FROM RACHEL YATES, PRESBYTERY EXECUTIVE
NO ROOM AT THE INN
Jesus was no stranger to homelessness.  He was born into it.  The reality that there was no room at the inn (Luke 2:1-7) might be fondly recreated in our nativity scenes and Las Posadas, but I doubt Joseph and Mary were pleased.

My daughter gave birth last month.  Even after their baby daughter is grown, the parents will tell the story of the twists and turns of the delivery and the strangeness of giving birth during a pandemic.  I wonder if Jesus heard similar stories growing up.  "Joseph and I traveled across the county for the census.  Of course, that's when...(READ MORE)
PRESBYTERY PULSE


HOLIDAY CLOSURES
Due to an abundance of unused time off during the 2020 calendar year and the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays, the Presbytery Office will be closed through January 1, 2021.  Presbytery staff will resume normal working hours on Monday, January 4, 2021.  

If an emergency arises during this time, Rachel Yates, Presbytery Executive, will be available.
VIRUSES AND VACCINES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Wisconsin presbyteries are pleased to welcome back Lisa Allgood for a timely webinar on the virus, the vaccine, and what our congregations and ministries need to know in this new phase.  Lisa Allgood is the Executive Presbyter of Cincinnati Presbytery, a Ruling Elder and trained immunocytochemist, who brings 36 years as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry to her ministry.  She is known throughout the denomination as a frank, grounded, and trusted source of information about COVID-19, the risks of different types of church ministry, and how we can plan for the coming year.  Register here for this one-hour webinar with Q&A, starting at noon (Central) on January 7, 2021.  

Unable to attend?  A recording of the session will be available for viewing after January 7.
THANK YOU TO OUR ADVENT SERIES COLLABORATORS
This year has brought challenges as well as new opportunities. In the case of our Advent series it brought a new effort of collaboration among our congregations. A special word of thanks to those who contributed and made it possible:
Rev. Kim Trimboli - Forest Park, New Berlin
Rev. Chris Davis and his daughter Molly - Grace, Beaver Dam
Rev. Dr. Christian Boyd and members Dale Morgan, John Clausz, and Alice Lundstrom - Southminster, Waukesha
Rev. Dave Ewing along with Kathi Ewing and Sarah Lichtfuss - Sun Valley, Beloit
Cathy Manthei, CRE - Apostle, West Allis
Ashanti Cook - Calvary, Milwaukee
John Miles - First Presbyterian, Kenosha
 
We'll be looking for similar collaborative opportunities to help support our ministries in the new year. Please contact Ann Gibbs, Associate for Ministry Vitality at agibbs@pbymilwaukee.org if you'd like to participate. And if you haven't checked out the Advent offerings yet, there's still time! Use this link to visit the site, you have until the new year.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE
The Nominating Committee is excited to open several positions on Presbytery commissions for ruling elders and ministers of Word and Sacrament.  Moderator Lance Loveall offers these insights, words of thanks, and invitation.  Meetings are held by Zoom for both commissions (monthly) and the Foundation (quarterly).  Usually meetings last no longer than 2 hours, but might require another hour or two over the month for special activities.
 
Presbytery Gathering Planning Commission:  If you'd like to join in the planning for our Matthew 25 activities at and between Presbytery Gatherings, this is a good place to serve.  The Planning Commission is a creative outlet for our social justice ministries and worship.  Help us identify speakers, develop mission and ministry challenges, and collect resources for learning and action.
 
Commission on Transitional Ministries:  If you've gone through a pastoral transition, you know how important it is to have clear guidance on all the steps to end the old relationship and start a new one.  CTM helps congregations and pastors navigate dissolutions and the search and call process for new pastors.  People who are organized, process-oriented, and strong listeners would be good fits.  Thanks to our restructuring, this work is now much more manageable.  Training is provided. 
 
Presbytery Foundation:  The Foundation manages nearly $2 million in Presbytery investments, so that we can offer initiatives in the Presbytery like congregational vitality, pastoral support, and scholarships.  We have a strong commitment to socially responsible investing.  The Foundation uses Morgan Stanley as its investment advisor, so professional expertise is readily available. 
 
Please contact Lance Loveall if you would like more information about serving with these groups or would like to explore other opportunities. 

HAVE YOU CHECKED THE ADVENT CALENDAR?
We are so close to Christmas!  Don't forget to check the Presbytery's digital Advent calendar these last couple of days.  If you've missed a day, don't worry!  You can open all of the doors to the current date.  You might be surprised and delighted by what you find!  The Advent calendar is available on the Presbytery's homepage, just below the "What's New" section.
MATTHEW 25: I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU INVITED ME IN...
HOMELESSNESS IN WISCONSIN AND OUR RESPONSE 
Manager of House of Mercy shelter in Janesville, Tammie King-Johnson, shares a startling new reality, "Because of the pandemic, we see millions more people formerly employed, under-employed, and even middle-class now struggling to sustain or secure housing. ...now [they] are first time users of the homeless response system."  Presbytery Moderator Judy Jaggard interviewed Ms. King-Johnson, both to educate and challenge the Presbytery in our response to homelessness and housing insecurity.  Watch the interview.
HEALING OUR BORDERS PRAYER VIGIL MARKS ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY 
Homelessness includes those who are fleeing violence and persecution, just as the Holy Family did.  Mission co-worker Mark Adams shares this timely story of ministry along the Mexico-US border.
NEWS FROM THE DENOMINATION
PC(USA) CHRISTMAS SERVICE AND RESOURCES
A collaboration among two dozen employees and friends of the national offices of the PC(USA) have been working for several weeks to create an online Christmas service reflective of the "vibrance and vitality" of this denomination in this time and place. Musical selections include classic Christmas carols, African American spirituals, and songs originating from Spanish- and Korean-speaking communities of faith. Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, is preaching and the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, will offer prayer that connects the themes of Christmas with the Matthew 25 vision of service to people who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick or in prison.

ADD TO YOUR CHRISTMAS CHEER!
Our friends in the Muskingum Valley Presbytery have complied a list of blessings from Presbyterians around the country that may help lift your spirit:
PC(USA) CO-MODERATORS ANNOUNCE NEW BOOK STUDY PROGRAM
Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance, by Edgar Villanueva is the book being recommended by PC(USA) co-moderators, Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart and the Reverend Gregory Bentley. The announcement came during the first broadcast of "Good Medicine," a new monthly online program hosted by the Co-moderators on Facebook Live. Visit the co-moderators Facebook page for book study updates and to watch the "Good Medicine" program.
 
"This is a very important time where the church and our country are trying to shift reality around how we repair and bring equity to our ideas, while resolving concerns that are being raised by our communities," said Street-Stewart. "This book will help address these issues as a Matthew 25 church."
 
"This is a very important book and Villanueva's perspective on philanthropy is important to grasp and I hope we take our time with this study," said Bentley. "This should be a 'crockpot' study, not microwave. You use a microwave when you want to cook something fast, but a crockpot is for cooking something slowly, taking time. This is a crockpot project."

REGARDING RULING ELDERS:
A MONTHLY SERIES FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERS

Nikki Collins has written the most recent installment of Regarding Ruling Elders, a monthly resource of the Office of the General Assembly.

ANYTHING BUT COVID-19 NEWS
MUPPET THEMED POST-IT MURALS
Since 2017, Tyler Watts has been covering library windows with post-it notes. "I just try to top myself every year trying to make it bigger and bigger," said Watts. "This is about as big as I can make here. These are the biggest windows in town that I'm aware of so it's the best canvas I could ever ask for."

An elementary math teacher, Watts uses the murals to help his students understand the calculations used for area and perimeter to estimate how many post-it notes are required.
OED'S "WORDS OF AN UNPRECEDENTED YEAR"
This year has seen so many seismic events that Oxford Dictionaries has expanded its word of the year to encompass several "Words of an Unprecedented Year" chosen to reflect 2020's "ethos, mood, or preoccupations." Some of the words included on the words of the year list are bushfires, Covid-19, WFH, lockdown, circuit-breaker, support bubbles, keyworkers, furlough, Black Lives Matter and moonshot. The use of the word "pandemic" has increased by more than 57,000% this year.
 
Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries, said: "I've never witnessed a year in language like the one we've just had. The Oxford team was identifying hundreds of significant new words and usages as the year unfolded, dozens of which would have been a slam dunk for Word of the Year at any other time.
INVITATIONS
LEADERSHIP, CULTURE, AND COMMUNITY
Many Presbyterian congregations and presbyteries are utilizing the principles of Community Organizing to revitalize congregations as well as launch new worshipping communities by being able to exegete personal culture, as well as the culture of the community they seek to work with, and the systems being challenged. Leadership, Culture, and Community is a study group, led by the Presbytery's Stated Clerk, Rev. Dr. Christian Boyd, will delve into the core concepts, like social constructs and ethnocentrism, that are required to be understood in order for the congregation to become a vital Spirit-led and Matthew 25 focused mission and will develop the understanding and skills needed to build meaningful relationships essential for leadership today and forming community beyond the church building walls.

Meetings will take place via Zoom on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., January 6 - February 10.
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY RESOURCES
The Wisconsin Council of Churches is putting together a pre-recorded service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Jan 18-25) which will be available for you to use for free. The readings will align with the international texts for #WPCU2021 and there will be music, a brief homily, an opportunity to pass the peace digitally...along with a few lovely reflective moments. This will allow pastors and worship staff to take a break January 24th. Watch the WCC enews for more info coming soon.
MISSION OPPORTUNITIES
WITNESS TO THE LIGHT (JOHN 1:6-8)
A letter from Elmarie and Scott Parker, serving in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria
Dear Partners in Christ's Gospel,
 
As the liturgical year comes to an end and we live into a new church liturgy year ushered in by Advent, I am captivated by how John the Baptist is described in the Gospel of John: John "...himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."
 
There is grace in that description, and an invitation. At a time when so much around me feels...(READ MORE)
HOT LINKS
Grapevine - Presbyterian Women's Newsletter
Keeping In Touch - Newsletter from the Synod of Lakes and Prairies 
Life in the Labyrinth - Inspirational Website by Michelle Henrichs
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - Current Information
The Sower -  August 2020 Newsletter for the Presbyterian Women in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies
UCCI Newsletter - December 2020 Newsletter from United Church Camps, Inc.
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
FUTURE PRESBYTERY GATHERING DATES

Download the 2020-2021 Presbytery Gathering flyer 

  • TUESDAY, March 9, 2021
  • SATURDAY, May 22, 2021
  • WEDNESDAY, September 22, 2021
  • THURSDAY, November 18, 2021