Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
September 23, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
The family and loved ones of the Rev. Neil Berry who passed to the larger life earlier this month. He served as the Pastor of the former Flint-Christ The Liberator congregation. Flint-Trinity United will be hosting a drive-in style memorial for Rev. Berry this Sunday, September 27the following their 10:00am service. This service will be recorded and posted online on Trinity's Facebook and YouTube channels. Click here for his obituary.

Elder Don Wixson, Commissioned Ruling Elder of Vassar-First, who is being treated for cancer.

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:
Elder Jon Essex (9/1) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Twining-Maple Ridge
The Rev. Ron Vredeveld (9/1) - Temporary Supply of Beaverton-First
The Rev. John Becker (9/17) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Matthew Schramm (9/19) - Pastor of Midland-Memorial
The Rev. Timm High (9/28) - Interim Pastor or Midland-Chapel Lane
The Rev. Dr. Dan Saperstein (10/2) - Executive Presbyter
The Rev. Dr. Ewen Holmes (10/10) - Interim Pastor of Bay City-Westminster
The Rev. Dr. Wally Mayton (10/25) - 45 Years - Associate Pastor of Midland-Memorial
The Rev. Christina Jensen (10/28) - Pastor of Ithaca-First


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
In a classic episode of The Simpsons, the Sunday School is on hell, where the tormented suffer in the lake of fire burning with sulfur day and night for ever and ever. “Ooh! Miss Allbright!” an enthralled Bart Simpson interrupts, hand raised. “Yes, Bart?” she answers. Bart asks, “But wouldn’t you eventually get used to it, like in a hot tub?”

That might be the perfect summary of the year 2020. This week, the nation marked the 200,000th death from Covid-19—and yet it barely makes news. There have been 7700 wildfires in California alone this year, and meteorologists have already exhausted hurricane names from A to Z, but we are unmoved by climate change. We might remember George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, but do we the have mental or emotional capacity for Jacob Blake or Daniel Prude? Accordingly, protests in Portland, Kenosha, and elsewhere continue but without media coverage. If 2020 is hell – and it sure seems that way – then maybe it is like a hot tub, and we’ve grown accustomed to the heat.

Such inurement carries a big risk – that the urgency born of crisis will abate, our vigilance subside, our empathy for victims and those at risk run out. Some might call it “compassion fatigue,” others simply “the new normal.”

This is especially worrisome when it comes to our practices as worshiping communities. In some churches, it might appear as a loss of diligence in protecting our neighbors from possible exposure to the coronavirus and mounting pressure to go back to the way things were before. In other churches, it might lead to complacency about ever returning to in-person worship, resigning our members to isolation and spiritual atrophy.

As difficult as times are, we are not yet experiencing the crises that faced early Christians, who were persecuted, arrested, and killed for their faith. Yet even in those circumstances, the apostles encouraged them not to lose heart or give up hope, but to persevere in faithfulness. That is sound wisdom in our own situation too. The coronavirus is not going away; vaccines will not be available for most of us anytime soon. Even then, however, we won’t be able to return fully to “the way things were before.”

We can expect that it will take even more energy to maintain our level of vigilance as we move into fall and winter, as outdoor worship is less viable, and we have the Hobson’s choice of either retreating to our homes or risking contact in enclosed spaces. I urge our pastors and sessions not to lose heart, but to continue to find safe and creative ways of nurturing faith in worship, pastoral care, and faith formation.
To help, the Presbytery is offering special grants of up to $2500 to boost technological capacity to maintain congregational vitality, and ongoing grants of up to $2500 for congregational transformation initiatives. Our synod also has “New Covenant” grants for Congregational Development and Transformation, Multicultural and Justice Ministries, and Ministries in Higher Education.

For churches and pastors seeking relief, the Synod is also preparing online Advent and Christmas services for the weeks from November 29 through December 27. More information on those will be forthcoming.

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
September Presbytery Meeting Follow-Up
Presbytery in Brief
For the second time, the Presbytery of Lake Huron met by Zoom (except for a minimum quorum in person), on September 15. The meeting convened at Saginaw Korean Presbyterian Church, with Fairgrove Presbyterian Church serving as host congregation. The minimum quorum was required by our bylaws for a legal meeting until we could adopt amended bylaws permitting a fully virtual meeting.

The Assembly adopted those bylaws, so future virtual meetings will not have to deal with the technological challenge of a hybrid (in-person/on-line) gathering. Those challenges were evident at the September meeting when just prior to the gathering the audio-visual set up was wiped out by an unexpected operating system update, leaving our tech crew scrambling for a makeshift solution – a computer webcam with ambient (un-miked) audio. Unfortunately, much of the worship service was rendered inaudible to online participants until the audio feed could be recalibrated.

The meeting theme, chosen by Moderator Philomena Ofori-Nipaah, was the spirituality of prayer. Philomena preached at an abbreviated worship service on “Rebuilding our Spiritual Walls,” and led the equipping time on “A Theology of Prayer.” Breakout groups prayed for essential workers, wildfire fighters and victims, healing political divisions, and other timely concerns.

In other business, the Presbytery considered two major policy revisions, to our Personnel Handbook and our Presbytery Sexual Misconduct Policy. The former applies only to Presbytery staff, and the latter to Ministers of Word and Sacrament and others under the direct jurisdiction of the Presbytery. However, they may serve as models for sessions to use in congregations. The Presbytery also set the per capita rate for 2021 at $28.76 (including Synod and General Assembly), a reduction of $.24 over 2020.

The Administrative Commission for Warren Avenue Presbyterian Church was dissolved with thanks for over two years of work. Oversight of the church building and corporation was assigned to the Presbytery Board of Trustees, which continues to seek a suitable legacy for the former congregation and its historic building.

The Mission Coordination Committee presented two videos regarding our mission work in Niger, one reporting on the community health education program directed by Mission Co-workers Michael and Rachel Ludwig and the other reporting on the impact of devastating floods in the region. Links to the videos are available on the Presbytery website for use in congregations.

Aided by a zoom script to keep the meeting on topic and on track, the moderators handled business efficiently, allowing the meeting to adjourn ten minutes ahead of docket. Our next meeting, set for December 1, will feature our special guest, Diane Givens Moffett, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. 
From Dan Saperstein:
I promised at our Presbytery meeting that I would use this column to share my Executive Presbyter report. Here are a few items to note:

  • Board of Pensions employer agreements for 2021 must be filed by October 9. Church treasurers may access the information on Benefits Connect.
  • The Presbytery Nominating Committee is meeting to fill vacancies on Presbytery committees and commissions. If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact the Presbytery office. Committee descriptions may be found on the Presbytery website.
  • Don’t miss the Presbyterian Women’s fall gathering by Zoom on November 7, featuring General Assembly Co-moderator Elona Street-Stewart and Rhashell Hunter, Director of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Intercultural Ministries for the General Assembly. I am reading the book Caste: the Origins of our Discontents in preparation, and I encourage you to do so too.
  • We are excited by the movement towards merging the congregations of Saginaw Korean Presbyterian Church and Somang Korean Church of Saginaw, healing a decades-long division. Your prayers for the congregations and the Presbytery Administrative Commission are encouraged.
  • If you get a chance, take a moment to show your appreciation to our Presbytery support staff – Staci Percy, Rose Onan, and Tracy Carr – as they continue to serve with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love remotely and in socially distanced office time. I am grateful for all they do to keep the Presbytery running smoothly.

Stay safe, stay well, stay faithful.
There were requests for some items covered in the meeting to be shared on our website. The following may now be found on the Presbytery Meetings page of our website under the September 2020 meeting heading:

  • Niger Mission Minute video presented by the Rev. Matt Schramm
  • Sexual Misconduct Policy changes PowerPoint
  • Theology of Prayer PowerPoint presentation by the Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah
  • Feedback
Presbyterian Women's Fall Gathering
News from Lake Huron Presbyterian Women Coordinating Team:

As you are aware, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is currently and has been spreading across the United States. The LH PW is keenly aware of the importance of keeping safe and healthy. While the risk of transmitting the virus has improved, we are not willing to put our friends and family at risk. Therefore, the LH PW Coordinating Team is planning a Virtual Fall Event on November 7, 2020 from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm. 
 
The 2020 Virtual Fall Event will be a panel discussion with the panelists sharing their story on the topic of “Justice for All.”  We are excited to welcome Dr. Elona Street-Stewart, Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly; Dr. Rhashell Hunter, Director of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries for the Presbyterian Mission Agency; and Dr. Daniel M. Saperstein, Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Lake Huron. 

To register, please click the link below and answer the registration questions. You will then receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. If you are having problems registering, please contact the Presbytery Office (989-799-7481) and they can assist you.

Click here to register.

Participants will be invited to pose questions and offer comments through a moderated discussion and by using the Chat feature.

The following resources are recommended readings prior to the event:

  • You Tube Video, “Race in America” Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales
  • Oprah’s Apple TV Series on Racism
  • Oprah’s Newest Book Club Book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Amos 5:24
  • Matthew 25

This is an exciting and critical time in our nation’s history. I look forward to you joining us in this Virtual Event. 

Please feel free to direct any questions to member(s) of the LH PW Coordinating Team.

Georgia McCall, Moderator
Chris Wolf, Co-Moderator
Terry Woods, Treasurer
Beth Asperger, Co-Communicator
Tanya Foster, Co-Communicator
Sharon Auger, South Area Representative
Janet Olson, North West Area Representative
Joanne Clever, Co-Search Committee
Ernestine Jackson, Co-Search Committee
Grants and Scholarship Opportunities
The 2020 version of Stewardship Kaleidoscope, the interdenominational workshop to develop generous disciples, will be held online over three days September 22, 29, and October 6. This year’s theme is “Currents of Faith: The Stewardshift in Community, Technology, and Across Generations.” Each day will feature a different theme and will run from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT.

Stewardship Kaleidoscope is an annual conference offering excellent plenary speakers, informative workshop leaders, provocative worship experiences, and incredible networking opportunities for all who are passionate about stewardship and generosity. Drawing leaders from across the Lutheran Church (ELCA) and the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and beyond, Stewardship Kaleidoscope is designed to help participants explore stewardship, in its many colorful dimensions! Full information can be found here.

Cost for the online event is $45, but fifty $20 scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis from the Presbyterian Foundation. To obtain a scholarship code, contact our Foundation Ministry Relations officer Steve Keizer at stephen.keizer@presbyterianfoundation.org or by phone at 866-317-0751.
It’s time to apply for the Synod’s grants and higher education scholarships! We want to support the ministries of your churches and the academic work undertaken by your students. Grants and scholarships totaling $85,000 will be awarded in 2020.

The programs (and the dates when application reviews will begin) include:

  • Higher Education Scholarships, available to individual Presbyterians within the Synod who are attending college, university, trade school, or seminary/divinity school. Up to $1500; Reviews start 8/31/20.
  • COVID Emergency Need Grants for Higher Education Students. Up to $500; Reviews start 12/4/20.
  • New Covenant Grants, available to congregations, institutions, and organizations within the Synod for (a) congregational development and transformation, (b) multi-cultural and justice ministries, or (c) ministries in higher education. Up to $5000; Reviews start 10/1/20.
  • Racial Ethnic Program Grants, available to congregations primarily composed of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) planning new mission initiatives or outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding their church. Up to $5000; Reviews start 10/1/20.

Click here to apply and learn more.

Synod Flash Furniture and Office Supply Giveaway
The Synod of the Covenant has great office furniture to give your church or ministry! Desks, chairs, bookcases, tables, supply cabinets-all free to the first to claim it. You must reserve the more valuable items (click here for photos) for pick-up on either Thursday 10/1 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, or Saturday 10/3 from noon to 2:00 pm using the online form found here. You will be notified by 9/30/20 if someone else has already claimed the item you hope to use.
Could you use office supplies? a microwave or coffee cart? Magazine rack? Coat stand? There are lots of other items that will be first come, first served on Thursday 10/1 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm or Saturday 10/3 from noon to 2:00 pm. Feel free to forward this announcement to any other Christian organization or mission partner-everything must go!
All of these giveaways are found at the current Synod Office, 6450 Weatherfield Ct, Suite 1A, Maumee, OH (near Toledo). You are responsible for transporting the furniture and supplies to your vehicle, so please come with at least two people. Also, for smaller items please bring boxes or bags as the Synod will not have these available.
The Synod is moving from this office complex to the Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, MI (near Detroit). This move will allow the Synod to reallocate more than $30,000 from rent and associated expenses into ministry. What's more, the Kirk in the Hills will give the minimal rent which the Synod will now pay to one of their mission partners.
If you have questions, please contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at synod.covenant@gmail.com or 309-530-4578.

Click here to see available items.
Covid-19 and Congregations: What You Need to Know
On August 25th we hosted a very informative Zoom event where our special guest was Lisa Allgood, Ph.D., who has served for 36 years as a Research Immunologist and is currently the Transitional Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Cincinnati. Lisa is an outstanding resource for understanding the scientific and medical dimensions of the current pandemic and their implications for congregational worship and ministry. She was joined by Jon Baker, the Director of Laboratories at Sparrow Health Systems in the Lansing Area. Jon is also the CRE at Rosebush Presbyterian Church in our presbytery, and is a regular guest on "Fake News Friday," a weekly webcast of Hillsdale Hospital sorting out Covid-19 fact from fiction.

You can find the recording of the event along with resources provided by Lisa after the meeting on our COVID-19 page.
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.