What Poets Can Teach Preachers About Surviving, Thriving, and Talking About What We Do

What Poets Can Teach Preachers About Surviving, Thriving, and Talking About What We Do

September 1, 2021: 10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Poets and preachers have a lot in common. You could even say poets are our closest cousins—and in ways that might surprise us. Come for an energizing morning of learning what a poet can teach a preacher about the work we share, the life we seek, and the words that shape the journey.

Facilitator:  Anna Carter Florence

Anna Carter Florence’s gifts for preaching and teaching make her a widely-sought after presenter in the church and academy.  She is interested in preaching and public proclamation, and preparing leaders who can speak and listen in multiple contexts for ministry.  Her research focuses on testimony, pedagogies of preaching, the creative process by which communities engage and embody scripture, and how other fields—particularly poetry and theater—offer models for prophetic speech. She has a B.A. from Yale University and an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and has taught at Columbia Seminary since 1998.  Her books include Preaching as Teaching and Preaching Year A with Anna Carter Florence.

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 the Interim Executive….

From the Interim Executive,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what the post-pandemic church will look like, particularly with respect to the virtual/electronic nature of our ministries that has been necessary since March of 2020. Will congregations go “back to normal” (pre-pandemic patterns of all face-to-face ministry) or is virtual here to stay?

I am grateful that the Presbyterian Outlook published a long piece I wrote on this topic in its July 13, 2021 edition: “The Post Pandemic Church in the Great Virtuality.” You can read it here.

A quick summary of the article is that the church’ usage of technology will be similar to society’s and individual’s use of technology: one a new innovation is introduced, it almost inevitably gains more usage rather than less. Whether we are talking about the printing press, moving pictures, the internet, or texting, entrenched technologies tend to stick around until something better (more technologically advanced) comes along.

For congregations, this means that worship services and other ministries broadcast over the internet are here to stay for thriving churches, even while we also gather in person. The most vibrant churches will think about themselves as both physical and digital hubs for ministry. This has great advantages for our getting the good news out beyond ourselves (think proclamation and evangelism), and real challenges for the intimate relationships so important to the body of Christ.

I’m grateful for the virtual nature of ministry, as it permits the Synod to offer workshops and seminars to be attended by folks throughout our area who would be unlikely to join if they had to physically come. AND I am thankful that I was able to attend a Detroit presbytery meeting in person last week.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive

Learn about the Covenant Gathering Held Virtually 7/11-16

Learn about the Covenant Gathering Held Virtually 7/11-16

Covenant Gathering 2021 has just completed a successful virtual event July 11-16.  This event, sponsored by a joint planning team from the Synods of Lincoln Trails and of the Covenant, embraced the changes that the pandemic presented and discovered ways to interact and share stories across time zones and states.

Participants were sent a “menu” placemat /schedule to hang on their refrigerator.  Many activities were designed to be on your own schedule for part of the day with scheduled group conversations around specific topics from photography and poetry to mission to movie villains and heroes.  Groups gathered on Zoom each afternoon to learn more on topics of interest.  Youth, young and old participated in classes designed for their specific age and activity level.

The morning began with an email detailing the day’s Bible story/ theme with a spark for the day prepared and presented by our story gatherer, Rev. Caroline Dennis.  Activities to enhance your thoughts and spirit were shared each morning.  Evening time after a dinner break included worship and conversations with Caroline, and small groups with each other exploring more of the day’s story.  We had music, art and story telling every day. Fun group activities concluded each evening with family games, sharing conversation and exploring more everyday ways to connect with God and each other.

The Design team has planned to return to an in person gathering July 10-15, 2022 at Geneva Center, in Rochester, Indiana.  Follow all the news and updates on our website: covenantgathering.com and on Facebook.  We had a wonderful time and plan to explore more ways to provide an event that offers respite, spiritual nurturing, family fun and intergenerational  interactions.

For more information, contact Carla Mavis at carla.mavis@gmail.com or 740-418-4750.

2021 Presbyterian Women’s Synod Gathering

Join the 2021 Presbyterian Women’s Synod Gathering, September 18 9:00 – 11:30 by zoom

Theme: What My Grandmothers Taught Me

Bible Study
Overview by Rev. Cheri Harper, PW staff (Mission Associate)

by Rev. Kathy Reeves, Moderator-elect for Churchwide PW 2021-2024

Overview of two Thank Offering grant recipients

  • Koinonia Project in Belize (building a daycare center and Sunday school)
  • The Castle in Centerville, OH (Mental Health drop-in center)

Business Meeting
Business Meeting will include Financial Report, Election of Leaders & News from the Synod of the Covenant (by Rev. Dr. Chip Hardwick, Interim Synod Executive)

How to Register
Email the following information to Susan Ochs, s2123@aol.com, by September 13, 2021:

  • Your Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Your Presbytery’s Name

You will receive a registration confirmation.

Then on September 16, you will receive a zoom invitation giving you the link and login information needed for Zoom and gathering documents including the agenda for the gathering.

Cost to attend: $0. A suggested offering will be received that will be split among the two Thank Offering Grant recipients that you will hear about during the gathering. More info will be sent with a Zoom invitation. In the meanwhile, find a picture of your grandmother (or a woman of faith standing in for your grandmother) or a candle to light to have with you at the gathering.

Applications available August 1 for the Matthew 25 Grants for Churches and Ministries

Applications available August 1 for the Matthew 25 Grants for Churches and Ministries

Does your congregation or ministry need more funding for strengthening congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, or eradicating systemic poverty?  The Synod’s Matthew 25 grants can provide up to $5,000 in grants for ministry taking place in 2022.  Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations and ministries located within the bounds of the Synod are eligible to apply.  Special attention will be given to applicants comprised primarily of Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.

This grant program replaces the New Covenant and Racial-Ethnic Grants offered in past years and has approximately $40,000 to distribute.

You can find the grant application on Grants and Scholarships – Synod of the Covenant by August 1, 2021.  The applications are due no later than September 30, 2021, and include information about the project and church/ministry, as well as a letter of recommendation from your executive/general presbyter or stated clerk.  For more information, contact grants@synodofthecovenant.org.

Training for Committees on Ministry and Committees on Preparation for Ministry

Training for Committees on Ministry and Committees on Preparation for Ministry

October 13, 2021 9:00 to 11:30 am Eastern Time

Serving on the Committee on Ministry or the Committee on Preparation for Ministry is a leadership challenge requiring lots of faithfulness, patience, and skill.  It’s even more challenging since the New Form of Government took effect in 2011 and The Book of Order was revised accordingly.

The section on preparation for ministry went from fourteen pages to just over two! While this change allowed presbyteries more freedom to tailor their mission and ministry to fit their own particular contexts and challenges, it also resulted in less clarity about the overall process, leaving many presbyteries unsure of exactly what they were supposed to be doing.

In a world where both “church” and “ministry” look different than they did just a few years ago, and in a church that is committed to allowing councils to create structures and policies that function best within their contexts, the work of committees and commissions charged with preparing leaders and caring for congregations and pastors can be confusing.

This workshop will provide an overview of the work of these vital committees, including what is and is not mandated by The Book of Order. In addition, the workshop will share best practices for creating and fostering positive relationships between committees and the people and groups they are charged with caring for.

Participants will also be introduced to additional resources that will be helpful to them in their work. This workshop will be helpful for moderators of these committees, as well as teaching and ruling elders who serve on them.

This workshop is October 13, 2021, from 9:00 to 11:30 am. To register for this workshop, or others offered through LeaderWise in 2021, visit Leaderwise Registration – Synod of the Covenant.  You’ll receive the zoom information after you register.  The deadline to register is October 6, 2021. 

There is no cost for this training.  Your presbytery and synod are investing in your leadership by providing these workshops for free.

Questions about whether you are required to participate in this training?  Contact your presbytery’s Stated Clerk.

Questions about the training content?  Contact Synod Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at chip@synodofthecovenant.org.

Questions about registration or technology?  Contact Synod Office Manager Heather Johnston Deeb at heather@synodofthecovenant.org

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

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 56 students from 10 presbyteries and 29 churches.  These awards, ranging from $500 to $1,000, go to the winners of the Higher Education Scholarships for Christian Leaders.

These scholarships include 45 bachelor’s degrees, 4 associate degrees, and 7 theology scholarships. Of the 56 scholarships, 27 were given to people 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 (Cincinnati Presbytery), Betty Angelini, chair (Eastminster Presbytery), Amy Duiker (Miami Valley Presbytery), Jackie Humphries (Detroit Presbytery), Skip Jackson (Scioto Valley Presbytery), Fran Lane-Lawrence (Lake Michigan Presbytery), Georgia McCall (Lake Huron Presbytery), and Brady Radford (Administrative Commission, Synod of the Covenant.

This team will also administer and award the Matthew 25 Grants for churches and ministries; the application for these awards will be available on www.synodofthecovenant.org by August 1, 2021, and applications will be due by September 30, 2021.

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.

2021-22 Higher Education Scholarship for Christian Leaders Winners

Cincinnati Presbytery
Bond Hill Presbyterian Church
Kathryn Bronsink

Detroit Presbytery
Calvary Presbyterian Church of Detroit
Chase Reynolds
Mason Martin
Sakinah Wilson

Westminster Presbyterian Church of Detroit
Billa Ndeh Zama
Andrew Palmer

University Presbyterian Church
Hannah Jacobs

Starr Presbyterian Church
Lon Kuehn

St. Thomas Presbyterian Church
Paige Coleman

The Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church
Grace Phillips

First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak
Norman Dell

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

First Presbyterian Church of Fenton
Heidi Ritchie

First Presbyterian Church Mt. Pleasant
Anna Clare Miller

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
Lily Brown

Lake Michigan Presbytery
Brooklyn Presbyterian Church
Logan Recob
Richard Recob

First Presbyterian Church Grand Haven
Annika Houser-Brydon

First Presbyterian Church of Holt
Emerson Miller

Westminster Presbyterian Church Grand Rapids
Emily Anderson

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

Maumee Valley Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church of Maumee
Isaac Tolbert
Taylor Snyder

First Presbyterian Church Tiffin
Kaia Treadway

Hanmi Covenant Presbyterian Church
Hae In An
Doyun Kim
Isaac Kim
Daniel Lee
Junguen Lee
Yullie Yun

Miami Valley Presbytery
College Hill Presbyterian Church
Aniya Drake

First United Church Bellefontaine
Caroline Eader

Southminster Presbyterian Church
Joshua Sweeney

Sugar Creek Presbyterian Church
Abigail Schultz

Fairmont Presbyterian Church
Rachel Boden

Muskingum Valley Presbytery
First Presbyterian Church Marietta
Justin Warner

Scioto Valley Presbytery
Ramseyer Presbyterian Church
Shanelle Abbiw
Nana Adwoa Brefo
Fredricka Agyekum
Bernice Agyepong
Daizy Asante
Isaiah Boateng
Ben Danso
Akosua Ofosuhene
Emmanuel Amoako Okyere
Priscilla Oppong

Wendy Oppong-Amoh
Ronald Yeboah
Ruth Yeboah

Akua B. Agyen

Second Presbyterian Church Newark
Amanda Waser

Worthington Presbyterian Church
Peter Okyere

Presbytery of the Western Reserve
John Knox Presbyterian Church
Colin MacMillan

From the Interim Executive….

From the Interim Executive,

This spring your Synod has been offering lots of ministries supporting the Matthew 25 goals of congregational vitality, anti-poverty, and anti-racism work. Here is a taste of how we have coordinated to support presbyteries, churches, and their leaders in the last month.

  • Almost 100 leaders attended a Boundaries training last month through LeaderWise. There are future workshops on August 18-19 (designed primarily for congregational leaders and non-clergy staff) and November 9-10 (primarily for clergy and commissioned ruling elders). More information here.
  • More than 40 regular preachers attended “How to Preach about Racial Justice without Losing your Conviction or your Call,” the first in a series of monthly preaching workshops on the first Wednesday of the month from 10:00 to 11:30. Watch the workshop here.
  • We have received more than 70 applications for the Higher Education Scholarships for Christian Leaders. The Scholarships team is hard at work evaluating them; winners will be announced by June 30. Learn more about the scholarship here.
  • An invitation will soon go out to campus ministry leaders throughout the Synod to explore how they can offer mutual support and learning.
  • Almost 50 participants received Racial Justice training through LeaderWise in May, and are in the process of receiving a one-hour one-on-one individualized debrief of what they learned through the Intercultural Development Inventory. This self-test is designed to help us discover our own blind spots with respect to race and justice.
  • The Synod’s Self-Development of People team will be meeting soon to re-establish this ministry, which joins the Matthew 25 goal of working against poverty.

These ministries are funded through your per capita support, your mission and peacemaking giving, and endowments. Thank you for your generosity!

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive

Opportunities at Presbytery Point Camp July 18-22 and August 2-13

Would you like to take a break this summer? Want to explore the beauty and wonder of God’s good creation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?

Then, come to Presbytery Point Camp, along the shores of beautiful Lake Michigamme, a 4,000 plus acre, all sports lake, located in Marquette County, in Michigan’s wild and wonderful Upper Peninsula!

The camp has two unexpected open dates from July 18 – 22 and August 2 – 13, so leadership is making the camp available to any church or nonprofit organization who would like to use it!  Groups can stay in cabins, the modern Mac lodge, or bring your own campers!  The dining hall will be open as well as the waterfront for you to enjoy.  Come, boat, hike, fish, and explore this pristine part of the U.P.

Best of all, the cost of these dates are negotiable, depending on ability to pay. Groups can stay for 2 or 3 nights, a weekend, or a whole week if you would like.  This is a wonderful opportunity to come check the camp out!

Please call Camp Director, Jenna Thompson, at 906-379-7047, for more details or to make your reservation.  Thanks!  Hope to see YOU at the Point!

From/To: Preaching that Accords with Covenant and Commission

From/To: Preaching that Accords with Covenant and Commission

December 1, 2021:  10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

The church often tries to resolve competing priorities-in scripture interpretation and in life-by way of either unifying opposites (Both/And) or costly decision (Either/Or). Preaching, however, is most faithful, not when adjudicating among competing conjunctions, but when it aims at conversion and sanctification.  Instead of both/and or either/or, the logic of metanoia (From/To) is the hallmark of faithful, visionary pulpit leadership that builds faith and encourages genuine progress on the journey. How might you preach differently if the question you continually put to text and sermon were: ‘From where or from what condition are we setting out? Toward what or where is God leading us with this Word?’

Facilitator:  The Rev. Dr. Timothy Matthew Slemmons, Professor of Homiletics and Worship, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

A Presbyterian minister and a graduate of Columbia and Princeton Seminaries, Tim has been for twenty years generating diverse, visionary, and inspired, yet orthodox resources in the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His most recent books are The Good Confession, Elaborations of the Psalms (1–50), and Return to God: Historical and Modern Confessional Sources for the Renewal and Regathering of the Church, all three released in 2020. He is presently at work on a new record, Revenant Psalms, consisting of guitar-based musical settings of a number of lament psalms. Tim is married to Victoria, who has also recorded the psalms with solo voice and therapy harp.

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.