April 1, 2021
Grief and Grace
The E.P. Corner
by Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter
I chose to write about grief for this month’s newsletter months ago. I knew that I wanted to offer thanksgiving and reflections for our grief workshop entitled “Care Beyond Casseroles” led by chaplain and grief counselor, Zeena Regis. On March 16, 2021, we were led by Zeena as she talked through the importance of grief work. She offered insight, wisdom, resources, and practical steps for participating in our grief work. She encouraged us to name the losses in our lives, which include death, but could also include all that we have lost in the pandemic year. We were encouraged to embark on the journey of curiosity as we seek to notice our grief, name our grief, and honor our grief. Many who attended the event expressed deep gratitude for the time to reflect and put this pandemic season, as well as the other seasons of our lives, into the proper perspective and to take on healthy practices. Watch the recording here.
Little did we know that on the evening of March 16, 2021, we would hear of horrific shootings that would take the lives of 8 people, leave one man fighting for his life, and tear a hole in the hearts of Asian American Pacific Islander communities all over this country and beyond. Zeena talked about the communal grief and the ways in which large groups of people can feel a wave of pain over a collective loss. She also talked about disenfranchised grief, which deals with a pain you can’t quite put a finger on due to its complications and nuances. As I notice, name, and honor, it’s painful to even have to ask for prayers for something like this. It is painful to watch my AAPI siblings living in fear. It is painful to watch people agree to disagree on what constitutes a racially targeted act of violence. It is painful to admit that no matter how much we pray, write, educate, and stand in solidarity with others, children will remain motherless, spouses will raise their kids alone, and family members will have one less seat at the table. It is even more painful to me that within less than a week we are praying for our siblings in Colorado who had to face yet another mass shooting. This particular loss has taken ten lives, including an officer killed in the line of duty. His wife will have to raise his seven children without him.
I will continue to notice, name, and honor grief as I enter into Holy Week this year. I will lay all of the sins and griefs to bear at the feet of Jesus. For Christ alone is the one who understands human pain, suffering, and death at the hands of a violent world. As heavy as this week, these months, and this year have been, I pray that the hope of the Resurrection reminds us all that out of the difficult comes something powerful, transformative, and new.
May Christ our Lord, the one who carries our deepest sorrows and wildest dreams, revive our souls once again and give us strength for this ongoing Christian journey.
Blessed Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday,
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
The next stated meeting of Presbytery will be held via zoom on May 11 from 9:00 until 11:00am. We are delighted to welcome as our preacher Rev. Theresa Latini. Rev. Latini specializes in nonviolent communication and conflict resolution. She will expand on those themes further in a Question and Answer time following the meeting for those interesting in learning more. We are very fortunate to have her with us. Please see her extended biography below.
Reverend Theresa F. Latini, Ph.D. teaches and consults in community organizations, graduate schools, and congregations throughout the United States on topics related to team-building, conflict mediation, and leadership. She has over 950 hours of advanced training in Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Circles. She is the co-author of Transforming Church Conflict: Compassionate Leadership in Action (Eerdmans, 2013). A teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Theresa has served as a professor and administrator in three seminaries. She currently works as the executive director of Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center, south of Minneapolis, MN.
Click here to visit the Stated Meeting Information page.
Book Review: The Post-Quarantine Church
by Kimberly Clayton, Interim Senior Pastor, Trinity PC Atlanta
I was searching for a Christmas gift to thank our Elders and Trustees last November. A can of nuts didn’t seem right because all of 2020 had been a can of nuts. A sparkly Christmas ornament didn’t seem right either—I was taking a Christmas tree break with no one coming to my house for the holidays. That’s when I found Thom S. Ranier’s book, The Post-Quarantine Church. I first started reading Ranier’s brief blogs and articles in the early 2000s. I often found his insights and instincts helpful. I looked at the table of contents then checked its page-length (111 small pages!). I knew him to be an engaging writer and given the book’s brevity, I thought our leaders might actually read it. I have been delighted to receive emails and comments from many who have found it accessible, helpful, and relevant, sparking new ideas for our context. Our Session is discussing it this month as part of our monthly meeting.
The Six Urgent Challenges are: Gather Differently and Better + Seize Your Opportunity to Reach the Digital World + Reconnect with the Community Near Your Church + Take Prayer to a New and Powerful Level + Rethink Your Facilities for Emerging Opportunities + Make Lasting Changes that Will Make a Difference. Ranier is excellent at making the challenges+opportunities practical and engaging. He provides ‘real life’ examples from other churches during the pandemic so that ideas can translate into actions. Each chapter ends with discussion questions. Click here to continue reading.
Hunger Walk 2021 Results
by Destiny Williams, McDonough Presbyterian Church
Thank you to everyone who participated and donated towards the 2021 Hunger Walk. This year we went virtual and we all participated in different ways. We had so many different churches that came together and participated in different and creative ways. Newnan Presbyterian Church and McDonough Presbyterian Church Youth Groups did a safe, masked, and socially-distanced 5K at Calvin Center. Clairmont Presbyterian Church started on Azalea Village Lawn with a brief prayer service marking one year since we last worshipped together in our sanctuary. Then, we headed out on a walk around the neighborhood. Rev. Nicole Lock said it was “A nice reminder that, even in the midst of a pandemic, we have still found ways to love and serve our neighbors.” We had groups who walked with their families and some walked on the treadmills, and some found beautiful places to hike.

As of March 15th, the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta has raised over $12,000. Shallowford Presbyterian Church is ranked as one of the top teams for the entire event. GO SHALLOWFORD!! With this year being a little different and with us trying to help as many people as possible, the deadline to donate has been extended. So there's still time to give. Use the link below to give through and donate towards the Presbytery. As a benefiting partner, the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta keeps 60% of the funds we raise as a presbytery, which supports our Diaconal Grants program. All Presbytery of Greater Atlanta churches are eligible to apply for a Diaconal Grant to support hunger initiatives within their congregation. The remaining 40% that we raise goes to the Atlanta Community Food Bank where - among many other outstanding results - they leverage every $1 into $9 worth of groceries for hunger relief (enough for 4 meals!).
Matthew 25 Moment - Resources for Dismantling Asian American Pacific Islander Racism:
photo credit: Atlanta Journal Consitution, John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com
How to Help with Disaster Assistance in Newnan
by Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter
On Thursday evening, March 25, 2021 the community of Newnan suffered the impact of severe storm and tornado damages. The National Weather Service office in Atlanta (Peachtree City) released a preliminary rating of EF-4 (standing for Enhanced Fujita, 5 being the highest) and winds estimated to have been 170 miles per hour. This has impacted Newnan Presbyterian Church and the Newnan community members at large through power outages, property damage, and the need to replenish food and non-perishable items.

Newnan has set up a fund to support Newnan community members at large. If you would like to make a donation to this community fund, please send funds to:

Newnan Presbyterian Church
C/O Tornado Relief Fund
38 Greenville St
Newnan, GA 30263

We give thanks for the light and leadership of Newnan church making a difference through the ministry of presence and compassion.
One Great Hour of Sharing
Every year on Easter Sunday, Presbyterian churches collect the One Great Hour of Sharing offering to make a huge impact in the world. The offering is split in three areas to support the Hunger Program (36%), Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (32%), and the Self-Development of People (32%). While the funds support communities around the globe, there are times when the local churches have been recipients of this generosity. In COVID, the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provided presbyteries with grants to offer emergency and ministry grant support. Thanks to the OGHS and the support of PDA, we were able to offer emergency grants and technology grants to those in our presbytery. We are also grateful to PDA for the emergency and ministry grants made available to our new worshipping community leaders.
Thank you for your ongoing support to the One Great Hour of Sharing!
Webinar - Leading the Church into the Post-COVID World
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
3:00 - 4:30 pm (ET) via ZOOM
The Synod of South Atlantic's first webinar will feature the Rev. Dr. Tod Bolsinger, (MDiv, PhD), Associate Professor of Leadership Formation at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California and author of Canoeing the Mountains and Tempered Resilience.

Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1993, Dr. Bolsinger served as senior pastor of the San Clemente Presbyterian Church from 1997 to 2014. Prior to that, he was the Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation at the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Click here for more information and to register.
Youth and Young Adult Grant Application Now Available
by Chip Blankinship, Director of Operations
The Grants Committee is pleased to announce that we are currently receiving applications for Youth & Young Adult Grants. We are also excited to announce that we have greatly simplified the application form, and it is now a fillable .pdf file that can be completed without printing and scanning. (If you are unable to complete the online application, please send a request to grants@atlpcusa.org and a text copy of the application will be sent to you.)
The application, which is available here, is due by midnight on Monday, April 19. The committee will meet soon after that date to review grant submissions.
We hope that this new application will greatly simplify the process of applying for these grants. We look forward to learning about the innovative and life-changing ministries taking place in our midst.
CTS reKindle Grants Now Available
ReKindle is Columbia Theological Seminary's Lilly Endowment-funded Thriving Congregations grant initiative. reKindle will award Impact Grants of up to $15,000 to congregations accepted into the program.

Grant projects will support a congregation’s capacity to enhance their vitality in a post-COVID-19 context. The program will help congregations realize their goal of being a thriving congregation by supporting their focused attention on an identified need and mission priority. Congregations will be accepted by application only. 

For additional information about the reKindle grant, email the Center for LifelongLearning at lifelonglearning@ctsnet.edu or click here. Applications are due by April 30.
A Walk in Their Shoes
by Kimberley Parker, Executive Director of Central Outreach and Advocacy Center
Each day, guests walk to our front gate and wait patiently for the opportunity to connect with one of our Supportive Services staff members. Sometimes they are seeking help with securing identification, housing, job training, or maybe simply for a smile and a snack. Because transportation is often out of reach due to cost, walking quite literally moves our guests between opportunities. Walking can even provide protection, as some guests will walk throughout the night to avoid unsafe sleeping conditions. On average, a person experiencing homelessness can walk 10 miles in a single day.
To better educate our supporters about this reality and to encourage them to share in the work of our organization, COAC is hosting the 10 Mile Challenge, a virtual walk culminating on April 17. Participants can complete the 10 mile challenge at the pace and location of their choosing and track their progress via our race day website. We invite individuals, businesses, youth groups, and ministries to help us raise $50,000 for our support services outreach programs. To register for the event, make a donation, sponsor a mile, or learn more about our mission visit www.centraloac.org.
NCDC's New Development Director
Christina Toney-Schmitt, Development Director, New Church Development Commission
Meet Christina Toney-Schmitt, NCDC's new Development Director. Christina is a graduate from Samford University and received her Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Candler School of Theology. Christina has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past several years, most recently at a start-up nonprofit in Birmingham, AL, where she worked with women impacted by breast cancer.

She is excited to work with new worshiping communities in the Atlanta area and offer meaningful support as they strive to build thriving faith communities. Christina is interested in community development, poetry, and environmental justice. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Isaac Toney-Schmitt, who is an Associate Pastor of Faith Formation at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. When not at church or work, they can be found rock climbing anywhere in the Southeast or cheering on Atlanta United.
Virtual Resources Spring 2021: Pre-Recorded Sermons
It has been a year of preaching and planning in a pandemic. We began building our virtual sermon library in 2020. We are beginning again to take submissions to offer virtual sermons for clergy to utilize while they are still pre-recording, streaming, or offering a hybrid worship experience. Please visit the link below to find access to the 2021 folder, as well as the 2020 folder. The password is pgasermons to access the virtual library. To submit a sermon or ask technical questions, email Mark Sauls at msauls@atlpcusa.org.
Password: pgasermons
Denominational Information
  • Here is a link to the 2021 Special Offerings Action Kit, which features stories and details for each of the four annual churchwide Special Offerings, highlights congregations across the country, and more! Special Offerings include One Great Hour of Sharing, Pentecost, Peace & Global Witness, and Christmas Joy.

  • Earth Care Congregations are those who have “affirmed an Earth Care Pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into their worship, education, facilities and outreach.” This year 276 Congregations qualified for certification. Certified Earth Care Congregations within our presbytery include: Druid Hills Presbyterian Church (certified since 2020) and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (certified since 2010). We commend these congregations for their commitment. For information about becoming an Earth Care Congregation, click here. Earth Day Sunday is coming up on April 22. Earth Day Sunday Resources can be found here.

  • Eradicating systemic poverty video (Matthew 25) - The Presbyterian Mission Agency created this video to raise awareness/start conversations around the systemic poverty that people are facing, especially with the additional impact of the pandemic: vimeo.com/488969133.

  • To learn more about the programs that the Presbyterian Mission Agency offers to PC(USA) pastors, volunteers, and staff to help pay down educational debt, click here.

  • VBS Resources - The Presbyterian Giving Catalog offers the Jerry Can Curriculum free to download or to order from the PC(USA) Store. Available in both one- and five-session units, this curriculum includes lessons on disaster response and activities that show how children can be involved with prayer and generosity to make a difference in the lives of people in need. Although the Presbyterian Publishing Corp. has not recently published any new resources for Vacation Bible School, Stephanie Fritz, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s mission coordinator for Christian Formation, recommends the curriculum offered by GenOn Ministries and Illustrated Ministry, notably Compassion Camp VBS.

  • Per Capita - Since the earliest days of our denomination, Per Capita has been the tie that binds us together as Presbyterian Christians. Our gifts support the multiple connections within our church that allow us to support each other, care for each other, and hold each other accountable. The Office of the General Assembly produced a new video explaining how it benefits every congregation and mid council ministry and supports a portion of work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Please consider showing the video, which is also found at vimeo.com/486858440, at your next meeting and/or sharing it with your congregation.
Congratulations to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Decatur for recently receiving the Synod of South Atlantic's 2021 Peacemaking Award and a Presbytery of Greater Atlanta Diaconal Grant for their project SURE: Strategically Undoing Racism's Effects.
Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) conferences will take place this summer and two of our pastors, Anna George Traynham and Lauren Wright Pittman, will be leading classes. Click here for more dates and information.
The Presbytery Staff will never email you asking for money or gift cards. If seeking donations, Staff would direct you to the Presbytery website or invite you to mail a check. If you have any suspicion, please reach out to one of us directly before responding! Stay safe in cyberspace!!
On behalf of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, may you have a blessed Holy Week and Happy Resurrection Sunday!
Upcoming Events
Click here for CTS's Center for Lifelong Learning courses and events.
Click here for the Calvin Center's programs.
The presbytery advertises employment opportunities within our congregations and partnerships. If you would like to browse opportunities or submit a new opening click here.
The next newsletter will go out May 1. Articles will be accepted through April 19th. The following newsletter will go out June 1. To request space for an article, email your Congregational Consultant or Mark Sauls at msauls@atlpcusa.orgClick here to view submission guidelines.
Top Graphic Attribution:
Morgner, Wilhelm, 1891-1917. Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54247 [retrieved March 26, 2021]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wilhelm_Morgner_001.jpg.