Pandemic Ponderings of the Transitional Executive Presbyter of the Presbtyery of Sheppards and Lapsley

August 24, 2020

Dear friends,

It was good to be with many of you last week as the Presbytery gathered by Zoom for its summer meeting. Thank you to First Presbyterian Church of Eufala for serving as our virtual host and to their pastor, John Brock, for his stirring sermon. Many thanks to Joe Genau, Robert Newman, and Joan Reisinger for running the technical aspect of the meeting. They did a beautiful job and really enabled the presbytery to do its work together even in this time of social distancing.

One of the oustanding reports we heard was from our commissioners, Young Adult and Theological Seminary Delegates, to the 224th General Assembly. At that assembly. the church elected its first Native American Co-Moderator and an African American Co-Moderator and embraced with fresh passion our dedication to dismantling the sin of racism which has so warped our country.

In that same vein, today the PCUSA begins a Presbyterian Week of Action.  Here is how it is described: “It is abundantly clear through the gospel narrative and the greater witness of the Bible, that God has called us, as people of faith, to seek justice for those most marginalized in our world. As a Matthew 25 denomination, it is the vision of our church to eradicate white supremacy and dismantle institutionalized racism. Furthermore, in an effort to do the “hands & feet” work the Lord ordains, we must act and bear witness to the gospel in these crucial times.

The PC(USA) staff expressed a deep yearning to be more engaged in responding to the murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who died at the hands of the police and racism. From this need has come the “Bearing Witness” working group which has participation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Office of the General Assembly, the Administrative Services Group and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. From this group a number of strategies are being formulated to provide advocacy campaigns, education initiatives and opportunities to join with community efforts organized by the Movement for Black Lives, Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice, the Bail Project and other grassroots groups.

As a centerpiece of this movement, we are hosting a Presbyterian Week of Action. This endeavor is structured to provide a public witness that facilitates education, visibility, and action that reinforces our PC(USA) statements and policy around the support of eradicating racism and acknowledging that God loves all Black lives. By joining together as national staff and the greater church, we hope to provide faithful leadership in the area of justice, love, and equality within our denomination and communities.

Here is the link to the schedule for the entire week. You are invited to take part in whatever way you can as we join the whole church in declaring that Black Lives Matter,

And that’s it for this week. Perhaps I will see you online this week.  And, of course, you are invited to join me Thursday at 4:00pm for our presbytery gathering.

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