August 1, 2020
E.P.'s Corner
by Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter 
 
Praising God Through a Pandemic
 
1  I will bless the Lord at all times;
   his praise shall continually be in my mouth.  
2  My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
   let the humble hear and be glad.  
3  O magnify the  Lord with me,
   and let us exalt his name together.
Psalm 34:1-3
 
It is August. And we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Last week I worshipped virtually at Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church. Rev. Ryan Jensen did a great job leading the flock with distanced worship participants in the building. He preached on the familiar lectionary passage from Romans 8:26-39 with an emphasis on verse twenty-six that reminds us that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. As soon as I saw the sermon title "All Things?" flash on the screen, I knew it would resonate with me. Ryan reflected on Paul's encouragement that all things are working together for the good even in the midst of difficulty. The phrase "all things" feels challenging to say while we are facing a pandemic without a cure, wearing masks, practicing in social distancing, offering virtual and creative forms of worship, and working for justice in a world filled with racism, classism, and all kinds of oppression. Ryan reminded us that Paul lived in a context that was also difficult, filled with complexity, and yet he held onto the hope that all things work together because God is on the throne and is ultimately in control.
 
I have also felt drawn to the familiar Psalm that is often heard in Black Church congregational life. 'I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth' sounds great on a good day but on a tough day I have been prone to end this scriptural passage with a question mark as well. Lord, how can we praise you at all times with all that we are facing? For me, trusting that God is at work in all things and offering praise to God at all times is a leap of faith. I don't understand how God will work it out, but I trust that God will do it. I don't know how I muster the energy and strength to bless God's name in the face of difficulty, but God gives me the strength to do it.
 
Friends, we have a long road ahead of us. We may have to live in this new-normal for the next six to twelve months. Will you join me in this leap of faith to trust God's action in ways we cannot see? Will you join me in praising God at all times in the midst of the global and racial pandemics we are facing? Will you say yes to giving thanks for the chance to become vital congregations who reach hearts and minds in virtual space? Trusting that God is at work in all things and praising God at all times is a huge undertaking. It is uncharted territory for many of us. And yet, I believe that we can do this new thing together, with God's help.
 
I love you all so very much and God loves you more than you will ever know.
 
-ABL
 
Remembering Rev. C.T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis
 
We offer our prayers and condolences as we remember the lives of Civil Rights leaders Rev. C.T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis. Please take a moment to read the reflections on the life of John Lewis from our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson: link.
th2
Town Hall: Reopening to Reimagining, Session Two 
 
Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash.com
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 - 10am-11:30am
Please join us as we continue the conversation about reopening our churches and reimagining worship in the midst of the pandemic. We will be led by members of our Reopening to Reimagining Task Force. This session is designed for clergy and key ministry leaders in your congregation. Please utilize the zoom link below and pass it along to
your designated leaders. 
 
Meeting ID: 863 9234 2560
Passcode: 561684
One tap mobile +13126266799,,86392342560# US (Chicago)
 
If you have any questions you would like to send in ahead of time, please email Executive Presbyter Aisha Brooks-Lytle at abl@atlpcusa.org with the subject line "Town Hall Questions."  
thet Town Hall: Best Practice for Elder Training  
 
September 1, 2020 - 10am-11:30am
Please join us for a panel discussion among our leaders for sharing best practices for elder training. We will cover topics such as administration, policies and procedures, spiritual leadership, retreats and renewal. Pastors, please look out for a constant contact email by mid August which will contain the zoom link for this event.
Zoom Stated Meeting Coming August 15
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk 
 
Friends, we will once again have a presbytery meeting via zoom due to health concerns over hosting a large gathering. We had a great meeting last May and have received over 100 responses to our evaluations! We heard the following: we would like to see some additional worship elements and we would love to have some music...but we don't want to go over 2 hours!
 
The worship committee is hard at work to discern essential business yet to have some more worship elements for our meeting. We are working on having pre-meeting music with the good folks at Johns Creek and new worshiping communities; GA commissioners are putting a short video together of their experience and we will hear a short meditation piece from Presbyterians for a Better Georgia as we continue our theme of Matthew 25 and response to the nations outcry over current racial injustices.
 
The meeting will begin at the usual hour of 9:00. We will begin admitting attendees at 8:45. Registration will be different for this meeting. Folks will need to pre-register for the meeting in order to be sent the zoom link for the meeting. Click here to register for the meeting. Also, to ensure that folks receive the word, pastors of churches will be sent an email that they will pass along to commissioners. This email is to be filled out in order to register for a meeting and then receive a zoom invitation. All other ministers will be sent the email to register for the meeting. Please note: After registering, you will be sent an email with a link to the meeting that will be unique to each attendee. You must use the link from your computer or other smart device to participate in the meeting. If you join using the dial-in numbers, you will be able to listen to the meeting but YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO VOTE, speak, or otherwise participate, and the attendance information will not reflect your presence.
 
If zoom is new to you and you wish to practice getting on to zoom, there will be a session on Thursday August 13 from 10:00-11:00 AM. Please use the same link that was sent to you after you registered for the Presbytery meeting. This same link will get you into the practice session. 
 
In an effort to keep our meetings to two hours, Council has approved the addition of another Presbytery meeting set for September 15 at 9:00. Of course, we will have essential business, but we are also exploring ways for our churches which aren't able to host presbytery meetings to be involved in this meeting, such as sharing what innovations are happening in response to our "new normal" of worshiping virtually. If YOU have some ideas, please send them along to Donna Wells at dwells@atlpcusa.org .
 
If you are a new clerk, please join Donna Wells for an introductory training. She will be holding two sessions for you to choose from: Monday, August 10 from 6:00-7:30 pm or Wednesday, August 12 from 1:00-2:30. Please register by sending Donna an email at:   dwells@atlpcusa.org 
 
Stay safe friends.

Stated Meeting Information: https://www.atlpcusa.org/statedmeetings 
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.

Worship Resources: Pre-Recorded Sermons
by Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter
 
Below you will find a link and password for clergy and worship leaders. We have provided pre-recorded sermons that can be utilized in your worship context. If you would like to be a guest preacher for our virtual pre-recorded sermon series, please email Mark Sauls (msauls@atlpcusa.org) for instructions. Click here to access the resource folder. The password is: pgasermons
GRIT Cohorts Fall 2020 Survey
by Jane Hubbard, Pastor-to-Pastor Team Coordinator
 
Gathering with a small cohort (5-8) of peers provides you with "brave space" (thanks! Dr. Catherine Meeks) for building "true grit"! The Presbytery is taking a clean sheet of paper to a framework for resources and peer support for PGA members around GRIT (Grief, Resilience, Innovation and Truth).
 
Your Presbytery team's intent is that these GRIT Cohorts be what you need; not what we think you need! The only way we can know is for you to tell us. THIS IS FOR ALL PGA CLERGY: PARISH, VALIDATED OR RETIREES.
 
 
"The past is a huge anchor-we can't imagine the future, and what we do imagine seems scary, so we default to what we know. It's why churches so often define success using markers of the past: full pews, a thriving Sunday School, a hefty youth ministry calendar, a burgeoning choir. What would it look like to de-anchor from these vestiges of the past and step into an uncertain future, even ... in the age of covid and racial inequity ?" MaryAnn McKibben Dana
 
De-Anchoring takes true GRIT!
 
Let us hear from you. Questions? contact Joy Fisher or Jane Hubbard
Boundaries Training is Back!
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk 
 
We are going to try to do boundaries training in our new virtual world! We will host our training on Wednesday September 16 from 12:30 to 3:30. Click here for more information and to register. You will be sent a zoom link on Monday, September 14 to join the training. Please join us.
Pastor Group Update
by Chip Blankinship, Director of Operations & Congregational Consultant
 
In the Fall of 2011, the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta began hosting monthly Pastors Groups. For nine years, these gatherings have evolved through several iterations. While both the learning and the fellowship have been valuable for a number of our pastors and the presbytery staff, each year the attendance has declined somewhat. The staff now feels that it is time to move on to other ways of connecting the pastors within our presbytery. There are a couple other options that we invite you to consider.
 
Each week, at noon on Wednesday, there is a Crowdsource Gathering of a number of our pastors on Zoom. The gatherings are a combination of fellowship, mutual support, and sharing of best practices in the new reality in which we're all living. If you're interested in joining these events, join the "Greater Atlanta Presbytery Crowdsource" Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/652754858430289. If you are not on Facebook and would like the link for the gatherings, please contact Miranda Segrest, msegrest@atlpcusa.org, or Aisha Brooks-Lytle, abl@atlpcusa.org.
 
You are also invited to participate in a GRIT Cohort (Grief, Resilience, Innovation, and Truth). There is more information about plans for these groups elsewhere in this newsletter. If you are interested in participating, please contact Jane Hubbard, jhubbard@atlpcusa.org, or Joy Fisher, jfisher@atlpcusa.org, for more information.
 
Thanks to all of you who have participated in Pastor Group over the last nine years. We look forward to fellowship and learning opportunities with you in the future!
Church Conflict Phone Consults
by Joy Fisher, Congregational Consultant
 
Are you a leader, struggling to find an appropriate response to a sticky situation or challenging issue in your church? Did you know members of the Presbytery's Shalom Team are available to provide brief (45-50 mins) conflict consultations? In most cases, they offer strategic perspective to help leaders balance both situations and relationships in the church. If you could benefit from this confidential service, please contact any of the following Shalom Team members to arrange a phone consultation:
 
Joy Fisher,   jfisher@atlpcusa.org 
Diane Duane, duane.diane.l@gmail.com
Julie Ferguson, Julie@roswellpres.org
Romona Lavender, rmlavender@bellsouth.net
Brady Radford, bradyradford@gmail.com
Stephen Speakman, saspeakman@gmail.com
David York, yorkdav@gmail.com
Around the Presbytery
  • McDonouigh Presbyterian Church was featured in "This Week at Montreat" for a "Montreat@Home" project they created. Click here to read the article.
  • We offer our condolences to the family of  The Rev. Dr. Doug Oldenburg, Moderator of the 210th General Assembly and past Columbia Theological Seminary president who died on July 21, 2020. Take a moment to read more on his life in these links: Presbyterian Outlook, Obituary
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.
 
August 15 - Stated Meeting - Zoom
August 10 - New Clerk Training - Zoom
August 12 - New Clerk Training - Zoom   
September 1 - Town Hall: Elder Training - Zoom 
September 15 - Stated Meeting - Zoom
September 16 - Boundaries Training - Zoom

* 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 August 31. Articles will be accepted through August 17. The following newsletter will go out September 30. 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:
Moloney, Helen. Loaves and Fish, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55894 [retrieved July 27, 2020]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/4935677083. 

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