October 1, 2018
by Dr. Peter C. Belitsos, Elder Central Presbyterian Church
Dr. Peter C. Belitsos
Having recently entered my 60s, thoughts of retirement naturally have begun to loom. But I feel that, for some time and with an increasing clarity, God has been at task in teaching, recreating, and mightily stirring me toward fulfillment of something in the future that is solely His.

If this sounds even vaguely familiar to you, read on.

A large bulk of my waking hours over the last 30 years and more, have been occupied with my career as a physician. The work has been often rewarding and enriching, but I have found something is missing. While gratifying, the hours have also been challenging: witnessing suffering of many forms, feeling powerless to “fix” many problems, and oft being reminded of our human finitude. Through this, the Spirit has also drawn me increasingly into my faith in seeking understanding, solace, and guidance, and unexpectedly, toward a very personal transformation.

My watershed experience, shared with my wife, was a spiritual retreat for health care professionals in Assisi, Italy three summers ago; an opportunity which coincided with the end of a three-year term serving as an Elder at Central Presbyterian Church and the most noteworthy among the many signposts God has staked for me over a roughly 20-year journey. During that retreat, it became quite clear to me that I was called to merge my career with my spiritual trajectory. In the months after returning to Baltimore, I discovered the perfect “on ramp” to that new pathway, and right here in my backyard in Baltimore. I found out about a year-long certificate program offered at St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute (EI) entitled “Connect: Faith, Health, and Medicine” led by Dr. Pat Fosarelli, Associate Dean of the EI, and herself a theologian and pediatrician.
The certificate program, which is being offered again starting this January, meets on Friday nights and all-day Saturday for 10 weekends spread over the year, in order to allow and encourage participation by full-time working professionals. The faculty are widely published authorities on the topics of faith and medical practice which included biblical study of healing, morality and medical ethics, views of other world religions, and studies of health and faith. Quite valuable to me were the other participants in our 2016-17 class which included other physicians, nurses, pastors, palliative care experts, and chaplains, from a variety of Christian denominations sharing their wide and deep range of experiences, all eager to share, learn, discuss, argue, and laugh together. The opportunity to read scholarly works and write papers and essays, something I had thought was beyond my years, was perhaps most valuable and invigorating and helped me immensely to process and blend together a lifetime of medical practice and faith in a gristmill of spiritual enlightenment filled with potential for direct practical application toward my career/faith journey.

My course work was tailored perfectly to my needs and you may well discover the same in your own journey. The EI is celebrating its 50 th anniversary this year and offers several accredited Master’s program, but you can choose, like me, to only take a small bite from of a broad offering. The faculty is impressively talented and educated; and, St. Mary’s is a visually beautiful place to learn and explore. I was greatly encouraged in joining others who are essentially seeking to find their way in that “second half” of life in which the real stuff we are drawn to in our faith journeys can be fulfilled! As Franciscan priest and mystic, Richard Rohr states in his compelling book about this second half, Falling Upward:

There is a deeper voice of God, which you must learn to hear and obey in the second half of life. It will sound an awful lot like the voices of risk, of trust, of surrender, of soul, of “common sense,” of destiny, of love, of an intimate stranger, of your deeper self…the true faith journey only begins at this point.
Committee and Commission meetings will be held at the Presbytery's office (unless noted otherwise.

  • Spiritual Leader Development Commission will meet at 1pm on Wednesday, Oct. 3

  • Gathering Team will meet at 11am on Thursday, Oct. 4

  • Baltimore-Dakota Partnership will meet 7pm Tuesday, Oct. 16

  • Cuba Partnership will meet 7pm Wednesday, Oct. 17

  • Steering Committee will meet 1pm Wednesday, Oct. 24

  • Committee on Preparation for Ministry will meet 2pm Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Catonsville PC

  • Commission on Reconciliation will meet at 6:30pm
TAKE THE POLL: What is the average number of church-related meetings you attend each month?
Less than 3
3 to 5
6 to 10
Far too many . . .

Please pray for . . . .

. . . The Rev. Jennifer Barchi , pastor of Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church , as she recovers from non-life threatening injuries sustained in a car accident last week.

. . . Deborah Milcarek, Associate for Reconciliation , as she transitions this month to a new position as General Presbyter for the Hudson River Presbytery.

Presbytery & Church-Wide
Per Capita: $35.73

Synod/Mid-Atlantic.........................$ .85
General Assembly............................$ 8.95
SDOP Deadline: Oct. 15, 2018

Don't miss this opportunity for community engagement!
The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is prepared to establish partnerships with groups within the boundaries of the Presbytery of Baltimore who:
  • are oppressed by poverty or social systems,
  • want to take charge of their own lives,
  • have organized or are organizing to do something about their own conditions,
  • have decided that they are going to produce long term changes for their lives or communities,
  • will control the programs they own and will directly benefit from them.
If interested, click here for details
Second Presbyterian Church invites youth and their families to join them from 6-9pm on Saturday, Oct. 6 for "Fall Youth Fest" during which the congregation will welcome the Rev. Grace Ji-Sun Kim. Rev. Kim is the author of  Mother Daughter Speak: Lessons on Life  (a message not limited to mothers and daughters). Join the congregation for a night of worship, energizers, mission project, and to share in a meal together. Please send RSVP to  acarlson@secondpresby.org .

Also at Brown Memorial, The  2018-2019 season Tiffany Series presents internationally renowned jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, chair of the Peabody Institute's Jazz Department) in concert at 3pm on Sunday, Oct. 21. Tickets are $20; students get free admission. Patron tickets, which give much appreciated added support the Tiffany Series, are $50 (and you get a free CD). Tickets to all concerts are now available on the Tiffany Series Current Season webpage: ( www.browndowntown.org/current-season ).

Ark & Dove Presbyterian Church seeks a Music Director.  Click here for job description.

Franklinville Presbyterian Church is offering 10 dove-grey choir robes to any church in need. If interested, email  edward.stuebing@gmail.com .


Franklinville Presbyterian Church is offering 
10 dove-grey choir robes to any church in need.
If interested, email  edward.stuebing@gmail.com.
Catonsville Concerts at 3 presents Carolyn Black-Sotir and friends with a stunning tribute to Leonard Bernstein on his 100th anniversary, "BRAVO; Bernstein on Broadway!" This free concert will be presented at 3:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 14 at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, 1400 Frederick Road in Catonsville. For more information, call 410.74.6180.

First & Franklin Spire Series

First & Franklin Presbyterian Church’s SPIRE SERIES kicks off their 2018-2019 music season on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018 at 8:00 P.M. with Kurt Nikkanen performing a mostly J.S. Bach solo violin program. Mr. Nikkanen is the Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Tickets are $20 general/$10 students. Click Kurt Nikkanen for details.

Springfield Presbyterian Church

Sunday, Oct. 14
A free wull offering to be be collected
Reception to follow performance.


Clergy Finance Workshop
With Martha Reisner of the BOP
Tuesday, Oct. 30, 9am - 1pm Maryland Presbyterian Church
1105 Providence Road, Baltimore 
Do you have questions about benefits? Taxes? Retirement? Whether you are new in ministry or approaching retirement, financial issues can be challenging and ever-changing. Martha Reisner, our presbytery's liaison with the Board of Pensions will be offering a morning workshop around these issues. Lunch will be provided and Martha will be available throughout the afternoon to meet with individuals about their own financial planning. 
If you plan to attend, RSVP to Debbie Schmidt: dschmidt@baltimorepresbytery.org
It is widely recognized that in life preparation is key, but how do we prepare ourselves and family members to face major life decisions surrounding the aging process, serious illness, and end-of-life care? Join Revs. Brandon C. Brewer and Scot Crannell for an important seminar entitled , "Starting the Conversation," at Massanetta Springs Oct. 19-20. Click here to learn more and register.
Presbytery of Baltimore | (t) 410.433.2012 | (f) 410.433.2066| office@baltimorepresbytery.org |