First Presbyterian Church in Kingsport has operated a clothes closet for more than 50 years. This ministry started with one mother “recycling” the clothes her children had outgrown, but the idea of passing good clothing on to others was received warmly by the congregation. Today, over 4,500 families have been assisted by this ministry.
As the only active clothes closet in the area, it assists needy families with anything from socks and underwear to men’s suits, women’s purses, children’s clothes, shoes, and belts. The Salvation Army, Red Cross, local police and fire departments, and other churches make referrals to the clothes closet. The entire community donates good used clothing—and a fair amount of new items—to this endeavor. A large number of volunteers gather early every Monday morning to sort, fold, hang, and display a little bit of everything. The clothes closet opens each Tuesday at 9 a.m. to an eager clientele awaiting the chance to gather needed items.
A family can visit the clothes closet twice each calendar month and select two outfits per person registered. Shoes, jackets, coats, and other items are not included in this limit.
Each July the clothes closet has a back-to-school giveaway, with new underwear, socks, and tennis shoes for children. At Christmas children receive toys and free photos of themselves with Santa.
God has provided this ministry with ample volunteers, who cheerfully assist people with needed clothing. They are rewarded many times over by a public who leave wishing them well and sincerely thanking them for what they do.
Holston Presbytery is home to 67 congregations and their 7,667 members.
The Holston Presbytery Camp & Retreat Center is located in Banner Elk, North Carolina. The presbytery has a Campus House at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City and has covenant relationships with King College, Tusculum College, Lees-McRae College, Evergreen Presbyterian Ministry, Grandfather Home for Children, and Sunset Gap Community Center.Let us join in prayer for:
Rich Fifield, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Kimberly D. Fifield, treasurer/financial manager
Craig Bell, director, Holston Presbytery Camp & Retreat Center
Andrea Sutter, Campus House director, youth & young adult ministry
Lord, we thank you for loving volunteers who feel they cannot do enough to help their neighbors and serve those in need. We thank you for donors who bring their items so that they may continue to serve your children. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Loaves and Fishes is a biannual event sponsored by the Presbytery of East Tennessee to develop and enrich its member congregations and the community, with worship, workshops, and opportunities for fellowship.
The theme for the March 2012 event, “Food for the Soul,” was chosen as a counterpoint to the divisions so prevalent in our church today. We should all be able to agree on two things: food is necessary for survival, and the suffering caused by lack of food is intolerable. Food and faith are interwoven on nearly every page of the Bible. Table fellowship was central to Jesus’ ministry with his disciples, and the modern church more than ever must embrace table fellowship as a unifying act.
Keynote speaker Rev. Lise Worthington, professional chef and pastor, encouraged participants to be faithful stewards of the food resources in their communities through a farmland gleaning initiative called Graze on Faith. He also promoted healthy food habits, from what we put into our own bodies to the way food is presented in our schools and the community.
Singer/songwriter Rev. Bryan McFarland, hunger action advocate for Salem Presbytery, offered a concert and led the group in a musical Communion service with selections from his latest CD, . . . Until All Are Fed. He also raised awareness on how, in the fight to end hunger, writing letters to government leaders can be as effective and as easy as donating canned goods.
Rev. Thomas Daniel, founding pastor at Kairos Atlanta, gave a powerful message from Acts 2. He preached that we ought to spend less time worrying about “growing churches” and more time gathering around tables in church and at home, sharing our real lives and caring deeply for one another.
The presbytery’s 74 congregations have 12,300 total members.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. William Judson(Judd) Shaw , general presbyter
Rev. James McTyre, stated clerk
Dana Hendrix, office manager
Gwen Pyle, financial administrator
Bri Payne, executive director, John Knox Center
Dear God, you are the gardener who planted all that is and delights at its flourishing. Open our eyes to the abundance of creation, that we might feel free to share what is ours, to ask where there is need, and to partake of the feast of caring for one another. Like the bread that comes from your own table of grace, bless us that we might feed others. Amen.Daily Lectionary
In 2010 the Synod of Living Waters joined hands with the Synod of Alaska-Northwest to help member congregations and presbyteries have increased access to technology. The Presbyterian Technology Ministry, known as Presbytech, enables the synods to communicate better with their communities.
The program is supported by a Heiserman Grant of $70,500, split between the synods. The grant, made possible through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the PC(USA), came out of a bequest made by Geraldine Heiserman to the denomination.
With training events held quarterly beginning in February 2011, the Synod of Living Waters is well on its way to meeting its goal of having 50 percent of its congregations with functional websites by the end of 2013. Training enables volunteers to build and maintain an attractive website. Other resources, such as document sharing and email service, are also available through the Presbytech system.
The Synod of Living Waters is made up of 97,195 members of 714 congregations in 12 presbyteries across the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Living Waters for the World is the mission project of the synod.
The synod is in covenant with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Columbia Theological Seminary.Let us join in prayer for:
Terry Newland, synod executive
Emily Dunbar, program director
Carie Turner, financial administrator
Richard Borie, stated clerk
Wil Howie, Living Waters for the World director
Steve Young, Living Waters for the World administrator
Janet Tuck, communications director
You who are the Word made flesh, we thank you for the many ways we have to spread your good news. May the online presence of your churches in the Synod of Living Waters reach many who are in need of ministry and the news of your living presence in our midst. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Father’s Day is also Men of the Church Sunday for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a day to honor the ministry of the men in the church. In some congregations, one or more men will be surprised as they are honored as Church Man of the Year and their contribution to the life of a particular congregation is recognized and celebrated.
One large group of men who qualify for such honor is the Presbyterian Men Mission Network (PMMN) of the Synod of the Trinity. The group was organized in 2007 and has been at work in 32 of Pittsburgh Presbytery’s 142 congregations. Eric Harrison, PMMN leader, is a very active retired general construction professional and a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. He leads PMMN in encouraging men to volunteer their professional and personal expertise to help congregations with their building and program challenges.
Kerr Presbyterian Church had serious ceiling damage, and the church manse needed remodeling for a neighborhood children’s ministry. PMMN networked with several other congregations in a dynamic partnership to help Rev. Ken Love and the Kerr congregation do what it could not do alone.
Rev. Darrell Knopp faced the challenge of merging the Central Presbyterian and McKeesport Presbyterian congregations because of population decline. This heartbreaking task was helped by the skillful and sensitive guidance of PMMN volunteers in selling one building and revitalizing the other.
Logans Ferry Presbyterian Church, served by Rev. Robert Henry, is a small but vibrant congregation. Unfortunately, the walls of the church building were crumbling under the weight of its beamed roof. Worship was moved to the fellowship hall in late 2010, but the walls were repaired in time for Easter 2012.
The Presbyterian Men Mission Network has helped congregations save time and costs, and, even more important, the volunteer network taps the expertise so many of our men carry silently within them.
Redeeming and restoring God, we give thanks for the varied ministries of men of the church. Help us to make good use of the skills and talents of men as we share in the building and rebuilding of Christ’s church. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
1 Kings 21:1–10 (11–14), 15–21a
Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice
As Morning Dawns
Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed
PH 78, HB 199
Wotanin Waste Nahon Po (Hear the Good News of Salvation)
Growing Hispanic populations in the two most populous cities within the bounds of the Presbytery of Whitewater Valley encouraged the presbytery to explore together how to minister within that new context.
On the west side of Indianapolis, Iglesia Nueva Creacion, a new church development (NCD), partners with John Knox Presbyterian Church. Together they have participated in some successful outreach programs, such as vacation Bible school, tutoring, and festivals in the fall and at Easter. More recently, Nueva Creacion started Hogares Saludables, a parenting workshop. Through these outreach efforts, the NCD has connected with many families. Opportunities for rich dialogue about faith and following Jesus Christ have begun to emerge. Nueva Creacion’s pastor is the Rev. Fernando Rodriguez. An Administrative Commission of the presbytery is working toward chartering the worshiping community as a congregation.
On the south side of Fort Wayne, Amistad Cristiana grew out of a partnership among local Presbyterian congregations (Calvary Third, First, Grace, Trinity, and United Faith) through the Presbyterian Latino Alliance Northeast (PLAN), with the Rev. Leonel Pech as its planting pastor. The vision of Amistad is “to grow in Fort Wayne, Indiana, a seeker friendly, bilingual, multicultural congregation with a faith-based community center sensitive to our context: welcoming, bilingual, multicultural and service oriented.” Amistad has been worshiping in Calvary Third’s former building. An Administrative Commission is working to move them from a mission of the presbytery to an NCD with an organizing pastor.
The presbytery partners in ministry with the 17,662 members of its 62 congregations and two NCDs.Let us join in prayer for:
Taylor Alan Thames, executive presbyter
Felipe Martinez, associate executive presbyter
Greg Thomas, stated clerk
Kristy Quinn, executive administrator
Eric Herzog, financial consultant to the presbytery and its congregations
Mike Srbljan, finance manager
Craig Shaw, information technology
Ruth Ann MacPherson, general office administrative assistant
Rich Swartwood, Camp PYOCA director
Harriet O’Connor, Westminster Neighborhood Ministries director
Fernando Rodriguez, NCD organizing pastor
Leonel Pech, NCD organizing pastor
Fabio Socarraz, Hispanic ministries advocate
Barry Sumner, commissioned ruling elder for NCD
Loving God, we are mindful that you have called your people from north and south and east and west to sit together in the kingdom of God. We are thankful for new ministries within our midst that give witness to that calling. Be with the congregations of Amistad Cristiana and Iglesia Nueva Creacion. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Understanding that God is calling them to reenvision themselves to serve their communities, 14 congregations in Indiana’s Presbytery of Wabash Valley committed in 2010 to participate in the first wave of a three-year transformational process. The second wave of congregations beginning the transformational process launched in 2011 with four participating congregations, and the third wave launched in 2012 with five participating congregations. In total, these 23 congregations represent approximately one-third of the Presbytery of Wabash Valley’s member congregations and have the potential to affect ministry and mission in nearly all of the counties within the presbytery’s boundaries.
Mae Leech, the part-time commissioned ruling elder serving Geetingsville Presbyterian Church since 2004, describes her congregation’s participation in the Transformational Ministry process as invigorating and unifying. The family-size congregation is in its third year of participation and has not only discovered and defined the shared history of the congregation, which has existed since 1885, but also come to understand its purpose in relationship with its neighbors. Geetingsville supports local food pantries and a shelter for women and children, is working to try new things in its worship and children’s ministry, and has welcomed five new members this past year. The challenge still exists for the congregation to balance long-range planning with the size of its membership and time resources, but the people are finding comfort in the ways God is blessing their conversations and ministries and are trusting that God will help them define the future paths they should follow.
Eighty-seven congregations and their 11,598 members are actively sharing the gospel and supporting Geneva Center, the camp and conference center where the presbytery office is located.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Frank Vardeman, general presbyter
Elder Linda Long, stated clerk
Elder Eric Herzog, financial consultant
Gladys Sargent, office manager
Vicki Dreibelbis, church relations coordinator
Geneva Center Staff
Cathy Adley, manager
Jeff Winegardener, maintenance director
Holy and loving God, we thank you for journeying with your church through our times of learning, joy, change, and sorrow. Please bless all of your people with the ability to be bold in sharing the good news and in loving you, themselves, and their neighbors. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Presbyterian camps are sacred spaces that change lives. In these tough financial times, support for a number of Presbyterian camps has faltered, resulting in facility deterioration and the closing of some camps.
Every spring for the past 20 years, adults from First Presbyterian Church of Champaign have gone on a mission work trip to a Presbyterian camp. These workers, most of whom are retired, have dubbed these trips—to 15 different states—“Mission Possible” and have proven that hard work, sweat, ibuprofen, and more than a little of God’s help and inspiration produce amazing results. Recently they invited men from successful drug rehabilitation homes, who provide additional skill and inspiration, to join them. Word has spread, and camp directors are eager to welcome the team.
This group of 25 or 30 (a total of 91 have been involved) has reconstructed cabins destroyed by a hurricane and built beds, stairs, shelves, walls, picnic tables, pole barns, and fences. They’ve painted, stripped and varnished, replaced windows, sewn covers and curtains, and done roofing, siding, wiring, and plumbing—in all donating the equivalent of eight years of eight-hour days. With daily devotions and late-night sharing, they have cemented close Christian friendships.
Between trips, folks from the group have made over 30 work trips to Camp Carew in their own presbytery; completed building, remodeling, and redecorating projects for local shelters and congregations; repaired local homes; made 25 rocking horses that are decorated by congregation members and given to disadvantaged children each year; and run an evening wood-shop activity for the congregation’s youth program.
The Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois consists of 96 congregations and their 9,378 members.Let us join in prayer for:
Elder William Capel, member, PMA Board
Rev. Anne M. Jones, transitional executive presbyter for congregational care
Rev. Cynthia Bean, stated clerk
Paul Saegesser, treasurer
Dan Kingery, camp director
Brenda Garry, administrative assistant
Marsha Mower, secretary and registrar
Gracious God, give us humble hearts so that we can recognize the gifts of others and encourage the use of those gifts for the building up of your church and for the fulfillment of your mission. In Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
On March 2, 2012, an outbreak of tornadoes tore through the Tennessee Valley, the Ohio Valley, and parts of the South. Within the bounds of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley, more than a dozen people were killed and over 2,500 homes were damaged or destroyed by the historic string of March tornadoes. Two churches in the presbytery sustained physical damage. The roof of Nabb Presbyterian Church, where dozens of people found shelter the night of the storms, needed to be replaced, and Community Presbyterian Church in Henryville suffered considerable damage, requiring months of repair.
In the wake of such devastation, however, came stories of generosity. Within 24 hours, offers of help poured in. The presbytery office received hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls, emails, and letters. A team of volunteers from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance was soon on the ground and traveled with the presbytery executive to see the damage and visit with those who had lost so much. A presbytery disaster response team was put in place and began coordinating a long-term recovery effort along with other churches, nonprofits, and governmental agencies.
Gifts came in all shapes and sizes. Congregations and individuals donated well over $100,000 to the presbytery for tornado relief. A church school class in New York raised money to buy church school supplies for Henryville. A congregation in Miami filled 200 Easter eggs and sent them in time for an egg hunt. Teaching elders, ruling elders, and deacons opened their hearts to hear stories of terror and loss. Volunteers from within the presbytery and around the country participated in work teams to clean up, repair, and rebuild.
The work of recovery will continue for many, and Presbyterians will be active in this effort. In the midst of devastation, we claim a deeper, truer story, a story of God’s abundant love made flesh.
Eighty congregations and their 6,765 members grace the Presbytery of Ohio Valley, a “transforming community of churches sharing the light of Christ with the world.”Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Susan C. McGhee, executive presbyter
Rev. Lawrence Jackman, stated clerk
Elder M. Jean Brown, treasurer
Rhonda Seymour, administrative assistant for office support
Elder Stephanie Worden, administrative assistant for information technology
In life and in death, and in all the circumstances of life, we belong to God. And we belong to each other. Thanks be to God for these blessed connections. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Midwest Hanmi Presbytery was organized in June 1994. Next year it will begin its third decade as a nongeographic presbytery of the Synod of Lincoln Trails. Evangelism and increasing membership are the foremost goals of the presbytery. It is taking a giant step toward the expansion of membership and its continued development by reforming its Education and Church Development committees.
The Church Development Committee will recruit and develop new member churches and redevelop existing churches. The Education Committee will focus on leadership development in its work with youth, young adults, Presbyterian Women, and Presbyterian Men.
In March 2012, the presbytery elected Mrs. Eun Kioung Hahm as its first female moderator. The presbytery is committed to recognizing and developing female leaders for the church. Each congregation and the presbytery has an active women’s organization.
Midwest Hanmi Presbytery tirelessly coordinates, encourages, and works together with member congregations on many projects of mission to the unevangelized in the world. In this way, their ministry extends far beyond the bounds of the United States. To further encourage this spirit, in July 2012 the Missions Committee held a presbytery-wide weeklong revival event with missionary speakers. The purpose of the revival event was to unite the presbytery in mission and reaffirm its goals of mission and evangelism.
Midwest Hanmi Presbytery and its 20 congregations and their 3,043 members work together in each community to share the gospel.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Yong Kim, transitional presbytery administrator
Glorious God, we praise you for your faithfulness. We pray for those who are searching for you without success, that they would find peace in you. We thank you for the faithful witness of the members of Midwest Hanmi Presbytery. We ask that you would continue to encourage and challenge them to accomplish your work as you lead them. In the name of our Savior. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Located in a low-income neighborhood, Third Church in Springfield was looking for ways to reach out to the surrounding community. Its answer was to build a children’s library.
The church had space for a library but lacked books and furniture. Soon after deciding to move forward, the congregation received a large donation of furniture, including tables, chairs, and bookshelves. Local public libraries were in the process of closing and offered books at a discount.
Now the library collection consists of close to 10,000 books. New donations are cataloged every day. These books are enjoyed free of charge by the children who use the library. There are no late fees or lost-book fees at this library. Due to tax districts, the local public library charges $99 a year to access the library if you live outside of its district.
The congregation also wrote and received a $20,000 grant from the Great Rivers Presbytery Mission Initiative Fund, which was used to purchase iPads and touch-screen computers.
In addition to the book collection, the library hosts programs on on a play based on the book Where the Wild Things Are.
The library fills a need for literacy and is a safe haven for the children who live in the neighborhood around the church.
The Presbytery of Great Rivers serves 15,791 members of 103 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Susan Krummel, general presbyter and stated clerk
Amy Gardner, accountant
Patti Parrish, senior administrative assistant
Rev. Elissa Jay Bailey, associate stated clerk
Rev. Dick Johnson, training specialist
Shelly Akins, CIF and PIF writing assistant
Ann Kelson, immigrant assistance
Larry Lawson, treasurer
Let us pray
Dear God, help us to dream big and not limit ourselves when reaching out to others. Remind us that nothing is impossible in you. Guide our hearts and minds to be more open to those in need of mercy, compassion, and love. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Elijah was fed by the widow at Zarephath. The psalmist reminds us that the Lord watches over the stranger and upholds the orphan and the widow. Caring for others and feeding strangers in their time of need are marks of hospitality that come as a mandate to all people of biblical faith. We see acts of generosity in urban homeless shelters and food pantries. But when these needs surface in rural communities, there often is no such thing as a stranger. A volunteer at the clothing bank might have gone to high school with the woman who finds school clothes for her children. Those who come to the soup kitchen for a hot meal may have worked with its cooks, back when jobs were more plentiful and money didn’t run out at the end of the month.
Such is surely the case in Morehead, Kentucky, home to Faith Presbyterian Church for 50 years. Our community is blessed with an organization called Christian Social Services, which feeds the hungry with food boxes throughout the year. Clothes are always on hand, caseworkers help folks navigate systems of assistance, and funds are available for emergency needs. Faith Presbyterian supports Christian Social Services with funds from a member’s bequest, and our members volunteer their time. There are no strangers in these circles of caring. The Presbytery of Transylvania has given financial support to Christian Social Services through the generous gifts of caring people. May this work and all we do give glory to God, maker of heaven and earth.
—Rev. Kathy Riley, teaching elder, Faith Presbyterian Church, Morehead, Kentucky
Let us pray
God of grace and mercy, we give thanks for the opportunities you give us to join in your care of all who are in need. May your Spirit inspire us as we serve in the name of Christ. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
1 Kings 17:8–16 (17–24)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
I’ll Praise My Maker
Yee Jun Ae Joo Nim Eul Nae Ka Mol La (When I Had Not Yet Learned of Jesus)
O Savior, in This Quiet Place
Angelic Organics Learning Center helps churches establish urban gardens.
How many loaves . . .” The issue of hunger is addressed in many ways in the Presbytery of Chicago. Sixty-five percent of our congregations have programs to relieve hunger in their communities and abroad. The presbytery’s End Hunger and Homelessness Mission Team (EHHMT—“empty”) has established a partnership with Angelic Organics Learning Center, which helps congregations establish urban gardens. Several congregations now plant gardens and harvest fruits and vegetables to supply local pantries. Share the Harvest also supports urban gardening by providing seeds and seedlings.
Chicago Presbytery is among the top 10 contributors to the national Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). PHP funds a hunger action enabler, who functions as a liaison between PHP and EHHMT, and between EHHMT and congregations. There are now at least 30 congregations that have identified hunger advocates. The presbytery also supports the annual CROP walk, the Cents-Ability Offering, Bread for the World, and fair-trade purchasing.
In addition to urban gardening and monetary contributions, member congregations volunteer to help distribute food through pantries or by preparing meals at shelters for homeless persons. McCormick Seminary and 27 congregations support The Night Ministry, an agency providing housing, food, health screening, and counseling for homeless persons, especially youth.
Chicago Presbytery has global partnerships in Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Haiti, Ghana, the Middle East, the Philippines, and Romania. Many of these partnerships include programs to address hunger.
The presbytery is home to 33,983 members of 99 congregations. McCormick Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Camps at Saugatuck, Presbyterian Homes, and 25 other related agencies are within its bounds.Let us join in prayer for:
Ms. Molly Baskin, member, PMA Board
Safiyyah Al-Amin, staff acct.;
Rev. David Boumgarden, consult., church dev.;
Rev. Tom Brown, youth min. coord.;
Rev. Barbara Bundick, stated clerk;
Laura Cathey, comm./RC coord.;
Linda Denberry, VIM for ops.; S
helley Donaldson, int. camp dir.;
Rev. Janice Edmiston, int. assoc. exec., ministry;
Elder Loretta Gratias-Bremer, consult., Safe Boundaries;
Rev. Tassie Green, Proactive CT coord.;
Elder Rita Fossell, parliamentarian;
Rev. Garnett Foster, consult., empower ministry;
Elder Peg Griffiths, VIM for interfaith solidarity;
Rev. Eric Heinekamp, dir., bus. affairs;
Elder Juanita Holley, consult., Justice Ministry;
Louise Howe, VIM consult. archivist;
Bob Hutchins, VIM for prop. min.;
Elder Terry Jackson, VIM for res. ctr.;
Rev. Jay Moses, VIM for Muslim rel.;
Agnes Murphy, admin. assist.;
Elder Jacqueline Murray, scholar. coord.;
Earnestine Norwood, asst. to exec. presbyter/office mgr.;
Elder Gerry Parker, consult. for stewardship;
Brenda Pious, acct. mgr.;
Rev. Robert Reynolds, exec. presbyter;
Kitty Ridley, exec. asst.;
Rev. Samuel Akhtar, South Asian Fellowship NCD pastor;
Rev. Nanette Sawyer, Grace Commons Missional Faith Community, pastor;
Elder Nick Shargo, VIM com. reg. coord.;
Rev. Grayson Van Camp, newsletter, int. managing ed.;
Glen Wagner, facil. clerk;
Elder Mike Wolfe, VIM for com. reg. coord.
Young Adult Volunteers
Christian Baucum, Kiva Nice-Webb, and James Potts, community development interns, Chicago DOOR site
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Tracy Hutchins, PMA
Gracious and compassionate God, we thank you for the ministry of this presbytery as it works to serve hurting, hungry, and homeless people. Lead us toward a world as generous and just as your abundant grace. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Almost 200 immigrant detainees, the majority undocumented, are held for 6–24 months in McHenry County Jail in northern Illinois. Some have green cards, were employed, and paid taxes; some are students, brought to the country as babies; others flee religious or political oppression; some speak no English; a few are felons; all flee poverty. Public assistance is not available to them. Legal support and commissary supplies have to be paid for by their families. Family visits are rare and only by video link within the building.
Since 2009, one of the only privileges they have is the right to pastoral visits. In the only program of its kind in the country, six members of Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church join 75 other volunteers from at least eight denominations or other faiths to make weekly visits. Every Tuesday, 12–16 volunteers engage in 20-minute one-on-one conversations with up to 10 detainees each. They hear stories of families ripped apart; of tears of mothers and fathers separated from their children; of deportations to countries of origin with no support, no jobs, and the very poverty their families fled; of frustration and suffering caused by a slow and at times brutal bureaucracy.
When possible, Bibles, Korans, and prayer resources are supplied, and each week they put five dollars in each detainee’s prison account for toothbrushes, soap, candy, and phone cards. Volunteers offer a sympathetic ear, telephone a relative, say a prayer, share a tear. No contact other than a handshake is allowed.
Why support or volunteer for this spiritually and emotionally exhausting ministry? Matthew 25:31–46 answers all the questions.
The Presbytery of Blackhawk consists of 79 congregations and their 13,768 members and is the home of Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center in Oregon, Illinois. The presbytery has a partnership with the Imenti Presbyteries in Kenya.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. John E. Rickard, general presbyter & interim stated clerk
Lou Ann Breckenridge, treasurer
Ryan Anderson, Stronghold program director
Jan Hartman, Stronghold director of operations & program development
Gust James, Stronghold maintenance coordinator
Darlene Kenney, Stronghold kitchen coordinator
Dale Rickard, Stronghold reservations coordinator/staff assistant
Pat Wakeley, communication and resources
Gracious God, who came in Christ to give eyesight to the blind and voice to the unheard and to loose all the chains that bind us, grant us compassion; allow us to share the pain of others and to see people as children of God. Let us not sacrifice our brothers and sisters on false altars of fear or ideology but learn to do justice and let mercy run down as a healing stream. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The Synod of Lincoln Trails shares its loaves and fishes as it develops, nurtures, and supports leaders. The Synod Assembly strives to be a learning community for commissioners and corresponding members; major time is spent at each meeting in education and learning. Newly ordained teaching elders are invited into a three-year program of support and nurture featuring six 48-hour retreats and another six one-day cluster gatherings. Those who have studied to be commissioned ruling elders are offered four opportunities each year for continuing education and building community. Leaders seeking to serve in situations of transition are offered a semiannual educational opportunity to learn about leaders, systems, and the rapidly changing context of church and world. In 2012–2013, conversations involving persons from the synod’s presbyteries are focusing on “leadership for a church that is yet to be.” In the rapidly changing scene of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Synod of Lincoln Trails remains committed to partnership with its presbyteries and congregations and their members.
The Synod of Lincoln Trails serves 629 congregations and their 112,988 members. It is home to McCormick Theological Seminary, Blackburn College, Hanover College, Illinois College, Lake Forest College, Millikin University, and Monmouth College. Its camps and conference centers include Camp Carew; Geneva Center; Presbyterian Camps at Saugatuck; Pyoca Camp, Conference & Retreat Center; and Stronghold Conference Center.Let us join in prayer for:
Holy God, we pray for those you have called to be leaders “for such a time as this.” Equip them with energy. Fill them with courage. Empower them with love—that the church may truly become a community of faith and hope and love and witness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Mission is in the DNA of the Presbytery of Winnebago and is lived out locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally through partnership at every level. Congregations in the presbytery partner with each other and with agencies and organizations in their local communities to feed, shelter, clothe, and provide transportation, counseling, education, and emergency services for children and adults. Presbytery mission grants help sustain and grow these ministries.
Almost one third of these grants are given to programs that provide needed food through meals, children’s snack packs, and pantries. The Presbyterian Pantry, housed at First Presbyterian, Green Bay, is one of these. The pantry began in the late 1970s, to distribute rice to Laotian refugees. By the 1980s services had expanded to include providing a bag of basic groceries to anyone in need, and the pantry had become an effort of all of the Green Bay Presbyterian congregations. The presbytery’s mission grants have allowed the pantry to serve the growing needs of the community. Since 2005 the number of bags of groceries distributed has doubled.
The Presbyterian Pantry is an all-volunteer organization with about 25 monthly helpers. The effort is shared by many in the congregations. On the two community-wide food collection days, all ages can be seen emptying boxes and sorting food. The atmosphere on pantry day is one of sharing. Pantry participants and volunteers collect aluminum cans, receive prayer requests, give caring touches, and express genuine gratitude for the blessing of food and kindnesses shared. One participant occasionally bakes a cake for the volunteers. Yes, one bag of groceries touches many.
The atmosphere on pantry day is one of sharing. Pantry participants and volunteers collect aluminum cans, receive prayer requests, give caring touches, and express genuine gratitude for the blessing of food and kindnesses shared. One participant occasionally bakes a cake for the volunteers. Yes, one bag of groceries touches many.
The Presbytery of Winnebago is home to 6,611 members of 37 congregations and is in partnership with Urabá Presbytery, Presbyterian Church of Colombia.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Sarah Moore-Nokes, associate executive presbyter
Dr. Michael Lukens, stated clerk
Nancy Barczak, associate for administration
Bette Hoytink, committee on ministry coordinator
Kris Desens, office assistant
Loving God, we are grateful for all we have been given by you and are blessed by those with whom we share our bounty. Open wide our hearts and minds so we may discern how to ensure that all of your people live without hunger. Amen.Daily Lectionary
On May 22, 2011, a tornado ripped through the neighborhoods of the Twin Cities known as North Minneapolis. An area that is marked by strong community pride, it is also both a home to many families struggling with economic hardship and a center of gang activity. Miraculously, only one life was lost, but 48 people were injured, over 2,000 homes suffered damage or were destroyed, and hundreds of families were displaced. Kwanzaa Community Church, a Presbyterian new church development in the city, sits in the middle of the affected area. Copastors Ralph and Alika Galloway immediately started addressing the community’s needs. Supported by an emergency grant from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and financial help from a number of congregations around the country, Kwanzaa Community set out to help provide food to people whose homes were now gone. Some monies were used to help those with inadequate or no insurance who needed immediate help in repairing homes.
But as is often the case, the pastors saw needs that would extend far beyond the first few months of such a disaster. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress were showing up especially in the children of the neighborhood. The congregation worked with local health officials to provide a workshop to help families spot and deal with the issues of posttraumatic stress. Today, Kwanzaa Community continues to offer assistance to families dealing with stress, financial pressures, neighborhood violence, and now the loss of homes and belongings because of the forces of nature. The generosity of Presbyterians has been a godsend to the people of North Minneapolis, but, as Ralph and Alika know, this recovery and this ministry will continue for a number of years to come. Please keep these good people in your prayers.
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area is home to 24,549 members of 68 congregations, two new church developments, and one immigrant fellowship.Let us join in prayer for:
Protect us, O God, for we live in a world that we do not control. Give us compassion to help one another when life becomes overwhelming. Inspire us to always look to you for grace, hope, and love, and may we always share these gifts with those around us. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The love of Christ is clearly visible within the Presbytery of South Dakota, both in times of crisis and in the unity between cultures. As flooding hit the Missouri River basin in the summer of 2011, devastating South Dakota’s capital, Pierre, and its sister city, Fort Pierre, one could see God’s hand at work. Families, friends, neighbors, and strangers of all ages from these communities, as well as volunteers from all over the country, rushed to the cities to build levees and pile sandbags to protect homes and businesses. Furniture and appliances were moved from homes in danger, while lodging was provided for those directly affected and for volunteers who came to town to assist. Oahe Presbyterian Church in Pierre hosted and fed volunteers. Funds and buckets full of cleaning supplies poured in from around the presbytery.
This “bizarre summer” resulted in “communities united by caring, by love, and by the sharing of labor, homes for the homeless, donations, hugs, and, of course, many prayers,” according to Meleta DeJong, Oahe Presbyterian Church member.
At the same time, Presbyterian Women (PW) members throughout the state are expanding their efforts of care, love, and sharing in the Lord by extending the hands of unity to one another. The Presbytery of Dakota includes the geographic limits of South Dakota but maintains a Christian ministry with the Dakota people within the entire Synod of Lakes and Prairies. For the first time, Dakota PW members participated in the South Dakota PW Spring Gathering, and, in August, South Dakota PW members attended the Dakota PW Mission Tent Meeting. These meetings, and those planned in the future, are allowing two different cultures within the church in South Dakota to learn and grow in their understanding and appreciation of their Presbyterian heritage and mission.
The presbytery’s 66 congregations have 7,430 total members.Let us join in prayer for:
God of compassion and justice, we confess that we manipulate your perfect creation. Our actions result in crises and division. Let us send brothers and sisters in Christ to work together in love to right the wrong and give us hope. In your name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
A young girl went out to dinner with her family in downtown Dallas. This was not just a family dinner, however. They went to meet friends who were part of a community group called The Amigos.
The group was started by the girl’s father, Charles, an African American Presbyterian pastor, and Jane, a European American businesswoman. What was unusual about Amigos dinners was that there were adults, children of all ages, and many races gathered together for the meal. This was decades ago, and at that time multicultural dinners were uncommon in Dallas.
Charles’s and Ann’s daughter and Jane’s and Bob’s daughter played together, sailed together, and ate together with other Amigos families, and these early experiences shaped who they became, persons who are blessed to have seen firsthand God’s beloved community of diverse races and cultures joining together in unity.
Psalm 96 declares God’s glory among the nations and God’s marvelous works among all the people. The psalmist encourages all families of nations to rejoice before God.
Images of cross-cultural community, of all people rejoicing before God, are not just images for these daughters, now women. They live, work, and make their way in the world in cross-cultural community. Because of their early experiences playing, singing, and discussing topics with Latinos, African Americans, European Americans, and Asians, they notice when such diversity is not in the room. They realize who is missing. They long for the sisters and brothers of their family when they are not present or invited to share a meal or work or play together.
If their parents had not taught them to welcome persons of different cultures and walks of life into their homes, how different their lives might be.
I know it would be different, because I am Charles’s daughter. How brave it was for Cindy’s mother, Jane, and my father to decide to meet together for dinner and invite their multicultural friends. Thank God they did.
Let us pray
Gracious and loving God, as we celebrate Multicultural Church/Immigration Sunday, we pray that others will catch a glimpse of the vision of all families of nations rejoicing before God. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
1 Kings 18:20–21 (22–29), 30–39
I Sing the Mighty Power of God
PH 288, HB 84
How Great Thou Art
O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee
PH 357, HB 304
My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less
PH 379, HB 368
Talk of multicultural congregations evokes images of large urban church buildings, but in rural Storm Lake, Iowa, the reality of multicultural communities is being lived into with vibrancy and hope. Since the 1970s, Storm Lake has been a magnet for immigrant communities, including Southeast Asian, Lao, Sudanese, and Hispanic, attracted to a small town with good schools and low-skill jobs paying a livable wage. Lakeside Presbyterian has sought to be a place of welcome to these new groups.
The congregation is developing models for outreach into a kaleidoscope of cultures and traditions and encouraging worshiping fellowships that are integrated into the larger congregation. In partnership with the Presbytery of Prospect Hill, Lakeside will be adding a part-time evangelist to the Lao community. This person will lead worship and minister to Lao-speakers while encouraging incorporation into the congregation as a whole whenever possible, for Christian education, fellowship, and mission. A vibrant ecumenical Sudanese fellowship uses the sanctuary many Sunday afternoons. On occasions such as World Communion Sunday, intentionally multicultural worship joins all the groups together. Outreach to Spanish-speakers in the community is the next priority, in the form of financial-planning assistance and a vacation Bible school/lunch program.
Lakeside understands itself as a point of entry to America for the next generation of immigrants, and it longs to hold its doors open to these new souls, as congregations across the country once welcomed Poles and Swedes, Italians and Germans, Russians and Norwegians.
The presbytery is home to 6,804 members of 51 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
CRE Shari O’Bannon, moderator
Paul Campbell, mission coordinator
Dick Drahota, treasurer
Kay Lenhart, presbytery communications
Rev. John Pehrson, administrative presbyter/stated clerk
Beth Ehlers, camp administrator
God of Pentecost, help us to see and understand your presence in the glorious differences that mark the fabric of our humanity. Help us to hear, in the many languages and tongues, a true word of worship to you, who loves and saves us all in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Imagine the laughter and fun inside the only factory in the U.S. where clown costumes are created! The fabric scraps from those colorful clown outfits are bagged and taken to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Minnesota, where project leader Jean Abrahamson distributes the scraps to women willing to sew the pieces together to make comfort quilts.
In the spring, when the women of the Presbytery of Northern Waters gather for their annual meeting, the colorful quilts are on display, hanging from the walls or draped over every sanctuary pew. While looking at each quilt, one can imagine the colorfully dressed clown doing antics and performing tricks, making someone happy, while wearing a costume made from the bright and zany fabrics. When the church women leave that meeting they are toting the bags of fabric back to their congregations, where people busily sew the scraps into a new creation. Another colorful quilt emerges from the myriad pieces of brightly colored materials.
Now imagine that laughter and fun multiplied again and again—just as giving is multiplied because it is shared—when someone in a city or a small town, someone young or old, someone sick or homeless, is wrapped up and comforted with a quilt made from the scraps. The comfort quilt is a reminder of the many ways that we can share when we ask one another, “How many loaves have you?”
The Presbytery of Northern Waters is home to 5,813 members of 57 congregations.Let us join in prayer for:
Dear Lord, we are awed with the colorful lessons we can learn from scraps of fabric. We know that the clown-costume fabric can be stitched into a quilt that brings sunshine and joy to the person who is wrapped within the love of the creator of each quilt. So, dear Lord, could you watch over those who seek the comfort of your love and protection over their fragile lives? Thanks. Amen.Daily Lectionary