Advent Reflection
By Sandra Hedrick
Presbytery Stated Clerk
Pastor, Kirkwood Church (Jacksonville)
"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it." (Psalm 96:11)

As I left the beach for church Sunday morning, some pelicans were flying south over the ocean. As usual, they were flying in single file. I wondered where they had come from and where they were going. I wondered where they would celebrate Christmas, when "heaven and nature sing!"

Have you noticed how much movement there is in the stories of Advent and Christmas? Mary hurried to the hill country to share her joy with Elizabeth. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for the census when she was just about to deliver. Shepherds ran in from the fields to see the baby, while the Magi took a little longer to pack up their gifts for the long journey toward Jerusalem.

Do you feel constantly in motion in the weeks up to Christmas? I do! Sometimes it feels like we have to "get up and go" to see the Lord and be a part of what the Lord is doing in this season of hope, peace, joy and love. Parents especially want their children to be a part of seasonal events - religious, cultural, and just plain fun. 

Winter Stated Meeting
Mark Your Calendars for Spring and Fall Stated Meetings!

May 5, 2020 - Spring Stated Meeting at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center
October 6, 2020 - Fall Stated Meeting at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center
Presbyterian Women 2020 Annual Gathering  
The Annual Gathering of the Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of St. Augustine will be  Saturday, January 25, 2020,  at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center. For detailed information about the gathering, including workshop descriptions and the registration form, please click on the registration button below. Note that the registration deadline is January 10 . Please share this information with your congregations and friends who support the Presbyterian Women.

Schedule for the Gathering
Registration & Refreshments 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Worship 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (Offering collected for Mission Haven)
Business Meeting 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Workshops 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Drama & Benediction 2:15 – 2:30 p.m.

If you have any questions about the PW Annual Gathering, please contact Kathy VanderVliet, a member of Lakewood Presbyterian Church, which is hosting the meeting. You can reach her at kathyvan@comcast.net .
First Presbyterian Church of Perry Welcomes
the Rev. Natasha Sudderth-Davis as Pastor
On November 17, the First Presbyterian Church of Perry welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Natasha Sudderth-Davis. Natasha will be the first female pastor of this church, which was founded in 1905. Natasha is a native of Blowing Rock, NC. She is married to Edward Davis, who is from Indiatlantic, FL. Her daughter Belicia is 12 years old, and her son Noah is 16. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and fine arts from Greensboro College in North Carolina and her M.Div. from Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC. Natasha has also studied internationally at the University of Nicosia in Cypress, traveling to historic Christian sites across the Mediterranean. 
Melanie Marsh-Baum to be Installed at Community
The presbytery invites you to participate in the upcoming Service of Installation for the Rev. Melanie Marsh-Baum at Community Presbyterian Church, Atlantic Beach.

Service of Installation:
Sunday, January 12 at 4:00 p.m., followed by a reception
Community Presbyterian Church
150 Sherry Drive, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

It is requested that teaching elders in attendance and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service wear robes and red stoles and process in together if possible. Please meet in the narthex fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the service.
Tommy Lane to be Recommissioned at McIntosh

On January 12, 2020, at 10:30 a.m., McIntosh Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery of St. Augustine will celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Tommy Lane’s pastoral service to MPC. Included in the celebration will be a recommissioning of Tommy Lane as a Commissioned Ruling Elder. Cliff Lyda (First Palatka) will preach, and Glenn Dixon (Honorably Retired) will lead the recommissioning liturgy.

Recommissioning of Tommy Lane as Commissioned Ruling Elder
Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 10:30 a.m., followed by a luncheon reception
McIntosh Presbyterian Church
5825 Avenue F, McIntosh, FL 32664
Rachel McNeal Enrolled as Inquirer
The presbytery has enrolled Rachel McNeal as an Inquirer in the preparation for ministry process. Rachel is a member of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, currently working as Director of Youth Ministries. She has been endorsed by her session as she continues to discern her call to Ministry of the Word and Sacrament. Rachel received her M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2012, and in 2008, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Flagler College, minoring in Youth Ministry. Rachel McNeal is pictured here with the Rev. Amy Camp, Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Craig Davies, Chair of the Member Preparation and Call Commission.
Matthew 25 in the PC(USA):
A bold vision and invitation

At our Winter Stated Meeting, the Coordinating Council will recommend that we accept the invitation of the PC(USA) to become a "Matthew 25 Presbytery." Matthew 25:31-46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so that our faith comes alive! Accepting the invitation as a presbytery means that we pledge to encourage 20% or more of our congregations to become Matthew 25 churches and embrace one or more of these three areas of focus:

  • Building congregational vitality
  • Dismantling structural racism
  • Eradicating systemic poverty

The presbytery would also commit to tracking the impact of our ministries and sharing our Matthew 25 congregational stories.

A congregation that becomes a "Matthew 25 Congregation" can be a part of this work in its local community. Learn more about the Matthew 25 invitation here: http://pcusa.org/matthew25
Youth Ministry Forum at Flagler College

Flagler College is sponsoring a Youth Ministry Forum on February 28-29, 2020. Some presbytery funds are being offered to pay for your registration ($30 for youth minister, or $60 for you and one other youth leader from your church). Rachel McNeal, the Youth Director at Memorial Presbyterian Church, speaks highly of this event as an opportunity for enriching leadership teams.

Who:  For Youth Ministry Leaders
What: A time for renewal, hear awesome keynote speakers and discuss practical topics in break outs Where : Flagler College Ringhaver Student Center (50 Sevilla St, St. Augustine, FL 32084)
When: February 28 - 29, 2020 (Friday evening and Saturday daytime)
Why: To support you and your ongoing ministry

To register for the event go to: https://www.flagler.edu/youthminforum/

Please call or email Chris Lieberman (502-475-8025 / chris@staugpres.org) if you have questions about this or to reimburse you once you register for the conference.
FLAPDAN Needs Your Support

At our Fall Stated Meeting, we designated half of of the morning’s offering to Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network (FLAPDAN). If you would like to send an additional donation to FLAPDAN before the end of the year, please send it to Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network, Inc., Attn: Rick Miller, Treasurer, P.O. Box 491279, Leesburg, FL 34749-1279. You can also visit their website ( https://flapdan.org/donate) to donate online. The Florida Presbyterian Disaster Network is a (501)(c)(3) organization.
General Assembly Overtures

The deadlines for General Assembly overtures are quickly approaching. If your session may wish to propose an overture for the presbytery to review and approve at our Winter Stated Meeting, please review our overture policy. The same process would apply to proposals that our presbytery concur with an overture already submitted. Those overtures can be found in the pc-biz.org website. (After logging in, type "overture" or "all" into the search box.) Please contact Sandra Hedrick, our Stated Clerk, if you have questions. She can be reached at sandra@staugpres.org or (904) 612-9766 (c).

The deadlines for overtures are:

  • February 21, 2020, if the overture involves an amendment to / interpretation to the Book of Order
  • April 21 for overtures with financial implications
  • May 6 for all other overtures and comments
More Important Dates and Deadlines

Some important dates are coming up for our session clerks and churches. Click here to review the full list. Some of the dates coming up in December and January include:

12/06/19 - Statistical Reporting Portal Opened
01/06/20 - End-of-Year Closing (Financial Contributions to apply to 2019)
01/08/20 - Return Pledge Cards (to Presbytery) to Nancy Brown at nbrown@staugpres.org
01/15/20 - Return Necrology Reports to Marigrace Doran at marigrace@staugpres.org
Treasurer's Training

The presbytery will offer a training opportunity for church treasurers at two locations in February:

  • February 4, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. (Tuesday) at First PC, Gainesville (106 SW 3rd St)
  • February 27 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. (Thursday) at Lakewood PC, Jacksonville (2001 University Blvd W.)

The training will cover financial procedures, W-2s, retention of records, and other questions and concerns of those attending. Save the date for now, and watch for registration details in early January.
MPCC Loan Closing

On Wednesday, December 4, the closing was held on the $700,000 loan made by the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Corporation (PILP). This will allow MPCC to immediately embark upon implementation of the master plan for reclaiming and rebuilding MPCC's mission as approved by presbytery. The Presbytery of St. Augustine is a co-borrower on this loan.
Rise 2019 Youth Retreat
We had 126 in attendance at Rise 2019 youth retreat, with representatives from 10 different churches! Our weekend was full of fellowship, fun, and wonderful conversation.
Winter Camp 2020

Register today for Winter Camp 2020 January 17-20, 2020! Spend a long weekend at Montgomery hanging out with old friends, counselors, and new friends, all while getting a taste of Summer Camp at Montgomery. Much like our summer camp programs, campers will spend their weekend in a small group community with a counselor while exploring their faith and making memories and lifelong friends. This event is open for all campers currently in Grades 2 through 12 and is $275 per camper. Click on the web address below for registration details.
Oasis Women's Retreat

Calling all women! You are invited to join us for our Oasis Women's Retreat February 7-9, 2020. With a keynote speaker, time for fellowship, worship, and rest, our goal is to provide you with a weekend to reset, relax, and renew your faith while being surrounded by other sisters of faith. Come as an individual or bring a group...all are welcome! $120/person. Click on the web address below for registration details.
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church Designated National Historic Site

On December 8, Bethlehem Presbyterian Church unveiled a plaque which designated the church as a National Historic Site. The plaque reads "Bethlehem Presbyterian Church Has Been Placed On The National Register Of Historic Places By The United States Department Of The Interior 1884." This is quite an honor as very few churches are officially designated as a National Historic Site. Dr. Roy Hunt, a church trustee, spearheaded the restoration efforts and secured the historic designation. He was asked to unveil the plaque. Rev. Don McGarity shared that Rev. Josh Braley had invited him to the celebration as he was stated supply from 1991 to 2000. During Don’s tenure, the church restored the interior of the sanctuary and rededicated it to its former glory. The festivities ended with a dinner in the fellowship hall. Dr. Roy Hunt and Rev. Josh Braley are pictured here.
Bread of Life Community Ministry in Palatka
Submitted by Page Walwik, Seminary Intern at FPC, Palatka

Along the banks of the St. John’s River flows a community of people that have all found themselves at the same bend. Beneath the currents of life, Putnam County has been touched with a timeless opportunity in which God’s love can flood the souls of people through the ministry of Bread of Life (BOL). First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Palatka, FL, became the vessel to steer the ship under the leadership of Transitional Pastor Cliff Lyda. Having sailed this route before, Rev. Lyda knew the river flowed fast; therefore, he poured himself into the tide and gathered everyone on board to row the ship. In 1989, BOL began at FPC and, as the river flowed with leadership changes and a different location, BOL went through some rough waters. Today, they have been thrown a life preserver and given a fresh start. BOL, a nonprofit organization of Putnam County, has returned back home to FPC.  
Community Thanksgiving Dinner at First Presbyterian Church Lake City
Submitted by Terri Millikin, Event Organizer

In 2000, a Thanksgiving meal was started as a mission outreach for the homeless in the Lake City area. The meaning of Thanksgiving changed that day for our church and community. Nineteen years and 20 meals later, we are still going strong.

A traditional meal of smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and green beans is prepared. Tables are set with linens and our guests are greeted at the door, seated and served their meal. Homemade desserts are the finishing touch. Everything is done by volunteers from the church and community.
Grace Presbyterian Church and Korean Worshiping Community
Submitted by Rev. Charles Freeman

For about a year, the sanctuary of Grace Presbyterian Church in Gainesville has also been the worshiping home of a growing congregation of Korean residents in that area. 

On November 17, the two congregations joined together for a united service of worship. The Korean congregation (yes, the whole congregation) provided the music, with Rev. Freeman of GPC providing the sermon. After worship, the two congregations joined for a time of fellowship over lunch, with both traditional Thanksgiving fare and traditional Korean food. 
Archie Jenkins, South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church Member, Recognized as a Founding Member of UCOM 

Archie Jenkins, a life-long member of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, was recently recognized as one of the founders of United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM) at the organization’s 40th Anniversary Gala.

UCOM's website describes the beginning of the organization in this way: The seeds for UCOM started in 1978 when Laura Gordon, former Associate Executive Presbyter for our presbytery, met with five Southside Jacksonville Churches: All Saints Episcopal, Lakewood Presbyterian, Mt. Oliver Baptist, Mt. Zion AME, and South Jacksonville Presbyterian. They discussed the possibility of expanding the city's federally funded Meals-on-Wheels program to Pine Forest, an impoverished Southside Jacksonville community. 

Applications available for the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program

Congregations seeking renewal opportunities for their pastors are invited to apply for the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana. Details and application materials for the 2020 programs are now available. In the 2020 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program, eligible congregations will be able to apply for grants of up to $50,000 each to support a renewal program for their pastor. The application deadline is April 1, 2020. Activities funded by a 2020 grant in the clergy renewal programs may begin anytime in 2021. Learn more by clicking here.
Learn How to Connect with Holiday-Only Church Goers

John Fong, Digital Disciples consultant, is offering a new free Online Training Module entitled “5 Ways to Connect with Your Holiday-Only Church Goers.” This training is free to all congregations in the Presbytery of St. Augustine! The training includes a 15-minute Facebook video and PowerPoint / printable materials. It is embedded in a Facebook support group so you can ask questions, share your thoughts, or reach out to John Fong directly in the group. To join and learn, click here .
Wellness Wednesday Newsletters

Each Wednesday, the presbytery's Comfort My People initiative sends out Wellness Wednesday emails, which include hints, tips, information, and other resources for you to create a “DIY” Mentally Healthy Day, and by extension…A Mentally Healthy Week and Mentally Healthy Month. If you receive this presbytery newsletter, you should also be receiving the Wellness Wednesday emails. We've set up a sign up link so individuals can subscribe directly to the Wellness Wednesday emaiis without having to subscribe to other presbytery emails. Clicking the button below, or forwarding this link to others, provides a way to directly receive the weekly encouragement from our Mental Health Coach, Susan Lee, LCSW.
Small Tents, Big Mission
Association of Smaller Congregations 33rd Annual Conference & Retreat
Sponsored by the Synod of the South Atlantic, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Join us and re-energize with worship, relaxation, and prayer March 13-15, 2020, at Epworth-by-the-Sea, St. Simons Island. Keynote speaker Alonzo Johnson is the Presbyterian Mission Agency Coordinator for the Self Development of People. He is a minister and educator ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with over 20 years of experience creating, designing, planning, and implementing workshops and events. This engaging presenter and facilitator leads programs centered around spirituality, education, leadership development, sociocultural issues, and pastoral care. He has become a key source for constructing the tents, big and small, to fulfill the Big Mission. 
 
The Association of Smaller Congregations (ASC) was organized in 1987 to serve congregations in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina having fewer than 200 members. In conferences and on Facebook, they offer support, useful tools, and sharing. For more information and registration find us online at  www.presbyasc.org


  • 2020 Winter Stated Meeting of the Presbytery – Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Memorial Presbyterian Church, St. Augustine.

  • Pastors' Retreat in Matanzas Presbytery, Cuba – February 10-17, 2020 (Registration closed).


  • Synod Stated Meeting – April 30-May 1, 2020, at Epworth-by-the-Sea, St. Simon's Island, Georgia.

  • 2020 Spring Stated Meeting of the Presbytery – Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at the Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center

  • Dental-Medical Mission Trip to Jamaica – June 14-20, 2020 

  • 224th General Assembly of the PC(USA) – June 20-27, 2020 in Baltimore, MD.

  • 2020 Fall Stated Meeting of the Presbytery – Tuesday, October 6, 2020, at the Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center
Looking for a new (to you) pastor's robe? Men's pulpit robe, 5'10" - 6'2" range, is now available at no charge. Contact Chris Lieberman, Relationship Coordination Director at chris@staugpres.org or (502) 475-8025 for details.  

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Celebrating With You!
If you are celebrating a milestone anniversary as a congregation or in years of ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament, please let us know. Email Marigrace Doran so that we can include your milestone in The Connection.
The Presbytery of St. Augustine Connection Newsletter is a publication of the Presbytery of St. Augustine. It is written and designed by Communications Coordinator Marigrace Doran. Editorial assistance is provided by Stated Clerk Sandra Hedrick, Relationship Coordinator Director Chris Lieberman, and other presbytery leaders.

Masthead photo by Will Barnwell
The mission of the Presbytery of St. Augustine is to support our faith community, so that together we may witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.