Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Elizabeth
Virtually abandoned by her parents in her native Ecuador, young Ana supported herself by selling sacks of onions at the local market. By the time she reached 16, lack of hope for a better life led her to embark on a harrowing two-month journey that would bring her to Plainfield, New Jersey.
She arrived alone and penniless, and also pregnant. Overwhelmed, Ana had no idea how she would support herself and her child.
Fortunately, an Ecuadoran woman took her in and suggested she apply for WIC assistance. Woman, Infants, and Children is a federal nutrition-assistance program for low-income pregnant women and young children. When the WIC secretary realized that Ana had no parents to sign her application, she told her about a place that might be able to help—El Centro Hispanoamericano.
El Centro is an organization housed at United Presbyterian Church of Plainfield and supported by the Presbytery of Elizabeth that has been a home away from home for thousands of immigrants and refugees since 1984. Those who arrive at El Centro’s doors may receive food from its food pantry, sign up for English classes, and receive low-cost legal services from warm professionals who are immigrants themselves.
Ana left the WIC office and walked straight to El Centro. Its legal staff listened to her tell her entire story through tears. Ana was able to apply for legal residency, with the woman who was caring for her serving as her guardian. She is very grateful for the opportunities legal residency allows. Life in Ecuador was a “torment,” but now, she says, “I’m happy because I can give a better future to my child and help my family in Ecuador—not with grandeur but with a little.”
The 11,384 members of the Presbytery of Elizabeth’s 47 congregations worship God in English, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Slovak, and Spanish.
—Lillian Duggan, volunteer, El Centro, PlainfieldLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Cheryl Galan, interim transitional leader
Rev. Paul Rack, stated clerk
Elder Sara Burke, administrative assistant for stated clerk and resource center coordinator
Elizabeth Quintero, administrative assistant for interim transitional leader; evangelism, mission, and communications coordinator
Elder Dave Bomgaars, treasurer
Elder Terry Gleason, bookkeeper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Lord God, we know the stories of your wandering people, from Abraham and Sarah to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Give us open hearts to care for young immigrants throughout the world, and brave hearts to fight for justice in Jesus’ name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceEastern Korean Presbytery
The New Mercy Community Church in Hackensack, New Jersey, is a community of ordinary people who have found hope in an extraordinary God. In fact, they report that their community is filled with broken people.
But this is as it should be, for Jesus came not for the righteous but for the sick. They believe this is precisely what the church is supposed to be—broken people finding hope and healing in Jesus and his life-changing gospel. This is why they call New Mercy “a church for the broken.”
New Mercy is a family that journeys through life’s difficulties and joys together, striving to grow and to serve God’s kingdom and his people with all that they have and in all that they do. Just as they have experienced God’s radical mercy, they long to be vessels through which God pours out his mercy into this world at the dawn of each new day.
The congregation is organized around four pillars of ministry: restoration and renewal, spiritual formation, education and formation, and compassion and service.
Its pastoral leadership team model is unique. No matter how well-balanced a person may seem, upon closer examination, even the most well-rounded typically have one or two strengths that stand out above the others. In a model of shared leadership, the gifts and talents and discernment of several serve the congregation.
New Mercy’s pastoral team consists of Pastor Won Jae Hudson Yu, the Big Picture guy; Pastor Kee Won Huh, the scholar; John Huh, the counselor; and Hannah Huh, the trainer. The pastors are excited to serve as a team. People often don’t voluntarily request pay cuts, but that is exactly what they did to work in this type of ministry model. And it’s something the congregation is excited to see in action—to be exposed to God’s teaching through each pastor’s unique and varying perspectives and to serve with them in planting this church.
New Mercy Community Church is one of 32 congregations in Eastern Korean Presbytery.Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23). Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
Under the banner “Presbyterians 4 U,” more than 90 people, children to older adults, from 11 congregations in the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse gathered for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Westminster is one of the oldest congregations in Syracuse and has fought to maintain its presence as a witness to Jesus Christ in a changing neighborhood despite decreasing membership. Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Patricia Simmons, it is reaching out to the community with renewed hope and commitment.
The day began with inspiring worship and table fellowship followed by hands-on mission: putting together health and hygiene kits, donating food for an ecumenical food pantry, making bag lunches for the city’s Rescue Mission, cleaning out and painting rooms, and organizing Christian education resources. A follow-up work day was held in March to finish some of the projects. As a result of this effort, new friendships and partnerships have been forged and new possibilities are being imagined.
This outreach began when pastors and a few others met to discern how the presbytery might come together around congregations that are struggling to maintain their witness. The presbytery has transitioned from a more traditional structure to a virtual one without a presbytery executive or physical office. The new structure calls for creative approaches from the presbytery’s 38 congregations as they together seek to fulfill the Great Commission.
—Rev. Peter Shidemantle, chair, presbytery leadership teamLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Marianne Rhebergen, member, PMA Board
Rev. Steven W. Plank, stated clerk/communicator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
We thank you, Lord, for the new thing you are doing among us. We pray for the mission and ministry of the presbytery’s congregations, who are envisioning and acting on a new way to be your people in a changed and changing world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Boston
Two ongoing PC(USA) initiatives—Earth Care Congregations and the Eco-Steward Program—and the Climate Revival ecumenical gathering have stimulated, encouraged, and broadened environmental interest among our 25 congregations in the Greater Boston area. After two years of conversation and planning, the Boston Food Justice Young Adult Volunteer program enthusiastically welcomed its first cohort of volunteers in the fall of 2013.
Over the next four years, this project will bring young adults into presbytery congregations each fall to assist in activities that enhance food justice in their communities: making healthy, nutritious food accessible to all; encouraging the sustainable production of food to protect God’s good creation and the people within it; and promoting buying practices that support the flourishing of local economies and producers. Participating congregations will partner with local food-justice nonprofits to host the YAVs—the two partners working together to support the missions of both.
Fourth Presbyterian Church in South Boston will partner with the Boston Faith and Justice Network both to change food practices through education as part of the church’s summer kids’ program and to develop a variety of food-related community events. Church of the Covenant in Boston seeks to work with a YAV to build stronger relationships with the Women’s Lunch Place, a day shelter and meal program housed in the church. Other congregations are exploring possibilities in their communities that involve urban gardening, local farms, food advocacy with Bread for the World, farmers’ markets, and a host of other outreach opportunities.
YAVs will play a central role in building these relationships and will learn more about local food economies while being nurtured as Christian leaders. As our congregations answer God’s call to engage more fully in local mission and to mentor the young adult leaders of the church, prayerful support is growing and expanding.
—Wayne Parrish, former executive presbyter, Presbytery of BostonLet us join in prayer for:
Teaching Elder Ward Holder, moderator
Teaching Elder Andrew Parmelee, treasurer
Teaching Elder Rodney Peterson, trustees president
Ruling Elder Betty Rots, CPM clerk
Wren Colle, administrative assistant
Young Adult Volunteers
John “Alex” Haney, Audrey Holt, Elizabeth “Libby” McDermott, and Kathleen Murphy, community development interns, Boston Food Justice YAV site
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dios de la tierra y mesa, que este pan que compartimos traiga vida en abundancia a todos los pueblos de la tierra. Amen.
God of earth and table, may the bread we share bring your life in abundance to all the peoples of the earth. Amen.
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Evangelism Sunday
The story of how Tamara John ended up starting a new worshiping community is ultimately about the redeeming and healing power of Jesus Christ.
Fifteen years ago, John had other priorities. “The more [money] my husband and I made, the darker it got,” she says. “We’d party—do drugs and alcohol—then recuperate and do it all over again.”
One day a woman at the Bible study she was attending pulled her aside, saying, “I love you, but you are going down a bad road.” Shaken, John began to pray. Over time she felt God saying, “I have a life for you; this is not the life I have created for you.”
She began to step out of the party scene, hoping her husband would follow her example. Instead, he told her, “Go back to being the woman I married, or leave.”
After going through the trauma of divorce, John felt a call to minister and care for people who had been wounded by life. This desire deepened at seminary. Nearing graduation, she got a feeling that she would have a base to
do this kind of ministry but that it would be mobile.
Two years ago John began living in an RV park in Huntington Beach, California. She ministers to people in a chapel in the back of her RV. “I’ve talked with people who have walked away from God, who are struggling to trust God again,” she says.
John was ordained as an evangelist to the RV park by the Presbytery of Los Ranchos in May 2013. “I get to baptize people now, to bring them down into the water and raise them up into new life in Jesus Christ. That is my hope for everyone I meet—for Jesus to make them new, with all the old gone.”
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that in you the old has passed away and all things become new. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Come, Sing with Joy to God”
Ps. 78:1–4, 12–16
“When Morning Gilds the Skies”
HB 41, PH 487
“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!”
HB 132, PH 142, 143
“O Love, How Deep, How Broad,
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceAlbany Presbytery
New York, Vermont
Several years ago Albany Presbytery reshaped its budget, setting aside a significant amount of money for new initiatives. Its 68 congregations have been encouraged to start new projects that support the goals of the presbytery: congregational vitality, healthy relationships, and missional living.
One grant was given to West Hebron Church, which seeks to become a “community sanctuary”—a welcoming, safe, and nurturing place for its neighbors. The church’s parking lot is often used by young families as a place for children to learn to ride bikes, roller blade, or just ride in a wagon. Teens and adults make use of aging basketball hoops. There is no other recreational area in West Hebron.
As a result of the grant, the congregation was able to install two new basketball goals. A playground area was set up. Benches and picnic tables were added for family use as well as church events. The church has also held public forums on issues that relate to aging, including care options for the elderly; tips on how to tackle family conversations about aging parents; and wills, estate planning, and funeral options.
To become a community sanctuary, the congregation first needed to build relationships and trust with its immediate neighbors. Teens and area adults helped build the swing set, paint court lines, seed grass, etc. A “Come and Play” kickoff barbecue was held. The congregation is building a new reputation by welcoming the community, which may prove more powerful than any traditional evangelism program.
—Cass Shaw, former general presbyterLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Shannon Vance-Ocampo, transitional presbyter
Elder H. Daniel Rogers Jr., stated clerk
Rev. Dr. Tim Coombs, transformation and media specialist
Rev. Brooke Newell, coordinator of advocacy ministries, Central New York Presbytery Partnership Group
Elder Shirley Simon, presbytery treasurer
Elder Elsie Rew, assistant treasurer
Susan Braymer, administrative assistant
Carlie D-Annunzio, financial manager
Rev. Charles Roberts, COM advisor, Central New York Presbytery Partnership Group
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, may we be bold to proclaim the good news of your love for us and for your whole world. May we reach out to support our neighbors and offer them kindness, hope, and sanctuary. May we listen with care and respect. May we share our own experience of the gospel with joy. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceThe Synod of the Northeast
The Synod of the Northeast includes 1,115 congregations throughout New England, New York, and New Jersey. In the fall of 2011 the synod assembly decided to enter into a season of discernment about its future direction and purpose. By the end of the first year, we had concluded that gathering at the regional level allowed presbyteries and their congregations to support one another and share resources and was therefore both necessary and desirable.
In our reflections we have rediscovered two key strengths of the synod: our racial ethnic diversity and the emergence of many new and passionate young leaders. We have enjoyed a strong legacy of racial and ethnic leadership, a gift reinvigorated through an annual racial ethnic convocation and quarterly racial ethnic roundtable conversations. Gathering at Princeton Theological Seminary in April 2013, we celebrated this legacy and our many new racial and ethnic partners. The synod also has a long-standing program to support those who are starting first calls to ministry, the Early Ministry Institute. Plans for an emerging leaders’ convocation are under way, so that these young leaders might be more fully welcomed and nurtured throughout our regional community.
—Rev. Harold M. Delhagen, transitional leader, Synod of the NortheastLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isa. 43:18–19). Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeacePresbyterian Foundation
The Presbyterian Foundation is a vital part of the PC(USA) and is committed to strengthening congregations, mid councils, the General Assembly, and all other related entities by developing gifts and managing funds on their behalf and working with them to build communities of generosity among their members and constituents. We provide all Presbyterians an avenue to realize their philanthropic goals through a variety of giving options while maintaining a strong focus on the Reformed values that guide our stewardship and investment. To learn more about how the Foundation can assist you, visit PresbyterianFoundation.org or call 800-858-6127.Presbyterian Publishing Corporation
The Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) is a financially self-sustaining agency of the General Assembly. In 2013 PPC published the new denominational hymnal, Glory to God. PPC publishes 50 new titles each year and maintains a backlist of more than 1,800 titles. PPC publishes as Westminster John Knox Press, Geneva Press, The Thoughtful Christian, and The Presbyterian Leader. To order PPC items, visit one of these online marketplaces or call 800-554-4694. To order subscriptions to These Days devotional magazine, call 800-624-2412.Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program
The Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program provides low-cost mortgages to congregations, mid councils, and related entities for capital projects such as expansions, renovations, and site purchases. Funds for these loans come from Presbyterian investors (members, pastors, churches, and mid councils) who purchase interest-bearing notes from the program. Investments may range from term notes that mature within six months to five years to a Mission Market Fund that allows more flexibility in withdrawals and deposits. The minimum investment is $500.Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, we lift up those who work in the ministries of the Presbyterian Foundation, the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, and the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program. Please give them strength and wisdom as they serve your people. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceAction against Gun Violence Minute for Mission
Today’s lectionary reading from Acts notes that for three months Paul entered the synagogue and “argued persuasively about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8b). We pray for the kingdom every Sunday, but are we ready to argue and plead for it in God's house? Is there anything more urgent to argue or plead for than what God's reign would look like in our cities and towns?
Eighty percent of all gun deaths in the developed world occur in the United States. The number for children’s gun deaths is even worse, at 87 percent. Should not these facts motivate us to be bold like the apostle Paul and set us arguing and pleading for God’s shalom to take form in our cities and towns? And shouldn’t the arguing and pleading happen in God’s house, where the incredible worth of each human life is central to all we stand for?
A minister asked the youth who were studying the Lord’s Prayer in his confirmation class, “What is the kingdom of God?” One young fellow volunteered, “I think it’s God’s tomorrow, which is kind of here today already.” The fact that we have a week of action against gun violence is a sign that God’s tomorrow is here among us already.
For decades, faith communities in the United States have been quiet about 30,000 gun deaths per year because we felt such arguing and pleading was inappropriate in God’s house. Today, after experiencing 130 separate school shootings since Columbine, including the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, thousands of faith communities are realizing that our lack of such arguing and pleading is what is really inappropriate. As followers of Jesus, it is our joy to be claimed by God’s tomorrow and muster the courage to argue and plead about the reign of God that is “kind of here already.”
—James E. Atwood, advocate in gun-violence prevention for 39 yearsLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dreama Reams, PMA
Rev. James Reese, FDN
O God of love greater than we can imagine, teach us how to love all your children as you have loved us, especially those who suffer and die unnecessarily. Give us boldness to argue and plead for your reign, especially in your house. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence/Season of PeaceNative American Day Minute for Mission
Some people think of American Indians or Native Americans as being all alike. That would be like saying all Europeans are the same. Yes, there are similarities, such as the importance of creation and of kinship. But the gift of each tribe’s uniqueness is a mark of the Creator’s handiwork.
The Laguna United Presbyterian Church, worshiping in three villages on the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, is the only Native American congregation in the Presbytery of Santa Fe. It is one of two church bodies that have been sanctioned by the Laguna tribal council. The other is the Catholic Church. Anyone who knows the complex history between indigenous communities and Christian missions knows how significant this relationship is.
Members of Laguna United Presbyterian Church have been exploring ways to continue ministry in 2014 and beyond. With the Mission Partnership Funds that supported their teaching elder having now come to an end, they are strengthening a cultural understanding of stewardship, and ruling elders are considering the meaning of becoming commissioned ruling elders. Members who are potters continue to share the gift of their art on Communion ware, and the congregation continues to welcome visitors from near and far to worship with them.
—Rev. Judy Wellington, La Mesa Presbyterian Church, Albuquerque, New MexicoLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Creator of all we see and all we cannot see, your Spirit has been with us from the beginning and will be with us through all time. We thank you for the gift of life, and for the gift of the earth that is our home. May we live with gratitude in our hearts each day as we seek to be faithful witnesses of your good news. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeacePresbyterian Mission Agency, continued
The Presbyterian Mission Agency is governed by an elected board and is responsible for the coordination of program activity at the national and international level of the church’s witness. Elder Linda B. Valentine serves as the executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Rev. Marilyn Gamm is the chair of the elected Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. Approximately 300 staff members carry out the work of Presbyterian Mission. Nearly 200 mission coworkers (in 50 countries) and 71 Young Adult Volunteers (in 4 sites internationally and 15 sites in the United States) are engaged in vital ministries of sharing faith and working against poverty and violence.Office of the General Assembly
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) encourages the PC(USA) to be a people of hope: seeking together the mind of Christ, working for justice and mercy in the world, and participating in God’s continual reformation of the church. The OGA is responsible for the church’s ecclesiastical activities and fulfills the duties assigned to the stated clerk. It meets responsibilities as outlined in the Book of Order, performs functions designated in the Standing Rules of the General Assembly, and communicates and carries out assignments made by each General Assembly. The next General Assembly will be held in Portland, Oregon, June 18–25, 2016.Board of Pensions
The Board of Pensions administers the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The dues-based plan is grounded in the biblical understanding of responsibility to community, and lower-paid members of the plan and their families receive subsidized pension, death, disability, and medical benefits. The Board also manages and administers the Assistance Program, which meets specific needs of Presbyterian pastors and other church workers at various stages of their lives and assists with pastors’ vocational, leadership, and other training. Gifts, legacies, endowment income, and half of the Christmas Joy Offering support the work of the Assistance Program.Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Dear God, thank you for those who work with the ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Office of the General Assembly, and the Board of Pensions. We ask that you would give them fresh hearts as they serve. Amen.Daily Lectionary
International Day of Peace/Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Theological Education/Seminary
On July 17, 1861, a group of 25 Presbyterians in Grand Rapids, Michigan, called Rev. Courtney Smith as pastor, and Westminster Presbyterian Church was born. That fact might appear mundane, yet just three months earlier the Civil War had begun, and Smith was an abolitionist who believed in biblical criticism. Indeed, Smith was an abolitionist precisely because he practiced the critical study of Scripture—in 1861.
Even though Psalm 105, one of today’s lections, celebrates the story of our slave forebears’ escape from captivity in Egypt, Scripture elsewhere seems to recognize the validity of the practice of slavery. Colossians 3:22 is typical: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything.” On the surface the Bible concedes slavery, and religiously motivated abolitionists were therefore often ridiculed publicly.
Given the complexity of the biblical witness on this issue, critical thinking is required to understand and be obedient to God’s word on the matter. The church has since faced similar tensions in our understanding of God’s liberation of women and sexual minorities, and through each issue we have been led in our critical thinking by our theological institutions. On this day we rightly celebrate the ministry of our Presbyterian seminaries. Among the essential roles of our seminaries is to educate clergy and congregations, such that our understanding of Scripture goes beyond the surface, allowing us to courageously engage God’s world with consciences informed by God’s enduring word.
Moreover, these intellectual matters are not trivial but life-and-death. Three of Westminster’s 25 members joined as volunteers to serve the Union, and, though their reasons were probably many, their decisions were likely informed by the abolitionist and seminary-trained preacher they had themselves called as their pastor. And thanks to generations of seminary-educated leaders, Westminster is today a 1,300-member congregation, dedicated to the social witness and intellectual integrity of its 1861 forebears.
—Chandler Stokes, pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Grand Rapids, MichiganLet us pray
Holy God, you call us to love you with our minds. Bless those who are devoted to the study and teaching of theological disciplines. By their fruits strengthen our minds and wills and so bless your church. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“O God, in a Mysterious Way”
Ps. 105:1–6, 37–45
“Glorious Things of Thee
HB 434, PH 446
“More Love to Thee, O Christ”
HB 397, PH 359
“Jesus Loves Me!”
HB 465, PH 304
Season of PeacePresbyterian Mission Agency
Welcoming, nurturing, feeding, and sheltering people in the name of Jesus Christ—this is God’s work through the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Whenever and wherever the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is engaged in doing mission and ministry, God is at work in and through Presbyterian Mission as it inspires, equips, and connects Presbyterians in Christ’s service.
Presbyterians are inspired by the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement, excited that new, varied, and even unconventional forms of church have begun to change the world and the church for the sake of the gospel. Working in partnership with churches and mid councils, the Presbyterian Mission Agency is providing vision and training resources to innovative leaders, helping with credentialing and financial support where needed and keeping Presbyterians at the edge of the Spirit’s work.
Presbyterian young adults are equipped by the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s young adult catalyst and an ambitious initiative called UKirk, which is bringing new life and energy to the church’s ministry with college students.
Presbyterians are connected through our many transition-into-ministry programs, such as the Company of New Pastors, For Such a Time as This, and racial ethnic leadership institutes. We also worked with existing congregations—through programs such as New Beginnings—to help presbyteries and congregations discern their future stories.
Even in the midst of chaos, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance delivers God’s gift of consolation and hope through an outpouring of volunteer support, teaching materials, and other resources.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency is the ministry and mission agency of the PC(USA). In partnership with synods, presbyteries, congregations, Presbyterian-related organizations, and ecumenical partners, Presbyterian Mission strives to offer the world a visible witness of Jesus Christ. Five ministry areas carry out the mission work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency: Compassion, Peace, and Justice; Evangelism and Church Growth; Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women; Theology, Worship, and Education; and World Mission.Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. James Fouther Jr., ecumenical representative, PMA Board
Vicki Garber, ecumenical representative, PMA Board
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, lead us to hearts that need to know your love, and help us to demonstrate the hope you offer us all. Give us strength to respond with the love you have shown us, so that we may serve others in your name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Western North Carolina
Many things can be said about Malawi, but for the Presbytery of Western North Carolina mission team it will always be known as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” the country’s well-deserved nickname.
The presbytery has chosen to visit and serve in Malawi with the Nkhoma Hospital and the Ebenezer School in Nkhoma for the past nine years. By going there, presbytery teams help the people and are helped themselves as their own faith in God is multiplied. The growth isn’t necessarily brought about by the most obvious of means. Team members become friends with the people. They sit and listen and get to know them. Letting go of their agendas, they adapt to a slower pace of life. Going to Malawi teaches team members to be patient, to be flexible, and to be appreciative. The people of Malawi do not have material wealth, but they demonstrate incredible love, patience, flexibility, and—above all else—faith. The Malawian’s faith in God is what is truly humbling to the team. The Warm Heart of Africa will always be known as a home away from home for many from the presbytery.
The Presbytery of Western North Carolina is home to 111 congregations. Lees-McRae, Montreat, and Warren Wilson Colleges are within its bounds, as are the Black Mountain Home for Children, Grandfather Home for Children, Montreat Conference Center, and Camp Grier. Their Guatemalan partnership is with Suchitepequez and Sur Occidente Presbyteries. 2014 is the twentieth year of that partnership.
—Anna Heilman, Waldensian Presbyterian Church, ValdeseLet us join in prayer for:
Bobbi White, general presbyter
Anita Bernhardt, associate presbyter
William A.“Bert” Sigmon, stated clerk
Beth Gunn, presbytery associate for youth
Barbara Ross, presbytery associate
Charles Davenport, presbytery associate
Marie Connelly de Palacios, Guatemala partnership coordinator
Robbin Buchanan, administrative staff
Tonya Williams, administrative staff
Marcia Puckett, administrative staff
Lisa Pressley, controller
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Carolyn Pressley, BOP
Elonzer Purkins, OGA
Heavenly Father, we pray for the people of Malawi and Nkhoma Synod. We pray for the mission teams that visit there. Continue to teach them faithfulness and humility through the lives of their Malawian sisters and brothers. In your name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of Shenandoah
Virginia, West Virginia
Everybody needs clean water to drink. The Presbytery of Shenandoah’s Living Waters team visited Comalapa, Guatemala, where Long Way Home, an NGO, built a special community school. Long Way Home uses sustainable design to construct self-sufficient schools that promote education, employment, and environmental stewardship.
Nearly every word of their mission statement resonates with that of Living Waters for the World, which provides water purification systems for developing countries. Building schools that teach life skills and concepts enables a community to grow out of poverty. So, when Shenandoah’s Living Waters team visited the site of this unique school, they immediately committed to bringing them clean water.
The earthquake-resistant walls of the Escuela Tecnico Maya are made from plaster covering old tires, earth bags, and plastic bottles stuffed with trash. Discarded glass bottles are embedded in the walls and ceilings to provide natural lighting. Community members learn new skills by helping to build the school using new technologies (such as water harvesting) and joining in developing solutions that use available resources.
Today, clean water helps keep the students healthy and is available to the community for drinking and cooking. Although Escuela Tecnico Maya is not a religious school, the love of Christ is shared daily as the students drink the pure water and the community leaders learn life-sustaining skills.
The Presbytery of Shenandoah is home to 108 congregations and 12 chapels.
—Doug Sensabaugh, communications coordinator and hunger action enabler, Presbytery of ShenandoahLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Randall Webb, acting general presbyter
Rev. David Witt, stated clerk
Kim Stroupe, assistant for the constitution
Ruling Elder Doug Sensabaugh, communications coordinator and hunger action enabler
Heather Carter, office administrator/bookkeeper
Larry Holsinger, treasurer
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Your gift of living water gives us new life. We thank you that this new life can be shared wherever you call us, O Lord. We pray that all who drink of the pure water in Comalapa also receive the living water you offer. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceSalem Presbytery
Salem Presbytery is home to 144 congregations and several innovative ministries to young adults and college students. UKirk Greensboro (formerly Presbyterian Campus Ministry) welcomes a wide range of young adults, from high school seniors to twentysomething professionals. In an approach called “Pass the Torch,” the ministry walks with them through the critical steps of young adulthood. To make this possible, it partners with multiple congregations in Greensboro to share staff and provide pastoral care and a network of ministry to young adults. The center of the ministry is the Holderness Presbyterian House, built in 2010 as an intentional residential community for college students and recent graduates.
At Appalachian State University in Boone is another innovative ministry serving students, young adults, and the community. In 2012 Presbyterian Campus Ministry, in partnership with Episcopal Campus Ministry, opened 3rd Place in bustling downtown Boone. The storefront location is not only a meeting place for the campus ministry program but also an art gallery, craft market, performance space, yoga studio, book exchange, and lecture hall—whatever the occasion requires. This experiment in spiritual community has attracted support from congregations as well as passersby and residents. It is truly a space for grace.
These innovative ministries are reaching young adults where they are, but the ministries are not content to leave them there. “We are helping young adults construct community that will lead them to a richer experience of community and a deeper life of faith,” says Rev. Peter Hazelrigg, executive director of UKirk Greensboro.Let us join in prayer for:
Samuel P. Marshall III, general/executive presbyter
Dianna Wright, African American advocate/associate presbyter
Bryan McFarland, hunger action advocate/interim associate presbyter
Alfredo Miranda, Hispanic mission evangelist
Mack Dagenhart, stated clerk
Laurie Scott, office manager
Renee Carter, financial secretary
Chris Campbell, administrative and financial assistant
Peggy Trenchard, administrative assistant
Kim Nichols, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of grace, we pray that we might be your hands and feet and voice to young people who are seeking you. Guide us by your Holy Spirit to create spaces of grace for those you have claimed as your own. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of the Peaks
Many of the 132 congregations in the Presbytery of the Peaks participate in the annual youth-led Souper Bowl of Caring, joining others across the country in collecting food and money for the hunger ministry of their choice on Super Bowl Sunday. For many years the youth of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Roanoke have collected money and soup and donated it to the Presbyterian Community Center in southeast Roanoke, which offers emergency food and financial assistance along with an after-school tutoring program. Many contributed fancy soups until it was discovered that the most popular soups at the center were chicken noodle and tomato.
A few years ago a “co-opetition”—a competitive undertaking toward a common goal—was initiated between Covenant members, who were divided up by where they sit in worship. In the three weeks leading up to Souper Bowl Sunday. The youth offer skits—complete with props—to urge their teams to bring their assigned soup. You can imagine the creativity. But always at the center remained the goal of following Christ's call to feed hungry people. Here are the results of recent co-opetitions:
• 2011: 2,500 cans, with chicken noodle the winner
• 2012: 3,300 cans—tomato soup winning
• 2013: 3,700 cans—tomato soup by a landslide
The goal for 2014 is 5,000 cans. Christ said, “Feed my sheep,” and Covenant Presbyterian has found great joy in trying to do just that!
—Mary MacMichael, director of youth ministries/church activities, Covenant Presbyterian Church, RoanokeLet us join in prayer for:
Nancy Dawson, general presbyter
Steve Earl, associate presbyter for ministry
Jeff Binder, associate presbyter for ministries with youth and young adults
Hugh Springer, stated clerk
Robin Padgett, office manager
Tammy Dowden, office support
Joyce Russell, ministry staff support
Denise Pillow, hunger action enabler
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Aimee Philpott, PMA
John Piazza, BOP
Samantha Piccolo, OGA
Gracious God, we praise you, and also wonder at the great need we see around us. Forgive us for our failure to love our neighbors as ourselves. Strengthen us to work for a world where all are fed. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceThe Presbytery of New Hope
For spring break 2013, our students decided they wanted to work with an organization addressing food insecurity. So, 16 of us traveled from Chapel Hill to work with the San Francisco Food Bank. Sending out what amounts to 100,000 meals a day for six days a week, it is the largest food bank in the country. Our college students, adorned with stylish hairnets and rubber gloves, packaged thousands of pounds of rice, bow-tie pasta, carrots, oranges, and grapefruit.
You might wonder: “Isn’t there a food bank in eastern North Carolina. Why not just go there?” One of our goals for alternative spring break trips is to stretch our students culturally and geographically. We design trips that will regularly invite them to walk outside their comfort zones to serve and learn as Christ calls. Is this not what Christ asks of us all?
Each day we read one of the chapters in Exodus From Hunger by David Beckmann, who describes God’s hope-fueled laborers with these words: “Through the ups and downs of history, those of us who believe God raised Jesus from the dead are always looking for ways God will bring good out of evil, and we are working to seize those opportunities” (Westminster John Knox, 2010, p. 77).
I am thankful that I get to do this every day with college students! I pray you will be able to seize the opportunities in your own lives as well.
The Presbytery of New Hope serves 124 congregations.
—John Rogers, campus minister, University Presbyterian Church, Chapel HillLet us join in prayer for:
Ted Churn, executive presbyter/stated clerk
Terry Lamberson, associate executive, finance and new church development
Christine Kelson, office manager, assistant to executive presbyter/stated clerk
Rene Baker, administrative assistant
Gun Ho Lee, associate for multicultural ministries
Julio Ramirez-Eve, associate for Hispanic ministries
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Elder Ann Philbrick, PMA
Adam Phillip-Silver, BOP
O Jesus, feeder of the multitudes, please feed us. Open us up, and lead us to where you are calling us to serve. Thank you for seeing in us someone who could be equipped to serve and be your disciple. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Union Presbyterian Seminary
This November, from the 3rd to the 5th, Union Presbyterian Seminary (UPSem) will be celebrating 100 years of calling, equipping, and sending Christian educators. In early November 1914, the Assembly’s Training School for Lay Workers (ATS) was established in the Ginter Park Section of Richmond, Virginia, directly across Brook Road from Union Theological Seminary. Though the name was later changed to the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE), and though the institution later federated with Union Theological Seminary to form the new entity that is Union Presbyterian Seminary, the mission has remained the same: to prepare the finest Christian educators for service in the church. For the past 100 years, through the work of ATS, PSCE, and now UPSem, Christian educators have written curriculum, programmed church activities, established church schools, transmitted the faith to younger generations, and provided a host of leadership abilities in churches across the United States and around the globe.
A Centennial Celebration committee has been commissioned by UPSem to recognize this wonderful history of preparing Christian educators. The committee’s work will culminate this November in a series of worship, recreational, historical, and, of course, teaching events that will commemorate ATS/PSCE’s legacy in the life and work of the church. The seminary’s board of trustees will be on campus during the celebration not only to recognize ATS/PSCE’s past but to emphasize UPSem’s commitment to Christian education as one of the foci of the seminary’s strategic vision for its future work. The seminary has initiated a capital campaign that prioritizes the strengthening of the Christian education program. Two fundraising initiatives specifically target this agenda: the calling of two new faculty chairs in Christian education for the Richmond campus and the establishment of a Global Center for Christian Education.
UPSem remains committed to its signature dual degree (MDiv and MACE), which ensures that its graduates, whether members of the PC(USA) or of one of the many other denominations represented in our student body, are ready to be true teaching elders in their congregations—fully prepared, fully equipped pastor-educators.
—Brian K. Blount, president and professor of New Testament, Union Presbyterian SeminaryLet us pray
Dear God, we give thanks for the Christian educators who are vital to the work of your church. We ask your blessing upon those whom you have called into the vocation of teaching and nurturing the faith. Strengthen them in this important service even as they strengthen the church through their work. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”
HB 205, PH 114, 115
“When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land”
Exod. 15:1b–11, 20–21
“Peoples, Clap Your Hands!”
“Pues Si Vivimos” (“When We
“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
Christian Education Week/Season of PeaceNew Castle Presbytery
In starting New Castle Presbytery in the late 17th century, Francis Makemie did something before all other Presbyterian pioneers of his day. Presbyterians in Wilmington, Delaware, still take great pride that theirs was the first presbytery of the New World.
This heritage of being first inspires the presbytery to continually explore the shape of emerging ministries as the world becomes new again. So, it comes as no surprise that pastors from three strong congregations and the PC(USA) campus minister from the University of Delaware have joined forces to create F.I.R.S.T. (Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained). This initiative is designed to engage young adult ministers in the pressing challenge of reaching a young adult population that is increasingly distant from the traditional ministries of the PC(USA).
Through generous funding from New Castle Presbytery, the F.I.R.S.T. “starters” will receive a half-time stipend and full health benefits.
As exciting as this sounds, there is nothing terribly precise about what F.I.R.S.T. is doing. Two starters were released into the greater Wilmington area in 2013, and another will be sent out in 2014. They will look for ways to form community around worship and service and will not be confined as many ministers are. But they also will not have the advantages of a building, a stable budget, or a long-standing place in the community.
Then again, Francis Makemie didn’t have any of that either.
New Castle Presbytery has 53 congregations and emergent ministries.
—Rev. Dr. Nathaniel D. Phillips, Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DelawareLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. James L. Moseley, executive presbyter
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline E. Taylor, associate executive presbyter, Speer Trust director
Reid K. Beveridge, stated clerk
Donna L. Scully, executive assistant
Rachel C. Sykes, administrative assistant and communications coordinator
Rev. Sara Holben, chair of council
Mark Olson, moderator
Julius Jackson, vice moderator
Rev. Tom Davis, interfaith peacemaker
Pam Ruarke, disaster recovery coordinator
Terry Dykstra, mission associate
Rev. Nona Holy, campus ministry pastor
Rev. Kate LeFranc, pastoral associate
Rev. Laurie Hiller, parliamentarian
Rev. Doug Gerdts, treasurer
Susan Wilson, bookkeeper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Good and gracious God, thank you for the gift of life. We confess that we have become too comfortable with our own way of doing things. Grant us the freedom to embrace the new thing that you are doing in our midst, and employ our influence for the good of those that have none. Amen.Daily Lectionary