2016 General Assembly Nominee

Young Adult Advisory Delegate (YAAD) Nominee: Stephen Hornyak

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I would be honored to serve as a Young Adult Advisory Delegate from the Olympia Presbytery to General Assembly in June 2016.  The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is important to me.  I am interested in engaging in the work of the denomination, learning about the questions before the General Assembly, voicing my opinions and listening to others.

I am a member of Lakewood Presbyterian Church (LPC).  I attend worship regularly at LPC, run the sound system during worship, and serve occasionally as a worship leader.  I am active in the church youth group, and I often assist my mother in her work as the church custodian.  I have also been a camper at Camp Sound View, and have been a part of the Leader in Training (LIT) program the past two summers.

I am a junior at Bethel High School.  I am a strong student and a leader.  I am maintaining a 4.0 GPA, and am the Vice President of the National Honor Society this year.  I am a member of both the jazz band and the concert band.  I enjoy leading, including being the class Treasurer in 10th and 11th grade, mentoring 5th grade students at a local elementary school, managing the school track and field team, and being the cinematographer of the football team.  Among other activities, I participate in National History Day, in which I placed 5th in state last year. 

I am a hard worker, and if elected I will do my best to represent the Olympia Presbytery well at General Assembly.  Thank you for your consideration.

2016 General Assembly Nominee

Teaching Elder (Pastor) Nominee: Rev. Taeler Morgan

I am honored to be nominated as a GA commissioner for Olympia Presbytery and happy to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a native of Southern California who came to faith in Jesus as a teenager from a non-religious background. I graduated from Cal State San Marcos with a degree in Literature and Writing and did my MDiv at Bethel Seminary, San Diego. I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Tim, for 14 years and am mother to my delightful almost-2-year-old daughter, Eliana (you may have seen her picture once or twice if we are Facebook friends or if I’ve had my cell phone in your general proximity).

I have been a part of Olympia Presbytery for five years, serving as Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation at University Place Presbyterian Church during that time. I’ve served the Presbytery as a member of COM for 3 years, a member of the Executive Presbyter Search Committee, a representative to the BOP Western Regional Benefits Consultation of 2015 and recently as part a team helping to plan worship for our Presbytery meetings.

I’ve just returned from a trip to China and Taiwan where I was able to spend the better part of a week with our PCUSA Moderator, Heath Rada, while visiting one of our mission co-workers. It was a great opportunity to talk directly with him about his recent Call the to Church, what that means for the upcoming GA, what our mission work is looking like in light of recent challenges (an area of particular interest to me), and what possibilities the future may hold. I came away encouraged but also with many more questions. I hope that, if elected, I can be helpful to our presbytery and churches by serving well with our larger denomination and would appreciate your prayers for me as I strive to do so.

2016 General Assembly Nominee

Ruling Elder Nominee: David Ammons

I am honored to be nominated as a commissioner to GA from the Presbytery of Olympia and would be pleased to serve on your behalf if elected.  I am a 31-year member of Westminster of Olympia and the Presbytery. I am a member of the Strategic Board and have enjoyed serving as a congregational care team member in the past. I have been an elder since my early days as a 30-something newcomer to the denomination and currently am in my fifth term as ruling elder, serving as finance chairman, choir member, lay leader, centennial chairman, and a variety of other roles over the years.  What a joy to serve alongside other motivated and creative people at both congregational and Presbytery level! They inspire me.
PCUSA, the Presbytery and Westminster have been essential in my faith journey, which literally began at my mother's knee as a youngster. She was a Methodist circuit-rider's PK and lives a glowing life of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and helped me catch the spark early in life. My journey as an adult led to me to PCUSA and it is here that I find the discipline and inspiration, the robust sense of community and inclusiveness, the education I love and the worship and music my soul needs, and the "social gospel" that compels me to take my faith into the world in which I live out my weeks and years.
My career has been in journalism and public policy. I worked as a political journalist for The Associated Press for 38 years, did public television as host of "Inside Olympia" on TVW for five years, and have been communications director and senior policy adviser to the Secretary of State for more than seven years. The workplace is our proving ground for living a faithful and exemplary life that bespeaks our wellspring of loving Christ.

I believe firmly that God is calling our denomination to a "new thing" and that our best days are in front of us as we launch into "missional transformation" and are inclusive and faithful in taking the gospel into the community and into the world.   

Helpful words from Rev. Irvin Porter

Rev. Irvin Porter, pastor at Church of the Indian Fellowship, shares his remarks from September 17 Presbytery meeting: 

I bring you greetings from Church of the Indian Fellowship where I serve as Pastor and also from the Presbyterian Church, USA, for whom I serve as Associate for Native American Congregational Support. Thank you for this invitation to share. 

Church of the Indian Fellowship was founded in 1876 by Presbyterian missionaries as a mission for the Puyallup people. In 1950 it became Church of the Indian Fellowship and continues to serve the Native populations of Pierce Country.

The congregation is classified as a “reservation congregation” by the PCUSA because it sits on tribal land of the Puyallup tribe. In fact the congregation does not own this property as of 1975 when the deed was returned to the tribe since it was never purchased by the federal government who gave them the deed.

Yet, the church does reside, realistically, within the Tacoma City limits and for all intents and purposes exists as an urban congregation too.

It’s 56 members and friends are about 75% Native American from many different tribes of which I represent three!  

The 25% that is not Native American ethnically are White, Hispanic and African-American.

Though the name of the church seems to emphasize “Indian” it is not exclusively an “Indian” or “Native American” congregation.

I myself am descended from three Indian tribes, Pima, T’hono O’odham and Nez Perce, as well as an English/Norwegian grandmother. So in that way I represent this congregation as a diversity of cultures.

Story:  Diversity at Church of the Indian Fellowship does not only imply a diversity of racial cultures but also of tribal cultures as well. Though the congregation was founded as a mission to the Puyallup people there is only one active Puyallup family who are members there though we have many visitors from throughout the tribe.

 *Zohndra H. is a 16 year old member of our congregation. She is both Native American through her father’s heritage and African-American through her mother’s heritage.

About 2007, her mother decided to send Zohndra to Sunday school. Her mother had been friends with a Native American family who are members. Eventually, the mother started attending and quickly came to love the congregation because, as she once put it, “I could be myself and nobody judged me.” Her name was Deidra. She eventually became a Deacon and sadly died in January of 2014.

Deidra’s siblings and cousins began to find their way to Church of the Indian Fellowship and her cousin, Tamika, became a member and is now a Deacon as well.

 This congregation has done multicultural not in the way that the denomination is encouraging, going out and bringing them in purposely, but through a very Native American cultural way: encouraging people to visit, return and make up their own minds about who we are as a Body of Christ.

People who attend services can come as they are and fashion statements do not exist there.

We are all sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ so a person’s past does not disqualify them for anything.

We are Presbyterian in worship style though allow time for sharing which is a uniquely Native American cultural trait. Some churches call it “a time for witnessing” but we call it “a time of sharing the blessings that God has given” to us. Even the pastor gets in on this as I share with the congregation after my many travels to visit Native congregations, conferences and other travels.

Time is not linear at Church of the Indian Fellowship. We do not adhere closely to a 60-minute worship timeframe. Times of “sharing” can be extensive but as in Native American culture, all are given the opportunity to speak.

People feel they have a place they can share openly and that they aren’t judged. Some of the sharing are updates on past struggles which God is helping them through.

When people ask what time our worship service ends, I tell them between 12:00 and 12;15. Basically, for us, when God’s Holy Spirit tells us to go eat!

Though our language is English our connection to tribal cultures, while once prohibited by missionaries, inform our spiritual journeys.

In that way, I share Nez Perce translated hymns, at times, prior to my sermons because, as I tell the congregation, we need to be reminded that God doesn’t only speak English.

If you have ever shared a meal at Church of the Indian Fellowship I challenge you to tell me you left hungry! We like to eat, obviously! Our many Indian Taco Sales not only help with fundraising efforts but are also a time of fellowship with church family and friends throughout the community.

What have you learned though that story:

 Diversity is not just inviting people of other races or cultures to worship and participate in the life of a church. It is who that church is.

We have been open to all who love and serve the Lord. Have we had some problems with acceptance at times? Yes – human beings do this. But we have approached apprehensions with the Love of Jesus Christ.

We have learned and been reminded that the church exists not for “Indian” or “Native American” people exclusively, though that is why it was founded as a mission in 1876. The Church is the body of Christ – open to all who seek to follow Jesus Christ, our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father.

 Olympia Presbytery, Synod of Alaska-Northwest and the PCUSA need Committees on Representation.

     The Committee on Representation helps:

Develop lines of communication that will nurture collegiality and trust and strengthen relationships among congregations. This new sense of connection can open new visions and dreams as the Spirit leads.

Serve our world in love, justice and peace: Promote mission participation across the Presbytery, including the evaluation of current mission projects  and mission funding.

Supports our churches, pastors and leaders: Supports those who carry out ministry, education and mission in the Presbytery and its member congregations.

And it can support children, youth and young adults for a life of discipleship through faith development and spiritual nurture beyond their own experiences.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19). The purpose of the church is to develop disciples. The purpose of the Presbytery is to support this process.

We have a spiritual mandate to follow Jesus’ calling to go forth and make disciples of not just people who look like us or who live like us or speak the same language as us. No, we are sent out to follow Jesus’ calling to make disciples of all people.

Thank you. Amen.

*In my remarks printed above, I failed to mention that Zohndra H. is now the Secretary for the American Indian Youth Council of the PCUSA.