September 15, 2020
Highlights from the 888th Gathering
Last Thursday’s meeting of the Presbytery was filled with lively updates, discussions, discernment and worship, and we are pleased to report that our second online-only Gathering was a big success. That is testament to the talents and dedication of many people who helped organize and run the meeting. The biggest credit, however, goes to our soon-to-be-retired Stated Clerk, John V. Carlson. Jack, as you know him, was our fearless leader who’s attention to detail and team preparation made the event so great.
One of the advantages to meeting online is that we are able to record it for posterity, and share with those unable to attend. Visit our YouTube playlist to view the 888th Gathering in parts, or the whole event. In case you missed it, here are just a few highlights from the day:

  • RE Audrey Trapp was elected moderator.
  • Rev. Sue Lowcock Harris was elected vice-moderator.
  • Dr. Rev. Jacqueline Taylor was elected for a five-year term as general presbyter.
  • Rev. Mary D. Gaut was elected acting stated clerk for 6 months.
  • Updates and renewals of Baltimore Presbytery’s partnerships with Cuba and CEDEPCA in Guatemala
  • A moving multi-national worship service
  • Retirements of Debbie Ingram Schmidt, John Schmidt, and Mary Speers celebrated.
  • Report from commissioners to the 224th General Assembly

We’d like to thank Guy Moody for his adept service as moderator, and wish Audrey Trapp a speedy recovery as she begins leadership. We are also grateful for Vice-Moderator Sue Lowcock Harris’ stepping up to manage such a terrific event, and give thanks to Amy Carlson, Jenn DiFrancesco, Mark Hanna, and Andrea Hughes for their behind-the-scenes expertise. Thursday's elections serve to ensure that the future of our Presbytery is in great hands!
Bay Area Disciples elicit encouragement
As the country continues to reckon with its history of racism and oppression of Black and brown people and take steps toward healing, Ark and Dove Presbyterian Church’s Anti-Racism and Social Equity team held a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday, August 25 in support of the Presbyterian Week of Action. In response to this demonstration the church received this wonderful letter from a member of the community:
Dear Sir or Madame,

I’m a resident here in Piney Orchard and I identify as African American. Every time I drive by your sign that’s states Black Lives Matter I am filled with an overwhelming sense of hope in a time that sometimes feels consumed by despair. I’m also a mother and a wife and I’m very much fearful everyday for the safety of my child and husband (also Black) in this current state of unrest. I was overcome with emotion when I saw a sea of mostly non black protestors in front of your sign this week chanting Black lives Matter. I was even more thrilled that my husband and daughter were also a witness to your protest as well.

Please know that What you are doing is powerful and it matters! May God continue to bless you and the essential work that you are doing. In this day and age we hear so much about recognizing essential workers and this is why I felt compelled to send this message. In my opinion you and your parishioners are also committing to doing the essential work to preserve our humanity. Thank you for being courageous and using your platform to share the importance with our community (and all who drive by the sign) you are truly my heroes!

Most Respectfully, A neighbor
Baltimore Presbytery welcomes Jennifer Barchi
We are very happy to introduce our new Associate for Church and Leadership, Jennifer Barchi. Jennifer will be primarily working with the Commissions on Thriving Congregations and Spiritual Leader Development and resourcing the Ministry Group Conveners and the Commission on Preparation for Ministry. 

Jennifer is truly excited to be joining the presbytery staff. She most recently served as the solo pastor of Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church on the west side of Baltimore City. Before that she served churches in Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Groomsport Northern Ireland in various capacities. Jennifer is an International Coaching Federation-trained executive and leadership coach who loves thinking through vision and strategy (and who reads the Harvard Business Review for fun). Jennifer received her M.Div from Princeton Seminary and her B.A. from Stanford University where she studied international relations with the intent of becoming an intelligence analyst for the US government. 

Jennifer never considered becoming a pastor as a youth. Raised in an agnostic household, she started walking to the Presbyterian church down the street when she was in high school. But at a turning point in her life, her father (a rather devout atheist) encouraged her to consider ministry, and her sense of call developed and was confirmed through a youth ministry internship that followed. Jennifer is a writer, a painter, a knitter/crocheter, and an aerial artist (think trapeze). She lives in Parkville with her wife, their young son, and two rambunctious rescue dogs.
Calling all mental health professionals
We need your input! If you are a mental health practitioner or you know of one in your congregation, please consider joining a conversation about how we might best support the mental health of church leaders in this time and in the years to come. This conversation is hosted by leadership from our presbytery commissions and presbytery staff. If you are interested, please contact Jennifer Barchi ( Date and time will be decided once we have a list of participants.
Interfaith environmental justice awareness and advocacy training program
The Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights is organizing a free 5-week online (via Zoom) program Thursday evenings from 7:00-8:30 October 15th through November 12th. They will be covering topics such as disparities in environmental access and protection, climate justice, protecting vulnerable communities, and how to use advocacy tactics to restore justice. Members of each faith community will also have time for internal spiritual reflection and developing a plan of action. To register for this program, visit their website.
Imagining justice in Baltimore: A four-part online interreligious dialogue
Join the Institute for Islamic – Christian – Jewish Studies for small-group conversations facilitated online by ICJS Justice Leader Fellows around the theme of water justice in Baltimore. The series begins October 8, at 7:00 pm.

Using the lens of each of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), ICJS Justice Leader Fellows will facilitate conversations considering how interreligious perspectives can better inform and enliven our civic conversations and community work.  Participants are encouraged to register early in order to gain access to the introductory video and additional resources in advance of the first session.
Upcoming Events
Tomorrow: 1619 Project Dialogue on Zoom
“Power, Politics, and Race: What Do WE Need to Talk About?” Zoom interview with In The Loop Pastors from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. For more information, Register here or call 410-566-2926.
1619 Project Zoom Town Hall
“Power, Politics, and Race: What Do WE Need to Talk About?” continues on September 19, 2020, with a Zoom town hall and small group discussions from 6:30 - 8:00 pm. For more information, Register here or call 410-566-2926.

Rev. Michael Moore Farewell Celebration - Join the Caravan of Love event on Saturday, September 19, 2020 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Facebook event
Stewardship Kaleidoscope Virtual Conference
Tuesdays, September 22nd, September 29th, and October 6th: The conference opens this year with Eric D. Barreto: Weyerhaeuser, Associate Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. Eric will be exploring the relevance of the Acts of the Apostles for a 21st-century audience, asking us to imagine what our call as stewards of the gospel looks like today, and how we can be a relevant, impactful church in the midst of crisis. Register here.
Community Engagement Conversations
Now on the first Thursday of the month at 10 am: Center staff gather on Zoom to facilitate a conversation about your congregation’s efforts to engage with the local community. Bring success stories, frustrations, questions, or places you are stuck, and we will brainstorm together. Register
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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