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Presbyterian Mission Yearbook

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Mission Yearbook for November 26, 2015

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Egypt



Sunday school children at Ezzbit el-Nakhl Presbyterian Church


Photo by Erin Dunigan


Since January 2011, many Egyptians—Muslims and Christians, young and old, women and men, conservatives and liberals—have been challenging the status quo by proclaiming good news to the poor and freedom to the captives and the oppressed. Egyptians have suffered tremendous economic and political hardship under oppressive regimes over the past six decades. The oppressors perpetuated grinding poverty, sectarian conflict, and political alienation and convinced the population that changing the status quo is a fantasy. Although Egyptians have toppled two administrations in the past three years, their dreams of freedom, secure livelihoods, social justice, human rights, and reconciliation remain unfulfilled. The status quo of the gap between the rich and the poor was shaken but remains intact.

In challenging the status quo, the reign of God preached by Jesus faces two obstacles. The privileged, whom it confronts, benefit from things staying the way they are, and the deprived, for whom it is good news, do not know their rights or have lost hope of changing the systemic injustices they experience every day. But Jesus’ proclamation offers good news to those whose hope has been ground down: if the oppressors do not change, the reign of God will mean judgment against them and their ways, because God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed.

Safwat Marzouk, assistant professor of Old Testament, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt (Synod of the Nile): Rev. Stephen Gorman, mission interpretation officer, Dr. Magda Iskander, community health consultant, Care with Love Program • Evangelical Theological Seminary, Cairo: Rev. Lucinda Gorman, international relations coordinator, Joshua Yoder, New Testament professor, Rev. Rebecca Anne Kirkpatrick, team ministry, Rev. Dr. Michael Parker, director of graduate studies program

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Shawnda Styles, FDN
Andrew Sullivan, PMA

Let us pray

Gracious and almighty God, look with compassion on those Egyptians who are crying out in the wilderness of oppression for freedom and justice. Forgive us for acting unjustly and for being complacent toward the suffering of the impoverished. Give hope and strength to those who prophetically proclaim the good news of the kingdom of freedom and justice in the land about which you have said, “Blessed be Egypt my people.” Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 116; 147:12-20
First Reading Zephaniah 3:1-13
Second Reading 1 Peter 2:11-25
Gospel Reading Matthew 20:1-16
Evening Psalms 26; 130

Mission Yearbook for November 25, 2015

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Middle East


The Middle East has been the cradle of numerous religions. In addition to Islam (Islam has the largest number of adherents by far, though it is segmented by differences between branches and sects. More than half the countries in the Middle East have indigenous Christian communities, totaling about 15 million people, with half of them in Egypt. The fastest growing religion is atheism.

Though much of the Middle East has adopted the Arabic language, there are several other native languages still spoken, and there is no common culture or value system across the region. The modern Middle East bares not only the characteristics of its native cultures but also the marks of numerous foreign invaders and colonizing empires that have ruled over it for most of its long history. And, in this day of advanced communication technology and information exchange, much of the Middle East is exposed to and influenced by cultures and civilizations in the rest of the world, especially Western cultures, entertainment, lifestyle, and more.

Diversity describes not only the people but also the geography and natural resources. A few countries have become prosperous in recent decades because of the discovery of oil; others rank very low on the world’s economic and development charts. This region that attracts so much of the world’s attention is dreadfully misunderstood. News reports of conflicts perpetuate stereotypes of the Middle East and negative caricatures of its inhabitants.

Yet the Spirit of the Lord is at work in the Middle East and has been since the beginning. Through the Spirit’s work in the churches, the gospel is brought to poor, the hungry are fed, the sick are cared for, those under siege are visited, and the message of reconciliation is preached. The following pages provide but a glimpse of some of the gentle acts of the Spirit working through our partners.

Amgad Beblawi, area coordinator, Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, Presbyterian World Mission

Let us join in prayer for:

Partners/Ministries, continued

Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Diocese of Jerusalem: The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, bishop • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land: The Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, bishop • Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Iran • Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Iraq

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Sarah Stringer, PMA
Keren Strothman, PPC
Michael Strzelecki, BOP

Let us pray

Gracious God, we thank you for adopting us into the family of faith. Challenge us to find ways to join hands with your children in the Middle East, that we might together glorify your name. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 96; 147:1-11
First Reading Obadiah 15-21
Second Reading 1 Peter 2:1-10
Gospel Reading Matthew 19:23-30
Evening Psalms 132; 134

Mission Yearbook for November 24, 2015

Mon, 11/23/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Middle East



The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19 CEB)

W hat is the Middle East? A quick Google search returns hundreds of contradictory definitions. Likewise, what to include in a list of Middle Eastern countries can be a subject of extensive debate. This is partly because the immense diversity of the region defies brevity or simplification.

The Middle East is home to myriad indigenous and long-established ethnic groups, including Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azeris, Baluchs, Berber, Copts, Greeks, Jews, Kurds, Mandeans, Persians, Phoenicians, Samaritans, Shabak, Syriac, Circassian, Turcomans, Turks, Yazidis, and others. Additionally, a significant numbers of those who identify themselves as Arabs also trace their roots to some of the non-Arab ethnic and ethnoreligious communities in the region.

continued on November 25

Let us join in prayer for:


Middle East Council of Churches: Dr. Elias El-Halabi, general secretary • Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches: Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, general secretary • National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon: Rev. Samuel Hana, moderator, Rev. Fadi Dagher, general secretary • Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt (Synod of the Nile): Rev. George Shaker, moderator

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Gail Strange, PMA
Kevin Strange, PMA
Laura Stricklen, PMA

Let us pray

Sovereign Lord, ruler of all nations, empower your churches in the Middle East with wisdom that is pure, peaceable, gentle, and full of mercy and good fruits, that they might be faithful to your gospel and work to overcome divisions. And invigorate us, that we might partner with them in witnessing to your grace, peace, and reconciliation. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 12; 146
First Reading Nahum 1:1-13
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:13-25
Gospel Reading Matthew 19:13-22
Evening Psalms 36; 7

Mission Yearbook for November 23, 2015

Sun, 11/22/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Afghanistan



Five-year-old Afghan girl amid rubble near Kabul


Courtesy of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship


A Christian woman from the United States visited an Afghan organization that had set up orphanages for the daughters of those massacred by the Taliban four years earlier. They talked for hours about their lives and different worlds. The girls were eager to share dreams of their future and the vision of a democratic Afghanistan safe for all, especially women and children. When they asked the woman why she had come, she replied: “There are people in my church who want to know about your lives. I came to learn.”

The next question took her by surprise. “Why are you a Christian?” asked one the adults who had been sitting quietly in the back of the room filled with children and youth. “I love Jesus because he is the only religious leader I know who, when addressing how a man should deal with lust when looking at a woman, said that the man should put out his own eye. He doesn’t tell women to cover or hide to avoid a man’s gaze but tells men to pluck out their eyes if necessary.”

The air in the room immediately shifted. It was as if everyone had just drawn in a quick breath. Every face in the room lit up. Heads nodded. Astonished and inquisitive smiles marked every countenance. The conversation went on, but everything had changed. They all knew that they had a new friend and advocate for their safe and free future.

Rachel Anderson, itineration support, Presbyterian World Mission

Let us join in prayer for:


Please pray for partners in mission in Afghanistan.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Brenda Stoney, PMA
Rebecca Storti, BOP
Irina Strakovsky, BOP

Let us pray

Holy Trinity, you bring abundant life. We pray that your liberating love and word transform the lives of the Afghan women so that they may know your glory has broken down all barriers that divide. In the name of your great freedom we pray. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 62; 145
First Reading Joel 3:1-2, 9-17
Second Reading 1 Peter 1:1-12
Gospel Reading Matthew 19:1-12
Evening Psalms 73; 9

Mission Yearbook for November 22, 2015

Sat, 11/21/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Christ the King / Reign of Christ


Revelation 1:4b–8 reminds us of the timelessness of God’s reign over the earth. John twice affirms God as the One “who is and who was and who is to come” (vv. 4 and 8) and ends by declaring God “the Alpha and the Omega” (v. 8). Today, Christ the King Sunday, celebrates that Jesus reigns, even if our ministries last only a season.

In the mid-2000s, I was a parish associate for Montgomery Ministries, a new church development just north of Princeton, New Jersey. In a high school media center, each week the Holy Spirit brought together seekers and lifelong Presbyterians, PhDs and police officers, hesitant personalities and bold prophets. God shaped the group into a family who celebrated sobriety, enveloped toddlers with love, and wrestled to put faith into action. Jesus was at work in and through this group. Yet after four years it became apparent that Jesus’ work was not leading to a viable congregation.

Thankfully, the celebration of Christ the King tempers my disappointment. It reminds me that Jesus reigned over Montgomery Ministries while it was active, had been reigning long before that community had ever been conceived, and will reign long after it is but a distant memory.

Christ the King Sunday affirms for us that Jesus, and not our ministries, is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Rev. 21:6). The reign of God did not suffer or fail because Montgomery Ministries had only a brief season of vibrancy. Out of gratitude for God’s work, we join the divine mission in ministries all over the globe, and we pray that they will bear fruit and last for years to come. But regardless of their outcome, Christ still reigns, in the name of the One who is and who was and who is to come!—, director, Theology, Worship, and Education

Chip Hardwick, director, Theology, Worship, and Education

Let us pray

O Holy Spirit, thank you for your work throughout the world. Thank you for ministries that thrive, and for ministries that cease. Thank you that the kingdom of God depends not on our work, but on the One who is, who was, and who is to come. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

2 Sam. 23:1–7
“Jesus Shall Reign Where’er
the Sun”
GTG 265, HB 496, PH 423

Ps. 132:1–12 (13–18)
“Arise, O Lord Our God, Arise”
GTG 381

Rev. 1:4b–8
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”
GTG 366, HB 399, PH 376

John 18:33–37
“At the Name of Jesus”
GTG 264, HB 143, PH 148

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 108; 150
First Reading Isaiah 19:19-25
Second Reading Romans 15:5-13
Gospel Reading Luke 19:11-27
Evening Psalms 66; 23

Mission Yearbook for November 21, 2015

Fri, 11/20/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Central Asia


Our brothers and sisters in Central Asia continue to follow Jesus faithfully in spite of greater and greater pressure from their governments. These are Jesus followers worshiping in small, unregistered house churches (underground churches) who seek to spread the good news of Jesus despite being sought by secret police.

Believers are arrested, their homes are raided, and Bibles and religious literature and computers are taken. Seized laptop computers often point the authorities to other church leaders and followers of Jesus. Conviction, typically for unspecified “religious crimes,” is common, and torture is well documented by human rights groups in two Central Asian countries. Large fines, often equaling 60–90 days of an average worker’s wages, are another common punishment.

Meanwhile, these amazing people continue to follow Jesus and share him with others. Their word to us has often been, “Don’t pray that we won’t suffer but that we will be faithful.” One woman requested, “Do not tell of the oppression we suffer; tell of the joy and peace we have in following Jesus.” I can’t help but pray for all of these things. Would you join me in those prayers?

—Mike, Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Please pray for people in mission in Central Asia.

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Mindi Stivers, PMA
Veronica Stone, BOP

Let us pray

Lord, we pray that you would continue to bring peace and joy to your followers in Central Asia. Show us how to be effective partners with our brothers and sisters in these countries even in the midst of oppression, arrests, heavy fines, and sometimes torture. Give us humility and a teachable spirit, particularly with our partners. Guide us as we participate in your mission among Central Asian peoples, so that all would have the opportunity to respond to the message of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 122; 149
First Reading Nehemiah 7:73b-8:3, 5-18
Second Reading Revelation 22:14-21
Gospel Reading Matthew 18:21-35
Evening Psalms 100; 63

Mission Yearbook for November 20, 2015

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Armenia



Through games, art, and music, these curious kids encounter their traditions and the person of Jesus Christ.


Courtesy of Zaruhi Janibekyan


Imagine being born in the land where Noah stepped off the ark, a new generation ready to follow God; where the first nation in the world proclaimed Christ; where millions were systematically exterminated or displaced by the Ottoman Empire; and where the eclipse of 20th-century Soviet rule left a struggling people to rediscover their faith.

For over 3 million souls in Armenia today, transformation is happening again.

Seeing a deep need for spiritual development among younger generations, the Jinishian Memorial Foundation (JMF) sponsors Christian summer camps through the Armenian Evangelical, Catholic, and Apostolic churches. About 3,000 needy children come each year—many from villages with no church—for an opportunity to experience God in the natural beauty of their homeland. They learn compassion for the dignity of all humanity. JMF country director Armen Hakobyan says the best part “is hearing the stories of faith from these children. They are learning to live in peace and love and bringing this experience home.”

When Vartan Jinishian at age 96 gave all his earthly treasure to establish this endowment with the Presbyterian Church 50 years ago, there was no free Armenian homeland. This holistic, ecumenical work of relief, development, and discipleship is restoring hope for a new generation ready to follow God.

Eliza Minasyan , executive director, Jinishian Memorial Program

Let us join in prayer for:


Armenian Evangelical Church • Armenian Apostolic Church • Armenian Catholic Church • Jinishian Memorial Foundation: Armen Hakobyan, director

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Timothy W. Stepp, PMA
Angela Stevens, OGA
Cameron E. Stevens, PMA

Let us pray

You, O God, raise us from despondency to praise. In spite of human wickedness, you are faithful, seeking after every one of your children. We join with all who call on Jesus’ name, thankful that our story begins and ends in you. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 88; 148
First Reading Nehemiah 9:26-38
Second Reading Revelation 22:6-13
Gospel Reading Matthew 18:10-20
Evening Psalms 6; 20

Mission Yearbook for November 19, 2015

Wed, 11/18/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Russia, continued



Church camp destroyed in 2009


Courtesy of Karen Morey


On a cold, snowy morning, I stepped into the big, bright dining hall of the church camp building. Clusters of people chattered in Russian over cups of coffee, while women scurried to prepare lunch. Down the hall, conference participants were checking in at the registration table. Doors opened and closed as guests brought luggage into their assigned rooms.

My heart swelled as I witnessed all the bustling activity. Against so many odds, our Russian friends had persevered and created a church camp and conference center that was now being used as it was intended.

Just four years earlier, I had stood in this same spot with pastor Victor Smith and his wife, Ellen, looking at the empty ground where their beloved church camp building destroyed by arson had once been. Finding the resources and energy to rebuild and start again seemed almost beyond hope.

Since that time, I’ve been amazed to see the steadfast determination of the small Baptist congregations and their pastors to keep construction going no matter what. They endured reversals in permissions from local officials that forced design changes and a refiling of paperwork, times with no money to buy needed materials, and—most frightening of all—that dark day when Pastor Victor, their inspiring champion, fell from the scaffolding and broke his back.

But now, here we were: the building is complete and has been fitted with furniture provided by a Presbyterian Women grant and bed quilts made by US congregational partners. Today, the first full-fledged conference got under way. Pastor Victor, still the wise and faithful leader, rose and welcomed us all as we stood to sing praises to God for his miraculous gifts.

Karen Morey, Russia Mission Network

Let us join in prayer for:


Russian Orthodox Church • Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia: Rev. Alexei Smirnov, president, Rev. Vitaly Vlasenko, director, external church relations • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States: Acting Archbishop Dietrich Brauer

Interchurch Partnership

Archpriest Vladimir Fedorov and Ms. Marina Shishova

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Kerry Starks, PMA
Marsha Stearley, PMA
Terri Stephenson, OGA

Let us pray

Loving God, we marvel at all that can be accomplished when done in your name and with your blessing. Thank you for empowering your disciples to overcome the seemingly insurmountable to extend your love to children in need. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 143; 147:12-20
First Reading Nehemiah 9:1-15 (16-25)
Second Reading Revelation 21:22-22:5
Gospel Reading Matthew 18:1-9
Evening Psalms 81; 116

Mission Yearbook for November 18, 2015

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Ministry with the Roma People Minute for Mission


The Roma in Russia are subject to discrimination in housing, education, and employment. Poverty is widespread. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that some Roma resort to activities such as fortune-telling, or even crime, as a way to survive. In an all-too-familiar pattern, the majority population tends to attribute this behavior to all Roma, worsening the discrimination that already exists and reinforcing an unfair stereotype.

Andrey Beskorovainiy is the first Roma to be ordained as a pastor in the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists of Russia. After he came to Christ, his first ministry was not to the Roma but to Slavic members of the community. He eventually felt a call to minister to the Roma and completed his seminary education in Kursk.

As a Roma, Andrey understands Roma culture better than any outsider and can explain the gospel in the context of that culture. Moreover, he crosses denominational boundaries by maintaining relationships with Roma in several denominations.

In addition to serving as the pastor of his own congregation, Andrey is active in Christian outreach through summer camps for children and in regular trips to other Roma congregations. In recent years, he also has been involved in monthly shortwave radio broadcasts through Trans World Radio, which enables him to reach Roma all over the former Soviet Union. The summer camps as well as his travels to other congregations and the Trans World Radio studios in Ukraine have all been supported through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Al Smith, PC(USA) mission coworker based in Germany, serving also in Russia and Belarus

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rev. Charles Stanford, PMA
David Staniunas, OGA
Lea Stanley, BOP

Let us pray

Lord, we praise and thank you for our incredibly diverse world. However, we confess that we are frequently blinded by our differences and fail to recognize the humanity that unites us all. Help us to overcome the fear and distrust that keep us from recognizing our brothers and sisters of different races and cultures. We ask for your blessings on Andrey Beskorovainiy and others ministering to the Roma of Russia. Provide them with the material and spiritual resources that they need for their work. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 65; 147:1-11
First Reading Ezra 10:1-17
Second Reading Revelation 21:9-21
Gospel Reading Matthew 17:22-27
Evening Psalms 125; 91

Mission Yearbook for November 17, 2015

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Russia



Drug rehab center in Smolensk


Photo by Ellen Smith


Dima is a former drug addict. He has known the bottom of the well. A Christian rehabilitation center in St. Petersburg, Russia, helped him find his way back to the surface and, indeed, to new life. In turn, Dima returned to his native Smolensk and in partnership with Central Baptist Church worked to start a rehabilitation program in the region. He has worked tirelessly for more than eight years, structuring and restructuring the program and engaging the church community in this healing ministry. Men come to the program dirty and broken, but after a few days at the center, light returns to their eyes and they begin to find hope and promise in God’s Word.

The fruits of this ministry are seen today among a congregation that warmly welcomes the clients—men who have remained in Smolensk, joined the church, and started families. Two years ago, one of the men that had just finished the program was in a terrible car accident in which he suffered first-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. The congregation’s response was immediate. They were his family through the long days of hospitalization and recovery: visiting him, praying for him, and encouraging him.

Ellen Smith, PC(USA) regional liaison for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Let us join in prayer for

PC(USA) People in Mission

Ellen Smith, regional liaison for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Presbyterian World Mission • Berlin City Mission: Alan Smith, coordinator of minority outreach, Evangelism and Church Twinning Project, Germany and Russia • Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy: Rev. Matthew Laferty, chaplain

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Champaka Srinivasan, PMA
Susan L. Stack, PMA

Let us pray

Dear Lord, open our hearts to the need in our midst. Teach us to respond with love to those who have lost their way by welcoming them into our communities. May we walk side by side and become instruments of your healing love for one another. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 54; 146
First Reading Ezra 9:1-15
Second Reading Revelation 21:1-8
Gospel Reading Matthew 17:14-21
Evening Psalms 28; 99

Mission Yearbook for November 16, 2015

Sun, 11/15/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Ukraine



Marta, the new trainee, full of confidence as she teaches local Roma children


Photo by Nadia Ayoub


In October 2013, I came back to far western Ukraine from a six-week visit in the United States to find that my only early childhood education teacher could not continue. But God had prepared a replacement—Marta. Although she has no teacher training, Marta is a graduate of Podilsky Technical University in Ukraine. She had worked for many years but lost her job and needed work.

At first she was frightened of the Roma families and children. Every day I spent extra time preparing her for the coming day’s lessons. She and I would converse in Russian, and then she would teach the children in Hungarian. By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, in a month’s time she had mastered the technical matters of teaching and gained confidence with the children and their families. The children love her.

One day Marta invited me to have a cup of tea with her. “I thank God, for he has helped me greatly,” she said. “My close friends and my family could not imagine that I would have anything to do with Roma people. Two years ago, on Christmas Eve, my family prepared a roasted pig for a celebration and Roma people came and robbed us; they took many new clothes and the pig.”

“Now I know that God has healed my broken heart with his love,” she continued, with tears in her eyes, “and I love these Roma people too.”

Nadia Ayoub, PC(USA) mission coworker, Beregszasz

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Reformed Church in Transcarpathia: Rev. Nadia Ayoub, early childhood education trainer


Reformed Church in Transcarpathia: Bishop Sandor Zan Fabian • Diaconal Center, Ukraine: Bela Nagy, director • Roma Mission Center, Csonkapapi, Ukraine: Attila Tomes, director • Evangelical Baptist Union of Ukraine: Rev. Dr. Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Frank Spencer, BOP
Alex Spoelker, PMA
Jackie Spycher, PMA

Let us pray

Loving God, we thank you. You sent Jesus Christ to help us in times of need, and you change us so that we can help our neighbors come to know your love for them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 57; 145
First Reading Ezra 7:27-28, 8:21-36
Second Reading Revelation 20:7-15
Gospel Reading Matthew 17:1-13
Evening Psalms 85; 47

Mission Yearbook for November 15, 2015

Sat, 11/14/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Auburn Theological Seminary



Samantha Gonzalez-Block, Auburn Seminary theological student advisory delegate and Edwards Presbyterian Leadership Fellow, preaching at the 221st General Assembly (2014)


Courtesy of the Office of the General Assembly


Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together. (Heb. 10:24–25a NIV)

This was exactly the question we at Auburn Theological Seminary began asking ourselves after the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): How can we prepare emerging leaders to support one another in making a difference for the future of the church in their local contexts and at the national level?

We began answering that question with the launch of the Edwards Presbyterian Leadership Fellows in 2014. First, we recruited a cohort of current and recent seminary students. We then equipped them through Auburn’s signature leadership-formation curriculum—which focuses on developing resilience, entrepreneurial leadership, media training, the power of storytelling, organizing, and conflict management—and by studying the polity and dynamics of the General Assembly.

Next, we took the fellows to the 221st General Assembly in June 2014. We met as a cohort throughout the assembly to discuss what they had experienced, reflect on the theological and polity issues in play, and begin considering how they might fulfill their callings as leaders. After the assembly, we set goals for the next two years as leaders in the local and national church.

We are excited to see the fruit that this work bears for the church!

Rev. J. C. Austin, vice president for Christian leadership formation, Auburn Theological Seminary

Let us pray

Gracious and loving God, you call us together as the body of Christ to love one another, serve those in need, and proclaim the good news to all. Help us encourage one another as we answer your call in our own congregations and as a denomination, that we may not simply conduct business but spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

1 Sam 1:4–20
“In You, Lord, I Have Put My Trust”
PH 183

1 Sam. 2:1–10
“I Sing the Mighty Power of God”
GTG 32, HB 84, PH 288

Heb. 10:11–14 (15–18) 19–25
“Wash, O God, Your Sons
and Daughters”
GTG 490

Mark 13:1–8
“Sing, My Tongue,
the Glorious Battle”
GTG 225

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 67; 150
First Reading Ezra 7:(1-10) 11-26
Second Reading Acts 28:14b-23
Gospel Reading Luke 16:1-13
Evening Psalms 46; 93

Mission Yearbook for November 14, 2015

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Czech Republic



Center for People with Visual Disabilities logo


Courtesy of Karen R. Moritz


The Diakonie of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) embodies Jesus’ call in Luke 4:18–19 daily through its 33 centers and six schools. My own life here, in fact, is touched each day by the Center for People with Visual Disabilities.

Soon after my arrival, I met center supervisor Jana Červeňáková, who told me about the ministry. Since I am legally blind, I was happy to learn of the services it has offered the blind and visually impaired since 1989. The center has an audio lending library, produces digital materials sent via email, and publishes resources in Braille and large print. One I use regularly is the large-print edition of the daily devotion Denní čtení: Úvahy nad Hesly Jednoty bratrské (Daily readings: Reflections on the Unity of Brethren watchwords).

The center offers monthly gatherings, weekend events twice a year, and yearly holiday trips. During one weekend event, I met several people who use its services and heard how it impacts their lives daily. The center gives us access to material readily available to the sighted, which enables us to participate fully in the life of the church and deepen our own spiritual lives. Through its services, we find healing and inclusion and, in that way, experience “recovery of sight to the blind.” Although the center is part of the ECCB Diakonie, it works ecumenically with other churches and agencies. Its ministry does indeed proclaim “the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Rev. Dr. Karen R. Moritz, mission coworker, Prague

Let us join in prayer for

PC(USA) People in Mission

Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren: Rev. Dr. Karen Moritz, ecumenical relations facilitator


Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB): Rev. Joel Ruml, synodal senior, Lia Valková, synodal curator, PhDr. Martin Kocanda, director of the central church office, Mgr. Martina Sklenářová, head of educational division, Rev. Gerhard Frey-Reininghaus, head of exterior relations and secretary for ecumenical and international relations, Ing. František Straka, head of economics and administration division, Ms. Ivana Marková, chairperson of the American Working Group • Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic: Sandra Silná, general secretary • Diakonie: Mgr. Petr Haška, director, Rev. Jan Dus, coordinator for exterior relations and director of the Center of Humanitarian and Developmental Aid • Protestant Theological Faculty of Charles University: Doc. Jindřich Halama Dr., dean

Presbytery Partnership

Presbytery of Missouri River Valley, with the ECCB

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Roger Spalding, PMA
Janet Spavlik, BOP
Linda Spence, OGA

Let us pray

Holy Jesus, empower us to both proclaim and embody your gospel. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 56; 149
First Reading Nehemiah 13:4-22
Second Reading Revelation 20:1-6
Gospel Reading Matthew 16:21-28
Evening Psalms 118; 111

Mission Yearbook for November 13, 2015

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Lithuania



Graduation at LCC International University


Photo by Eric L. Hinderliter


LCC International University, a PC(USA) mission partner in Klaipėda, aspires to be a Christian presence in a former Soviet area, a community that both teaches and models values. But which values? We focus on what the world needs—love, compassion, justice, ethical leadership, and productive economies free of corruption—and strive to embed these values in LCC graduates. We believe that prophetic witness and compassion arise from supportive Christian communities.

Denis, a recent graduate from Moldova, works for a company handling international financial transfers. He attributes his focus on ethical practices to his LCC experience. He is teaching company staff in former Soviet countries how to do business in an honest way, free of corruption. Ieva, a graduate from Lithuania, works for the World Health Organization. “I am part of the international community and at the same time help my own country enhance its health systems,” she writes. “Truly devoted professors embedded in us the duty to help humanity. You may forget the content taught during classes, but you can never forget the people who taught you and the values they portrayed. LCC professors do not only talk about servant leadership; they actually live it, which changes the whole perspective of a student and can indeed shape a person’s career path like it shaped mine.”

Dr. Eric L. Hinderliter, PC(USA) mission coworker, Klaipėda, Lithuania

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

LCC International University: Dr. Eric Hinderliter, coordinator for microenterprise center, Rebecca Hinderliter, accounting professor


Evangelical Reformed Church in Lithuania: Tomas Šernas, general superintendent, Tomas Sajas, pastor of the Klaipėda congregation • LCC International University: Marlene Wall, president

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Rev. Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, PMA
Berry Sosa, FDN
Jake Souder, OGA

Let us pray

Dear Lord, make us faithful witnesses to the truth of the gospel. Enable us to be supportive communities that raise up the prophetic voices of young people who speak forthrightly about just practice and compassionate action. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 130; 148
First Reading Nehemiah 12:27-31a, 42b-47
Second Reading Revelation 19:11-16
Gospel Reading Matthew 16:13-20
Evening Psalms 32; 139

Mission Yearbook for November 12, 2015

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Germany


Amir and his family waited anxiously, uncertain of the magistrate’s decision about whether they could stay in Germany. They were refugees from Iran who had come with hopes of beginning a new life, but there was a problem with Amir’s application. In an effort to leave Iran, he paid men to get him and his family out, using a different name in the process. But that name did not match the name on his asylum application.

All refugees have a reason for leaving their native country, whether it be violent conflict, religious persecution, or economic challenges. Many leave behind family and friends as well as a job or educational opportunities. Upon arriving, they confront a language, a culture, and regulations that are unfamiliar, not to mention differing perceptions of who they are. Waiting between immigration appointments—the possibility of deportment looming—produces great anxiety that is only multiplied for those with families.

Accompanying Amir and his family through the asylum process were Rev. Sadegh Sepheri and Mr. Aziz Sadaghiani, PC(USA) mission coworkers from the Iranian Presbyterian Fellowship in Berlin, which ministers to refugees primarily from the Farsi-speaking countries of Iran and Afghanistan. Rev. Sepheri pastors the church and regularly offers, in addition to worship services, Bible studies as well as classes on what it means to be a Christian, particularly for those coming from a different religious background. Mr. Sadaghiani, a social worker, directs refugees to relevant resources, offers translation services, and visits hospitals and prisons.

Together, these men embody the presence of Christ to the refugee community—the church gathered alongside to offer solace and prayer.

—Ryan White, PC(USA) mission coworker, Berlin

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Burkhard Paetzold, regional liaison for Central Europe/Roma Ministry, Presbyterian World Mission • Berliner Missionswerk: Alan Smith, coordinator of minority outreach, Evangelism and Church Twinning Project • Black Forest Academy: James and Nancy Adams, school administrators • Ryan White and Wanda Cismontane White, church development specialists and pastors to Iranian refugees, Presbyterian World Mission • Iranian Presbyterian Fellowship in Europe: Azizollah Sadaghiani, refugee worker, Rev. Sadegh Sepehri, minister, Reformed Bethlehem Church


Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD): Präses Dr. Nikolaus Schneider, council chair • Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia: Bishop Dr. Markus Dröge • Union of Evangelical Churches in the EKD: Bishop Dr. Ulrich Fischer, chair • Evangelical Missions in Germany: Rev. Christoph Anders, director • Diaconal Work, Hope for Eastern Europe: Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, chair • Berlin Missionary Society: Kirchenrat Roland Herpich, director, Dr. Christoph Theilemann, ecumenical relations and world mission, Wolfgang Iskraut, liaison for Eastern Europe • Berlin City Mission: Rev. Hans-Georg Filker, director • Reformed Alliance in Germany: D. Peter Bukowski, moderator, Jörg Schmidt, general secretary • Reformed Diakonie: Rev. Dietmar Arends, chair • European Diaconal Year Network: John Stringham, director

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Martha Smyrski, BOP
Becca Snipp, PMA
Elder Beth Mary Snyder, PMA

Let us pray

O God, you sojourn with us to new places. Hold us in your hand through the uncertainty of life. Open our eyes to notice the refugee and immigrant in our midst. Guide us to be your presence to those in need and agents of your enduring peace. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 36; 147:12-20
First Reading Nehemiah 6:1-19
Second Reading Revelation 19:1-10
Gospel Reading Matthew 16:1-12
Evening Psalms 80; 27

Mission Yearbook for November 11, 2015

Tue, 11/10/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel Minute for Mission



Chaplain Bill Middleton


Photo by Lawrence Greenslit


As combat operations in Afghanistan wind down, countless military members and their families are wondering about the long-term costs of repeated combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. For many families, it has been a challenge just to get through it. All too often, their spirits have become impoverished, making it easy for them to lose sight of a hopeful future. Now they are asking themselves, Can our family, having survived this trial, not just survive but grow as time goes on?

Rev. Dr. Bill Middleton is a US Navy chaplain and PC(USA) minister currently serving as director of the Chaplain’s Religious Enrichment Development Operation in Washington, DC. His mission is to develop programs that liberate those oppressed by the burden of battle, restore peace to those for whom peace has been in short supply, and provide a glimpse of a more hopeful future to those whose hope has dimmed amid heavy demands.

The Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel asks that you continue to pray both for the men and women serving our nation and for the families who love them. We also request your prayers for chaplains who, like Bill Middleton, minister in Christ’s name to those still suffering from the visible and invisible wounds of war and for all our chaplains—as well as their families—as they serve those who serve our country so faithfully and well.

Chaplain Lawrence P. Greenslit, US Navy (Ret.), director, Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Ryan D. Smith, PMA
Stephen Smith, FDN
William R. Smith, PMA

Let us pray

Gracious God, you give strength to the weary and power to the faint. Lift up those who have given so much to others in service to our nation. May they know the peace of Christ, the peace that surpasses all human understanding. In your gracious name we pray. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 15; 147:1-11
First Reading Nehemiah 7:73b-8:3, 5-18
Or alternate First Reading Nehemiah 5:1-19
Second Reading Revelation 18:21-24
Gospel Reading Matthew 15:29-39
Evening Psalms 48; 4

Mission Yearbook for November 10, 2015

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Italy



African refugees arriving in Italy


Courtesy of DPA International


Last year was especially good for Italy’s churches. Pope Francis continued to reach out to Italy’s marginalized in a way no pope has since John XXIII a half century ago. The Waldensians, long present in Italy and whose roots stretch back to the late 1170s, were again one of Europe’s fastest-growing churches, attracting large numbers of new immigrants from Africa (many undocumented) as well as many Italians into membership.

The Waldensian Evangelical Church, which is in a covenant relationship with the Italian Methodists, is launching a new initiative to widen the global awareness of Waldensian and Methodist pastors. As part of that initiative, the church’s partners in the United States will work to identify five vital ministries with the interest and capacity to invite an Italian Waldensian or Methodist pastor to visit and work alongside them for two months in 2015.

While 2014 bore considerable good for Italy’s churches, rates of church attendance in Italy remain low. A recent study by the Catholic Patriarchate of Venice showed that only 15 percent of Italian Catholics attend church. Although a much higher percentage of Waldensians go to worship every Sunday, only a fraction of 1 percent of Italians are members of Waldensian or Methodist churches.

Duncan Hanson, mission programs in Europe, Reformed Church in America

Let us join in prayer for


Waldensian Evangelical Church: Rev. Eugenio Bernardini, moderator • Confronti: Dr. Paolo Naso, director • Waldensian Theological Faculty • Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy: Ms. Laura Casorio, general secretary, Ms. Bianca de Lecce, Refugee and Migrant Service • Casa Materna: Rosaria Vincenzi, administrator

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Jerri Smith, PMA
Melody Smith, PMA

Let us pray

Loving God, be present with your people in Italy, including members of the Waldensian and Methodist churches, who are working with passion and creativity for the mission of your church. Give them the grace to continue in their course in such a way that others will see your love at work. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 123; 146
First Reading Nehemiah 9:26-38
Or alternate First Reading Nehemiah 4:1-23
Second Reading Revelation 18:9-20
Gospel Reading Matthew 15:21-28
Evening Psalms 30; 86

Mission Yearbook for November 09, 2015

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Portugal



Pastor Maria Eduarda Titosse leading the singing at a Presbyterian Women meeting


Photo by Keiko Butterfield


Fernanda broke nearly every bone in her body in a car crash. She required 17 operations. People from our church visited her, gave her their love, and told her how much they missed her and hoped she could come back to church. Finally, she was able to come back and do what she loves most: sing. It’s the love of Christ—expressed through our church—that motivates Fernanda. And when she’s singing, it’s almost as if she feels no pain.

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal pastors like Maria Titosse persistently reach out to care for suffering women—not only those dealing with physical injuries but those struggling with the pain of children moving away to find work, low self-esteem due to a lack of education, or even prejudice because of their sexual orientation. In so doing, they restore dignity as well as physical health.

The congregation we serve in Alhadas is attended by working poor. Every fall, the people celebrate Thanksgiving by bringing to church something they’ve grown or made and auctioning it off. They save up all year so that they can bid much more than the actual monetary value on items, since all the money goes to local charity. It’s the poor both showing their compassion and defending their own dignity by giving to others.

Rev. Bob and Keiko Butterfield, PC(USA) mission coworkers, Abrantes

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) People in Mission

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal: Rev. Dr. Robert Butterfield, evangelist / community organizer, Keiko Butterfield, team ministry


Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal: Silvina Queiroz, president, Rev. Sandra Reis, vice president, Dulce Cabete, general secretary, Rev. Maria Eduarda Titosse, treasurer

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Bryce Smith, PMA
Craig Smith, PMA
Dottie Smith, PMA

Let us pray

Gracious Lord, you affirmed the worth of every human being. Help us do the same. You loved the unloved and the unlovable. Help us do the same. You set the captive free and consoled the sorrowful. Help us do the same. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 135; 145
First Reading Nehemiah 9:1-15 (16-25)
Or alternate First Reading Nehemiah 2:1-20
Second Reading Revelation 18:1-8
Gospel Reading Matthew 15:1-20
Evening Psalms 97; 112

Mission Yearbook for November 08, 2015

Sat, 11/07/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Minute for Mission: Caregiver Sunday


Many of us reading these pages are in small churches. This is the norm for our denomination. More than 54 percent of our congregations have fewer than 100 members. It is often a challenge to “bring good news to the poor” when we are the ones feeling oppressed and poverty-stricken.

How can individuals in small churches survive and thrive when they are questioning their ability to exist as a church? Sometimes it seems that there is not much joy in trying to do church with just a handful of people. What can a small church do to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” while caring for themselves and each other? At times we fail to see the strength in the small church.

Today’s lectionary includes passages from Ruth as well as the parable of the least coin. Both illustrate the impact that individual choices can make. Perhaps these stories can guide our care for each other. Mutual caring is the hallmark of the small church. We are there for each other in times of joy and sorrow. We are part of each other’s stories. We are resilient, carrying a history of the past within the present moment and on into an unchartered future.

We quietly proclaim God’s Word in many corners of the world. Perhaps it is in this quiet proclamation and living out of God’s Word that the mission of the small church is fulfilled. We do “bring good news to the poor.” We do “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” We do this precisely by caring for each other in God’s name in small but significant ways.

Ruth Bischoff Syre, MSN, RN: congregational health coordinator, Centra, Lynchburg, Virginia; faith community nurse and elder,Rustburg Presbyterian Church; moderator, Presbyterian Health Network, Presbyterian Health, Education, and Welfare Association

Let us pray

Loving, creating God, we thank you for your presence in our churches, whatever the size. We ask your blessing for those who care for each other, especially in small churches. Give us energy, vitality, and vision to continue to be your hands and feet to a hurting world. Help us recognize the beauty of resilience and the value of each one of your churches and your children. Amen.

Sunday Lectionary and Hymns

Ruth 3:1–5, 4:13–17
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds”
GTG 306, HB 473, PH 438

Ps. 127
“Let Us Build a House” /
“All Are Welcome”
GTG 301

Heb. 9:24–28
“Lord, Prepare Me” / “Sanctuary”
GTG 701

Mark 12:38–44
“We Give Thee but Thine Own”
GTG 708, HB 312, PH 428

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 19; 150
First Reading Ezra 10:1-17
Or alternate First Reading Nehemiah 1:1-11
Second Reading Acts 24:10-21
Gospel Reading Luke 14:12-24
Evening Psalms 81; 113

Mission Yearbook for November 07, 2015

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 22:00
Share with a friend     Scotland



The Presbyterian Church of Nigeria’s Mary Slessor Woman’s Association


Courtesy of World Mission Council


This year marks the centenary year of Scottish missionary Mary Slessor (1848–1915), whose pioneering work in Calabar, Nigeria, remains an inspiration. She will be celebrated by the Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria for her success in promoting women’s rights, education, health care, and the gospel as she attentively accompanied all whom she encountered.

Leaving Dundee for Calabar in 1876, Slessor found herself in a land steeped in superstition; however, by immersing herself in the local culture, she was able to effect great and lasting change. Renowned for bringing an end to the ritual murder of twins, Slessor also pioneered the rights of Nigerian women. She worked to free them from degradation and exploitation by encouraging economic independence as the first step toward social and political equality.

Today, the Church of Scotland is committed to addressing violence against women, with its 2013 General Assembly instructing the World Mission Council to continue to work with partner churches to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls. The Church of Scotland and global partner the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria seek to empower women through education and mass mobilization, so that they are confident to engage in all aspects of Nigerian life. Female ministers and session clerks are not uncommon, and women are often found in prominent roles in the financial and education sectors, which remains unusual in wider Africa.

—Ian Alexander, council secretary, World Mission Council, Church of Scotland

Let us join in prayer for:


Church of Scotland: Rev. John Chalmers, principal clerk • Churches Together in Britain and Ireland: Rev. Robert Fyffe, general secretary • Iona Community: Rev. Peter McDonald, leader

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Eva Slayton, PMA
Elder Valerie Small, OGA
Alfred Smith, PMA

Let us pray

Thank you, Lord, for the progress that has been made in preventing violence against women. Help us to continue educating women and freeing them from oppression. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 104; 149
First Reading Ezra 9:1-15
Or alternate First Reading Ezra 6:1-22
Second Reading Revelation 17:1-14
Gospel Reading Matthew 14:22-36
Evening Psalms 138; 98


Presbyterian Mission Yearbook

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