"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread
with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor
into your house;
when you see the naked,
to cover them,
and not to hide yourself
from your own kin? "
~ Isaiah 58:6-7 ~
We Lift Up In Prayer...
The Rev. Ken Hetzel (Pastor of Croswell-First) who recently had a heart attack and surgery. He is home and recouping but will be on rest for about a month. He began cardiac rehab this week. He and his family greatly appreciate all the prayers that have already come their way.
Ben Offrink, son of the Rev. Jim Offrink and Elder Sally Offrink whose latest checkup in his ongoing battle with cancer was very positive and he has made a huge improvement from where he was just a few months ago. But it is still a challenging time for the entire family so continued prayers are appreciated. The Offrinks are very grateful for the support and love shown to them.
Bruce Graham, husband of the Rev. Linda Graham (Pastor of Cass City-First and Cass City-Fraser) who fell on Christmas evening and spent several days in the hospital. He is home now and doing much better. It is anticipated that it will still take a few months to get back to his full strength. Linda and Bruce are grateful for all of the prayers.
Elder Sally Pomeroy (Croswell-First) who is undergoing treatment for cancer. The prognosis is very positive but prayers are always appreciated. Sally is the Clerk of Session for Croswell-First, very involved in the Thumb Ministry Group and has served on presbytery committees including time as the COM Moderator.
The Rev. Tom Brackbill (Alma-First) and wife Pam as they deal with all that encompasses Pam's diagnosis of Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease. Pam is under the care of Masonic Pathways.
The Rev. Cathy Chang and family as they continue training as Mission Co-Workers in the Philippines.
Michael and Rachel Ludwig, our Mission Co-Workers who are serving in Niger.
For those Teaching Elders (Ministers of Word and Sacrament) and Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs) who are celebrating Ordination or Commissioning Anniversaries in February and March:
Elder Henry Kubin (3/5)
- Commissioned Ruling Elder of Alma-Eastminster
Elder Mary Kubin (3/5) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Alma-Eastminster
Elder Liz Long (3/5)
- Commissioned Ruling Elder of Ithaca-Lafayette
The Rev. Chris Moody (2/25) - 15 years - Member-At-Large
The lectionary gospel lesson for the first Sunday in Lent is always the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. In one of the temptations Jesus is led up a high mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the world. The devil says to him, "to you I will give their glory and all this authority... if you will worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus, of course, answers him by saying, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve only him" (Luke 4:6-8).
This particular temptation is usually described as the temptation to seek worldly power, and certainly that is part of what Jesus rejects, both here and later in the gospel, on the cross. But the primary temptation here isn't so much a political one as it is a perceptual one. The devil tempts Jesus to view the whole world - all nations and peoples - as having the sole purpose and function of serving him and increasing his own power and glory. Though the eyes are directed outward, the temptation is always to turn the focus to oneself.
That is always the temptation, isn't it, to view everyone, everything, every moment through the lens of I/me/mine? This even creeps into our Lenten disciplines. We want to lose weight, so we avoid sweets and say we are suffering with Jesus. Or we give up some transitory pleasure or bad habit as an exercise in self-improvement.
I think the challenge of Lent is less about us and more about the nations and peoples of the world spread out before us. Can we keep our focus fixed on them, their needs, their suffering, and their experiences of injustice rather than turning it back on ourselves? From such a high peak, of course, people become invisible. You can't make out the face of your neighbors, much less reach out to them.
Perhaps this Lent, as individuals and as congregations, we can practice the discipline of keeping our focus outwardly fixed by serving others, not for self-improvement or self-congratulation, but because "the Son of Man came, not to be served, but to serve." Serve in a soup kitchen; read to a child; distribute clean water to those who lack it; visit the homebound.
"Is not this the fast that I choose [says the Lord]: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?" (Isaiah 58:6-7).
This Lent, let's come down off the mountain and see our neighbors, not ourselves.
The information for completing your 2015 Annual Statistics were sent to all Clerks of Session this week.
A copy of this letter and all of the relevant information and links may be found on the Annual Statistics
page of our website
We are here to assist you with any questions that you may have. Please call or e-mail Staci or Ted should you need anything. Staci may be reached at 989-799-7481 x2 or [email protected]
. Ted may be reached at 989-799-7481 x 4 or [email protected]
. Please keep in mind that both are part-time employees and are not in the office everyday.
Deadline for entering your information is February 18th.
Please remember that what you submit - or don't submit - affects your future per capita payments.
to read an article from the PC(USA) describing some reasons why completing annual statistics are important to your congregation.
The latest editions of the Parish Paper are now available on our website.
The topics include:
March: What Numbers Matter For Congregations?
April: How To Deal With Church Conflict
Our subscription includes use by our churches. We encourage you to share these with your members. They are great resources for training as well.
to read the latest issues and any issue since 2011. Lots of great topics to choose from!
A representative from Camp Westminster will be at the March presbytery meeting to discuss their ministry and programs.
"At Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake, we want to give your child the opportunity to try new and exciting activities, gain confidence, make real connections with new friends and positive role-models, spend valuable time splashing in crystal clear Higgins Lake, and grow in their faith in a safe and encouraging community. We're youth development specialists and that's what we've been doing for 90 years."
Click here to visit their website for more information.
Letter From The Rev. Desiree Lawson
Concerned Clergy and Friends:
Thank you so much for reaching out to us in Flint. Just hearing from you has been healing. I am truly experiencing what it means to be part of a connectional church.
As you may be aware, water resources is coming from everywhere; the government, the Red Cross, United Way, Walmart - and even all the way from Hollywood! One of the issues we are having is storing it. I also know that we are lacking volunteers but the word is getting out on how people can volunteer through the Red Cross. They need people to deliver water to shut-ins, hand out water filters and water testing materials. It's taking a minute for them to get organized. Another issue is the recycling of all the bottles! I did just hear to this week that they are beginning to address this challenge.
As far as what you can do - thankfully, I have been asked that question many times in the last 10 days. Overwhelmingly, I have been unable to provide any concrete responses. At the request of Executive Presbyter, Dan Saperstein, earlier this week I met with two representatives of the initial response team from PDA and they were very helpful. Please keep checking their website: https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/flint-michigan-water-crisis/
In the weeks and months to come PDA will have more of a strategic response. PDA has also partnered with Presbyterian Women and there is program in place for volunteers to be trained in disaster preparedness.
Click here to continue reading Desiree's letter and to learn more about how you can help.
As of January 26, 176,000 cases of water, 93,000 water filters, and 29,000 water testing kits had been distributed to residents living in the city of Flint since January 6, 2016. Celebrities, corporations, politicians, 700 plumbers from around the country, and armies of unnamed individuals have joined the cause of helping alleviate the need for those residents affected by the Flint water crisis and the need and response continues on. The Red Cross continues to have a need for people to help with data entry, water and filter distribution, test-kit assembly, and having taken a back seat to the water issue the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is in desperate need of donation sorters. Lingering behind all the flurry of activity to address the need lie answers to the questions why and how we find ourselves in this mess at all!
For our part First Presbyterian Church of Flint
is offering the presence of Christ to our community. Yes through worship and prayer and standing with our neighbors through this time of trial. But also acting on their behalf to share Good News of the one who turned water to wine. Through this ordeal we bring that news through our witness with the Red Cross
, the Food Bank
, our neighborhood friends (homeless, sheltered, low-income, hungry) sharing breakfast with us every Sunday morning, our own congregational members who reside in the affected areas and are engaged to bring relief. Having met with representatives from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
the weekend of January 24, our "Faith in Flint: Living Water Team" is coordinating efforts to be a part of short-term relief efforts and helping to discern long-term needs as we work with local VOAD
reps in that process. We appreciate those who have reached out to find out ways you and your congregations might help and we certainly covet your prayers. Immediate hands-on needs are being addressed through the Red Cross in Flint, and monetary donations are being channeled to PDA, flintkids.org
, and helpforflint.com
Ambassadors with you for Christ,
First Presbyterian Church of Flint
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers visit Flint, Michigan over water crisis
Group finds church mobilized to help community recover
First Presbyterian Church of Flint, Michigan, could be described as a diamond in the rough for citizens in the city. The church, which has a long history of community involvement, is becoming a beacon for low-income citizens who seek help in the midst of crisis.
For nearly two years, Flint has been embattled in a drinking water contamination crisis, creating a serious public health danger. When the drinking source was switched from Lake Huron water to the Flint River, lead from aging pipes began to leach into the water supply. As a result, between 6,000 and 12,000 residents have experienced a series of health problems including high levels of lead in the blood.
Government officials estimate that completely revamping the water system could run into the billions of dollars and take years. Various organizations and churches have mobilized to help with the problem by collecting bottled water and educating the public in and around Flint about the dangers and health concerns. On January 16, President Obama declared a state of emergency in response to the water crisis in Flint.
Three Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers visited the city this week to see how churches are coping with the crisis and reaching citizens. One of their first visits was Sunday morning worship at First Presbyterian Church.
Click here to continue reading this article online.
If people would like to donate to PDA for the Flint water crisis, they should use our DR000015, designated national program account and designate for Flint. They will donate to DR000015-Flint.
If you have any questions, please contact our Business Manager, Stephanie Cervini at [email protected] or 989-799-7481 x3
This year's Alma Youth Mix is happening soon.
High school students are invited to spend the weekend of March 4-6 on the Alma College campus with youth from multiple churches around the state. Share your time and your faith.
Enjoy discussion, fellowship, worship, recreation, entertainment and food!
Click here for complete details and to register your youth.
Healthy Congregations Workshop
Flint-First is hosting a Healthy Congregations Workshop on Saturday, February 6, for pastors, church staff, lay leaders, and congregational members wanting to learn how we might not only respond in healthier ways to anxieties and challenges that face our congregations and individual members, but also live more proactively in being the community God has called us to be.
Rural Ministry Conference
The 2016 Rural Ministry Conference will be held in Dubuque, IA, March 6-8th. The Rural Ministry Conference outreach is continuing to grow and has become an ecumenical conference for those working in small town and rural parishes throughout the Midwest. The theme this year is "Life Changing Ministry in the Small Membership Congregation." The information will also be useful for larger congregations. Scholarships are available for those who have served in a rural/small town ministry for less than five years. New this year for congregations within driving distance is the availability for lay people to attend the Monday afternoon workshops at a reduced price.
Highlights from their latest newsletter:
Security - We expected more rumors and to-do about the anniversary of the riots that burned churches last year on Jan. 16-17, but everything was quiet. Security has been beefed up around whole country because of the recent hotel attacks in neighboring countries and because of the elections coming at the end of February, although not much has changed for us because we're pretty far from most of the hubbub. In general the political tensions are high but, besides an "attempted coup" in December, things have gone relatively smoothly so far and we hope they continue peacefully through the first ballot on Feb. 21.
Michael's work on language learning has intensified in the past few weeks with spending more time out in conversations at different places where people gather, from card games to bookshops to artisan workshops.
We're processing some of our learning and cross-cultural friction by reading a book about money matters in Africa which has led to several recent blogs on resources, friends, poverty, and cultural differences.
Because of your donations and The Outreach Foundations' additions, the Rickshaw project has reached its funding goal and so it looks like the money can be transferred to the EERN and the project started in the next few weeks. Many thanks to all the churches and individuals who helped with this initiative already! We will keep you informed about how the drivers fair and how the project continues to develop.
If you would like to follow their adventures and their mission work in Niger, please contact Staci Percy at [email protected] or 989-799-7481 x2 for their blog address. (They have asked that the link to it not be published online.)
Bring out your church group to Dow Diamond in 2016 to take in a Great Lakes Loons
game on one of four Fellowship Nights during the season. Each group will receive early admittance to the ballpark, a behind the scenes tour of the stadium, and be eligible for prize giveaways!
Christian Family Night: A night that acknowledges and celebrates local churches in the surrounding area on the field with a pre-game Pastor All-Star Line-Up. Come see a member of your church be recognized in front of the Cooley Law School Stadium crowd!
With faith-themed music and a fun, safe environment, Christian Family games with the Lansing Lugnuts provide a great opportunity for church members to join in fellowship amongst their own members
with the other church groups.
Mission Outreach Center Opens
If you are a youth group leader in Michigan good chance you have made a trip or two to Cedar Point. A nearby church has embraced the popularity of the amusement park and opened a Mission Outreach Center. Here is an invite from them to all of our churches:
Our church (First Presbyterian Church of Sandusky, OH) has opened a Mission Outreach Center, hosting faith-based mission and recreation trips for youth and adults at a reasonable cost. We would like to let churches in your area know about our Center, in case any of them are looking for a place to take a mission trip this year or just visiting Cedar Point. We are located in Sandusky, Ohio, right on Lake Erie, and home of Cedar Point Amusement Park, voted several years in a row as the best amusement park in the country.
We offer a wide variety of local missions, addressing homelessness, hunger, the elderly, children, veterans, and environment or if you are visiting one of our local attractions and need a place to stay a night.
Thank you for your consideration,
Click here to watch a YouTube video about the Sandusky Mission Outreach Center
Here are links to articles that we hope you will enjoy and perhaps spend some time discussing them with others:
In a recent Twitter survey, I asked respondents to share with me a singular event that impressed them in a church worship service. In fact, most of the respondents said they were "delighted" or "surprised," and that the one event made them desire to return to the church. A pattern developed around nine factors:
- Someone had an umbrella waiting for me in inclement weather.
- A member actually invited me to lunch.
- The kids area had leaders who were friendly and helpful.
- There was a time of meaningful prayer.
Sometimes we encounter surprising tools of the Holy Spirit just begging to make saints of us.
This letter is a great reminder that both sides have things to consider when things don't go quite as planned during times of worship.
I love visiting new churches. I'm kind of a nerd about visiting different denominations and checking out new gathering spaces, or music and service styles.
While I have my favorites, and I definitely value my home church, there's something really inspiring about meeting people in other traditions in my own neighborhood or throughout my broader travels. I get to experience new styles of services, pray with new people, and feel a stronger connection to the Church at large.
But what I really remember--more than any particular ritual or new turn of phrase--is how that church made me feel. How they greeted me (or didn't!?!) with warm smiles and a handshake. How the pastor addressed visitors and made everyone--regular and new--feel included and important.
These are the types of interactions that build up our church communities and engage first-time visitors to become lifelong friends (or even members!).
NOTE: The articles listed do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or intended to be an endorsement by the Presbytery of Lake Huron but are shared to encourage discussion of various topics.
Connect With Other Churches In The Lake Huron Presbytery
There are so many wonderful things going on in all of our congregations. Several of our churches have set up Facebook pages to help spread the good news not only to their members but to all who may be interested. Liking other church Facebook pages is a great way to connect with others in the presbytery and to share ideas with each other. Here are some of the churches that have Facebook pages:
'Like' Us On Facebook
The presbytery has a Facebook page and would like you to join us. Get updates and information faster. Connect with others to share ideas and to post information about events happening in your congregation. Join us today!
Communications Manager/Recording Clerk
Hundreds of elders, educators, and church leaders read the Presbytery of Lake Huron's email sent out every other week.
You can reissue or modify this content for your own church bulletin or newsletter, without crediting the Bi-Weekly Brief, but please credit any organizations, photographers, etc, that we credited.
NOTE: The Presbytery of Lake Huron retains permission to modify submissions for clarity and length. Inclusion of an item in the Bi-Weekly Brief means that we think it's interesting and/or important, and does not constitute an endorsement of its point of view or its journalistic accuracy.
Office Closed for Staff Development Day
Commission on Preparation for Ministry
Commission on Ministry - Outreach and Admin Group
Details on these meetings can be found on the presbytery's website on the calendar.