May 31, 2019
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The EP's Corner: Prayers of Hope and Lament
by Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is
   wormwood and gall!  
My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
   The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies  
   never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is
   your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'
  Lamentations 3:19-23
 
 
One afternoon I recently decided that I needed to purchase some plants for my office. I was excited about the conversations around congregational vitality and flourishing that we had been having during our presbytery meetings and in other small group settings. I have developed my green thumb for house plants and I have this amazing office window sill that was destined to house newly potted plants filled with life and vitality. I picked three different types of plants - one succulent, one of the cactus variety, one small with thin bright leaves. With joy and zeal, I purposefully chose three different sizes and three different colors. Perhaps on a subconscious level, I was thinking about the diversity among our churches, within our leadership, and throughout the world. We are all called to flourish even though we come in different shapes and sizes. We are all called to flourish even if our flourishing looks and sprouts in different ways.
 
I was hopeful that all three would not only survive but they would thrive as symbols of life, health, and vitality. I potted each plant in its own unique vessel. I watered them. I even talked to them. And then something happened. The little one died. I watered it. I put it in a different place for less exposure to the light. Even members of the staff would walk by and gently touch the withered leaves and say, "Aisha, I think you can let this one go." Even as I write this article, my poor little dead plant is on the window sill because there is a little piece of me that thinks it will have a Lazarus moment and rise-up if I water it one more time.
 
I need to let it go. Learning to lament and let go is yet another way to pray without ceasing. When we think of prayers of lament, we tend to focus on them during the forty days of Lent. As we talk about growth, life, and vitality in our lives and in our churches, we must also take a moment to offer prayers of lament for how we imagined things would be versus embracing our present reality. It is here in the third chapter of Lamentations that we hear words of lament that encourage us to accept the present pain while embracing the hope and possibility of the future.
 
As we approach the summer, you may find pockets of time that allow you to plan, hope, pray, and lay out your dreams for the upcoming liturgical year. In your prayers of hope, may you cultivate space for prayers of release and letting go. In your prayers of reflection, make space to lament what could have gone better and lay it at the foot of the cross. In our newsletter, you will find reflections on this year's Hunger Walk. While we lament that we did not raise as much as we had desired, there is hope and a chance for people to give and opportunity to support the work of ending hunger throughout the city. In our newsletter, you will find an invitation to join us for the National Black Presbyterian Caucus gathering in June. While it will be a celebration of the richness of the African-American legacy in the Reformed tradition, it will also be the place to address how we continue forward as Christians in the face of racial oppression and injustice in our society and in our world
 
Even as we offer prayers of hope, it is good to take a deep breath, let go of our expectations of the past, and keep our hearts open to face pain as we embrace the hope of greater things to come. For each day we are faced with new mercies, God's faithful and steady hand, and God's love that is from everlasting to everlasting.
Blessings,
 
Aisha
 
#flourish
#prayer
PATH SOS!
by Chip Blankinship, Director of Operations
 
 
This year's Hunger Walk - partly due to timing, we suspect - produced the lowest event participation in recent memory. Despite our presbytery's goal of $40,000, only about $7,000 was raised (down from $35,000 in 2018). This reduces not only the amount available for the Atlanta Food Bank, but also reduces the share that is received by the presbytery. That portion funds the Presbyterian Answer to Hunger (PATH) Grants that are awarded each fall.
 
It is too late to support the Hunger Walk directly. We are asking that you, as churches and/or as individuals, consider taking a PATH offering in your congregation, or making a gift directly to the PATH fund. We always receive a number of interesting and innovative applications for the PATH Grants, and would like to be able to provide as much support as we can to our churches efforts to alleviate hunger in the Greater Atlanta area.
 
Thank you for your prayerful consideration. Click here to visit the grants webpage to find more information. 
Highlights from the Stated Meeting of Presbytery on May 4th
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
 
Presbytery gathered on a beautiful Saturday morning at North Avenue Presbyterian Church. The many gracious volunteers of the church greeted commissioners warmly, as all were welcomed to their "new" renovated space.
 
We prayed at this meeting! In our year-long theme of "Flourishing," this meeting focused on prayer. We experienced new forms of prayer through visio divina, led by Lauren Wright Pittman from A Sanctified Art. We witnessed a live painting of inspired scripture from John 15. We offered our prayers, giving them to the Presbytery staff to pray for throughout this year. We celebrated the saints who have gone before us by remembering their baptism, and we celebrated the Lord's Supper reminding us that we are one in Christ.
 
A prayer room was set up and shepherded by Rev. Eunbee Ham. Four stations of interactive prayer ideas were available to commissioners to experience. Many did just that. We also had a board for "best practices" of prayer ideas.
 
We were led in beautiful music by North Avenue's musicians Bryan Black and Josh Schicker and enjoyed the many tasty offerings of cakes, fruit and muffins provided by the church during our break.
 
In between all the praying and singing, we did manage some business!!
  • We welcomed Samuel Yenn-Batah into candidacy.
  • We welcomed four new pastors: Barry Gaeddert who serves as an associate at Peachtree; Christopher Hooker who serves in validated ministry with the Society of Biblical Literature; Jessica Patchett, the head of staff of Central Church; and Lauren Wright Pittman who serves in the validated ministry, A Sanctified Art.
  • We commissioned the youth and adults on their way to the Youth Triennium at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.
  • We celebrated the ministry of Scott Weimer as he leaves North Avenue.
  • We collected over $2,700 for Street Grace, a ministry that fights sex trafficking.
Join us for the next meeting of Presbytery on Saturday, August 17, at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, where we continue our theme of Flourishing and focus on "priesthood."
2019 Presyberian Youth Triennium
 
Get ready for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium - a gathering held every three years for high school age students in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Youth from all churches (across the sponsoring denominations) come together for this life changing, life giving, faith growing gathering! Five days that help form a younger generation of active Presbyterians. Five days that shape the leadership gifts and deepen the discipleship awareness for a generation already achieving a strong presence in this church and this world!
 
Destiny Williams, McDonough Presbyterian Church, is leading students from the following churches in our presbytery:
 
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
Emory Presbyterian Church
Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church
Loyd Presbyterian Church
McDonough Presbyterian Church
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church of the Resurrection
Radcliff Presbyterian Church
Summit of South Fayette
 
These students were commissioned at the May 2019 Stated Meeting to go on behalf of our presbytery. Please hold Destiny and these students in your prayers as they travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, July 16-20, for this life changing gathering!
How Many Presbyterians Does it Take?
by Mary Evans, Nominating Committee
 
Each year some 159 Ministers and Lay Leaders support the Presbytery by serving on committees and commissions. Some assist in areas of administration, worship, finance, and leadership while others support, guide and provide care for the professionals who serve or seek to serve the church and still others catalyze and support the development of fresh expressions of church in the Reformed tradition.
 
Terms of service for most committees and commissions are three years and begin in January. Committee meeting times and time commitment vary. Additional information about each committee/commission is online at  www.atlpcusa.org/committees.html.
 
Each August the Presbytery Nominating Committee searches for some 50-60 gifted persons to fill the positions left when others rotate out of service. Since the Nominating Committee doesn't know everyone in the Presbytery, we ask those interested in serving to complete a  Volunteer Interest Form (VIF). Those interested in serving on Bills and Overtures Committee/General Assembly are also asked to complete the General Assembly Commissioner Interest Form. This information helps the Nominating Committee know who is interested, has particular gifts for service and has time to serve.
 
The Presbyterian connectional church is only as connectional as we make it! Please share your gifts and time and information on the VIF!
 
Questions? Contact Joy Fisher, jfisher@atlpcusa.org or Mary Evans, tmevans@bellsouth.net. 
National Black Presbyterian Caucus
by Aisha Brooks-Lytle, Executive Presbyter
 
Please register for National Black Presbyterian Caucus. Early Bird registration is now closed. Hotel Registration is June 6th. Please see the links below for registration information and hotel accommodations..
 
We hope to see you there!
 
Big Tent Conference 2019
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
 
The Big Tent conference will be in Baltimore, Maryland, August 1-3. The theme is from Romans 12:2, Called to a Movement Beyond Institution . Everyone is invited to come and enjoy learning and worshiping together at the Inner Harbor area in Baltimore. Be a representative from your church or ministry! Registration and additional information is found here.
Published Articles by Our Executive Presbyter
  
Executive Presbyter Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle was recently published in the May 8th issue of the Christian Century. The articles were featured in the Living by the Word section and are based on the lectionary selections for May 19 and May 26, 2019. Click these links to read the May 19 and May 26 articles. 

June 16-12; 23-28 - Presbyterian Association of Musicians Conf. @ Montreat
June 27-29 -  National Black Presbyterian Caucus 45th Biennial Convention @ Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel
August 17 - Stated Meeting of the Presbytery @ Memorial Drive PC 

Click here for CTS's Center for Lifelong Learning courses and events .
Click here for the Calvin Center's programs.
The next newslett er will go out June 30. Articles will be accepted through June 17. The following newsletter will go out July 29. To request space for an article, email your Congregational Consultant or Mark Sauls at msauls@atlpcusa.org . Click here to view submission guidelines.
Top graphic attribution:
Granizo, Guillermo. San Carlos arrives in San Francisco, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55334 [retrieved May 22, 2019]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/3928006603/.

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