Upcoming Meetings of the Administrative Commission/Synod Assembly

Friday December 4, 2020 @ 1:00pm, via Zoom

This assembly is primarily a meeting of the Administrative Commission for the Synod, though any and all interested parties are welcome to attend.  This may be a good opportunity for new commissioners to observe the workings of the Synod in a relaxed capacity.  To register, contact Stated Clerk Sharon Moore at sharon@synodofthecovenant.org.

Thursday January 7, 2021 @ 6:00pm – 8:00pm, via Zoom

This assembly will primarily be an orientation and training of Commissioners, long-time and new, to the Synod.  We are inviting the Commissioners of each Presbytery to create a 2 minute visual presentation (e.g., video, photo slide show) to introduce themselves and their Presbytery to the rest of the group.  Stated Clerk Sharon Moore will be in touch with commissioners directly with more guidance about this.  Of course, all interested parties are welcome to attend.  To register for this meeting, contact Sharon at sharon@synodofthecovenant.org.

From the Interim Executive….

Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

Now that the Synod office has settled into the Detroit area, I’ve been really glad to have the opportunity to support churches and presbyteries in their worship services. It has been such an honor to preach throughout the Synod region. I have had the pleasure of doing so in person, socially-distanced and masked, in Detroit, Lake Michigan, Miami Valley, and Scioto Valley presbyteries, and via Zoom in Detroit and Western Reserve presbyteries.

This past weekend I also had the opportunity to lead an officer retreat and preach by Zoom at a church outside of our Synod. I especially appreciated the chance to talk with their Session about whether they should become a Matthew 25 congregation, and what impact it might mean for them to focus on congregational vitality, structural racism, and/or system poverty. It is such a blessing to work in a region where the Matthew 25 mission is so important to so many of you. To speak about this in a different Synod makes me proud to be serving a region taking the lead!

When I served in the denomination’s Theology, Formation, and Evangelism ministry, I loved teaching on topics such as congregational vitality, spiritual disciplines, and our confessions. At the last congregation I served, outside of Chicago, I developed a lecture series called “Done in 60 Minutes” which covered ridiculously large topics like the Bible, Church History, and Christian Theology, in an hour.

If I can support you, your church, ministry, or presbytery by teaching or preaching, please contact me. I’d be especially pleased to do so in churches which do not currently have pastors or Commissioned Ruling Elders serving alongside you. I look forward to serving you and utilizing my gifts to help enrich your spiritual lives and equip your congregations.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive

Presbytery Leaders Providing Advent Worship Services

Join us for Advent at The Synod of the Covenant online! These services are coordinated by various Executive and General Presbyters from throughout the Synod. You can either download the whole services, or the sermon, or watch them from our Youtube channel.

We offer this series to you as a break from the hard work you have been putting in planning and executing online worship. Please feel free to use this worship series for your own church, or borrow our ideas, or just sit back in your PJ’s with a cup of hot cocoa and listen for the Word being brought to you.

The schedule (subject to change) is as follows:

November 22 – Christ the King : Jeannie Harsh of Scioto Valley Presbytery
The Christ the King service for is already available at https://synodofthecovenant.org/2020/10/21/presbytery-leaders-to-provide-advent-worship-services/.

November 29 – Advent 1 : Terry Kukuk of Miami Valley Presbytery and Lisa Allgood of Cincinnati Presbytery

December 6 – Advent 2 : Sharon Core of Western Reserve Presbytery and Cathy Ulrich of Eastminster Presbytery

December 13 – Advent 3 : Staff from the Synod of the Covenant

December 20 – Advent 4 : Cal Bremer and Fran Lane-Lawrence of Lake Michigan Presbytery

December 24 – Christmas Eve : Matt Skolnik of Muskingum Valley Presbytery

December 27 – Christmas 1: Dan Saperstein of Lake Huron Presbytery

The services will each be posted on the Synod’s website in the near future.

Meet Higher Education and COVID/Emergency Scholarship Winners

We are so proud of our Higher Education and COVID/Emergency Scholarship recipients. You can meet several of the 61 winners awarded last month on the Synod’s youtube channel by clicking here.  You can find a list of all of the winners here.

What a time to be in a higher learning program! Even with a pandemic in the mix these students are all still going strong! The worry, the shutdowns, the isolation, and some going months in between seeing family is only added to their workload.

In the book of Romans Paul writes Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern the will of God. Romans 12:2. These scholarship winners have overcome a time in history where it would be easy just to throw in the towel. They students have made a conscious decision to continue their transformations through education. We know that God goes with them on their journeys.

To our dedicated students: We love you, and are praying for you. Congratulations on winning these scholarships, you have truly earned it!

Don’t forget that students can apply for COVID/Emergency scholarships of up to $500 until December 4, 2020.  Look for more information here.

Our Grants and Scholarship team continues to work tirelessly in an effort to support your students and missions. We have received 26 applications for the New Covenant and Racial Ethnic grants. We will announce the winners of these grants on or before December 1, 2020.

These scholarships and grants are funded in part by per capita donations from the almost 700 congregations of the Synod of the Covenant.

The Presbytery of Cincinnati wins $1mm Grant from the Lilly Endowment

Congratulations to Cincinnati Presbytery for receiving a Lilly grant of $1 milliion to help establish the Living Churches Initiative under the presbytery’s newly-formed Center for Learning.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.

Click here to learn more. 

First Church of Warren (MI) Featured in Samaritas Magazine

First Presbyterian Church of Warren (MI), part of Detroit Presbytery, was the church spotlighted in the November 2020 issue of Our Hands, published by Samaritas. The congregation stored, organized, and partially supplied backpacks for foster kids and refugee students.  The sanctuary was filled with nearly 1,000 backpacks during the drive!  Click here for more information.

The Synod of the Covenant and the Michigan Christian social service agency Samaritas entered into a covenant partnership in 2019.  Samaritas will be particularly helpful to our churches and ministries to address systemic poverty, a part of the Matthew 25 initiative.

The Presbyterian Giving Catalog Offers Opportunities this Christmas Season

If you are looking for a gift for someone who has everything (or close to it), consider giving a gift in their honor using the Presbyterian Giving Catalog.  Here you can find ways to give a community garden, a deep rock well, a fishery kit, or refugee food basket.  All donations support our denomination’s Special Offerings, which together help the world look increasingly like the Kingdom of Heaven.  Find details and gift opportunities at https://presbyteriangifts.pcusa.org/.

From the Interim Executive….

Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I want to add my appreciation to the well-wishes already delivered by congregations and individuals who are so grateful for their pastors.  Serving as a Minister of Word and Sacrament or Commissioned Ruling Elder is always challenging, but in the middle of a pandemic that shows no sign of abating, these roles are particularly demanding.

Pastors and CREs have been asked to develop new ways of leading worship, offering pastoral care, coordinating student and children’s ministry, encouraging staff, and shepherding Sessions in a time when faithful Christians disagree about the best way to move forward with our ministry while keeping everyone safe.  And, of course, they have not stopped many of the regular tasks which filled their days back before the middle of March.

If you appreciate your pastor or CRE’s work, I encourage you to show appreciation to them.  Here are just a few ways that you might do so:

  • Send them a card, including a paragraph about some aspect of their ministry that you particularly value.
  • Call them and ask them how you can pray for them and their families.
  • Find a funny trinket that reminds you of some aspect of their ministry and leave it in their church mailbox
  • Give them a modest gift card to their favorite website
  • Mail them an “IOU” to a meal or dessert at your home once the dangers of the pandemic have receded.

Elders who lead well should be paid double, especially those who work with public speaking and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17)

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive

61 Students Receive Synod Higher Education and COVID/Emergency Need Scholarships

The Synod of the Covenant is delighted to announce that it has awarded more than $40,000 in scholarships to 61 students from 8 presbyteries and 18 churches.  These awards, ranging from $350 to $1500, include winners of the Higher Education Scholarships and COVID/Emergency grants.

The Higher Education Scholarships include 39 bachelor degrees, 6 associate degrees, 1 vocational degree, 2 other degree, and 4 theology scholarships, while 9 students to date have been awarded COVID/Emergency grants. (Applications for this latter grant program can be received until December 4, 2020, through an application at synodofthecovenant.org/synod-ministries/covid-emergency-need-grant.)

Here are the scholarship recipients for the 2020-21 academic year:

Detroit Presbytery

Broadstreet Presbyterian Church
Deshira Longmire, Higher Education
Alison Oglesby, Higher Education

Calvary Presbyterian Church
Aaron Favors, Higher Education
Rahab Gachonjo, Higher Education
Mason Martin, Higher Education
Paul Munn, Higher Education
Elizabeth Ngare, Higher Education
Chase Reynolds, Higher Education
Lauren Reynolds, Higher Education
Nathan Reynolds, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency
Joshua Wills, Higher Education
Sakina Wilson, Higher Education

St. Thomas Community Presbyterian Church
Brooke Coleman, Higher Education
Paige Coleman, Higher Education
Mitchell Williams, Higher Education

Trinity Presbyterian Church
Deja Shipp, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Andrew Palmer, Higher Education
Billa Zama, Higher Education

Eastminster Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church of Warren (OH)
Cara Annondono, Higher Education
Everett Burd, Higher Education
Tavish Burd, Higher Education

Lake Michigan Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church of Holland
Elijah Brown, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency

Brooklyn Presbyterian Church
Logan Recob, Higher Education
Baylee Thompson, Higher Education
Collin Thompson, Higher Education

Mackinac Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church of Escanaba
Madison Ide, Higher Education
Addison Peterson, Higher Education
Haylee Tolman, Higher Education

Northern Lakes Community Church
Hannah Jun, Higher Education

Maumee Valley Presbytery

Hanmi Covenant Presbyterian Church
Doyun Kim, Higher Education
Daniel Lee, Higher Education
Yullie Yun, Higher Education

Miami Valley Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church of Westwood
Noelle Scheper, Higher Education

Westminster Presbyterian Church (Dayton)
Haley Ingram, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency

Presbytery of Scioto Valley

Bethany Presbyterian Church of Columbus
Kalia Lawson, COVID/Emergency
Kyle Lawson, COVID/Emergency

Covenant Presbyterian Church
Tristan Kueper, Higher Education

Ramseyer Presbyterian Church
Shanelle Abbiw, Higher Education
Fredricka Agyekum, Higher Education
Akua Agyen, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency
Wilberforce Doffour Amaning, Higher Education and COVID/Emergency
Kofi Amponsah, Higher Education
Nana Anim-Boateng, Higher Education
Daizy Asante, Higher Education
Nana Kofi Sarpong Brefo, Higher Education
Ben Danso, Higher Education
Akosua Ofosuhene, Higher Education
Priscilla Oppong-Amoh, Higher Education
Wendy Oppong-Amoh, Higher Education
Evelyn Otu-Danquah, Higher Education
Ruth Yeboah, Higher Education

The Presbytery of the Western Reserve

John Knox Presbyterian Church
Colin MacMillan, Higher Education

Rocky River Presbyterian Church
Kathleen Hartzell, Higher Education

These scholarships are funded in part by per capita payments from the almost 700 Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations and more than 100,000 members, mostly in the states of Ohio and Michigan, throughout the Synod of the Covenant.

The Grants Committee includes Lisa Allgood (Cincinnati Presbytery), Betty Angelucci (Eastminster Presbytery), Chip Hardwick (Synod of the Covenant), and Brady Radford (Administrative Commission, Synod of the Covenant).  The words of Colossians 1:9-10 echoed as they considered and distributed these scholarships:

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works.

Presbytery Leaders To Provide Advent Worship Services

Pastors, worship leaders, musicians, and tech gurus have worked so consistently to create and offer meaningful worship services during the pandemic. Words we would have rarely associated with worship before March (e.g., Zoom, Facebook Live, Vimeo, YouTube, and more!) are now part of our regular vocabulary and planning.  Of course, these leaders are still investing heavily in sermons, music, liturgy, and prayers that are as powerful as ever.

To thank you for your hard work, the presbytery and synod staff leaders are planning virtual worship services which you can use for worship throughout Advent. You’ll be able to live stream or download the sermons and scriptures or the whole service, and of course you can choose to use one, all, or none of these services. The presbytery and synod leaders offer these as a gift to thank you for your incredible ministry all year long.

The schedule is as follows (check back here for links and downloads as they become available):

November 29 – Advent 1 : Terry Kukuk of Miami Valley Presbytery and Lisa Allgood of Cincinnati Presbytery

December 6 – Advent 2 : Sharon Core of Western Reserve Presbytery and Cathy Ulrich of Eastminster Presbytery

December 13 – Advent 3 : Staff from the Synod of the Covenant

December 24 – Christmas Eve : Matt Skolnik of Muskingum Valley Presbytery

December 27 – Christmas 1: Dan Saperstein of Lake Huron Presbytery

The services will be posted on www.synodofthecovenant.org at least three days earlier than the dates noted above.

For more information, please contact Synod Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at 309-530-4578 or chip@synodofthecovenant.org.