The Blessings of Spring
There are many blessings,
that each new Spring brings
you can see it bloom about
and hear the song it sings.
With winters bleakness over,
and brighter days ahead
comes promises of new life
Springtime loves to spread.
As God unfolds the flowers,
and their buds begin to show
He gives to us the assurance
grace in our hearts will grow.
He sends us the robin's song,
with the promise to provide
a shelter under His mighty wing
where in His love we can abide.
He melts the snowy covers,
and sends the refreshing rain
sprinkling us with His mercies
to heal winter's ache and pain.
God's given to all His Son,
to shed upon us a new light
and the real blessing of Spring . . .
is keeping Jesus in our sight!
We Lift Up In Prayer...
Elder Tom Miles (Mt. Pleasant-First) whose wife, Cindy passed to the larger life on April 4th. Tom is currently serving on the presbytery's Coordinating Team and previously served for many years on the Commission on Ministry. Cindy's obituary may be viewed here.
The Rev. Cathy Chang and family who are now in the Philippines settling in and beginning their onsite work as Mission Co-Workers.
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 April and May:
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Ahn (5/18)
- Honorably Retired
The Rev. Kenneth Anderson (4/30) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Alec Brooks (5/1) - 65 years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Bruce Cunningham (5/18) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dale Swihart (5/16) - Honorably Retired
Recently I was visiting with a session in our presbytery that was without a full-time pastor. "We need a full-time pastor who can bring in young families," one elder said. We engaged in an exercise in which the session members spoke about the time that they felt most vital, connected, and alive to Christ in the church. Three of the members said it was in the process of filling the pulpit for their congregation. "Did you ever consider," I observed, "that if you had a full-time pastor, you might never have had that experience?"
The faces of the whole session lit up. All of a sudden, what they had been regarding as a deficit had become an asset.
Many of us grew up in the "golden age" of American Protestantism. Churches were full, Sunday Schools were booming, coffers were flush. As late as 1974, our presbytery had 58 churches and over 24,000 members, compared to 48 and 7900 today. Over the years, we have ventured various maladaptive responses to this perceived institutional crisis:
- Doing the same thing that succeeded before, only more forcefully
- Turning the clock back to the "golden age" by resisting or reversing cultural forces of change
- Conducting witch hunts and purges, seeking to find someone or something to blame
- "Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" - i.e., changing organizational structures
- Fighting over what little remains, trying to protect what's "mine" or "ours"
Others have tried to find a quick fix to turn the tide, imposing radical changes in worship, jettisoning denominational names or ties, or relying on a new minister who will magically "attract young families."
What all of these have in common is a failure to address our changing context of mission by actually changing how we live and act as councils, congregations, and individual disciples. Instead they desperately try to retain what is left of the former paradigm or restore it by an act of personal or political will. These are doomed to fail because they operate out of a deficit mindset, which generates fear and panic, instead of asking what God is really doing in our midst, and changing ourselves to meet the challenge. The latter requires humility and hard work. It involves surrendering nostalgic visions of what used to be and stepping out in faith.
Let me be blunt: WE CAN NEVER AGAIN BE THE CHURCH WE ONCE WERE. BUT WE CAN ALWAYS BECOME THE CHURCH GOD IS CALLING US TO BE.
The decline in numbers in our churches are in large part the result of forces beyond our control, as I indicated in my last column. But the new context that is emerging is not a threat, but an opportunity to respond faithfully and to discover the excitement of being God's people in new ways. As we adapt to our changing context, a new way of being the church is emerging. The gospel has not changed, but how we live it out in mission and witness has. We are witnessing a shift
- From top-down hierarchy to bottom-up networks
- From professional clergy to entrepreneurial lay leadership
- From the center to the margins
- From privilege to servanthood
- From "go to church" to "be the church"
- From membership to discipleship
Like the session members I spoke with, these changes can be seen either as deficits to be overcome or opportunities to experience God's power and to share our gifts in exciting ways. But that will involve changing ourselves and our 40, 50, or 60 year-old perceptions of what the church ought to be. God has blessed us with gifts we haven't even begun to tap, if we are willing to step out in faith to use them.
Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
The current editions of the Parish Paper
are now available on our website
. Use by our congregations at no cost is included in the presbytery's subscription.
The topic for May is: "How Do New People Hear About Your Church?" and June's topic is: "Making Congregations Greener".
These are always great for group discussions and training.
The Presbytery office has scheduled Shred Experts to do some shredding. Due to the cost, the truck will not be scheduled to sit in the Presbytery parking lot. Shred Experts will drop off 3 large containers on May 4, 2016. They will then come back on May 5, 2016 between 1 pm and 3 pm to pick up those containers and shred the documents on site before they leave. Anyone wishing to have some shredding done is welcome to drop stuff off to the Presbytery on May 4 during normal business hours. Please do not bring stuff ahead of time. We have limited storage space. Any questions please call Stephanie Cervini at 989-799-7481 ext. 3.
2016-2017 Planning Calendars
The Presbytery Office will place a bulk order for the 2016-2017 Presbyterian Planning Calendar for individuals and churches. If the calendars arrive in time, they will be available for pick-up at the June 7th Presbytery meeting at the First Presbyterian Church, Cass City. Otherwise, they can be picked up at the Presbytery office.
Cost per calendar is $8.75. All orders must be pre-paid. Please click here for the order form. Make checks payable to the Presbytery of Lake Huron.
Orders must be placed with the Presbytery Office by May 12, 2016! No cancellations after May 12, 2016! Mail form and your check to: Presbytery of Lake Huron, P.O. Box 6129, Saginaw, MI 48608-6129.
Contact Rose Onan at [email protected] or 989-799-7481 x6 with any questions.
Reaching Out and Supporting Each Other
We are grateful to the Rev. Tom Cundiff for permitting us to share his recent Facebook post. It is an excellent reminder that we are all connected and that we can support each other through the power of prayer.
My learning that a clergy colleague in our Presbytery has been following three congregants with hospice care has reminded me of those times in my ministry when pastoral-multi-caring was draining of body and mind and soul. Without complaint this colleague will do what he has been called by God to do. He is good at what he does. These families truly appreciative his prayers and calls.
The long prayer list of another colleague shared with God in a time of prayer in worship this past Sunday reminded me that pastors need to be on our prayer lists.
I have made the decision to go through the Presbytery of Lake Huron directory in prayer for all of my colleagues. This is the least I can do as a retired pastor. Pray for members of your church. Also I encourage you to pray for your pastor....and perhaps a short email or Facebook post or phone call can remind him/her that you are in prayer for them.
Michael and Rachel Ludwig
Highlights from their latest newsletter:
Thank you for your messages and prayers this month! It's been another month marked by lots of visiting and accompanying our Nigerien partners in the EERN. We have stories to share about visiting evangelists, women's groups, and church business meetings. It's also been another month marked by the presidential election run-off, which pitted the top two candidates against each other on March 20. There was high drama as the incumbent president won in a landslide while the opposition held ineffective boycotts and said a month ago they would reject the results since they withdrew their people from the process foreseeing they'd be the losers. Everyone is bracing for more aggressive action from the opposition this week as the constitutional court just ratified the election results to make it official.
We were excited to have visitors this month, both our area coordinators from the PC(USA) coming to further support us and the partnership, and a group from Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF). The three leaders from PFF came to explore how they could help US churches support the work of outreach to unreached places. We traveled with the group some and so got to re-visit many places and see a few that relate to the EERN's evangelism focus through hosting students at evangelists houses and that relate to the training of evangelists at the Bible schools. The group had a good visit, and while they remarked that visiting the church in Niger is not for the faint of heart, they seemed energized to help connect congregations with the work going on here.
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.)
Training In Children and Worship
Mt. Pleasant -First is hosting "Training in Children & Worship", an exciting process of faith formation with children, will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Mt. Pleasant on May, 13 & 14, 2016.
This event, sponsored by the Children & Worship Institute and will be led by Director, Rev. Olivia Stewart
Training in Children & Worship is based on methods put forth in the book, Young Children and Worship, by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman. In Children & Worship
Centers, children hear Bible stories and learn about God as they experience the presence of God.
The Bible stories are told in a way that allows the listeners to enter into the stories and respond out of their own life experiences. In Children & Worship the children also learn the meaning of church traditions and have opportunities to participate in worship practices.
This training in Children & Worship is comprehensive and will give participants the information and training needed to begin a Children & Worship program in their churches.
The cost of the training is $120.00 per person. For registration information, please contact Olivia Stewart, Director of Children & Worship at [email protected] or visit the website www.childrenandworship.org.
Here are links to articles that we hope you will enjoy and perhaps spend some time discussing them with others:
"Great leaders will spend more and more time on the things that energize them and less on the things that drain them."
If you've led anything for any length of time, you already have some regrets.
You wish you could get back some situations, redo some moments and, in some cases, start over again. Why is that? If you look for common threads, you'll often discover the problem was not in the situation, it was in how you responded to it. Put another way, it was who you were when the hammer dropped. But you can also look back on other situations and see you handled things well. That you really have no regrets. Challenges come and challenges go in leadership. The difference between great leaders and poor leaders is often how their character responds to crisis. Great leaders adopt practices, attitudes and positions that they quite simply never regret. And that's the key: There are some things you do as a leader that you'll just never regret.
"VBS can be an opportunity to expand the number of adults connected to children's ministry."
Building a Staff for VBS: VBS staffing is a chicken and egg question. Do you build a team of volunteers and thereby determine the number of children you can safely register? Or, do you set a registration goal (say 40 children), and then go about gathering enough volunteers to supervise this number? Enlisting volunteers is rarely easy. It involves starting early, and blanketing your parish and community with written announcements through every media channel. Most importantly, it involves making personal face to face invitations. During these conversations, you can respond to questions and concerns. Volunteers are more willing to volunteer if you can accommodate them. For example, you may have to shift coverage for someone who needs to arrive late or leave early. You may decide to allow a volunteer to bring an infant or small child in order for them to participate. Accommodations, though logistically challenging, can result in more VBS volunteers and a greater connection between VBS and your parish.
Everyone who has been on a youth group mission trip knows the amazing things that God can do through those experiences. You've probably seen students catch their first glimpses of kingdom living and watched as God unleashed their passions to serve others. It's awesome! Mission trips give us insight into life on a mission, and that gift is priceless. But mission trips also give us insight into some other things-like how fast a van full of students can transform into a 60-mile-per-hour stink bomb. Or how teams that can barely keep their eyes open through dinner will somehow get a second wind at 10 pm. So even though we've worked hard at LeaderTreks to help with the spiritual development side of mission trips, we figured it would be worth sharing some of our tips and tricks for the keeping-your-sanity side of mission trips as well.
"Our ministries desperately need adults pursuing transformational relationships with students."
We sat down as leadership team that night to debrief the day, and the conversation soon turned to the question, "How do you guys have such great conversations with students?" This group of adults wanted to know our secret-what questions to ask and when to ask them. And they're not the only ones. I speak regularly with youth workers who recognize that their ministries desperately need adults pursuing transformational relationships with students, and I'm hearing this question more and more often. While it's important to train adult leaders in the specific second-level questions they can be asking students (for example, How would you describe your relationship with your parents? What are your fears about the future? What are you struggling with in your walk with God?), it's more valuable to develop the character of the adults in our ministries. By only training on specific questions, we risk communicating to our adult leaders that there is a golden question or a ten-step process that will guarantee them success in every conversation. There are five character traits that are critical in the development of our adult volunteers. We need adult leaders who are ...
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.
Commission on Preparation for Ministry
Commission on Ministry - Full Team
Commission on Preparation for Ministry
COM - Outreach and Admin Team
Presbytery Office Closed in Observance of Memorial Day
Details on these meetings can be found on the presbytery's website on the calendar.