Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
June 3, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
Elder Don Wixson, Commissioned Ruling Elder of Vassar-First, who is being treated for cancer.

The Rev. Ken Hetzel, Honorably Retired, who has recently been proclaimed cancer free.

Our 20 churches currently in pastoral transition. (That is 44% of our total congregations.)

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. Roger Browne (6/1) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Philomena Ofori-Nipaah (6/2) - Presbytery Moderator
The Rev. Dr. Bob Emrich (6/7) - 50 Years - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Paul Ytterock (6/8) - Associate Pastor of Flint-First
The Rev. Ron Grimes (6/13) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Mike Loenshal (6/18) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Don Neuville (6/19) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Cassie Todd (6/19) - Member-At-Large
The Rev. Dr. Joseph Novak (6/24) - Pastor of Flint-First
The Rev. Ken Parker (6/24) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Andrew Pomerville (6/24) - Chaplain of Alma College
The Rev. Peter Russell (6/29) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Bob Taylor (6/29) - Honorably Retired
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


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
As a Presbytery we have endured quite a Spring. We are in the middle of a pandemic. We have suffered catastrophic floods. But I want to use my report today to talk about a different affliction, another pandemic facing our church and our nation—the virus of racism.

By now, everyone is aware of the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, an African-American, while in police custody and in full view of onlookers. Although Floyd was handcuffed and posed no threat, and while two officers held him down and a third kept watch, another officer pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds, including over two minutes after Floyd failed to register a pulse. Nine times in the last five minutes of his life Floyd told the police “I can’t breathe.” Onlookers shouted at the officers, “You’re killing him.”

Floyd’s murder, along with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many, many, more are not just the actions of a few rogue individuals. They are symptoms of a social virus that has infected every corner of this land for 400 years and it must end. That virus is racism. In the name of justice; in the name of humanity; in the name of God it must end.  

I am a white male who holds a position of social trust and power. I am the beneficiary of white privilege. I cannot speak personally about the African-American experience of either personal or structural racism and do not presume to speak for my black friends, neighbors and church members. But I can speak to the church as a pastor and leader, and for myself as a follower of Christ.

I don’t know what it is to be black in America, but I do know the meaning of “I can’t breathe.” I don’t know how to root out racism in the hearts and minds of my white neighbors, but I can see the racist assumptions and attitudes that I also struggle with in my own heart and mind.

On Sunday, we heard the story of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God, the breath of God, came upon the gathered disciples and sent them out to proclaim God’s saving love to all the world. Our Confessions of 1967 and Belhar teach us that racism has no place in the church and out of faithfulness to Christ, must be resisted and dismantled in the world.

This is a kairos moment, a time when the church is called to bear witness to what we believe. Our response must reflect our deeply held values of respect for human life and dignity for all who bear God’s image. Media attention in the past few days has shifted from the brutality of George Floyd’s murder to the riots that escalated from protests against it in many of our cities. This is a distraction. While we certainly deplore the riots and the looting, we cannot equate the loss of property from the lawlessness of those who have been deprived justice with the loss of life from the lawlessness of those who are entrusted to enforce justice. We must keep in mind the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “riots are the language of the unheard.”

As a church, let us hear. Let us hear the cries of “black lives matter” from those who live in fear, exhaustion, grief, and pain from the brutalization of black bodies and the terrorization of black communities. Let us not dismiss them with bromides like “all lives matter,” or “I don’t see color.” Not all lives are singled out and brutalized for the color of their skin – black lives are. And to say “I don’t see color” is to say “I don’t see you. I don’t see your suffering. It’s not my problem.” Racism is our problem. The real terrorist threat to America is the terror that we inflict day in and day out on our black neighbors all across this country who can’t jog, can’t drive, can’t walk down the street, can’t BREATHE without fear.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA hall of famer turned author and cultural ambassador wrote in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.”

A white member of one of our churches recently asked, where do I go from here to make a difference? I replied, first, learn to listen humbly. That means hearing and seeing our black neighbors; it means practicing humility about ourselves and working on checking our own racism and white privilege. It means resisting the temptation to substitute our own judgments and experiences in these matters for the wisdom and guidance of respected black activists, thinkers, and leaders. We have a lot to learn.

Second, as white Christians we need to act courageously: to speak up when we encounter racist comments and actions. If we can’t call out racism among our own families and friends, and of course, in our church, then we will never help dismantle it in society. It also means using our privilege and power not for ourselves or others like us, but to advocate for those who lack privilege and power.

As a Christian who is white, I want to say – and I want our presbytery to say – to our black brothers and sisters, we hear you and we see you. We acknowledge your grief and pain and our part in contributing to it. Help us learn what we need to do to repent of our sin and to follow your lead to help make our church and our world a place where everyone can live and breathe without fear.

At our March meeting, this presbytery committed to becoming a Matthew 25 presbytery, including a commitment to work to dismantle structural racism.

This is our kairos moment as a church and as a presbytery to do just that. As Charon Barconey, the Associate Executive in Detroit Presbytery challenged her presbytery, “If our commitment was more than just ‘checking a box and patting ourselves on the back’” then we have work to do. With humility, courage, and love, let us do it.


Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
June Presbytery Meeting
Thank you to everyone who attended yesterday's stated meeting of presbytery.

Thank you to Midland-Chapel Lane for being our host church, Saginaw-First for being our physical host and to all who worked so hard on setting up a new-to-us way of meeting.

Yesterday's offering went to assist with flood relief in and around Midland. If you would like to contribute, please visit the Donate page of our website.

Feedback surveys have been emailed to those who participated. The link will be active for just 48 hours. If you did not receive the link, click here to take the short survey.
Hunger Advocate Report
Greetings from the Rev. Karen Blatt, Hunger Advocate for the Presbytery of Lake Huron and member of the Presbytery of Lake Huron’s Mission Coordination Team!

This report is for all the congregations of the Presbytery of Lake Huron as we all embody what is required of us as “living vaccines” standing over against the novel coronavirus. As we fulfill that mission, I have found from conversations with you all that you are also fulfilling mission related to the realities of hunger throughout the 18 counties of the Presbytery.

Today we focus on four (4) congregations found within Region 2 of the Presbytery.

We begin with the Tawas Area Presbyterian Church in East Tawas, Iosco County. This congregation supports the COVID 19 Tawas Schools Food Program both with dollars and food collected and delivered to all families for four (4) meals a week. The Oscoda homeless shelter receives food collections from the congregation three (3) times a year. The Hale Fish Baby Pantry receives diapers, infant clothing, baby formula, baby food and juice. St. Vincent de Paul’s monthly food give away is supported on a scheduled monthly basis.

We move south on Rt. 23 through Arenac County into Bay County.  Bay City-First is a pick up site for the Bay City Area Food Bank, staying open during the COVID 19 challenge. The church also participates in the Bay City Emergency Food Pantry network, receiving calls from the 211 network. Food boxes with a $ 15 gift certificate for Jack’s Great Market (fresh foods) are also a part of this work.

We move across the Saginaw River to Bay City-Westminster . There is a Food Pantry at the church, now with distribution going to another group. Food of Faith is supported through serving one meal a week. Now the congregation is taking up special offerings for the Greater Bay City School Districts.

We continue south, using Rt. 23 and Interstate 75 into Saginaw County and to Birch Run-Taymouth . The congregation participates in an ecumenical co-operative effort- St. Francis and St. Clare food program, Birch Run Methodist-clothing closet, Christ Lutheran-Baby Pantry.

To all: This report is one of the Presbytery of Lake Huron’s Mission Coordination Committee’s regular reports related to the on-going mission work within the Presbytery. Our aim is not simply to inform you about the various mission efforts related to the hunger needs of the people living in the 18 counties of the Presbytery, but also to give us a sense that while one congregation may be up north in the tourism area off the Lake Huron shoreline and another is south nearer urban Michigan than tourism Michigan, all congregations are a part of a whole-the Presbytery of Lake Huron.

And all of this fits within Jesus Christ’s declaration to the disciples waiting in Jerusalem: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” - Acts 1: 8.
Parish Paper
The latest editions of the  Parish Paper  are now available on our website. As a reminder these may be used by all of our congregations  free of charge  under the presbytery's subscription. Topics this time are:

July Care, Leadership, and Self-Renewal in Uncertain Times
August Hospitality: Offering a Third Place to Gather

Click here   to download these or any of the issues from the previous decade.

Re-Opening Consideration
As many of our congregations begin planning for re-opening our worship spaces, there is one piece of planning that is easy to overlook: talking with the insurance company of the congregation. This is especially true if a church is opening faster than the current government and/or health authority directives.

It is true that churches in Michigan have had the ability to be open throughout the quarantine period. But that does not mean a church is free of insurance coverage questions. It is possible that your insurance company has certain requirements in order to keep full coverage in force, especially if a claim is made about COVID being contracted at the church. One of those insurance requirements could be that the insurance coverage is based on the church following health authorities directives. This is only a possibility.

Again, this is only a possibility. Each insurance company will handle each situation differently which is why a conversation with your insurance provider is a wise and simple step to take. Most times, if the insurance company has been consulted, any problems with coverage can be avoided. So take a few minutes, talk to your insurance provider, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

If you have questions, feel free to contact the Stated Clerk, Ted McCulloch.
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
  • CARES Act and SBA loans
  • Denominational resources
  • Mental wellness

If there are other items/resources that you would to see added please contact Staci Percy at