The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
~ Emma Lazarus
We Lift Up In Prayer...
Elder Judy Hudson (Marlette-First)
whose husband Terry passed to the larger life earlier this month. In addition to serving her congregation in various ways she has also served at the presbytery level, most recently as a member of the Commission on Ministry. Click here
to read Terry's obituary.
Kim Strunz (member of Caro-First and an Inquirer Under Care of the presbytery) recently fell and fractured her hip. She had surgery shortly after the fall. At this time she is unable to receive visitors.
In gratitude to all who served at the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, OR including our:
Teaching Elder Commissioners, the Rev. Dr. Rhonda Myers
and the Rev. Jim Offrink,
our Ruling Elder Commissioner, Elder Kathy Maurer
, Executive Presbyter, the Rev. Dr. Dan Saperstein
and Stated Clerk, the Rev. Ted McCulloch
The Rev. Cathy Chang and family who are serving 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 June and July:
The Rev. David Blackburn (7/1) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Bert Clark (6/5) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Annie Duncan (7/27) - Temporary Supply Pastor of Swartz Creek-Mundy
The Rev. Robert Leas (6/30) - 55 years -
The Rev. Mike Loenshal (6/18) - Member-At-Large
The Rev. Jim Offrink (7/25) - 45 years -
"My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn."
The chorus of the General Assembly theme hymn "My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout" echoed through the Convention Center halls many times during the week. The hymn is a song of hope for God's coming redemption, echoing the Song of Mary. As it punctuated the closing worship of the 222nd General Assembly Saturday morning, it seemed perfectly suited to this General Assembly.
It is no secret that the PCUSA has struggled in recent years with loss of members, churches, and financial support. But coming out of the 222nd General Assembly, one can't help but get the sense that the world is about to turn, and Presbyterians with it.
L to R: Tony De La Rosa (PMA); Denise Anderson, Jan Edmiston (Moderators); J. Herbert Nelson (Stated Clerk)
To begin, there is outstanding new leadership in our denomination. One couldn't have imagined such a diverse group even a decade ago: an openly gay married Latino from California continues to serve as Interim Executive Director our Mission Agency; an African-American from South Carolina is our newly elected Stated Clerk; the Co-moderators of our General Assembly are an all-female team from Philadelphia and Chicago. They literally come from north, south, east, and west. This is the public face of the Presbyterian Church and I couldn't be prouder.
This was a congenial, even upbeat gathering, lacking the partisan bickering and rancor of past Assemblies. While the Assembly leaned to the liberal/progressive side of issues, it was surprisingly moderate in tone over all, opting many times for more centrist actions rather than radical ones.
Here are some of the more significant actions, in addition to the elections noted above:
- Gave final approval for the Confession of Belhar to be added as a confession of the church, the first such confession arising from the southern hemisphere
- Rejected a call for fast-track divestment from fossil fuel producers in favor of the corporate engagement strategy mandated by the 2014 Assembly
- Reaffirmed its support for a two-state solution to Palestine, while condemning human rights abuses against Palestinians, especially children in the Israeli detention system.
- Came short of apologizing to LGBTQ persons for exclusion from service in the church, instead issuing a statement of regret, noting continuing disagreements on interpretation of scripture.
- Approved forming a 15 person Vision Team to chart "the Way Forward" for the denomination, and a 12-person Administrative Commission to address structural and personnel issues in the Presbyterian Mission Agency and Office of General Assembly
- Retained the current configuration of the sixteen synods after six years of deliberation over whether to consolidate or eliminate synods
- Rejected overwhelmingly an overture to reinstate "one man, one woman" language to the definition of marriage in the Book of Order, signaling an end to that issue in the church
- Rejected the controversial "Foothills overtures" that would have limited business undertaken by future General Assemblies
- Approved for ratification by the presbyteries
- A new Directory for Worship
- A recommendation to reinstate "minister of Word and Sacrament" for the ordered ministry of teaching elder and "commissioned pastor" for commissioned ruling elders
In other actions, our esteemed presbyter the Rev. George Baird was honored with the C. Fred Jenkins award for constitutional service; ruling elder commissioner Kathy Maurer was elected to service on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board; and missionaries Cathy Chang and Juan Lopez were commissioned in absentia (with video introduction). There has been a tempest in a teapot over an interfaith greeting extended by a local Muslim cleric who went off script and offered prayer to Allah. Despite efforts to review and script such greetings, there is little that can be done to stop a guest from violating that agreement. The Stated Clerk quickly offered an official apology for any offense taken.
Despite the many setbacks the church has suffered in recent years, this was a decidedly forward-looking Assembly. As new Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson said upon his installation, "We are not a dying church. We are reforming, and transforming the world one person at a time."
Our presbytery was well-served by teaching elder commissioners Jim Offrink and Rhonda Myers and by ruling elder commissioner Kathy Maurer. They will report at the September Presbytery meeting.
Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
(To read Dan's daily posts from GA, please click here.)
Did you attend the June presbytery meeting at Cass City-First and leave without your grey sweater? If so, please contact the church at (989) 872-5400 to arrange it's return.
Healthy Congregations Workshop
Great opportunity to participate in this workshop close to home - in Midland!
The Healthy Congregations workshop uses the insights of family systems theory to help church leaders and all members become more effective stewards of their congregation's health. The workshop was developed by Dr. Peter Steinke and is based on the work of Dr. Edwin Friedman, author of Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue.
Since the publication of Generation to Generation, many pastors have come to recognize the importance of understanding family systems theory as it relates to congregations. The Healthy Congregations workshop helps both leaders and all church members expand their insight into how churches function as emotional systems.
This workshop will help you:
- Learn how you as a leader can influence the health of your congregation - how to detect and avoid unhealthy patterns of living together in community.
- Learn how to keep anxiety from becoming infectious.
- Gain confidence in responding to challenges and opportunities.
- Learn how to put limits on invasive behavior, manage reactivity,and overcome sabotage.
- Discover how leaders can function as the congregation's immune system.
- Learn to focus on strengths, resources, options, and the future.
Richard Blackburnis Executive Director of Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC) in Lombard, IL. Richard is a trainer and mediator, with broad experience in serving as a consultant to conflicted churches. He has participated in Dr. Edwin Friedman's Postgraduate Clergy Seminar in Family Emotional Process and the Postgraduate Program in Family Systems Theory and It's Applications at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.
Hello supporters of Niger and the Ludwigs,
If it is possible in your schedule, we highly recommend inviting Issaka Moussa to spend some time with you during the International Peacemakers program of the PCUSA (click here for more info in a brochure)
. He has fascinating work that can share a lot with the world. He has worked reporting Niger Human Rights to the UN! He currently is working as what would be comparable to the US Supreme Court. He was very involved in Niger's last elections.
He is a good friend of ours in Niger. He is the International Relations leader for the partner church we work with (EERN) and he looks out for us. He is part of the new church leadership that is following God's leading with a big vision to possibly impact the whole country of Niger. I always wish I had more time to talk with him in Niger.
We highly recommend meeting Issaka. If you notice, for priority during his visit to the US you need to make contact by July 1st.
Rachel and Michael Ludwig
Cathy Chang and Juan Lopez
Click here to continue reading.
Excerpt from their latest blog post:
In the middle of June, I traveled to a province called Nueva Ecija in order to attend a court hearing against Mary Jane Veloso's alleged human traffickers. Going to court also meant noticing the half-basketball court in the courthouse's parking lot. I joined a group of Methodist women from the Board of Women's Work and other related ministries, along with representatives from Catholic ministries and Migrante International. Together they constitute the "Church Task Force to Save Mary Jane."
Last May when I interviewed for this position and met my potential co-workers, I first learned about Mary Jane Veloso. Since 2010, Mary Jane remains imprisoned in Indonesia for drug trafficking charges, but she was spared execution and granted temporary reprieve in April 2015. Her parents and two sons have visited her in Indonesia. She has received additional legal support, but I can only imagine the anguish of this imprisonment and almost execution for her and her family. Mary Jane's life and story came to full picture for us in the PCUSA, thanks to the efforts of a former mission co-worker Becca Lawson who also served in the Philippines.
Little more than a year after learning about Mary Jane Veloso, I had no idea of the ways that I might become involved with her and her story: traveling with an ecumenical group of supporters for her and her family, in a bus for more than 6 hours; laughing and learning about social justice from the perspectives of these women; eating and praying and singing in this same courthouse parking lot; sitting in a crowded courtroom for a 40-minute hearing; and meeting Mary Jane's mother and father for the first time.
Here are links to articles that we hope you will enjoy and perhaps spend some time discussing them with others. Click on the title to read the entire article.
"Your card, note, letter can be a part of the healing process. The most important thing to a person who has lost a loved one, is to know that they are loved and cared for."
If you have ever written a condolence or sympathy note to someone whose loved one has died, you know how difficult it can be. In this day of emails and texts, it is even harder to sit down and put pen to paper. Remember that a physical card, note, or letter is deeply meaningful to those receiving it. A condolence note is tangible; it can be set aside if the time is not right, and a person can reread it after the initial time of loss. A note can be read in private - as these notes of love and care often bring tears - or it may be shared with others. Below are some reasons for writing and a few thoughts on what you might write.
here is a silent war going on in churches today. Nobody talks about it and many in the church are not even aware it is going on, but it continues day after day and the injuries, both to individuals and to the Kingdom of God, are immense. This is the war of communication expectations between talking on the phone, email, and texting. Though this conflict can happen between any members of the church, for purposes of this article, I'm going to oversimplify it by sharing what I've seen happen many times between Boomer and Millennial age groups. Though I'm using these two groups as examples, read into them "Boomer and older" and "Millennial and younger". Here are some typical skirmishes...
You should have two goals for your church's social media presence.
- Connect with and grow your current church members.
- Reach new people for your church.
If your church isn't accomplishing these two goals with social media, there's room to grow. However, let's face it: Connecting with current church members is the easy part. Just throw your Facebook URL on an announcement slide on Sunday and your church members will flock to it faster than you can say your favorite cheesy Christian phrase. But reaching people in your community - people who have never even heard of your church, let alone visited on a Sunday - that's a whole different animal, and it takes work. It takes time and effort. It takes intentionality and strategy. And it may even mean that you need to post something on your church's Facebook Page that isn't a Bible verse. Here are a few ways to start reaching new people for your church with social media:
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.
Presbytery Office Closed in Observance of Independence Day
Commission on Preparation for Ministry
Commission on Ministry - Outreach and Administration Team (Only if needed)
Commission on Preparation for Ministry Retreat
Commission on Ministry - Full Team
Details on these meetings can be found on the presbytery's website on the calendar.