Bi-Weekly Brief news & updates
April 29, 2020
We Lift Up In Prayer
Ongoing:
Calvin Holder, brother of the Rev. Leigh Holder, Pastor of Croswell-First as he recoups from major surgery and some subsequent complications.

The Rev. Ken Hetzel, Honorably Retired, who has had some encouraging news in his cancer treatment.

Bruce Graham, husband of the Rev. Linda Graham, Davison-St. Andrews, who is in a care home recovering from a recent stroke and has tested positive for COVID-19.

Elder Don Wixson, Commissioned Ruling Elder of Vassar-First, who is being treated for cancer.

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. Andrew Miller (4/4) - Pastor of Mt. Pleasant-First
The Rev. Dong Won Park (4/15) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. George Gillette (4/27) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Alec Brooks (5/1) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Ed Borycz (5/12) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dale Swihart (5/16) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Dr. Daniel Ahn (5/18) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Bruce Cunningham (5/18) - Honorably Retired
The Rev. Joe Walser (5/22) - Honorably Retired

 

From The Lions' Den
Dan Saperstein
In my last column, I ended with a question (borrowed from a friend): “What if God is using this experience of mini-exile from our places of worship, this experience of separation, of worship-by-Facebook, as a way of teaching us that we should not be looking back to the way things were, but eagerly anticipating God’s new thing? What if the word we hear when we go back to our church sanctuaries is ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here – he is risen! He goes before you into the world, and you will find him there.’”

As we continue in our period of “mini-exile” under the shelter-at-home directives of the pandemic, I have been impressed time and again with the resilience of our congregations. During our weekly Zoom check-ins with congregational and presbytery leaders, through phone conversations, emails, and other contacts, I am encouraged by the creativity and faithfulness exhibited by the pastors and members of our presbytery. We are truly living into our ordination commitments “[to] serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.”

A while back, I was asked how the coronavirus pandemic will affect our churches in the long-term. I answered at the time that I thought it would take one of two directions. I said for many churches, the social distancing would likely act as an accelerant. That is, they would remain on the same trajectory of decline, but arrive at their destination sooner. Churches that might have run out of members, money, or ministry momentum in four years would hit the wall in two. I hope that is not the case, but it could happen.

But for other churches, I said, this could be a turning point for a new direction. Clearly for many – perhaps most – of our churches, this is a real possibility. I see evidence for that in a number of observations:

  • We no longer take the fellowship of the church for granted. Electronic, virtual worship and meetings are a huge blessing, but they are not a substitute for the real thing. For many of us, this time of forced isolation helps us realize how much we miss the relationships we have made in congregations and the blessing of Christian community.
  • The flip side, obviously, is the openness of our congregations to adopt new ways of connecting electronically. Even our smallest churches have ventured into sharing worship by livestreaming on Facebook or Zoom. Many will want to continue that form of connection even after we are able to meet again in person. This is especially helpful for those who are home-bound or who have moved away physically but not spiritually.
  • In addition, many churches have used this time to begin to reach out into other ways of electronic connection, whether they be online prayer groups, electronic giving, and more. Some are even exploring electronic congregational meetings, though the polity issues haven’t yet been fully worked out. We are also helping our “late adopters” bridge the digital divide so no one is left out.
  • Churches have also evidenced a new openness to collaborative ministry in both urban and rural settings. Collaboration will be essential to the future vitality of our congregations.
  • Finally, and most importantly for the future of our churches, we are responding to the needs of our community with increased urgency and vigor. As a Matthew 25 presbytery, we are committed to moving out of our church buildings and into our neighborhoods with compassionate ministry, especially to those on the margins. With fewer internal issues, our congregations are spending more time and energy sewing masks, feeding the hungry, and supporting our first-responders, health care workers, and other essential workers.

To borrow a phrase from Monty Python, when it comes to our churches, “We aren’t dead yet.” May the necessities of this moment become the foundation of a new way of being church in the months and years to come.

Faithfully, 

Dan Saperstein, Executive Presbyter
Farewell to George Granberry, Jr.
We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Elder George Granberry of Flint-Trinity United. Presbytery meetings will not be the same without him and his dear wife, Katie. Nine years ago, at our December stated meeting, we were honored to be able to recognize him for his military service. He was part of the Montford Point Marines during World War II. These men were the first African Americans to serve in the marines. George had recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he and his fellow Montford Point Marines were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Obama. Click here to read more about that day and the Montford Point Marines.

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George Granberry, Jr. was an active charter member of Christ the Liberator and Trinity United Presbyterian Churches. George passed away on April 8, 2020. A graveside service was held on Monday, April 20, 2020 with Pastor Lindsey Carnes officiating. 

George was known by his friends and family as a very good friend and Masonic and Shrine brother. He was a proud Marine who served in two wars and received a Medal of Honor. We could always look forward to seeing him represent the Marines during Memorial Day weekend Sunday Service. He was one of the first African American Marine to serve in World War II and received a Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. He also served in the Korean War. 

He and his late wife, Katie were Detroit Lion season ticket holders with the same seat for forty years. They were loyal fans and went to every games when health allowed.

George’s Christian service went beyond the walls of Christ the Liberator and Trinity United. He was involved at the Presbytery, Synod and Churchwide levels. He and Katie attended several General Assemblies. George was also very active and devoted to the Black Presbyterian Caucus both locally and nationally. He encouraged many of us to get involved. His latest service at Trinity United was serving on the Nominating Team. We could always count on George’s commitment to whatever he said he would do. He was a gentleman with a warm smile and kind word.  

Our thoughts and prayers go to George’s family his sons, Frederick and Granville, his sister Juanita Snell and his entire family. We the members of Trinity United will miss him. The family will plan a memorial service at a later date.  
Mission Co-Workers
Cathy Chang
Sharing birthday greetings with Aurelie

Aurelie is turning 8 years old this Friday, May 1. She is the daughter of Cathy Chang and Juan Lopez, and together they are serving in the Philippines as mission co-workers. Having been born in Midland, while Cathy served at Midland-Memorial , Aurelie is a Michigander.

Please share your birthday greetings through an e-card, video or other fun ways – and be sure to include who you are and where you are from, sometime before Saturday morning, May 2. Note: we are 12 hours ahead of Michigan. Feel free to email those greetings at cathy.chang@pcusa.org . Thank you in advance for sharing your greetings.
George Gillette
On the 69th anniversary of Rev. George Gillette’s Ordination on April 27, 2020! 

George is now in memory care in Midland and his wife, Jeanette, is not able to visit him. Congratulatory messages could be sent to George at the home address, 3201 Greenway Dr., Midland MI 48642. E-mail congratulatory messages may be sent to  georgegillette@att.net .

Although Jeanette does not access the e-mail account, her daughter and son-in-law, Jean and Larry Langrill, will monitor incoming messages for a period of time.

Jeanette Gillette is well and is living alone in their home. She is a devoted member of Midland Memorial Presbyterian Church and watches the weekly service broadcasts on MCTV during this time of COVID-19 isolation.

Jeanette recalls that on the day of George’s ordination at the First Presbyterian Church of Vineland, NJ, on April 27, 1951 (69 years ago), they had forgotten to bring their dress clothes for the service, so George had to borrow a suit and Jeanette had to borrow a dress from George’s sister to wear for the ordination service! He first served in three small churches in the Upper Peninsula, Florence WI, Channing and Sagola MI, before serving in the military as a Navy chaplain.
Schramm Family In The News
The Rev. Matthew Schramm, Pastor of Midland-Memorial, and his family were recently featured in the Midland Daily News as Modern Heroes for their live streaming of worship services from their home each week during the pandemic.

Click here to read this wonderful article about valued members of our presbytery.
Happy 100th Birthday!
Our very own, Rev. Alec Brooks, is turning 100 next month!

Alec served as Pastor of Rosebush for many years, retiring in 1986.

The family would like to shower him with cards for this amazing milestone birthday and we want to help them make that happen.

Alec currently resides in the Presbyterian Assisted Living of Rosebush Manor. He is doing well, and will have his 100th birthday on May 3, 2020. Any folks who might like to send him a card or greeting may do so at the following address: 

Rev. Alec U. Brooks
Rosebush Manor
4210 E. Rosebush Rd.
Rosebush, Michigan, 48878

(Also, May 1st marks Alec's 69th Ordination Anniversary.)
Jim Browne
The Presbytery has learned that the Rev. Jim Browne passed into eternal life Friday, April 24 in Hilliard, Ohio. Jim served as Interim General Presbyter for the Presbytery of Lake Huron from 2013 to 2015. He had been suffering from advanced dementia and was in a nursing facility, though the cause of death has not been disclosed. Services in Hilliard will be held at a time to be determined. We extend our sympathies to his wife Ginny and their family.
Helping The Hungry Across Our Presbytery
Telling the story: The peoples of our land are hungry- The Presbyterian Churches (USA) in the Presbytery of Lake Huron and their local hunger missions

Greetings, my sisters and brothers in Christ, During the last week in March I reached out to the congregations on the west side of the Presbytery, from Houghton Lake-the Kirk to Ithaca-First and Lafayette so they could share with us all what it is that they are doing and supporting with regard to facilitating free food opportunities for our brothers and sisters in need.
As you read through this story, please note that two Feeding America Food Banks are a part of our story: The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan out of LaPeer and the Food Bank of Greater Lansing, out of Lansing. The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan serves 22 counties, and at the present time(April 2020) has ten (10) food trucks going out each day to bring the food to our communities.

Alma-First is continuing its every Tuesday Food Pantry, with the food boxes being brought to the cars. The Community Café is a community in house dinner which is also now a drive by.

Beaverton-First has the Helping Hands Mission, a local outreach mission started by community leaders in 1992. Both a Thrift Shop and Food Pantry are features of the Mission, but now during the COVID-19 crisis the Thrift Shop is closed. The Food Pantry provides a box of food to a client once a month; the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan’s mobile food truck comes every other Wednesday.

Breckenridge-Emerson involves itself in the Breckenridge-Wheeler Food Pantry which is located in the Breckenridge United Methodist Church (Open Tuesday 10-2); also participates in the school backpack programs for both the Breckenridge and Ithaca school systems. Also adopts a family at Christmas time. ( the Food Bank of Greater Lansing, Mi. provides food for the Breckenridge-Wheeler Food Pantry; other groups and individuals also bring in donations.)

Houghton Lake-Kirk of the Lake provides a monthy contribution of monies to the Roscommon County Food Pantry DBA Project Hope of Roscommon County. Also adopts a family at Christmas time. ( The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan provides food for the Roscommon Co. Food Pantry; other groups and individuals also bring in donations.)

Ithaca-First works with the Ithaca Food pantry (now on a drive-through basis-Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 am. (The Food Bank of Greater Lansing, Mi. provides food for the Ithaca Food Pantry; other groups and individuals also bring in donations.)

Ithaca-LaFayette will provide monies to the Ithaca Food Pantry through special offerings and doing so when possible.

Mt.Pleasant-First works through the Mt. Pleasant Food Pantry which has re-opened. Days are Wednesday and Saturday 10-2 both days. Also works through the Every Nutrition class which is held on Fridays; this class works through the Mt. Pleasant schools; providing food boxes for any home in need. (The Food Bank of Greater Lansing, Mi. provides food for the Mt. Pleasant Food Pantry.)

And we shall conclude with this table grace:
“ For food in a world where many walk in hunger;
  for faith in a world where many walk in fear;
  for friends in a world where many walk alone,
  we give thanks, O Lord, our God. Amen”

Shalom, Rev. Karen Blatt
Presbytery’s Hunger Advocate
Festival of Homiletics
The Festival of Homiletic s is online and FREE this year!

Join us May 18-22, 2020 for a synchronous streaming experience of preaching and spiritual renewal.

The World Needs Good Preaching…Now More than Ever

The Festival of Homiletics is moving online! And because there’s no better time than our current crisis to learn how to “preach a new earth,” registration for the virtual conference is totally FREE!

Click here for information.
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 spercy@presbylh.org.