Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
November 20, 2019
We Lift Up In Prayer
The Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah , Vice Moderator of Presbytery, who was in an accident while visiting Ghana. She is expected to arrive back in the states soon.

The Rev. Ken Hetzel , Honorably Retired, who is battling cancer.

All of our churches currently in 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. Dr. Shimon Pak (11/8) - Pastor of Saginaw-Korean
Elder Chris Wolf (11/14) - 15 years - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Marlette-First and Marlette-Second
The Rev. Tom Cundiff (11/27) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dr. Rodney Shoemaker (12/2) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Joy Smith (12/3) - Interim Pastor of Alma-First
The Rev. Brant Piper (12/15) - Designated Pastor of Saginaw-Countryside Trinity
The Rev. Dr. Lucy Der-Garabedian (12/19) - Mission Co-Worker serving in Lebanon


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
Most cultures observe a day of Thanksgiving, typically around the harvest, for the fruits of creation which feed and sustain us. The ancient Jews observed two such festivals. One, the Feast of Weeks ( Shavuot , or Pentecost), originally celebrated the wheat harvest but later became identified with the giving of the Torah, and in Christian tradition with the gift of the Spirit. The other, the Feast of Booths ( Sukkoth , or Tabernacles) celebrated the fruit harvest, but later became associated with remembrance of their wilderness wanderings.

It is not surprising that national days of Thanksgiving can become identified over time with the mythology of national origins. As people give thanks to God for the blessings of the earth, they remember also with thanksgiving their national stories of Divine providence and protection.

Just as the thanksgiving festivals of ancient Israel became yoked with stories of being given “a law and a land,” so also our American Thanksgiving celebration is linked to stories of our origins. We have all been taught how the Pilgrim band came to the New World in search of religious freedom; how they gave thanks to God whose faithfulness sustained them through the difficult voyage and deadly winter; how the natives welcomed them, shared their resources, and joined them in that first celebration. That these popular exist more in legend than in fact (see, for example this New York Times article from 2017) does not diminish their power to shape our identity.

They are foundational to the myth of “American exceptionalism” – that God has established the United States as a unique society that is the “shining city on a hill” and “a light to the nations” both in its founding values and as a Christian dominion. While it is certainly appropriate to give thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy, both from the earth and from our nation, as Reformed Christians we should be careful in how we speak of ourselves before God and our neighbors in the world.

For example, while our history has championed values of equality and freedom that are consistent with the gospel, our history is also filled with stories of how those values have been denied to whole categories of people, and how our Christian faith has been used to justify terrible injustice and even genocide. Christian faith was used to justify the doctrine of Manifest Destiny (an extension of the Doctrine of Discovery) leading to the wholesale slaughter of native peoples. It was also used to justify slavery and “Jim Crow” and the continuing heresy of white supremacy.

As Presbyterians, we affirm the Theological Declaration of Barmen – a response to German Nazism – that states, “Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death. We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God's revelation” ( Book of Confessions , 8.11-8.12). In other words, we refuse to identify in any unique or special way the blessing of God on any human institution, or to say that God’s power or presence has made us in any way superior to other people and nations.

We are not a “Christian nation” nor should we seek to claim any special privilege or status to our Christian faith. If anything, Thanksgiving should lead us to humility as individuals and as a nation; to confession of our sins, and a grateful commitment to live more fully into our national ideals, especially as those reflect our individual religious creeds and values.

For the freedom to do so this Thanksgiving and every day, I give thanks.

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Presbytery Meeting Documents
All of the documents for the December 3rd stated meeting of presbytery are now available on our website of the Presbytery Meetings page.

Our guest preacher and leader for our equipping time is the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, former Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. He will be leading us in a discussion from the Being Reformed curriculum “”Race and Reconciliation.”  These books were handed out at the June Presbytery meeting. 
Commissioners: please read both Chapter 4: The Confession of Belhar (pages 28-35) and Group Activity 4 (pages 60-62).
Help Wanted
Saginaw-Second is looking for less than full-time person to direct, accompany, recruit for Adult Choir, Adult Bell Choir. Coordinate music, accompany regular 9:30 a.m. worship service and special worship services. Develop new choirs and music components. Coordinate “outside" special music performances at Second Presbyterian. Seeking diversity and quality in program with an appeal to all age groups. Proficiency in organ and piano, some knowledge of handbells helpful, knowledge of voice, training in music for children and youth. People and organizational skills. Position available: January.  Salary: $30-36,000, based on experience and education. or find us on Facebook.

Contact: Fred Herter at .
NEXT Church National Gathering
The 2020 National Gathering of NEXT Church will be held in Cincinnati March 2-4 . Since it is a drivable distance this time we hope that more members of presbytery will be able to attend. If there is enough interest, we will rent a van and ride together.

NEXT Church is a network of leaders — church members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians and professors — across the Presbyterian Church (USA) who believe the church of the future will be more relational, more diverse, more collaborative, more hopeful and more agile. We provide hopeful space for robust conversations about the theology, culture, and the practice of ministry, support strong, faithful leadership in a time of adaptive change, and encourage collaboration and creativity across congregations and geographies. We are fostering a conversation about how to follow Christ in our particular day and age. We are a movement seeking to strengthen the relational fabric of the PC(USA) so that our congregations are strong and healthy enough to be a sustained, effective, faithful and moral voice that is engaged in the transformation of our communities toward the common good.

There are some scholarships available. Click here for more information.
Interfaith Prayer Service
Interfaith Prayer Service in Saginaw

Starting in 2017, Christian and non-Christian faith traditions have organized and celebrated the Interfaith Prayer Service in Saginaw.

This year this Service will be on Sunday, Nov. 24 th , from 3:30 pm to 5 pm. The setting is Christ the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church at 2445 N. Charles Street, Saginaw. The faith traditions gathering to affirm our national Thanksgiving Day of prayer come from the Church of God in Christ, the Episcopal, the Methodist, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Roman Catholic Christian traditions, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, the Baha’I, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Jain, the Muslim, and the Sikh traditions.
Following this service comes opportunities to feast on foods from each faith tradition and to ask questions at the various tables set up for just this opportunity.

Speaking for myself, an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament within the PC(USA), our times call upon us as American Christians to do all that we can, whenever we can, and wherever we can, to celebrate the unity in diversity that marks our nation, the United States of America. I look forward to seeing you on Nov. 24 th at Christ the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church , 2445 N. Charles Street, Saginaw.

Rev. Karen Blatt