Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
February 19, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
Elder Don Wixson, Commissioned Ruling Elder of Vassar-First, who is recouping from a car accident in December and dealing with some significant health issues.

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. 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
Elder Peggy Ronk (3/4) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Breckenridge-Emerson
Elder Liz Long (3/5) - Commissioned Ruling Elder of Ithaca-Lafayette
The Rev. Karen Blatt (3/12) - 20 Years - Honorably Retired and Temporary Supply of Houghton Lake-Kirk of the Lakes
The Rev. Hakbae Moon (3/19) - Pastor of Flint-Unity
The Rev. Linda Graham (3/25) - Temporary Supply of Davison-St. Andrews
The Rev. Jan Chambers (3/29) - Honorably Retired and Pastor Emerita of Tawas


From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
Commission Takes Bold Action to Heal Synod

The General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant has taken bold action toward healing conflicts in the Synod of the Covenant by taking temporary legal authority over the synod, dismissing all synod staff, and suspending synod operations for six months while it works to build trust and stability.

The Commission, formed by the 223 rd General Assembly (2018) in response to an overture submitted by five of the synod’s eleven presbyteries in Michigan and Ohio, was charged with addressing “allegations of disorder” within the Synod. The Presbytery of Lake Huron neither endorsed nor opposed the overture.

After a year of meetings, interviews, hearings, and document review, the Commission held an open hearing in Toledo on Wednesday, February 12 at which it announced its findings and received testimony on proposed actions. The Commission found:

  • Disharmony within the Synod is systemic and long-standing
  • The Synod and its presbyteries hold widely differing and inconsistent perspectives on their relationship and respective roles in common areas of ministry
  • There is a lack of clear, ample, honest, and loving communications
  • Divisions exist around deeply held organizational values and there is a lack of mutual trust
  • The parties in conflict have largely disengaged from each other 

The Commission proposed three actions: (1) engaging a professional consultant to mediate long-standing issues between the synod and its presbyteries; (2) taking original jurisdiction (i.e., temporary legal authority) over the synod; and (3) proposing revisions to the synod’s policies and procedures regarding its plan to fulfill Book of Order requirements for participation and representation.

After the hearing, Commission voted to take the extraordinary steps. As far as I can determine, it is the first time a GA Commission has taken full jurisdiction of a synod since regional synods were instituted in the early 1970s. The AC issued a statement on Friday explaining its process and actions, which is linked here.

What does this mean for our Presbytery?

Little will change in the mission and governance of our presbytery and congregations. However, all synod operations and programs are suspended through August, including Mission to the USA, Mobile Health Fair, Grants and Scholarships, Cabinet on Ethnic Church Affairs (but not the caucuses that support People of Color and Indigenous People). Synod assemblies scheduled for March, August, and November are cancelled. The Commission has assumed all functions of the Synod and is conducting an expedited search for a Transitional Synod Executive.

The Synod will continue to manage existing loans, scholarships, and other obligations. Per Capita obligations are still in effect. Churches are encouraged to continue their mission support as planned.

A process of reconciliation will begin to rebuild trust and mutuality around shared purposes. We can expect that our presbytery will be consulted and participate actively in the process. A synod-wide meeting “for transparency” will be announced soon.

The overture submitted by our presbytery in December to provide greater flexibility for synods to fulfill requirements for racial-ethnic representation and participation is still valid and if adopted can facilitate the work of the Commission in our synod.

This is an evolving situation and more information will be shared as it is forthcoming. In the meantime, please pray for the Synod, for the Administrative Commission, and for the affected staff – Executive Raafat Zaki, Stated Clerk/Treasurer David Bartley, Administrative Assistant Melanie Shoop, and Mobile Health Fair Coordinator Lisa Florez.


Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Annual Statistics
** Deadline for reporting is tomorrow, February 20, 2020.**

Relevant information and links may be found on the Annual Statistics page of our website.

If you have any questions or need any assistance please contact Staci Percy at or 989-799-7481 x2.
Presbytery-wide Hunger Action Summit
About three-fourths of our congregations are active in some form of hunger ministry, from food pantries to community meals. If your congregation is one of those, or would like to know more about how to engage in a local hunger ministry, a presbytery-wide summit will be held at Trinity United Presbyterian Church 5500 Lennon Rd. in Flint Township Monday, April 6 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
We hope to have present leaders from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the ALICE project of the United Way to guide us in how we might best work collaboratively to address working poverty in our communities through hunger ministry.

The event will precede the “Moral Monday” rally in Flint scheduled for 5 p.m. featuring the Rev. William Barber and Dr. Liz Theoharis. Those coming to the summit are invited, but not required, to participate in the rally, which is part of the New Poor People’s Campaign.

Please notify Rose Onan at or 989-799-7481 x6 at the Presbytery Office of your interest in attending.
Presbyterian Women Gathering
Presbyterian Women In the Synod of the Covenant
2020 Gathering

July 17-18, 2020

600 N. Brady Road
Dearborn, MI 48124

Join us for singing, daily prayers and worship and the business of our PW in the Synod. Register now for the best rate and plan to renew friendships and make new friends during our time together.

Click here for complete details and registration information.
You're Invited
On Wednesday, February 26th, there will be a reflective worship in the tradition of Taizé in the sanctuary of Second Presbyterian Church in Saginaw at 7:00pm. This worship will include meditative music, scripture readings, silence, and the imposition of ashes. We invite all to spend a quiet hour as we begin Lent with this introspective style of worship. Childcare will be available.
Every Tuesday in Lent (March 3—April 7) Lapeer-First is hosting an evening class on A People’s History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story, by Diana Butler Bass. There will be a soup potluck dinner from 6:00 to 6:30 PM, followed by a class from 6:30 to 7:30 PM. Together we’ll learn about historical figures and events overlooked by most church histories and how their examples of prayer and faith can enrich our own spiritual journeys today. To learn more or sign up, email our office (  
Second Presbyterian Church of Saginaw Township , located at 2665 Midland Road, will be holding its semi-annual Fish Fry Dinner on Friday, March 20, 2020, from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The dinner includes all you can eat fish (fried pollock), potatoes, coleslaw, bread, beverage, and dessert.
The fish fries, held one Friday during Lent and October are the Presbyterian Men's largest fundraisers and help fund various church projects such as; landscaping, many maintenance projects of the church building and grounds, sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 321, and various other projects. This alleviates pressure from the budget on these items and allows for more mission giving. The Presbyterian Men have been holding the fish fry since the 1950s.  The event has grown to include a bake sale, which helps to fund the Presbyterian Women's many local, national, and international mission projects. 
The cost of the all you can eat dine-in experience is $11.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 5-11, and free for children younger than 5 years old. Take outs are available for $10.00. Come on out and enjoy a delicious fish dinner, grab a baked good snack for later from the bake sale! 

Click here for a printable flyer.

Additional information may be found at one of the following links:
Education and Scholarship Opportunites
McCabe Charitable Foundation Scholarship

Applications are now being accepted for the McCabe Charitable Foundation.

Applicants must:
  • Be Jewish or Presbyterian students from Bay, Saginaw or Midland County
  • Show financial need
  • Plan to enroll or planning to enroll in full-time undergraduate studies at Delta Community College or Saginaw Valley State University for the upcoming academic year

Deadline to register is March 16, 2020. Click here for more details and to apply.