"I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him"
from the PC(USA) to facilitate discussing
adults and teens.]
We Lift Up In Prayer...
Kim Strunz (member of Caro-First and an Inquirer Under Care of the presbytery) who is home now doing well in her recovery from surgery for a fractured hip she injured when she fell last month.
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 July and August:
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. Ken Hetzel (8/16)
- Pastor of Croswell-First
The Rev. Jim Offrink (7/25) - 45 years - Honorably Retired
Elder Kathleen Rowe (8/1) - 1 year (in current commissioning) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Tawas
A Call to Confession
I grew up as a child of privilege. My parents, both of whom were children of immigrants, were living the post-World War II dream of upward mobility. They bought a large house in the suburbs populated with other families escaping the crowds - and diversity - of the city. When our schools were integrated during the Civil Rights era, many of our neighbors put their kids in private schools. Mine did not. But I lived amid contradictions of which I was not really aware.
Like many of my neighbors, my family had a domestic helper, in part necessitated by the demands of having a profoundly disabled younger sister. But our maid and nanny was not just an employee; to me she was a friend. To my five year old mind, the fact that she was African American and was named "Willie Mae" associated her with the great baseball player Willie Mays - and my life was all about baseball at that age.
At the time, I considered this situation normal. But when I entered school, I began encountering the contradictions I lived. I remember distinctly my first awareness of privilege and race. I had become friends with one of the African American kids in my class. And I started putting things together. So I asked Willie Mae one day after school if she had any children. I don't know why this thought hadn't occurred to me in the several years I had known her. She indicated that she did, that she had a little boy. I asked who watched him when she came to watch me and my siblings, and she said her aunt did. And it struck me as somehow unfair that I was enjoying Willie Mae's time and attention whereas her own son could not. And I imagined that maybe my friend at school might have been her son, or someone like him. I felt sad and a bit ashamed.
It wasn't for years - more like decades - that I was able to put together that experience, and probably hundreds more, into a more complete understanding of race, privilege, and society. And I am still learning.
The events of last week - when our nation experienced three tragedies in three successive days dealing with race and law enforcement - have brought to even greater awareness the divisions that exist within our nation. The deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota at the hands of white police officers, and the deaths of five Dallas police officers protecting a peaceful demonstration by a deranged black gunman have summoned deep-seated fears and prejudices, but have also provided an opportunity for conversation, confession, understanding, and reconciliation.
Our new General Assembly co-moderators - one African-American and one Euro-American - have issued a call to confession in our denomination about race and privilege. Confession is never easy; it requires seeing oneself through the eyes of another - God's eyes, yes, but also the eyes of the people we have sinned against. And confession requires taking responsibility: owning up to our own sins and the sinful institutions and systems from which we have benefitted.
So following the lead and invitation of our General Assembly co-moderators, this is my attempt at confession.
I am racist - which means I harbor and express racial prejudice from a position of power or privilege. I have known this for a long time. I might say "a recovering racist" but I think that would be a cop-out, an act of denial and self-justification. I was raised in a culture of racial privilege. My parents intentionally sought out communities with limited diversity "so I would get a good education." I grew to confuse the benefits of class and privilege with assumptions about race, intelligence, and morality. Growing up, I associated "urban" with "crime" and "crime" with racial minorities, and still do to some extent. I assumed persons of color were less gifted as teachers, leaders, and "professionals" because, well, there weren't very many of them. I have made racial and ethnic jokes; used demeaning language; and made assumptions based merely on the race of another person. As I have learned differently through a variety of experiences and relationships, my racism has changed - but not disappeared. I struggle today with less obvious forms of racism - patronizing, speaking for persons of different races or ethnicities ("whitesplaining"), remaining silent when confronted with racist actions and situations, confusing my cultural experience for what is "normal" ("white normativity"), and more.
These are just some of the sins I have and continue to commit, even despite myself, and for which I have insufficiently repented. I ask the forgiveness of God, and of all those whom I have offended. While the problem of racism is larger than just me, my own commitment to address the problem must begin with me, as it must for each of us.
But I hope it doesn't end there. As Christ's church, we are called to a community as diverse as God's family and a love that is as welcoming as God's heart. But for those of us who have lived with privilege, change means adopting a posture of humility, openness, self-awareness, and respect. It will be a long journey, but it will be made easier by the friends we make on the way.
I don't know what became of Willie Mae, or her son I never met. My family's fortune took a downward turn, we let her go, and we moved away. But I wonder sometimes. And I pray for her and my "brother from another mother," and I think of them every time I read of yet another Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown or Alton Sterling or Philando Castile. There is too much grieving and too little healing. But thanks be to God, who in Jesus Christ embraces us, welcomes us, offers healing and redemption, and hope for a new way.
Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
George Baird Honored At GA222
Our very own, the Rev. Dr. George Baird
, was honored at last month's General Assembly when he was named the winner of the C. Fred Jenkins Award from the Association of Stated Clerks of the PC(USA). We cannot imagine a better recipient of this award. Congratulations George!
Here is the announcement:
The Rev. Dr. George W. Baird has provided distinguished service in support of the polity and constitutional standards of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the levels of local church, Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly. He has given generously of his time, his intellect, his wisdom, and his professional skills in providing an extraordinarily high level of leadership to the governing bodies he has served. He has earned the respect of his colleagues and friends and even his adversaries. He is respected for his extensive knowledge of the Constitution and for principled, thorough, clear and constant counsel in his interpretations. He has a well-earned reputation for being fair and evenhanded. Even when others disagree with his positions, he is held in high esteem. He is known for graciousness, integrity, good humor and even disposition. His love for the Presbyterian Church at all its levels and for its constitutional standards is so great that he has been willing to show tough love when he has believed it proper and necessary. He has been a reliable presence and resource to the denomination and the governing bodies and individuals who have been so fortunate as to have him in ministry with them. He is an approachable colleague who listens carefully and then gently and carefully interprets constitutional standards with collegial encouragement and wise counsel.
George served the Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in Midland, Michigan for more than thirty years and was named Pastor Emeritus of that congregation in 1995 out of affectionate regard for his pastoral service. He served as Stated Clerk of The Presbytery of Lake Huron from 1968 to 2001 and as Stated Clerk of The Synod of the Covenant from 2003 to 2011. He regularly and reliably served committees of The General Assembly and as an Assistant Parliamentarian on the floor of meetings of the General Assembly for more than fifteen years. Throughout his distinguished ministries, George Baird has been a teacher-in his preaching, church classes, congregational administration, and in his many and varied roles as Stated Clerk. George Baird's dedication, devoted service, graciousness, and substantial contributions are exemplary and he has through the years of his many ministries helped the church reach to the highest standards of Jesus Christ.
With gratitude and admiration, The Association of Stated Clerks presents the 2016 C. Fred Jenkins Constitutional Services Award to George Baird at the 222nd General Assembly held in Portland, Oregon in June, 2016.
Cass City-First and Cass City-Fraser Win Big on Independence Day Weekend
First and Fraser
Churches of Cass City celebrated the 4th of July in a BIG way! The two churches came together as a team to re-create a float from 1986 that had models of both churches. Unfortunately the models were destroyed so the men of the churches built new ones and a decorating team went into action. We were honored to receive the M. Auten award for most original. We were surprised because Mr. Auten, the grandfather of the team leader, was a member of First church. It was a double honor. The team work between the two churches was beautiful to see.
On Sunday we gathered outside of First Church with 6 other churches and worshiped in the street! All 7 pastors participated in the worship and communion service. It was estimated about 650 people were in attendance. Over $2,300 was collected and given to Revive a local ecumenical ministry that has a thrift shop and food pantry. The Ministerial Alliance in Cass City is a great group to be a part of and the churches worship together 3 or 4 times a year. Worship in the Streets started last year and we were asked to do it again this year. It looks like it will be an annual event.
Some of the members of Midland-Chapel Lane are going on a PDA Mission Trip later this summer to do Superstorm Sandy recovery work on the East Coast. They are inviting other churches so that folk who might not have the opportunity at their local church to have such an experience, can consider joining other Presbyterians for a week of mission and ministry mixed with fun and fellowship.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance promotes these mission trips as a "Ministry of Presence," where we walk with people during a time of recovery from a disaster--whether it be of natural or human origin.
The group leave on the morning of Saturday, August 6th and return the evening of the 13th andwill be staying at Calvary Presbyterian Church on Staten Island. Simple quarters. A sleeping bag or sheets and a blanket will be needed. Most meals are provided by the church. The cost to participate is $300. (The deacons of Midland-Chapel Lane are covering the cost of the van rental.)
This will their third mission trip out east. The first year, was a physical clean-up of homes on Long Island ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. The next year, they did home restorations down at the NJ shore. This time around, it will be more restoration work, but on Staten Island, NY. (You may have heard that while many insurance companies did pay out on claims for repair work after that huge storm, many folk paid contractors who either did a shoddy job or no job--and, instead, just up and took off with the money. The insurance companies will not pay out a second time, of course, nor did they want to take on lawsuits since the "hurt" was not to them but to the homeowners. As a result, many homeowners were left in a tight spot. No money, and a home in disrepair.)
Some of the work they'll do may include: pulling up rugs and flooring, tearing down walls, cleaning or helping repair wall interiors and subfloors, hanging sheetrock, painting, installing light fixtures, etc. No one needs real carpentry skills to join us, although it's always helpful to have one or two carpenters, plumbers or electricians on the team!
Sunday, August 7th will be a free day to explore the area, and one evening we will get off early and have the evening free to head into Manhattan for dinner and some sightseeing.
For more information, contact the Rev. Dr. Rhonda Myers at either [email protected] or 989-631-2081.
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.
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.
Pokemon Go has quickly become a cultural phenomenon and, whether you realize it or not, that's a big deal for churches. Let me explain. The app mixes the popular video game with an augmented reality form of geocaching. In essence, you travel around in the real world, trying to catch Pokemon that show up on your smartphone.
The game shot to the top of both iPhone and Android app charts
, as millions of people around began their quest to "catch 'em all." Here's why churches should care. Part of the game features going to PokeStops, which are real life buildings and landmarks that allow players to obtain needed items. Churches are often used this way. In fact, every church we drove past this weekend was a PokeStop or gym-from a gigantic megachurch to a tiny fundamentalist church. This has lead to some interesting situations for many unchurched gamers. Some exclaimed how this would be the first time in years they have been to a church.
As our churches move digital, it is more important than ever to let potential visitors see what your church is like. A potential guest's first contact with your church will most likely be through the visuals they see on social media or your website. Online content has evolved tremendously over the past few years, and that makes it easier than ever for churches to communicate who they are and what they are about. But with great power comes great responsibility. The success of your website and social media channels doesn't depend on simply posting any picture or video you grabbed from Google. You have to be posting the right types of photos and videos. So how can churches most effectively use these new tools? What sort of visuals should we be putting in front of those curious about our ministries?
Let's take a short quiz-does your congregation want to reach young adults so that:
- Church membership will grow
- The church won't close its doors in the next ten years
- The added financial giving will help balance the budget
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, do young adults a favor and don't reach out to them. Truly, they will smell your motives a mile away.
Churches live in anxious times and tend to respond in default modes when crises arise. While I do not doubt the sincerity of care churches have for young adults, too often the modus operandi involve only strategies about how to fill their pews on a Sunday morning.
I would like to offer a different model for thinking about reaching out to young adults by gleaning five lessons from the flash mob.
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 Preparation for Ministry Retreat
Commission on Ministry - Full Team
Details on these meetings can be found on the presbytery's website on the calendar.