Presbytery of Mackinac  
Holiday 2020                    

Hearts Awakening Hope
Sue Fantini
Presbytery Vice-Moderator

As we prepare for this Advent season I would like to write about the first candle on the Advent wreath the candle of Hope. Lighting a candle can be a simple act and also a profound act as the power of light over darkness. As the candle is lit we begin our journey to Christmas. We prepare our hearts by renewing our hope, growing our love, rejoicing in Christ and finding rest and peace.
Scripture in the Old Testament reveals God gave the people of Israel hope by speaking to them through the prophets. God revealed to them what was to come in the future and explained what great blessings they would receive when Jesus would be living among them. The people looked forward to the coming of the Messiah with hope. We find the same hope when we read the words of the prophets. Christ has come and our hope is in Him, an anchor for our soul.
Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
Hope in the biblical sense exists as an assurance in a trustworthy God. Since God has not failed us in the past we can have hope he will fulfill his promises. Hope will wait and will endure. Hope will help us during our physical challenges, deep sorrow and despair. Hope offers us the security God will arrive even though we cannot see him now. There will come a day we will all see God face to face.
To spend these four weeks thinking of the prophecies about Christ throughout the Old Testament, preparing our hearts to receive him, feeling joy in anticipating his coming and resulting in the reality of how much he loves us, is the best way to turn our hearts to him. 
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The first Christmas we received the gift of hope wrapped in swaddling clothes laying in a manger. We are thankful for this precious gift.
This Christmas season we have the hope that Christ brings to a troubled world. He came into this world to save us. When we are tired of waiting and want to give up, remember there is hope found in the Lord. We have hope in the waiting. Hope in Christ does not disappoint us. We are able to continue moving forward with hope. May all of us choose hope in our lives.
Pray with me. “Holy God, we begin the week of Advent with a heart awakening to hope. You are our guide lighting our way forward. Darkness may surround us but you reveal light. After a long dark night hope comes in the morning. May we turn our hearts toward you. In Jesus name. Amen”
God’s blessings to all of you this Advent season and beyond. And may hope carry you into the new year.
Peace and love,
Sue Fantini

Covid-19 & Congregations
Part II

On Thursday, December 10th at 1:00pm EST the presbytery will be hosting a follow up discussion with Lisa Allgood via Zoom. Lisa was our guest speaker for the Covid-19 & Congregations discussion held back in September. During this follow-up call, Lisa will be discussing updates as well as answering any questions you may have. If you are interested in participating in this call, please contact Raeann at the presbytery office. .

To view the recording of the September call, click on the link below:

Board of Pensions Updates

The Board of Pensions held their Fall 2020 Board of Directors Meeting. As a result of positive financial outcomes, Directors approved a dues holiday for participants in the Medicare Supplement Plan. The $275 monthly cost for each member and spouse enrolled in the plan is excused for December 2020. The cost of the Medicare Supplement Plan remains unchanged in 2021 for the fourth year in a row. For more information, please see the Board Bulletin (Click Here).

To read other notable headlines from the Board of Pensions, click here

Campus Ministry News

The Anchor House Campus Ministry at Lake Superior State University has looked a bit different this year due to campus COVID protocols. We have needed to be a bit more creative and flexible, but have still had a good fall semester as we share the Good News to our campus.

Our weekly worship meeting with music and a message met outdoors mid-August to mid-October. We were blessed with great weather and good turnout every week. As the weather turned colder and darker, we moved to an online meeting and were well prepared for that. 

We have also been able to meet individually with students to disciple and encourage them in addition to weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings. We even had a group of our students attend a student conference together via the internet.

We will be continuing to carry on online ministry during this long winter break (Nov 20-Jan 20) to help our students to stay connected to each other and God.

Thank you so much for your financial support and prayers!
Church Spotlight

Community Presbyterian Church
Big Bay

Due to the rise of the COVID-19 in the community of Big Bay, the Session suspended in-person worship service till further notice. The church sent out a candle with a note of encouragement and along with the church information magnet to our church members and neighbors in the community of Big Bay. We do not meet in-person, but we still are the church who care for our friends and neighbors. We wish everyone an Advent Season full of hope and days full of peace and purpose.
We are planning to put luminaries on the church’s sidewalk, the path to the doors and on the church front’s steps as a symbol of the light of Christ a warm glow spreads throughout our community declaring that God is with us. The light of Christ reached our earth to the neighbor next door alert us that we are not alone throughout these long and cold winter nights.
As the Christ Candle is kindled, we celebrate the compassion which will overcome hatred and the kindness which will overcome isolation. We hope that the candle light may fill our souls throughout Advent and Christmas and beyond, and enlivening our spirits throughout this difficult time in pandemic.

Rev. Sudi Layraman
Retired Pastors Corner
Rev. Ned Edwards


As I recall, my ministry was about doing 5 things along with pastoral work: helping people connect, enabling celebration, enabling giving, remembering Christ, and selling the Gospel of hope (faith and love aren’t for sale.)

As I look back over 18 years of retirement, it has been like starting all over again from the beginning, doing these 5 things, but in a different way. Instead of helping people connect to start a new church, I spent one summer helping classic wooden boat owners on Crystal Lake to form an association that has grown for 12 years. It now involves 22 families and 31 classic boats.  Instead of helping people to find exciting ways to celebrate Advent and Christmas, I helped Benzie County celebrate Independence Day safely this year with a boat parade, inviting all boaters to join with the classic wooden boats, and recruiting the sheriff’s boat with sirens blaring to lead the 62 boats for 25 miles around the lake. No masks needed. What a celebration!

I found that many non-profit organizations in the community were seeking help in raising money. So I turned my 40 years’ experience of fund raising for the church and its mission into raising money for the food bank, the library, the Rotary Club scholarship program, and St. Andrews recruited me again to help them raise $440,000 for a new pipe organ that was installed one year ago.

Remembering Christ during the tough times in my ministry led to collaborating with friends from the past in producing a book called “Resisting Segregation”. It’s the story of how the church I served in Cleveland Heights from 1963 to 1992, helped turn a city into a racially open and integrated community in spite of the cost: losing 400 members (20 per cent of our membership) in one week after establishing a church policy to promote racially open housing. But it led to the formation of a successful housing corporation, a grass-roots community congress and an interfaith council of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergy that took on the real estate industry. (The book was published in November of this year, Susan Kaesar the author.)

I’m still selling hope when asked to preach or conduct a wedding or memorial service, and pray weekly for the Frankfort Rotary Club. But even in retirement, hope still sells well. It all comes back to the basic question of hope that Job addressed, the basic question for old retired ministers, the basic question of Advent and Christmas: Can you honestly say, “I know that my redeemer liveth?”

Advent Services

Presbytery Leaders from throughout the Synod are preparing virtual worship services for Sundays 11/22 through 12/27/20, plus Christmas Eve. Click here for the schedule and more information

Grants & Scholarships

Sixty-one ’20-’21 Higher Education and COVID/Emergency scholarship winners have been announced to date! Click here for a list of winners and to learn more

Beginning this last November, the presbytery office started sending out a weekly message every Monday morning. These inspiring messages are shared by our current presbytery pastors as well as our retired pastors. With each message we hope to brighten your week with prayer, devotion and other words of encouragement. These weekly messages will also be posted to the presbytery website for all to enjoy.

Camp News

When I was a camper at Presbytery Point, I remember having a conversation at our lunch table about our favorite holidays. Many mentioned their birthdays and Halloween but most answered Christmas. I remember an adult volunteer at our table said Christmas was one of their least favorites because it always made them sad and empathetic for those who didn't have anyone to celebrate with (queue the scene from Home Alone where Kevin befriends the old man who celebrates alone in the sanctuary of a church on Christmas Eve). This was one of the first times that I realized many suffer during this upcoming season while for many others, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were bright and cheery celebrations.

While it's important to offer space for those who were having a tough time during the holidays, growing up I always got the impression that folks were uncomfortable with those “sad people” during Christmas. It’s interesting to me now as we are all heading toward a Blue Christmas.

For so many people, this has been a year of disappointments and loss. We have found joy and gratitude in many moments, but this year’s holidays may not be as joyous, and that’s okay.
We put such a nice, glossy bow on the Christmas season. The twinkling lights, cookies, and parties bring us the sense of love and warmth we need to get through the difficult winter months ahead. From Lent, to Holy Week, and now into Advent and Christmas, this year we have been plunged into the gritty realities of the high holy days. Our celebrations will be quieter, and maybe even a bit somber, but that does not diminish their significance.

As I reflect upon the very first Christmas, I imagine it was actually a time of great stress and anxiety. A young girl travelling long distances with her new husband trying to find a place to rest, perhaps sad to be away from the family she knew as she entered into this new family. Neither knowing anyone in the town they were travelling to. Both thrilled and terrified of the anticipation of birth. Feeling the pressure that would come from knowing you were asked to raise a child who would redeem the world, while living with the fear of being on the run months after the birth of your child, then immigrating to a new land in order to stay safe.

This isn’t the first Christmas of trials, and it won’t be the last, but for many, it will be the first holiday season without in-person celebrations or in-person worship in their lifetime. What a collective loss we are all feeling. Know that we’re allowed to be sad and are not expected to put on a show for other people or our kids. It’s even okay to cry -something we frequently tell our campers when they're missing home and their "normal" life. I guess we're all a little homesick this season as we sit in our homes. At camp, we try to get to the root of the feeling.

 "What are you missing?" 
"Who are you missing?" 
"How can we help you feel better?" 

Let's validate their feelings, pay a bit more attention to them, and let's welcome them into this new strange routine where they will find themselves and a relationship with their faith.
Wait, has this pandemic turned us all into our inner child on their first day of camp?

This coming Christmas has highlighted how much we have longed for our camp community this year. We are grateful that the holy ground at Presbytery Point can hold both our joy and sadness in this time of prolonged separation.

May you lift up those whose Christmas is blue, and do not be afraid if yours is a bit too. Know that we continue to pray for your health and safety. We are looking forward to planning our summer 2021 season, please pray for our continuing growth and future of Presbytery Point youth programs. 

From around the campfire,

Jenna Thompson, Executive Director 

The presbytery office will be closed
from December 24th thru January 4th.
We wish you all a very blessed Christmas and a
happy New Year!