September - October SPARKS from the Flint
A WORD from our EXECUTIVE PRESBYTER
Life is full of surprises.  One minute our lives bump fiercely against terror and tragedy; the next minute possibility and promise jostle us insistently toward hope.

Life is also complicated. Global epidemics spiral and national divisions harden: fear and anxiety lurk around the edges of daily conversations. It takes ferocious discipline to look at the world with the “eyes of the heart” (Ephesians 1:18 ), to see truly “whatever is honorable and just, pure and pleasing.”  

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” --Philippians 4:8-9

No one is brought to life through curses, gossip, accusations, or blaming.” --Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

So often – too often – the narratives we speak about communities or congregations descend into despair before we can even take a breath. We unthinkingly repeat familiar refrains about shriveling numbers or disengaged young adults, without pausing to wonder if these well-worn ruts in our thinking are ultimately true or life-giving.  Too often, tight-lipped judgement, white-knuckled bitterness, or recycled despair have become the trademarks of American Christianity. However, the Gospel with all of its robust grace and expansive generosity, leaves no room for these shriveled mindsets. None. At. All.
Flint River saints, when we choose to live out the Gospel,  we pay attention to that which is worthy of praise, giving voice to faith, hope and love.

We cultivate the art of joyful curiosity, paying attention to hidden blessings which slip into the edges of our days as well.

In the next months, I hope you’ll join me in cultivating a fresh-faced and eager curiosity about our life together.  When you are tempted to blame another person or congregation, when you are teetering on the edge of rote negativity, catch yourself by the scruff of your neck and pull yourself back. Take a breath.  Pause. Breathe again.   Focus on what you can change in order to offer a generative, gospel-bearing stance into the world:  imagine a solution instead of investing in a side.    

September and October are the perfect months to cultivate
a generative stance.

First, September 29 th marks our annual opportunity to give thanks for those in our congregation who volunteer on a presbytery level .  Not sure who they are? Contact Elizabeth Cantrell at the presbytery office and she’ll help you! Click here to discover a litany for honoring our volunteers.  Celebrate with us those who serve at a local level – and beyond !

Secondly, October is Pastor Appreciation Month.   

It’s easy to take our leaders for granted. Make time this month to craft thoughtful notes about what specifically you appreciate about your pastoral leader. Be intentional in your encouragement, specific in your praise, and compassionate in your prayers. And pay attention to obvious – or unspoken – needs. Offer gift cards, child care, elder care, a car wash, or a manicure – whatever you know to be helpful and encouraging for your leader. 

Finally, World Communion Sunday marks our annual “Rise Against Hunger” event where we come together at 5 different sites throughout our presbytery to pack over 60,000 bags of food, (which will feed over 200,000 people)! Don’t miss this remarkable opportunity to come together and make a significant difference in the world. (*Check out the locations where you can volunteer here !)

And, if you’d like another way to address local and global hunger,  check out the World Food Programme (WFP) app called “Free Rice” . Every time you answer an academic question correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated to those in great need. Subjects range from English Vocabulary and World Capitals to Literature and Chemistry. (FYI, it takes 19,200 grains of rice to feed an entire family for a day.) Imagine what would happen if each and every one of us in our presbytery – 3500 total -- committed to this game! We could feed a small city by the end of the year!

Stay curious.
Stay hopeful.
Above all, stay connected to Jesus.

Deb
Thornwell Mission Trip
Thanks to all who collected supplies
and helped make the delivery possible!
Nichole Lee of Bainbridge loads
Deb’s car full of supplies from
her congregation.
The Trinity (Valdosta) bus packed full to overflowing with donations from generous folks like you!
Emory Whitaker of Northminster and Abbie Ryon of Forsyth load up his car to deliver more supplies for Thornwell.
Moderator Kyra Osmus of St. Andrews together with others from St. Andrews and Trinity (Valdosta) prepare for their delivery trip.
Board of Pensions Support Events
Getting in Shape Fiscally: A Financial Planning Seminar
Click here for details
Growing into Tomorrow...Today: A Retirement Planning Seminar
Click here for more information
Campus Ministry Matters
Did you know that our presbytery is known throughout our synod for being exceedingly generous and wondrously focused on campus ministry? 

It’s true! And it matters. 

Universities are an extraordinary mission field!

Don’t forget to remind your young adults about our campus ministries in Americus, Columbus, Macon, or Valdosta if they are headed to one of these universities.

Go to  www.flintriverpresbytery.org/?page_id=368  for contact information so that our young adults may stay connected to Jesus. 

If your congregation is near one of these ministries, consider taking your high school students on a field trip to meet current college students and learn about the many offerings of our campus ministries.
God of More,

We lift up to You the imaginations of those in FRP as we hope for "more", for increasing fruitfulness in our Campus Ministry mission within our presbytery. 

You have blessed our efforts. 

You have blessed our requests for food and supplies and money for our students. 

You have even blessed us with campus ministers and volunteers who dearly want to serve students in Your name. 

And now we believe You are calling us to "more"...
 
We thank You for the ways that individuals have contributed through casseroles and tea and cake. 

We thank You for the congregations who have contributed to our presbytery's mission through generous giving for years. 

And, we hear You calling us to more.  
Sometimes it can be hard to imagine "more" when we have given and continue to give in such important and valuable AND concrete ways. 

Your call to "more" is not so concrete. 


So, we lift up to You the hearts and imaginations of those in FRP. 

Guide us to the "more" You have in mind. 

Guide is to trust that giving more will open our eyes
to what You have imagined. 

And may it be so.  
In Jesus' name, AMEN!

(prayer written by Stephanie Boaz , former campus minister at the Abbey in Columbus)
If every single one of us —  3500 Presbyterians strong ! — gave $25/month for 3 years — we would actually raise more than 3 million dollars!

Let’s connect students with ministry. Let’s connect dollars with mission. 

And finally, if you have any students headed to Georgia Southern, know that First (Statesboro) hosts the Georgia Southern Presbyterian campus ministry called UKirk GS and they invite all students to worship at 11 am on Sundays. They are located at 1215 Fair Road, close to campus. You can follow them on Instagram -  @ukirkgs  and on  Facebook  and check out their church  website .  Rev. Taylor Lewis Guthrie Hartman is the pastor and can be reached at 912.681.2053.
Women at the Well
A 2 1/2 year program offered by Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, Alabama is   fully funded by Lily, for 20 women in pastoral leadership in a congregational setting from the Southeast . The pastors applying need to have substantial experience in congregational settings AND not transitioning to retirement soon. If selected for the program, a team from the pastor’s home church would also need to be involved. More information about the program, including an application, can be found at this link:   atthewellsprings.org .  
Stewardship Resources
from the Presbyterian Foundation
As the summer ends, fall brings with it the promise of cooler temperatures and stewardship season for most churches, here are some marvelous resources from the Presbyterian Foundation.
 
Stewardship Navigator
The Stewardship Navigator is a new online tool created by the Presbyterian Foundation to help churches with all things stewardship related. It has a calendar, sample campaign materials, a stewardship kit, a narrative budget builder tool, and more. It is completely free and can serve as the stewardship hub for a church’s stewardship committee. 
 
Online Giving
Online giving is no longer a nice thing to have, it has become expected for every church to be able to accept gifts online. The Presbyterian Foundation provides a best-in-class online giving service to Presbyterian churches and we are the cheapest provider available. We charge 2% per transaction and have no other setup, recurring, or maintenance fees. 
Ministry Relations Officer
I am your human resource for all things stewardship related. I am happy to consult and coach and support churches in every aspect of stewardship (annual, planned giving, wills emphasis, and capital campaigns). My job is to help churches be successful in these areas. I can also lead workshops or training events for groups of churches or presbytery meetings. Like the Stewardship Navigator, I am also a free resource. My time and expenses are all covered by the Presbyterian Foundation. 
 
Thanks for sharing information about these resources with your congregations. Please let me know how I can partner with you to support the churches in your presbytery.
 
Robert Hay, Jr.
Senior Ministry Relations Officer
Presbyterian Foundation
770-289-3884
855-514-3152 toll-free
Vital Congregations Resources
This resource put a smile on Connie Happell's face...
we think it will put a smile on yours as well!

Seven Marks of Vital Congregations

A review of a denominational resource
by Committee on Ministry member, Connie Happell

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit
dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

See, the home of God is among mortals….See, I am making all things new. Revelation 21:3, 5

We know that God is always at work in and around us
to bring new life.
 
How do we become more mindful of the Spirit’s presence and activity? 

What are the identifying marks of the Spirit’s work in and among us? 

How can our congregations can keep in step with the Spirit? 

What is the Lord doing in our communities and how might we be invited join?

Through study, prayer and collaboration, the PCUSA office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism has developed the Seven Marks of Vital Congregations. The “marks” are characteristics of churches that are present in healthy congregations. They are:

a)         Lifelong Discipleship Formation
b)        Intentional Authentic Evangelism
c)         Outward Incarnational Focus
d)        Empower Servant Leadership
e)         Spirit-Inspired Worship
f)          Caring Relationships
g)         Church Health

On this foundation, they developed a program for church revitalization. While Flint River Presbytery has opted not to participate in the program, helpful resources are available online and free for all to use in the Immediate Toolkit Resources - click here .

  • 7-week Bible Study on the Seven Marks (page 3-1) -- Includes prayer, scripture, background information on the passage and reflection questions. Can be used for church leadership or any group bible study.
  • Survey of Congregational Vitality (page 6-1) -- A sample of a discernment tool for Sessions.
  • Neighborhood Analysis (page 7-1) -- An exercise for churches to grow in understanding of the neighborhood surrounding the church building. 

We hope these resources are helpful to you as you love and serve Jesus Christ!

We Are Connected in Christ!
Please hold these situations in prayer regarding
our PASTORAL LEADERS

NE Cluster
  • Amy Hunt, an Air Force reserve chaplain in Warner Robins has recently become a member at-large of our presbytery. She lives in Warner Robins and is available for pulpit supply. 
  • Curtis White, his wife Brianna, 3-year old Elias and 4-month old Marcus are settling into St. Andrews (Macon). An installation to celebrate this call — his first! — will be coming soon.
  • Beth Holloway, CRE at Wayside, has resigned from this position. Remember her and her husband Daron. 
Curtis Smith pictured with his wife, Brianna,
and children Elias and Marcus.
NW Cluster
  • The Abbey has invited John Mock, a member at First (Columbus) to serve as the Campus Ministry Director.  Jong Ha continues his generous work with the International students.
  • Colleen Cook, her 13-year old daughter Mary, and her mother Elaine are settling into All Saints (Columbus). An installation to celebrate this call — her first! — will be coming soon.
  • Connie Happell has accepted an invitation from First (Columbus) to serve as their Parish Associate. 
John Mock, Campus Ministry Director at Columbus State University
Colleen Cook, Pastor at All Saints (Columbus) pictured with her daughter, Mary.
Central Cluster
  • Paul Luthman, after significant back problems, has begun working at Covenant (Albany) as a Parish Associate.
  • Richard Hawks, who serves both Cuba and Cuthbert, is continuing to care for his disabled son who broke his hip several months ago. Remember him and his wife Anne.
  • Jarred Hammet is beginning to forge a new sort of campus ministry at ABAC in Tifton with left-over bread and lots of persistence.
New pastors retreat in Jekyll Island over Labor Day weekend.
Southern Cluster
  • Stephen Webb, a retired Methodist pastor, will be serving as the interim in Bainbridge.
  • Donalsonville has begun their search for a new pastor after 3 years of enjoying interim Raymond Guterman, who recently celebrated the birth of a new grand daughter.
  • John Akers of Twin Lakes and West End, celebrated the marriage of his daughter Amber earlier this spring. Please remember John and his wife Renee, who is currently being treated for a recurrence of breast cancer and doing well. 

If there’s something you’d like to see included, please e-mail Deb Tregaskis at  deb@flintriverpresbyery.org  

Our next edition will be published in early November. 
Your intentional connecting is making a big difference!   This report recaps your recent AmazonSmile activities and the donations you've generated for charity. Your charity, Flint River Presbytery Inc, recently received a quarterly donation of  $185.36 thanks to customers shopping at  smile.amazon.com
Flint River Presbytery
826 Liberty Expressway SE
Albany, Georgia 31705
229-435-9726