March 31, 2020
Grace and Peace,  
 
I am writing to you today to offer continued love, support, hope and clarity as we live in this time of doing ministry in the midst of a pandemic.  It seems as if the ground is shifting day by day and moment by moment. I am thankful for your willingness to be flexible and faithful as we seek to serve all in our care.   
 
In an effort to continue to offer support throughout the presbytery, our leaders have worked hard to compile recommendations for how to remain safe while serving in a time of social distancing and digital discipleship. The recommendations in this letter are also influ enced by the most recent executive orders written by Mayor Bottoms and Governor Kemp. For those in the ci ty of Atlanta, the 14-day shelter-in-place plan has implications for live streaming worship on-site. For those outside of the City of Atlanta, gatherings cannot exceed 10 people. Please click on the links below to find the PDF versions of both executive orders:  
 
Mayor Bottoms - Executive Order 2020-21
 
Governor Kemp - 2020 Executive Orders 
 
 
Presbytery of Greater Atlanta Staff, Committee on Ministry, and Council recommendations for a response to COVID-19: 
 
The following recommendations are based on guidelines and recommendations from the federal government, state and local governments, the CDC, and a theological understanding of what it means to love neighbor and to be a good neighbor in the midst of the pandemic of coronavirus/COVID-19. 
 
Worship/Meetings: 
  • FOR CHURCHES IN THE CITY OF ATLANTA, ABIDE BY THE SHELTER-IN-PLACE ORDER FROM TUESDAY, MARCH 24TH THROUGH THE 14 DAY PERIOD. 
  • FOR CHURCHES OUTSIDE OF ATLANTA, DO NOT GATHER IN GROUPS OVER 10 PEOPLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EXECUTIVE ORDER BY GOVERNOR KEMP.  
  •  We STRONGLY recommend that groups over 10 do not gather in person until FURTHER notice (including worship services, weddings, funerals, and other ministry/programmatic gatherings). 
  • We STRONGLY recommend that those who meet in person practice social distancing at all times. 
  • We strongly recommend that staff and clergy minimize time onsite, while remembering the importance of checking in on the safety of the building on a steady basis.
  • We strongly recommend that churches/organizations keep the buildings clean as a means of flattening the curve and keeping people safe.
  • We encourage churches to explore new and creative ways to pre-record or live-stream elements of worship that are made accessible to members.
  • We invite churches to explore the utilization of online giving for their members during this time of social distancing. 
  • We hope that churches will work together creatively and collaboratively, sharing online resources, and carrying the load together for ministering to congre g ants, clergy and the community at large.  
Pastoral Care/Visitation 
  • We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that clergy and visitation teams utilize telephone and other electronic means of "visiting/connecting with" members.  
  • We recommend that churches receive consent (preferably written) when doing face-to-face visits with sick members. Please be sure to be in dialogue with the family members who would be impacted by your face-to-face visit.   
Mission/Vision 
  • We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that congregations live into the Matthew 25 emphasis of caring for the least of these by practicing and participating in "distance" ministry.  
  • We recommend that churches educate other churches on ways to remain connected and compassionate in the face of an epidemic.   
 
My prayer is that God will give us eyes to "see" so we can do ministry with love, wisdom, and compassion. I have been meditating on the scripture from Galatians 6:9-10 . I love the language found in The Message - Galatians 6:9-10 The Message (MSG) - So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Thank you, church, for doing what is right, for serving God, for loving your neighbor, and for walking with God.   
 
Let us not grow weary, this day and always.   
 
With much love and deep peace,   
Aisha
Below you will find a compilation of resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic.There are updates from our Executive Presbyter, denominational articles, local government orders, instructions for congregations on using Zoom and other tools, a listing of churches and their worship service modifications, and several other things.

Upcoming Stated Meeting Changed to Online
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk 
 
Brothers and Sisters...I certainly don't need to say that we are in unprecedented times which call for creative thinking and experimenting with new things! Thankfully, we have a great deal of technology at our fingertips which can help us connect in some new ways.
 
Council has decided that the best way to exhibit being a Matthew 25 presbytery is, first and foremost, to look out for our neighbors...that means abiding by the CDC guidelines of no gatherings until at least 8 weeks (which puts the date at May 10 from the date of issuance) in order to keep those in the church safe and those in our communities safe from us spreading the virus unknowingly.
 
We will therefore have the opportunity to experiment with an online Presbytery meeting via ZOOM technology. We will produce the standard handbook which will contain committee reports but during the meeting, we will only conduct essential business. The handbook will be posted by Saturday, April 25.
 
We will be sending out instructions on how to use ZOOM along with the meeting invitation through both our Constant Contact list and the website. Folks are able to participate via their computer or their telephone.
 
ZOOM allows for participants to ask questions and make reports during the meeting time. Instructions will be given at the beginning of the meeting as to how to be recognized if you wish to speak. The Moderator, Destiny Williams, will conduct the meeting accordingly. We will still begin at 9:00 AM but anticipate a much shorter meeting.
 
Please be attentive to the website and any emails from the Presbytery for future information and guidance. Above all, we pray for your safety and health.
Stewardship in a Pandemic
by Robert Hay, Jr., Presbyterian Foundation 
 
Dear Greater Atlanta friends,
 
I am continuing to pray for you and our congregations as we all navigate the impact of COVID-19.  I wrote an article about how churches may think about stewardship during this time. I thought this might be a good resource for you to share with our congregations.   
 
 
And here are the resource pages I shared with you last week:
Please let me or Kyle know how we can support you and the churches in our presbytery.
 
Peace,
 
Robert Hay, Jr.
Senior Ministry Relations Officer
Presbyterian Foundation
770-289-3884
855-514-3152 toll-free
Churches and the CARES Act Webinar
 
Thursday, April 2, 2020, 12 PM 
 
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak continues to take major physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial tolls on millions of people worldwide. In the US, efforts to slow the disease's continued spread has led to bans on public gatherings in many places, causing many businesses to shut down, and the buildings of many churches to go dark. With the US economy hurtling toward recession, Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package designed to provide stability and relief to businesses and individuals. Ministries are included in this relief package.

To help churches and leaders respond well in the face of this unfolding adversity, ChurchWest and Christianity Today's Church Law & Tax are hosting a free webinar at 11am (Central)/12pm (Eastern) on April 2, 2020, with renowned church legal and tax expert Richard R. Hammar. Hammar, an attorney and CPA, will provide a helpful overview of the 900-page stimulus package, how it works, and the provisions churches and leaders should know to minister well to their congregations and communities.
 
Youth and Young Adult Grants
by Chip Blankinship, Congregational Consultant 
 
Applications are now being accepted for Grants for Ministries with Youth and Young Adults. These grants fund creative, innovative approaches to individual and c ollaborative ministries on behalf of young people. 
 
Eligible applicants are local churches within the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, including approved fellowships, new church developments, and campus ministries. Seminary students serving in youth or young adult ministries within the PGA churches are also eligible to apply for this grant to receive a two-year stipend that may be used for their personal expenses. 
 
All applications are due by midnight on Monday, April 20. The application form and additional information may be found   here .

Please direct questions to the Grants Committee at grants@atlpcusa.org. The committee looks forward to learning about the creative ministries taking place within our presbytery.
 
*Donations from the PGA Capital Funds Campaign make this PGA grant program possible for ministries with young people.
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Pastors' Group - April
by Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter
 
We are continuing to focus on practical strategies for building healthy teams in our churches, on our committees/commissions, and among our staff and volunteers. Our sessions will be drawn from the principles found in the work of Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. (No required reading necessary!)  During our time together, we will be led by presbytery staff and guest presenters for each topic.
 
On April 16, we will look at the fourth dysfunction, "Avoidance of Accountability."  After a brief discussion of the concept, our own Rev. Susan Haynes (Interim Pastor, Pleasant Hill P.C., Duluth), will lead a discussion around how to foster shared accountability. 

We will meet via Zoom at 10 AM. A link will be emailed to pastors. 

* April 16 - Shared Accountability 
* May 14 - Bearing Fruit 
 
#healthyvitalcongregations
#healthyinnovativeleaders 
Zo Presbyterian Church: Life and Ministry of an Immigrant Church
by Pastor Khai Minthang Samte, Organizing Pastor, ZPC
 
A New Worshiping Community in diaspora: Zo PC worships at Memorial Drive Ministries on Sundays at 2:00PM in the Zo language. Saturday prayer meetings and worship services are held at homes in order to cultivate stronger spiritual and physical bonds by sharing a common meal. So, come and travel to the Indo-Burmese frontiers by visiting us. We have stories to tell about why we are here in the US, and why we are here as Presbyterians.
 
On October 9, 2016, the Zo PC was publicly launched to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Greater Atlanta and beyond, through the guidance of the Rev. Lindsay Armstrong, Executive Director of the New Church Development Commission (NCDC), the generosity of the Rev. George Tatro, Pastor of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, the financial benevolence of Peachtree PC and the NCDC and the support of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta through the work, coaching and support of the NCDC.
 
Multiple compelling reasons to quit; Clinging on the one reason to not quit: During its infancy, Zo PC had so many compelling reasons to quit: the death of the founding pastor after three months without successor, the death of the then treasurer after four months, single-digit founding families, and setback after setbacks. There was only one reason to not quit: "You will be my witness... I will be with you to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:20). Clinging to the promises of the Lord, we are recovering.
 
You will be my witness: We gather at the church to be taught, blessed, sent out and then gathered back together again. We witness beyond Zo PC in various services - transporting the sick to clinics and hospitals, engaging in Kingdom conversation behind the wheel, mending broken relationships between couples and families, helping needy individuals and families in social and immigration paperwork, including Green Card, Citizenship, Petitioning for Family Members, Job Search, etc.
 
Our 1.5 and 2nd generations need serious spiritual dialogue and training as they face spiritual and cultural dilemma. We are aware of them. we are engaged, and we are investing our meagre resources for these generations.
 
A new horizon: We are opening more doors to worship the Lord. Zo PC in Fort Wayne, IN started their first service on December 15, 2019. We anticipate more. Furthermore, we are working on building a bridge between the Zo PC Synods of India and Myanmar with the PCUSA. This would be a life-giving mission for the Lord.
 
You're invited to join Zo PC for worship in the sanctuary at Memorial Drive Ministries on Sundays at 2:00 PM. Services are in the Zo language.
 
This community is under care of the New Church Development Commission. To learn more about new church development within the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, visit
www.atlpcusa.org/ncdc 
Volunteers Wanted, Volunteers Needed!
by Vivian Hodo, Nominations Committee
 
VIFs. What is that? It is not related to the Coronavirus. A VIF is a Volunteer Information Form that may be found here: www.atlpcusa.org/committees 
 
VIF also stands for Very Important Folks. If you are reading this, you are one of the very important folks. The Greater Atlanta Presbytery needs you to be a participating member of a Presbytery committee. Consider that most of the work of the Presbytery is done by volunteers who are as busy as you. They are folks who have determined that they have what it takes to serve the members of this Presbytery. Here's what you need to consider: Desire and Time. If you don't have the desire, you'll never find a reason to say, "Yes, I'll serve," and if you don't have the time, you won't be able to do what is asked. Consider your passions. They can be used in the work of some committee.
 
Let me tell you about my service. I am serving on the Nominating Committee. When approached I thought I don't know anybody or enough to do the work. I have learned a lot, and I have been taught a lot, and I think you'd have that same experience. I like working and supporting the members of my team. They make me work harder to get the work done. It's an important committee because it helps to fill most committees of the Presbytery. All the committees of the Presbytery are important. The greatest benefit for me has been the people that I have met and probably never would have met otherwise.
 
Every committee needs members so that the Presbytery accomplishes its mission. Some of the work is across committees and some committees provide opportunities to see and learn the Presbytery. The more you do the more that you see that you can do or are needed to do.
 
A day's work for me, may be talking with folks who have indicated via VIF that they want to serve or talking with folks who have indicated an interest in serving because they have certain interests or skills. You may see me seeking or encouraging others to volunteer. Let us help you find your niche. You'll be happy that you did. Terms are just long enough for you to get good at your task and satisfied by the result. Come join us. There is a committee of folks like me. You have lots of choices. See all the committees here: www.atlpcusa.org/committees  
 
Call me, at 404.699.1596. I'm happy to help you find a place to serve in this Presbytery.
Blessings,
Vivian Hodo
Motivational Speaker on the Risk of Texting While Driving
by Ollie Wagner, Alpharetta Presbyterian Church 
 
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church's youth group just heard from Motivational Speaker Molly Welch about what she has learned through a traumatic car accident and long recovery. Molly shared her experience of having a very bad car accident during her junior year at Auburn. She is now an Auburn graduate and looking for opportunities to speak and make a positive difference by sharing her story. Her message is about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of never giving up. If you want to be inspired, contact Molly by phone: 770-331-4834 or email: asecondlatermedia@gmail.com. You can watch a three-minute video by visiting  here.
Around the Presbytery
  • Check out Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mathers' latest newsletter here.

  • The March Partnership newsletter is available here.
The presbytery has a page dedicated to advertising employment opportunities within our congregations and partnerships. If you would like to browse opportunities or submit a new opening click here.
 
 
April 7, 14, 21, 28 - Lunch with Lindsay (NCDC) via Zoom
April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13 - Mid-Week Check-in (NCDC) via Zoom 
April 16 - Pastor Group via Zoom
 
May 9 - Stated Meeting via Zoom
May 13 - Boundaries Training @ PGA Office or Zoom, TBD 
May 14 - Pastor Group @ PGA Office or Zoom, TBD  

* denotes Presbytery Partnership
  
Click here for CTS's Center for Lifelong Learning courses and events .
Click here for the Calvin Center's programs.
The next newslett er will go out April 30. Articles will be accepted through April 20. The following newsletter will go out May 29. To request space for an article, email your Congregational Consultant or Mark Sauls at msauls@atlpcusa.org . Click here to view submission guidelines.
Top graphic attribution:
Your PGA Council hard at work! 

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