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
chip@synodofthecovenant.org


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.


Exploring the Themes of Advent 2021

Exploring the Themes of Advent 2021

November 3, 2021: 10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Advent gives us a chance to proclaim God’s coming into the world, in 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:  Chip Hardwick, Interim 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. His book Crossbound was published for Lent 2015 and his article for the Presbyterian Outlook “My Mom and Me:  Theological Comfort and the Suicide Crisis” won first place in its category in the 2018 Associated Church Press Awards.

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 Peoples’ Sermon: Preaching as a Ministry of the Whole Congregation

The Peoples’ Sermon: Preaching as a Ministry of the Whole Congregation

October 6, 2021:  10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Preaching is an ecclesial practice that is the work of the whole congregation and not only the preacher. This workshop will encourage and equip participants to encourage and equip all the baptized to fulfill their roles as proclaimers of God’s good news. Understanding and engaging the collaborative nature of preaching will revive your preaching and your congregation’s participation.

Facilitator:  The Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan, Homiletics Professor, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

The Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan (ELCA) serves on the Core Doctoral Faculty of the Graduate Theological Union. She received her Ph.D. in Practical Theology (with a concentration in Homiletics) from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her published work can be found in journals such as Word & WorldDialogCurrent in Theology and Mission and the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. She is the co-editor of Eco-Lutheranism: Lutheran Perspectives on Ecology, and her book, The Peoples’ Sermon: Preaching as a Ministry of the Whole Congregation, will be released Fall 2021 by Fortress Press.

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.


Opening Your Listeners to New Perspectives

Opening Your Listeners to New Perspectives

August 4, 2021: 10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Our sermons imagine a world where we are all living more and more faithfully into God’s dreams for ourselves and the world around us. Fulfilling these gospel claims, however, means that we often must change our minds and hearts in significant ways.  This workshop will explore several classic ways to open up our listeners to new perspectives.

Facilitator:  Chip Hardwick, Interim 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.


From the Interim Executive….

From the Interim Executive,

This Sunday is Pentecost, and I’m excited to be preaching from the book of Numbers on the story of Eldad and Medad. The Israelites are wandering their way to the Promised Land, and they are sick and tired of manna.  Moses is sick and tired of them, and their complaining has not endeared them to God, either.

To improve the situation, God tells Moses to send 70 elders out and promises to put “some of the Spirit” that is on him onto all the other leaders. As usual, God is faithful to the promise made.

Eldad and Medad were two elders who didn’t go where they were supposed to go, and yet the Spirit landed on them too.  This didn’t sit well with Aaron or a youth in the story, and they beg Moses to stop these interlopers from prophesying.  Moses replies, “If only all the Lord’s people were prophets with the Lord placing his spirit on them!” (Numbers 11:29)

I’ve been joining Moses in his prayer, that God’s Spirit would land on all of our churches and presbyteries, in this Pentecost season.  I pray that the Spirit will land on your youngest children and your oldest seniors; on the smallest church in Ohio and the largest church in Michigan; on the newest pastor and on the most seasoned deacon.  Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive
chip@synodofthecovenant.org


Preaching Justice and Hope in Perplexing Times

Preaching Justice and Hope in Perplexing Times

July 7, 2021:  10:00-11:30 am by Zoom

Maintaining scriptural and theological fidelity when crafting sermons from a justice-oriented Christian perspective can pose challenges for clergy. The relevant question becomes, “How can I avoid preaching justice too heavy-handedly absent of hope or too cheaply absent of real consequence?” This interactive workshop introduces participants to sermon crafting strategies for preaching prophetic texts today.

Note: This workshop will draw on Exodus Preaching:  Crafting Sermons about Justice and Hope, which you can purchase here.

Facilitator:  Kenyatta Gilbert, Homiletics Professor, Howard University School of Divinity

Rev. Dr. Gilbert is a nationally recognized expert on African American preaching.  A prolific writer and oft-featured expert on Black preaching, civil rights, and social justice, Dr. Gilbert has authored four books:  Exodus Preaching; A Pursued Justice:  Black Preaching fromt eh Great Migration to Civil Rights; The Journey and Promise of African American Preaching; and Just Living:  Meditations for Engaging Our Life and Time. His writing has also been featured on PBS NewsHour, Sojourners, Word & Way, and The Conversation.  In 2011, he launched The Preaching Project, a ministry aimed at equipping ministers to better serve African American churches and communities.

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.


Preaching about Racial Justice without Losing your Conviction or your Job

June 2, 2021:  10:00 -11:30 am by Zoom

Often in our divided society, preachers are tempted to think more about proclaiming their convictions than they are to consider how they might persuade their listeners who might be reluctant to hear the Gospel’s call to racial justice. This workshop offers a rhetorical frame for preaching to strengthen your possibility of opening your listeners’ minds and hearts.

Facilitator:  Chip Hardwick, Interim 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. His book Crossbound was published for Lent 2015 and his article for the Presbyterian Outlook “My Mom and Me:  Theological Comfort and the Suicide Crisis” won first place in its category in the 2018 Associated Church Press Awards.

Watch on YouTube

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,

Like many of your churches and presbyteries, the Synod of the Covenant has joined the denomination’s Matthew 25 initiative. Along with so many others, our ministries seek to build congregational vitality, dismantle structural racism, and eradicate systemic poverty.

Earlier this month, the Synod solidified a relationship that can help our churches in Michigan to work on issues of poverty. We updated, expanded, and confirmed our covenant with Samaritas, the former Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. The covenant outlines the commitments we are making to each other. You can see in the picture Beth Birkholz, Director of Church Relations, Sam Beals, Chief Executive Officer, and me, at the signing ceremony.

I’m excited about this partnership because it provides a one-stop shop for churches all over Michigan who are looking to address poverty. Samaritas’ range of ministries stretches from refugee ministries to adoption and foster families, from affordable living to substance abuse and behavioral health.

Currently their ministry includes a focus on the unaccompanied minors from the southern border of the United States, 150 of whom will soon be resettled by Samaritas within Michigan. Click here to watch a short video detailing this ministry. While we may not all agree on the best political way to solve the crisis on that border, surely we can agree to follow James 1:27: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.”

I’m grateful that so many of you work to alleviate poverty. Thank you for inspiring me! You can learn more about the Matthew 25 initiative here.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive
248-729-2415
chip@synodofthecovenant.org