by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Nearly 140 leaders including representation from presbyteries, pastors, clerks of session and the Presbyterian Mission Agency are meeting at Montview Presbyterian Church in Denver this week to pray, plan and worship together during the West Coast Vital Congregations gathering.
Leaders from the following presbyteries — who were among the 14 chosen to participate in the first wave of the 2020 Vital Congregations national launch — will receive training at the gathering, which is sponsored by Denver Presbytery: Cascades (Portland, Ore.), Mission (San Antonio), New Covenant (Houston), Northwest Coast (Everett, Wash.), Olympia (Tacoma, Wash.) and Riverside (San Bernardino, Calif.).
Participants at both gatherings will hear from Columbia Theological Seminary preaching professor Dr. Anna Carter Florence and Columbia’s professor of Old Testament, Dr. William P. Brown. Florence will reflect on “The Gift of Scripture and Community Together.” Brown will speak on “Wonder and Church Vitality.”
Gathered leaders will also go deeper into the theory and theology of the Vital Congregations initiative and begin to envision and plan the two-year process for their presbyteries and churches. They also will participate in confession/lament and commitment/celebration worship services, put together by the Rev. Dr. David Gambrell in the PC(USA)’s Office of Theology & Worship.
“Through our praying, planning and worshiping we will know that we are in this together,” says the coordinator for the PC(USA)’s Vital Congregations initiative, the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill.
“By sharing our struggles and the hopes we have for our churches, we will know that together we can do this work. That can only be the Spirit moving.”
During the first year of the initiative’s revitalization efforts, presbyteries and churches work to build authentic faith relationships. Then they enter into a period of assessment by working together through seven marks of vital congregations (click here to read about each mark).
As congregations identify both their strengths and key growth areas in their study together, they enter into a period of discernment over what God is calling them to do next. The second year of the initiative, according to the Vital Congregations manual, is “about joining Christ in the new thing taking place, allowing the wonder of God to transform and faithfully living into change.”
Participating in next week’s East Coast gathering are mid council and church leaders from the following presbyteries chosen to chosen to participate in the 2020 launch — Eastminster (Akron, Ohip), Genesee Valley (Rochester, N.Y.), Lake Michigan (Portage, Mich.), Mackinac (Petoskey, Mich.), New Harmony (Florence, S.C.), West Jersey (Haddon Heights, N.J.) and Western Reserve (Cleveland).
“It is my hope and prayer that folks leave our time together trained, empowered, connected —and filled with the Spirit’s power to prepare for the Vital Congregations initiative in their particular church and presbytery,” Threadgill said.
The Office of Vital Congregations is part of the PC(USA)’s Theology, Formation & Evangelism ministry.
You may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.
Our hearts break for the victims, families and Christchurch, New Zealand community in the aftermath of mass shootings at two mosques, that left 49 worshippers slain and 20 injured. At this tragic time we look to God for comfort and strength — and wisdom in responding to this sickening act of violence. Give us the grace to hear your truth and be healed through your mercy.
PRAYER BY REV. DR. LAURIE KRAUS, DIRECTOR, PRESBYTERIAN DISASTER ASSISTANCE, PC(USA)
INTERFAITH VIGIL & ANTI-ISLAMOPHOBIA TEACH-IN
MONDAY, MARCH 18, 7-9PM
Please join us for an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque massacre followed by a teach-in about combating Islamophobia in our communities.
FEATURED TOPICS & SPEAKERS:
“Connecting Activism and Advocacy to Combating Islamophobia and Hate,” by CAIR-WA Executive Director Masih Fouldai
“The Roots of Islamophobia,” by MAPS-AMEN Executive Director Aneelah Afzali
Other guest speakers include local interfaith leaders and elected officials.
17550 NE 67th Ct, Redmond, Washington 98052
STATEMENT OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER SEATTLE AFTER ATTACK AT TWO MOSQUES IN NEW ZEALAND
The flame shall not consume you
Dear family of God,
We know that your hearts, like ours, have been broken as the devastation wrought by wildfires in California continues to increase in severity. In addition to the destruction of land and forests, the cost to lives and human community has been unprecedented, and those costs are still rising. The town of Paradise has been leveled; more than 80 people have been confirmed dead at this writing, and thousands more are unaccounted for. In Northern California, families are living in tents and having difficulty accessing basic services; many of those who have lost their homes are older than 60. While the focus is on those closest to the fires, the impact is widespread. Due to the smoke, communities hundreds of miles from the fires are being impacted by unhealthy air quality. What’s more, after the wildfires there is an increased risk of mudslides.
Through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been present since the beginning of the disaster. Working closely with leadership in the affected presbyteries, we have released emergency grants to support the presbyteries in meeting the urgent needs of their neighbors. At the request of the Red Cross, PDA has deployed four disaster spiritual care providers from our national response team to work directly with survivors in shelters and the affected communities. We are deploying additional PDA teams to support the presbyteries in their assessment and response as they help their neighbors begin recovery. Additional grants for ongoing emergency support for survivors and long-term recovery will be forthcoming.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Your gifts to DR000165 (U.S. Wildfires) will ensure that PDA has adequate resources to support the recovery. Gift of the Heart kits are a hands-on way to help others and a fun project for the Advent season; hygiene kits and school kits will especially be needed in California. You can also share this bulletin insert in church on Sunday.
As people of faith we seek comfort, support, and direction from God. We ask that you join your spirits with ours as we walk with our California neighbors through the valley of the shadow.
God is our refuge and strength
Therefore, we will not fear … though the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble. —Psalm 46
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) urges your support for those affected by Hurricane Florence. PDA is delivering immediate aid to those impacted by the storm on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Initial assessment suggests catastrophic destruction, but the full scope of the damage will not be known for many months.
The storm’s path is cutting across areas still recovering from Hurricane Matthew (2016). While these winds and waters have meant loss and destruction, the work of PDA might become, as the psalmist says, “a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
PDA is deploying teams to affected presbyteries to meet with Presbyterian and community leadership to assist in coordinating relief efforts and mucking out homes and churches. After initial needs are addressed, PDA will remain — providing spiritual and emotional care and long-term recovery to address the unmet needs of those impacted. Through your prayerful gifts, we draw hope out of the chaos.
The needs for the response are great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the "GAP" — Give. Act. Pray.
Give: Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000169, which supports the church’s response to hurricanes impacting the U.S. Gifts can be made online, by phone at (800) 872-3283, or by check, which can be mailed to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), P.O. Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.
Act: Learn how you and your congregation can help families who have lost everything in the devastation. Stay informed and like us on Facebook, download resources and share updates with your congregation.
Pray: God of our life, whose presence sustains us in every circumstance, in the aftermath of storm and distress, we welcome the restoring power of your love and compassion. We open our hearts in sorrow, gratitude and hope: that those who have been spared nature’s fury as well as those whose lives are changed forever by ravages of wind and water may find solace, sustenance and strength in the days of recovery and reflection that come.
We are thankful for the grace of days of preparation as Hurricane Florence approached; for the counsel of experts and the generous collaboration of so many communities, that in the face of the storm kept many out of harm’s way and lessened the effects of wind and water on others.
At the same time, we open ourselves to the stories of those for whom this storm was not a near miss: communities deeply affected, some still struggling to recover from Hurricane Matthew, whose livelihood, homes and stability have been destroyed. We lift our voices in sorrow and compassion for families who have lost homes or livelihood.
We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among agencies and individuals assessing damage and directing relief efforts; and for generosity to flow as powerfully as rivers and streams, as we, your people, respond to the deep human needs emerging in the wake of the storm.
In these days of relief, assessment and response, open our eyes, our hearts and our hands to the needs of your children and the movements of your Spirit, who flows in us like the river whose streams make glad the city of God, and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.
In the name of Christ the Healer we pray. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus, director
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
THE 2019 NEXT CHURCH NATIONAL GATHERING WILL BE MARCH 11-13 IN SEATTLE!
More specific information will be made available in the coming months. But for now, we hope you'll make plans to join us in Seattle next year!
NEXT Church is teaching elders, students, educators, church members, youth leaders and ruling elders who care about the flourishing of the church of Jesus Christ in ways that are relevant to our communities.
More information & updates online.
Here are quick updates to a few of the 2018 numbers that you often need to grab quickly:
2018 PER CAPITA
In late November, churches received letters from the Stated Clerk that summarized 2017 Per Capita giving and any remaining balances, as well as the 2018 Per Capita amount. Please use that amount to submit funds to the Presbytery for 2018. Contact the Stated Clerk if you have misplaced that email.
FROM COM for 2018
(As reported in Nov Presbytery minutes):
Maintained the Presbytery minimum salary at $45,000, and encouraged Sessions to have meaningful discussions regarding appropriate Cost of Living increases for all staff.
The IRS has set mileage reimbursement for 2018 at $0.545/mile.
Just a reminder! All OlyPres Grants (Hunger, SEED and Revitalization) are being received on a quarterly basis! The next deadline is March 15.
PLEASE NOTE: There is at least a one month span before you will hear whether a grant has been approved.
June 1, 2018
Sept 1, 2018
Nov. 1, 2018
SUPPORTING PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE LEADERS
WHEN IS THE CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING RECEIVED?
The Christmas Joy Offering is traditionally received during the Advent Season. However, you can help sustain the important PC(USA) ministries and programs that are supported by the Christmas Joy Offering by by making an online gift at any time throughout the year at any time throughout the year. Checks can be mailed care of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to P.O. Box 643700; Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.
HOW IS MY GIFT USED?
Each year during the Advent and Christmas season, we turn our eyes to Bethlehem and celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior. By giving to the Christmas Joy Offering, you honor this gift by providing assistance to current and retired church workers in their time of need and developing our future leaders at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.
- The Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions
- Racial Ethnic Schools and Colleges
- Racial Ethnic Leadership Development
We would ask the Presbytery to join in prayers of Thanksgiving for the Rev. Iris W. Martin who will celebrate 95 years of life on Thanksgiving Day. All of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will gather to celebrate her birthday.
Iris is in very good health and actively participating in her Assisted Living Community Clearwater Springs in Vancouver, WA and the Salmon Creek United Methodist Church. Iris now has a hearing aid so is much better equipped to hold a thoughtful conversation.
Cards of congratulations can be sent to 201 NW 78th St., #118, Vancouver, WA 98665.
The worshipping congregation of Westminster Tacoma has dispersed since its last day of worship on Easter Sunday, and those members are seeking new church homes throughout the Tacoma/Puyallup area. Please continue to pray for them on that journey.
The building of Westminster is now the new worshipping home for two exciting Worshipping communities:
1) Umoja Presbyterian Church, who started to worship at the Westminster site on July 9! Pray for this faithful group of Kenyan immigrants who are gathering to worship in the style of their home congregation (Presbyterian Church of East Africa), and are seeking to find a solid foundation with the PCUSA and the Presbytery of Olympia. They continue in their search for a new pastor with the help of COM.
2) Rock City, an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) new worshipping community, has been meeting once a month on Saturday evenings at Westminster since the beginning of 2017. Starting in August, this faith community will worship two Saturdays a month, at the Westminster location as they offer the love and reconciliation of the Gospel to the East Tacoma neighborhood.
Please continue to pray for the Administrative Commission that is tasked with walking into the future with this ministry site and the ministries housed within.
Thank you to Lakewood Presbyterian for hosting Umoja for these past few years! You were such a gift to Umoja and the Presbytery!
Just a reminder! All OlyPres Grants (Hunger, SEED and Revitalization) are being received on a quarterly basis! The next deadline is September 15.
PLEASE NOTE: There is at least a one month span before you will hear whether a grant has been approved.
December 15, 2017
March 15, 2018
June 15, 2018
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Olympia Presbytery,
I am announcing the death of our friend and brother-in-Christ, Sid Olson, on Sunday, June 18, 2017. As you recall, we have been praying for Sid in the past weeks as he dealt with health issues related to lung cancer. Sid, a long-time, active member of The United Churches of Olympia, was our faithful and reliable Recording Clerk of the presbytery for the past 14 years. You will find his obituary attached.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 at 3:00pm at The United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA98501. A reception will follow. Since it is a Saturday there should be ample, available parking.
Holy God, may your peace and comfort fill and surround all who mourn and remember Sid, especially his wife, Ann, his son, Doric, and his daughter, Marsi, and their families. In these moments may your Spirit help us put our trust in you and in the hope of eternal life with Christ, our Savior. Amen.
In Grace and Peace,
“Welcome and the law” outlines legal issues for churches considering sanctuary, other activities
APRIL 12, 2017
Office of the General Assembly Communications
As Presbyterians increasingly face legal and other issues around providing welcome and hospitality to immigrants, the Immigration Office of the Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has released a new resource for congregations titled, “Welcome and the Law.”
General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II, has issued a letter to the church, commending the new resource. “I extend to you the invitation to discern how you might be called to accompany your neighbors,” he writes. “[This resource] will help begin to answer questions you have about the law and help guide your discernment. Please know that I am praying alongside you as you discern with your congregation or larger community about how God is guiding you to respond.”
“Welcome and the Law” addresses legal statutes governing encouraging, inducing, or bringing undocumented immigrants into the United States; transporting and harboring undocumented immigrants within the U.S.; and providing employment or employment services to undocumented immigrants.
It also outlines undocumented immigrant and churches behavior protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Presbyterian News Service April 3, 2017
Toll-free number to help families and churches prevent child sexual abuse
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, has teamed with the Insurance Board and Praesidium to help PC(USA) church councils and members of churches prevent child sexual abuse. The partnership has launched a toll-free Abuse Prevention Helpline (866-607-SAFE) to provide assistance to church councils and church families in their efforts to keep predators away from children.
“Statistics show that one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be abused before the age of 18,” said former Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, who worked to make the helpline a reality. “We know that sexual predators seek out trusting environments where children are present and churches are vulnerable because of close relationships and immediate access to children.”
Parsons said the Helpline was established to help victims and church leaders get immediate assistance while giving churches guidelines plus resources for training and support to prevent predators from targeting their congregations.
Praesidium, the national leader in abuse prevention, is staffing the Helpline, providing expert advice on how to best respond to suspicious behavior and suspected abuse, as well as assist church councils in prevention. Callers will also receive guidance on responding to suspicious interactions between employee and/or volunteer and child, and determining when and how to report suspected abuse to authorities.
“Abuse is not a natural disaster. It is not something that happens with no warning signs or knowledge. It is an event that is preventable with the right resources such as policies, screening procedures and training,” said Aaron Lundberg, president and CEO of Praesidium. “Through our partnership with the PC(USA) and Insurance Board, we are able to offer these resources so churches can protect their congregations from the devastating effects of abuse.”
PC(USA) churches and individual members can call the Helpline to discuss concerns and incidents of abuse, seek criminal background checks and utilize an online Self-Assessment Tool to identify potential gaps in abuse risk management practices within their organization. Those resources can be found at www.InsuranceBoard.org/abuse_prevention.
In May 2016, the Presbytery of Olympia said YES to partnering with Prison Congregations of America to start a new worshipping community in the Women's Correctional Center of Washington.
Here's a video that introduces PCA.
The ministry is gathering together those individuals who feel called to serve on the "Outside Council" for the ministry. If you have felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit, a general interest or just want to know more, please contact the Stated Clerk, Rev. Kari McFarland. Mary Mortensen, the Executive Director of Prison Congregations of America will be visiting the Presbytery for our May 20 gathering. She will be helping to invite attendees to prayerfully consider involvement in this new ministry!
More than 120 youth from all over the Puget Sound gathered at the beautiful Tall Timber Ranch near Leavenworth for the 5th Annual UNITE winter retreat last December. The theme of the retreat was “Reconciliation” with Tali Hairston from the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training and Community Development at SPU as the speaker.
Reconciliation was not only preached by Tali, sung during worship, and discussed in depth in small group settings. It was also experienced in a very real way as this very diverse group of young people of multiple race, age (middle school-college) and economic background drew closer to each other, to God, and to God’s beautiful creation.
HUGE thank you to Seattle Presbytery, North Coast Presbytery, and Tall Timber Ranch and Seattle Community Church for making this amazing experience possible for so many years!
UNITE 2017 has already been set for December 26-29th. Please join us, if you can!
For more information, please contact HT Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.