Flash Furniture and Office Supply Giveaway!

The Synod of the Covenant has great office furniture to give your Christian church or ministry!  Desks, chairs, bookcases, tables, supply cabinets—all free to the first to claim it.

You can view pictures of all of the more valuable items by clicking here, and you can also reserve it for pick-up on Thursday 10/1 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, or Saturday 10/3 from noon to 2:00 pm using the online form.  You will be notified by 9/30/20 someone else has already claimed the item you hope to use.

Could you use office supplies? a microwave or coffee cart?  Magazine rack?  Coat stand?  There are lots of other items that will be first come, first served on Thursday 10/1 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm or Saturday 10/3 from noon to 2:00 pm.  Feel free to forward this announcement to any other Christian organization or mission partner—everything must go!

All of these giveaways are found at the current Synod Office, 6450 Weatherfield Ct, Suite 1A, Maumee, OH (near Toledo).

The Synod is moving from this office complex to the Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, MI (near Detroit). This move will allow the Synod to reallocate more than $30,000 from rent and associated expenses into ministry.  What’s more, the Kirk in the Hills will give the minimal rent which the Synod will now pay to one of their mission partners.

If you have questions, please contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at synod.covenant@gmail.com or 309-530-4578.

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Upcoming Meetings of the Administrative Commission/Synod Assembly

The General Assembly Administrative Commission, now acting as the Synod of the Covenant, typically holds its monthly meetings by Zoom the fourth Friday of each month, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time.  The next meeting will be September 25.  In October, the meeting will be held by Zoom on Saturday October 31 from 10:00 to 12:00.  At this meeting the Synod Commissioners from each presbytery are invited to the meeting in a more formal capacity.

These meetings are open and their agendas will be posted on the Assembly Papers section of the Synod website (https://synodofthecovenant.org/assembly-papers/) approximately a week ahead of time. If you would like to attend an upcoming meeting, please contact the Stated Clerk, Rev. Richard Rojas Banuchi, at Rev.Rojas@gmail.com.

You can find highlights from the August 28, 2020 meeting here.


Synod Hiring Office Manager

The Synod is seeking a half-time office manager to help the ministry thrive through administrative support, bookkeeping and payroll, and communications. The position is covered by the Board of Pensions, and will be paid commensurate to the successful candidate’s experience and skills. The position will be located at the Synod’s new office in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and will begin by early October. Interested parties should explore the job description and contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at synod.covenant@gmail.com for more information. Spread the word!


Get to Know the Presbyteries

The Synod is posting a weekly video featuring each of the eleven presbyteries. The videos give a glimpse of just some of what God is doing through our churches and members. Each finds leaders from the presbyteries hosted by interim executive Chip Hardwick. Look below to see the first two, from Mackinac and Eastminster Presbyteries.


Read about “Healthy Reconciliation in the Synod of the Covenant”

Jay Wittmeyer, Executive Director of the Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center (LMPC), led an information-gathering project throughout the Synod and developed this report, exploring conflict and the need for reconciliation among its leaders.  Rev. Wittmeyer found that “The LMPC believes that the challenges facing the Synod of the Covenant moving forward are challenges typical of a denomination and that the unresolved hurts from the past will not greatly impact the decision-making and strategic planning of the future.”  Read the full report here.

The Synod is looking forward to LMPC’s leading a “Healthy Synods” workshop at the March 2021 Assembly.


How about $5000 for your Ministry or $500 for your Student?

It’s time to apply for the Synod’s grants and higher education scholarships!  We want to support the ministries of your churches and any pandemic-related emergency expenses incurred by your students.  Grants and scholarships totaling $85,000 will be awarded in 2020.

The programs (and relevant dates) include

  • COVID Emergency Need Grants for Students attending college, university, trade school, or seminary/divinity school. Up to $500; due by 12/4/20.
  • New Covenant Grants, available to congregations, institutions, and organizations within the Synod for (a) congregational development and transformation, (b) multi-cultural and justice ministries, or (c) ministries in higher education. Up to $5000; application review beginning 10/1/20.
  • Racial Ethnic Program Grants, available to congregations primarily composed of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) planning new mission initiatives or outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding their church. Up to $5000; application review beginning 10/1/20.

To apply and learn more, visit https://synodofthecovenant.org/synod-ministries/grants-and-scholarships/ or contact grants@synodofthecovenant.org.

PS Watch this space for an announcement about the dozens of recipients of Higher Education Scholarships in the days to come!  (The deadline for application has now passed.)


From the Interim Executive

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

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach on the first chapter of Mark at First Presbyterian Church of Troy (MI). Only two verses in, the Evangelist is already quoting from Isaiah:

See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord!”

Mark breathlessly links this quote to John the Baptist, who comes on the scene immediately afterwards in camel’s hair eating locusts and wild honey.

Fashion and diet trends have thankfully changed in the last 2000 years, but at our best, we prepare the way of the Lord like John. We are God’s messengers, proclaiming peace, justice, hope, and salvation. Like the Isenheim Altarpiece (pictured at left), we follow John by pointing others to Jesus, the giver of abundant and eternal life. I am grateful for how you live out your faith in him, and join his mission to the world.

In this newsletter, you’ll see that the Synod wants to give your congregation or PC(USA) institution grants to strengthen your ministry, and you’ll have a chance to read a state-of-the Synod report from the Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center.  Don’t miss an excellent presentation on COVID-19 and the church by immunologist and Cincinnati Presbytery Exec Lisa Allgood, and watch the first of the many “Get to Know The Presbyteries” videos, this time on Mackinac and Eastminster presbyteries.

God bless you as you serve and lead!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any reason.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive
309-530-4578
synod.covenant@gmail.com


From the Interim Executive ...

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

For my devotions right now, I’m reading through the book of Ezra, where the people of Israel return from exile in order to re-establish their life in the Promised Land. Members of every tribe come home to find the temple in great disrepair, and together they work hard to make it a fruitful place of ministry again. Their emotions were in turmoil, with some weeping and some shouting with joy as the foundation is laid once again.

At the Synod of the Covenant, we are working to re-establish ourselves as a fruitful place of ministry.  Like the Israelite tribes, faithful people from all eleven presbyteries are joining in the process of reconstruction—including many of you who are reading this newsletter. My emotions swing wildly as I discover and work to resolve new challenges every week. Thank you for your work, and for your prayers.

The highlight of this newsletter is information about a particular way that the Synod wants to strengthen your presbyteries and churches:  grants and scholarships.  You can read about how to apply for Higher Education Scholarships and the Racial Ethnic and New Covenant Grants.

The Synod has also contracted with the Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center to gather information about how to move forward with reconciliation and to guide the Administrative Commission as it works toward turning over jurisdiction to the Synod.

Finally, I hope you’ll check out our updated website, www.synodofthecovenant.org, and give me any feedback about ways it can continue to develop.  You are the primary audience for this website, so the Synod wants it to be as helpful as possible.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive
309-530-4578
Synod.covenant@gmail.com


Grants and Scholarships Applications Now Available

It’s time to apply for the Synod’s grants and higher education scholarships!  We want to support the ministries of your churches and the academic work undertaken by your students.  Grants and scholarships totaling $85,000 will be awarded in 2020.

The programs (and the dates when application reviews will begin) include:

  • Higher Education Scholarships, available to individual Presbyterians within the Synod who are attending college, university, trade school, or seminary/divinity school. Up to $1500; 8/31/20.
  • COVID Emergency Need Grants for Higher Education Students. Up to $500; 12/4/20.
  • New Covenant Grants, available to congregations, institutions, and organizations within the Synod for (a) congregational development and transformation, (b) multi-cultural and justice ministries, or (c) ministries in higher education. Up to $5000; 10/1/20.
  • Racial Ethnic Program Grants, available to congregations primarily composed of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) planning new mission initiatives or outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding their church. Up to $5000; 10/1/20.

To apply and learn more, visit synodofthecovenant.org/synod-ministries/grants-and-scholarships or contact grants@synodofthecovenant.org.


The Covenant Gathering Goes Virtual!

Covenant Gathering is an outgrowth of previous Synod Schools from the Synod of the Covenant and the Synod of Lincoln Trails.  For the past 14 years we have created an event that is multi-generational and inclusive. Covenant Gathering 2020 is a year we will not soon forget.  When the pandemic wall was raised, our planning team chose to climb the wall and gather the troops for a new adventure.

Instead of meeting at Geneva Center in Rochester, Indiana we chose to move to a Zoom platform event and share a “Taste of Covenant Gathering”. This provided attendees the opportunity to experience the fellowship, fun and learning in shorter daily Zoom events, Bible Study and discussions throughout the day with breaks included. Using this approach created openings for those of a greater distance and otherwise unavailable for a week of classes to reconnect with the fun and each other. Rev. Ryan Landino, Lead Presbytery for Transformation of Great Rivers Presbytery led an exploration of Sacred Pathways, helping us find our personal spiritual style.  His video presentations are available on his YouTube channel here.

Classes for Youth included toddlers to Senior High students. They participated in activities tailored to their level, each child received a packet of materials to participate in class times and have a great experience at home. While the time spent online was not equal to a typical year’s schedule, parents, grandparents and children enjoyed the activities and events. Every evening there was a large group activity, worship, speakers, fun and games for all ages.  We were able to provide this all free thanks to donations from several presbyteries, synod and individuals.

Every gathering began with singing and we again enjoyed learning a new theme song for the week. Thanks to a wonderful tech team each morning email inboxes included a daily schedule and links for the days activities.  While this was not what we started out to plan, it was a fun four days. New and old connections across the country were made!! We are beginning to plan for Covenant Gathering 2021 July 11-16 at Geneva Center.  Check out this year and next on our website: covenantgathering.com.

Peace Talks!!!

Carla Mavis, Chair of Planning Team