Detroit, Scioto Valley Presbyteries Join Vital Congregations Initiative

Congratulations to the Presbyteries of Detroit and Scioto Valley, both of whom have joined the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Vital Congregations Initiative. Strengthening Congregational Vitality, along with Eradicating Systemic Poverty and Dismantling Structural Racism, are the three foci of the Matthew 25 initiative.  The Synod’s ministries seek to support churches and presbyteries in these same ministry goals.

You can read more about Detroit and Scioto Valley, and the Vital Congregations Initiative, through the link below:

Presbyterian Mission Agency Seven presbyteries, solo congregation to begin preparing for Vital Congregations Initiative | Presbyterian Mission Agency

A Prayer for the US Asian Community

The recent violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders tragically crystalized this week as six Asian American women were among the eight victims of the shootings at massage parlors near Atlanta.   Interim Executive Chip Hardwick shared this Prayer for the US Asian Community at the Detroit Presbytery meeting on 3/20/21.  It was adapted from a prayer by Alden Solvy from the blog To Bend Light.

Oh people of conscience, cry out.
Cry out against hatred and anger.
Cry out against violence and oppression.

Cry out against the rising tide of brutality against our Asian American siblings.

Author of life, Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under Your tabernacle of peace to the victims of the massacre n Atlanta, Georgia,

Whose lives were cut off by violence
In a rampage of aggression beyond understanding.

May their souls be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
May they rest in peace.

God of justice and mercy,
Remember the survivors and witnesses of these attacks,
Witnesses to shock, horror and dismay.

Ease their suffering and release their trauma so that they recover lives of joy and wonder.
Grant them Your shelter and solace,
blessing and renewal.

Look with favor, God of love,
Upon Asian American communities throughout the land,
And all communities targeted for violence.

Grant them Your protection.
Remember them with comfort and consolation.
Bless them with wholeness and healing.

Heavenly Guide,
Put an end to anger, hatred, and fear,

And lead us to a time when
No one will suffer at the hand of another,
Speedily, in our day.  Amen.

Please find the original posting here: For the U.S. Asian Community – To Bend Light

Leadership Training To Be Offered throughout the Synod

As a Matthew 25 Synod, we are working with presbyteries for congregational vitality in all of our churches.  One aspect of congregational vitality is servant leadership.  To support church leaders, whether pastors or elders, In 2021, the Synod is providing several leadership development workshops through LeaderWise.  It’s a a Christian organization focused on training and equipping church leaders in congregations and other ministries.

The Synod is covering two-thirds of the cost of each training.  Check with your presbytery to see if they are covering the rest of the costs, or plan for you to share in them.  Note:  the Synod is not contributing toward the cost of the individual assessments for the racial justice, emotional intelligence, or conflict management trainings; please be sure to contact your presbytery about any help in paying for these instruments.

So far dates have been set for Boundaries Training.  It will be offered in two two-and-one-half hour training sessions on successive days. The dates are as follows:  May 18-19 from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm both days; August 18-19 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm both days; and November 9-10 from 10:00 to 12:30 both days).  The examples used by the facilitators in May and November will be more targeted toward pastors/teaching elders, and in August, toward ruling elders, though participants are welcome to attend whichever pair of sessions is best for them.

The dates have not yet been set for the following trainings:

  • Racial Justice Training (including the $150 Intercultural Development Inventory for each participant)
  • Emotional Intelligence (including the $115 Emotional Quotient Inventory 2.0 Leadership Assessment for each participant)
  • Conflict Management (including the $35 Thomas-Killman Conflict Mode Instrument for each participant)
  • Committee on Ministry and Committee on the Preparation for Ministry Training

Register Here

Registration for these events will be available by the end of March.  Questions?  Contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at 309-530-4578 or

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

In his most recent Bible Explorations column for Presbyterians Today, Interim Synod Executive Chip Hardwick explores the lectionary passage for April 25, 1 John 3:16-24.  The passage’s challenge for us to lay down our lives for others, as Christ has laid down his life for us, leads him to explore issues of racism in society and a recent conversation Chip had with a group of friends.

You can read the post here:  Presbyterian Mission Agency What ‘laying down our lives’ looks like | Presbyterian Mission Agency


A Prayer for the 500,000+ Lost to COVID-19

As you know, we are commemorating the one year anniversary of the pandemic this month. As Interim Executive Chip Hardwick has been visiting presbytery meetings, he has been sharing a Prayer for Grieving 500,000 Dead to COVID in the United States, composed by Maren Tirabassi for her blog Gifts in Open Hands. I’m grateful that Sharon Core, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve, brought it to my attention.  There have been several requests for it, so please find it here, very slightly adapted.

Holy One,
who blesses those that mourn
and do not hurry into being comforted,
we sit down into the loss
of those we know,
and those that now
we’ll never have a chance to know.

We grieve the stories they will not live,
the songs they will not sing,
the children they will not have,
the hope they will not offer
to those around them,
the inventions they will not patent,

the art, poetry, ink, music,
shingling a house, legal argument,
good tune-up and tire rotation,
diagnosis, surgical procedure,
gentle placement of a ventilator,
dental cleaning, quilt,
strawberry picking,
produce counter stocking,
life-guard undertow rescue,
lullaby, recipe and vote
that will never be made.

We grieve the birthday candles
on cakes they will never taste.

We grieve for their parents
and their children, their families,
their colleagues and their friends.

We grieve memories slipping away
waiting for memorial services.

We grieve that the very sadness
ebbs away from weariness
or the new whisper of good news.

O God, our masks are wet with tears
and our fingers shake holding balloons
at nursing home windows.

Comfort us, we pray. amen


Please find the original posting here:

Join a Candlelight Vigil for All Those Lost to Covid

A temporary, outdoor art installation of over 500 handmade fabric doves is being created by members of the First Presbyterian Church of Holt, MI, (in Lake Michigan Presbytery) to honor the more than 500,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

The doves will be suspended in strands from the bell tower crosses of the church, located at the northwest corner of Aurelius and Holt Roads. The memorial will be dedicated in a 7:00 candlelight vigil on the evening of March 10, marking the anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Michigan.  The vigil will be livestreamed at

According to Rev. Kirk Miller, one of the pastors at the church, the intent is to help the congregation and larger community acknowledge and process the monumental loss of life from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone wishing to honor the life of someone who has died from COVID-19 can visit or call the church office at 517-694-8151.  They will be asked to provide their beloved’s name, date of birth and death, and three words that speak to their life. The biographies will be displayed on the doves as well as the church’s outdoor electronic sign.

The memorial—which will be visible night and day—will remain on display until the pandemic lifts.

Litany for Black History Month

February is Black History Month.  As Interim Executive Chip Hardwick has been visiting presbytery meetings, he has been sharing a Litany for Black History Month, composed in 2020 by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Jabriel Malik Hasan.  There have been many requests for it, so please find it here, very slightly adapted.

One: Source of our being, manifested in Word and Spirit, we enter ever more deeply into your presence, calling on You, because You are our stronghold and our deliverer; You are our rock in a weary land; You are our balm in Gilead, and we praise You.  We worship You for your great majesty and your overwhelming love, and we thank You for Your great faithfulness unto us.

All:   We glorify You, for You have kept us in the midst of it all.

One: Morning by morning new mercies we see, we ask for Your mercy on our souls for every way that we consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously forget you. Show mercy on our ignorance in Your sight.  We ask mercy for the desecration of earth and space, for the desecration of our bodies, minds, and spirits.  We ask mercy for worshipping the false gods of materialism, colonialism, classism, colorism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and all other forms of egoism.  We ask mercy for believing and perpetuating lies that hurt us and others, confusing the beauty of Your harmonious nature.

All:   Have Mercy on us and strengthen us by Your Spirit.  Lead us to Zion.  

One: Lest we forget, we remember all who have perished in the struggle for justice.  We remember all who perished in the middle passage, dying shackled, laying in their own excrement.  We remember those who sacrificed themselves to the sea.  We remember the Martins, the Malcolms, the Medgers, the Mary Turners, the Trayvon Martins, the Eric Garners, the Mike Browns, the Marsha P. Johnsons, the Muhlaysia Bookers, and the countless others whose bodies have been claimed by acts of violence and terrorism.

All:   Lest we forget, we remember the enslavement, the torture, the beatings, the lynching, the vandalism, the rapes, the murders, the massacres, the genocide.  We remember the psychological and physical abuse and trauma.  [Moment of Silence]

One: But You are our help. You are our lily of the valley.  We know that our redeemer lives, and that You empower us by Your Spirit.  Your blood never loses its power, and so here, we stand as intercessors bearing Your image.

All:   We magnify Your restoring power in us to heal this stolen land, to purify the earth, air, and sea; to, in all mercy and humility, dismantle structures of injustice and oppression; to break every chain; to imagine and create fresh expressions of being; to build strong families; to mobilize responsible and ethical civic leadership and engagement; to promote sustainable economic development that serves the needs of all; to encourage in every way the general wellness and wholeness of the Black community; to bring life to dry bones; to walk always in remembrance of You, and thereby reconcile all to Your infinite oneness. 

One: You, who are All-in-All, inflame all existence with Your transforming love. Resurrect all existence by Your abundant grace.  Embolden us to relinquish fear and do the work our souls must have.

All:   We are Your peace, and we worship You. 

One: Bringing the gifts that our ancestors gave, we are the dream and the hope of the enslaved.  We rise, we rise, we rise.

All:   Let all be done in accordance with Your will and may all the ancestors bless us; may all the saints, angels, and all heavenly hosts bless us; may all the holy martyrs, apostles, and prophets bless us.  We are blessed in the name of God, Source, Word, and Holy Spirit.  Amen, Amen, Amen.

Please find the original posting here:  A Litany for Black History Month | Union Presbyterian Seminary (

Get to Know Detroit Presbytery

Get to know Detroit Presbytery!  In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Moderator Dave Bunch and Vice Moderator Jasmine Smart sit down with Synod Interim Executive Chip Hardwick to discuss how God is at work among and through their churches., and what they’re learning about cooperative ministry during the pandemic.

A Prayer for Black History Month

A Prayer for Black History Month

Spirit of Abundance, God of Grace, Mother of Hope,
We pause now to remember those stories that are all around us,
But so often passed over,
Those stories that when told are shared because
Of what someone is, not who they are.
This month in our nation’s character
Is Black History month.
Help us to realize that Black history is
All our histories.
May the day come when these stories
Are so wildly taught that no month need
Be separately divided.
We know this day will not come until we as a people
Make different choices.
We pray now for those new choices.
May we come to see a day where the prison system
Becomes redemptive, not punitive.
A day where the legal system learns to focus more squarely on the facts,
And the not colors of our skin.
A day where our schools are as well funded, as the needs demand.
May our role models be allowed to excel when they thrive,
And not be taken down for their rich heritage.
We know this will require a shift in power.
And this can be scary for some.
Give those full of fear – hope.
May we come to know grace,
So that our hearts will not be hardened to the pain around us.
There are so many beautiful stories needing to be told.
And we need to get the chance to hear them.
Widen our vision so that the history that is shared this month,
And every month,
Come to be known as our history too.
We are most human when we see the humanity in others.

– Author Unknown

The Synod is grateful for the ministry of the West Cincinnati Presbyterian Church (of Cincinnati Presbytery), which shared this prayer.  You can find them on Facebook at West Cincinnati Presbyterian Church | Facebook

Get to Know Maumee Valley Presbytery

Get to know Maumee Valley Presbytery!  In the latest of a series of videos to help you get to know the presbyteries of the Synod of the Covenant, Executive Presbyter Matt Meinke and Moderator David Montgomery sit down with Synod Interim Executive Chip Hardwick to discuss how God is at work among and through their churches….and to wonder about whether there was once a battle between Detroit Presbytery and Maumee Valley over the churches in South Michigan that ended up in Maumee Valley!