Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
October 23, 2019
We Lift Up In Prayer
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.  Dan Saperstein  (10/3) - Executive Presbyter
The Rev.  Ewen Holmes  (10/10) - Interim Pastor of  Bay City-Westminster
The Rev. Dr.  Wally Mayton  (10/25) - Associate Pastor of  Midland-Memorial
The Rev.  Christina Jensen  (10/28) - Pastor of  Ithaca-First
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


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
In recent columns I have been expanding on what it means to become a “Matthew 25” church. Recently, the Presbyterian Mission Agency launched an initiative to focus the work of our denomination, presbyteries, and congregations toward fulfilling Christ’s vision for the people of God described in Matthew 25:31-46 and summarized in the commendation, “As you did it to the least of these members of my family, you did it to me.” The “it” consists of simple acts of feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, and visiting the sick or imprisoned.

The national movement has three 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.

I have already addressed the first two of these; in this column I will address “eradicating systemic poverty.”

God’s concern for the poor is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus announced his own ministry with the words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…” (Luke 4:18). The prophets – from Moses to Mary the mother of Jesus – decried the injustice that causes poverty.

American society, with its emphasis on individual responsibility and the Protestant work ethic, is prone to view poverty as a moral failing of individuals. We say the poor are lazy, or that their poverty is due to some personal vice. Conversely, we see wealth as God’s reward for goodness. But that is not the biblical view, and it is false economics as well.

The major causes of poverty are social and systemic. They are rooted in long histories of colonialism, exploitation, unjust laws that favor the wealthy, unequal access to education and medical care, and other structural causes. Poverty overlaps significantly with other forms of injustice such as racism and sexism. Hunger, homelessness, addiction, environmental illness, increased infant mortality and other problems are directly related to poverty.

Poverty is a major problem in the communities of our own presbytery, both in our urban and rural areas. The recent ALICE study of working poverty by the United Way shows that in some of our counties, the true poverty rate – both those under the federal poverty income level and those who are “working poor” exceeds 50% of households. Just this week, the Detroit Free Press has been running an investigative report on the prevalence and experience of rural poverty in our state.

What can we as a Matthew 25 church do to address systemic poverty? Charitable undertakings like food and clothing drives, help address the symptoms of poverty, but not its cause. To address systemic poverty, we must also advocate for better public policies, including job creation, greater empowerment of workers, a stronger social safety net, early childhood education, rural medical access, and more. We can’t do everything, but we can do something right in our own neighborhoods, and with our civic, state, and national governments.

Matthew 25 describes the judgment of the nations , which biblically refers to both individuals and peoples. Likewise, our response must be both personal and societal. For more information about becoming a Matthew 25 church, or addressing systemic poverty, go to .

In my next column, I will conclude this series by addressing what the Matthew 25 movement means for our presbytery.        


Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Records Review
We will hold the annual Records Review on two more Saturdays this fall, each beginning at 10:00am.

October 26th  Bay City-Westminster
November 9th Marlette-First

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 earlier this month. Additional information may be found on the  Records Review  page of our website.
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.
In Our Congregations
Haunted Trail

Grand Blanc-Kirkridge , October 26th 7:00pm. Our haunted trail began as a Halloween party, then a room in the building was made into a “haunted house.” After a couple of years we moved the haunted house to our prayer path through the woods. The next year we decided to offer our Scout Troop the use, and they began inviting area cub packs. We now offer it to the community asking for donations to the Food Bank as admissions. Two years ago it had grown to over 100 area children coming through on Saturday nightand, and about 200 Cub Scouts and friends on the following Tuesday evening – truly a mission to the community. Our trail is geared to elementary through middle school children with the “spooks” adjusting the fright levels by age group. Many parents have expressed their joy at finding something age-appropriate and affordable. Click here for information on this year's event.
Holiday Fair

Bay City-First will be hosting a Holiday Fair on November 2nd from 9:00am to 3:00 pm. Click here for details.
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.