14 August 2020

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”- Henry Havelock Ellis -

Sisters and Brothers in Christ-

I begin this letter with hope. Hope in the steadfast love of God as we navigate the “dog days” of summer and await the cooler days ahead. As a result of the last storm, many of us had no power over several days. Indeed – a pause within the pause. Perhaps, like me, you gazed up to the heavens and murmured, “Seriously?” And perhaps you shrugged and continued to minister as best you could, demonstrating the resiliency that many have developed over the past few months. I’ve shifted from the trite phrase, “It’s all good” to perhaps the more apt “It’s all God”. Because I know with all of my being – as do you – that God’s got this. We need only hold on tight to our faith, to each other, and to that steadfast love that brought us into church service in the first place.

We have compiled the information that you sent to us through the church survey. With 62 respondents, we have a good snapshot of what is happening in Hudson River Presbytery, so I thank all of you who took a few moments to respond.
·   32 congregations have no projected date for resuming in-person worship
·   11 congregations project some form of in-person worship in September
·     9 congregations have begun in-person worship of some form
·   26 of our congregations have day care programs and 24 have some kind of in-house food distribution or hunger programs
·   Half of those surveyed have experienced either no change in their level of offerings or an increase in offerings from 2019! 
·    46 of HRP congregations use some method of online giving (see the last bullet)
·     37 congregations participated in the Payroll Protection Plan (PPP). Funds are still available so please contact your local bank.

I will confess that this is not the picture that I would have forecast for us in April. The church is open!!

HRP offers the following opportunities for congregations. Join us!

·        As questions around reopening for Preschools and Daycare Centers continue, leaders will continue to meet. The next scheduled ZOOM gathering is on Monday August 24 at 10. You are welcome to join, even if you’ve not been on previous meetings, using the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86762758375
·        Christian Education is a topic on the minds of many leaders. Please join Christian Educators throughout the presbytery on a ZOOM to share ideas and plans on Monday August 24 at 4.
Pastors – be sure to share this with those who lead your CE programs!!
·        Clergy Connection with support for pastors presently serving in pulpits meets weekly on Wednesdays at 10  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89670068270
·        Please read the attached letter from the PC(USA) Mission Agency regarding the Week of Action around eradicating racism.
·         Again, I encourage you to take advantage of the Presbyterian Foundation’s invitation to the Stewardship Kaleidoscope conference online. The is one of the finest conferences offered by our denomination and this year it will cost $45 to attend! https://stewardshipkaleidoscope.org/
·        A reminder that our next HRP Meeting will be an online ZOOM event. Mark your calendars for September 22nd with lots more information to follow. Information regarding pre-meeting discussions around Committee on Ministry matters will also be coming soon.

We have had a plethora of congregational transitions throughout the summer months:
·        We welcome Rev. Jonathan Hoeldtke from Presbytery of West Jersey to First Presbyterian Church of Monroe. 
·        Rev. Patrick Vaughn has completed his Interim Ministry at Bedford Presbyterian Church
·        Rev. Heather Brown-Huston will transition out of her position at Bedford Presbyterian Church
·        Rev. Ben Larson-Wolbrink leaves First Presbyterian Church of Beacon this month to begin a call in the Presbytery of Detroit.
·        CRE Anne Wood has retired from the First Presbyterian Church of Jeffersonville
·        Rev. David Kingsley has retired from First Presbyterian Church of Goshen
·        Rev. Russell Duncan will retire from Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Thompson Ridge

Reach out to your sisters and brothers and offer your thanks for their ministries as their journey continues in a new and different way.

We offer prayers of healing for Rev. Russell Duncan as he struggles with cancer.

Finally, let us celebrate with Rev. Erin Moore of First Presbyterian Church of Chester. After many challenges with pandemic planning, Erin and James are finally getting married this weekend!

May you journey through the week knowing that you are truly blessed.
Deb Milcarek
General Presbyter