Personal Reflection on Finding Faith in the Midst of Fear
By Rev. Charles Freeman, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
Rev. Charles Freeman , Pastor with Grace Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, is preparing himself for major surgery on May 20, followed by at least a week in the hospital and a minimum of six to eight weeks of recovery.

Our faith proclaims that whatever we face in life and in death, God is with us – and we do not face it alone. As many others facing serious life challenges can identify, Rev. Freeman has given expression to the fears and the faith that mix within his soul with insight and honesty. Bearing witness among this community of care and support, Charles offers this personal reflection . . .
Spring Stated Meeting
On May 7, over 130 brothers and sisters in Christ gathered together for the Spring Stated Meeting at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center. The day included worship, fellowship, discernment and taking action. We also enjoyed a delicious "lunch on the grounds" which included fresh treats from the garden. Click here for the meeting highlights.
224th General Assembly
The 224th General Assembly (2020) will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 20–27, 2020. The Nominating Team encourages ruling elders, teaching elders, and young adults to submit applications to participate as Commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegate. This is an amazing opportunity to serve the church on a national level! Applications are due by August 1 st so that nominations can be presented to the presbytery at our October stated meeting. If you have questions, please contact:
Important General Assembly deadlines:

  • 180-day: December 23, 2019 (report Commissioners and YAADs to OGA)

  • 120-day: February 21, 2020 (amendment to/interpretation of Book of Order; reports to the assembly)

  • 60-day: April 21, 2020 (overtures with financial implications)

  • 45-day: May 6, 2020 (all other overtures, comments)

  • 30-day: May 21, 2020 (consultation with affected entities)
Congratulations to Joy Laughridge and Lakewood Presbyterian Church!

Rev. Joy Laughridge was installed as the Pastor of Lakewood Presbyterian Church on April 7! We congratulate both Pastor and church and send our blessings and good wishes for their future.

Guests enjoyed a lovely reception in the parish hall after the installation service. Photo by Chuck Hedrick
Congratulations to Laurie Furr-Vancini!

Laurie Furr-Vancini, minister member of the Presbytery of St. Augustine and Associate Pastor at Palms Presbyterian Church, received a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree from Emory University Candler School of Theology on Monday, May 13. During her time in our presbytery, Laurie has also served at Hodges Boulevard and St. Giles Presbyterian Churches.

Congratulations, Dr. Furr-Vancini, on a job well-done!
Carl James (CJ) Dates to Graduate!
The Member Preparation and Call Commission is pleased to report that CJ Dates has completed all of his ordination examinations and will graduate from Columbia Theological Seminary on May 18, 2019. His final assessment was completed, and his readiness to seek a call was approved. CJ (center) is pictured here with Craig Davies and Kathy McLean (his presbytery liaison). 
Healthy Pastors, Healthy Congregations
The Board of Pensions’ new initiative of building stronger financial futures for our pastors and congregations is coming to the Presbytery of St. Augustine. Following a signed covenant and education, a pastor enrolled in Pastor’s Participation may receive a $10,000 grant that may be used for debt reduction or as a contribution to a 403b. Clark Simmons from the Board will be here the week of July 15 to conduct a helpful seminar. Watch your email for details about the seminar. For those interested in the program, please click on the button below: 
“Tools for Building Resilience: Team Support in the Workplace”
The Presbytery Disaster Assistance program is presenting the “Tools for Building Resilience” workshop in Jacksonville. In partnership with the City of Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida Long-Term Recovery Organization, this workshop focuses on building emotional and spiritual resiliency. The workshop will be on Thursday, May 23, from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Ed Ball Building in Downtown Jacksonville. There is no charge to register, but pre-registration by Friday, May 17, is encouraged.  Click here for details and to register.
Hurricane / Disaster Planning
Hurricane season begins June 1. Is your church prepared for a hurricane or other natural disaster? Now is the time to prepare or update your disaster response plan. Here is a handy guide which will assist in developing or updating your disaster response plan. 
First Gainesville College Ministry Hurricane Michael Recovery
Scott Stuart, director of college ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, shared these photos when a team of 15 college students worked with First Presbyterian Church of Marianna, Florida, to help serve members of their congregation who needed recovery assistance. Scott reports that what they found [on March 23, six months post-hurricane] was a lot of tree removal. The group was able to help several families.
First Fernandina Beach Assembled
and Delivered Cleanup Buckets
In April, a group from First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach, led by Associate Pastor Julie Jensen, assembled and delivered disaster cleanup buckets to PDA’s Ferncliff Disaster Assistance Center in Arkansas. Cleanup buckets include an assortment of necessary supplies to assist with initial cleanup efforts after a disaster. Visit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance website to see a list of supplies and how you can help! 
Hurricane Recovery Volunteer Teams Needed!
Hurricane Michael recovery is in full swing, and volunteers are needed in the Florida Panhandle. We also continue to work on recovery from Hurricane Irma and can use teams in Tampa, Fort Myers and Daytona to help families that do not have the means to repair their homes.If you would like to bring a team to help with recovery, please contact for information and scheduling.
Mutual Mission 40 th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service
On March 10, 2019, representatives of the St. Augustine Mutual Mission (SAMM) and members from the three constituents of the Jamaica Ecumenical Mutual Mission (JEMM) – the Methodist, the Moravian, and the United Church assembled at the New Beulah Moravian Church in Mandeville for a Thanksgiving Service. This was the beginning of celebrations to mark the 40 th year of their partnership and joint accomplishments. Among the highlights of the service were:
  • The honoring of persons who gave outstanding services over the journey of 40 years. Laura Gordon, retired Associate Executive Presbyter, was recognized for outstanding services in the inception and development of JEMM. SAMM co-chair Robert Bell, Dr. James Gaff, and Sharen Gaff were all recognized for their outstanding contribution to the Health Ministry.
  • The launch of “Friends of JEMM.” In this initiative, one hundred persons are targeted to make a monthly contribution towards building a house for a single mother living with HIV/AIDS. A one-bedroom unit costs US $3,200, while a two-bedroom unit costs US $6,400.
Neighborhood Church: Transforming Your Congregation into a Powerhouse for Mission
How can we embody the values of love, grace, and justice? As faith communities, how can our collective embodiment of these values shine even brighter? The answers to these questions must always unfold right here, right now, exactly where God has planted us. Neighborhood Church acts as a resource to inspire churches to become vibrant and engaging community partners with the families and neighborhoods living around them. This book by Krin Van Tatenhove & Rob Mueller is recommended by the PCUSA Co-Moderators. 
Youth Triennium Update
Triennium is a once-every-three year national youth event at Purdue University. Many people say it is a life-time memory and one of the best things the national church offers. Twenty six youth from our presbytery have registered for Triennium, and six adult advisors / chaperones have been identified! There is room for up to 50 people on the bus; so if you haven’t registered your youth members yet, seats are available. Late registrations are still possible if you act quickly, by May 31. The plan is to leave Jacksonville on Monday, July 15, and return on Sunday, July 21. Email  if you have any questions.
Something New With Youth
In this "Year with Youth and Young Adults" the presbytery is establishing a Youth Ministry Team for the purpose of seeking out and connecting with young people in all aspects of our ministries. 

The Nominating Committee is asking help in identifying people to help shape this valuable new ministry. These two links can be used by people interested in serving on the newly forming Youth Ministry Team. The application deadline is August 1.
Youth Nomination Form – for youth (rising 8th through 12th grades) who can serve with energy, intelligence, imagination and love on a newly forming Youth Ministry Team. 
Youth Leader Nomination Form – For youth leaders (teaching elders, ruling elders, or Presbyterian church members) interested in working alongside youth and promoting leadership and involvement in all aspects of our presbytery ministries.
Still haven't registered youth for Camp Montgomery? Get $50 off your registration when you bring a friend to summer camp! Simply use the code FRIENDS and tell us who you referred. Offer valid until May 29, 2019 on new registrations only!

Register your youth groups for Camp Montgomery's Retreat Camps by May 29th and each person will receive 15% off of registration costs. Use the code HIGHSCHOOL when you register for the High School Retreat July 14-19, or MIDDLESCHOOL for the Middle School Retreat July 21-29. Offer valid for retreat camps only.
Loan for MPCC Capital Improvements
At the Spring Stated Meeting, following a presentation from Lexi Green and Board Member Jason Salvagni, the proposed $700,000 loan to MPCC and the presbytery as co-borrowers was approved. The proceeds of this loan from the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP) will fund significant capital improvements in MPCC's property and facilities. In a related action, the PILP's reserve/investment requirements will be fulfilled by individuals and groups/entities who have made commitments to the MPCC Board. Finally, a recent loan from the presbytery to MPCC in the total amount of $56,600 will be paid back in installments of $5,500 per month following an initial payment of $25,000 at the time that the loan is closed. 
  • National Black Presbyterian Caucus - June 27-29, 2019 in Atlanta. Registration is open for the 45th Biennial National Black Presbyterian Caucus, June 27–29. This year’s theme is “Seeking Racial Justice & Equity! Where Do We Go from Here?” The conference will take place at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center. Registration Link

  • Big Tent - August 1-3, 2019 in Baltimore. Big Tent will provide a place where our Presbyterian polity and identity is the foothold by which we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action and answer the call to discern the will of God together.

  • Fall 2019 Stated Meeting of the Presbytery - Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center.

  • The Art of Yes, and ..., November 14-16, 2019 at Epworth-by-the-Sea in St. Simons Island, GA. A conference sponsored by South Atlantic Puerto Rican Region of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators.
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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.