Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
December 3, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
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. Dr. Rod Shoemaker (12/2) - Member-At-Large
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
The Rev. Rich Lawther (1/4) - 45 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Scott Kroener (1/19) - 35 Years - Pastor of Birch Run-Taymouth
The Rev. Alex Peterson (1/22) - Pastor of Lapeer-First
The Rev. Elizabeth Stilwell (1/22) - Member-At-Large

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 Presbytery Staff
From the Lions’ Den
Dan Saperstein
Love in the Time of Corona

One of the most celebrated novels of the late Colombian Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez is Love in the Time of Cholera. It is an epic story of a love-triangle in which a woman abandons a marriage engagement to the passionate lover of her youth and marries a safer, more secure, but ultimately unsatisfying man of science and reason. The title is a play on words, as cólera is Spanish for “passion”. Choleric is a similar English word, referring to the classic temperament representing the passion and fire of youth.

The novel contrasts these two temperaments of reason and passion, and how they manifest themselves in our most important relationships. A similar contrast seems to exist in our responses to the coronavirus-caused epidemic of COVID-19. Some individuals and congregations are guided by reason – paying careful attention to the best scientific advice, measuring and minimizing the risks of various forms of social and congregational interaction, and put aside, at least for a time, the more emotionally rewarding experiences of face-to-face interactions. Others are guided by passion – whether driven by spiritual longing or political suasion – and prefer to take the risks of in-person gatherings for the sake of the emotional and spiritual reward.

These are not easy choices. The novel suggests that there is a mutual relationship between passion and reason – that passion often makes us blind to important realities, and that reason alone is insufficient for our full enjoyment of life and love. It also suggests that there is a time for each, a time when we are wise to love passionately, and a time to defer to reason in managing our relationships.

Our celebrations of Advent and Christmas are times that spark the passion of our love for Christ and his church. They are deeply embedded in our own experiences of family and spiritual formation. It is tempting, therefore, to want to indulge our passion for the traditions and rituals of the season. But this year, at this time, it is not the season to be guided by passion, but by reason.

Yesterday, our nation saw a record number of COVID-related deaths, over 2700 in a single day. We are at an all-time high in the number of COVID hospitalizations. Area hospitals are already at their capacity and are preparing emergency facilities for the coming spike. Our current rate of infection, pushed higher by family Thanksgiving celebrations, suggests that things will get worse before they get better. If we gather in multi-family groups, whether for church or family traditions, it is almost certain that they will become superspreader events. You can see the chances of an asymptomatic COVID-positive person being present in a group, by county here. The chances range from 63% to 94% for a group of 25, and from 83% to 98% in a group of 50. The chances are higher in areas where testing less common or available.

As Márquez suggests, it is easy for us to live in denial of difficult realities if we are guided by passion, by our emotional needs alone. The reality is that meeting in person (masked or not, distanced or not) is riskier now than ever before. Our love for our neighbors – especially those who are most vulnerable – requires that we be guided by love born of reason – not passion – this Christmas and NOT meet in person for worship and other celebrations.

“Corona” is the Latin word for “wreath” or “crown”. As we celebrate the birth of the King of kings, let us crown him with love that cares for neighbors as much as we care for ourselves. There is a time for the emotional rewards of the season, and it will come eventually. But for now, let us be guided by reason.

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Advent Services Available To Stream
The Synod of the Covenant is offering weekly Advent services to stream free of charge. The Presbytery of Lake Huron will be providing the content for the December 27th service.

Pastors, worship leaders, musicians, and tech gurus have worked so consistently to create and offer meaningful worship services during the pandemic. Words we would have rarely associated with worship before March (e.g., Zoom, Facebook Live, Vimeo, YouTube, and more!) are now part of our regular vocabulary and planning. Of course, these leaders are still investing heavily in sermons, music, liturgy, and prayers that are as powerful as ever.

To thank you for your hard work, the presbytery and synod staff leaders are planning virtual worship services which you can use for worship throughout Advent. You’ll be able to live stream or download the sermons and scriptures or the whole service, and of course you can choose to use one, all, or none of these services. The presbytery and synod leaders offer these as a gift to thank you for your incredible ministry all year long.

Click here for more information and the schedule.
From An Honorably Retired Member of Presbytery
Retired Pastor, Dale Swihart has written a book of poetic meditations, paired with some of his photographs. He has been writing these blank verse poems since the start of the pandemic as a therapeutic way of coping. He has also been sharing them via email and Facebook. The book is entitled, Catching Falling Stars: Poems for COVID and Beyond. It contains the first three months of writings. Volume 2 is in the works. The book can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.

You can contact Dale at daleswihart@gmail.com.
Synod of the Covenant Grants
The Synod of the Covenant is delighted to announce that it has awarded almost $45,000 in grants to thirteen congregations and ministries in six presbyteries. These awards, ranging from $1800 to $5000, include winners of the Racial Ethnic and New Covenant Grants.

The Racial Ethnic Grants, to help congregations primarily composed of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color supplement their mission work, include five winners. The New Covenant Grants program supports congregational vitality/renewal, multicultural and social justice ministries, and higher education ministries, and eight congregations and ministries received funding. Between the two grants, 32 applications were received.

Here are the grant awardees for the 2020:

Lake Huron Presbytery
Alma College:  $5,000 New Covenant Grant for Pre-Ministry Leadership Program

Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church, Midland:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for Elder-Accessible Garden Beds with Community Garden

First Presbyterian Church of Alma:  $2,000 New Covenant Grant for the Food Pantry to Table Project and Community Cafe

The Korean Presbyterian Church of Saginaw:  $5,000 Racial Ethnic Grant for Signage Reflecting New Name for Two Merged Churches

Click here for more information.
Records Review
Session
We still have about half of the church's Records Book that need to be reviewed. If you have not submitted your copies for review, please contact the Stated Clerk, Ted McCulloch at tmcculloch@presbylh.org or 989-799-7481 x4 as soon as possible.
Request For Assistance
From our Presbytery Moderator, and Interim Pastor of Saginaw-Second the Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah:

I am looking for clergy and lay leaders to participate in the 3 month prayer project for my Doctor of Ministry project. It will be similar to what I shared during the September meeting. The meeting will be virtual via Zoom in a total of 5 times lasting for 30 minutes. All who are interested should contact Philomena at either: nhyira5@gmail.com or 301-974-7879.
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.