Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
January 21, 2021
We Lift Up In Prayer
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. 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
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

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
I can’t remember a two-week interval between Bi-weekly Brief columns that has been as momentous and pastorally challenging as that since my last column. Within hours after our last issue was published, the U.S. Capitol was assaulted by rioters intent on disrupting the process of ratifying the people’s vote for President. Their acts resulted in six deaths, including two Capitol police officers. Symbols of our democracy were desecrated; the nation felt violated. And, even more disturbing to many was the mixture of Christian symbols and racist slogans among the rioters, and the invocation of Divine justification for the insurrection.

It was, in the words of a sermon I had preached just a week before, a kairos moment. Kairos is a New Testament word for time that is fraught with spiritual significance, often calling for a response of faith. The events of January 6 — the Day of Epiphany on our liturgical calendar — demanded that we as Christians in America profess true faith in the face of its public and political distortion.

That requires courageous leadership. I was able to listen to several worship services the following Sunday and in the days following. Every pastor I heard addressed the events either pastorally, or prophetically, or both. A few who criticized the rioters were accused by angry or offended church members of being too political, or having the wrong politics. I am sure some members may leave their churches, or will seek to rally others to oppose the pastor.

Every pastor knows the risks of preaching prophetic sermons in kairos moments. It is easier and safer to proclaim a merely therapeutic gospel that deals with just “me and Jesus” and avoids tough questions of how to live faithfully and responsibly in the world. And there are times when “me and Jesus” sermons are good, faithful, and necessary. But a kairos event requires a response that does not avoid the call of the moment. As former General Assembly Co-moderator Jan Edmiston wrote in her blog, “Jesus never said, ‘Let’s pretend like that didn’t happen,’” and “When you avoid conflict, you avoid connection.”

It is always easier to maintain a superficial form of false community based on avoiding difficult conversations rather than to do the hard work of listening, discerning, and holding one another accountable to our faith. But, a church whose unity depends on avoiding those difficult conversations proclaims a false gospel, or at least an impotent one. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we observed this week, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail decried the Christian who “prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” As a friend succinctly stated, “There is no unity without reconciliation. There is no reconciliation without accountability. There is no accountability without truth.”

So kudos to our pastors who addressed the events of this month with courage, passion, honesty, and faithfulness. And kudos to those congregations where difficult issues can be presented and discussed with respect, compassion, and humility. And may God bless all of us who strive to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” and who, “speaking the truth in love,” help the church “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:3, 4:15).


Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
COVID-19 Orders
COVID-19 Orders Still in Effect

Whether it is “cabin fever,” “COVID fatigue,” or simple eagerness, an increasing number of congregations have inquired about advice concerning returning to in-person worship. The Presbytery Council advice issued in November still applies. Here is a summary:

  • The decision lies with the Session but should be based on the best public health guidance.
  • We recommend using a multi-factor risk assessment tool like that gives county-level statistics.
  • Your county should register in the green or yellow (“low” or “medium”) categories for at least 7 days before resuming in-person activities.
  • When your county registers orange, red, or maroon (“high”, “critical”, or “severe”) in-person activities should be suspended.
  • Any in-person activities should incorporate safety protocols including masking, social distancing, disinfection, and size limits as directed by public health officials.
  • Any in-person worship should limit the length of service and activities which increase the transmission of aerosols (e.g., congregational singing).

Michigan has shown significant improvement recently, but as of this writing all counties in our presbytery register in the orange or red categories. With the development of highly infectious strains of the coronavirus, in-person worship is not recommended at this time. 
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
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.
NEXTChurch is Free is 2021
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.
APCE Offering Scholarships

APCE (Association of Presbyterian Church Educators) offers your presbytery the opportunity to enhance Christian education in your churches by identifying up to 4 people in faith formation (educator, pastor, volunteer) to attend FOR FREE our 2021 virtual Annual Event, Anything but Ordinary Time.

February 4-6, 11:00 am – 6 pm (Eastern) each day
What participants can expect to receive: Daily worship, plenaries followed by breakout groups, Marketplace shopping, regional connecting opportunities, and multiple workshop options covering all aspects of Christian faith formation

These gifts from APCE will be determined as follows:

  • The participants serve or attend a church with an annual budget of less than $200,000.
  • The participants will commit to full attendance at the online event.
  • Preference is given for persons of color.
  • To claim these gifts, the presbytery must submit names and contact information (email address, church, optional: cell phone) NO LATER THAN JANUARY 15 to:, ATTN: Thom Cunningham
  • Registration code to activate the scholarship will be sent to participants.

Questions? Contact Thom Cunningham, 2021 Annual Event Ministry Team Co-Chair,
Camping Scholarships Available
A donor at First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven, Michigan, wants to provide generous financial assistance to children desiring to go to a Christian camp. This year the program is being offered to all the churches in the four presbyteries in Michigan - Detroit, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Mackinac. If you are willing, we'd like to have you offer this financial assistance to the children and youth of your church. Please make copies of the application and distribute them among those eligible for the funding.

Here are the parameters of this program:

  • The purpose of the camp must be Christian faith development.
  • It is open to any child or youth with a connection to your church.
  • The camper's family is responsible for paying the camp registration fee (at a minimum).
  • A family can pay more if they choose.
  • The donor desires that children will do work around the house or community to earn the funds for the registration fee.
  • This program will pay the remaining portion of the camp. The expectation is that this will not exceed $500.00 per camper.
  • This financial assistance comes with no income requirements. The donor wants children to go to Christian camp without restriction.
  • The donor expects that the home church will pray for their campers in person prior to attending camp.
  • Following the camp there will be a follow-up letter for reflection by the camper on his or her experience. This letter will be shared with the donor.

Click here for more details and the application.
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
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