December 14,  2017
What is a Presbytery?
(part 1 of 4)
by: Anne Meredith Wilson
Witherspoon Press PC(USA)

The word  Presbyterian comes from the Greek,  presbuteros , which means elder. This word, used seventy-two times in the New Testament, provides the name of our church and the basis for our representative form of church government.

All our individual churches make up the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but all of us can't meet together to make decisions. We use an interconnected system consisting of a session, presbytery, synod, and General Assembly. Both ordained ministers and elders have equal voice and vote at all levels of church government. Decisions at each level are by majority vote, according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Constitution has two parts: The Book of Confessions, which says what we believe, and The Book of Order, which includes the Form of Government, the Directory of Worship, and the Rules of Discipline. 

Our form of government begins with the members of each church, who have the authority (in consultation with the pby) to call (hire) their pastors, and buy and sell property. They also elect and ordain members as elders to represent them on session. 

What is a session? 

The elders and the pastor(s) of each church make up its session or governing unit. Session responsibilities include providing for regular worship, education, mission, and receiving new members to the congregation. It also attends to practical matters such as budget, and care of the buildings and other property. The session elects commissioners to the presbytery from among their number and maintains a partnership with higher governing bodies of the church. Each session should reflect the rich diversity of the congregation as to age, gender, racial-ethnic background, and diverse theological opinions.
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Book Two

Presbyterians often have questions about Presbyterian theology and beliefs that are basic to Christian faith itself. Featuring a unique question- and-answer format,  Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers and More Presbyterian Questions, More Presbyterian Answers, are  accessible and concise treatments that provide a sampling of these questions on important topics and brief but complete answers from a distinguished Presbyterian theologian.
Our Modern Confessions 
by: Rev. Nancy Tuma
Neb-Kan Parish

The final four creeds in our Book of Confessions were all written in the 20th century. 

These four creeds are The Theological Declaration of Barmen, The Confession of 1967, The Belhar Confession, and A Brief Statement of Faith. Each of these creeds was written at a very special time of the 20th Century.

The Confession of 1967 was written in response to the 1960's challenge to churches to restate our faith in a time of great turbulence. This confession seeks to reconcile the world to God through Jesus Christ.

The Confession of Belhar was not written by Presbyterians although we had a hand in it; it was written by leaders and members of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in South Africa in the early 1980's as questions of apartheid, and the separation of people by race abounded. The PC(USA) added the Belhar to our Constitution because it's witness to unity, reconciliation, and justice were clear and aligned strongly with how the PC(USA) wants to speak and act at a time of division, racism, and injustice.

And finally, a Brief Statement of Faith was written when the United Presbyterian church in the United States of America and the Presbyterian Church in the United States reunited after more than 100 years of deep division. This confession was integral to the reunion, as it seeks to articulate Presbyterians' common identity, while recognizing the diversity and disagreement within both the church and our world. 

We as Presbyterians and specifically members of the PC(USA) are creedal in nature, meaning that we, the church, declare to each other and the world who we are, what we believe in and stand for, and what we, the church, resolves to do. Not all churches are creedal in nature, some make their own decisions on beliefs and stance. The confession and creeds help us strengthen our personal commitment to God by giving us words and ideas that may help us understand our beliefs more easily. These confessions and creeds allow us to be a church that is "reformed and is always reforming."
A Bird in The Barn is Worth Two in the Snow
by: Rev. Steve Breazier
Pender United Church of Pender

One very cold and snowy Christmas Eve a farm wife finished getting her children ready to go to the little church down the road for evening services. She asked her husband one last time if he was sure he didn't want to come too, but, as always, he declined. He just didn't see the point or the need for the religious stuff that others believed. So as his family left the driveway and headed down the snowy road, he settled back in his chair to read his paper and enjoy the quiet. 

Suddenly there was a noise at the window. Someone was knocking on his window! No, it was birds. A flock of small birds had been attracted to the light, and were looking for a place to get out of the cold. Again and again, the banged against his window, trying to get to a warm and safe place. They were desperate to find shelter from the deep cold that was coming on the night. 

The man felt sorry for the birds, realizing that their lives were in danger from the cold. Then he had an idea--the birds could go roost in his barn where they would be safe and warm through the night! He pulled on his boots and big coat, and headed out to the barn. He opened the barn door, and turned on a light in the back shop. Then he headed back to his comfortable chair, feeling relieved that the birds could be safe and warm.

Bang, bang, bang--the birds banged against the window. "What the heck?" The man was dismayed that the birds continued to pound against his window."Why don't you go into the nice, warm barn?" He went to the window and waved his arms, thinking maybe he could scare the birds away from the window and towards the open barn door. Bang, bang, bang the birds would not leave his window. He stepped out on the porch and yelled at the birds, "Get away from there! Go find the barn!" Away they flew, but just for a moment, and they were back, pounding at the glass, trying to get into the window. The birds were truly desperate.

Then the man had an idea! He got his boots and coat back on, and headed back out to the barn. He opened the barn door as wide as it could go. He got the grain out of the hopper and spread it on the ground in front of the barn door, and even inside the the door, and he turned on more lights so the birds could see to find their way. The birds continued to bang at the window of the house.

The man was starting to feel the same desperation as the birds. He felt silly, but he stood in the shadow by the barn door and tried to whistle like a bird, thinking mabe he could call them to the barn. "Oh no!" He thought, as he heard another bird hit the window hard, "if only I could be a bird, just for a moment, I could make them understand, and I could lead them in to the barn where they would be safe and warm!"

Just then, he heard a sound--it was a bell, ringing clearly in the night. It was the bell in the steeple of that little church down the road, calling to people to come and worship God, who sent Jesus into the world, so that people could understand, and so he could lead them to safety.

Suddenly he understood. He fell to his knees in the snow. "Oh, dear God, what have I done?"

And you know what happened to the sparrows? God knows. I only know that Jesus said, "Fear not, for you are of far more value than many sparrows!" Blessed Christmas to all.  
Keep Thinking...
"All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost"
- J.R.R. Tolkien
Blessing Opportunity     ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
This is No Ordinary Gift!
Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood.

Donate through your Congregation, The Homestead Presbytery Office or 
online Here.
Pictures Around the Presbytery
Homestead Presbytery would like to encourage everyone to send photos from your church's events to hpoffice@homesteadpres.org We would LOVE to feature all the awesome things you are all doing!