Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
February 17, 2021
New Council Advice Regarding COVID-19 Precautions
Advice Regarding COVID-19 Precautions
Presbytery Council
Presbytery of Lake Huron
February 17, 2020

To the Sessions and Congregations of our Presbytery,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent— the season of the liturgical calendar marked by penitence, self-denial, and simplicity in spiritual preparation for Holy Week and Easter. We practice this posture of humility as modeled by Jesus and expressed many times in Scripture.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:6-7

Since the COVID-19 public health crisis reached pandemic status eleven months ago, it seems that we have had a year of Lent with no Easter. The common question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” has an ironic and even cruel quality as we consider all we have had to give up this past year as individuals, as a church, and as a society.

At the time of our last guidance, in November, COVID-19 cases and deaths in our state were skyrocketing. At that time, we strongly advised congregations not to conduct in-person worship – especially during the holiday season – and to consult multifactor sites like www.covidactnow.org for guidance regarding when it might be safe to reopen.

It has been encouraging in the last few weeks to see the number of cases and deaths dropping, especially as our most vulnerable citizens are beginning to receive effective vaccines. We are now below the rates we saw in early November when we issued our advice.

As our numbers have improved, on February 8, the State of Michigan issued new directives relaxing restrictions on some activities. And, as we near the anniversary of the COVID lockdown, and a second Easter in the pandemic, we know that many members and some sessions are eager to return to former patterns of worship and ministry.

Although we have seen significant improvement, we are far from being out of the woods. As we write this letter, of the 20 counties which lie in our presbytery:

  • None register in the “low risk” (green) category
  • Eight register as “medium risk” (yellow): Iosco, Ogemaw, Roscommon, Gladwin, Arenac, Gratiot, Genesee, and St. Clair
  • Twelve register as “high risk” (orange)
  • None register as “critical” (red)

In addition, new strains of the coronavirus that are present in our state are up to 900% more infectious and 20% more virulent than the original. This means that the viral load and exposure time to contract COVID are significantly reduced, while the risks of hospitalization and death have increased. And, while the two approved vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious effects of the virus, the rate at which it is being distributed means than most people will not receive the vaccine until late summer or early fall. Dr. Lisa Allgood, an immunology researcher and executive of Cincinnati Presbytery who shared important guidance with our presbytery in August, has provided a recent update on COVID research, vaccines, effects, and protocols, which can be found here.

The risk is still high, and we cannot advocate returning to in-person worship except in the most limited and careful circumstances. We urge you not return to in-person worship until your county has seen seven consecutive days of green (“low”) or yellow (“moderate”) risk using a multi-factor assessment such as www.covidactnow.org. And be prepared to suspend all in person gatherings should the level rise to “high” or “critical” levels for three or more days in a week.
If your Session does decide to return to in-person worship, please observe strictly all necessary public health precautions including screening, masking, distancing, disinfection, and tracking. And if you are in a vulnerable population or believe you might be sick or have been exposed to the virus, PLEASE STAY HOME.

Finally, as we head into this Lenten season, we would like to remind you that although we may not be able to worship in person, the church is not closed. Instead, we are discovering that Christ is present among us in new and different ways. Let us discover and celebrate the grace that is present in our grief, and the resurrection life that we can celebrate even in a pandemic Good Friday world.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:10-11

In Christ’s Fellowship,

The Presbytery Council
Presbytery of Lake Huron


NOTE: This is also available on the COIVD-19 page of our website under Presbytery Council Correspondence.
We Lift Up In Prayer
The Rev. George Gillette, who is under Hospice care at Candlestone Assisted Living in Midland.

All those dealing with COVID diagnoses.

Our churches currently in pastoral transition.

Our Mission Co-Workers:
Lucy Der-Garabedian serving in Lebanon.
Cathy Chang and family serving in the Philippines.
Michael and Rachel Ludwig serving in Niger.
Upcoming Ordination and Commissioning Anniversaries:
The Rev. Dawn Russell (2/9) - Pastor of Linden-First
The Rev. Larry McMellen (2/12) - 60 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Mary Anne Evans-Justin (2/25) - 25 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Chris Moody (2/25) - 20 Years - Member-At-Large
Elder Liz Long (3/5) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Ithaca-Lafayette
The Rev. Karen Blatt (3/12) - Temporary Supply of Houghton Lake-Kirk of the Lakes
The Rev. Hakbae Moon (3/19) - Pastor of Flint-Unity
The Rev. Linda Graham (3/25) - Temporary Supply of Davison-St. Andrews
The Rev. Jan Chambers (3/29) - Honorably Retired; Pastor Emerita of Tawas

We ask that you consider including these requests each week in your bulletin and/or newsletter.
 
We also encourage everyone to send a card or e-mail or make a phone call to those listed. Sometimes a small gesture creates a big smile. 

Contact information for anyone on this list may be obtained by calling the presbytery office at 989-799-7481 or replying to this email.
From the Lions’ Den
Dan Saperstein



The 2019 Disney movie Frozen 2 is not your typical princess story. It follows up on the 2013 smash hit based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, “The Snow Queen.” But Frozen 2 isn’t a fairy tale, but rather a powerful exploration of the ecological and cultural consequences of colonialism on indigenous peoples.

The film follows the journey of Queen Elsa of Arendelle as she comes to grips with both the ecological and cultural damage caused by her ancestors. It is inspired by real-life stories of how conquering Europeans disrupted the lives of the Sámi people (whom settlers call “Laplanders”). And it addresses important ethical issues for Americans, too, as we come to terms with our past history of colonialism and genocide.

This history is rooted in “the Doctrine of Discovery,” which Presbytery moderator Linda Langrill has selected as the theme of our Presbytery gatherings in 2021. It is also the theme chosen for our denomination by our General Assembly co-moderators this year.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency explains: “The Doctrine of Discovery was first articulated in 1452 by Pope Nicholas V as the Papal Bull ‘Dum Diversas’ and in 1496 by King Henry VII of England as a patent granted to John Cabot, which authorized and justified the destruction, killing, and appropriating of the lands of indigenous peoples and nations. The Doctrine of Discovery was incorporated into U.S. law in the 19th century when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case, Johnson vs McIntosh, 1823, stating that European nations had assumed dominion over the lands of America upon discovery and as a result Native Americans had lost their rights to complete sovereignty as independent nations and retained a mere right of occupancy in their lands. A U.S. Supreme Court case as recent as 2005, City of Sherrill v. Oneida Nation of Indians, utilized the Doctrine of Discovery as legal precedent for the final decision. This doctrine laid the groundwork for the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world; the colonization of Africa, Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas; and the transatlantic trafficking in persons used as slave labor.”

Although the United States prides itself on having rebelled against British colonialism, the legacy of colonialism is built into our cultural DNA. Slavery, Manifest Destiny, Native American genocide, American exceptionalism, and white supremacy are just some of the expressions of our own colonialist impulses. Their contemporary expressions and legacy are often unrecognized or dismissed as just the way things are. Efforts to raise awareness or correct them are often condemned as “white bashing,” “reverse racism,” or anti-American.

In Frozen 2, Queen Elsa and her devoted sister Anna seek the truth about their ancestors’ relationship with the indigenous people of Arendelle. And they uncover the myths created to cover their misdeeds. In the words of Stanford professor Priya Satia, “the fact that the present people of Arendelle are innocent heirs of the past does not stay Anna’s hand. To her, there is no way forward at all without rectifying the crimes of the past. That past exists with and alongside the present and future. It can’t be buried with the blunt exhortation that everyone just ‘move on.’ She perceives that either way, her people will not prosper.”
In preparation for our March 13 Presbytery assembly, we are invited to watch the film Frozen 2 through the lens of colonialism. Our equipping time will reference the film as part of a conversation with Native American and African American church leaders.

In Frozen 2, Queen Elsa learns that people are ethically accountable for the past in the present; she must do what is right, whatever the consequences. As we move into a post-colonial future as a church and a nation, may we also do what is right, echoing the words sung by Princess Anna:

  So I'll walk through this night
  Stumbling blindly toward the light
  And do the next right thing
  And with the dawn what comes then?
  When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
  Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
  And do the next right thing

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Annual Statistics
TO:          Those Responsible for Filling Out Reports
FROM:     Ted McCulloch, Stated Clerk
 
NOTE: Tomorrow is the last day to report statistics. Please keep in mind that your per capita is based on what you report and cannot be changed after the system closes.

For the reporting of annual statistics, this year will be the same as last year. The Office of General Assembly no longer prints workbooks or forms but they do provide us with all the documentation online to distribute to congregations. There is not a paper option for submitting Annual Statistics or the Necrology Report.
 
Please note that as of two years ago the “Church Staff and Officer List” form was replaced with the “Church Contact Checklist and Preparedness Information” form. Much of the information collected is the same but some additional information is needed for the required Emergency Preparedness form.
 
We have set up a page just for annual statistics reporting purposes. On that page you will find links to:
 
  • The denomination’s site for the online reporting of Annual Statistics
  • The 2020 Necrology report to presbytery
  • The Church Contact Checklist and Preparedness Information form
 
Your congregation’s username and password to login to the General Assembly’s website has not changed from last year. More information is available on the Annual Statistics page of our website.

Please note the final deadline for entering statistics is February 18, 2021. There are no exceptions as GA closes the system that day. You can edit your information at any time prior February 18th.  
 
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact the Recording Clerk, Staci Percy, at spercy@presbylh.org.
 
I appreciate the work you do and am grateful for your co-operation in completing this task.
New Parish Paper Editions Now Available
The first four editions of the Parish Paper for 2021 are now available on our website. Topics are:

January - Build a Robust Network
February - Connect With Spiritual Seekers Through The Arts
March - How Can We Build Trust In a Vaccine?
April - Readiness Is The Key To Congregational Change

These short but informative papers are perfect for session training and small group discussions. Our congregations may use them free of charge as part of our subscription.

Visit the Parish Paper page of our website to download these issues and many more!
Lay Preaching Course
Lay Preaching Course Planned

The Presbytery of Lake Huron is planning a Lay Preaching Course to be conducted over four weeks in March and April. Successful completion of the course will satisfy the educational component for being certified to provide pulpit supply within the Presbytery on a non-contractual basis.

Courses will be held on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to Noon with additional sessions for sermon presentation by appointment.

The course is open to ruling elders who have the endorsement of their Sessions. There is no fee for the course, but participants must purchase assigned textbooks. The primary textbook will be A Lay Preacher’s Guide: How to Craft a Faithful Sermon by Karoline M. Lewis (Minneapolis: Fortress Press), 2020.

Interested persons should contact Rose Onan at the Presbytery Office for additional information and to register their interest not later than 3 p.m. Thursday, February 25.
2021 Directory
The 2021 Directory is now available on our website. Click on the Directory link on the left side of the page.

Download and print as many copies as you need.
 
For everyone's privacy the page to access the directory is password protected. You will need the following information to access the directory:

**** The login information was included in the version sent to our mailing list. For privacy, we have not included that information on the version we post online. For the Username and Password, please contact the Presbytery Office at 989-799-7481 ****

Some updates have been made since we first published this a couple of weeks ago. We encourage you to please review your information and if anything needs to be changed contact Rose Onan at  ronan@presbylh.org  or 989-799-7481 x6.

Toll Free Number
The toll-free number for the Presbytery Office will no longer be available for use after mid-March.

Due to the cost of maintaining the number and the lack of users, we have begun phasing it out. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Academic Scholarship Available
McCabe Charitable Foundation Scholarship

The McCabe Charitable Foundation Scholarship assists specific students from Bay, Saginaw, or Midland counties in Michigan who are enrolled or planning to enroll in undergraduate studies at Delta Community College or Saginaw Valley State University.

This program is administered by Scholarship America®, the nation’s largest designer and manager of scholarship, tuition assistance and other education support programs for corporations, foundations, associations, and individuals.

Applicants to the McCabe Charitable Foundation Scholarship must be:

  • Jewish or Presbyterian residents of Bay, Saginaw, or Midland counties in the State of Michigan.
  • Enrolled or planning to enroll in full-time undergraduate studies at Delta Community College or Saginaw Valley State University for the entire upcoming academic year.

Deadline to apply is March 17th.

Click here for more details and to apply.
Celebrating Black History Month
Family matters to the people of God

Family is an important and timely topic for faithful followers of Jesus. The church community is often referred to as the “household of God” and the “family of God.” It has been my experience, though, that most people have few positive images of the Black family. The 2021 theme for Black History Month, which is observed in February, is “The Black Family: Its Representation, Identity and Diversity.” The theme is an important one as we remember that we are made in the image of God (imago Dei). There is only one human race, and every member of it has the attributes of the Divine.

Black History Month offers our congregations the opportunity to learn and celebrate the Divine in all, bringing to small group studies and worship a mix of history, current research and faith.

This is what I want to help us do by first providing some historical background and then sharing fun activities for celebrating Black History Month in the church.

Click here to continue reading and for resources for your congregation from the PC(USA).
NEXTChurch is Free is 2021
BREAKING, BLESSING, BUILDING
A Call For The Common Good
A FREE Live-Streamed Gathering for ALL Church Leaders
March 5-7, 2021

COVID-19, a pandemic of racism in the United States, economic distress. Our reality right now helps us know that things need to change for the good of us all.

What if people like you and me could gather together from all over the world, from all kinds of different churches and denominations, from all different walks of life?

What if church leaders (YOU, not just your pastor) could connect with other church leaders to learn together, be inspired by one another, and be challenged to grow?

What if we gathered together in such a way that inspired us to act so the Church and the world were never the same again?

Despite the physical space that separates us these days, we believe our virtual togetherness can make all the difference. Will you join us March 5-7 for the 2021 NEXT Church National Gathering as we Break, Bless, and Build: A Call for the Common Good?

Click here for more information and to register.
Mission Engagement and Support
Our Mission Engagement and Support Advisor, the Rev. Chris Roseland, has provided us with a wonderful list of resources. He will send us quarterly communications of this nature to share with our congregations.

Special Offerings and the Presbyterian Giving Catalog:
  • In this time of COVID-19, One Great Hour of Sharing is more important than ever. Please encourage your congregations to join the One Great Hour of Sharing movement, whether the Offering is received on Easter Sunday, April 4, or on any day the year. Consider making One Great Hour of Sharing a designated offering of the presbytery this year.
  • Pentecost Sunday is May 23. Join us again in receiving and celebrating the Pentecost Offering, which supports ministries with children and youth, including the Youth Triennium, and the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program. Let’s join together to ensure that our youth begin life with a solid foundation of faith.
  • And, of course, any time is the right time to make a gift to the increasingly popular Presbyterian Giving Catalog, now also available for the first time in Spanish and Korean.
  • Lastly, your congregations have just received the 2021 Action Kit, which features stories for each Special Offering highlighting congregations across the country, as well as details for each Offering, Four for Four information, resources, social media and more. Full contact details for the Special Offerings staff are also included.
  • Read on for more mission news you can use!
 
Eradicating systemic poverty video (Matthew 25)
The Presbyterian Mission Agency has created a 30-second social media video, which we encourage you to share on your social media channels. Its purpose is to start conversations and raise awareness around the systemic poverty facing people in all walks of life, especially with the additional impact of the pandemic. The video is available to download and share at vimeo.com/488969133.
 
Managing Educational Debt:
Now is the right time 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.
 
Lenten Devotional:
The 2021 Lenten Devotional from Presbyterians Today is or available to read online or to download as a PDF at pcusa.org/2021lent.

20212022 In-Person YAV Service Year
Applications for the Young Adult Volunteer program opened on Oct. 1. The next deadline is March 1, which is the final date to apply to international sites.

Compassion, Peace & Justice Training Days 2021
Mark April 79 on your calendar now for this three-day virtual event focusing on equipping people to advocate for environmental justice. Virtual Ecumenical Advocacy Days will take place April 18–21.

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. To educate and inform Presbyterians about the importance of Per Capita giving, the Office of the General Assembly has 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 presbytery meeting and recommending it to your individual congregations for viewing at their annual meeting.

Listed below are those Sundays for which resources are currently available. Please visit the Special Days and Emphases Sundays site for ongoing updates.
 
February
March
April
May
MDHHS Community and Faith-Based Programs
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recognizes the importance and necessity of viable community and faith-based relationships to fulfill its mission to promote and protect the health, wellness, and safety of Michigan residents. The Office of Community and Faith Engagement and the Community and Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption lead MDHHS' efforts to build and support partnerships with community and faith-based organizations to better serve the children and adults that live in their communities.

The Office of Community and Faith Engagement (OCFE) promotes collaboration between government, community organizations, and faith leaders to improve the quality of life for Michigan residents, with specific efforts to inform organizations of federal/state resources and grants, and also to convene community and faith leaders to support program areas that directly impact Michigan's most vulnerable adults, children, and families.

The Community and Faith-Based Initiative on Foster Care and Adoption (CFBI) seeks to build partnerships with local community leaders, business representatives, and faith leaders to meet the needs of foster and adoptive children and their families, by promoting awareness of the need for quality foster and adoptive parents and connecting children and youth to supportive resources and relationships.

We welcome individuals, community leaders, business representatives and faith leaders of all religions to learn more and join our efforts. Together, we can provide opportunities, instill hope, and empower Michiganders to thrive.

Click here to visit their webpage.
Resources Regarding COVID-19
We have set up a page with numerous resources to help you navigate through this challenging time.

Among other things, our COVID-19 page includes information regarding:

  • Virtual Worship and Live Streaming
  • Zoom and online meetings
  • Funerals
  • Online giving
  • Grants and loans
  • Denominational resources
  • Mental wellness
  • Re-opening considerations

If there are other items/resources that you would to see added please contact Staci Percy at spercy@presbylh.org.