December 3, 2018

Focusing on Those with
Special Needs During Advent
b y Donna Frischknecht Jackson, Editor of Presbyterians Today
LOUISVILLE – As a pastor, I am reminded weekly during Sunday’s prayers of people that life is not easy. I listen as those in the pew ask for comfort, guidance, healing and hope. I listen, and then I pray for our laments to turn into songs of praise.
Mary had a song of praise — one that thanked God for looking favorably upon her and the plight of her people — and so in planning this year’s Advent devotional for Presbyterians Today magazine, I thought it was fitting to hear from Mary and to be reminded once again that God sees us, hears us and is with us always. 
Presbyterians Today’s 2018 Advent devotiona l is based on verse 52 from Mary’s Song of Praise — also known as The Magnificat —found in Luke 1: He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.
After reading verse 52, I began thinking about my low moments in life and how God raised me up out of the muck. I began thinking about all those who have gifted me with their songs of praise — beautiful notes of God looking on them with mercy. I especially began thinking about the special-needs saints God has brought into my life, and how their songs of praise, sung amid adversity, made me realize God has a song for us all. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our circumstances or challenges might be. Songs of praise can come from our lips.
Just ask Andrew Weatherly, who wrote the poems and created the original oil paintings for this devotional. Andrew was in my Sunday school class while I was a seminary intern at South Presbyterian Church in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Born with Down syndrome, Andrew hasn’t let anything stop him, and he now uses his art to raise awareness of the capabilities of those with special needs. Recently, Andrew was inducted into Closter, New Jersey’s Hall of Fame. His name now displayed on a wall in the library next to the names of professional athletes, actors, scientists, doctors, professors and other artists.
Kris Van Tatenhove joins me in writing this devotional. The father of a special-needs son, Krin knows what it is like to fight “the system” so that his son can have the same opportunities as those who are labeled “normal.” Krin and I have spoken about the challenges and blessings of those who are called “different” and we find ourselves often wondering who can define “normal.”
As for me, this project is close to my heart. I have a special-needs brother who struggles to find his place in the world. Born in the 1960s at a time when doctors, teachers, social workers, even my parents, didn’t know what do with him, his time of Advent waiting seems endless. It’s hard at times to keep the faith that God is working on my brother’s song of praise. But isn’t that what the season of Advent invites us to do — to trust God even in our darkest days?

May this devotional, inspired by Mary’s song, be an Advent blessing to you. May it be the reminder we need that no matter what, God lifts us up. And so, get ready to sing a song of praise!

In addition to her role as editor of Presbyterians Today, Rev. Frischknecht Jackson is a rural ministry networker in Washington County, NY. This article was reprinted with permission from the Sept. 11 edition of Presbyterians Today.

All meetings held at the Presbytery of Baltimore's Office unless a different location is indicated

  • Investment Advisory Committee meets at 9am on Tuesday, Dec. 4
  • Interim Pastors lunch will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday Dec. 4
  • COLA will meet at 12noon on Dec 5 at Kenwood PC
  • Spiritual Leader Development will meet at 1pm on Wednesday, Dec. 5
  • Trustees will meet at 9am on Tuesday, Dec. 11

Presbytery & Church-wide


< Gen. Presbyter Jacqueline Taylor decorates Presbytery Christmas tree

 TAKE NOTE: All 2018 Remittances , Contributions and Check Requests must be received by the Presbytery's Finance Office by Friday, Jan. 11, 2019.
Per Capita: $35.73

Synod/Mid-Atlantic.........................$ .85
General Assembly............................$ 8.95
Grove Presbyterian Church in Aberdeen, MD will host Sounds of the Season at 5pm on Sunday, Dec. 9. The program will feature music for harp and flute performed by Zoe Coppola and Elizabeth LaDana and the Christmas Cantata, "Jesus Christ, Our Christmas Lamb" performed by the Grove Chancel Choir and Friends. The program will last about one hour followed by a time of fellowship and refreshments. Please join us!
Bluegrass Concert at Springfield PC
Springfield Presbyterian Church presents the Iron Ridge Traditional Bluegrass Band in concert at 3pm on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the church. The band is dedicated to preserving old-time traditional bluegrass music in which everyone sings lead on different songs. You won't want to miss the awesome picking and fabulous three- and four-part harmonies of Iron Ridge!
Click here to learn more about Iron Ridge Traditional Bluegrass Band.
A Brass and Organ concert featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s top brass musicians and organist Michael Britt will be presented at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in the Bolton Hill section of Baltimore. Tickets to this Tiffany Series event are $20 (Students get FREE admission) and are available at /current-season and at the door. 
Join members of Maryland Presbyterian Church for a special Blue Christmas service of worship designed to seek hope and light during the Advent season. Rev. Beth Scibienski, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, will lead us in worship. Blue Christmas

The Spire Series
Christmas Candlelight Choral Concert

The First & Franklin Sanctuary Choir , joined by guest musicians, presents the 18th Annual Candlelight Choral Concert , a treasured part of the Christmas season. The concert will be held a 4pm Sunday, Dec. 16 and features Ottorino Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity and works by Britten, Alice Parker, Reger, Tschesnokoff and David Conte. A freewill offering will be collected. Spire Series

Christmas Concert: Wise Men Still SEEK HIM
Featuring Central’s Chancel and Handbell Choirs and Organ with Orchestra Come share a musical journey about seeking after God—beginning with the birth of Christ. Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30pm and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3pm at Central Presbyterian Church in Towson.  
Tickets may be purchased by calling the church office (410.823.6145) or reserving online at www.centralp.corg/concert
Theme: "Justice for All"
Date: January 19, 2019              
Time: 3pm
Place: Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church

For Elementary, Middle and High Schoolers:
1st Prize $100; 2nd Prize $50; 3rd Prize $25

Granite Presbyterian Church to Host Spring Bus Trip to "Jesus" Sight and Sound Production

Granite Presbyterian Church will host a trip on April 3 to Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA to see a production of "Jesus". The trip is limited to 56 people, first-come; first-served. Children are welcomed. Click here to learn more about tickets to this event.

Scholarships for Undergraduates Discerning a Call to Ministry

Is there a young person in your congregation with a mature faith and growing leadership skills? Perhaps he or she is sensing a call to Christian ministry.  At Randolph-Macon College, we are assisting students who are discerning a lifetime of service to God through the church. We help them keep college costs manageable and offer opportunities to begin preparing for ministry even before seminary.  

Randolph-Macon College's  A. Purnell Bailey Pre-Ministerial Scholarship  offers half-tuition during a student’s freshman and sophomore years at R-MC and full-tuition during the junior and senior years.  The Bailey Program includes weekly meetings for vocational discernment, creating a strong, supportive peer group.  During a student’s tenure in the program, there are many opportunities to visit with Theology School representatives, spend time with persons in a variety of professional ministry roles, and reflect on a personal sense of call.  There are two internship opportunities, one for academic credit and one with a financial stipend. 

Online Bailey Scholar applications are being accepted now, with a deadline of February 1, 2019.  The program is open to Christian students of any denomination or Christian tradition.  Learn more at  or by contacting the Rev. Kendra Grimes, Director of the Bailey Scholars Program, at  [email protected]  or 804.752.7374.
Presbytery of Baltimore | (t) 410.433.2012 | (f) 410.433.2066| [email protected] |