Puerto Rico Taskforce Update: June 2018

Grace and peace to you from the Synod’s Puerto Rico Partnerships Taskforce (PRPT)!

We are honored to serve you as we seek to reinvigorate our partnerships between the Synod of the Northeast and the people of Puerto Rico.

Recently, I had the privilege of traveling to Puerto Rico with the other four members of the PRPT:  Crystal Garcia (Monmouth), Leslie Latham (Western New York), Margaret Mitsuyasu (Synod Mission Coordinator), and Amaury Tañón-Santos (Synod Networker). The purpose of our trip was to meet face-to-face with ecclesial leaders from around Puerto Rico, to listen to their stories, and to begin to discern together ways that we can walk alongside our Puerto Rican sisters and brothers in this particularly painful time following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Here are a list of three observations during our brief time with the Presbyterians of Puerto Rico:

Introducing the 2018-2019 Robert L. Washington Scholars

At the June 2018 Mission & Ministries Commission meeting, the Synod’s Committee on Representation, which reviews applications and selects participants for the Robert L. Washington Scholars program each year, joyfully announced the members of the 2018-2019 cohort. We are delighted to introduce to you RE Luci Duckson-Bramble and Rev. Erin Hayes-Cook, both of whom are outstanding leaders!

Commending the "Reclaiming Jesus" Statement

Dear Friends,

I am writing this as a pastoral and prophetic word as one who is called to lead our community in our common witness to proclaim the Gospel in season and out and to encourage our members to raise up their important voice in pursuit of becoming a vital part of the Beloved Community.

For some time now, I have been searching for the best words to express a helpful and coherent response to the dangerous and polarizing rhetoric that has run rampant in our country and culture…

Leaning Into Courage

Preface:
Two years ago, the Synod of the Northeast partnered with two very different congregations in a project we called “Undoing Racism.” The original partners were the Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church, an historic a African American congregation in Harlem, New York, and First Presbyterian Church in Morristown, NJ, an historic, majority white congregation. Recently this initiative has included the First Presbyterian Church in Rutherford, NJ as well.

These congregations have made deep and lasting covenants to learn, worship, and fellowship together in order to undo the bonds of racism. It was my privilege to share the Word with these saints last Sunday, June 3rd. Here is the sermon and a few photos of this beautiful event…

An Open Letter to the Community of the Synod of the Northeast and Those We Serve

Dear Friends,  

As with many of you, I have become weary and sad at the constant flow of hateful speech and racist rhetoric from our president and his followers. The daily barrage of these words,  and devastating actions that follow them,  leaves me exhausted and wondering how to best use my public voice in ways that don’t simply add to the constant  flood of exchanges around them.  

This morning as I rise from morning prayer  there is a fire in my  bones that I cannot quench. It rises from the deepest part of my spirit and compels me to speak a word that makes it clear that there are regular episodes of our current president’s behavior  that  are undeniably immoral and contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Actualización de la Ayuda a Puerto Rico

En los meses después que los vientos ensordecedores dejaron de gritar y las aguas retrocedieron sobre la isla de Puerto Rico, los presbiterianos/as han respondido al llamado de ayuda de los que fueron afectados. Un asombroso cuarenta porciento de los habitantes de la isla todavía carecen de electricidad, acceso a agua limpia y suficiente comida. 

A pesar de los bloqueos burocráticos (y aparente apatía) por parte de nuestra nación, las congregaciones y presbiterios en todo el noreste han puesto su fe en acción.

Puerto Rico Aid Update

In the months since the winds stopped howling and the waters receded over the island of Puerto Rico, Presbyterians have responded to the plight of those who have been affected, an astonishing 40% of whom still don’t have power, and an appalling number who still lack access to clean water and sufficient food. 

In spite of bureaucratic roadblocks (and seeming apathy) on the part of our nation, congregations and presbyteries throughout the Northeast have put their faith into action.

Robert Washington Scholars: Raising Up Diverse Voices in Leadership

Our Synod community is deeply blessed with incredible diversity. With this gift comes a profound responsibility to be sure that the gift of these voices is heard and reflected within the leadership of our governance structures. The Robert L. Washington Scholars Program is intended to lift up, support, and equip a diversity of leaders to serve our mid-councils and other areas of leadership.

Something Old & Something New: Emerging Leaders Gather Around Ancient Practices

In the midst of an autumn coldsnap, around twenty church leaders who are between the ages of 25-40 gathered in upstate New York at the Silver Bay YMCA Camp & Conference Center for the 2017 Emerging Leaders Gathering. Though the weather was chilly, the community was not!

The Synod of the Northeast is blessed with a strong cohort of younger leaders, and while only a fraction of their number attend the annual Gathering each year, they consistently report that the community it fosters is crucial to their ongoing energy and enthusiasm for ministry.

Hispanic Caucus Commemorates 500 Years of Reformation in the Places Where it Began

The “Concilio Presbiteriano Hispano/Latino, Sinodo del Noreste” (The Hispanic Caucus) sponsored a study trip to Germany, Switzerland, and France tracing the path of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century. A group of 19 people, members of 9 churches within the Synod of the Northeast and representing 5 presbyteries, engaged in this adventure from October 27 to November 9, 2017.