On a rainy autumn evening, a group of young adults from First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo gathered at a cozy home for a meal and discussion. It was a planned event for the congregation’s annual stewardship campaign, yet—as often happens when any from this group get together—the Spirit was present, transforming the gathering into much more.
They are a diverse group of people, varied in many ways, including ethnicity, socioeconomics, theology, family background, and marital status. Where differences often divide, the Spirit unites. A conversation about stewardship led to deep discussions about faith, discipleship, and responsibilities in the present and the future.
Blueprints evolved. Ideas came to life for fellowship activities, group studies, local mission projects, and ways to care for those in need. The realization that they are the future of the church emerged.
Since that rainy autumn evening, several of these young adults have been elected to the session and the board of deacons. They teach Sunday school; they gather for Bible study in each other’s homes; they plan and lead occasional worship services. For fellowship, they go out for brunch after worship the first Sunday of each month. They are a reliable and faithful presence in the life of the congregation.
As the present becomes the future, the young adults of First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo are playing an active role—and having fun while doing so.
First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo is one of 61 congregations in the Presbytery of Western New York.
—Christina Banas, business manager, First Presbyterian Church of BuffaloLet us join in prayer for:
Bronwen W. Boswell, presbyter of discipleship, communications, and transformation
Laura Norris Buisch, stated clerk
Dale Harten, business manager
Janice L. Tyson, administrative assistant
Mary Mohlke, resource center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord, open our hearts and minds to the Spirit at all times. Help us to look and listen for opportunities to serve you. Ground us in the present; instill faith in us to face the future with hope and joy. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Young adult ministry is a story we yearn to tell, and we offer it below in the form of tweets representing various ministries in our presbytery.
• @Calvin’sCafe meets at the pizza parlor at 7 for faith, food, and conversation #Pepperoni #fellowship #Presbys-eat
• Y.A.M. looking for opportunity to assist with hurricane relief at the Jersey Shore #WJP PDA #Sandy
• College young adults are bowling on • Students worked in the cold & rain on their spring break building houses. #HabitatForHumanity #serving
• Young adult ministry isn’t contained by the church. It’s in relationship, conversation, coffee, and where you wouldn’t expect it. Embrace it. #OutsideOfTheBox
• Heading to Cuba for water installation for Living Waters for the World. #cleanwater
These tweets represent ways young adults are engaging in mission and ministry, building relationships, deepening faith, and caring for God’s people. The possibilities are truly endless.
The Presbytery of West Jersey has 63 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Deborah Brincivalli, executive presbyter
Donna Cook, stated clerk
Kathryn M. Repici, administrative associate
Beth Thomas, associate of accounting
Rev. Wendy Boer, consultant for congregational life
Rev. Ellie Cowherd, consultant for congregational life
Rev. Carlos Rivera, Tres Iglesias
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Elaine Shilstut, OGA
Natalie Shilstut, OGA
Loving God, you call us into a variety of relationships. Please bless all the ways in which we live and move and have our being. Breathe in us new life, and transform us in hope. We pray for the openness of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In the past two years, the Vanderkamp Center, a partner of the Presbytery of Utica, has radically rethought youth ministry. After wrestling with the question of why youth leave the church, Vanderkamp has responded by attempting to treat them as equals rather than people to be managed and told what to do.
The Vanderkamp staff has eliminated rules that seem to be in place strictly for the convenience of adults. Inside voices are asked for only when someone is trying to sleep, not because the adults haven’t had their coffee. And children are free to choose what activities they want, when they do them, and with whom—to the degree that it is logistically possible. We aim to provide opportunities for children to grow in confidence while learning how to use freedom wisely. Vanderkamp works to help children love themselves for exactly who God made them to be.
The role of the adult in Vanderkamp’s ministry has become one of an excited partner who intervenes only when campers engage in activities that might be harmful to themselves or others.
The children have responded. In 2012 Vanderkamp had 68 percent more campers than it did the previous year, and 86 percent of campers eligible to return did so. Camille, a 15-year-old summer camper, put it best: “A lot of adults say you shouldn’t tease or bully, but they don’t do anything about it. Vanderkamp is the one place I’ve been in my whole life where I went a whole week without being teased.”
The Presbytery of Utica serves 35 congregations.
—James Davis, director of program, Vanderkamp CenterLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord Jesus, you said, “Let the little children come to me.” May we, in all that we do, open ourselves to children of all ages, respecting their human dignity and helping them to grow into your love. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Superstorm Sandy mobilized the body of Christ in many places. In the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley, the response included volunteers and the gathering of supplies such as water, food, equipment, Bibles, and blankets. This flood-relief effort was not the presbytery’s first. It dispatched personnel and supplies in response to Hurricane Katrina, only to experience severe local flooding in 2006 and 2011. The ongoing need of folks affected by Sandy was well understood by the members and friends of Union Presbyterian Church in Endicott.
Union members and friends gathered in the church’s fellowship hall for the annual One Great Hour of Sharing party. The congregation’s theme this year was the Jersey Shore. “People dressed in beachwear, brought towels and beach chairs, and enjoyed typical boardwalk food, including saltwater taffy,” said Pastor Pat Raube. The event continued with a talent auction netting more than $2,500 for One Great Hour of Sharing.
This event is just one example of how the congregation celebrates the kingdom of God with service projects in which a spirit of joy and laughter is present alongside passionate commitment. Later in 2013, members joined people from all over the country to serve at one of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance hospitality centers at the Jersey Shore, continuing Jesus’ work of proclaiming good news through both worship and service.
Union Presbyterian Church in Endicott is one of 48 congregations in the Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley.
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord, help us to care for those in need. May we offer hope in the face of chaos, confidence in the face of uncertainty, and joy in service to you. May all who endure loss be filled with your presence and confidence in your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The following is excerpted from a letter by Children’s Defense Fund president Marian Wright Edelman that accompanies the 2013 Children’s Sabbaths materials.
Dear Faithful Welcome to the 22nd annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration, “Beating Swords into Plowshares: Ending the Violence of Guns and Child Poverty.” Your faithful preaching, teaching, service, and hard, urgent, and persistent work for justice are needed now more than ever to create a world in which children are safe from the pervasive violence of guns and poverty. . . .
. . . In 2010, a child or teen was killed by guns every three hours and fifteen minutes— that’s more than 21 lost lives every three days from gun homicides, suicides, and accidents. A child or youth was killed or injured by a gun every half hour. Between 1963 and 2010, an estimated 166,500 children and teens aged 0–19 lost their lives to gun violence. . . . Of these deaths, 62 percent were among White children and youths and 36 percent were among Black children and youths; 52 percent were homicides, 29 percent were suicides, and 16 percent were accidental deaths. . . .
. . . It’s time to say enough! The tragic, relentless taking of life by gun violence . . . will continue if you remain silent and do not act. The sacred texts, teachings, and traditions of our religious faiths call us not to harm others and point us to the way of nonviolence and the power of love and to protecting the poor and vulnerable. . . .
. . . In his 1959 “Sermon on Gandhi,” Dr. King wrote: “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.” My hope and prayer is that through the 22nd National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths weekend . . . we will move one step closer to becoming the beloved community.Let us pray
God of grace and justice, may we empower our families and children with the means to stand up together for economic security and physical safety as we seek to become the beloved community. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”
“I Sing the Mighty Power of God”
HB 84, PH 288
1 Thess. 1:1–10
“O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee”
HB 304, PH 357
“Take My Life”
HB 310, PH 391
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island
The 33 congregations of the Presbytery of Southern New England respond with compassion and justice to a range of mission concerns. For many years First Presbyterian Church of New Haven, Connecticut, has been providing meals to the homeless, working in partnership with Columbus House, the city’s main provider of housing to homeless individuals. Several years ago the church helped to found Abraham’s Tent, an effort now shared by more than 20 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations, who open their buildings for one week each to provide a dozen homeless men a respite from the harsh New England winter. The program is funded in part by presbytery mission and stewardship funds. Members of the congregation welcome the men into safe and warm temporary shelter that on weekends doubles as worship and fellowship space.
The program fosters relationships with men who are otherwise known only by their presence on the street. Night after night, the men come to know that they are known and valued children of God. The effort has helped the men return to independent living; for three years running, all the men have moved to stable housing by the end of the winter, having been strengthened by the support, meals, and love from the congregations.
Young adults join older members in serving as essential leaders in this outreach involving 100 church members each year. Elders Micah Luce and Brian Gray have served as the primary organizers of Abraham’s Tent. Christian educator Bryce Wiebe prepares hot breakfasts to order. Elder David Miller works behind the scenes to make sure that the men feel at home. The senior high youth group prepares meals and plays board games with the men into the early evening. Elders Ralph Jones and Nancy Rupp invite the entire congregation to act as advocates for justice by writing letters to state legislators about their firsthand experiences of homelessness in Connecticut.
—Rev. Bill Goettler, copastor, First Presbyterian Church,New Haven, Connecticut Let us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dear God, thank you for giving us opportunities to serve—to be your hands and feet—and to share our time, talents, and treasures with our neighbors in need. Amen.Daily Lectionary
“We had to put on our Tyvek suits, lay on our backs, and do the army crawl,” one AmeriCorps NCCC volunteer said. “We got under the trailers, ripping out contaminated insulation and installing new. It’s amazing how appreciative the people are. We were thankful for everything they did for us, and they are grateful for everything we’re doing for them. It is so wonderful!”
AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a federal program through which volunteers aged 18–24 serve up to 10 months in communities across the country. Several AmeriCorps NCCC teams were sent to the Vanguard Mobile Home Community in Little Ferry and Moonachie, New Jersey, to aid in the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy. They partnered in local recovery and relief efforts with Presbyterian congregations in Moonachie and Wood-Ridge and the long-term recovery committee of the Volunteer Center of Bergen County.
More than a dozen of the 48 congregations of the Presbytery of the Palisades sustained significant property damage from Sandy, and most communities in the area experienced power outages, gasoline shortages, and personal-property damage.
First Presbyterian Church of Wood-Ridge graciously opened its doors and hearts to provide a home away from home for the young volunteers. The Wood-Ridge church provided a place for them to have lunch (on and off the job), and several other presbytery congregations reached out by supplying hot meals after the long workdays. To quote one congregation, “We enjoyed the fellowship of coming together and wanted to show our appreciation to these young people for all their hard work and service to help others.”
—Diane Nafash, presbytery mission communication committee memberLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Marianne Rhebergen, transitional leader
Maha Faragalla, mission and ministry communicator/coordinator
Cindy Cummings, bookkeeper
Rev. Gregory Keosaian, stated clerk
Martha Dawson, treasurer
Rev. Debra Givens, moderator
Ruling Elder Paul Talarico, vice moderator
Ruling Elder Barbara Ryder, presbytery council chair
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, may your sacrificial love on the cross move us to the genuine offering of ourselves in obedient service, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.Daily Lectionary
When I read the 10 powerful verses of Luke 9:18–27, I think of Jaff Napoleon, the director of RELUFA, a partner organization in Cameroon. Jaff, a Presbyterian by birth, tirelessly works with communities to ensure that they have a voice when multinational corporations come to their communities to export natural resources—whether oil, minerals, or commodities—from the land. Corporations often negotiate with the government without participation from the communities affected. People find their land taken with no recourse.
I think of Jesus’ words in Luke 9:18, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Jaff has been called many things—socialist, anticapitalist, liar, fanatic.
Jaff is educated and could do other work. He gets discouraged by misrepresentations but will not be swayed. He explains that he grew up in the church and watched his father do what was right for the village rather than what was profitable for himself. Jaff is a humble man and doesn’t see the common experience he shares with Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and others who were also called many things by the economic and political powers threatened by those who seek fairness.
Today is World Food Day. We live in a world with enough food for all, yet hunger is real for 1 billion fellow human beings, and nearly 50 million of them reside in the United States. The good news is that people all over the world are working in new ways to address hunger and create local food economies that can provide healthy food for all. Go to the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s World Food Day website and learn about the work Jaff and others are doing. Connect your actions to theirs to bring about God’s kingdom of healthy food, healthy people, and healthy communities.
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving God, we are grateful for opportunities to follow you, deny our self-interests, and do what is fair for others. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The number of young adults continues to decrease in the area of the country where the Presbytery of Northern New York works and ministers. As a result, smaller congregations find it difficult to maintain a youth group of their own. In an effort to minister to young adults, the presbytery is involved in three mission activities:
• The presbytery maintains a fund to pay the cost of transportation for young people to Presbyterian Youth Triennium.
• Ministries in the North Country, a mission of the presbytery, runs a Christmas program for teens in foster care. Christmas presents are purchased for teens who, because they are too old for many “angel tree” programs, often go without gifts.
• The mission committee of the presbytery has agreed to completely fund two weeks of Rural Rehab housing ministry. These weeks are available to teenagers and adults of all ages at no cost to them. Since our smaller congregations may have only one or two people interested in this type of activity, the goal is to provide an opportunity for people to come together as a group to minister to those who need help repairing their homes.
The Presbytery of Northern New York is home to 36 congregations.
—CRE Rachel Roberts, Chaumont First Presbyterian ChurchLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Kim Schmid, PMA
Jeanie Schmuckie, FDN
Gracious God, bless the young people. They are indeed the future of your church. Even those of us who are older remember our own youth—the idealism, the willingness to be involved in worthwhile causes, and the energy to serve. Give us the patience to listen to them and the courage to support their endeavors. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts
First Presbyterian Church of Barre, Vermont, has partnered with Barre Congregational Church in seeking to engage people who might be uncomfortable deepening their spiritual life within the four walls of a church. Instead, we have been meeting in a local establishment for Theology on Tap.
The group began with a focus on twenty- and thirtysomethings. Our hope was to provide an opportunity for them to explore faith and current events as well as spiritual practices through which God can make a difference in one’s life. We have enjoyed hearing about each other’s prayer practices, exploring Muslim-Christian relations, and challenging one another to carry out random acts of kindness. We gather in a local restaurant or pub, share food and beer (or coffee or soda), and discuss topics that are relevant and affect our daily lives.
We have created a community of people who are drawn to the less-formal conversations that happen at a local eatery. As the group has continued, people beyond the age boundary of 39 years have commented: “Those gatherings sound like a great time. Can I come, too?” Our reply is: “We don’t card. Everyone is welcome!” We continue to think of ways to engage people who have any number of hesitations about organized religion. Sometimes we do so with insight, and other times we fall flat on our faces. We stand right back up and continue to listen for where God might be leading us.
The Presbytery of Northern New England serves 2,877 members of 30 congregations. While some of these date their founding to European immigrants of the 18th and 19th centuries, others are less than three decades old and include newcomers from Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, South Sudan, and other countries and cultures.
—Rev. Carl Hilton-VanOsdall, pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Barre, Vermont, and Brendon Bass, cochair, mission subcommittee of councilLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
When we open our hearts to your love, O God, we can share stories of our seeking and finding you with people of all ages and conditions, and so receive new experiences of your grace. Thank you for the blessings you pour into our lives when we reach out to one another. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Young adult ministry feels a little bit like looking at a panel of dials and trying to figure out how to adjust them all in just the right way. The Presbyterian Church in Morristown has, like every other church in the country, been trying to reach young adults for years. It has offered contemporary services, lunches after church, service projects, events to see speakers like Rob Bell, and Theology Pubs in the vibrant local restaurant community. Its story is really no different than any other congregation’s. Statistics continue to show that over half of involved youth will leave their congregation during their young adult years.
The Morristown congregation continues to look for new ways to engage young adults. The reality is that young adults often come on their own terms. Young adults have their own visions and hopes for what the church could be. They want to be engaged, not stuck within the walls of the church on some committee. They want to go out and make a difference. They want to be a part of their communities. They want to engage the culture around them. And that is what the congregation in Morristown is trying to do—to engage young adults where they are and provide opportunities for them to reflect on faith and doubt and how it intersects with culture, politics, the arts, and the society they find themselves in. They want to meet the young adults of Morristown right where they are.
Pray for the Presbyterian Church in Morristown and the many congregations like it that are continually looking for ways to engage with young adults in their communities.
The Presbytery of Newton, encompassing four counties in northwest New Jersey, is home to 59 congregations and Johnsonburg Presbyterian Center, the camp serving the presbyteries of New Jersey.
—Angela Rines, director of youth and young adults, the Presbyterian Church in MorristownLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Jeanne Radak, presbytery leader
Rev. Diane Curtis, stated clerk
Lizabeth Hutchinson, financial administrator
Cathy Burrafato, resource center coordinator
Sonja Gaertner, office manager
Rev. Dr. James H. Chestnutt, executive presbyter emeritus
Rev. Charles L. Ringe III, stated clerk emeritus
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God, thank you for the new things you are doing in new generations. May the church be open to receiving fresh faith and fresh ideas. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Did you know that every year one in four adolescents reports physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse and that one in three teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions that included hitting? Every year I have the privilege of presenting a seminar on domestic violence to high school students.
I begin with an experiential exercise that allows the students to walk in the shoes of domestic violence victims—to enter into their lives and make decisions that determine the outcome of their stories. We then talk about domestic violence, an issue of power and control, which always leads to a lively discussion on dating violence, self-esteem, peer pressure, and how to be a good friend and listener. We look at what healthy and unhealthy dating relationships look like.
Though written in prison, Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of joy. In fact, Paul mentions joy and rejoicing 14 times in this short letter. He encourages the Philippians to live out their faith in unity and joy. In today’s passage Paul talks about right praying, right thinking, and right living. On this Sunday when we remember that domestic violence remains a huge issue in our world, let us take the time to talk to and teach our teens about healthy relationships and how to make good choices.
—Rev. Bonnie Orth, Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association Board of Directors, representing the Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network; pastor, Mayfield (NY) Central Presbyterian ChurchLet us pray
Dear God, we rejoice in you always and thank you for watching over us. Help us to model healthy relationships for our teens and to teach them right praying, right thinking, and right living. Help them to be a friend to another who may need someone to listen, and help them to break the silence about domestic violence. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
Ps. 106:1–6, 19–23
“Creating God, Your Fingers Trace”
“We Gather Together”
HB 18, PH 559
“I Danced in the Morning”
Following the example set by Jesus in Matthew 19, Newark Presbytery proclaims, “Let the children come!” Caring adults lead initiatives like the Montclair Summer Youth Program at Trinity and Central churches. Music, multimedia academies, and mission trips engage youth and young adults at First Presbyterian (Caldwell); Grace (Montclair); Korean United and Bethany, both in Bloomfield; and the Roseville, First Hispanic, Elizabeth Avenue-Weequahic, and St. Paul’s congregations in Newark.
The youth and young adult ministry at Elmwood United (East Orange, West Orange, and Newark) typifies our story. Elmwood creates opportunities for young people to use their gifts to serve the church and the broader community. Children and youth have unique space to worship in their own alternative to Sunday school. Children initiated “Stack the Shelves,” a food drive to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Through the liturgical dance group Bodies of Worship, female youth transform worship and touch hearts. And when youth take over worship on Youth Sunday, they not only lead and preach but also plan the service.
Whether it is through service, camp, dancing, or worship, Newark Presbytery and its 38 congregations are proclaiming, “Let the children come!”
—Maria Crompton, pastor to youth and young adults, Elmwood Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Dr. Kevin Yoho, general presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Kevin Yoho, member, PMA Board
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God, today we follow the example set by Jesus as we say,
Let the children come.
With their singing, dancing, and acting, we say,
Let the children come.
With their gifts, talents, and all that God has created them to be, we say,
Let the children come.
In October 2012, just before Halloween, New York, New Jersey, and the surrounding areas were visited by a real monster. Masquerading under the unassuming name of Sandy, this giant was all trick and no treat for tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Homes and cars were tossed into the sea like toys.
Within days Presbyterian Disaster Assistance was on the ground helping to survey the damage and identify needs and strategies for immediate relief, looking toward long-term recovery. Offers for help were pouring into the New York City Presbytery office and to churches and organizations throughout the region before the last clouds had rolled out.
One of the earliest groups to volunteer in the devastated community of the Rockaways was a youth group from Western New York. That group set a tone for volunteering that remains the standard with work partners in New York. Just as Jesus said that we would do well to become like little children, following the example of these young people is a lesson worth learning. They came without preconceptions or expectations. They came ready to be led and open to whatever they found. They were a joyful witness to the homeowners and the team leaders that they served. Their relationships grew stronger as they worked together, and their reflections about service helped them to reflect Christ. They were just what others needed in a moment of great crisis. Their witness laid a firm foundation for the volunteers from other Presbyterian congregations that have followed them.
New York City Presbytery is home to 96 congregations.
—Rev. Thia Reggio, disaster response coordinator, New York City PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
Elder Ellen Cason, at-large member, PMA Board
Elder Tony De La Rosa, interim executive presbyter
Andy James, stated clerk
Elder James Tse, controller
Elder Yzette Swavy-Lipton, office manager
Deacon Shirley Fleming, administrative assistant
Rev. Thia Reggio, disaster response coordinator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of compassion, when we serve others, let us follow the example of children, shedding our expectations so that we may reflect your love. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In 2012 four Presbyterian congregations in a five-mile radius made the decision to partner in the creation of a collaborative youth and young adult ministry. They didn’t quite do this on purpose, but it also wasn’t really by accident.
Each of the four congregations had something to offer: Covenant (Trenton) had a van; Ewing, an office; Lawrence Road (Lawrenceville), a manse; and West Trenton, a roster of students. And Trenton Area Campus Ministry already had a foot in the door at Rider University (Lawrenceville) and Westminster Choir College. The Tapestry Fund, a grant program of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, offered a grant to form a student-led retreat program.
As the congregations gathered students into overlapping circles of activities and fellowship groups, ministry emerged among and with the students (fourth graders through young adults), supported by parents and volunteers.
In one year the congregations moved from claiming four or five students at each to embracing a disparate and complicated mess of 80 students. The undertaking has been dubbed the Ministry of Many Things, and it provides room for diversity of thought and culture, and flexibility to adapt to future needs.
The Presbytery of New Brunswick serves 40 congregations. Within its boundaries is Princeton Theological Seminary.
—Rev. Katie Mulligan, Ministry of Many Things, TrentonLet us join in prayer for:
Wendy Bailey, regional presbyter
D. Paul LaMontagne, stated clerk
Ilene Black, financial secretary
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Almighty God, guide our efforts to provide a ministry to include all who seek your love and grace. Help us to appreciate all of your children, to encourage their gifts, and to be facilitators and supporters as we offer them a welcoming place to gather in the light of your love and wisdom. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The last week of October 2012, Superstorm Sandy swept up the East Coast and forever changed the lives of thousands in its wake. The people of the Presbytery of Monmouth, which spans the New Jersey shore and includes Ocean and Monmouth counties, experienced devastating losses of power, people, and property.
As many adults struggled to find the energy and strength to rebuild, they were inspired by the willingness and enthusiasm of the young people of their communities. As individuals and in groups, young people from the very beginning went door-to-door helping neighbors clean up debris and shovel sand out of their basements. Their witness ignited in everyone they met a passion to help others.
The New Jersey shore and its residents have been profoundly reshaped by Sandy. “My hometown is now a place like the places I have gone on mission trips,” says Travis, a high school student and member of a Monmouth congregation. Another student, Morgan, from Point Pleasant Church, says: “Seeing houses and buildings I grew up with and were a part of my life demolished or even completely nonexistent was heartbreaking. My mother and I help with the mission groups that come to our town and stay at our church, and my peers have all lent helping hands. Hurricane Sandy may have devastated us, but it has also reminded my community what it is that holds us together and how important we all are to each other.”
The Presbytery of Monmouth is home to 46 congregations.
Rev. Mary-Lynn Morrison, Hurricane Sandy recovery team, Presbytery of MonmouthLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Wendy S. Bailey, regional presbyter
Rev. Dr. Carlos Wilton, stated clerk
Elder Patty Williams, Christian education consultant
Elder Nancy Tindall, treasurer
Elder Howard Dunbar, financial secretary/accountant
Elder Marie Luthringer, office and media manager and assistant to the presbyter
Rev. Phyllis Zoon, hunger action enabler stewardship of creation
Rev. Mary-Lynn Morrison, assistant Sandy Recovery team
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of all creation, we thank you for all the ways you shelter and encourage us during the storms of life. As we seek to restore what has been broken in our world, restore us in faith and purpose. Help us to be your hands and feet and to witness to the love you give us through your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Long Island
Last summer was quite an adventure. I had an opportunity to participate in a pastoral-discernment internship at the Presbyterian churches in Malverne and Garden City in the Presbytery of Long Island. I prayed with a dying woman, taught elementary school kids about God’s love, and oversaw a community-wide worship celebration. I experienced different kinds of ministry and learned more than I ever thought possible.
Garden City Presbyterian has created an ongoing relationship with a nearby community of families from El Salvador. The parents work hard during the day, leaving the kids largely to entertain themselves during the summer. During vacation Bible school, church members picked up the kids at their elementary school and brought them to and from the church. Some children walked a mile to get there. They even came when it rained. My proudest moment that summer was when the kids at vacation Bible school all learned the phrase “And I am certain that nothing can separate us from God’s love,” an abridgement of Romans 8:38–39. Ministering to these beautiful children was a blessing.
It can be easy to get hung up in all the debates about immigration, but over the summer, with those kids, none of it seemed to matter. Those Salvadoran families became neighbors, and their children became the congregation’s children. Members filled backpacks with school supplies, took them with their own kids to the pool, and carpooled to get them where they needed to go. In the process, the stereotypes fell—“those kids,” “those families,” “those people” became Juanito or Carla, or Juanito’s dad or Carla’s mom. They were fellow citizens of the kingdom of God. And that’s all that mattered.
The Presbytery of Long Island includes 57 congregations, two new church developments, and two immigrant fellowships.
—Beatrix Weil, member, Malverne Community Presbyterian Church; Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the 219th General Assembly (2010); student, University of Notre DameLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Mark A. Tammen, general presbyter/stated clerk
Elder Lorna J. Lisa, office administrator/assistant to the stated clerk
Deacon Patrick Knight, treasurer/financial secretary
Marion Argueta, bookkeeper/assistant treasurer
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dear Lord, help us to remember that our neighbors are all citizens in your kingdom. Work through us to make this place more like yours. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Hudson River
Stony Point Center, a national conference center of the PC(USA), is located about 35 miles north of New York City in the Presbytery of Hudson River. In addition to hosting thousands of guests each year, Stony Point is unique in that it is the home to a multifaith residential community, the Community of Living Traditions. Members of this community work to better understand one another’s traditions and to find common ground for providing hospitality and organizing for peace, nonviolence, and justice.
The community draws people of all ages, but more than half of its residents are young adults seeking ways to understand and live their faith in a religiously pluralistic United States. Each summer Stony Point Center hosts a multifaith institute for young adults called “Farm the Land, Grow the Spirit.”
As part of its commitment to young adults, Stony Point hosts the Young Adult Volunteer orientation in late August, before the YAVs embark on a year of service throughout the country or world. On the last day of orientation, YAVs participate in leading worship at one of the 85 congregations in the Presbytery of Hudson River, inspiring others with their faith stories and sense of call. The YAVs are also commissioned by these congregations for their year of service, which gives them a sense of connection to Christ’s church beyond their home congregations and the communities they will be serving.
Rev. Susan Andrews, general presbyter
Rev. Rhonda Kruse, connections and change presbyter
Rev. Susan De George, stated clerk
Elder Jean Kaiser, administrative assistant
Emily Monk, manager of finance
Rev. Sarah Henkel, cross-cultural network coordinator
Rev. Peter Surgenor, director, Holmes Camp and Conference Center
Dr. Hans Hallundbaek, prison partnership coordinator
Lori Hylton, hunger action enabler and office assistant
Rev. Abbie Huff, spiritual leader, Nyack Project
Rev. Noelle Damico, communications director
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Holy One, inspire us to serve you and all your people with passion and purpose. May we—like our young adults—be empowered to take risks to follow you wherever you may lead us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: World Communion Sunday/Peacemaking Offering
Invisibly, a young girl’s family is given wages she has yet to earn. One of many, she is taken away from her home by boat to a destination unknown. A mother quietly weeps, pulling her luggage through an airport. She is uncertain of her return or reuniting with her family. She is now one of the many so-called Overseas Filipino Workers. In a rural village, a boy old enough to work in the sugarcane fields is fortunate that his family is able to send him to school. While at school he is recruited for a job in the city that will make him more money than in the fields. Living and working in a building that is locked and monitored, he climbs through an open window onto a mango tree and patiently waits for six hours hoping to escape. Free from the building, he is lost, alone, and without money or connections.
A joint ministry of the National Council and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Teatro Ekumenikal is a theater group of youth and young adults who are a strong voice for justice. The group crafted a visual worship reflection that made the invisible experiences of human trafficking and modern-day slavery visible to participants on the February 2013 Peacemaking Travel Study Seminar Trip to the Philippines. “God or Gold” highlighted the challenge for the church in addressing the overwhelming poverty and violence in the Philippines.
The Peacemaking Offering supports the peacemaking ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s congregations, nationally and globally. Travel Study Seminar experiences and International Peacemaker visits help spread stories of peacemaking and ways to engage in this practice. As we gather this day at a table of welcome, remember our neighbors and partners who help us to see both the visible and the invisible—transforming cultures of violence into communities of peace.
—Nancy Eng MacNeill, associate, constituency support, Presbyterian Peacemaking ProgramLet us pray
O God, open us to seeking a peace that is deeper than fear and to holding our neighbors in the light of peace. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Exod. 20:1–4, 7–9, 12–20
“Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit”
“Holy, Holy, Holy!
Lord God Almighty!”
HB, 11, PH 138
“When I Survey the
HB 198, PH 100, 101
“O Jesus Christ, May Grateful
Hymns Be Rising”
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Geneva
Spurred by a growing commitment to connect local and global mission, the Presbytery of Geneva began conducting annual mission and learning experiences in 2010. Through these trips (over Columbus Day weekend), the presbytery is developing strong partnerships with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in New York City and the Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. All the trips involve group meals and reflections, learning modules, hands-on mission, and intergenerational fun activities. Tracks for children, adults, and young adults are offered.
A grant from the Synod of the Northeast allowed particular outreach to college students in 2012. Students from a variety of colleges came together to participate in a mission and learning trip to Washington, DC. These students learned about the work of the Office of Public Witness, engaged in intensive study of the denomination’s response to gun violence, and volunteered in clothing closets, food ministries, and homeless shelters. The trip fostered among them an enduring commitment to the compassion and justice ministries of the PC(USA).
“I had no idea how much our denomination was involved in domestic policy issues before this trip,” said Benjamin Falter, a first-year student at SUNY Brockport. “It makes me proud to be a Presbyterian.” This learning opportunity continues each year to deepen the faith of young adults throughout the region.
The Presbytery of Geneva comprises 61 congregations, one emerging immigrant fellowship, and Mercy Place, a new church development.
—Rev. Dr. Joelle S. Davis, executive presbyter/stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Joelle S. Davis, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Karen Jensen, administrative assistant
Rhonda Everdyke, director of communications; interim director, Camp Whitman
Darwyn Jepsen, property manager, Camp Whitman
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of challenge and opportunity, help us to demonstrate to all the many ways in which we are called to make a difference. Assist us in bringing the good news to young adults, and bring them opportunities to share that good news with others. Amen.Daily Lectionary