Mid Council Relations | January 9, 2017
On the third Sunday of Advent I worshipped with the faithful PC(USA) saints of First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After more than a year of consulting with the presbytery, meeting with the administrative commission, providing constitutional advice to the presbytery’s attorney, and praying for this congregation in schism and in civil court, we gathered together in the church season of watching and waiting, and worshipped the triune God.
Their watching and waiting has been its own active season this past year. They gather each week for worship, with leadership provided by the Reverend Dr. Bill Hess. They have hired a new and talented organist/choir director who directs a choir of around thirty strong. They continue to work with Lehigh Presbytery, through an administrative commission, to strengthen the future of the congregation. And soon, they will be electing a session to govern and guide the congregation’s “witness to the sovereign activity of God in the world.” But what struck me most about this congregation was not what they are doing, but who they are. These are folks with commitment and passion for Christ and Christ’s church. These are folks who, despite the hurt and weariness they have experienced in this schism, are hopeful about the future of their congregation. These are folks who are looking forward with hope and expectation, not toward the outcome of a civil lawsuit, but to what God is calling them to be and do as First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem. For me, there was no better witness to advent waiting in “hope and expectation” than that shared by First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem, whose “life and mission are a joyful participation in Christ’s ongoing life and work” (Book of Order, F-1.0201).
As we move into a new year with the work to which we are called, with all its challenges and conflicts, transitions and new ministry directions, departures and welcomes, I take the hope and the joy of these faithful folks with me and pray that our own hope and expectation will be as joyful a participation in Christ’s ongoing work in our ministries as that of First Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem.
Joyce Lieberman, Director, Constitutional Interpretation
We were saddened to hear of the death of Wendy Bailey, General Presbyter of Monmouth Presbytery on December 20th. A memorial service was held at Allentown Presbyterian Church (NJ) on December 26th. She is survived by her husband, Dwayne Bailey; daughter and son-in-law, Kate and Ben Farmer; her father, Peter Berg; her brothers, Michael and Matthew; as well as many nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions may be made in Wendy’s name to Monmouth Presbytery, 617 Hope Chapel Rd, Lakewood, NJ 08701 or a local organization in your area that supports the arts in education, a passion of Wendy’s. Click here to read a reflection about Wendy.
Transitions in the New Year:
- Hyon Chun Kim began as stated clerk/executive presbyter of Eastern Korean Presbytery on December 6th.
- Mark Hong began as stated clerk/executive of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii on January 1st.
- Linda Badger Becker completed her service as the transitional general presbytery of Western Reserve Presbytery on December 31st.
- David Ezekiel completed his service as the transitional synod executive of the Synod of the Rocky Mountains. The synod will only have a stated clerk effective January 1st.
- Mike Cole retired as executive presbyter of New Covenant Presbytery at the end of 2016.
- Doska Ross retires as stated clerk/executive of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii on January 31st.
New Stated Clerks:
- Richard Francis, Prospect Hill, January 1st
- Catherine Byrd, Charleston Atlantic Presbytery, January 1st
- Tim Pollock, Muskingum Valley Presbytery, January 1st
- Glen Wilson, North Central Iowa, January 1st
The Office of the General Assembly is seeking a manager for Korean-speaking Councils Support. The position description may be found here (downloadable PDF), or on the MIF posted on Church Leadership Connection. Interested individuals can refer their PIF through Church Leadership Connection or email a resumé with cover letter directly to Brunhilda.Williams-Curington@pcusa.org.
1001 New Worshiping Communities is offering paid summer and yearlong residencies and apprenticeships for leaders (ordained or lay) who are exploring or involved in the leadership of a new ministry. Do you know someone in your church or presbytery who embodies the entrepreneurial skills to start a faithful new ministry? Would you like a leader in your context to access a coach, training, and a cohort of peers in partnership with the Presbyterian Mission Agency? Please consider and share this opportunity. Deadline to apply for all 2017–2018 opportunities is March 1, 2017. For more information, please visit: http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/1001-2/apprenticeship/.
New for Lent! Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, with an introduction by Allan Boesak, edited by Kerri Allen and Don McKim. Written by a variety of Presbyterians, reflecting on a portion of the confession in relation to Scripture texts that are associated with the confession. Order now at PC(USA) Store: http://bit.ly/2iPTYk2 or call (800) 533-4371.
The Lilly Endowment Clergy National Renewal Program provides funds to congregations to support renewal leaves for their pastors. Congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to underwrite a renewal program for their pastor and for the pastor’s family, with up to $15,000 of those funds available to the congregation to help cover costs for ministerial supply while the pastor is away. There is no cost to the congregations or the pastors to apply. The grants represent the endowment’s continued investment in renewing the health and vitality of American Christian congregations. Application deadline is April 21, 2017. Application information can be found at http://www.cpx.cts.edu/renewal.