Congregations Leaving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by Joelle Kopacz (M.A., UW-Milwaukee, 2008), Jack Marcum, and Ida Smith. Paper presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Religious Research Association in Indianapolis, IN.
Since 2006, more than 300 congregations, with around a total of around 100,000 members, have left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). What are the unique characteristics of these congregations, and what are the implications of this trend for the denomination?
Thank Offering grants range from $5,000 to $50,000. Grant requests come from a variety of sources including PC(USA) governing bodies, health agencies, overseas churches, ecumenical councils, community groups, educational institutions and church related groups. The offering funds projects such as agricultural development, child care, community organization, criminal justice, drug counseling, economic justice, elderly care, employment training, homelessness, literacy, violence and women’s concerns. At least 40 percent of this offering supports health ministries throughout the world. Projects must meet the criteria established by Presbyterian Women.
Submit this Creative Ministries Offering Committee grant application no later than September 15 and be sure to check the box on page 1 that indicates you are applying for a Thank Offering grant.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-worker Burkhard Paetzold. This card includes a photo and overview of his work. As regional liaison, Burkhard focuses much of his ministry on work among the Roma people, Europe’s most marginalized group. He facilitates and supports the efforts of mission personnel, church leaders and local community leaders. Working alongside the Roma people, they strive to fully include the Roma people in congregations and society, improve their economic well-being, and develop Roma leaders. “The premise of the ministry is that Roma and non-Roma must find together an integrated approach to address diversity,” Burkhard says. He devotes a major portion of his work to connecting U.S. Presbyterians interested in Roma ministry with partner churches. He is married to Christine.
Use this card as you pray for Richard and Debbie Welch. The card includes a photo and overview of their work.
Richard and Debbie will serve as educational consultants, working with Guatemala’s indigenous people. Together with the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala and its presbyteries, they will strive to increase access to primary, vocational, and theological education opportunities.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-worker Dr. Ingrid Reneau Walls. This card includes a photo and overview of their work. As a Research Fellow at the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture (ACI) in Ghana, Ingrid, along with her husband Andrew, share in the institute’s work of stimulating theology in relation to African cultures and promoting Christian scholarship in Africa. In doing so, she teaches, among other courses, Academic Writing and ESL, with a view towards strengthening and developing the scholarly works of the institute’s mostly Pan-African student-body. Ingrid also contributes to the institute’s Christian scholarship through her own continued research on the primal cultures and Christianity in South Sudan’s pastoralist communities, as well as via her ongoing participation in Graduate forums that address and explore the links between African and African Diaspora Cultures and Christianity and the impact of the primal imagination in the post-Christian West. ACI is a postgraduate institute of university status.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-workers Dr. Rochelle and Tyler Holm. This card includes a photo and overview of their work. Rochelle Holm manages the University of Mzuzu’s WatSan Centres, which are committed to increasing the availability of clean water and sanitation in northern Malawi and beyond. The centers are supported by the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian’s Livingstonia Synod, which is a primary provider of clean water in northern Malawi. Tyler teaches theology to future pastors at the University of Livingstonia, one of the synod’s institutions. Tyler and Rochelle emphasize that Rochelle’s expertise in water and sanitation and Tyler’s skills in teaching theology are built on an unwavering passion to follow Christ’s call.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-workers Ryan and Alethia White. This card includes a photo and overview of their work. Ryan and Alethia are working with Iranian refugees in partnership with the Iranian Presbyterian Church of Berlin. They are providing pastoral care and collaborating with a number of Christian organizations and churches that serve Iranian refugees. “We are passionate about reconciling relationships across cultural, religious, and political divides, with the hope of promoting sustainable and peaceful partnerships,” they say. “Through entering into relationships with others, by listening to their stories and extending hospitality, we hope to participate in this ministry as a family.”
Use this card as you pray for Mission co-workers Bernie and Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta. The card includes a photo and overview of their work.
Bernie and Farsijana teach at Duta Wacana Christian University, helping prepare Christian leaders to serve the church in the world’s largest Muslim country. Farsijana is helping develop a peace studies program while Bernie works with the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, which is the world’s first consortium that involves a Christian university, a Muslim university, and a secular university.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-workers Revs. Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather. This card includes a photo and overview of their work. Tragically, after surviving decades of civil war and achieving independence, South Sudan continues to endure cycles of ethnic, political and resource-based conflict. This violence, however, does not reflect the hearts of the masses who long for a peaceful future for their children. While South Sudanese work diligently to address these issues, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Reformed Church in America have joined their efforts by sending Reverends Nancy & Shelvis Smith-Mather. Shelvis is the Principal of the RECONCILE Peace Institute (RPI). The RPI equips leaders to initiate sustainable peace in places of high conflict and trauma. Nancy is the Project Manager for the South Sudan education and peace building project, developing peace and advancing education in collaboration with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, Across, Yei Teacher Training College and RECONCILE International.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-worker Rev. Jo Ella Holman. This card includes a photo and overview of her work. As regional liaison, Jo Ella cultivates and nurtures the PC(USA)’s relationship with mission partners in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and with other church partners in the Caribbean through CANACOM, the Caribbean and North American Commission on Mission. Jo Ella shares their stories with congregations in the United States and also shares with partners what she has learned in years of ministry in Latin America and elsewhere through Presbyterian World Mission. In addition, she is a resource to other mission co-workers serving in this region and to the many PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations who have mission partnerships in the Caribbean. She is based in the Dominican Republic.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-workers Rev. Sara Armstrong and Rusty Edmondson. This card includes a photo and overview of their work. Sara and Rusty are Delegation and Partnership Coordinators serving alongside the Peruvian Protestant Church and the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Peru. They serve with Peruvian leaders and US mission groups to develop long term partnerships. When delegations visit, they help partners envision and plan common goals. They provide logistics and translation for the visiting delegations. Sara and Rusty enjoy building “cultural bridges” in this nation of incredible diversity. They work with people of numerous language groups. From their home base in Lima they travel to work alongside our Peruvian partner churches in desert areas, altiplano, Andean mountains, and rain forests of the Amazon basin. Their travels to promote partnerships include opportunities for worship that are as diverse as the population of the nation. They thank you for your support and encourage you to be a part of all that they do!
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-worker Nancy Collins. The card includes a photo of her and an overview of her work.
As regional liaison for East Central Africa, Nancy facilitates PC(USA) relationships with partner churches and institutions in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia. Nancy’s special focus is on partners’ work related to evangelism, leadership development, and church-growth. Nancy also provides support for PC(USA) mission personnel in the region and assists PC(USA) congregations and presbyteries that are or that want to be in a relationship with partners in East Central Africa. She helps mission groups plan itineraries and nurtures healthy partnerships between Presbyterians in the United States and Christians in Africa.
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-workers Carol and Leith Fujii. The card includes a photo of them and an overview of their work.
Leith and Carol Fujii witness daily to Christ’s loving message in a country in which Christians make up less than 1% of the population. Leith is an instructor in theologyand evangelism at the Bangkok Institute of Theology (BIT). He also assists with a program for lay theological training. Carol teaches English to the entering class at BIT and is also involved in outreach ministries with Thai congregations. They say their purpose in Thailand is “to fulfill God’s kingdom purposes and plans, and to glorify God with all that we are and all that we have been entrusted, and to share his joyous life with others so that they too can know life in its fullness in Christ.”
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-workers Tom and Judy Harvey. The card includes a photo of them and an overview of their work.
Tom is academic dean of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) in England, a critical center for global Christianity and mission. Judy serves in team ministry. OCMS was founded by church leaders from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The founders saw the need for informed engagement to better understand and facilitate the growth of the church worldwide and to address the manifold issues facing Christians globally, including hunger, famine, disease, development, justice, war and reconciliation. OCMS has 120 doctoral scholars from over 40 countries and over150 academics worldwide guiding the research of its students.
Use this card as you pray for mission co-worker Rev. Sarah Henken. This card includes a photo and overview of her work. Sarah’s work as regional liaison focuses on building stronger and healthier connections in God’s mission. She serves as a bridge linking various mission participants: PC(USA) partner organizations in the Andean region; mission personnel who serve there; World Mission and other national PC(USA) offices; and US congregations and presbyteries interested in God’s mission in the Andean region. Sarah’s understanding of partnership is shaped by the Spanish word used for the concept in her region: hermanamiento. Built on the root word for sister/brother, hermanamiento evokes the process of becoming, in word and deed, sisters and brothers in Christ. Sarah is based in Colombia and cultivates PC(USA) partnerships there as well as in Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-workers Jed and Jenny Koball. The card includes a photo of them and an overview of their work.
Jed and Jenny’s ministry has impact both in Peru and in the United States. Jed accompanies the Joining Hands network in Peru as they identify and interpret root causes of poverty in Peru, such as mining contamination, global warming, and unfair trade agreements. In this capacity, Jed facilitates the relationship between the Joining Hands network in Peru and PC(USA) congregations as they develop strategies together to address these daunting problems. Jenny coordinates the Young Adult Volunteers (YAV) program in Peru, organizing volunteer and cultural immersion experiences in Peru for US young adults and shepherding them and the receiving organizations in a year of service, mutual learning and the building of Christian community.
Use this card as you pray for Karla Koll. The card includes a photo and an overview of her work.
Karla is professor of history, mission, and religions for the Latin American Biblical University (UBL), a PC(USA) mission partner that has been training church leaders from throughout Latin America for over 90 years. Karla works with students from a variety of denominations. “I have the joy of guiding women and men into deeper understanding of their faith in Christ as I and my colleagues provide them with tools for working in God’s mission in ways that transform lives and communities,” says Karla, who is accompanied in Costa Rica by her husband, Javier Torrez.
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-workers Dennis and Maribel Smith. The card includes a photo of them and an overview of their work.
Dennis cultivates the PC(USA)’s relationship with more than a dozen mission partners in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Dennis shares their stories with congregations in the United States and also shares with partners what he has learned in more than 30 years of ministry in Latin America. In addition, he is a resource to other mission co-workers serving in this region and to the many PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations that have mission partnerships in Brazil and the Southern Cone. Maribel serves in ministry in the home, and she works as part of a network that treats posttraumatic stress and seeks alternatives to violence.
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-worker Chenoa Stock. The card includes a photo of her and an overview of her work.
Three questions guide the ministry of Chenoa Stock. What does it mean to live as a child of God? To be part of a connected, world community? To love my neighbors down the street and across the ocean? She asked these questions as a Young Adult Volunteer in India and as a mission co-worker in Sri Lanka. They continue to guide her in her current role with the Joining Hands network in Bolivia, where she works with Bolivia’s poor to help them improve their own lives. “I am a witness to the truth that we are many parts of one body of God,” Chenoa says. “We are one creation, one people who are called to look beyond ourselves and work for justice, equality, and love.”
Use this card as you pray for Mission Co-workers the Rev. Dr. Dustin Ellington and Sherri Ellington. The card includes a photo of their and an overview of their work.
Dustin teaches New Testament, Greek and preaching at Justo Mwale Theological University College, an institution that trains future pastors for service in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and beyond. The church in this region of Africa has grown exponentially in the last two or three generations and has claimed a central role in solving the region’s societal problems. The enormous growth has also left churches in need of trained pastors who can lead people to maturity in Christ and equip them for service. Dustin and Sherri say they feel privileged to offer their hearts and skills to help meet the need for trained leaders.