September 11, 2017
Inside this Edition
876th Gathering on Sept. 14 at Knox PC

PCUSA Webinar, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, PCUSA Stated Clerk

Stewardship Kaleidoscope Scholarships Still Available!

Disciple Formation Symposium

Self Development of People Call for Applications. 

Commission on Reconciliation Partnership Dinner 

Guatemala Partnership Winter Trip 2018

Catonsville Concerts at 3 featuring Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chamber Music

Dickey Memorial PC Spaghetti Dinner and Auction 

Havenwood PC Adoption Forum 

Mount Hebron seeks a Christian Educator and a Youth Minister

Frederick PC seeks Director of Youth Ministry

West Side Story Ministry Group hosts Book Discussion on The End of White Christian America 

First and Franklin PC presents Pianist Paul Bisaccia in a Concert of George Gershwin Music

Catonsville PC seeks a Church Sexton 

Free Blue Hymnals offered by Faith PC

More Church Leaders/ Strong Church Leaders Conference 

Connecting Mission Leaders Conference for Small Churches.

Insurance Board Webinars 

Earn a Certificate in Community Organizing/ Congregational Leadership

Committee and Commission meetings will be held at the Presbytery's office (unless noted otherwise.)
Commission on Reconciliation  meets at 6:30pm on Wednesday, Sept. 27

Trustees will meets 9am Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Our Cuban, Guatemalan and Dakota Partners will visit throughout the Presbytery Sept. 10-16

A Partnership Dinner will be held Friday, Sept. 15 at The Center 

Committee on Preparation for Ministry will be held at 3pm on Wednesday Sept. 20 at Catonsville PC

Administration & Personnel Committees will meet 1-3pm on Thursday, Sept. 21 in the Woodmont Room at Faith PC 

The Susquehanna Parish MG
 will meet at 7pm on Thursday, Sept. 21 at Good Shepherd PC in Joppa.

West Side Story MG will host a Steering Committee meeting on Sept. 13.  Location: TBA.

In The Loop MG will host its Summit meeting from 9:30am - 2:30pm on Saturday, Sept. 23. Location: TBA.

Uptown Metro MG will host its Elder Training from 9am to 12noon on Saturday, Sept. 30.

Sharing Sacred Stories Discipleship Formation Symposium will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1st PC of Howard Co.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Hurricane Irma
On Wednesday September 6th, the Category 5 Irma, packing winds of 185 mph, tore through the northern Lesser Antilles and Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico. PDA has been in communication with communities in its path.

PDA has been in touch with the leadership of the Synod of Boriquen (Puerto Rico) and the Presbyteries of San Juan, Noroeste (Northwest) and Suroeste (Southwest) to share contact information and grant information.
PDA is also in touch with the Florida Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Network (FLAPDAN), which is a mutually agreed upon partnership between six presbyteries in Florida. This is a unique platform in which PDA can relate to all six presbyteries at once for disaster situational awareness.

Gifts can be sent to the Presbytery of Baltimore and designated to DR000194-Irma. PDA continues its response to victims of Hurricane Harvey. In fact, Te Merritt Schatz is journeying to texas on Wednesday as part of PDA's response team.  For those who wish to support PDA's emergency response and recovery efforts, gifts can be made to the Presbytery of Baltimore and designated DR000169-Harvey

Prayer & Praise 

As we mark the
16th anniversary of  9/11, we ask for prayers for the thousands of 9/11 victims, their relatives, survivors, rescuers and fellow Americans impacted by  one of the most tragic days in our nation's history.
God Bless America!

by Rev. Dr. Stephen R. Melton  
     Churchville Presbyterian Church

In 2004, after the September 11, 2001 tragedy, an author by the name of Sam Harris wrote a book titled, The End of Faith. In the book, he rages not only against Muslims, but all religions. He regards religious faith to be a manifestation of "mental illness." Harris would insist there is a problem with ALL religions. He says that with any belief in God (any "God") there is an inherent tendency and fixation towards violence. For those of us who believe in God and attempt to practice faith, his characterization is offensive. However, his premise has an audience.

On September 11, 2001 three planes were hijacked by religious extremists. Many, including former President Obama, have been reluctant to call the perpetrators of this violence (and others like it) the act of "Islamic extremists" because that title gives them a validation they do not deserve. Christians resist calling members of the Klu Klux Klan "Christian extremists." We don't consider the KKK a branch, or even an extreme expression, of the Christian faith. They are on their own. They may have claimed some Christian doctrines and practices, but the Nazi party also adopted Christian doctrines and practices and we would not call National Socialism a wing or branch of the Christian faith. As the KKK and Nazism have corrupted the Christian faith, so has ISIS mutated the Muslim faith its own dark, bigoted and vicious organism.

After September 11, 2011, people sought out churches for meaning and comfort.  Churches were full on September 16, 2001 and were full for a few weeks afterwards. Initially, the anger turned towards Muslims, but the hate didn't stop there. On August 5, 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin a peaceful Sikh congregation was targeted by white supremacist, Michael Page, simply because they looked "Middle Eastern." Their color was enough to incite Page to assume they were terrorists and should be killed.

This anger towards Middle Eastern faiths (Muslim and the like) gradually turned on Christian faith and faiths of any kind. Many of the people who flocked to churches after 9-11 eventually wandered away. There developed an opinion that what happened on that clear blue-sky September day was just one example of the problem of religion - all religions. Faith leads to religion, religion leads to rigid world views and rigid world views lead to suicide bombings and destruction in general. More and more people began to adopt the classification,"I am spiritual, but not religious." Faiths - whether Islam, Judaism or Christianity - became too dogmatic. "Religions" insist on their own way of seeing the world, so the best way to avoid the draw-backs of this narrowness, and the extremism which it births, is to simply be spiritual and avoid religious commitment. Harris takes a kernel of truth - yes, religions have a world view with boundaries of rights and wrongs,but his proposition that all religions must and inevitable lead to violence is based more on bias than truth.

The problem is not religion, the problem is fanaticism. The aggression which manifests as violence is less about "religion" and more about "desperation." The people who choose to end their life in an act of suicidal destruction, or drive their car through a Charlottesville crowd, are not doing this because it is a central doctrine of their religion. They simply don't know what else to do to make a difference in their world. In other words, the violence stems less from a religious outlook and more as a political statement.

Political Science professor Robert Page of the University of Chicago demonstrated this in his 2005 study of every suicide bombing since 1980. He writes, there is "little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world's religions." [1] Page found that the primary motivation for the bombings appear to be political - they are trying to make a statement about the actions of one government or another on behalf of an oppressed people. Terrorists are extreme, desperate fanatics attempting to use the last and only means possible to make a political - not religious - statement.

In our world, we don't need less religion, we need more religious moderates. As Christians, we know that if Jesus taught any extremism, it was an extreme form of tolerance which demonstrated a commitment to nonviolence. Fundamental to our faith, is not to return evil for evil, violence with violence, and rage with rage; Christians are called to turn the other cheek. No doubt we Christians often fail at following our Savior's demands, but we (nor the world) can blame violence on being religious. Our religion and our faith, our doctrines, our traditions have taught us that we need to choose kindness, compassion, and tolerance first and foremost. Holding fast to our beliefs rarely, if ever, demands a violent response. A violent expression is not an extremist manifestation of faith, but rather just one more example of sinfulness raising its ugly head. Anytime a Christian says, "I had to attack, hit, demean, insult, oppress, or kill," fellow Christians should call that logic into question.

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was the loss of human life, but respect for religions has also been wounded.American Christianity may have been in gradual decline since the 1960's, but the events of 9-11 left a lingering doubt in our country about the value not only of Islam, but of Christianity, and religions in general. The only way to convince the public that religion does not necessarily lead to violence is by demonstrating the essentials of Christian love and forbearance. The late Presbyterian minister, Fred Rogers, of Mister Roger's Neighborhood, tells about being young and when he saw disasters on TV, it worried him.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' to this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world." [2]
The world and our country is hungering for God. We need "helpers" to bring people hope and hope is the business of the Christian faith. We do not need to end faith, if anything, we need a rebirth of faith. Let us do our best to incarnate the teachings of our Lord. We are called to this work especially in a time when despair and intolerance are becoming commonplace.

[1] McGrath, Allister, Why God Won't Go Away, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2010, p.68. [2] Rogers, Fred, The World According to Fred Rogers, Hyperion: New York, 2003, p. 187.

taff Directory

Take Note/Act Now

Presbytery and Church-wide

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly will hold a webinar to Update and offer Insights on the PC(USA).  All Mid-Council Leadership is invited to attend. There will be a Question & Answer period after his presentation.  You will be able to submit your questions thru the chat room and have them answered online during the webinar on  Tuesday, Sept. 12 from  3:30 - 4:30pm. Click here to register for the webinar.


The  Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference will be held at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort, St. Pete Beach, FL. from Sept. 25-27.  The Commission on  Thriving Congregations - Stewardship Ministry still has scholarship funds available to reimburse registration costs on a first come first serve basis. Maintain documentation for reimbursement upon your return.  Contact  CRE Ledonia Kimball , 410.448.9164  with your request. Within 75 days upon your return, submit a brief written description of how the scholarship helps the recipient support the Presbytery.

Looking for ideas and inspiration to season and stimulate your church's Disciple Formation ministries?   Take advantage of the opportunity we're providing congregational leaders and youth at a symposium called S haring Sacred Stories - Forming Christ's Disciples The symposium will be held 8:30am to 3pm on Saturday Sept. 30 at First PC Howard County in Columbia. The event offers a rich day of worship, presentations, conversations and a nutritious meal. Registration is just $12. Click here to register

In 2016 the Presbytery of Baltimore's Self-Development of People was honored to be able to support four projects.  The Youth Empowerment Summer Camp was a 3 week youth camp in the Woodbourne-McCabe neighborhood, Youth in Business is a youth-led entrepreneurship program at Jubilee Arts, Glenwood Life Recovery Center designed a recovery garden and the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project are a collective of youth gathering to organize the voices of young people in Baltimore.  The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is prepared to establish partnerships in 2017 with groups within the boundaries of the Presbytery of Baltimore who:
  • are oppressed by poverty or social systems,
  • want to take charge of their own lives,
  • have organized or are organizing to do something about their own conditions,
  • have decided that they are going to produce long term changes for their lives or communities,
  • will control the programs they own and will directly benefit from them.
Please visit the Presbytery's SDOP webpage for more information and an application.   The deadline for receipt is Oct. 2, 2017.

The Commission on Reconciliation invites all to a Partnership Dinner from 6-8pm on friday Sept. 15 at the Center 210 W. Madison St. This is an opportunity for fellowship with all of our mission partners: Guatemala, Cuba and the Dakota Presbytery. To RSVP, email Deb Milcarek. Learn more about it here.

The Guatemala Partnership (along with CEDEPCA) is hosting a trip to Central America Sept. 29 to Feb. 3, 2018. For details, click Guatemala / Application.

Catonsville Concerts at 3 presents chamber musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in various small ensembles playing selections from Saint-Saens, Ravel, Dvorak and others at 3pm on Sunday, Sept. 17.  The concert is free. For details, call 410.747.6180.

Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church
is hosting a Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction to b enefit the church's building fund from 6-9pm on Friday, Nov. 3 in its fellowship hall. All are welcome. Tickets for the dinner are $25 per person in advance and $35 at the door.  For details, call 443.271.3183 or email 
Havenwood Presbyterian Church is hosting a six week forum for all adoptive parents . The forum, sponsored by Adoption Connection, will be held 7-8:30pm on Tuesdays, Sept. 19 through Oct. 24 at he church.   "As adoptive parents we know that what looks like normal behavior may have deeper issues attached . . ."   -TE David Willerup. Click Adoption Forum to learn more.

Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church seeks to fill to positions: a part-time Christian Educator (5 hours per week) for students in pre-school and middle school; and, a part-time Youth Minister (12-15 hours per week). If interested, please contact TE Adrian Pratt.  

Frederick Presbyterian Church, Frederick, MD Seeks Candidates for Director of Youth Ministry
 This part-time position (12-15 hours weekly) entails planning, coordinating, and implementing youth ministry activities to create a program integrating fellowship, fun, service, and faith exploration.  To apply, click Frederick Presbyterian Church.

As part of an ongoing discussion on Race, Class & Poverty -- the  West Side Story Ministry Group will host a presentation by Robert P. Jones, author of The End of White Christian America .  Jones -- a  leading scholar and commentator on religion and politics -- will explore the relationship between religion, demographics and politics of our nation. The event will be held from 7-9 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at Catonsville Presbyterian Church. The event is open to all.Read more about it here . . .

As part of the Spire Series, First and Franklin Presbyterian Church will host pianist Paul Bisaccia in a concert featuring the music of George Gershwin's  "Rhapsody in Blue" at 7:30pm on Friday, Oct. 20. General Admission is $20; students $10. Click Spire Series for details. 

Catonsville Presbyterian Church seeks a church sexton who will be responsible for on site operations and maintenance of its facilities. For details, click Catonsville Church Sexton.

Faith Presbyterian Church has  110 blue hymnals that it would like to offer for free to the first interested church.  If interested, email Diane Borgatti


The Outreach Foundation Small Church Initiative is offering a limited number of scholarships to attend the  Connecting Mission Leaders Conference in Oct. 26-28 in San Antonio, TX. Click Small Church Initiative.

The Insurance Board is offering free webinars to help churches practice safe ministry. The webinar topics include: "Abuse Prevention Self Assessment" , "Keeping Ministries Safe: 5 Things Churches Can Do" and "How to Avoid Background Screening Litigation" . For details click  Insurance Board or contact the representative Linda Senez at 443.345.1055 /  410.409.5154.

Next Church: Earn a certificate in Community Organizing and Congregational Leadership. Click Next Church to learn more. 

taff Directory

 Jacqueline E. Taylor
General Presbyter 

  Deb Milcarek
Assoc. for Reconciliation 

Susan Krehbiel
Dir. of Congregational Advocacy
Chuck Brawner
Financial Administrator
William Nickels III
 Assoc. General Presbyter

Debbie Ingram Schmidt
Assoc. for Spiritual Leader Development
Deborah Greene  
Dir. of Communications
Laura Mullen
        Book Keeper

Catherine Blacka

Judy Johnson
Ministry Group Staff

 Wanda Morgan
Dir. of Events/Services

Kate Foster Connors 
Dir. of The Center