Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
January 22, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
New:
The family of Katherine Naber and the congregation of Grand Blanc-Kirkridge . Katherine passed to the larger life on Monday. She was the Administrative Assistant for the church for nearly 30 years. Click here for her obituary.

Ongoing:
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. Rich Lawther (1/4) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter (1/8) - 25 Years - General Assembly Staff
The Rev. Scott Kroener (1/19) - Pastor of Birch Run-Taymouth
The Rev. Alex Peterson (1/22) - Pastor of Lapeer-First
The Rev. Elizabeth Stillwell (1/22) - Member-At-Large
Elder Linda Living-Hawley (2/3) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Fenton-Tyrone
Te Rev. Dawn Russell (2/9) - Pastor of Linden
The Rev. Larry McMellen (2/12) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Cathy Chang (2/17) - Mission Co-Worker serving in the Philippines
The Rev. Mary Anne Evans-Justin (2/25) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Chris Moody (2/25) - Member-At-Large

 

From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold….

These lines by William Butler Yeats that open his poem The Second Coming were written over 100 years ago. World War I – “the war to end all wars” – had put an end to the illusion of human progress, a worldwide flu epidemic had killed tens of millions, revolution was happening in Russia, and unrest was fomenting around the world. The “second coming” he foresaw was not the return of Christ, but of some apocalyptic “rough beast… slouching to Bethlehem to be born.”

When we look at our nation and our world today, one might be tempted to agree with Yeats. Earlier this month, many feared we were headed toward a third World War. We are in the middle of an impeachment trial that is testing our democracy. In less than two weeks, the first votes will be cast leading to an election some say could spark a civil war.

Indeed, Yeats’s dark vision of the human condition described in his poem could have been penned at nearly any point in human history. War, disease, brutality, division have been constant in human history. Even our times of so-called peace and prosperity have often been enjoyed by the few and been made possible by the subjugation of the many.

Humankind is always on the brink of catastrophe; the center that binds us together as nations, as civilizations, as a species has always been at risk of falling apart. And yet, here we are. By the grace of God, here we are.

The weeks between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday are sometimes called “the season of Epiphany.” They focus on the life and ministry of Jesus, the Light of the World, who came teaching a different way than the way of the world – not a way of death, destruction, and division but a way of life, love, and forgiveness. That the world at times can seem so overcome by darkness does not diminish the presence of the light, but only makes it shine more brightly.

John wrote, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Paul writes,  “He [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together….  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:17, 19-20).
The season of Epiphany is a time of hope, when we hold forth the light of Christ in our dark world, when we follow the light and remember to reflect that light in our words and deeds. As Martin Luther wrote nearly 500 years ago,
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph
through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word, of course, is “Jesus”. In the darkness of this and every age, let us shine his light.      

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
2020 IRS Mileage Rates
The IRS announced the standard mileage rates for 2020. They are as follows:

Business/Ministry 57.5 cents
Charitable 14 cents

These may also be found on the   Documents and Forms  page of our  website  under the Financial Information heading.
 
Annual Statistics
Information regarding the 2019 Annual Statistics was sent to all Clerks of Session earlier this month.

A copy of the letter and other relevant information may be found on the Annual Statistics page of our website.

Deadline for reporting is February 20, 2020.
Thank You
We received a thank you card from the Rev. Josh Heikkila, World Mission’s regional liaison for West Africa, and wanted to share it with everyone.

It reads:

Friends in Lake Huron,

Thank you for your support of Presbyterian Mission in West Africa Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Josh


Join Us
NEXTChurch National Gathering 2020

WHAT DO THESE STONES MEAN?
Witness, Power, and Hope
Cincinnati, OH
March 2-4, 2020
Joshua 4:1-9

OUR THEME

The twelve stones placed in the middle of the Jordan River served as a memorial to God’s faithfulness. They witnessed to the trials and tribulations overcome by the people of God. The stones also testified to future generations that God, who made a way where there was no way, will once again lead us to redemption and transformation.

We are called to remember our forebears, the great distances they covered and the faith that carried them. Their memory inspires us and challenges us to move forward in our own faith journey. Their memory calls us to stay the course, to wade in the waters of life, to continue to struggle for the Kin-dom of God where justice, love, and peace flow freely. When we are willing to sacrifice the comfort of what we know for the gift of new life promised by God, we become living stones that witness and testify to God’s provision, promise, and power that transform our hope into reality.

Let us meet by the river in Cincinnati for the 2020 NEXT Church National Gathering, to remember, pray, sing, and testify to God’s power that transforms us and our work to reflect God’s faithfulness.

Click here for more information and to register.
You're Invited
Every Tuesday in Lent (March 3—April 7) Lapeer-First is hosting an evening class on A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, by Diana Butler Bass. There will be a soup potluck dinner from 6:00 to 6:30 PM, followed by a class from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. Together we’ll learn about historical figures and events overlooked by most church histories and how their examples of prayer and faith can enrich our own spiritual journeys today. To learn more or sign up, email our office ( office@fpclapeer.org).  
Ithaca-First invites you to join us for our 150th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, February 16, 2020. Service of Thanksgiving at 4:00pm with dinner following in the Fellowship Hall.

If you are planning on joining us for dunner, please RSVP the number of people attending to 989-875-4437 or info@ithacapres.org by Friday, January 31st.
Deadline extended for travel study seminar to Hong Kong, Philippines
Issues affecting Filipino workers among those to be highlighted during May 2020 trip.

The deadline to sign up for the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s  Travel Study Seminar  to the Philippines and Hong Kong has been extended to Feb. 1.

The two-week seminar, focusing on forced migration and labor trafficking, is scheduled for May 1-15. It will include about seven days in the Philippines, five days in Hong Kong and two days of travel.

The seminar will give participants insight into the forces that lead Filipinos to migrate to places like the Middle East, United States and Hong Kong for purposes of employment, said the Rev. Cathy Chang of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) World Mission, who is co-leading the seminar.

This phenomenon, driven by political and economic forces, such as poverty and a lack of local employment opportunities, places a strain on families and  can lead to harsh conditions  for employees, such as domestic workers.

Reportedly, thousands of Filipinos leave the country each day to work overseas. They include not only domestic workers but also nurses, engineers and teachers, Chang said.

“If people in the Philippines had choices, they’d stay home,” she said.

Some workers find themselves being taken advantage of by unscrupulous recruiters or by employers who mistreat them or impose unreasonable restrictions. For example, Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong may not be given days off.

“This (seminar) is a real opportunity for us to hear from people who have been directly impacted,” said Chang, World Mission’s regional facilitator for addressing migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

Participants will spend time in communities in Manila and northern Luzon, where children and parents have been left behind, and see what survival looks like.

Click here to continue reading.
Building Relationships Through Mission
To my brothers and sisters across the Presbytery of Lake Huron-

Have you ever wondered whether Paul’s congregation in Thessalonica ever knew about his congregation in Corinth, or the one in Ephesus?

So how is it that we today know anything about Flint-Trinity or Houghton Lake-Kirk of the Lakes Vassar-First?

So let’s get acquainted. Flint-Trinity furnished a room for Esther House, a maternity care center being rehabbed. Houghton Lake-Kirk of the Lakes provided treasure for the Roscommon Co. Food Pantry. Vassar-First provided support for the backpack program for food insecure children.

Yes, we are getting acquainted, and we are doing so through mission, local outreach missions for which these and many more such congregations provide some form of “time, talent, and treasure.”

And there is another dimension. I have highlighted only 3 of the 46 congregations within the Presbytery. The other dimension is that at least 23 of these 46 are involved in some local mission. This means we the congregations of the Presbytery of Lake Huron, the very grassroots of our communities-counties, states, and nation - are involved in various relief efforts which provide us with the opportunity to network together to build a common relationship between the faith communities of these communities and the people within those communities.

So what could happen if Trinity United builds a relationship with the people of Flint, and etc. for us all? If this happens, could not this relationship enable the Trinity United and all local mission bound congregations to have a deepening understanding of what drives systemic poverty within each community and throughout the whole of the Presbytery? And would not such an understanding be an invaluable understanding that could enable the congregations to wrestle with the causes of this systemic poverty within the Presbytery of Lake Huron in the state of Michigan?

So  here’s a challenge to the Mission Committee at Trinity United, the Mission Committee at Houghton Lake, and the Mission Committee at Vassar: dare to contact each other, to say hello and let’s compare notes as we realize the common issue of poverty being addressed within each congregation’s community.

Thus it is that we affirm the Matthew 25 truth that when we recognize the least among us, we are recognizing the presence of Jesus the Christ as he lives, moves, and has his being among us.

Shalom,

The Rev. Karen Blatt,
Mission Coordinating Team, Presbytery of Lake Huron