Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
November 6, 2019
We Lift Up In Prayer
The Rev. Ken Hetzel , Honorably Retired, who is battling cancer.

All of our churches currently in 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. Shimon Pak (11/8) - Pastor of Saginaw-Korean
Elder Chris Wolf (11/14) - 15 years - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Marlette-First and Marlette-Second
The Rev. Tom Cundiff (11/27) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dr. Rodney Shoemaker (12/2) - Honorably Retired
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 serving in Lebanon


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
This morning I saw the report: “Boise church, presbytery wipe out medical debt in Idaho.” Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise Presbytery raised $15,000 to purchase $1.5 million in uncollected medical debt, setting 549 families free from the trauma of unpayable medical obligations. Their example is causing local hospitals to review how they handle patient debt. ( )

That is one example of a PC(USA) congregation and presbytery who have responded to the challenge to become a Matthew 25 church. In recent columns we have been exploring the church-wide invitation of the 223 rd General Assembly to take vital, passionate faith into our communities and the world, following Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 25:31-46 to care for “the least of these, my brothers and sisters” by serving people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency has given shape to that vision by challenging 20% of PC(USA) congregations to embrace one or more of the following objectives:

  • Building congregational vitality by challenging people and congregations to deepen their faith and get actively and joyfully engaged with their community and the world.
  • Dismantling structural racism by advocating and acting to break down the systems, practices and thinking that underlie discrimination, bias, prejudice and oppression of people of color.
  • Eradicating systemic poverty by working to change laws, policies, plans and structures in our society that perpetuate economic exploitation of people who are poor.

As of this writing, three churches in the Presbytery of Lake Huron – Bay City First, Tawas Area Community, and Saginaw Korean – have embraced the call. Kudos to these “early adopters”!

In this column I will share what it would mean for our presbytery to become a Matthew 25 presbytery . The Matthew 25 vision is for the whole church, for congregations, mid councils, and the General Assembly. A Matthew 25 presbytery agrees to promote the mission objectives and encourage at least 20% of its congregations to accept the Matthew 25 challenge.

Our presbytery has been growing into the Matthew 25 vision for several years. To be a Matthew 25 congregation is to adopt a mission orientation that is “inside-out, upside-down, and sticky” – what I have been advocating in this column for three and a half years. Our presbytery moderator, Chris Wolf, has adopted Matthew 25:40 as her theme verse for the presbytery in 2019. Each of the Matthew 25 objectives has been the focus of one or more equipping times at recent presbytery meetings. The Matthew 25 vision is our vision.

What difference would it make for us to become part of the Matthew 25 movement?

  • It would give specific focus to our vision as a presbytery so that we could align our mission priorities with the Matthew 25 objectives
  • It would facilitate mission networking and partnership between congregations of our own presbytery
  • It would connect us to resources and partners in the larger church who share our vision
  • It would be a witness to our communities that Presbyterians are making a difference in people’s lives

And, most importantly, it would help build vital congregations that are practicing mission that is inside-out, upside-down, and sticky – following the model of Jesus himself.

Our Mission Coordination Committee has already endorsed the Matthew 25 initiative; but following the vision needs to be the decision of the whole presbytery. It is my hope that our presbytery will follow the call to be a Matthew 25 church. I encourage you to see for yourself what this might mean for you by going to the Matthew 25 website:

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Records Review
We will hold the last annual Records Review on Saturday, November 9th at Marlette-First at 10:00am.

Be sure to bring your Session Minutes and Records books along with a filled out review form. 

Letters to Clerks of Session were mailed out last month.

Additional information may be found on the  Records Review  page of our website.
Annual Statistics
PC-USA Seal Round
Information regarding the 2019 Annual Statistical reporting will be sent out the first week of January.

Links and information will be posted on our website at that time as well.
Online Giving
If your congregation is interested in giving members an opportunity to pay their weekly offering online, the Presbyterian Foundation can help you with that.

Your church can easily accept secure online donations through the Foundation’s online giving system.

  • Add a donation form to your website to accept gifts by electronic funds transfer, debit or credit card.
  • Simple, safe and secure.
  • No setup or maintenance fees.

Click here for more information.
NEXT Church National Gathering
The 2020 National Gathering of NEXT Church will be held in Cincinnati March 2-4 . Since it is a drivable distance this time we hope that more members of presbytery will be able to attend. If there is enough interest, we will rent a van and ride together.

NEXT Church is a network of leaders — church members, ruling elders, youth leaders, educators, pastors, seminarians and professors — across the Presbyterian Church (USA) who believe the church of the future will be more relational, more diverse, more collaborative, more hopeful and more agile. We provide hopeful space for robust conversations about the theology, culture, and the practice of ministry, support strong, faithful leadership in a time of adaptive change, and encourage collaboration and creativity across congregations and geographies. We are fostering a conversation about how to follow Christ in our particular day and age. We are a movement seeking to strengthen the relational fabric of the PC(USA) so that our congregations are strong and healthy enough to be a sustained, effective, faithful and moral voice that is engaged in the transformation of our communities toward the common good.

There are some scholarships available. Click here for more information.
Interfaith Prayer Service
Interfaith Prayer Service in Saginaw

Starting in 2017, Christian and non-Christian faith traditions have organized and celebrated the Interfaith Prayer Service in Saginaw.

This year this Service will be on Sunday, Nov. 24 th , from 3:30 pm to 5 pm. The setting is Christ the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church at 2445 N. Charles Street, Saginaw. The faith traditions gathering to affirm our national Thanksgiving Day of prayer come from the Church of God in Christ, the Episcopal, the Methodist, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Roman Catholic Christian traditions, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, the Baha’I, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Jain, the Muslim, and the Sikh traditions.
Following this service comes opportunities to feast on foods from each faith tradition and to ask questions at the various tables set up for just this opportunity.

Speaking for myself, an ordained Minister of the Word and Sacrament within the PC(USA), our times call upon us as American Christians to do all that we can, whenever we can, and wherever we can, to celebrate the unity in diversity that marks our nation, the United States of America. I look forward to seeing you on Nov. 24 th at Christ the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church , 2445 N. Charles Street, Saginaw.

Rev. Karen Blatt
In Our Congregations
Italian Dinner

Mark your calendars for an evening of delicious food, wine, and mingling! First Presbyterian Church of Alma ’s Outreach Committee is presenting an ancora (encore for those of you who prefer French!) of the Fortino Italian Dinner of 2010. Chuck and Julie Fortino are preparing their secret family recipe (secret is no joke) and will be our hosts November 9 th starting at 6 p.m. All money raised will be distributed to other organizations in our community. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available by calling the church office at 989-463-2940. Only 120 tickets will be sold . Click here for more details.
Ithaca-First to Celebrate 150th

Ithaca First Presbyterian Church is celebrating their 150th anniversary on February 16, 2020, and would like to invite Presbytery to join them in celebrating throughout their sesquicentennial year. Save the dates for these events! Click here for details.