Pandemic Ponderings of the Transitional Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsely

June 8, 2020

Dear friends,

Last evening about 80 colleagues from around the presbytery gathered for a Service of Lament and Listening in response to George Floyd becoming the latest victim of racial injustice in this country. Thank you to the Antiracism Committee for leading us in what was a haunting and solemn service. We’re currently editing the recording of that service and it will be available this week on the presbytery’s website, our facebook page, and our youtube account:

Special thanks to the planning team, Leanne Reed, Debra Love, Tom Bryson, and Joe Scrivner and to Robert Newman for serving as the usher.  It was a deeply moving service made all the more so because we were gathering together from many congregations as one Body of Christ.


Matthew 25

At our meeting in May, the presbytery voted to become a Matthew 25 presbytery. Based on the powerful story Jesus tells of the judgement of the nations, Matthew 25 urges us to focus our ministry on “the least of these.” As you recall, this initiative focuses on three areas:

  • Building congregational vitality
  • Eradicating systemic poverty
  • Dismantling structural racism

Rev. Dr. Diane Moffet, the President and CEO of the Presbtyerian Mission Agency gave us an overview of Matthew 25. You can download her remarks here.  This is something you might want to use with your sessions as you consider becoming a Matthew 25 congregation which you are invited, yea, urged to do as we seek to show Christ’s love to those most vulnerable and hurting. Nearly all our churches are already engaging in Matthew 25-type ministries and can already sign on!  The Presbyterian Mission Agency provides many resources for jumping in:

Would you congregations who have already signed on to be a Matthew 25 congregation please let Tammy know. We’re like to keep a running list as we work together on this.

Dismantling Structural Racism

George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis Polic Department has seemed to me to be an “enough’s enough” moment for our nation and I hope it is. Protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” have taken to the streets in every state in our nation (including my little ole hometown of Yuma, Colorado) and people (and here I am talking to us, white people) who have for too long been silent about racial inequality and injustices are finding their voices and seeking to join the struggle to dismantle structural racism.


For some of us that has meant taking it upon ourselves to educate ourselves about ways to go about that. Some of our churches are seeking to dismantle structural racism by challenging their congregants to embark on daily practices using one of the following two resources. The first is a six week course of study/action entitled Facing Racism put out by the denomination:

The second is a resource that many Presbyterian congregations across the nation are using:

Well, I’ve given you enough to read and watch to last you quite a while! It can seem overwhelming but let’s all just start somewhere and then share with each other what we’re learning/doing.


Oh, yes, and then there’s that pandemic!

And, meanwhile, we’re still in a pandemic, though you can’t always tell that. As someone put it, “The Covid 19 pandemic isn’t over but Americans appear to be over it!” That said, several churches (maybe more that I haven’t heard of) are cautiously beginning to re-open their sanctuaries for Sunday worship. (Please let me know if your church is re-opening the building for worship.) Fairfield Highlands and Riverchase have both re-opened their buildings for worship observing all the recommended precautions – social distancing, wearing masks, etc. Others are re-opening their spaces for meetings and Bible studies where they can do so socially distanced. Let us continue to pray for those who are sick and those who care for them, and those who keep us up and running.

And, finally, join your colleagues and me this Thursday at 4:00pm for mutual support, challenge, and encouragement:


As ever in prayer,


Sue Westfall

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