From Your Synod Executive

From your Synod Executive,

I received an article called “Ten Reasons Why Leading a Church Is Often More Complex than Leading a Businessfrom a friend in December.  While its author Bob Russell and I could have a lively theological debate about a lot of topics, he’s put his finger on something important here.  Some of his top reasons include “a cumbersome structure,” “murky goals,” and “the difficulty of venting frustrations appropriately,” all of which ring true to me.

We at the Synod work hard to support all of you church leaders in the midst of these challenges, and others left unsaid.  That’s why we offered the virtual Christmas Service, so that you could have a well-earned Sabbath after a rigorous Advent.  That’s why we have partnered with several ministries to plan a variety of workshops to equip you, such as Anti-Racism Training, Clergy Loneliness webinars, Boundaries Training, and The Church and Mental Health.

One offering I’m particularly excited about is the Leader’s Table, which we’ll be offering through The Missional Network.  Renowned theologian and missiologist Alan Roxburgh will record videos and be present with cohorts meeting four times in the fall.  Watch this space for a chance to learn more later this spring, and then to sign up for the cohorts for the fall.  

Let me know how we can support you as you lead your people.  Whether you are a member, pastor, ruling elder, deacon, commissioned ruling elder, or staff member, we want to serve you in these challenging times.  God bless you throughout 2023!

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Executive, The Synod of the Covenant | 309-530-4578

Preaching in the Valley of Dry Bones

Preaching in the Valley of Dry Bones

November 2, 2022 : 10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Sometimes preaching comes easy, and the sermons are full of life.  Other times preaching is more complicated, and the sermons are dry bones…and we preachers feel as if we are living in the midst of Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones as we wait for the Spirit to come and flesh out our thoughts, perspectives, and hopes.  This workshop will explore the fruit of Ezekiel 37 for preaching in our time.

Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery

The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery is the Dean of Duke University Chapel and Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School. A national leader in the theological study of the art of preaching (homiletics), Powery regularly delivers sermons at Duke Chapel as well as at churches throughout the United States and abroad. He is often a keynote speaker and lecturer at educational institutions, conferences, symposia, and retreats.

His teaching and research interests are located at the intersection of preaching, worship, pneumatology, and culture, particularly expressions of the African diaspora. He is the author of Spirit Speech: Lament and Celebration in PreachingDem Dry Bones: Preaching, Death, and HopeRise Up, Shepherd! Advent Reflections on the Spirituals; and Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals. He has co-authored an introductory textbook on preaching, Ways of the Word: Learning to Preach for Your Time and Place. He is also a general editor of the nine-volume lectionary commentary series for preaching and worship titled Connections: A Lectionary Commentary for Preaching and Worship.

Powery was ordained by the Progressive National Baptist Convention and has served in an ecumenical capacity in churches throughout Switzerland, Canada and the United States. He is a member of the Academy of Homiletics, for which he has served as Secretary; the American Academy of Religion; and the Society for the Study of Black Religion. Powery served as a member of the executive lectionary team for The African-American Lectionary and is the recipient of numerous scholastic fellowships and awards. In 2008, the African-American Pulpit named him one of twenty outstanding black ministers under the age of 40 who are helping shape the future direction of the church. More recently, in 2014, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars at Morehouse College for his ethical and spiritual leadership in the academy, church, and broader society.

Prior to his appointment at Duke, he served as the Perry and Georgia Engle Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary. He received his bachelor of arts in music with a concentration in vocal performance from Stanford University, his master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his doctor of theology from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto.

He is married to Gail Powery, and the couple has two children.

Register Here

This workshop is part of a monthly workshop series on preaching, the first Wednesday of every month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. For an overview of the series, click here.

Exploring the Themes of Advent 2022

Exploring the Themes of Advent 2022

October 5, 2022 : 10:00 - 11:30 am by Zoom

Register HereExploring Advent 2022 Handout

Advent gives us a chance to proclaim God’s coming into the world, in both Christ’s first and second coming. Attendance is often the highest of the year. Yet preachers often struggle to find a fresh approach to this annual season. This workshop will dive into the particular lectionary texts for this December, developing potential themes for preaching and worship.

Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick, Executive, Synod of the Covenant

Chip earned his Ph.D. in homiletics (preaching) at Princeton Theological Seminary, helping to teach courses in Introduction to Preaching and Worship in the Reformed Tradition. He has served as the regular preacher at churches in Bloomington, IL, and Lake Forest, IL.  He is the former Director of Theology, Formation, and Evangelism for the Presbyterian Church (USA), and has served the Synod since April 2020.

Register Here

This workshop is part of a monthly workshop series on preaching, the first Wednesday of every month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. For an overview of the series, click here.

The Synod is Hiring an Organizer of Synod Communities of Color

The application period for this position has closed.

At its Assembly on 5/3/22, the Synod of the Covenant approved a job description for a new contract position: Organizer of Synod Communities of Color.

This leader will draw on a community organizing approach to connect individuals and churches of color with each other, to discover joint interests as well as hopes for shared ministries and support from the Synod. It is a term position of approximately one year, at approximately half-time, and will be guided by a Steering Committee and report to the Synod Executive. The Asian, Black, Latino/Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Native American communities have much to teach and much to gain as joint ministries bubble up and coalesce, facilitated by this Organizer position.

From Your Synod Executive

From your Synod Executive,

It’s not just the middle of the summer; it’s also the middle of the General Assembly.  Whether it is because I was formerly on staff at the Presbyterian Mission Agency or because I am currently a certified #presbynerd, I’m spending a lot of time watching the goings-on and grieving that I am not there to participate in any of the happenings in person.

The committee I followed most closely is the Mid Councils committee, which oversees the work of synods (among other topics). We submitted a video to give them an overview of our ministry together, which you can watch here. I hope you enjoy seeing people active in the synod’s many ministry in this video!

This committee also had the chance to act on the report from the General Assembly Administrative Commission which oversaw our work from February 2020 until October 2021.  Their report highlighted the Synod’s progress in areas such as

  • Developing active servant leadership and committee structures
  • Improving relationships between synod and presbytery leadership
  • Renewing a common sense of mission and vision
  • Making communications and information more widely accessible and timely
  • Developing mutuality and trusting relationships
  • Setting standards for and implementing fiduciary reporting and oversight.

I’m so grateful to share ministry with all of you as we continue to work together toward health, vibrancy, and faithfulness in the Synod, and it is gratifying to know that all of the General Assembly will hear about our progress. Thanks be to God!

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Executive, The Synod of the Covenant

The Synod of the Covenant Announces Higher Education Scholarships for Christian Leaders Award Winners

The Synod of the Covenant is delighted to announce that it has awarded almost $40,000 in scholarships to 54 students from 10 presbyteries and 28 churches.  These awards, ranging from $700 to $1,400, go to the winners of the Higher Education Scholarships for Christian Leaders.

These scholarships include 44 bachelor’s degrees, 4 associate degrees, and 6 theology degrees. Of the 54 scholarships, 33 were given to people who self-identified as Black, Korean, Asian, and African.

This year, in addition to articulating their career goals, applicants also reflected on how they work toward building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and/or eradicating systemic poverty.  These areas of ministry characterize the Matthew 25 movement within the Presbyterian Church (USA), of which the Synod of the Covenant is a part.

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 (Presbytery of Cincinnati), Rev. Betty Angelini, chair (Eastminster Presbytery), Rev. Amy Duiker (Miami Valley Presbytery), Jackie Humphries (Detroit Presbytery), Rev. Skip Jackson (Scioto Valley Presbytery), Georgia McCall (Lake Huron Presbytery), and Rev. Matt Meinke (Maumee Valley Presbytery).

This team will also administer and award the Matthew 25 Grants for churches and ministries; the application for these awards are available on, and applications will be due by September 30, 2022.

Let us focus together on the words of Colossians 1:9-10 as we thank God and pray for our scholarship winners.

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.

2022-23 Higher Education Scholarship for Christian Leaders

Cincinnati Presbytery
Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church
Zachary Goode
Zoe Goode

First Presbyterian Church of Glendale
Phoebe Lang

Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church
Elizabeth Lindeman

Detroit Presbytery
Calvary Presbyterian Church
Mason Martin
Aniyah Ngare
Sakinah Wilson
Wamuci Karimi

Grosse Pointe Memorial Church
Clara Lincicome
Dayle Lincicome
Lucy Lincicome

Westminster Presbyterian Church of Detroit
Andrew Palmer

Starr Presbyterian Church
Lon Kuehn

St. Thomas Community Presbyterian Church
Paige Coleman

Broadstreet Presbyterian Church
De Shira Longmire

Lake Huron Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church of Alma
Adam Dixon
Daniel Dixon

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Kylee Woodward

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
Lily Brown

First Presbyterian Church Mt. Pleasant
Anna Miller

Second Presbyterian Church Saginaw
Yaw Poku

Lake Michigan Presbytery
Brooklyn Presbyterian Church
Richard Recob

First Presbyterian Church Grand Haven
Annika Houser-Brydon

First Presbyterian Church Kalamazoo
Ailih Weeldreyer

Mackinac Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church Escanaba
Madison Ide
Brooke Landis
Daren Landis

Northern Lakes Community Church
Amy Jun
Hannah Jun

Maumee Valley Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church of Maumee
Isaac Tolbert
Lillian Tolbert

Hanmi Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hae In An
Grace Kim
Isaac Kim
Sara Lee
Junguen Lee

Miami Valley Presbytery
Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church
Cate O’Malley

College Hill Community Presbyterian Church
Aniya Drake

Muskingum Valley Presbytery

First Presbyterian Church Ashland
Na Yang

First Presbyterian Church Marietta
Audrey Campbell

Scioto Valley Presbytery
Ramseyer Presbyterian Church
Shanelle Abbiw
Wilberforce Amaning
Daizy Asante
Julilana Asieduwaa
Genevieve Boateng
Isaiah Boateng
Akosua Ofosuhene
Emmanuel Amoako Okyere
Wendy Oppong-Amoh
Monica Terkper
Ruth Yeboah
Stanley Asante

Worthington Presbyterian Church
Peter Okyere

Presbytery of the Western Reserve
Korean Central Presbyterian Church Cleveland
Steven Choi

Sunday’s Sermons for Monday’s World

Sunday’s Sermons for Monday’s World

September 7, 2022 : 10:00 - 11:30 am by Zoom

Register Here

Drawing on her recent book, Sunday’s Sermons for Monday’s World, Professor and Preaching Scholar Sally Brown of Princeton Seminary will explore how preachers can unite the worshiping life, and the everyday life, of listeners.  The workshop will cover “Discovering the Good News” (reading strategies of promise-driven hope) and “Getting the News Across” (best practices for sermon composition.”

Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Sally Brown

Rev. Dr. Sally Brown is Princeton Seminary’s Elizabeth M. Engle Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship Emerita.  She encourages preaching strategies that enliven listeners’ imagination, equipping them to risk creative public witness to God’s redemptive work in ordinary life.   Besides Sunday’s Sermons for Monday’s World, she is also the author of Ways of the Word (with Luke Powery) and Cross Talk, which was listed among the Academy of Parish Ministry’s top ten books of 2008.

Register Here

This workshop is part of a monthly workshop series on preaching, the first Wednesday of every month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. For an overview of the series, click here.

From Your Synod Executive

From your Synod Executive,

As I write this column, I’m preparing to preach at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Springfield, OH (Miami Valley Presbytery) on Pentecost.  My sermon reflects on the stories of the Holy Spirit coming after Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 2 and of Eldad and Medad unexpectedly receiving the Holy Spirit in Numbers 11.

I’ve been thinking about how our Presbyterian love of doing things decently-and-in-order sometimes turns into rigidity and resistance to fresh moves of the Spirit. The importance of order in our tradition ensures that we are not flippant or unthoughtful about change—but at our worst this emphasis turns into what I call the “decently-and-in-order disorder” which handicaps our joining God in doing a new thing.

One of the Synod’s emphases in 2022 is to encourage innovation in ministry. In this season of Pentecost, how is the Holy Spirit stretching you and your church into a vibrant future? What new leaders might the Spirit be lifting up from surprising quarters, as happened to Eldad and Medad back in the book of Numbers? How are you proclaiming the Good News anew, like Peter and his partners in Acts?

Bible scholar Matt Skinner of Luther Theological Seminary in Minneapolis says, “What does Pentecost mean, then?  It means God is here.  The time of God’s salvation has arrived.”  When we open up our churches to innovation in what we do (our ministry) and how we do it (our leadership), we remind ourselves, and we show our neighbors, that God indeed is here.

A quick note:  It would give me joy to preach at your church, too.  Feel free to contact me at the email address below if we could share worship together in this way.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Executive, The Synod of the Covenant

Catch up on June’s Preaching Workshop: “O Say Can You See” with Emory University’s Teresa Fry Brown

O Say Can You See: Images and Illustrations in a Virtually Saturated World

Rev. Dr. Teresa Fry Brown of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University offered the Synod’s monthly Preaching Workshop on June 1, 2022, helping participants explore the best way to employ images and illustrations in a visually-saturated world.

The Presbyterian News Service published an article about the workshop, which you can read here. You can watch the video, and other past monthly workshops, at Preaching Workshops – YouTube

Facilitator: The Rev. Teresa L. Fry Brown, PhD

Rev. Teresa L. Fry Brown, PhD is the fourteenth Historiographer of the African Methodist Episcopal (2012). She serves as the editor of the A.ME. Review and is the Executive Director of Research and Scholarship for the A.M.E. Church.  She holds the Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and is the first tenured Black female Candler School of Theology and the third Black female full professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Fry Brown served as Director of Black Church Studies at Candler 2007-2015.

Dr. Fry Brown obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy in Religious and Theological Studies from the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver, with an emphasis in Religion and Social Transformation (1996). She earned a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology (1988), Master of Science degree (1975) and Bachelor of Science degree (1973) in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri.

This workshop is part of a monthly workshop series on preaching, the first Wednesday of every month from 10:00 to 11:30 am. For an overview of the series, click here.

Presbytery of Lake Michigan seeks Associate Presbyter

Presbytery of Lake Michigan seeks Associate Presbyter

The Presbytery of Lake Michigan is seeking an Associate Presbyter. Please review this MIF and prayerfully consider whether God may be calling you to explore this possibility. Deadline for applications is June 20.

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