“There is a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change.”
– William Stafford

God’s great blessings on this journey to Easter-

Yes. There is a thread that we follow always. It is clear in the Holy Week services that represent 24 congregations and entities in Hudson River Presbytery. It is clear in the way that you have ministered to your people, to your colleagues and to your neighbors. Virus or not – the thread doesn’t change. It weaves always to the cross and to the resurrection.

Your support for each other, and the Hudson River Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry’s support of you, is evident in the participation you all have on our weekly ZOOM gatherings, and will be clear to you as you receive phone calls from your liaisons. We have formed a very different type of community during this crisis. Pastors in pulpits ministering to each other. Leaders in all positions learning from each other. Information dispensed in timely ways. Noting this, we have developed a ZOOM format that best serves our community during this time. Please see that there are no ZOOM meetings scheduled next week as we encourage all to take needed time away from screens. Each will begin at 10:00 and continue for an hour to an hour and a half. You will receive a ZOOM invite for each group that applies to your context. Please contact christine@hudrivpres.org if you do not receive an invite.

·        Monday gatherings will be open to the Hudson River Presbytery community as a whole, and will serve as an informational ZOOM. On Monday April 20 th we welcome Ellie Johns-Kelly from the Presbyterian Foundation to talk about how we might best address financial challenges with our online worship experience. Worried about congregational giving? Concerned about stewardship? Join this conversation!   Monday April 27 th will feature Carrie Mitchel from the Board of Pensions to review your congregational and member options, of which there are many, as well as answer any questions you might have regarding BoP offerings. 

·        Our Wednesday ZOOMs will be reserved for pastors presently serving in pulpits. This is a time of colleagues caring for each other during a very real shared crisis. 

·        On Thursday April 23 rd we will introduce our HRP Clergy Coaching scholarship plan. Your questions around “What is coaching?” “What does coaching look like?” “How can a coaching relationship help me with decisions during this time?” will be answered. Whether you’ve ever had a coach or not, come and join the conversation. Utilizing certified IFC coaches, HRP encourages all pastors to engage in a coaching experience, and now is the time to try it! For more information or to register now for coaching, visit the HRP website and the Congregational Resources tab to register.

·        Beginning on Friday April 24 th we will have Spiritual Practices with Rev. Leslie Mott as your ZOOM offering. This may include a simple “check-in”, a guided spiritual practice and meditative prayer. Please care for your own soul and join with us as we connect with God in a different way. This gathering is open to all clergy in Hudson River Presbytery. 

Now for the rest of the news:

We have fulfilled 11 requests for Congregational Connection Grants. Please visit HRP website for more information and the application for up to $2000 to connect better with your neighbors and your members. 

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is still accepting applications for emergency grants. Information is available on the HRP Congregational Resources tab. We will accept applications only until April 27 th, so please get your information in soon.

Confused by PPP, CARES, SBA and all the other alphabet soup of possible economic relief for your congregation? The document attached below will help you clarify your options.

You should all have accessed the announcement regarding the April Presbytery meeting. Please check your in-box for important information regarding this.

We have had some staff changes in the past month. As you all know, Noelle Damico began new full-time position as of April 1. We wish her all the best as she continues as a leader in social justice. The current staff has absorbed much of her work for the time being and we have been blessed for the time being with the assistance of Casey Carbone as a consultant in technology and livestreaming. Susan DeGeorge will be adding ten additional hours to her work for Hudson River Presbytery separate from her position as Stated Clerk. Lately and for the foreseeable future, Susan’s “extra” work has been to provide information and resources to congregations on virus-related issues. As we go into the future, Susan’s additional 10 hours will center around property related issues (insurance, by-laws, cemeteries….the list is long) as well as assisting the Vital Congregations Team with the strategy to utilize Holy Cow! assessments for all of our congregations. We may be on pause with our mission of resourcing healthy, vital congregations and leaders, but it will continue soon enough!  

There are some great leadership resources available to you through NEXT Church. Visit their website here https://nextchurch.net/

The Festival of Homiletics, a favorite among clergy and usually a quick sell-out is available to all for free this year! Register here https://www.festivalofhomiletics.com/

We have come to the holiest time in the year for Christians. Our walk in 2020 to Palm Sunday, through Holy Week and eventually – always – to the cross and the resurrection, has been unlike any of us has experienced before. You used words like “tired”, “anxious”, “worried”, “unprepared” to describe your first weeks in this crisis. But you also used these words; “surprised”, “excited”, “creative”, “inspired”, “grateful”. Does that not describe Jesus’s human experience? 

You were called for times such as this. Be still. Listen. Be sorrowful. Then be amazed by the truth that you always knew: The Lord Is Risen! He Has Risen Indeed! 

The peace of Christ be felt anew in each of you-

Deb Milcarek