Since 2009, the congregations of Eastern Korean Presbytery have united each year for a short-term mission trip to Latin America. We form separate youth, adult, and pastor teams, with each group performing specific ministries.
Our trip to Guatemala in 2013 was very successful. With 25 students and three youth pastors, the youth mission served students in Jutiapa, a “state” (departmento) with a large youth population. The team provided vacation Bible school in different towns each day for five days, with average attendance topping 100. They focused on teaching the children about Jesus and who he is. They also visited local homes to share the gospel with families.
Members of the medical ministry team visited the towns of Jutiapa to offer medical services to those in need. Exhibiting the love of Jesus, they treated those who were treatable and provided medicine when necessary. They also gave eye exams and provided eyeglasses to those who needed them. Finally, the medical team testified of God’s love and prayed with the sick for Jesus’ healing power.
The pastors on the team shared their knowledge and experience with the local pastors, who were ministering in a difficult environment. They prayed together for God’s mercy and comfort.
The whole team worked together to minister in the central park of Jutiapa. The youth bore witness through praises and with skits focused on the message of Jesus Christ. The team’s pastor and missionary, both fluent in Spanish, preached the gospel. After inviting the people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the adults and youth prayed for those who accepted Jesus Christ and introduced them to local churches.
A team from our presbytery returned to Guatemala in 2014. We pray that God would continue to pour out his grace on the people of Guatemala.
Eastern Korean Presbytery serves 31 congregations.
—Rev. Andres Yi, mission committee chair, Eastern Korean PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious Lord, we pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to allow the presbytery and its congregations to save lost souls and extend the kingdom of heaven on earth. We ask that your wisdom and power would be graciously given to the staff, committees, and members who serve the presbytery. Amen.Daily Lectionary
The Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse took seriously both the letter and the spirit of the changes made in 2011 to the Form of Government. Embracing new possibilities, the presbytery decided to become something different. Beyond simply reorganizing—as we and so many other councils of our church have done over the decades—we decided to make fundamental changes in terms of our staffing, office, mission funding, structure, and life together.
Our focus today is on empowering congregations to realize their visions and to live as the Lord’s “anointed,” to “bring good news” to all in need, and to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” throughout our four counties in central New York.
Park Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Syracuse created a visual summary of its commitment to ministries beyond church walls. Morrisville Community Church has a large clothing closet that’s available every week for those in need. Isaiah’s Table, a new worshiping community, provides “grace, hope, food for all” through its community garden, food pantry, and Saturday breakfasts and worship.
Whitelaw Presbyterian Church, with 115 members, has four choirs and welcomes hundreds of community members who return for the congregation’s annual Old Home Day. First Presbyterian Church in Auburn works with community partners to find the best ways to use Case Mansion (on church grounds) for outreach and ministry to those in need.
The Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse is home to 38 congregations and worshiping communities and their more than 4,700 members.
—Rev. Steve Plank, stated clerk and communicatorLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Steve Plank, stated clerk and communicator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God, you call us to proclaim good news in word and deed. Grant us courage to be brave, bold, and imaginative disciples in all we say and do. In Christ’s name. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Food justice, at its simplest, is a matter of ensuring good food for all. Well aware that this is much easier said than done, our team worked with four Presbyterian congregations—each partnered with a nonprofit organization—on issues of food access, sustainability, and advocacy.
Each site went about the work in a different way, allowing us an opportunity to approach food justice from four different angles. From direct service to meal programs and food pantries to advocacy and economic discipleship, we learned just how much is involved in bringing good food to all.
In addition to our work with congregations and partners, we were regularly learning alongside one another throughout greater Boston. We participated in community days full of reading, discussion, and wrestling with the difficulties and complexities of food justice. We ventured out on occasional field trips to a local farm, apple orchard, or cranberry bog to interact with those truly reliant on and in tune with the food system. All of these learning opportunities helped us to do our jobs better and provided plenty of fodder for dinner conversations.
And we most certainly took our work home with us, as we lived on a local-only diet for the first six months and learned how to make pretty much anything from scratch—pasta, tortilla chips, you name it—all with the intention of teaching us how food is made and where it comes from. For the last six months, we used federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits in order to experience another side of the food system.
The Boston Food Justice Young Adult Volunteer program is a ministry of the Presbytery of Boston and its 25 congregations.
—Audrey Sue Holt, Young Adult Volunteer, 2013–14Let us join in prayer for:
Rev. Andrew Parmelee, treasurer
Rev. Theodore “T. J.” DeMarco, stated clerk
Wren Colle, administrator
Young Adult Volunteers
Hannah Landrein, Amanda Moak, and Hope Seggelink, Boston Food Justice
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of abundance, fill our hearts and our souls. Open our eyes to see those around us who are hungry, whether for spiritual or physical food. Equip us to be your hands, bringing both spiritual and physical sustenance to your children and our sisters and brothers all around us. Fill us with your peace and love to overflowing. Amen.Daily Lectionary
New York, Vermont
In 2013 we set off on a new route in ministry. We began a presbytery-wide process of discernment and evaluation about fresh paths forward. We are exploring our past and seeing how adaptive change can help us grow into new ways of “doing church” for this time. We seek greater avenues of faithfulness, connection, and missional service with our communities as we remain rooted in theological imagination.
Instead of closing a church building after a congregation decided to end its season of ministry in the urban center of Troy, New York, the presbytery has taken a bold step into mission partnership, creating the Oakwood Community Center. The center is led by an interfaith community board and includes three new congregations, yoga, rehabilitation programs, Soul Café, a music recording studio, and a food pantry.
In the more rural northern tier of the presbytery, our Hudson Falls congregation has taken the leap of faith to birth a new worshiping community based around the CrossFit strength-and-conditioning program. They seek to “offer the surrounding area a single place where the human needs for connection, spirituality, and physical health can be met in community with others, striving to live into the fullest expression of humanity in the bodies God has given us.” Their new ministry began in September 2014 and is our first of what we expect to be many new worshiping communities!
In all things we are seeking innovation, risk, and new horizons of ministry—trusting always in the Triune God to light our path and guide our steps.
Albany Presbytery encompasses 67 congregations, as well as new-immigrant fellowships, campus ministries, ecumenical partnerships, and military chaplaincies, serving 11 counties in upstate New York and Vermont.
—Rev. Shannan R. Vance-Ocampo, transitional presbyterLet us join in prayer for
Rev. Shannan R. Vance-Ocampo, transitional presbyter
Ruling Elder H. Daniel Rogers, stated clerk
Rev. Dr. Timothy Coombs, associate for transformation
Susanna Braymer, administrative assistant
Carlie D’Annunzio, financial manager
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
O Lord our God, you are always inviting us to change, to grow, to go down a new path. We crave stability, and yet you push us beyond our comfort zones into the places you have planned for us. Grant us strength and courage. In your holy name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: World Communion Sunday / Peace & Global Witness Offering
Every day we hear about the different crises around the world. Along the southern US border, hundreds of children are taking unfathomable risks by journeying—often alone—to reach our border. Central American families fear for their lives and the safety of their children, as many are targets of gang recruitment, violence, or both. Presbyterians are working with congregations along the border as they minister to the needs of these children and families. We are also collaborating with ecumenical and interfaith partners who have experience in working with refugees and immigrants and who are also responding to the growing crisis.
In South Sudan, violence levels are so extreme that many peace advocates have questioned whether working in the area is worth the effort. According to Nancy and Shelvis Smith-Mather, mission coworkers operating alongside RECONCILE Peace Institute (RPI), the hopelessness people feel in South Sudan is exactly why it is important to be there. “This is not the end of the story,” Shelvis says. “There is a chance for change.” RPI trains leaders to become peace builders in their communities. Since 2009 it has contributed to the healing process in areas experiencing severe violence. “It’s a country that has suffered great loss, hurt, and oppression,” Shelvis says, “but to see such faith in the midst of such pain is inspiring.”
In the Holy Land, the problems are complex—contested borders, occupation, blockades, security concerns, failed negotiations, terrorism, and refugees. We live in a critical time, as we are given the opportunity to heed the call for justice and peace. As Presbyterians, we will continue to engage in nonviolent actions to help bring about reconciliation.
God calls us to embrace nonviolence as our fundamental response to the challenges of violence, terror, and war; and to identify, explore, and nurture new approaches to active peacemaking. Your gift to the Peace& Global Witness Offering will help strengthen peacebuilding efforts around the world and bring witness through Jesus Christ in troubled places like Central America, South Sudan, and even the Holy Land. Please give generously.
Creator of peace, heal the conflicts that divide us, and bring us back into that unity of love that reflects your nature, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Job 1:1; 2:1–10
“God Is My Strong Salvation”
GTG 841, HB 347, PH 179
“My Soul in Silence Waits for God”
Heb. 1:1–4; 2:5–12
“God, Who Stretched
the Spangled Heavens”
GTG 24, PH 268
“Unseen God, Your Hand
Season of PeaceSynod of the Northeast
The Synod of the Northeast has been engaged in extensive discernment regarding our future call and purpose. We have now adopted the New Way Forward plan, which charts our missional calling and purpose as we move into God’s future. It includes a renewed understanding that we are a regional community of 22 presbyteries and 1,103 congregations learning to respond to God’s call to become agents of divine justice, transforming the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the Northeast into a community of hospitality and welcome for all.
Moving into this new way of life together has included initiatives toward embracing all the gifts of our regional community, including the diversity within and around our congregations. As the synod shifts energy from governance to mission, opportunities abound for members to form new networks around shared mission and ministry interests of all kinds.
In order to more fully support the gift of diversity within our region, we are examining issues of racism and white and majority privilege and have committed to a renewal of racial-ethnic caucuses and an initiative supporting emerging leaders.
—Rev. Dr. Harold M. Delhagen, transitional leader, Synod of the NortheastLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Dr. Harold M. Delhagen, member, PMA Board
Rev. Dr. Harold M. Delhagen, transitional leader
Rev. Nancy Talbot, stated clerk
Paula Terrell, synod administrator
Frances Klaiber, finance manager
Samantha Demko, administrative assistant and communications manager
Stacy Galloway, finance clerk
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, we ask that you would give synod members and leaders patience and creativity as we move expectantly into a new way forward. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeacePresbytery of Western North Carolina
In 2014, the 110 congregations of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina celebrated a 20-year partnership with two presbyteries in southwest Guatemala—Sur Occidente and Suchitepéquez. It has been an adventure-filled, humbling, and mutually gratifying partnership, made especially personal by a sister-church relationship between 32 congregations in North Carolina and 32 counterparts in Guatemala.
Most of our North Carolina congregations have sent delegates on presbytery mission visits to the sister congregations, some annually. Some congregation now even send their very own teams. We’ve also been honored to have visitors from the congregations in Guatemala about every year, bringing a touch of Guatemalan culture, flavor, and faith to our front doors.
In addition, over these last 20 years we’ve learned to partner in bringing about better health and educational opportunities. Congregations have worked together, for instance, to improve basic health and sanitation, provide access to clean water sources and filtration systems, and sponsor the training of health-care promoters. We’ve also developed a scholarship program that provides both money and encouragement to children and youth, enabling their families to provide them a better education.
Juntos en Cristo (together in Christ) we have a rich, mutually beneficial relationship that has brought 20 years of joy, and it promises to continue as a beautiful manifestation of our common faith in Jesus Christ.
—Rev. Anita Bernhardt, interim associate presbyter for mission, witness, and church supportLet us join in prayer for:
Elder Heath Rada, moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014); member, PMA board
Rev. Bobbi White, general presbyter
Rev. Anita Bernhardt, interim associate presbyter for mission, witness, and church support
CRE Bert Sigmon, stated clerk
CRE Barbara Ross, presbytery associate
Rev. Dr. Charles Davenport, presbytery associate
Beth Gunn, presbytery associate for youth
Marie Connelly de Palacios, Guatemala partnership coordinator
Lisa Pressley, controller
Robbin Buchanan, administrative assistant
Marcia Puckett, administrative assistant
Tonya Williams, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Rev. Thia Reggio, PMA
Margaret H. Reiff, PMA
Gracious God, bless your servants wherever they live. May your presence fill our lives and our congregations as we, juntos en Cristo, seek to praise and glorify your name in all the earth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeacePresbytery of Shenandoah
Virginia, West Virginia
Lyle Moffett served four small congregations in rural Highland County, Virginia, mostly during the first half of the 20th century. His legacy included a bequest to the Presbytery of Shenandoah that serves “to empower congregations to be centers for mission through the task of diakonia: sending servant leaders to minister to the pain of a hurting world.” Each year, grants of $500–$2,000 are awarded.
One of the 2014 grant recipients was the Parish of the Valleys Day Camp at Camp Paddy Run, located in a rural area west of Woodstock, Virginia. Through games, teaching, storytelling, music, hiking, and fellowship, children and youth are given an opportunity to learn and to grow in their relationship with God in a beautiful corner of creation.
With at least 50 percent of the campers coming from socioeconomically disadvantaged or single-parent homes (or both), numerous churches and communities come together in ecumenical witness to provide these young people an experience of the love of Christ.
The Parish of the Valleys includes eight of the 107 congregations in the Presbytery of Shenandoah. Within the presbytery’s bounds are Massanetta Springs Conference Center and Presbyterian-affiliated Mary Baldwin College.
—Elder Mary Lou Cox, member, Pisgah Presbyterian Church, Monterey, VirginiaLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Roy Martin, transitional presbyter
Elder Dick Travis, temporary 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
We praise you for the vision of those who encourage our children to grow in the faith. May their lives reflect your love, O God, and be an inspiration to others seeking a place of belonging and care. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeaceSalem Presbytery
“Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)
Salem Presbytery serves the community as a connectional church by working together in mission with youth and adults.
Beginning in the summer of 2012, pastors and educators from eight congregations in Alamance County began providing meaningful local mission experiences through three intensive—and fun!—days of service. Dubbed Mission Madness, the program brings youth and adults together for a variety of service opportunities: preparing and serving food at the local shelter, assembling health kits, stocking a local elementary school’s food pantry, painting furniture, exploring sustainable gardening, and more.
Each summer includes a moment when we proclaim, “Now this is presbytery!” Our joy comes in working together! Each adult and youth comes ready to share God-given talents, do some good, and have a little fun. The blessings that come with Mission Madness are many: intentional planning as a team, energetic worship and prayer beginning and pervading each day, working to alleviate hunger in the community, middle schoolers working joyfully alongside mission-minded adults, eating together at day’s end in a different Presbyterian congregation, and mixing youth from different congregations in small work groups.
Why do we call it “madness”? Just imagine the logistical challenges of coordinating youth and adults from all walks of life during the summer morning hours. But it’s all worth it, and so we plan to keep the madness going each summer. We cherish your prayers.
Salem Presbytery is home to 144 congregations.
—Bryan McFarland, hunger action advocate and interim associate presbyter for east neighborhoodLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Mark S. Brainerd, member, PMA Board
Samuel P. Marshall III, general presbyter
Mack Dagenhart, stated clerk
Dianna Wright, associate presbyter /African American advocate
Bryan McFarland, interim associate presbyter / hunger action advocate
Alfredo Miranda, Hispanic mission evangelist
Laurie Scott, office manager
Renee Carter, financial secretary
Peggy Trenchard, administrative assistant
Kim Nichols, administrative assistant
Chris Campbell, administrative assistant
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Gracious God, each day we encounter your gifts and the joys of engaging with your world. Orient our service to meet the needs of your creation. Outfit us with your love, and give us eyes to see that in serving we are most like Jesus, our brother and Savior, in whose name we offer this and every prayer. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeacePresbytery of the Peaks
Denise Pillow, hunger action enabler for the Presbytery of the Peaks, has long been our advocate for the work of FONDAMA, the Joining Hands initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program in Haiti. In 2014 she helped organize our presbytery’s first trip to meet with FONDAMA. Although she was not able to go, Denise gave of herself freely so that others could go to listen, learn, and wait.
In Haiti our group met with representatives of FONDAMA as well as farmers themselves. Our goal was to listen and to share with them that they do not walk this road of hunger alone, but that we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, walk with them hand in hand.
The farmers told us about the steep challenges they faced. A terrible drought had left them with no crops, no seeds, no money for their children to attend school or for next year’s seeds—and therefore no hope of a future harvest. Extensive deforestation and soil erosion subjected their croplands to the risk of severe flooding. And worst of all, because many Haitian farmers do not have clear title to their land, it could be seized by the government and leased to international corporations, and the farmers would have no recourse.
Since our group’s return from Haiti, Denise has, at the request of our Haitian partners, once again taken the lead in contacting US agencies to advocate for the Haitian people.
The Presbytery of the Peaks is home to 132 congregations.
—James M. Smith: pastor, Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church; member, mission committee, Presbytery of the PeaksLet us join in prayer for:
Nancy Dawson, general presbyter
Steve Earl, associate presbyter for ministry
Jeff Binder, associate presbyter for youth and young adults
Hugh Springer, stated clerk
Robin Padgett, office manager
Rita Fleet, executive administrative assistant
Denise Pillow, hunger action enabler
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
For those within this world who are hungry, Lord, hear our prayer. For those who work to ensure that all may eat, Lord, hear our prayer. That all would have enough to eat, Lord, stir your people to action. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeacePresbytery of New Hope
Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church has found that “God isn’t finished with us yet!” As a small, elderly congregation, we wondered if we had a future. Though some longed for the “good ol’ days” of the 1960s church, we were determined to think in new ways. We began to claim and welcome the socioeconomic and racial diversity of our neighborhood as an asset and a gift from God. Undergirded by prayer, we became intentional about renewal.
God began to surprise us. As our older members passed away, new visitors began to fill their places. A young adult volunteered to enhance and update our sound system and website. And God blessed us with a young new music director and organist, who is teaching us to sing with joy both traditional and new music.
New energy and a sense of hope helped us begin to move forward in exciting ways. East Raleigh Fellowship, which was launched with a 1001grant from the PC(USA), provides an informal alternative service led by a newly elected elder. Through relationship building, Santuario, a Spanish-speaking congregation that meets at the church, is in the process of becoming Presbyterian. Santuario has received a 1001 grant to assist it toward that goal.
Milner is now joyfully becoming one church in three fellowships. Together, we share our building, our resources, and our prayers and encouragement for one another. We embrace the new face that God has given us.
—Aleta Ash, pastor, Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church, RaleighLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. Theodore E.“Ted” Churn , executive presbyter / stated clerk
René Baker, administrative assistant
Christine Kelson, office manager and assistant to executive presbyter / stated clerk
Terry Lamberson, associate executive, finance/NCD
Rev. Gun Ho Lee, associate for multicultural ministries
Fred Mangeni, associate for multicultural ministries
Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve, associate for Hispanic ministries
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of new beginnings and second chances, we thank you for never giving up on us. We thank you for the blessing of diversity that calls us to be a truly multiracial, multicultural church. Keep our hearts and minds ever open to welcoming all your children into our communities of faith. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Evangelism Sunday
One of the things I enjoy about my hobby of collecting books is all of the interesting people that I meet. I met Peter, a book dealer, a couple years ago and we became quick friends. Eventually he asked what I did, and I told him I worked for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and was a local church pastor before moving to Louisville. I immediately sensed a bit of discomfort and felt the walls begin to go up in our interactions.
After several months, he shared that he had grown up Presbyterian but had a falling out with the church in the late 1960s over a number of issues and experiences. He had since became cynical about the church, Christianity and Christians, and organized religion in general. I listened and even agreed with some of his observations and continued to build an authentic friendship with Peter. In many conversations I shared about how I had come to faith in college and about the God I had come to know since. I also shared how followers of Jesus and churches are trying to live out what being a disciple of Jesus means in their lives. Those conversations broke down some of the perceptions and hurt that had built up in him for decades. We continued just sharing life and enjoying each other’s friendship and love of books. I also constantly prayed for Peter, that he would once again know God’s love for him.
Just recently Peter asked if I still preached. I told him I did occasionally. He then said, “Well, the next time you preach in town, my wife and I would like to come and hear you.” Was I hearing this correctly? Peter had not stepped foot in church in nearly 45 years. I said, “I would love to have you come.”
I realized again that God had been at work in Peter for a long time and had never given up on him. James 5:19–20 says: “My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives” (The Message).
On this Evangelism —Rev. David Loleng, associate for evangelism, Presbyterian Mission AgencyLet us pray
Gracious God, give us eyes to see others the way that you do. Prompt us to join with what you are doing in people’s lives and in our communities. Empower us, by your Holy Spirit, to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
Esth. 7:1–6, 9–10; 9:20–22
“Lift Every Voice and Sing”
GTG 339, PH 563
“Our Help Is in the Name of God”
“Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart!”
GTG 804, HB 407, PH 145, 146
“Where Cross the Crowded
Ways of Life”
GTG 343, HB 507, PH 408
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeaceNew Castle Presbytery
“Heineken!” That was the first thing my spouse and I heard from Daniel. We learned that he had a daughter and a girlfriend and that he had moved to Delaware the same month we did. We also found out that “anything church, I’ll show.” He spoke slowly, choosing his words with care. Daniel, you see, doesn’t speak English. And we speak as much Spanish as he speaks English.
Daniel had come to one of MarketPlace’s Theology on Tap sessions in downtown Wilmington. He didn’t say a word, and soon it was time to leave. People left. Daniel stayed.
Sitting alone with a stranger whose language you don’t speak is undeniably awkward. But we sat, just the three of us. That’s when he started talking. Without onlookers, Daniel felt comfortable enough to attempt English and was kind enough not to laugh at our Spanish. We came to learn that this was the only conversation he’d had in months. “Familia.” If we weren’t listening, we’d have missed the heart of his words. “My family,” he said, his arms motioning in an embrace of the table. All of us were displaced, but there, at that table, we were family, united by what we lacked.
In my work as a starter of a fresh expression of church in New Castle Presbytery, I have found it is hard to say what I do. It is hard to explain what a fresh expression is without telling stories like this one. But this is exactly where the church needs to be, in a place where our struggles lead us to stories, where our inability to speak brings us to family, and where the narthex of the secular world brings us to the sanctuary of stories filled with the word of God.
New Castle Presbytery serves 53 congregations and emergent ministries.
—Holly Clark-Porter, starter, MarketPlace, Wilmington, DelawareLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. James L. Moseley, executive presbyter
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline E. Taylor, associate executive presbyter and Speer Trust director
Reid K. Beveridge, stated clerk
Donna L. Scully, executive assistant
Rachel C. Sykes, administrative assistant and communications coordinator
Elder Mark Olson, moderator
Elder Julius Jackson, vice moderator
Rev. Sara Holben, chair of council
Rev. Tom Davis, interfaith peacemaker
Elder Pam Ruarke, disaster recovery coordinator
Elder Terry Dykstra, mission advocate
Rev. Nona Holy, campus ministry pastor
Rev. Kate LeFranc, campus ministry pastoral associate
Rev. Laurie Hiller, parliamentarian
Rev. Doug Gerdts, treasurer
Susan Wilson, bookkeeper
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Cindy Pope, PAM
Rev. Irv Porter, PMA
Larisa Posternak, BOP
God, we give you thanks. And we ask, Maker of words and wisdom, for a voice as well as the craft to piece together the vocabulary of your good news, so that even in our struggles we may find peace in the stories we make together. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeaceNational Capital Presbytery
Metropolitan Washington, DC
Iona Conversations is a new worshiping community dedicated to discovering where the Holy Spirit and culture are leading Christian communities in our day. It is space, around a meal table and in the public square, to probe justice, compassion, prophetic challenge, and radical Christianity. Iona Conversations takes the risk of experimenting seriously.
Leader Glenn Zuber reflects on one Iona experience at Open Table, a meal for homeless neighbors hosted by Church of the Pilgrims, a PC(USA) congregation: “A guest arrived hoping to receive a coat promised by the coordinator. I didn’t know where to look. Two other volunteers, however, emptied their pockets and gave their own coats to the guests before they started to serve lunch. That simple yet selfless act struck me as quintessentially and profoundly Christian.” In the mix of serving, reflecting, and being challenged, the community has turned to other risk takers (the Hebrew prophets, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr.) until a path between contemporary altruism and God’s love for the world became clear.
As Iona Conversations grows, the group realizes God has given it a unique ministry, summed up in the image of a banquet table. From a communal meal to the wedding feast of Jesus’ parables, from the Eucharist banquet to a table of abundance for the homeless, Iona Conversations is building one small part of the kingdom of God—around a meal table and in the public square.
Iona Conversations is one of three new worshiping communities, six immigrant developing congregations, and 109 congregations of National Capital Presbytery.
—Kay Huggins, interim associate, National Capital PresbyteryLet us join in prayer for:
Rev. G. Wilson Gunn Jr., general presbyter
Elder Sara Coe, stated clerk
Elder Janet Biermann, assistant to the stated clerk
Elder Dick Lowery, business affairs director
Debbie Golden, finance director
LaJuan Quander, communications director
Annemarie Quigley, staff assistant to Committee on Ministry
Elder Adele McCullough-Graham, program assistant
Rev. Kay E. Huggins, interim associate
Young Adult Volunteers
Jennifer Hyde, Maranda Major, Emily Powers, Mallory Price, and Amy Beth Willis, Washington, DC
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Stephen Picha, PMA
Cristina Pitts, PMA
God, you call us to your banquet table and into the public square. May we learn to share our resources, practice mercy, and work for justice wherever we find ourselves today. Bless us as Christ’s disciples. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Global Week of Action against Gun Violence / Season of PeaceAction against Gun Violence Minute for Mission
In 2009, Heeding God’s Call, a multifaith movement working at the grass roots to reduce the misuse of weapons across the United States, was launched. A key moment in the PC(USA)’s work to reduce gun violence was its adoption at the 219th General Assembly (2010) of Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call, a report calling for a “spiritual awakening” strategy to be led by the church and involve entire communities. Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, mentions Heeding God’s Call in his introduction to the report, noting the efforts of faith-based groups in “local education and organizing efforts to prevent irresponsible gun sales at shops or gun shows.”
For several years, Heeding God’s Call has held hourlong protests the fourth Monday of every month in front of Realco Guns in District Heights, Maryland, with participants joining in from the greater DC area. The aim of the protests is to encourage compliance with a 10-point code of conduct. The code, based on a partnership agreement between Walmart, the nation’s leading retailer of guns, and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition, is intended to diminish straw buying (purchasing guns for others) and the illegal trafficking it supports. Rev. James Atwood, and more recently Lisa Delity assisted by Gail Golden, are coordinating the protests. The group recommends that concerned citizens read Atwood’s America and Its Guns: a Theological Exposé.
The protests before Realco Guns continue monthly. The Heeding God’s Call Greater Washington chapter’s Memorial to the Lost, for the 2014 victims of gun violence in the DC area, displays T-shirts with the name, age, and date of death for each victim. The memorial is being installed on church lawns throughout the area.
In response to the 20 children and six adults who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, Heeding God’s Call launched another protest, held at 10:00 a.m. on the 14th of every month at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Virginia.
—John T. Mathison, national board member, Heeding God’s CallLet us join in prayer for
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
We thank you, God, for forgiving those who abuse weapons. We pray for love and compassion as revealed through your Son, our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceNative American Day Minute for Mission
Bill and Lori Picard, Nez Perce tribal members in Lapwai, Idaho, exemplify committed and visionary discipleship. In 1997, their son Quanah died in automobile accident, followed three years later by their other son, Skylin. God called them to turn these tragedies into discipleship.
In the fall of 2013, Volkhard Graf of Youth with a Mission Native Ministries in Kamiah, Idaho, invited them to conduct a grief seminar. He offers these reflections on the day:
“They provided many practical recommendations for the times when we go through grief, always pointing to the One who created us and gives our lives purpose and meaning. They also shared how Creator God is continuing to be their hope and strength—namely, through a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, his Son.
“Through tears and laughter their encouragement was, again and again: ‘Cry! Share! Don’t keep it inside! Read Scripture! Pray! And listen to God! You can do this alone, but find somebody to do it with you when things get too tough.’ Their vision: ‘a generation rising up to take their place in selfless faith’ and ‘all of Indian Country healed.’ ”
Bill and Lori continue to witness the power of Jesus Christ to guide and heal their lives as they trust in God’s call to compassionate and visionary discipleship. Sixteen years later, both their compassion for young people at risk and their trust that God can transform Native American youth continue.
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Creator God, thank you for lifting us from shadows of darkness to lives of love, joy, and peace through your Son, Jesus Christ. Guide your Native American people as they share the gospel with those in need of you. Grant us your peace. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeacePresbytery of the James
“We make this road by walking it.” This Haitian proverb well describes our presbytery as we launched an exciting initiative with Haiti, one that united every congregation in a bold vision to fully fund a new mission coworker. Cindy Corell of Staunton, Virginia, was selected by Presbyterian World Mission to take up this call. The presbytery then confirmed God’s call to Cindy and commissioned her to serve in Haiti “on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in partnership with the Presbytery of the James and all its congregations.”
In her new position as the Joining Hands facilitator, Cindy connects agricultural experts in Haiti with Haitian farmers to help them do what they do best—grow food for others. As the country continues to recover from the 2010 earthquake, Haitians are seeking to produce more food locally and to rely less on imports.
Cindy goes to bear witness to the life-giving power of the gospel and to empower the Haitian people. “Being a farmer’s daughter, I know the joy when their work results in food to be enjoyed by many,” she says. “If I can play a role in making more Haitian families find that joy, I will share in it.”
In 2010, when Cindy made her first trip to Haiti, she sensed a heartfelt connection with this Caribbean country and its people. “I was forever changed, and I could no longer be satisfied in an ordinary job and only finding fulfilling and meaningful work on the side.” Cindy leaves a 27-year career as a journalist to follow Christ’s call to Haiti.
All 21,834 members, in 109 congregations, two new church developments and one African fellowship, are working together to support Cindy in her efforts to improve the lives of Haitians.
—Clifton Edwards, office administrator, Presbytery of the JamesLet us join in prayer for:
H. Carson Rhyne Jr., general presbyter / stated clerk
Clifton Edwards, office administrator
Cindy Hollingshead, accountant
Phyllis Perross, staff support
Franklin Reding, assistant to the stated clerk, Committee on Preparation for Ministry
Doug Walters, executive director, Camp Hanover
Harry Zweckbronner, program director, Camp Hanover
Lisa Vanderfloeg, office manager, Camp Hanover
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Remind us, O God, that even what we believe to be a meager offering can satisfy the deepest hunger in others—and in our lives too. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceInternational Day of Peace Minute for Mission
Every day of my internship, I walk by the flags of the UN member states waving in front of the UN General Assembly building. I am consistently overwhelmed by the global efforts for peacemaking they represent.
At the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, alongside the updates on current events and the measures taken to address international issues, I learn from building relationships within the network of peacemakers—people with unified hearts who work together for a world of love and freedom.
From all the peacemakers I have met here, I am reminded that God not only plants the passion in us but also equips us to carry out the desires of his heart. The second of today’s morning psalms declares: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made” (Ps. 145:8–9). God will help us, who are called to be imitators of Christ, to love all he has created as lavishly as he does. God will use his people to break down barriers and work out differences to bring peace.
Let us take time on this appointed day to reflect on how we can work for peace wherever God has placed us and with all that he has given us.
—Esther Lee, volunteer intern, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, 2013–14Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
God of love, thank you for modeling true compassion and peace. Fill us with your love so that we perceive and understand others the way you do. Use us to make an impact on our communities and churches, and to achieve a world of perfect peace. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.Daily Lectionary
Season of PeaceMinute for Mission: Theological Education / Seminary Sunday
Today we celebrate the gift of theological education in the PC(USA) and especially the gift of the seminaries related to our church. Often we take theological education for granted, assuming that since it has been valued by Presbyterians in the past, it remains fully and adequately supported today. Our seminaries need our prayerful partnership as they do their part to strengthen the church of Jesus Christ and especially the PC(USA).
How do seminaries strengthen the church?
• Our PC(USA) seminaries ensure the development of church leaders to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for generations to come. Dynamic new leaders deliver the church to future generations.
• Our seminaries educate leaders to serve congregations. Seminarians are grounded in biblical study, Presbyterian tradition, history, worship practices, and Reformed theology, and they gain practical knowledge with which to lead vibrant ministries.
• Our PC(USA) seminaries prepare servant leaders for bold mission outreach. Training extends far beyond the pulpit. The curriculum tackles difficult social realities and helps leaders discover practical solutions. Seminaries empower mission work locally and globally.
• Our seminaries equip leaders who reflect and support diverse congregational cultures and spiritual experiences. Our 12 seminaries offer 12 distinct cultures incorporating a diversity of perspectives to inform and broaden our understanding of the Christian community.
• Our PC(USA) seminaries prepare leaders who extend hope, comfort, and forgiveness within the Christian community. The seminary experience nurtures spiritual formation through worship, prayer, and sharing, all of which sustain those choosing a life of service.
Theological Education / Seminary Sunday is also an opportunity to support the ministries of our seminaries in a concrete way. Through support to the Theological Education Fund, congregations ensure that great leaders will be available to nurture the faith of our children and our grandchildren, who will themselves spread the gospel of Christ among future generations.Let us pray
Gracious God, thank you for our seminaries. Strengthen us as we find courage to respond to your call. In the new life of Christ we pray. Amen.Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“A Prophet-Woman Broke a Jar”
“The One Is Blest”
James 3:13–4:3, 7–8a
“Lord Jesus, Think on Me”
GTG 417, HB 270, PH 301
“Lord, Listen to
Your Children Praying”
Christian Education Week / Season of PeacePresbytery of Eastern Virginia
At a camp in Malaysia, a group of refugees from Myanmar prayed for people they did not know, in a country far away. They prayed that when they were resettled, God would lead them to a church home where they could worship in freedom as well as in Spirit and truth. They prayed for welcome, for community, and for friendship.
A world away, the people of Wythe Presbyterian Church worried for the future of their church and tried to discern how God was calling them to ministry. They faced many of the challenges that mainline congregations throughout the United States face. They prayed for those whom God was leading to their church—people they did not know.
Those worlds collided when two of the young refugees, La Ring and Awng Mai, walked into Wythe Presbyterian Church. The prayers of both groups had been answered. La Ring and Awng Mai were welcomed, even as both sides stumbled over language barriers. That welcome led the young men back to the church the next week. Soon, they began bringing other refugees from the Myanmar community with them. Relationships began to form that would prove transformative for both the congregation and the refugees. The struggles of the refugees became the struggles of the congregation. Those who began as “other” soon became “friend,” and in time part of “us.”
Jesus’ command to welcome the stranger suggests that “stranger” is always a temporary designation. The Spirit knows no stranger; even those who seem radically different are in fact our sisters and brothers.
The Presbytery of Eastern Virginia serves 59 congregations.
—Rev. T. Clint Mitchell, Wythe Presbyterian Church, HamptonLet us join in prayer for:
Marvin Brangan, member, PMA Board
Liza Hendricks, transitional general presbyter
Q. John Tamm, acting stated clerk
David Carney, business manager
Linda Marley Smith, administrator
Jessica Fitzgerald, administrative assistant / hunger action enabler
Michelle “Mike” Burcher, director, Makemie Woods Camp
Jaime Ambrose, acting ODU campus administrator
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
And leave everything else to God.