Monday in Ministry - February 17, 2014
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Monday in Ministry
February 17, 2014
Dear Friends of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery,
Welcome to this week's edition of our e-letter, Monday in Ministry. Our goal is to highlight things going on throughout the Church: within our Presbytery, in our congregations, as well as in the Synod of the Northeast and across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Your input is valued, and your comments are always welcomed!
In This Issue
From the Stated Clerk/Communicator
General Assembly news
Facebook and Twitter
We have now surpassed the 100 mark of people who have "liked" our Presbytery's Facebook page. If you haven't seen it at all, or haven't visited in a while, be sure to visit our page by searching for "Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse." Also, you can follow our Twitter feed by finding @CayugaSyracuseP. You may click on the Facebook and/or Twitter buttons above to go right to our respective pages.
Would you like to set up a Facebook and/or Twitter account for your congregation?
Would you like to explore how best to use social media to communicate news about the goings-on in your congregation to your church members and to your community? Steve Plank and Jill Fandrich will be offering a communications workshop about these and other issues. Email or call Steve and let him know of your interest. More information will be coming soon.
From the Stated Clerk/Communicator
More and more we seem to be a society that is divisive. As you'll read later in this edition of Monday in Ministry, the Synod is seriously addressing the issues of racism in our area. Our nation continues to grapple with this, as seen in the horrors related to the shooting death in Florida of black teenager, Jordan Davis, by a white adult, Michael Dunn, after Davis allegedly refused to turn down what Dunn referred to as "thug music."
Much of the nation read with stunned disbelief the news that the Kansas House of Representatives recently passed a bill "allowing individuals and businesses with sincerely held religious beliefs to discriminate against same-(gender) couples without fear of lawsuits." (from the Huffington Post, emphasis added) Some Christians apparently supported this legislation, while other Christians around the country clearly condemn what many see as hate laws such as this.
As I reflect and pray about the upcoming General Assembly of our Church, I'm aware anew that divisiveness is not just endemic in our secular society; it also is a part of the Church. One would hope that such is not the case within the Body of Christ, but we all know it to be true. Trust is threadbare. Motives are suspect. Sincerity of faith is questioned. Theological positions are ridiculed.
I find both hope and challenge in re-reading a document adopted by the 204th General Assembly (1992) for use in the Church. It is called, "Seeking to be Faithful Together: Guidelines for Presbyterians During Times of Disagreement." (The whole document can be found here: www.pcusa.org/media/uploads/peacemaking/pdf/guidelines.pdf.) Drawn from Biblical passages such as John 7:51, Proverbs 18:13, Ephesians 4:15, and Ephesians 4:3, the General Assembly asked the Church to observe the following 10 guidelines during times of disagreement and/or conflict:
- Treat each other respectfully so as to build trust, believing that we all desire to be faithful to Jesus the Christ.
- Learn about various positions on the topic of disagreement.
- State what we think we heard and ask for clarification before responding, in an effort to be sure we understand each other.
- Share our concerns directly with individuals or groups with whom we have disagreements in a spirit of love and respect in keeping with Jesus' teachings.
- Focus on ideas and suggestions instead of questioning people's motives, intelligence or integrity.
- Share our personal experiences about the subject of disagreement so that others may more faithfully understand our concerns.
- Indicate where we agree with those of other viewpoints as well as where we disagree.
- Seek to stay in community with each other though the discussion may be vigorous and full of tension.
- Follow these additional guidelines when we meet in decision-making bodies:
- promise to listen seriously to other viewpoints
- seek conclusions informed by our points of agreement
- be sensitive to the feelings of those who do not agree with the majority
- abide by the decision of the majority
- Include our disagreement in our prayers, not praying for the triumph of our viewpoints, but seeking God's grace to listen attentively, to speak clearly, and to remain open to the vision God holds for us all.
Reading through these, they seem pretty straightforward, pretty logical, pretty sound, pretty easy, don't they? And that's true... until we find ourselves in the midst of serious disagreements. Then it's easy for hurts and anger to reign, and divisiveness once again becomes the not-desired outcome.
Jesus still holds out for us a different way, a different model, a different path in which to walk. And, who knows? If we can learn more faithfully to live that way in the Church, it might even begin to spill over and impact our whole society.
Blessings and peace,
Around the Presbytery
First Pres., Marcellus
Some of you may have known Jim Stevens, a special and long-time member of First Presbyterian Church in Marcellus. Jim was very active in work of the Korean Partnership Team, and both traveled to Korea as well as welcomed visiting Korean groups to our Presbytery. Jim died on Valentine's Day. Please remember his family, friends, and church in your prayers.
"Girls Rock" is a special gathering for girls 11+ years old. Westminster hosted this yesterday at the church. It was a great method of outreach to neighborhood young people. The church also is sponsoring a special lecture this Tuesday evening, Feb. 18, at 6:30, on "What You Need to Know About Wills/Estate Planning."
Whitelaw Pres., one of our congregations just south of Oneida Lake, is a small and very active congregation. In addition to hosting their Annual Old Home Day each August for over 50 years, which sees several hundred people return to their home area for a visit, the congregation has four - yes, four! - choirs that rotate in leading the music in their worship services.
Korean Partnership Update
Rev. Kurt Esslinger and Hyeyoung Lee, PC(USA) mission co-workers in South Korea, will visit Central New York April 3-6, 2014 to interpret their ministry as site coordinators for four Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) based in Daejeon. They will present a program at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 6, at a location in the Presbytery to be determined. Be sure to save the date.
Some upcoming things to be aware of happening at Vanderkamp include two Open Houses (April 27 and May 17), as well as their Spring Work Day on May 3. You can always find out the latest happenings via their website: http://www.vk.org.
Around the Synod of the Northeast
Summit on Race
In preparation for the Summit on Race that the Synod is sponsoring at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, participants are being asked to read James Cone's latest book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Dr. Cone posits that African Americans always have seen an intimate connection between the lynchings and other abuses they have suffered because of the racism in our country - sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle, but racism nonetheless - and the cross upon which Jesus suffered.
This initiative rises from the transitional work of our synod over the past two years where we have highlighted concerns around race and the profound barriers white privilege has placed in the path of our greatest dreams and aspirations for ministry. At the Synod Assembly in October of 2013, commissioners unanimously committed the Synod to a season of deep reflection on this issue. During February, which is designated as Black History Month in our country, this
seems a timely effort.
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Board of Pensions
Steve Plank, and perhaps others from our Presbytery, will be attending the Regional Benefits Conference of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This will take place the end of April in Philadelphia. This will be an important opportunity to learn about some of the major changes that will be taking effect in 2015 concerning the availability and costs of major medical coverage. Opportunities will be offered around our Presbytery to discuss these changes.
221st General Assembly
The 221st meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will convene in Detroit on Saturday, June 14. So far a total of 55 overtures have been made by the presbyteries of our Church to be considered at this year's G.A. The deadline for overtures related to changes in our Constitution has passed, so national staff members soon will be deciding what committees need to be established to consider these overtures, and then commissioners from the presbyteries will be assigned to those committees. Please remember in prayer Tracie Martin and Jill Fandrich, our commissioners, and Becky Wind, our Young Adult Advisory Delegate.
P. O. Box 6010
Syracuse, NY 13217-6010
"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear
much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
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