative.
“We’re working to build not just a campus ministry but a student community of faith,” says campus minister Rev. Howard Dudley. “College campuses are mission fields. And, as anyone who has done mission work knows, mission work has to be a partnership to be successful. College ministry has to be something that’s done with students, not something that’s offered for students. Our students have to have ownership in their own faith communities if we want them to take ownership in the larger church.”
Hopewell Camp and Conference Center, where children and youth have been building community for multiple generations, is an active and ongoing ministry of the presbytery. But Hopewell is much more than just a presbytery summer camp. It is home to Clean Water U, the training center of the Living Waters for the World water purification ministry. Hopewell holds camps for children and youth with diabetes and is always open to new opportunities to be actively engaged in God’s mission.
—Gregory A. Goodwiller, executive presbyter and stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
Gregory A. Goodwiller, executive presbyter and stated clerk
Allyson Ashmore, director, Hopewell Camp and Conference Center
Darren Ashmore, site director, Hopewell Camp and Conference Center
Loretta Morris, food services manager, Hopewell Camp and Conference Center
Howard Dudley, staff associate for campus ministry
Ellen Kellum, office manager
Kim Nix, financial administrator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Almighty God, in a world that seems filled with hatred and violence, we give you thanks today for opportunities you give us to build better relationships, do justice, and be witnesses of the reconciling love we have known through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In the fall of 2012, Debbie Johnson announced that she had accepted the position as stated supply at 16-member Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church in Clinton, South Carolina. When asked if they bothered to tell her that Duncan Creek was hosting synod in the spring, she shook her head in disbelief. On March 14, 2013, the congregation welcomed the Synod of South Atlantic and the General Assembly moderator to Duncan Creek. The congregation’s confidence rested in 25 years of the 14 congregations of the Laurens County Cluster working together to accomplish what they cannot do alone.
When Presbyterian College wanted to provide an international mission experience for its students, they turned to the Laurens Cluster and its 15 years of experience in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Because some of its congregations are located in communities of extreme poverty, the cluster opened a food bank at its Lydia congregation and today partners with a regional food distribution agency to provide food for hungry neighbors.
Emerging out of a sense that God calls the church do to more than survive, the Laurens Cluster seeks to provide opportunities for mission, fellowship, and support that are difficult or impossible for its congregations to accomplish on their own. Claiming Paul’s affirmation that we are not slaves to fear but God’s children who possess God’s blessings, the cluster’s 14 congregations seek to model effective ministry and live into the hope that Christ provides.
God of hope, you have granted us salvation. Teach us to rely not on ourselves but on you. Free us from all fears, so that we may be your children who go forth into the world proclaiming your good news in word and deed. Through us grant hope to the hopeless, that your name may be glorified. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Near to the Heart of God”
Ps. 139:1–12, 23–24
“You Are Before Me, Lord”
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
HB 399, PH 376
Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43
“Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”
HB 525, PH 551
Recently, John Hay, a young employee of the tax assessor’s office, was on a business call in rural northeast Madison County when he spied New Market Presbyterian Church. Looking up the congregation’s web page, he found the words, “We invite you to join us in warm, simple, Christ-filled worship that has fortified hearts and souls for generations.” The next Sunday, John brought his mother, father, and sister to worship in the congregation’s historic building. The Hays’ experience reflects New Market’s blending of old and new in order to serve young adults and the local retirement community, the young at heart.
Built in 1888, New Market Church is a historic landmark reflecting the sturdy values of our ancestors in the faith and offering a powerful appeal to young adults. Though many do not currently worship with the congregation, they nevertheless remain “friends of the family,” bound together by social media. From New York to California, from Wisconsin to Florida, from Kazakhstan to Kokomo, more than 80 friends receive New Market’s e-newsletter and regularly check its Facebook page.
As one of the 29 congregations of North Alabama Presbytery, New Market is helping young adults to know that, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, they are part of a community that is both a little old church and the wondrous body of Christ.
—Brad Hall, pastor, New Market Presbyterian ChurchLet us join in prayer for:
Linda Wheeler office manager
David Nebrig, comptroller
Rev. Lyndall Hamlett, Maranatha interim director
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Eternal God, as you have inspired us and preserved us to this day, so be our guide in the days and generations to come. Grant that, as in Christ you have served us, we might serve all your children, that you may never be without a witness, no matter where or to whom we bring the gospel. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Named after Billy Brumfield, a homeless man who died of hypothermia, the Billy Brumfield Shelter in Jackson provides a home for up to 60 men each night. In addition to providing these men a place to sleep, the shelter also provides counseling for alcohol and drug addiction and, for those with medical disabilities, help negotiating state and federal requirements for benefits and permanent housing.
In early 1999, members of Faith Presbyterian Church’s young adult ministry began to seek ways to minister in the community. After prayerful consideration, they decided that a partnership with the Billy Brumfield Shelter would be a wonderful way to make a difference.
On the first Sunday of every month, young members of Faith Presbyterian serve a hot and delicious meal to the men of the shelter. Congregation members also offer a devotion and prayer and make an effort to become involved in the lives of the men.
James 2:14–17 says: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
By coming together in this shelter, the young adult members of Faith Presbyterian are indeed acting out their own faith and practicing the love of God in a way that acknowledges every person’s dignity, individuality, and worth.
Faith Presbyterian Church in Jackson is one of 35 congregations in the Presbytery of Mississippi.
—Kevin A. Green, member, young adult ministry, Faith Presbyterian Church, JacksonLet us join in prayer for:
Steve Puryear, stated clerk
Amy Ruff, director of campus ministry
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Michelle Lori, PMALet us pray
Father God, it is our fervent prayer that you would help us to be the disciples you have called us to be. Give us the grace to show love to all those we encounter, and, as we do so, remind us to lift your name so that all will know of your goodness and mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
After decades of investment in youth ministry, First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Nashville launched a young adult ministry in 2012 with the calling of an associate pastor for young adult ministry. FPC seeks to encourage young adult spiritual development, biblical literacy, worship attendance, and mission service. Recognizing that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all ministry with this population, FPC has responded by offering four different Sunday school classes, several Bible studies, special mission trips, dinner fellowships, service events, and a contemporary Sunday evening service. Even as FPC strives to keep pace with young adults’ rapidly changing lives, two constants have emerged: the hunger of young adults for adult spiritual mentors and the conviction of the congregation that young adults are dynamic contributors to FPC.
The mission partnership between the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee and the Presbiterio Q’eqchi’ Peten of the Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Presbiteriana de Guatemala (IENPG) observed its 10th anniversary in February 2013 with the dedication ceremony for the sanctuary of the new River of Living Waters Church in Sayaxche’, Guatemala. A team of 13 persons from the presbytery joined six pastors and over 300 members from seven IENPG congregations in a ribbon-cutting ceremony, worship service, and barbecue feast that will long be remembered.
The presbytery is home to 87 congregations, two new church developments, and NaCoMe Camp and Conference Center.
—Warner Durnell, executive presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Young Adult Volunteers
Alasia Brown, Anthony “T. J.” Piccolo, and Emily Warren, community development interns, Nashville YAV site
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving God, glad are we to reach out with good news to disciples and would-be disciples around the corner and around the world. Inspire us to venture into new places of witness and service, all in obedience to Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri
“We might be a small church, but we can do something!” said Audrey Toombs of Grace Presbyterian Church in Dyersburg, Tennessee. Looking for a way to minister to the community, the congregation took a compilation of ideas from the presbytery and started More Than a Meal (MTaM). Now, people from Dyersburg receive a hot meal, some good conversation, and prayer, along with help applying for food stamps, processing a job application, or obtaining state photo IDs, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, or other important documents.
The local missions are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so Grace provides hearty meals and traditional feasts at holiday times. More Than a Meal has grown to six meals a year, with a goal of serving every month. The whole congregation gets involved in serving this multicultural group of 75–100 people, but the young adults especially take ownership. Serving, cooking, handing out toiletry kits, delivering meals to people with no transportation, and entering into meaningful conversation immerses young people in the gritty details of basic ministry. By being intimately involved with their guests, they not only care for others but become more thankful for the simple blessings in their own lives.
“The program is a great success! We have assisted more people than we ever imagined,” says Toombs. “One of the larger Dyersburg churches saw in the paper that we started MTaM, and now they’re serving, too. We hope that other churches will join in so that people will have food every weekend. This ministry is making a difference for our church members and for the community.”
The Presbytery of the Mid-South serves 44 congregations.
—Lucy Cummings, associate executive presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Clarence V. “Bo” Scarborough, interim executive presbyter
Rev. Dave Schieber, stated clerk
Rev. Julie Bailey, campus ministries
Audrey Toombs, office administrator
Lucy Cummings, outdoor ministries and recreation
Carmen Simmons, resident manager, Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center
Nelle Kennon, hospitality and food service director, Pinecrest Conference and Retreat Center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of all peoples, you have given us plenty. Help us minister to the needs of others. We know that, by your grace, in giving we receive a hundredfold. You are the great provider. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The college years hold many of the lessons, memories, and experiences we later label as important moments in our journeys of faith. For young adults, the need to be in community and to grow spiritually with others is crucial. As Presbyterians, we are committed to making space for this to happen.
The Montreat College Conference offered each year in January is a powerful and transformative event for college students. UKirk Campus Ministry, a young adult ministry of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, hosts a group at the conference each year. UKirk reaches out to students from the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, and several smaller colleges in greater Louisville.
For three days, the conference gives students from Kentucky campuses an opportunity to live together, break bread together, and listen to each other’s stories. We reflect on the themes addressed in the conference and allow our questions and reflections to be the means through which the Spirit of God leads and unites us as the body of Christ. It is energizing to see students from previous years reconnecting with one another, and new students making new friendships. Through ministries like UKirk, Mid-Kentucky Presbytery seeks to provide regular opportunities to connect with our young adults and to create a space among our 55 communities of faith where their voices are affirmed and heard and where they know they belong.
Peggy Hinds, associate presbyter
Kenneth J. Hockenberry, stated clerk
Mary Kutter, office manager
Andrew Hartmans, director, Camp Cedar Ridge
Tony Aja, coordinator for Hispanic/Latino and new immigrant ministries
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of constant love, we thank you for the gift of young adults in our church. Give us the courage to join our young adults in their questions, struggles, and hopes. Help us to be an example of the promise of your faithfulness and unconditional love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
At the beginning of the 20th century, missionaries from the United Presbyterian Church of North America arrived in Greene County in East Tennessee. They discovered that there were not only no Presbyterian churches but no schools for the children. The call went out for teachers willing to relocate to the rural mountain region. The Home Mission Board established several schools, including boarding schools at Camp Creek and Cedar Creek. These schools provided an education for the children until the Greene County Board of Education took over the schools in the 1930s.
This commitment to mission continues today at Cedar Creek Presbyterian Church in the work of the Cedar Creek Mission Center. The center’s mission is to provide an opportunity for youth and young adults to do mission work with the mountain people of East Tennessee. Work teams from many different denominations and states assist the elderly and poor with home repair and improvement projects. The groups also assist smaller congregations with vacation Bible school and other community activities. Work teams arrived recently to assist families whose homes were damaged by a deadly tornado.
The spirit of mission that began over 100 years ago continues today through Cedar Creek Mission Center.
Cedar Creek Presbyterian Church is one of 67 congregations in Holston Presbytery.
—Harrell L. Cobb, pastor, Cedar Creek Presbyterian Church, GreenevilleLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Richard L. Fifield, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Kimberley D. Fifield, financial manager and treasurer
Craig Bell, director, Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center
Andrea Sutter, director, Campus Ministry House
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Eternal God, we thank you for the heritage of a spirit of mission that continues today in the work of the Cedar Creek Mission Center. We thank you also for the work of the mission teams who continue to assist the elderly and poor in the mountains of East Tennessee in the name of Jesus. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Every Thursday at noon, the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) community explores a new worship experience. Everyone gathers for worship four times a week, and Thursdays are reserved for what has emerged as a weekly “Worship Lab.”
Over the past year, Worship Lab services have included experiencing the Spirit through percussion instruments and praying to God through motion. Some have been coordinated with periods of remembrance, including Domestic Violence Awareness Month—the participants reflecting on how Jesus stood with those who were victims and targets of violence—and National Coming Out Day.
During an SFTS Welcome Week, the service explored the theme “Eat, Pray, Love.” As community members prayerfully walked the Geneva Terrace labyrinth, they would eat grapes, pray with someone, and experience God’s love by receiving a blessing.
Creativity, which plays an important role in developing unique services, is nourished and encouraged through Worship Lab. For young adults and future faith leaders, exploring different styles and methods of worship is increasingly important as we enter a world where the traditional idea of a worship service is changing. Worship Lab provides the opportunity to come up with innovative and life-giving ways to worship that flows out of the traditions of Reformed worship. Worship Lab is a welcoming, creative, and innovative way to help equip students for new, imaginative, and faithful ministries for the 21st century.
—Kay Carney, vice president of communications, San Francisco Theological SeminaryLet us pray
Gracious God, open our hearts, our minds, and our souls to inspired and creative ways to spread the good news of the gospel, that we may better reflect your love, compassion, and presence in our changing world. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“O God, in a Mysterious Way”
HB 112, PH 270
“Lord, to You My Soul Is Lifted”
“Breathe on Me, Breath of God”
HB 235, PH 316
Matt. 13:1–9, 18–23
“Let Us Talents and
When community organizer Mariko Tinaya and evangelist Brian Merritt began their door-to-door visitations in the south Chattanooga neighborhood chosen for Mercy Junction, a new church development in the Presbytery of East Tennessee, they didn’t know what to expect. It was not long after being invited into homes and receiving encouragement from their new acquaintances that they realized that this was the place God had called them to work. It became even clearer when they came across Rodney.
“We are thinking about starting a pay-what-you can market called Open Table Exchange and purchasing some land in the neighborhood to start a community garden,” Brian told him. “Would that be something that you think could be useful in the neighborhood?” Rodney responded with enthusiasm: “Absolutely! I grow stuff in my front yard, and my grandfather is a master gardener. I would love it. As a matter of fact, I will go out into the community and start talking to people about your ministry.” Mariko followed with similar excitement: “It looks like you are our go-to guy!” Brian and Mariko knew then that the harvest here would be plentiful.
In the short time since Mercy Junction was established, it has seen overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the vision of farm-to-table ministry and a worshiping community of action and reflection. Carol Howard Merritt has written of this new generation that “they want meaningful worship, an empowered lay leadership, and a spirituality that leads to action.” We hope to model this call and live into our motto: “Follow, Love, Be!”
The Presbytery of East Tennessee has 71 congregations.
—Rev. Brian Merritt, founding minister, Mercy Junction, ChattanoogaLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
You show no partiality,
Redeem us from generation to generation
And within each generation.
Open our minds to visions
Given by new and wise people.
Help us to move from the paralysis of survival
To the freedom of hope.