Dear Presbytery Family,

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” This first verse of Isaiah 40 begins a series of oracles and songs revealing God’s saving purpose in a way that some call “the Fifth Gospel.” As Isaiah moves from harsh warning to comforting hope, the prophetic message presents God’s vision of justice and wholeness, repentance and renewal.

Living into our comfort and hope, your Coordinating Council has these things to share:

  • We offer a prayer for our schools, students, teachers and parents at the bottom of this email. Remember that you can visit our Prayer and Devotions page 24/7 to access daily scripture readings and to request prayers for you, your church family, and your community.

  • A called meeting of the presbytery will be held on Tuesday, August 25, at 6:00 p.m., via the Zoom platform. All Teaching Elders and Commissioners must register for the meeting no later than noon on August 24th. Click here to register. The purpose of the meeting will be to vote on the proposed changes to our Manual of Operations that had their "first reading" on July 28. The other item of business at this meeting is the commissioning of ruling elder Bea Newhart to pastoral service to Fairfield Presbyterian Church. Click here for the agenda and meeting materials.

  • Also living into our comfort and hope, we want to remind our full-time church professionals, and inquirers and candidates for ministry under our care, that the presbytery provides financial support for individual or family counseling to cover the difference between what insurance covers and the cost of each therapy session, up to $40 per session for up to 20 sessions a year (Policy 8 in our Policies and Procedures). Check with Chris Lieberman (502-475-8025, Relationship Coordination Director) or your Area Relationship Coordinator for more information.

  • The Gainesville Community Counseling Center, a ministry partner organization at the Highlands Regional Ministry Center, will soon offer to members of our presbytery a free online course on mindfulness, a virtual support group for pastors focused on stress management and stress reduction, as well as virtual support groups for public school teachers who are returning to in-person teaching situations. Stay tuned for specifics on how to access these free services.

  • Project Common Grounds (Palms Presbyterian Church) and OneJAX invite you and your congregation to an evening called Jacksonville Together: Disrupting Division, on November 1, 2020, 6:30-8:00 PM. Along with a panel of Jacksonville faith community leaders, the Rev. Dr. Allen Hilton, author of A House United: How the Church Can Save the World, will be the featured speaker. The event will be offered online, via Facebook, Zoom, and in church or community locations where socially-distanced participants can safely enjoy the evening. Click here to register to receive more information.

  • Our COVID-19 resources page continues to be updated so that we can support all of our churches, ministers and ministries in the coming months. If you know of a resource that should be added, please email Marigrace Doran at your convenience.

  • The presbytery is ordering fifty 2020-2021 Presbyterian Planning Calendars. If you would like to have a few calendars sent to you at the discounted rate of $11.50 (which includes shipping) please call the presbytery office (904-733-8277) or email Cyndi Rigley by August 28th.

In this space we offer a prayer for the day:

Gracious God, as students and teachers (and parents) go back to school, we ask for your care and protection. We pray that you give people the patience they need for this new type of schooling. We pray for everyone working so hard to keep people safe and for the right precautions to be taken to ensure their wellbeing. 

Lord God, we pray especially for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles seeking ways to work and watch over the children of our communities. We pray for churches and youth groups as they provide spiritual encouragement and nurture during this new semester. We know this will be a challenging school year with many adjustments. Please settle all the hearts that are worrying right now and bring peace and hope to those who are restless or fearful about the future.

Holy Spirit, remind us all that we can depend on you for all things through all circumstances. Help us to remember that we are not alone. May we seek to trust you more and more each day for all things, at all times, in all our ways. Help us to draw comfort from your sovereign presence and loving nearness. Thank you for all the blessings you have given us and help us not to overlook them in times of struggle and strife. Amen.

Diane Wilson, Chair of Coordinating Council
Edd Norris, Moderator of the Presbytery
Sandra Hedrick, Stated Clerk
Chris Lieberman, Relationship Coordination Director
On Behalf of the Coordinating Council