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!


Upcoming Meetings of the Administrative Commission/Synod Assembly

The General Assembly Administrative Commission, now acting as the Synod of the Covenant, holds its monthly meetings by Zoom the fourth Friday of each month, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time. These meetings are open and their agendas will be posted on the Assembly Papers section of the Synod website 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.

Upcoming meeting dates are August 28 and September 25.  You can find highlights from the July 24, 2020 meeting here.


A Sabbath Sunday from the Synod for Pastors and Worship Planners

All of you who plan and lead worship services have been so inspiring since the pandemic began. You have met the challenge of coordinating worship that is meaningful in such an uncertain time, of navigating new technology, and of deciding the best format in your particular context. More recently you have worked to address the issues of racial justice that are all around us.

The Synod of the Covenant is offering you pastors, musicians, and worship leaders a Sabbath from worship preparation and leadership in recognition of your faithful ministry. Interim Synod Executive Chip Hardwick is coordinating a service based on Romans 6:12-23, one of the lectionary passages for June 28th. You’ll be able to download the worship service as either the whole service (which includes involve liturgists from throughout the Synod), or just the scripture and sermon from the links below.

Of course, there is no requirement to use the service! The Synod is offering it with hopes that many of our churches will receive it as a gift, to give you a Sabbath Sunday.  For questions, contact Chip at synod.covenant@gmail.com or 309-530-4578.


From the Interim Executive ...

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

It’s been about two months since I began serving as the Synod’s Interim Executive. I have been so inspired as I have learned about your ministries.  It is a really challenging time to be church leader right now.  As the pandemic swept over us, you’ve figured out how to be the body of Christ when we can’t physically be with those who are sick and dying. You’ve navigated Zoom, Facebook Live, Vimeo, YouTube, and conference calls. You’ve debated closings and openings, and found such creative ways to do ministry.

Then the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd brought a reckoning over racial injustice in the United States and provoked us to wrestle again with the Spirit as we recognize structural racism and personal prejudices, including, for me and my fellow white Christians, our own.  You’ve led and participated in these challenging conversations and read books and articles which stretch your faith and understanding of what it means for all to be created in God’s image. In your words and actions, you’ve proclaimed that Black lives matter to God, to the church, and to you. You’ve looked for concrete changes to make so that people of color experience the world as Jesus wants it to be.

I’m so grateful for you.

To thank you for your hard work, I’ve been busy planning the Sabbath Sunday from the Synod so that pastors and worship leaders can have a break on 6/28 or afterwards (click here for more information). Since starting I’ve also been on 103 zoom calls, had 36 informational interviews, and tilted at countless administrative windmills. I would love to hear from you about your hopes for the Synod, any advice you have for me, and how Stated Clerk Richard Rojas Banuchi, Bookkeeper Belinda King, and I can serve you.

Your partner in ministry,

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


Charles B. Hardwick: A Brief Biographical Sketch

The Rev. Dr. Charles B. Hardwick began serving as the Interim Executive for the Synod of the Covenant in spring, 2020. Chip is grateful that the Holy Spirit brought him to this challenging role, where he can work with the eleven presbyteries throughout Ohio and Michigan to develop ministries to help Presbyterians live more faithfully.

Before joining the Synod, Chip served the denomination as Director of Theology, Formation, and Evangelism. He has also served churches in Lake Forest, IL, Bloomington, IL, and Atlanta, GA.  His education includes a B.A. from Alma College, an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, a Th.M. from Emory University, and an M.Div. and Ph.D. (preaching and worship) from Princeton Theological Seminary.  Before seminary he worked at strategy consultancy Bain and Company in Dallas and Madrid, and at Dow Corning Corporation in Kentucky and Michigan.

Chip is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee at Alma College, a trustee at Princeton Theological Seminary, and an adjunct professor in Dubuque Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. He writes the Bible Explorations column for Presbyterians Today and contributes to These Days and The Presbyterian Outlook. His Outlook article “My Mom and Me:  Theological Comfort and the Suicide Crisis” won first place in its category in the 2018 Associated Church Press Awards. His devotional book Crossbound was published for Lent, 2015.

Chip is single, grew up in Beavercreek, OH, and lives in the Detroit area, with his two cats Salsa and Queso.  He is fluent in Spanish and enjoys photography, pop culture, travel, Spanish culture, and biking. The biggest competitor to Christ’s lordship in his life is the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

You can friend him on Facebook and Instagram (“Chip Hardwick”) and follow him on twitter (@chiphardwick).


Synod to Re-open Applications for Scholarships and Grants Soon

In 2020, the Synod has budgeted $85,000 toward grants and scholarships, and the Administrative Commission overseeing the Synod wants to ensure that all of these funds be granted to recipients during this calendar year.  A grants and scholarships committee has been re-established and will meet soon to finalize dates and applications processes.

The programs include

  • Higher Education Scholarships, available to individual Presbyterians within the Synod who are attending college, university, trade school, or seminary/divinity school
  • 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
  • Racial Ethnic Program Grants, available to congregations primarily composed of People of Color planning new mission initiatives or outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding their church

As soon as deadlines and applications have been established, they will be communicated broadly. For more information, contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at synod.covenant@gmail.com.


Synod Leader Ruth Azar Wins 2020 Woman of Faith Award

Ruth Azar, a ruling elder at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Detroit Presbytery, was one of only three women throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA) to win the prominent Women of Faith award from the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries area.  The award is given biannually to women whose lives exemplify their Christian commitment through witness, service and leadership.  This year’s award sought to recognize “women who disrupt systemic poverty.”

Ruth is the founder and executive director of the Second Mile Center of Detroit, a Christ-centered youth outreach ministry located in one of the most violent ZIP codes in the city of Detroit. Proud of her Lebanese /Syrian heritage, Ruth is the 6th of 8 children and the first in her family to be born in America Her family immigrated into this country to find a better way of life. She honors her parents by continuing to help others also find a better way. Ruth has done just that in her leadership at the Synod of the Covenant, having served as the moderator of the Cabinet on Ethnic Church Affairs (CECA), the Vice Moderator of the Synod’s Presbyterian Women, and member of an Administrative Commission supporting Mackinac Presbytery.

To read more about Ruth and the award, click here. Be sure to watch the video about her ministry linked in the article. Congratulations Ruth, and thanks for inspiring us to work alongside you to disrupt poverty.


Synod Seeking Stated Clerk

The Stated Clerk is an officer of the Synod of the Covenant who helps all levels of the church to live into more faithful and effective ways of doing ministry, using Presbyterian polity to guide churches, presbyteries, and the Synod to the best means of accomplishing their ministry goals.  The Administrative Commission (AC) is seeking strong candidates for this paid quarter-time position to partner with other Synod staff and presbytery leadership.

Click here for a job description.  You will notice that the Stated Clerk must reside within the bounds of the Synod and will need to be available to travel to the Synod offices in the Detroit area up to two days a month, plus other designated meetings which would be held in person in the future.  The term for this position will conclude when the Administrative Commission’s work is over (likely some time in 2021) and the new clerk will be eligible for election by the reinstated Synod assembly. Interested candidates should email a cover letter and a resume or Personal Information Form (and address any questions) to ac.covenant@pcusa.org.  The AC will begin reviewing applicants on 8/3/20.


From the Interim Executive….

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

During General Assembly in late June, I took part in one of the Bible studies which covered Lamentations 5:20-21, the last few verses of this book that make so much sense this year in the midst of all of our challenges. The teachers of the study, James and Mary Florence Taneti, told participants that in the scriptures hope is often tinged with lament, and lament is regularly surrounded by hope. Whether you find yourself in the midst of lament or of hope right now, I pray you’ll feel Christ’s presence and follow him out into the world as we move into the last half of 2020.

I have heard from many of you that you found the Sunday Service from the Synod a great way for your preachers, worship leaders, musicians, and tech gurus to have a Sabbath after working so very hard in the days since the pandemic began. I’m very grateful to the nearly thirty people who participated, and also to Matt Skolnik, General Presbyter of Muskingum Valley Presbytery, for harnessing the tech. It’s available for you and your churches to use any Sunday you would like; you can download it or watch it here.

The Synod’s efforts to re-establish communications with you are starting to take shape. Beyond this newsletter, you can find and like us on Facebook @synodofthecovenant, and subscribe to our YouTube channel – here! In the near future the website will be updated and other social media efforts will begin.

Thanks for looking through this newsletter for information about the Woman of Faith Award received by Synod leader Ruth Azar at the past General Assembly the re-establishment of the Grants and Scholarship program, and the search for a Stated Clerk for the Synod.

Your partner in ministry,

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


Upcoming Meetings of the Administrative Commission/Synod Assembly

The General Assembly Administrative Commission, now acting as the Synod of the Covenant, holds its monthly meetings by Zoom the fourth Friday of each month, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time. These meetings are open and their agendas will be posted on the Assembly Papers section of the Synod website, www.synodofthecovenant.org, approximately a week ahead of time.  (Minutes from prior meetings will be posted here before the end of July.) If you would like to attend an upcoming meeting, please contact the Stated Clerk, Rev. Richard Rojas Banuchi, at Rev.Rojas@gmail.com.

Upcoming meeting dates are July 24, August 28, September 25, and October 23.