Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Shenandoah
Virginia, West Virginia
Everybody needs clean water to drink. The Presbytery of Shenandoah’s Living Waters team visited Comalapa, Guatemala, where Long Way Home, an NGO, built a special community school. Long Way Home uses sustainable design to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship.
Nearly every word of their mission statement resonates with that of Living Waters for the World, which provides water purification systems for developing countries. Building schools that teach life skills and concepts enables a community to grow out of poverty. So, when Shenandoah’s Living Waters team visited the site of this unique school, they immediately committed to bringing them clean water.
The earthquake-resistant walls of the Escuela Tecnico Maya are made from plaster covering old tires, earth bags, and plastic bottles stuffed with trash. Discarded glass bottles are embedded in the walls and ceilings to provide natural lighting. Community members learn new skills by helping to build the school using new technologies (such as water harvesting) and joining in developing solutions that use available resources.
Today, clean water helps keep the students healthy and is available to the community for drinking and cooking. Although Escuela Tecnico Maya is not a religious school, the love of Christ is shared daily as the students drink the pure water and the community leaders learn life-sustaining skills.
The Presbytery of Shenandoah is home to 108 congregations and 12 chapels.
—Doug Sensabaugh, communications coordinator and hunger action enabler, Presbytery of ShenandoahLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Randall Webb, acting general presbyter
Rev. David Witt, stated clerk
Kim Stroupe, assistant for the constitution
Ruling Elder Doug Sensabaugh, communications coordinator and hunger action enabler
Heather Carter, office administrator/bookkeeper
Larry Holsinger, treasurer
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Your gift of living water gives us new life. We thank you that this new life can be shared wherever you call us, O Lord. We pray that all who drink of the pure water in Comalapa also receive the living water you offer. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceSalem Presbytery
Salem Presbytery is home to 144 congregations and several innovative ministries to young adults and college students. UKirk Greensboro (formerly Presbyterian Campus Ministry) welcomes a wide range of young adults, from high school seniors to twentysomething professionals. In an approach called “Pass the Torch,” the ministry walks with them through the critical steps of young adulthood. To make this possible, it partners with multiple congregations in Greensboro to share staff and provide pastoral care and a network of ministry to young adults. The center of the ministry is the Holderness Presbyterian House, built in 2010 as an intentional residential community for college students and recent graduates.
At Appalachian State University in Boone is another innovative ministry serving students, young adults, and the community. In 2012 Presbyterian Campus Ministry, in partnership with Episcopal Campus Ministry, opened 3rd Place in bustling downtown Boone. The storefront location is not only a meeting place for the campus ministry program but also an art gallery, craft market, performance space, yoga studio, book exchange, and lecture hall—whatever the occasion requires. This experiment in spiritual community has attracted support from congregations as well as passersby and residents. It is truly a space for grace.
These innovative ministries are reaching young adults where they are, but the ministries are not content to leave them there. “We are helping young adults construct community that will lead them to a richer experience of community and a deeper life of faith,” says Rev. Peter Hazelrigg, executive director of UKirk Greensboro.Let us join in prayer for:
Samuel P. Marshall III, general/executive presbyter
Dianna Wright, African American advocate/associate presbyter
Bryan McFarland, hunger action advocate/interim associate presbyter
Alfredo Miranda, Hispanic mission evangelist
Mack Dagenhart, stated clerk
Laurie Scott, office manager
Renee Carter, financial secretary
Chris Campbell, administrative and financial assistant
Peggy Trenchard, administrative assistant
Kim Nichols, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of grace, we pray that we might be your hands and feet and voice to young people who are seeking you. Guide us by your Holy Spirit to create spaces of grace for those you have claimed as your own. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of the Peaks
Many of the 132 congregations in the Presbytery of the Peaks participate in the annual youth-led Souper Bowl of Caring, joining others across the country in collecting food and money for the hunger ministry of their choice on Super Bowl Sunday. For many years the youth of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Roanoke have collected money and soup and donated it to the Presbyterian Community Center in southeast Roanoke, which offers emergency food and financial assistance along with an after-school tutoring program. Many contributed fancy soups until it was discovered that the most popular soups at the center were chicken noodle and tomato.
A few years ago a “co-opetition”—a competitive undertaking toward a common goal—was initiated between Covenant members, who were divided up by where they sit in worship. In the three weeks leading up to Souper Bowl Sunday. The youth offer skits—complete with props—to urge their teams to bring their assigned soup. You can imagine the creativity. But always at the center remained the goal of following Christ's call to feed hungry people. Here are the results of recent co-opetitions:
• 2011: 2,500 cans, with chicken noodle the winner
• 2012: 3,300 cans—tomato soup winning
• 2013: 3,700 cans—tomato soup by a landslide
The goal for 2014 is 5,000 cans. Christ said, “Feed my sheep,” and Covenant Presbyterian has found great joy in trying to do just that!
—Mary MacMichael, director of youth ministries/church activities, Covenant Presbyterian Church, RoanokeLet us join in prayer for:
Nancy Dawson, general presbyter
Steve Earl, associate presbyter for ministry
Jeff Binder, associate presbyter for ministries with youth and young adults
Hugh Springer, stated clerk
Robin Padgett, office manager
Tammy Dowden, office support
Joyce Russell, ministry staff support
Denise Pillow, hunger action enabler
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Aimee Philpott, PMA
John Piazza, BOP
Samantha Piccolo, OGA
Gracious God, we praise you, and also wonder at the great need we see around us. Forgive us for our failure to love our neighbors as ourselves. Strengthen us to work for a world where all are fed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of New Hope
For spring break 2013, our students decided they wanted to work with an organization addressing food insecurity. So, 16 of us traveled from Chapel Hill to work with the San Francisco Food Bank. Sending out what amounts to 100,000 meals a day for six days a week, it is the largest food bank in the country. Our college students, adorned with stylish hairnets and rubber gloves, packaged thousands of pounds of rice, bow-tie pasta, carrots, oranges, and grapefruit.
You might wonder: “Isn’t there a food bank in eastern North Carolina. Why not just go there?” One of our goals for alternative spring break trips is to stretch our students culturally and geographically. We design trips that will regularly invite them to walk outside their comfort zones to serve and learn as Christ calls. Is this not what Christ asks of us all?
Each day we read one of the chapters in Exodus From Hunger by David Beckmann, who describes God’s hope-fueled laborers with these words: “Through the ups and downs of history, those of us who believe God raised Jesus from the dead are always looking for ways God will bring good out of evil, and we are working to seize those opportunities” (Westminster John Knox, 2010, p. 77).
I am thankful that I get to do this every day with college students! I pray you will be able to seize the opportunities in your own lives as well.
The Presbytery of New Hope serves 124 congregations.
—John Rogers, campus minister, University Presbyterian Church, Chapel HillLet us join in prayer for:
Ted Churn, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Terry Lamberson, associate executive, finance and new church development
Christine Kelson, office manager, assistant to executive presbyter/stated clerk
Rene Baker, administrative assistant
Gun Ho Lee, associate for multicultural ministries
Julio Ramirez-Eve, associate for Hispanic ministries
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Elder Ann Philbrick, PMA
Adam Phillip-Silver, BOP
O Jesus, feeder of the multitudes, please feed us. Open us up, and lead us to where you are calling us to serve. Thank you for seeing in us someone who could be equipped to serve and be your disciple. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Union Presbyterian Seminary
This November, from the 3rd to the 5th, Union Presbyterian Seminary (UPSem) will be celebrating 100 years of calling, equipping, and sending Christian educators. In early November 1914, the Assembly’s Training School for Lay Workers (ATS) was established in the Ginter Park Section of Richmond, Virginia, directly across Brook Road from Union Theological Seminary. Though the name was later changed to the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE), and though the institution later federated with Union Theological Seminary to form the new entity that is Union Presbyterian Seminary, the mission has remained the same: to prepare the finest Christian educators for service in the church. For the past 100 years, through the work of ATS, PSCE, and now UPSem, Christian educators have written curriculum, programmed church activities, established church schools, transmitted the faith to younger generations, and provided a host of leadership abilities in churches across the United States and around the globe.
A Centennial Celebration committee has been commissioned by UPSem to recognize this wonderful history of preparing Christian educators. The committee’s work will culminate this November in a series of worship, recreational, historical, and, of course, teaching events that will commemorate ATS/PSCE’s legacy in the life and work of the church. The seminary’s board of trustees will be on campus during the celebration not only to recognize ATS/PSCE’s past but to emphasize UPSem’s commitment to Christian education as one of the foci of the seminary’s strategic vision for its future work. The seminary has initiated a capital campaign that prioritizes the strengthening of the Christian education program. Two fundraising initiatives specifically target this agenda: the calling of two new faculty chairs in Christian education for the Richmond campus and the establishment of a Global Center for Christian Education.
UPSem remains committed to its signature dual degree (MDiv and MACE), which ensures that its graduates, whether members of the PC(USA) or of one of the many other denominations represented in our student body, are ready to be true teaching elders in their congregations—fully prepared, fully equipped pastor-educators.
—Brian K. Blount, president and professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian SeminaryLet us pray
Dear God, we give thanks for the Christian educators who are vital to the work of your church. We ask your blessing upon those whom you have called into the vocation of teaching and nurturing the faith. Strengthen them in this important service even as they strengthen the church through their work. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”
HB 205, PH 114, 115
“When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land”
Exod. 15:1b–11, 20–21
“Peoples, Clap Your Hands!”
“Pues Si Vivimos” (“When We
“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceNew Castle Presbytery
In starting New Castle Presbytery in the late 17th century, Francis Makemie did something before all other Presbyterian pioneers of his day. Presbyterians in Wilmington, Delaware, still take great pride that theirs was the first presbytery of the New World.
This heritage of being first inspires the presbytery to continually explore the shape of emerging ministries as the world becomes new again. So, it comes as no surprise that pastors from three strong congregations and the PC(USA) campus minister from the University of Delaware have joined forces to create F.I.R.S.T. (Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained). This initiative is designed to engage young adult ministers in the pressing challenge of reaching a young adult population that is increasingly distant from the traditional ministries of the PC(USA).
Through generous funding from New Castle Presbytery, the F.I.R.S.T. “starters” will receive a half-time stipend and full health benefits.
As exciting as this sounds, there is nothing terribly precise about what F.I.R.S.T. is doing. Two starters were released into the greater Wilmington area in 2013, and another will be sent out in 2014. They will look for ways to form community around worship and service and will not be confined as many ministers are. But they also will not have the advantages of a building, a stable budget, or a long-standing place in the community.
Then again, Francis Makemie didn’t have any of that either.
New Castle Presbytery has 53 congregations and emergent ministries.
—Rev. Dr. Nathaniel D. Phillips, Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DelawareLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. James L. Moseley, executive presbyter
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline E. Taylor, associate executive presbyter, Speer Trust director
Reid K. Beveridge, stated clerk
Donna L. Scully, executive assistant
Rachel C. Sykes, administrative assistant and communications coordinator
Rev. Sara Holben, chair of council
Mark Olson, moderator
Julius Jackson, vice moderator
Rev. Tom Davis, interfaith peacemaker
Pam Ruarke, disaster recovery coordinator
Terry Dykstra, mission associate
Rev. Nona Holy, campus ministry pastor
Rev. Kate LeFranc, pastoral associate
Rev. Laurie Hiller, parliamentarian
Rev. Doug Gerdts, treasurer
Susan Wilson, bookkeeper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Good and gracious God, thank you for the gift of life. We confess that we have become too comfortable with our own way of doing things. Grant us the freedom to embrace the new thing that you are doing in our midst, and employ our influence for the good of those that have none. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceNational Capital Presbytery
Metropolitan Washington, DC
In 2005 the town of Herndon, Virginia, was divided over what to do about a large number of Latino men who gathered in a parking lot where contractors came to hire day laborers. The situation was chaotic: laborers risked their safety and tied up traffic competing for jobs. Trinity Presbyterian Church’s pastor, Rev. Stephen Smith-Cobbs, and two elders began meeting with an interfaith group about how to respond to the community’s need for order, the construction companies’ need for laborers, and the laborers’ need for work. The group worked with town government to create a new hiring center to address these concerns.
Trinity’s leaders knew that members of the congregation had differing views on the issue and that their own public advocacy was unpopular. But they were convinced of God’s call to take a stand for justice for the poor and to extend hospitality to strangers. Because they decided to make God’s love and justice visible, others were inspired to support the hiring center.
Rev. Edwin Andrade, copastor of Riverside Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia, and Rev. Rebecca Gillespie, associate pastor at Trinity, started a lunch and Bible study program that is now attended by between 25–60 Latino workers weekly. The program is challenging the Trinity congregation to be in ministry, as Latino workers are inviting friends to Sunday morning worship. When even a handful of members start exhibiting the kingdom of God to the world, good news is spread throughout the congregation and in the wider community.
Trinity and Riverside are two of 110 congregations in National Capital Presbytery.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Roger Gench, member, PMA Board
Rev. G. Wilson Gunn Jr., general presbyter
Elder Sara Coe, stated clerk
Janet Biermann, assistant to the stated clerk
Elder Dick Lowery, treasurer
Debbie Golden, finance director
LaJuan Quander, communications director
Annemarie Quigley, staff assistant to Committee on Ministry
Elder Adele McCullough-Graham, program assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Roy Peterson, PMA
Sherri Pettway, PMA
Dear Lord, you offer peace to those who come from afar. May the church hear your voice calling us to build community among all people, so that in Jesus Christ we are no longer strangers but members of the household of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of the James
The youth program of the Presbytery of the James is permeated by a strong belief in encouraging participation in Christlike actions as a means of experiencing Christ and living out one’s faith.
The presbytery youth council hosts several programs throughout the year. “When planning for our mission events, we always try to keep in mind not only what would be fun and exciting for the youth but also what actually will be most beneficial to the community and those they serve,” says Lyndsey McCall, youth ministry coordinator. “If we are going to say we are doing mission work, it can’t always be thrilling, but it will always be meaningful.” By far, the most popular event is Rally to Serve.
The youth have responded well to their call to serve! In spring 2012 they packaged 10,000 meals with Stop Hunger Now. Their interest in mission was so strong that the presbytery added a fall Rally to Serve event in addition to the one in the spring. So, that fall they planted seeds and landscaped a yard with Project Homes, a local group that seeks to improve the living conditions of low-income seniors and disabled residents. In spring 2013 the youth reached out to smaller congregations by hosting a World Vision 30 Hour Famine in Amelia. Participants learned about hunger issues, served at a local food pantry, paraded in the small town with statistics concerning hunger, and packed another 10,000 meals with Stop Hunger Now.
The 112 congregations, one new church development, and one African fellowship of the presbytery work together to bring young people into the church by introducing them to the presbytery’s dynamic youth program.
—Clifton Edwards, office administrator, Presbytery of the JamesLet us join in prayer for:
H. Carson Rhyne Jr., general presbyter and stated clerk
Clifton Edwards, office administrator
Cindy Hollingshead, staff accountant
Cynthia Holmes, assistant to the stated clerk, Committee on Ministry
Phyllis Perross, staff support
Wendy Johnson, associate for ministry support
Franklin Reding, assistant to the stated clerk, Committee on Preparation for Ministry
Lyndsey McCall, youth ministry coordinator
Doug Walters, executive director, Camp Hanover
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious and loving God, help us to rally ourselves and others to serve as you served. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Eastern Virginia
For the young adults in the University Presbyterian Campus Ministry program at Old Dominion University, Valentine’s Day is hands down the best day for missions! Although they participate in many mission projects throughout the year, that day’s random act of kindness is by far the favorite mission event of the ministry. The students buy 400 carnations, cut them, and attach a card to each that says, “God loves you.” Armed with fresh flowers and engulfed with the desire to spread God’s love throughout the university, they take the campus by storm. Each carnation is received with a broad smile and a gracious reaction. This act often spurs conversations with recipients about how it feels to hear that God loves them. Stories about hometown churches and the last time they attended often follow.
This small act of kindness is indeed a big mission initiative. It makes a huge difference in the lives of both the recipients and the flower bearers. In an atmosphere where God is absent from most conversations, these young adults go out and, with the small gift of a flower, remind people on campus that God is indeed real and that he loves them. This modest mission effort changes lives: the lives of the ministry team as well as the recipients of God’s grace and love in the form of a carnation.
The Presbytery of Eastern Virginia serves 59 congregations.
—Rev. Linda K. Rainey, campus minister, Old Dominion University, NorfolkLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Liza Hendricks, transitional general presbyter
Elder Donald Bickhart, stated clerk
Elder Linda Marley Smith, administrator
Elder Jessica Fitzgerald, administrative assistant and hunger action enabler
Rev. Linda K. Rainey, campus minister, Old Dominion University
Rev. Michelle “Mike” Burcher, director, Makemie Woods Camp and Conference Center
Elder David Carney, business manager
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord, in a world where we are often so busy with our own lives and needs, help us to remember that it only takes small acts of kindness to remind others of your love. Let us take the time to share those small acts of love and kindness wherever we may be. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Coastal Carolina
The Presbytery of Coastal Carolina seeks to help its worshiping communities bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of God by providing mission and outreach support. One such ministry is the Hispanic mission in Fayetteville.
Abelina Capote and her husband, Ridgo, attend services each Sunday at the Hispanic mission with their three children, Christopher, Abby, and Moses. Christopher's big smile accompanies him each week as he takes up the offering.
In early 2013 Abelina mentioned that she had learned to play the saxophone as a young girl growing up in Mexico and, if she could again have an instrument, would like to share her gift of music in worship.
An email request was sent from the presbytery office to Coastal Carolina’s 189 congregations. Within a few weeks, the evangelist for Hispanic ministries, Eduardo Moreno, was presented with a saxophone for Abelina. The donation came from Rev. LaVera Parato, who was serving as pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Beaufort.
Abelina was thrilled and began practicing with another member of the congregation. When her husband was asked if he would be singing with her, he smiled and said, “Sometimes the instrument squeaks when Abelina plays.” Abelina smiled and replied, “I am playing for God, not you!” What a testimony of the faithfulness of a young adult using the gifts God has given her and of a presbytery eager to provide support.
—Kaye Bledsoe, associate for resource services, Presbytery of Coastal CarolinaLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Bill Reinhold, general presbyter/stated clerk
Elder Gayle Boykin, treasurer and business manager
Rev. Eduardo Moreno, evangelist, Hispanic ministries
Janet Krause, administrative assistant and recording clerk
Terry Johnson, financial assistant and computer administrator
De Scott, receptionist and database manager
Rev. Laura Lupton, mission coordinator, west community
Rev. Nancy Gladden, mission coordinator, east community
Rev. Steuart Link, mission coordinator, central community
Amy Hodges, associate for youth ministries
Kaye Bledsoe, associate for resource services
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, we plant and water the seeds, but you alone give the growth to our mission and outreach projects. Keep us faithful in our work in your vineyard. May our labors bear fruit as we help others discover and develop their God-given gifts. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceSeason of Peace Minute for Mission
“Churches can be the best in offering reconciliation and peace. They can also be the worst in teaching sectarian theology.” That’s what Derek Poole told participants of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s Travel Study Seminar to Northern Ireland. Poole, who works with former combatants of the region’s sectarian conflict, described the goal of reconciliation in Northern Ireland as transforming conflict from a destructive enterprise to a creative one that makes space for shared beneficial action. It is about finding a common story that includes and affirms all; one that unites rather than divides.
“People are born and baptized into cultures,” Poole said. “They learn to be sectarian and racist. Ancestral voices transfer stories from one generation to another. The peace process needs stability; people are still hurt and segregated.” The Presbyterian group saw the residual hurt and segregation firsthand on a walking tour of West Belfast, where 30-foot-high peace walls still divide working-class Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, memorials commemorate innocent lives lost, murals display the enduring influence of paramilitary groups, and rows of abandoned houses stand as testimony to the challenges of living in a place of incomplete reconciliation and imperfect peace.
Poole told the peacemaking group that Protestant paramilitaries are still recruiting young people. “The mechanics for a return to violence is in place,” he cautioned. “Tolerance is not enough. Church programs need to move out of middle-class contentment and into the inner city.”
—Carl Horton, program facilitator, Presbyterian Peacemaking ProgramLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
O God, as we move this month into A Season of Peace for the PC(USA), may we be unsettled into action by incomplete reconciliation and imperfect peace. Use us as you transform cultures of violence into communities of peace. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Christian Education
On Pentecost Sunday, the church was covered in red, confirmation students were struggling to pin roses on their shirts, parents were taking pictures, younger siblings were rolling their eyes, and some of the older members were grinning at the chaos. Eventually, we were called to worship.
Then there was an incredible moment when a young man professed his faith and walked to the font, followed by a second sacred moment when his classmates, in sure voices, affirmed the promises made on their behalf and claimed this faith as their own. Hands were placed on shoulders and prayers said: not unlike the prayers spoken over an infant at the font (“May she grow in wisdom and grace and knowledge of the Lord”); or when Bibles are given to fourth graders (“Show him your place in the story of your people”); or at graduations, weddings, and ordinations.
I think of the young people who have stood in similar places and said similar words. They were the ones who couldn’t sit still during a children’s sermon, who set off fire alarms during lock-ins, who struggled with depression, who never came to Sunday school, and who now teach theology and serve as elders and deacons. As an educator, days like confirmation are filled with celebration. The days in between—days filled with class rosters, supply lists, and curriculum reviews—are holy days as well, because every day is a god-given opportunity to live Christ's Great Commission to teach young disciples everything he has commanded them.
—Rachel Pedersen, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church,Bloomington, IndianaLet us pray
God, you called us before we knew our names; you walk beside us when our steps are uncertain; you whisper before we know the words to speak. Continue in your teaching, and help us to bear witness to your unfolding story among us. AmenSunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Let Us with a Gladsome Mind”
HB 28, PH 244
“All Creatures of Our God and King”
HB 100, PH 455
“Come Down, O Love Divine”
“How Firm a Foundation”
HB 369, PH 361
North Carolina, South Carolina
Each year congregations from around the Presbytery of Charlotte join together for a World Vision 30 Hour Famine. The event is planned and organized by youth leaders across the presbytery, and the 2013 famine followed World Vision’s “Feed Your 5,000” concept. Jesus’ example of feeding the 5,000 was put before participants: “Who is your 5,000?” they were asked, to encourage them to envision the people they would serve.
Participants learned about the city of Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center and all it does to address homelessness; about human trafficking, CROP Walk, and various national ministries that address the needs of “the least of these”; and about PC(USA) global partnerships and efforts in countries like Columbia, Peru, and Haiti. They packaged over 10,000 meals for Stop Hunger Now. They laughed, learned, played, served, and worshiped God together, proving that with God all things are possible because of our unity as the body of Christ.
Who is your 5,000? The exact number is irrelevant. The reality is that all of us are called to serve as a requirement of our faith in our risen Lord, Jesus Christ. It’s our response, our act of saying thanks to God for the amazing gift of grace. All of us have a population to serve somewhere. It may be within your community, or it may be across the nation or somewhere else around the world. It may be as few as one or as many as 10,000. We all have a call to identify a person, place, or group in need and then serve that need in the name of our loving and gracious God.
Davidson College, Barber-Scotia College, Queens University, Johnson C. Smith University, Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, and 112 congregations are all within the bounds of the presbytery.
—Rev. Steven Barnes, associate pastor, Cook’s Memorial Presbyterian Church, CharlotteLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, you call us as partners in creation. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, fill us with blessings and grow in our lives, that by the Holy Spirit we may go out into the world to do your will. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Mt. Paran Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Baltimore is a living testimony to God’s command to us to welcome the stranger in our midst. Less than a decade ago, this congregation with a part-time pastor and a handful of elderly white members opened its arms to embrace the culturally diverse community sprouting up around its edges.
At that time the congregation had been struggling financially; the people were tired and ready to give up. “We did an honest evaluation of ourselves, looked at our composition, and prayed for God to make us like the community,” says Edward Terry, a commissioned ruling elder who became the congregation’s spiritual leader in 2005.
It didn’t take long for God to answer their prayers. Two weeks later, an immigrant family from Cameroon visited the church. The family joined the congregation and told many others in their tight-knit, immigrant community about the friendly little church.
Today, Mt. Paran is truly a vibrant, multicultural, economically diverse congregation, with over 200 members from several cultures: Native American, African, American, and Asian. The church’s diversity has also led to greater outreach to the local community.
Prayer is the key to Mt. Paran’s miraculous transformation. “We try to learn the best part of each culture and incorporate them, but it takes patience, time, and education,” says Terry. “Through it all, we remain devoted to prayer; preaching, teaching, and applying God’s truth as recorded in the Bible; celebrating the sacraments; and the fellowship of believers.”
Mt. Paran is one of 72 congregations in the Presbytery of Baltimore.
—Deborah I. Greene, director of communications, Presbytery of BaltimoreLet us join in prayer for:
William W. Nickels III, associate general presbyter
Catherine G. Blacka, stated clerk
Walter W. Peters, associate stated clerk
Deborah L. Milcarek, associate for reconciliation
Debbie Ingram Schmidt, associate for spiritual leadership development
Susan Krehbiel, director of congregational advocacy
Judy Johnson, ministry group staff
Kate Foster Connors, director of the center
Greg Seltzer, hunger action enabler
Wanda Morgan, director of events and services
Deborah I. Greene, director of communications
Luke Albao, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Loving God, we pray that all congregations will open their arms to those who live in their communities, embrace the gifts that new people bring, and allow the Holy Spirit to enable them to thrive as new creations in Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Younghyun Song, a young adult at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia, had always wanted to go on a mission trip. He finally got his chance in 2013, when the congregation sent a group to Costa Rica. They met regularly from January to May to prepare: learning Spanish, receiving evangelism training, studying Scripture, and praying. The group consisted of 34 members divided into smaller units: a praise team, a medical team, an eye-care team, a VBS team, and a haircutting team. It was amazing to see people with no Spanish background praise and share the gospel boldly in Spanish just five months later.
The eight-day trip to Costa Rica was filled with God’s blessings. They witnessed many people come to a saving knowledge of Christ and served them in various ways: cutting hair, handing out glasses, providing medical services, and ministering to children through VBS.
They saw amazing things during the evening worship services: some received the gift of tongues, an elderly woman who came in a wheelchair was able to walk without assistance and started praising God, a person who had been troubled by an evil spirit was delivered, and many others were healed in various ways. Younghyun was able to witness what he had only heard and read about in the Bible. It was an amazing sight: people singing praise with such energy and freedom, people receiving Christ’s forgiveness, and people committing their lives to God.
The trip taught Younghyun that sharing God’s love with people who need it is a tremendous privilege. God used the trip to confirm Younghyun’s vision to become a medical doctor. He gives thanks to God for giving him a purpose and a greater appreciation for Christ’s mission.
Atlantic Korean-American Presbytery serves 24 congregations.
—Rev. Bermsoo Kim, associate pastor, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Marietta, GeorgiaLet us join in prayer for:
Nam Hong Cho, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Rev. Sam Young Kim, associate executive presbyter/stated clerk
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of love, you came down to this lowly place because you loved us so much. Help us to follow you and go out to the ends of the world to proclaim the gospel to the unreached, that your kingdom may come on this earth! We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
“We used to do that” and “That’s nice; you should do that” were some of the responses given amid conversation about a presbytery-wide mission trip. So, two small-town pastors jumped in headfirst. They decided on New York City, an exotic locale for folks from southwestern Virginia, and made sure to schedule in plenty of fun: a Broadway play, a Statue of Liberty visit, transportation on Amtrak, and hot dogs from a street vendor. Their plan was a classic bait and switch: draw them with fun, knowing that the mission work would overshadow tourist attractions once they were there.
Eighteen youth and adults gathered the night before the trip to pray and to practice what to do should someone miss a subway stop or get lost. And then they traveled. Eyes were opened: tall buildings, bright lights, and so many people. And lives were changed.
“Where did you see Jesus?” was a question they asked one another each night. Without fail, Jesus had been present: in a man at a soup kitchen who shared his poetry—deep, hard-hitting sonnets about life; in “Big Red,” a man at a food pantry who poked fun at the workers and laughed with the clients; in Andy, a group member, when he shared his faith at a breakfast for the hungry; in the bonds of love built between group members and the people serving the marginalized in their beloved city; in the members of Bay Ridge United Church, who provided a place to stay.
Each day was then closed with prayer and a John Fischer song that concludes with these lines: “Have you ever stood in the family with the Lord there in your midst? / Seen the face of Christ on each other? / Then I say . . . / You’ve seen Jesus my Lord.”
Abingdon Presbytery is home to 50 congregations.
—Greg Wood, pastor, Tazewell Presbyterian ChurchLet us join in prayer for:
Elder John S. DiYorio, stated clerk
Elder Phyllis Canter, hunger action enabler
Elder April DiYorio, administrative director
Rev. Edwin Lacy, new worshiping community director, Wild Goose Community
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Steve Ogdie, PPC
Elder Pat Ohlmann, FDN
Lord, let us see you in those we serve and in those who serve others. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The Synod of the Mid-Atlantic continues striving to be faithful stewards in an atmosphere of change and transition in the church and in society as a whole. At this writing, as the PC(USA) seeks to discern the future of its governance system—including the place of synods in that structure—the downsizing of staff and office operations has reached a level intended to be sustainable for the coming few years. In light of the stressors on its presbyteries, the synod has sought to reduce its operational costs while maintaining those services and resources vital to the work of the presbyteries. The synod also retains its focus on administering a variety of funds and endowments supporting college and seminary scholarships, congregational mission endeavors, and mission initiatives among multiple presbyteries.
The synod is made up of 14 presbyteries totaling more than 1,400 congregations throughout the states of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia; the District of Columbia; and several counties in West Virginia. Within its bounds are Union Presbyterian Seminary, conference centers at Massanetta Springs (VA) and Montreat (NC), and nearly a dozen Presbyterian-related colleges and universities.
—David W. McKee, executive and stated clerkLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. David W. McKee, synod executive and stated clerk
Sarah E. Cash, synod administrator
Cindy Hollingshead, finance manager
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Eternal God, in the midst of a world that simply won’t stop, or even slow, its relentless changing, grant us a deep and abiding sense of your sovereign power and steadfast presence in our lives. May we walk the way that is set before us in faithfulness to our calling in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Jesus instructs us to ask for our daily bread. We know that God provides our bread through the hands of the baker and the farmer. Today, bakers may work in a factory hundreds of miles from the farmer, who uses a harvester made by workers in another factory.
In the late 19th century, as factories grew in importance, churches saw more clearly the social dimensions of the gospel. The Presbyterian Board for Home Missions responded in 1903 by hiring the phenomenally energetic Charles Stelzle to build a Workingman’s Department. Born in poverty in New York City, Stelzle started part-time work stripping tobacco leaves at age eight and dropped out of school at eleven to support his widowed mother. A Presbyterian mission fed his spiritual hunger, and he attended night school to prepare for the ministry.
By 1906 Stelzle had organized over 1,000 shop-floor meetings where pastors met with workers. He wrote a column in more than 300 labor newspapers, applying Scripture to working life. Workers were invited to church on “Labor Stelzle advocated for the first “Social Creed” of the new Federal Council of Churches, which included calls to end child labor and poverty, calls for worker health and safety, and protection for workers in old age, 25 years before Social Security was achieved.
The 218th General Assembly (2008) approved a new Social Creed for the 21st Century that addresses globalization, the environment, workers’ rights, and the dangers of intensified inequality. This one-page statement of what the church stands for in public life may be punchy enough even for Charlie Stelzle. Please visit for a 28-minute video and other resources.
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of justice, your Spirit continues to labor in this world, inspiring each of us to contribute to a common good that is bigger than any of us can see. Let us strive to support that “square deal” that Stelzle preached long ago. In the Carpenter’s name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
When we are baptized, hands are laid on our heads, ordaining us for a life of service empowered by the Holy Spirit. One of our baptismal vows includes a pledge to offer our talents back to God in praise for all that God has given us. This offering is our Christian vocation, such that our work, our relationships, indeed all of life becomes a form of prayer.
For two weeks each summer, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Summer Youth Institute helps young Christians think through vocation at a critical stage in their development. At no cost to them, chosen participants travel to Pittsburgh between their junior and senior years of high school to explore theological issues in an academic environment. They also worship, have fun, and do a service project, all while reflecting on what it means to be Christian and how their faith will shape their future education, work, relationships, and community involvement. To learn more about this program visit.
College students who receive financial assistance from the PC(USA) are also asked to write with others on selected vocational questions. Answering these questions would benefit every Christian, though they are geared particularly to the college years. Writing on such questions as “What is Christian vocation?” and “What have you learned about who God created you to be?” requires the students to consider what it means to be gifted and called by God.
Regardless of what season of life we are in, all of us are called to live out our baptismal vocation with thanksgiving to Christ our Lord.
—Teresa Stricklen, former associate for worship, office of Theology and WorshipLet us pray
Gracious God, giver of every good and perfect gift, thank you for calling us to your service. Help us to be cheerful in using your gifts to us for the common good of others—to your glory. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“The God of Abraham Praise”
HB 89, PH 488
Ps. 105:1–6, 23–26, 45c
“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”
HB 339, PH 281
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds”
HB 473, PH 438
“Take Up Your Cross,
the Savior Said”
HB 293, PH 393
A partnership with the Presbiterio de Chihuahua in Northern Mexico is one of the many exciting ministries of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas. Five years ago the two presbyteries agreed to work for peace and justice and to seek ways to learn from each other.
Each spring a group from Kansas travels to northern Mexico to work with ministry partners. The groups have built church structures, painted and cleaned and plumbed, led vacation Bible school, and, most importantly, built relationships in Jesus Christ. The mission trips are intentionally open to everyone, and last year’s participants ranged in age from 8 to 90.
In 2013 the group traveled to Hermosillo in the region of Sonora. They partnered with Voz del Desierto (Voice of the Desert) Presbyterian Church. Exciting things are happening there! In 2010 Pastor Ramon Garcia and his family moved to Hermosillo, where the mission of six members was struggling. Pastor Ramon began to make changes to help the mission grow. Five people left, leaving membership at one! Pastor Ramon did not lose hope but kept listening for the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Today Voz del Desierto has about 60 in worship and recently completed a larger sanctuary with help from a congregation in the Presbytery of Southern Kansas. They have now moved from being a mission to a congregation. Praise be to God!
The leadership and faith of Pastor Ramon and others have truly inspired members of the Presbytery of Southern Kansas. He is an example of the truth that with God all things are possible!
The Presbytery of Southern Kansas, made up of 61 congregations and their 6,580 members, reaches out across the globe with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Jay Ayers, administrator
Rev. Seth Svaty, moderator
Rev. Jan Brooks, stated clerk pro tem
Jan Lane, administrative assistant
Rachel Furry, bookkeeper
Brian Wheeler, camping ministries
Diane Wheeler, camp administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of us all, we give thanks that you bridge the gaps of age, language, and culture. Guide us as we partner with our brothers and sisters around the world, and give us open hearts and minds to hear your voice. Amen.Daily Lectionary