April 28, 2020
The First Virtual General Assembly
You've probably already heard, but it's official: The 224th General Assembly will be virtual. Baltimore remains the "host" city, and Baltimore's Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) will remain actively involved with the co-organization of the week-long event in June.

Although not surprised, we are heartbroken that we will not be able to share our city in person with the denomination. We are, however, confident Baltimore will adapt to the circumstances, and rise to the occasion as it always has.

That is due for the most part to our COLA leadership. We are grateful for the years of preparation by Rev. Carrie Finch-Burriss, committees, and chairpersons. Their tireless planning is already being re-worked to meet the ongoing challenges and opportunities ahead of us. We're counting on all our churches to stay involved, as we look forward to sharing the resilience of our spirit and pride in our ministries to ensure that the 22th Gathering will be a memorable, if not historic event.

Midweek volunteers pitch-in for their community
Women at Central Presbyterian have been meeting Wednesday mornings online with classes or conference calls, and have mobilized to make masks, provide food and organize front porch drop sites for donations. The food goes to the Assistance Center of Towson Churches (ACTC), a collaborative local food pantry. Others are volunteering to provide meals for food insecure students. The masks are donated to volunteers and staff at ACTC, the Towson Police Department, and nurses at Hopkins and St. Joseph’s Hospitals.
The Common Table Campaign
Light Street Presbyterian Church launched the Common Table Campaign to support local restaurants and provide hot meals to seniors in South Baltimore. What started on GoFundMe with an initial fundraising goal of $4,000 was quickly exceeded, and to date, over $10,500 has been collected.

The outpouring of support allowed Light Street to introduce a second phase to the fundraising, and expand the support to include Harbor Hospital, the Southern District Police Station, and two local fire stations. The number of participating restaurants also more than doubled, from 4 to 9.

All the money raised online will continue to be used to purchase meals for seniors, health care workers and first responders. Over 450 dinners have been purchased to date and with your help, over 100 more per week will be delivered in the month ahead. Those interested can make a donation here .
Proud moments abound, and they are reflection of the generosity of our communities! If you have good news or volunteer activities to share, please let us know .

Update on The Center
The Center is taking the next step in finding a new home by exploring the possibilities of locating its facility on the property of a Presbytery of Baltimore church. To that end, they are releasing a Request for Information (RFI). Churches have an opportunity to respond with proposals for how The Center could be located on their property. In the RFI, there are calculations to see if your church fits the geographic requirements. For a copy, email info@thecenterbaltimore.org .
It is paramount that The Center chooses a location that will enable them to continue to support our current mission partners. Responses to the RFI can be submitted to the email above by June 8 th . Several online meetings are planned to assist interested churches in developing their response, and The Center looks forward to engaging with congregations to hear about your visions for your church and how The Center might be a part of it.

Earth Care Congregations
The 50 th Anniversary of Earth Day was less ceremonious than planned, but the good news is that spring is still here, and we can still honor the earth. And we should, because very little gives as much inspiration or relaxation in these stressful times as nature: God’s creation. During this period of social distance and isolation, our gardens, yards and properties provide solace, but also require our ongoing care and stewardship.
That’s why we’re proud to announce that the number of Baltimore Presbytery churches that have been certified as Earth Care Congregations has grown to 11, with more being added every year. This honor speaks to the great commitment that our churches have made to care for God’s earth.
Started in 2010, the goal of the program, administered by Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Presbyterian Hunger Program, is to inspire churches to care for our planet in a holistic way. That means integrating earth care into all aspects of their church life. To become an Earth Care Congregation, congregations integrate environmental practices and thinking into their worship, education, facilities, and outreach. We congratulate churches that make that commitment and encourage others to follow their example. More information

Upcoming Events
Conversations on Ministry in the Time of COVID-19
April 29 - Pastoral Care and COVID-19
May 6 - Congregational Leader Mastermind Group
The Commission on Spiritual Leader Development is offering opportunities to join Zoom calls focused on the challenges of congregational ministry in the midst of the the COVID-19 pandemic—issues such as working from home with kids, meeting pastoral care needs in your congregation, and just taking care of yourself. The calls will take place on Thursdays, 2:00 - 3:30 pm. More information and registration
Community Engagement Conversations
April 30 and May 7: The Center invites all clergy and lay leaders to join them at 10:00 am for focused, facilitated, conversations about challenges and opportunities for community engagement in our neighborhoods during the global pandemic. They will discuss best practices, innovation, and troubleshooting with your food, education, or other ongoing missional engagement that has been disrupted or changed by COVID-19; as well as how to conduct volunteer training, fund mission initiatives, and more. You must register in advance for this meeting , or contact Kate Foster Connors with questions.
Reimagining Church: From Buildings to Community
Saturday, May 9, 10:00 am: A creative, conversational, and collaborative day together is promised. Join with your own dreams, visions, or even frustrations and we will work through creating innovative solutions.

Expert information will also be shared, while theologically grounded and accessible for pastors, stewardship committees, and parishioners. These tools can help you develop a process to align a congregation’s core values with a new vision for the property that is connected to the flourishing and the well being of your neighborhood – and to do so with excitement and conviction. Additional information and registration
887th Gathering via Zoom
Thursday, May 14: Attendees are asked to register in advance , and log in by the 10:00 am start time. The session will open at 9:15 am for all panelists and attendees, and there will be a brief technical orientation beginning around 9:45. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. We look forward to your participation in this first of its kind event! Documents and more information
BDLC Summer Camps Cancelled
The decision has been made to cancel the BDLC 2020 learning camps. It is with great sadness and also great caution that this decision was made. Everyone at the Steering Committee meeting was in agreement that we do not have a clear picture of how the summer months will play out in this current pandemic, and we want to make sure that our partners and all of our Baltimore volunteers remain safe.

The BDSC is praying for new ways to support and be in contact with our partners in these difficult times and would welcome any suggestions that any of our Baltimore Presbytery members might have to share with us. Please be in touch with Chrystie Adams , BDLC Steering Committee Chair, with any suggestions you might have.

The Presbytery offices are closed for visits or appointments until further notice, but staff and commissions continue to meet regularly online.

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