The EP's Corner
Presbytery Theme 2019: Flourish!
I would like to take a moment to give you a little background on our
theme for 2019. When I arrived to Atlanta, I was asked if we should change our vision for growing healthy and vital congregations. I have always thought that congregational health and spiritual growth
could never grow old
. The call to grow and to be healthy reminds me of one of my favorite passages of scripture found in Psalm 92:12-15
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 In old age they still produce fruit;
they are always green and full of sap,
15 showing that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
In this passage, we are reminded that as the people of God
we are called to flourish, to grow, to deepen, to be nourished and to be nourishment. I was drawn to this passage early in my seminary journey. I
that in all circumstances of life, even when
or darkest valley
, my identity
rooted and grounded in
my relationship with
. I needed a
I could be replenished
and that I could flourish
, even in dry places of ministry
. I needed
that flourishing is not about me as much as it points back to the wonder and glory of God at work in our lives and in the world.
In many ways, coming to a presbytery that understands the importance of health and vitality resonated with my own conviction that
fill healthy churches
and healthy churches have the power to transform lives and
why do we need a theme for 2019?
I think that having a theme for
our presbytery in
will remind us that we are connected to a larger vision shared among our congregations, presbyteries,
across the country.
In my first year, colleagues
rom our denominational headquarters
were excited to let me know that they
are launching a
throughout the denomination
In that program
are 7 marks of what
means to be a healthy and vital congregation. When asked if Atlanta would join
told my colleague
that I had hope for our presbytery
to embrace our own languag
e around what it means to be healthy and to flourish
. I told
that I would love for
presbytery to describe flourishing
using what I have coined as
"The 4 P'
s": Prayer, Passion, Priesthood, and Purpose.
She laughed and asked if I always used this much alliteration in my ministry, to which I answered YES!
I would love for us to reflect and imagine what it means to be
who are committed to
ospel of Jesus Christ in all its expression,
claiming and reclaiming our call to be the
of all believers and c
as we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in the community.
ommittee has chosen to
one of these
at each of our meetings. It is my hope that you will take
"The 4 P's"
to your congregations and ministry spaces to ask the question of what it means to flourish in all seasons and circumstances of life. It is also my hope that
we will not only
ask about what it means to flourish as a gathered group of believers but also
what it means to flourish in our homes, on the job,
at the gym, on a walk, in the office
any place we find ourselves.
Friends, as we continue to love God and neighbor while we serve the world, may we do so
God's grace as we bloom where we are planted and grow in ways we never imagined!
Upcoming Stated Meeting featuring PC(USA) Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson as Guest Preacher
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
Please mark your calendars for the February 9th Stated Meeting of the Presbytery. We will gather at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta from 9:00 until 2:00. We are delighted to welcome the denomination's Stated Clerk, Rev. J. Herbert Nelson as our preacher for the day. Rev. Nelson will preach on our theme of "Passion." The meeting will include a question and answer period, so we may engage Rev. Nelson with our concerns, joys and simply discuss the state of the church in these times.
to download the Commissioner's Handbook and
for a handbook supplement.
Other important business includes: voting on the Constitutional amendments (
found on this page
), and voting on the budget. We hope you join us.
Remember to register for lunch! The deadline is Sunday, February 3rd. NO tickets will be sold at the door.
to register for lunch.
Don't forget to submit your Annual Statistical Reports. The deadline is February 14, 2019.
Presbyterians for a Better Georgia and Central Presbyterian Church host a "Day at the Capitol" - Wednesday, February 6, 2019:
Join P4BG for a morning of advocacy training, issue briefings, a photo with the Governor, and meetings with your elected representatives. Together, we will advocate for better access to healthcare and affordable housing. Whether you've been to the Capitol many times or you're completely new to advocacy, this event will be an inspiring, informative, and a meaningful way for you to get involved.
Click here for more information and to register.
2020 General Assembly Commissioner Forms are Due Feb. 15th
by Mary Evans, Nominating Committee
The Presbytery Nominating Committee will meet the end of February to select nominees to serve as Commissioner to the 224th meeting of the General Assembly in Baltimore, June 20-27, 2020. To facilitate the selection process we ask Ruling and Teaching Elders to complete and submit the Volunteer Interest Form and the General Assembly Commissioner Interest Form found here prior to February 15, 2019
Nominees for General Assembly Commissioners will be presented to the Presbytery in May 2019 for a vote.
Commissioners to General Assembly are expected to:
- Prepare for the Assembly by attending a preparation meeting in April 2020 at the Presbytery offices and read/study the provided resources in advance of the Assembly.
- Attend and participate throughout the Assembly June 20-27, 2020 in committees, plenary and decision making.
- Report to the Presbytery on decisions made at the General Assembly and
- Serve on the Presbytery Bills and Overtures Committee through June 2022.
Please make this information available to your congregations and encourage those with interest to submit forms. Contact Mary Evans, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-493-9489 with comments or questions.
TheoEd Talks: Where TED-Style Talks Meet Christian Education
by Ryan Bonfiglio, Scholar in Residence at First PC Atlanta
What if Christian education came in the form of TED-style talks?
This question inspired the launch of TheoEd Talks in 2017. This faith-based speaker series brings together leading thinkers in the church and the academy to give the talk of their lives in 20 minutes or less. By packaging powerful ideas into bite-sized talks, this series aims to transform how believers and seekers alike explore the power of faith to shape lives and communities.
TheoEd Talks is hosted bi-annually at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Past speakers have included Lauren Winner, Greg Ellison, Amy-Jill Levine, and Shane Claiborne. Through the
web platform, you can access free videos of past talks as well as behind the scenes interviews with speakers. These resources are designed to help lay audiences go deeper in their faith, whether through personal use or as a conversation starter in a small group or Sunday School class.
The next TheoEd Talks event is taking place on Sunday, February 10 at 5pm. Space is limited. Free childcare is available.
For tickets and more information, visit
Use the promo code PCUSA for 25% off your purchase.
The Mustard Seed Gathering: Celebrating and Resourcing Smaller Churches
by Camille Josey, The Outreach Foundation
The Outreach Foundation Small Church Initiative, in partnership with Calvin Center, is offering a retreat for small churches on March 8 and 9. The retreat will focus on the unique challenges, gifts and opportunities of the small church.
Pre-event options on Friday will help empower lay leaders to share the word of God in worship with a class led by Rev. Dr. Richard Allen Farmer.
Robert Hay (Presbyterian Foundation) and Jerry Dean Weber (Presbyterian Homes of Georgia) will lead a class on the special needs and issues related to stewardship in the small church.
Many small congregations feel vulnerable and at risk. The challenges faced by small congregations are real, but those challenges can overshadow the reality of the gifts and assets God has given them for ministry and mission. Saturday's three workshops will explore ways to face those challenges through collaborative ministry, how to harness the collective power of church and community assets, and stories of small churches around the world bringing hope to a hurting world.
The conference is priced to be affordable to everyone. Beginning
Friday, March 8 with dinner through Saturday afternoon. Housing and meals included $175.00 per person double occupancy. For an extra $50 you can join in the pre-conference classes. Twenty-five (25) $100 scholarships available to pastors of congregations with 100 or fewer members. Contact Camille@theoutreachfoundation.org for the promo code that applies that scholarship at registration
Association of Small Congregations 32nd Ann. Conference & Retreat
Epworth-by-the-Sea, St. Simmons Island, GA
Seven Biblical Marks of Vital Small Churches
Keynote: Kathryn Threadgill, Associate for Vital Congregations, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Churches are in a critical time of awakening, and smaller congregations - where the majority of Presbyterians worship - are on the front line of the Holy Spirit's powerful work of revitalization. Small church leaders have the flexibility and creative power to show the way to the Church that Jesus Crist is calling us to be. The Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill has been working with PC(USA) congregations across the country to discern the faithful actions that increase vitality in even our smallest churches - and it turns out that the actions are right there in Scripture. Join us as we explore with Kathryn the seven Biblical marks that can help small congregations live into faithful discipleship and compelling mission.
The Association of Smaller Congregations (ASC) was organized in 1987 to serve congregations having fewer than 200 members. The group seeks to lift up these smaller congregations, offering tools and support, promoting their unique strengths and needs, and providing opportunities for fellowship, education, creative thinking and sharing. For more information and registration, find us online at www.presbyasc.org.
JOIN US IN REACHING OUR $40,000 FUNDRAISING GOAL FOR HUNGER WALK/RUN 2019!
The Atlanta Community Food Bank also has a new goal - By 2025, everyone in ACFB's 29-county service area will have access to the nutritious meals they need when they need them. Imagine what it would mean for Atlanta to be the first city to close the hunger gap! The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to make a big impact on this transformative social shift.
Find out more about the PGA's response to hunger through our participation in Hunger Walk/Run here.
As a benefiting partner, we keep 60% of the funds we raise to fund our P.A.T.H. Grant Program (Presbyterians Answer to Hunger). You can find out more about the P.A.T.H. Grant here.
Over the past 5 years the youth of our Presbytery have raised close to $140,000 for hunger relief, nearly $35,000 last year alone. Our youth have built a powerful grassroots ministry and it's time for the rest of Presbytery to join with them.
HOW TO BE INVOLVED
- Be a TEAM CAPTAIN and recruit people from your congregation to participate. Re-activate your team or start a new team here.
- JOIN A TEAM. Your church may already have an active team to join. You can search for your church's team under the registration page here.
- RAISE MONEY. There are amazing fundraising tools like the Social Media App that will make fundraising easy. You can download it here.
- Come to the HUNGER WALK/RUN EVENT. Join thousands of people from around Atlanta working to end hunger at The Home Depot Backyard on April 28, 2019. Get event info here.
Columbia Theological Homing Coming 2019
by Julie Bailey, Columbia Theological Seminary
Columbia Theological Seminary invites pastors and leaders from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta to join us for a three-day continuing education event on February 4-6, 2019. Multiple workshops and lectures will be presented during our "Homecoming" event, including two workshops by respected professors based on their latest books. Anna Carter Florence, the Peter Marshall Professor of Preaching, will present her workshop "Rehearsing Scripture: Discovering God's Word in Community." Martha Moore Keish, the J.B. Green Associate Professor of Theology will present her workshop "Christian Prayer for Today." For information and registration, please visit: www.ctsnet.edu/connect/alumni
In addition, the 2019 Smyth Lectures will be presented by author, scholar and renowned preacher Dr. Frank A. Thomas, the Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Homiletics at Christian Theological Seminary. Thomas will offer insights from his latest book How to Preach a Dangerous Sermon (Abingdon Press, February 2018) and his upcoming book How to Survive a Dangerous Sermon. Both lectures are offered free to the public in the Harrington Center Chapel on the seminary campus located at 701 S. Columbia Drive, Decatur, GA. The first lecture will be on Tuesday, February 5 at 7:00-8:00 pm, and the second lecture on Wednesday, February 6 at 11:00am-12:00pm. A reception will be held immediately after the first lecture.
Interim Pastors Group
Are you an interim pastor? Do you serve in a ministry setting of transition? Are you interested in the topic of leadership transition?
If you are interested in actively serving in an interim capacity, join other interim or transitional pastors on Wednesday, February 13 from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. at the presbytery office for our monthly Transitional Leadership gathering. We are just starting to read together Tod Bolsinger's book, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership In Uncharted Territory, and will be discussing chapter 1 together. (You can access chapter one for free here.)
ECKAM New Year Celebration 2019
by Rev. Dr. Hyunsung Cho, Congregational Consultant for ECKAM Churches
Every new year, ECKAM has a New Year Celebration worship, greeting, and party. This year, on January 14 at Hanbit Korean Presbyterian Church, ECKAM pastors and elders worshiped together, sang a special song, heard a special lecture, and fellowshiped together with a thankful and joyful heart. Rev. Byeong Cheol Han, Senior Pastor at Central Korean Presbyterian Church, preached "Pant God"(Psalms 42:1-5). Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle, the Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, performed a special song entitled "None but Jesus". Prof. Sang Hoon Shin gave a special lecture entitled "Humor Wins" with great enthusiasm and inspiration. One question he asked was, "Where can you see LA?" The answer was UCLA (you see LA). After the worship and special lecture, all the participants shared some Korean traditional food called "Tteokguk" (rice cake soup) and with gratefulness to God we wished each other a happy new year.
Click here to visit the Facebook page and here for the event registration page.
Work Crews for Hurricane Michael Relief in Florida and Georgia
by Richard Hill, Covenant Presbyterian Church
Decatur Presbyterian is leading a trip to North Florida to repair the Presbytery camp for a staging ground for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. There is plenty to do for all skill levels. They invite others to join the effort February 15-22 (part of the week or Friday through Presidents Day are also options).
Flint River Presbytery also has tremendous damage especially in Bainbridge and Donaldsonville, GA. They can rent
excavators or skid steers
but need folks
who operate them. Tractors and 30-35"
chainsaws are also needed. Accommodations are available for work crews. Contact Richard Hill (email@example.com) or
Elizabeth Cantrell (
by Chip Blankinship, Director of Operations
This month, Pastor Group will meet on February 14 at 10:00 a.m. and will cover chapter 6, "Planning and Decision Making." Our discussion will be on the topic of collaborative ministries.
We have long believed that the best way to have healthy congregations is for our congregations to have healthy leaders. This season, we are studying together Peter Scazzero's book
The Emotionally Healthy Leader. Each month, we will begin with a brief discussion summarizing a chapter of the book. Then we will have a presentation and discussion around a related topic, given by leaders within our presbytery and beyond.
Feb. 14 - Pastor Group @ St. Andrews PC
Feb. 14 - Deadline for Annual Statistical Reports
Mar. 14 - Pastor Group @ St. Andrews PC
April 11 - Pastor Group @ St. Andrews PC
Click here for the Calvin Center's programs.
The next newslett
will go out February 28. Articles will be accepted through February 18. The following newsletter will go out March 30. To request space for an article, email your Congregational Consultant or Mark Sauls at
. Click here to view submission guidelines.
Top graphic attribution:
Decorated Incipit from Psalm 1, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
[retrieved January 28, 2019]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Decorated_Incipit_Page_-_Google_Art_Project_(6850315).jpg.