Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
February 3, 2021
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
Of the many great movies released in 1993 – a pantheon that includes Schindler’s List, The Piano, and The Remains of the Day, among others – over the years, one less heralded film has emerged as a classic of equal or greater stature. It is Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. One notable critic has listed it among the ten greatest American films ever made.

Groundhog Day is the story of a sour, self-centered Pittsburgh TV weatherman named Phil Connors who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the Groundhog Day ceremonies. It is an assignment he detests. After the ceremonies, a blizzard closes the roads and the news crew is forced to stay overnight in town. But when Phil awakens the next day something strange happens. The clock radio is playing the same song as the day before. Indeed, everything is the same as the day before. It is once again February 2. He is caught in a time loop, of which only he is aware, and from which there is evidently no escape.

Every day is a repeat of Groundhog Day, a kind of personal hell. At first, Phil is confused, but he soon learns that he can take advantage of the situation. With no fear of consequences, he learns secrets from the town’s residents, seduces women, steals money, and lives entirely for himself. However, the one thing he truly desires eludes him: the love of his news producer Rita.

Eventually, Phil grows despondent and tries desperately to break the time loop: he even kidnaps Punxsutawney Phil and drives off a cliff into a quarry, trying to kill both himself and the groundhog. Still, he wakes up to find that nothing has changed. Further attempts at suicide are just as fruitless, and the words “I Got You, Babe” that he hears on the radio every morning taunt him.

Over thousands of Groundhog Days, however, the desire to love and be loved transforms him. Since Phil knows everything that will happen in the small town, he decides to make life easier for everyone around him, and in so doing he becomes more lovable himself. He learns to play piano, sculpt ice, and speak French. He saves lives, helps townspeople, and lives for others, especially Rita. One analysis of the screenplay estimates that he goes through forty years of Groundhog Days until he lives the perfect day and wins the heart of his producer. Only then does he wake up to discover it is February 3.

Groundhog Day is a film about growing up – not “coming of age” but becoming mature, selfless, caring, and capable of love. It is about discipleship. It is about what theologians call “sanctification.” It is about becoming a person for others.

Did you know the messages of Groundhog Day (both the holiday and the movie) have their roots in Christian tradition? February 2 is historically the Feast of the Presentation, commemorating when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Christ to the Temple, and Anna and Simeon beheld the hope of redemption through him. In our secular festival, a groundhog prophesies the end to winter and the coming of spring; in the movie we are encouraged to persevere in hope that our wintry hell might become the place of our redemption. They foreshadow the long discipline of Lenten sanctification when we pursue holiness and justice in grateful response to Christ’s saving death and triumphant resurrection.

For many, life in the pandemic is eerily like Phil Connors’ living hell. We grow tired of the sameness of our days. It feels like time is standing still. But it is still time that we can do the hard work of discipleship and strive to live more for others. It might seem like a wintry Groundhog Day world, but Easter is coming (and in fact has already come). May we persevere in faith and hope as we await better days ahead.

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
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 **** 

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).
Annual Statistics
TO:          Those Responsible for Filling Out Reports
FROM:     Ted McCulloch, Stated Clerk
 
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.
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.
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
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.
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.