Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
July 29, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
The Rev. Linda Graham, Temporary Supply of Davison-St. Andrews, on the passing of her husband Bruce Graham yesterday. (As of publication, there was not an obituary available to link to.)

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

The Rev. Ken Hetzel, Honorably Retired, who is being treated for cancer and had a very positive update recently. From Ken: " The cancer continues to shrink and is "under control". The Oncologist continues to state I am doing more than fine, I am doing excellent in responding to therapy."

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. David Blackburn (7/1) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. James Neumann (7/1) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Linda Williams (7/1) - Parish Associate of Bay City-Westminster
The Rev. Tom Schacher (7/17) - Member-At-Large
The Rev. Jim Offrink (7/25) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Lindsey Carnes (7/29) - Transitional Pastor of Flint-Trinity United
The Rev. Robbie Carnes (7/29) - Pastor of Fenton-First
The Rev. Noel Snyder (7/31) - Member-At-Large
The Rev. Leslie Piper (8/1) - Interim Pastor, Bay City-First
Elder Kathleen Rowe (8/1) - 5 Years - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Tawas
The Rev. Dr. Steve Shugert (8/1) - Honorably Retired, Pastor Emeritus of Mt. Pleasa nt-First
The Rev. David Eshelman (8/3) - Honorably Retired
Elder Shaun Hardimon (8/11) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Swartz Creek-Mundy
The Rev. Glenn Grant (8/15) - Pastor of Grand Blanc-Kirkridge
The Rev. Ken Hetzel (8/16) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Ted McCulloch (8/20) - Pastor of Saginaw-First and Stated Clerk of Presbytery
The Rev. Charles Marquardt (8/29) - Honorably Retired


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
From the Lions’ Den - General Assembly Edition, Part 1

In my last column, I began reporting on the 224 th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which convened via Zoom June 19-20 and 26-27. It was a historic Assembly both because it was the first Assembly held electronically, and for the actions it took.

Due to limitations inherent in both the technology used and in the Assembly’s by-laws and rules, business was limited to “essential” items only. As I mentioned in my last column, that did not stop the Assembly from taking some timely action related to Native American ministries, the COVID-19 crisis, and racial injustice.

The Native American mission items were especially appropriate as the Assembly had just elected the first Native American Co-Moderator, Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart of St. Paul, Minnesota. The Assembly declared the years 2020-2030 “the decade of confession and repentance” for the Doctrine of Discovery, the colonialist partnership between church and state to subjugate indigenous peoples and seize their lands. Among many recommendations and directives, the action encouraged church councils to designate a portion of proceeds from property sales as reparations. A fund-raising program to make essential repairs to Native American churches and facilities was also adopted.

The Assembly action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic urged the church to be guided “by the evidence of science and our deepest values as a people of faith.” It identified the church’s challenge not so much one of adjusting to a “new normal” as continuing to grow as “new humans in Christ” in loving, faithful, and caring responses to our neighbors.

The item receiving the most attention – and controversy – was a statement “On This Moment in History,” a late item of business from the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, prompted by the murder of George Floyd and other atrocities. The original overture was a brief restatement of existing policy on racial injustice intended to be short, straightforward, and non-controversial. The statement, however, did not adequately express the growing sense of outrage felt by the commissioners on this important issue. One commissioner introduced a procedurally complicated substitute motion offering a more robust, socially prophetic statement. That led to lengthy deliberation, perfecting amendments, and votes.

In a normal Assembly, the standing committee assigned the overture would have perfected the statement. But with no committees, a time crunch, and limited opportunity for people to be heard, the final product was improved but imperfect. One notable omission was any statement about racially motivated violence against women and girls, a matter the previous Assembly commissioned a task force to explore. When exhausted commissioners balked at a last-minute effort to suspend the rules in order to reconsider and repair the previously adopted statement, the Assembly Twitter-feed exploded with accusations of systemic racism that echoed for days after adjournment.

That was an unfortunate ending to the Assembly, and all things considered, a largely unwarranted judgment on what was undoubtedly the most theologically and socially progressive assemblage of commissioners in recent history (perhaps ever). It illustrated well the problem of going beyond routine business in a forum ill-equipped to hear the voice of the whole church.

One benefit of holding the Assembly online was saving as much as two million dollars in travel, hotel, meal, and convention center costs. That permitted the GA portion of the per capita assessment to remain virtually unchanged, increasing only $.03.

Our presbytery was well-represented by our commissioners Elder Heather Bailey of Bay City First Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Matt Schramm of Midland Memorial Presbyterian Church. 

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Presbytery Office
Presbyterian Planning Calendar 2020-2021

*** LAST DAY TO ORDER/PAY ***

This 16‐month calendar (September, 2020-December, 2021) contains many planning aids for pastors and other church leaders. Includes lectionary for Sundays and special days, liturgical days, liturgical colors, resource information for PC(USA) programmatic emphases, updated synod, presbytery and Presbyterian Mission Agency staff directories, color foldout synod/presbytery and world maps.

Cost per calendar is $10.00 and all orders must be pre-paid either online or by check. Payment is needed by July 29, 2020. Unfortunately, there are no cancellations after this date.

You will be notified when the calendars have arrived (expected around mid-August) and arrangements for pick up or delivery can be made at that time.

Click here to order.  
Mission Co-Workers
Michael and Rachel Ludwig

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Ludwigs and the EERN church in Niger!

We are contacting churches and presbyteries that support our ministry to share two pieces of info:  

  1. To let you know that the PCUSA has stopped all travel for PCUSA workers (including us) through December 2020. So it is likely that we won't be able to visit any of you in person.
  2. To offer possible pieces for your worship services with a mission focus that you can use when it works well into your schedule.  

We relate so much to how Paul is feeling as he writes in Romans chapter 1: "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now)"

Since we won't be able to visit in person, we have some videos for your use as you are interested or able.  If there's something specific that would fit just right into one of your pieces for a worship service, go ahead and make a request, and we'll try to work with you on it.  Please do keep in touch as it is so encouraging for us to hear from you.


Click here to subscribe to their newsletters on the PC(USA) website.
You're Invited
Inter-Racial Book Club

Note: Even though this series has already begun, it will continue throughout the summer and you may join at any time.

Join Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Flint for an online Inter-Racial Book Club this summer.

Wednesday nights on Zoom, starting July 8, 7-8pm.

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Winner of the National Book Award

Description: Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.

About the book: Ta-Nehisi Coates' letter to his teenage son is a moving personal account of what it's like to be black in America.

It's also about:

  • Race as the child of racism, not the father
  • Resilence in the face of racism
  • The "American Dream," including it's myths, privileges, and prejudices
  • The power of education for growth and awareness
  • The irreplaceable value of the body, individual lives, our collective resources

One thing Coates teaches is that it's okay not to have the answers. He encourages us to face our discomfort--to sit with our questions. It's the asking and the seeking that matter most. Let's start the conversation!

Sign-up: To RSVP for Between the World and Me email Pastor Lindsey pastorLcarnes@gmail.com or Pastor Robbie pastorRcarnes@gmail.com . Please read the Prologue, Chapters 1 & 2 prior before July 15.

Books are available via online booksellers like Amazon, Kindle, public library, or via free pdf. If you need help ordering or accessing contact Pastor Lindsey.

First 3 chapters available for preview here: https://www.mtsac.edu/elj/english/documents/engl1a/engl_1a_reading_n.pdf  
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.