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Here is our January 2017 Electronic Newsletter. Enjoy
REV. DR. LAURIE KRAUS IS THE GUEST SPEAKER & PREACHER OF OUR FEBRUARY PRESBYTERY MEETING IN EL PASO.
La Revda. Dra. Laurie Kraus es la predicadora y oradora invitada para nuestra eunion del Presbiterio en El Paso
The Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus directs Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the national and international response agency for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Laurie is a Certified Compassion Fatigue Professional (CCFP) through the International Association of Trauma Professionals, of which she is a member and a certified spiritual director.
Dr. Kraus is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She served as the pastor of Riviera Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida, and as associate pastor at the 1st Presbyterian Church of Utica, NY. She holds a BA from Wheaton College, the M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and D.Min. degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary and Florida Center for Theological Studies, where her dissertation projects were Rebuilding the Walls: A Narrative-Theological Model for Disaster Relief In the Wake of Hurricane Andrew(1994) and There is a River: Embracing Diversity in the Multicultural Ministry Setting (1998). She was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary) by Sinai University in Jerusalem for her leadership in interfaith graduate theological education.
Laurie was a founding member of the National Response Team of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and was a developer and trainer for the program's protocols for trauma and publicity violence response, beginning deployments to human caused disasters following the September 11 tragedy. She has been active in disaster response ministry since 1992. For fifteen years, Laurie taught at the Florida Center for Theological Studies, an ATS accredited multicultural ecumenical seminary in Miami, Florida. She directed the D.Min. program and taught homiletics, liturgy and practical theology related to disaster response practice and theology.
Her first book Tuning My Heart: the Melody of the Liturgical Year in Proclamation, Poetry and Praise, was published by Wipf and Stock Publishers in 2008. She is published in several journals, and was the content editor and a contributor to Out of the Depths: Voices of Faith from September 11, a 9/11 anniversary collection of articles and liturgy released in 2002. Laurie is married and the mother of a daughter. Her forthcoming book, Recovering From Un-Natural Disaster: Congregational Trauma and Violence, will be published by Westminster John Knox in 2017.
TRES RIOS YOUTH CONFERENCE (TRYC) AT PRUDE RANCH
Conferencia de Jovenes de Tres Rios en Prude Ranch
By Cambri L. Alison, (Children & youth ministries at First Odessa)
Tres Rios Youth Conference (TRYC) at Prude Ranch is an outstanding opportunity for the youth of our Presbytery to build relationships and friendships that carry over to Synod and Triennium. It's always a blessing to the kids, and sponsors to get to spend time and worship with a group who believe and worship the same as you do.
Just when we thought Prude couldn't get any better, with the beautiful scenery, the star filled nights, the horseback riding, and who can forget a trip to town to visit the old fashion soda fountain, Tres Rios found a way to make TRYC even better! We love the addition of the mission projects brought to Prude. Thanks to the community building that TRYC allows and encourages, our kids are now making a difference in their own communities. Youth came home from TRYC in 2016 inspired and motivated. The Kids Against Hunger mission project, at Prude challenged our kids to find a place at home to serve. Youth from First Presbyterian Odessa came back eager to serve and to build community at our local food bank. Food 2 Kids, a program that sends a backpack of food home every weekend and long break with kids from underprivileged homes, was the perfect opportunity for service. Food 2 Kids allows our youth to gather, sort, and assemble packs for other kids right here at home. Similar activities have been done by the kids at St. Paul San Angelo, and Grace Presbytery in El Paso, and I am sure many other . What a legacy that TRYC at Prude Ranch is ingraining in these kids hearts.
We are excited that TRYC '17 is just happening now! We are excited to reconnect with our friend from TRCY '16, Synod '16, and Triennium '16! We are excited about the mission project, "Gift of the Heart Kits" for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, but we are especially excited to study and answer the question "WHY?" in relationship to Mark 12:30-31, and see what God has in store for us over the weekend. If the youth in your church are not active in TRYC, they are invited and encouraged to join us for a God-filled, Mission-filled, Fun-filled weekend of community building and personal growth. It really is one of our favorite weekends of the year!
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA - THE NEW DIRECTORY OF WORSHIP
Enmiendas a la Constitución de la Iglesia Presbiteriana EUA - El Directorio de Adoracion
By Rev. Jerry Van Marter - Taken from the Presbyterian News Services with quotes from Kay Long, Tres Rios Stated Clerk
The Presbytery of Tres Rios will be voting on all of the amendments at the February 24th stated meeting. One of the Amendments we have to voted is Amendment 16-H. Directory for Worship. On Replacing the Current Directory for Worship (Item 14-04)
Amendment proposes to replace the current Directory for Worship with a new Directory for Worship. The proposed new Directory for Worship is reprinted in its entirety in the Proposed Amendments to the Constitution booklet (pages 15 - 40). Discussion in committee focused on Holy Communion and baptism. See Amendment 16-G.
During the last General Assembly in Potland Oregon, Rev. Jerry Van Marter, former Director of Communication of PMA published an Article on Presbyterian News Services explaining the new changes and wording. Here is what he wrote:
A slimmer, less restrictive Directory for Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was overwhelming approved Wednesday by the 222nd General Assembly (2016).
The directory, which is part of The Book of Order, now goes to the denomination's 171 presbyteries, a majority of which must ratify it to be adopted.
The new directory has been 10 years in development. Kristin Saldine, a consultant to the writing team, likened the directory to a compass. This is not a book of rules and regulations," she told the assembly, "but gives us bearings and direction, pointing to the primary purpose of worship - to give glory to God - and navigating between form and freedom and encouraging a variety of styles."
David Gambrell, associate for worship for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, earlier told the Theological Issues and Institutions Committee, which recommended approval, that seven principles guided the directory's development:
Uphold essentials of Reformed faith, life and worship.
Respond to changing contexts and congregations.
Provide for more flexibility and more diverse expressions.
Use "we" vs. "they" language for the people of God.
Streamline contents and make organization more user-friendly.
Simplify language and make style more accessible.
Eliminate redundancy and reduce length.
Enhance the directory's usefulness as a teaching document.
The Directory for Worship was last revised in 1989, after Presbyterian reunion. Saldine said it was too long, organized in too complicated a fashion - for instance, sections on the theology and practice of Reformed worship appeared in two different parts - and needed more flexibility, in keeping with the new Form of Government. Gambrell noted that the new directory has just 25 mandatory directions, as opposed to more than 120.
Moreover, Saldine said, the new directory encourages a variety of styles of worship - a reflection of the explosion of new worshiping communities, immigrant fellowships and racial-ethnic congregations in recent years. In addition, the new directory reflects "ecumenical convergence" that has taken place since the last revision.
The new directory contains five chapters, versus seven, and comes in at 18,000 words - one-third shorter than the old directory."
A link to a downloadable PDF booklet containing the full description may be found on the presbytery's website at
and also on the PCUSA website at
. Booklets will be mailed out to all commissioners in January with the meeting packet for the stated meeting.
THE EVANGELICAL DOMINICAN CHURCH OF JAQUIMEYES, A PARTNER WITH GRACE CHAPEL IN SAN ANGELO.
La Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana en Jaquimeyes, companera de mision con la Capilla Gracia en San Angelo
By Rev. Angel Elias Feliz y Rev. Alfreda Espinosa de Feliz, pastors
NOTE: In a previous newsletter we reported the construction of a Sunday School Class for children donated by Grace Chapel to this church in Dominican Republic. Here now we share this article prepared by the pastors of the church about their work with children and the community.
The Dominican Evangelical Church of Jaquimeyes is located in the South-West zone of the Dominican Republic, in the Province of Barahona and has 67 years of existence, and from there other villages have been evangelized, other churches have been born in the communities of Canoa, Vicente Noble And High stick.
For five years Rev. Alfreda de Feliz and her Husband Rev. Angel Elías Feliz have been pastoring this faith community working in four specific ministries:
Ministry of Proclamation of the Word (Evangelization, Bible Studies, Retreats ...)
Ministry of Education. (Training Workshops in several Areas)
Ministry of Health. (Medical Operatives, Sports, etc.)
Social Ministry (Aid to Needy, Sharing and Recreation)
The population of the church is made up mostly of women (60) and only three men, the other part consists of about 100 children who regularly attend Sunday School and other special activities for them, about thirty of these children are teenagers and Five others are between 15 and 20 years old.
Someone said, "If we win an adult for Christ we gain half Life, but if we win a child for Christ, we gain a lifetime", so the emphasis of evangelistic work of the past two years has been on children since the 5 at 15 years old.
This makes it necessary to enable more spaces & facilities to work with them,such as:
Area for Classes.
Area for Preparation of meals and snacks.
Recreational and sports areas.
This municipality suffers constantly of Floods that affect the dwellings of its inhabitants causing damages in part of their dwellings and the loss of beds, electrical appliances, clothes and at the same time the appearance of different diseases that affect mainly children and old adults.
The facilities to keep children and young people engaged in healthy and profitable activities are few in the community, so it becomes necessary for the Church to offer options for this population that educates, entertains and evangelizes.
So far God has helped us, we thank all the people and churches that the Lord has used as an instrument to carry out his work in this community, we have several projects: 1-
Construction of Children's Area, in execution (50%), 2-
Water Purification plant construction, in execution (90%), 3-
Sewing center, running (50%) and 4-
Construction of perimeter fence, has not started.
We continue to pray for God to supply, Ebenezer!
DELEGATION TO NICARAGUA
Delegación a Nicaragua
By Judy Brown, member of Grace Midland.
On Saturday, January 21, 2017, fourteen members of this delegation headed for Managua, Nicaragua, from various locations in the United States. Three folks were from the Indianapolis area, one from California. Two women, representatives of the Equal Exchange Coop, hailed from Rhode Island and Boston. The coordinator of our group, Jessica Mauldin, works for PCUSA, with the Presbyterian Hunger Program, so was travelling from Louisville, Kentucky. The remaining 7 of us? From Tres Rios Presbytery, of course!
We were greeted by warm weather, in Managua---and clear skies-and part of our group, thankfully! Our initial destination was the CEPAD Nehemiah Guesthouse, where we would stay for most of the week, except for the days on which we would be housed in homes, in a coffee-farming village. Our trip was organized by CEPAD (Nicaraguan Association of Protestant Churches/Consejo de Iglesias Pro-Alianza Denominacional), and it is the PHP (Presbyterian Hunger Program) that offered us this opportunity to learn about fair trade coffee farming in Nicaragua, through their Enough for Everyone ministry.
The next day, we departed for the village of San Jeronimo. San Jeronimo is one of two villages near the top of Cantagallo, a mountain just east of Condega, and north of Managua. The region was often referred to as Canta Gallo. We were warmly greeted at the community center, by the coffee producer leaders of the San Jeronimo Cooperative.
The families own their land and cultivate their crops together. The coffee grown here is "shade-grown", thus the plants are interspersed with taller trees (saw many banana and plantain trees), and are organically grown, with no pesticides or herbicides. A sustainable income is earned, because the coffee is of very high quality. Erosion is prevented, due to the terracing of the plants and the lack of fields, and the water supply remains unpolluted by chemicals-and the farming families enjoy the satisfaction and independence that comes from working their own land.
Picking coffee cherries requires a hike to a mountainside, in lieu of a walk to a field. The cherries are handpicked, collected in baskets made by a local artisan from wild, bamboo-type cane, then dumped into bags for the trip back home. Once back to the village, the coffee cherries are "de-pulped" by a hand-operated grinder. The disposed of pulp is then used for compost; the coffee beans, similar to peanuts in color and size, are spread out onto screens/cloths to dry. Once dry, they are bagged and eventually sent to the secondary cooperative, where the beans will be further dried and packaged for distribution.
In the village, we saw occasional pigs, and chickens a-plenty. We later learned that some of the livestock were provided via the Heifer Project-and that CEPAD provides women with financing to purchase pigs and chickens to raise and reproduce, through their Patio Project. The women can use these animals to raise and sell, for added income-and to eat, to provide needed animal protein.
The homes were very modest. Some had flooring, some did not. The kitchens had dirt floors and tended to be accessible by an outside door only. The stoves consisted of stacked cement blocks/adobe and grates, and wood is the fuel source. However crude, delicious meals came out of those kitchens-and we were reminded that hospitality is all about sharing what you do have to offer.
This community proudly showed us their high school, its first. The students attend for one week, then stay home the following week. During the week at home, the teachers visit and check on their homework.
In the mornings, we would watch as the farmers gathered their horses, baskets and machetes and walked up the road toward their coffee crops-or sugar cane field-or whatever crops needed tending. It was a quiet, yet vibrant part of the day-and we knew that we would miss this scene, upon leaving.
From San Jeronimo/Canta Gallo, we drove to the regional coffee cooperative, Prodecoop. Prodecoop is one of ten secondary coffee cooperatives in Nicaragua and brings together 38 grassroots cooperatives. The coffee purchased through the PCUSA Coffee Project, from Equal Exchange, is processed by one of these cooperatives. There we learned that the coffee farmers can count on a minimum price per 100 lb. bag, which is $140. Being Fair Trade coffee adds $20/100 lb. bag, and being grown organically adds yet another premium to its value. The Fair Trade premium is given to the producers for the betterment of their communities. This explained the nice community center in Canta Gallo, the high school and the beautiful composting shelter.
Upon our return to Managua, we toured Stahl's, a unionized textile factory in a free-trade zone. We found that safety standards seemed to be achieved (as a result of the union), though the employees' wages are insufficient to support them, at approximately $180/month, when $400/month is deemed as sufficient.
In addition, we visited a women's craft cooperative, named Esperanza en Accion or Hope in Action. The following day we had the opportunity to visit a couple of recipients of water-capture systems (cisterns). These cisterns were funded by a grant from the Presbyterian Hunger Program---and the grant was funded by money made from Equal Exchange sales of coffee. For every pound of coffee sold, Equal Ex. gives PHP $15.
With these last thoughts-and many images fleeting through our minds, we left Nicaragua with a week's worth of memories. Thus, we want to encourage Tres Rios presbytery to continue to support programs and expenditures which provide help for small-scale coffee farmers, their families and others in Nicaragua. One way to do this is through fair trade, especially the Equal Exchange Cooperative. As Jesus said, "...love thy neighbor as thyself."