Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
January 9, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
Rev. Dr. Rhonda Myers and the Rev.  Dave Myers  on the recent passing of Rhonda’s father. Rhonda served as Pastor of  Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church in Midland . Dave served several churches in our presbytery, most recently as Interim Pastor of  Countryside Trinity in Saginaw . Click here for the obituary.

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. Rich Lawther (1/4) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dr. Rhashell Hunter (1/8) - 25 Years - General Assembly Staff
The Rev. Scott Kroener (1/19) - Pastor of Birch Run-Taymouth
The Rev. Alex Peterson (1/22) - Pastor of Lapeer-First
The Rev. Elizabeth Stillwell (1/22) - Member-At-Large
Elder Linda Living-Hawley (2/3) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Fenton-Tyrone
Te Rev. Dawn Russell (2/9) - Pastor of Linden
The Rev. Larry McMellen (2/12) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Cathy Chang (2/17) - Mission Co-Worker serving in the Philippines
The Rev. Mary Anne Evans-Justin (2/25) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Chris Moody (2/25) - Member-At-Large


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
I am delighted to report that in 2019 we had 100% of our presbytery’s per capita assessment paid by congregations. This is not the case everywhere. Our presbytery’s record on per capita is among the best in the denomination and is the envy of other presbyteries. This achievement is more than just a number – it reflects our commitment to mutuality and shared mission in our presbytery.

Many members regard the annual per capita assessment as “dues” for being part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Some even think of the per capita assessment as church “taxes”. These are imperfect analogies. While payment of per capita is mandatory for presbyteries, the same is not true of congregations. While congregations have a “high moral obligation” to participate, our polity prohibits presbyteries from punishing sessions or congregations that do not fulfill their per capita obligation. Likewise, sessions may not require per capita contributions from members.

Per capita has always been an act of sharing. The earliest mention of per capita in the PCUSA is in 1734, and the earliest per capita program was the “Commissioner Travel Expense Fund” begun in 1806. The fund helped defray the cost of commissioners from distant presbyteries (then it meant Ohio and Kentucky) to travel to the meeting of the General Assembly. Essentially, per capita equalizes the expense of being a connectional church by sharing the cost of our denominational services in an equitable manner.

One of the reasons that we have such a good record of per capita participation is our presbytery’s commitment to frugal stewardship. An informal survey of per capita assessments shows our presbytery per capita portion ($16.80 in 2020) to be fifth lowest among the 45 or so responding presbyteries. Several per capita rates are over $40 for the presbytery portion alone. We are also blessed with well-managed investments and endowed bequests from generations of faithful and generous Presbyterians, that reduce per capita by generating over $80,000 annually toward our presbytery budget.

But another, more important, reason for our solid record is that we have developed and embodied a culture of mutuality and community in our presbytery. While occasionally circumstances might require a church to postpone payments (as one congregation did this year, offset by another’s back payment), the norm of full payment is an important expression of our commitment to each other. When one church fails to pay their share of per capita, they are shifting that burden to the other churches of the presbytery. Not paying per capita is the ecclesiastical form of the “dine-and-dash” prank we might have played on our friends as irresponsible teenagers but would never do as adults. As a presbytery, we are committed to honoring every dollar given with faithful, responsible, frugal, and accountable stewardship. As sessions and congregations, we are committed to contributing our mutually agreed portion of our shared mission costs.

I am grateful to serve a presbytery that has demonstrated such commitment to each other and to the work we are called to do together for Christ.

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
2020 IRS Mileage Rates
The IRS announced the standard mileage rates for 2020. They are as follows:

Business/Ministry 57.5 cents
Medical and Moving 17 cents
Charitable 14 cents

These may also be found on the   Documents and Forms  page of our  website  under the Financial Information heading.
Parish Paper
The first two editions of the Parish Paper for 2020 are available on the Parish Paper page of our website.

The topics are:

January Repurpose Worship Space, Don't Rebuild
February Get To Know The Community Through Mapping
Annual Statistics
PC-USA Seal Round
Information regarding the 2019 Annual Statistics was sent to all Clerks of Session last week.

A copy of the letter and other relevant information may be found on the Annual Statistics page of our website.
180 Days of Prayer
Stated Clerk invites Presbyterians to 180 days of prayer, leading up to the 224th General Assembly (2020)

Church leaders, past and present, join in daily prayers
Office of the General Assembly - December 23, 2019

Beginning today (12/23/19) and culminating on the opening day of the 224th General Assembly (2020) in Baltimore, current and former leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are joining in 180 Days of Prayer. The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), says that the current Co-Moderators and Co-Moderators/Moderators of past General Assemblies, as well as other leaders within the denomination, are offering prayers.

In making this announcement, the Stated Clerk emphasizes that “daily prayer leading up to our denomination’s biennial assembly is a reminder that General Assembly belongs to God, and not to us.”
This cycle of prayer “reminds commissioners who are being called by their presbyteries that they will be making significant decisions about the future of our denomination. It also reminds us that members of congregations, as well as our ecumenical and interfaith partners attending the assembly, will be praying with and for us as we meet.” In this call to prayer, all members of the church, from children through senior adults, are invited to consider our church’s past, evaluate its present, and plot a prayerful course into God’s future.

Nelson adds that “this cycle of prayer will invite the Holy Spirit’s continued reign over our church, providing strength to make sometimes difficult decisions that are necessary at this particular time — calling the church to do 21st century ministry.”

SE Asia Travel Study Seminar Organizing
SE Asia Travel Study Seminar Organizing

Join Mission Coworker Cathy Chang on a 14-day travel study seminar of Southeast Asia organized through the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program! The seminar, which will run from May 1-15, will focus on the root causes and current challenges of forced migration and labor trafficking. The trip includes two days of travel, seven days in the Philippines and five days in Hong Kong.

The objectives of the seminar are:
  • To understand the role of the church in the context of forced migration and the struggle of migrants for human rights, justice and decent lives
  • To share reflections following the seminar to strengthen partnerships between PCUSA, UCCP and other migrants-serving organizations
  • To create a communique/statement to share with the PCUSA and other potential partners
  • To stay open to new insights, initiatives and outcomes

The cost of this seminar is $2,500. Cost is per person double occupancy including all seminar expenses (meals, accommodations, program, tips, tours, in-country transportation and airline travel from Manila to Hong Kong during the seminar). International airline transport from and returning to the United States at the beginning and end of the seminar is not included.

Peacemaking scholarships for some of the cost may be available through the presbytery mission committee and participating churches.

More information can be found here . A complete tentative itinerary is available from the Presbytery office.

If you might be interested, please notify the Presbytery office by January 1, or as soon thereafter as possible.