December SPARKS
The Roman emperor Hadrian allegedly commented, “Brick by brick, my fellow citizens, brick by brick” after a horrific fire destroyed much of Rome.  He knew you couldn’t re-build Rome in a day.

Renowned author and Presbyterian disciple, Anne Lamott tells the story of her father encouraging her 10-year old brother when an extensive bird report was due. When her tearful brother sat at the kitchen table, surrounded by books and binders, having done nothing to prepare, their wise daddy simply placed his arm around his son and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” He knew you couldn't finish a report without starting slowly to write. Small steps make a big difference.

And so, after a hurricane 6 weeks ago and a mini-tornado as well, we have 20/48 of our congregations and campuses which have been impacted by a natural disaster by some sort. It’s easy – and natural – to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of need and the scarcity of our abilities.
And yet I say simply this:  we take it “branch by branch” , choosing to make our mark in an unpredictable world, step after careful step.  Unwavering in hope and unhurried by fear, we walk forward after the storms of the past months.  And we walk together . We draw courage and comfort from one another and from Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who has ultimately made short work of  death and destruction! In fact, in the long-view of the resurrection, we’ve already accomplished in Christ far more than we can even hope or imagine.
We have much to do in the years to come. Equally as important, we have much to learn . There are countless gifts we can glean in these challenging moments. One gift is the hard-won, open-eyed, deep-spirited clarity we gain about what is essential for our life together.  Another gift is the beauty of human generosity, which presents itself in check books and casseroles, generators and grants, tenacity and trust. And there is the gift of holy memory too. We remember that our seasons are enfolded in God’s seasons.  As many travel along the roads lined by tree limbs and twisted metal, we remember other travelers who made their uncertain way to a crowded inn. We remember a child, birthed in the midst of uncertainty and chaos, who saves us from both. Thankfully, Advent comes, regardless our circumstances.

In the meantime, though, we take each day, ‘branch by branch”. 

Today , I invite each congregation to carefully select a “disaster response” contact person to work with others throughout the presbytery.   Please have your Session designate someone who is good with coordinating details, at ease with decisive thinking, and well-connected within your congregation.   When you have such a person named , please reach out to our office manager Elizabeth Cantrell at ecantrell@flintriverpresbytery.org with contact information so that we may move ahead with disaster response cluster planning in 2019. 

 May our learning equip us to be stronger and steadier witnesses to God’s grace and goodness in the years to come.

With love and hope,

Deb
We Are Connected
(Is there something you would like to share with colleagues for prayer? Please send a note to deb@flintriverpresbytery.org and she’ll be sure to include it in the next edition!)
The NE Cluster  

The Thomaston church building was badly impacted by November 7 tornado.

Paula Hoffman continues to become accustomed to the different pace of disability. She is eligible to preach once/month. If you would like to have her fill the pulpit during travel or study leave, please consider contacting her at 478.747.3401 or revphoffman513@gmail.com .

Washington Avenue (pictured above) celebrated their 180th Anniversary with awards and community events! Congratulations!
NW Cluster

All Saints, Carver Heights, Edgewood and First (Columbus) have all expressed interest in sending work teams to the southern portion of our presbytery. Please be in touch with one another and, when dates and details are known, contact our presbytery staff so we may connect you with congregational liaisons. A huge thank you to Cynthia and Lloyd Frey of Edgewood  who have worked patiently and persistently connecting southern cluster needs with northern cluster resources.  
Central Cluster
Every congregation (except Tifton) in this cluster sustained some sort of damage to congregational structures (minor) or to members’ property and homes from Hurricane Michael. Clean-up teams from our sister presbyteries of Cherokee, Greater ATL, and NE GA have landed, serving in the Albany, Bainbridge, Donalsonville, and Newton areas. Work teams with chain saws and heavy equipment will be needed for many months to come.
Blessings to St. Paul (Cordele) and TRE Walter Nesbitt who was commissioned to St. Paul on Sunday, November 18 th at 4:30 p.m.
1st Albany celebrated the 100th Anniversary Celebration of their Sanctuary on November 11. May this holy space continue to ring with praises to God!

Paul Luthman underwent 2-day back surgery on November 13-14 at Northside in ATL and will finally come home after excruciatingly difficult -- and painful -- procedures.  Please offer your prayers and send cards of encouragement to his home at 208 Stonegate Lane, Albany GA 31721.
Wade and Lauren Spooner (*above) outside their home, which was declared a complete loss after Hurricane Michael.  Wade continues to serve Fort Gaines with unflappable determination and courage.  A 5th-wheel RV was found for their living quarters.
(*to the left) Joyce Lieberman, our synod executive , attended our October presbytery meeting and, as part of our worship service, chose the Fort Gaines' candle, where Wade Spooner is serving, in order to hold this faithful band in prayer. She also preached here on November 26 as an act of pastoral care for Wade, Fort Gaines, and Flint River Presbytery.

Please remember Joyce in your prayers as  her younger brother died unexpectedly in the past weeks.
Southern Cluster

Bainbridge, Cairo, and Donalsonville were the most severely impacted by Hurricane Michael with touches of trouble experienced among members in Boston, Moultrie,  and 2 nd Thomasville.
** 8 Emergency Assistance Grants were given from the Board of Pensions for “church workers” (those employed in any capacity in our congregations or presbytery) negatively impacted by the storm throughout our Central and Southern clusters .**
PDA Grants
PDA Grant Descriptions and Guidelines - Click Here

Church Damage Assistance Grant Application
for $5000 - Click Here
 
For initial questions about these grants, please contact our Executive Presbyter at deb@flintriverpresbytery.org

For additional questions or support, please contact our Office Manager at ecantrell@flintriverpresbytery.org
"Digital Disciples" Material
Digital Disciples, our synod-sponsored event in October, gave 40 Flint River Presbyterians new tools to equip them for being lively and engaging witnesses to Jesus’ presence in their lives through Facebook. Here are some marvelous materials to get you more engaged!

Establishing Your Online Ministry - Click Here

7 Ways to Connect with Your Holiday-Only Church Goers - Click Here
 
If your congregation has yet to learn more about using social media as a tool for relational evangelism and community outreach, know that you may contact our contracted consultant directly, John Fong, and work to make your Facebook presence more effective. John can be reached at johnfong@elizabethpresbytery.org or 732.318.7955 (cell). Please be sure to note your connection with Flint River Presbytery when making contact.
Continuing Education Opportunity
2019 National Gathering
February 19-21, 2019
The Fellowship Community is proud to announce registration is open for our 2019 National Gathering ALL IN : Leading with Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength.
 
Being the church of Jesus today is bewildering, exhilarating, challenging and carries amazing opportunity. What do you need to lead with energy and heart? How will you stay rooted even as we are called to take risks and try new things? The Fellowship Community’s National Gathering in Tulsa will be a gathering of worship, encouragement, sharing best practices and calling one another to give everything.
 
Get the best rate and register today!
Looking Ahead!
Fall 2019
Continuing Education Opportunity
Curriculum Liaison
Here to Help Congregations!
Dear Flint River Presbytery Friends:
 
This past January 2018, I had the honor of representing our presbytery at the POINT (Presbyterians Organized in Nurture and Teaching) Conference at the PC(USA) headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. We learned about new curriculum available to us throughout our denomination, such as the new confirmation curriculum, Big God Big Questions, as well as the Six Themes curriculum for adults.
 
If you have any questions about our PC(US)A curriculum, please do not hesitate to email or text me. My email is ltdenny@yahoo.com ; my cell phone number is 478-731-4849.
 
Peace and blessings to you all,
Lynn Denny, member of Northminster (Macon)


Lynn is an ardent volunteer at her local congregation while also serving as a physician in a Macon clinic and raising her two teens with her husband Jeff.

Wonderful Resource for Children!
Heart-felt thanks to Laura Pieper of Bainbridge who presented this activity to the congregation's children during a Children's Sermon. Available at Oriental Trading, this moveable wheel allows children to actively learn about each church season while listening and coloring. 
Many of our e-mail distribution lists were lost in the cyber-crash of August 2018. Please help us by forwarding this edition to your congregation. AND reach out to our office manager if you would like to be on this list!
Flint River Calendar
Flint River Presbytery
826 Liberty Expressway SE
Albany, Georgia 31705
229-435-9726