November 22, 2022
Dear Presbytery Family,

Happy Thanksgiving! This edition highlights the Highlands Regional Ministry Center in Gainesville, established by the presbytery in the fall of 2019. We also share a variety of opportunities and updates.
Thanksgiving Reflection
by Rev. Dr. John White, Community Presbyterian Church

The Thanksgiving holiday is often marked by family and friends gathering around dinner tables to share a meal that is truly among the grandest of the year. At the beginning of our feasts, we pause to give thanks to God, but it can sometimes appear to be only a delay to the big event. Too often our level of thanks reflects how “good” of a year it has been to us as individuals, families, and in our congregations. Are we able to give thanks during challenging times? I would say that of course we can, and we must as persons in Christ!!

One of the more inspiring Thanksgiving hymns is “Now Thank We All Our God,” which has words written by Lutheran pastor Martin Rinkart in 1636, amid a plague in Eilenburg, Saxony. During this very difficult period, Pastor Rinkart was conducting as many as 50 funerals a day, and it is reported that he did more than 4,000 funerals that year. The story behind this hymn is a reminder that we are to give thanks to God in all our seasons. The second verse speaks a message of hope to us at this blessed time:

“O may this bounteous God, through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts, and blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in God’s grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.”
Highlands Regional Ministry Center
In 2019, the presbytery opened its newest ministry: the Highlands Regional Ministry Center in Gainesville. After Highlands Presbyterian Church closed, the idea took root for a multi-purpose facility providing particular services to a part of the city that typically did not have access to them. We thank Rev. Charles Freeman of Grace Presbyterian Church for these stories on the center and some of the ministries housed there, including the Gainesville Counseling Center and others.
Reflections on the Moderator's Conference
We asked Susan Rose, our Moderator Elect, to share some highlights of this year’s conference for new moderators in the PC(USA). Susan will be installed at the Winter Stated meeting on February 4. Read her highlights.
Congratulations and Welcome
The Coordinating Council approved grant applications from five of our smaller churches: Calvin, First Alachua, First Starke, St. Andrews, and Silver Springs Shores. The church projects range from technology updates to carpet replacement and more.

Welcome to the new Synod Executive and Stated Clerk Valerie Young! Read about her here.
Presbytery Giving Update
To date, only 7 of our 53 churches have pledged their support toward our 2023 operating budget. If your church hasn’t yet pledged, please do so as soon as possible so your presbytery can make preparations for the upcoming year. Thank you, ahead of time, for your support.
Dawn Mayes To Be Installed at First Fernandina Beach
Pastor installations are a presbytery event! Everyone is invited to attend the installation of Rev. Dawn Mayes at First Fernandina Beach on December 4 at 4 pm! View the invitation here.
News From Montgomery Center
Thank You 
to McIntosh Presbyterian Church for their continued commitment to the ministry of Montgomery. We were invited to serve at the 1890s Festival, where 10,000+ people visit this small town every year. This fundraiser was wildly successful. Twenty individuals from this little church supported the event with their time and talents in the planning, set up, and food service! On behalf of the staff and Board of Trustees, thank you, McIntosh!
Our new-to-us portable smoker makes it possible to participate in more events like this. We'd love to partner with another church to deliver excellent food at a festival near you!
Winter Gala, December 10 - Register Online Now!
Montgomery is celebrating 65 years of camp ministry! Join us for the 2nd Annual Gala Fundraiser on December 10 at 5:30 pm at Montgomery Center. 

Take a step back in time to the Roaring 20s. Hosting Jacksonville's Bold City Classics, this is sure to be a swingin' evening with superb food. Bill Elrod returns for this year's auction, featuring fantastic items and experiences. Take part in funding 2023 camper scholarships. Childcare is provided. Register online here.

  • 3rd Friday Workday, November 18
  • Gala, Dec 10, 5:30pm
  • Spaghetti Dinner, December 16
  • Elf Run 5k and 1-mile youth run, Dec 17, 9am
More News From Around The Presbytery
Stated Clerk Position Posted (Applications Due by December 1)
View the posting for the next Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of St. Augustine here.
To apply, contact the search committee (Chair Steve Crowley) at [email protected].
A Gathering of Women, 9th Annual Ecumenical Advent Service for all women
Tuesday, December 6, 7:00 pm (pre-service music begins at 6:30 pm)
Hosted at First Presbyterian Church Fernandina Beach. View the flyer here.
Updates from the Presbyterian Women
From PW Moderator Daryl Mullee
  • Save the Date: The Annual Gathering - Saturday, January 28, 2023 at Montgomery which will be hosted by Riverside's PW.
  • Pastor needed to lead the worship service on January 28 followed by the business meeting, workshops and activities. 
  • New Moderator needed. Daryl will not be serving following the Annual Gathering.
  • Baskets Needed: Can you make a basket to auction off at the Montgomery Winter Gala on December 10? (you don't have to have a PW group to contribute).
Lake Shore Church Update
With great respect and heartfelt gratitude for the congregation and its history of mission and ministry, the administrative commission appointed earlier this year shares that the church has begun the steps of closing. On January 15, 2023, the presbytery will hold a Service of Thanksgiving to which all are invited. Please keep the members of Lake Shore and the community that it has loved and served in your prayers.
Our Classifieds Page
What are the most recent additions to our classified page? Parish Associate at Riverside, Transitional Pastor at First Ocala, Pastor at Highlands United, and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of St. Augustine! Check out these and other opportunities here.
Want to understand more about church finances?
The Presbyterian Foundation hosted a Day of Learning about this topic November 8. Check out these great resources and recordings, and share them with your treasurer. 
Christmas Joy Offering
This year’s information and materials for the Christmas Joy Offering can be found here.
Read about the impact of the Christmas Joy offering here.
Free Help Alert! Small Church Grants for Preserving Records
Each year, the Presbyterian Historical Society offers Heritage Preservation Grants to small PC(USA) congregations for up to $500 of free digitalization services. Apply for this year’s grant by December 31.
Conferences and Learning Opportunities
2023 APCE Conference
January 25-28, 2023 The Association for Partners in Christian Education's Annual Event. Check it out!

Flagler College Youth Ministry Forum - February 10-11, 2023
Registration is OPEN. View it here.

Association of Smaller Congregations Annual Conference
March 2-5, 2023 Epworth by the Sea. View registration information here.
226th General Assembly (2024)
will be held in Salt Lake City. The dates are June 25-27 for the virtual committee meetings and June 30 to July 4 for the plenary sessions. Read more here.
Key Events
  • November 24 – Thanksgiving Day
  • November 27 – Advent Begins
  • December 10 Christmas Gala at Montgomery Center
  • December 16 Montgomery Spaghetti Dinner, 6:00 pm
  • December 17 Montgomery Elf Run 5k and 1-mile youth run, 9:00 am 
  • December 25 – Christmas Day
  • January 25-28, 2023 – APCE Annual Event, Birmingham, AL
  • January 28, 2023 – PW Annual Gathering at Montgomery Center
  • February 4 – Winter Stated Presbytery Meeting, Montgomery Center, 9:30 am
  • March 2-5, 2023 – Association of Smaller Congregations Annual Conference, Epworth by the Sea
  • May 2 Spring Stated Presbytery Meeting (hybrid) at Riverside
Jerie Lukefahr, Moderator of the Presbytery
Sandra Hedrick, Stated Clerk
Joe Albright, Chair of Coordinating Council
On Behalf of the Coordinating Council
Previous Staying Connected emails are available on our website.