19 Jul Concerns and Invitations
Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I write today on three items, all looking to the future; rather than about my work and travels in the past on your behalf. You’ll get that later.
First, I continue to be concerned about the level of violence in our society and what that says about us as a country and what it means for us as sisters and brothers in Christ. That is to say, I am perplexed and at a loss on how we, as part of the body of Christ, should respond…..not reactively, but proactively. To this end, your moderator, Ruling Elder Maribeth Culpepper, and I have concluded that we need to gather a group of people from throughout our Synod to try to discern how we as Presbyterians in New Mexico and Arizona can proactively address the system of privilege, racism and classism that, we believe, is at the root of this very difficult time in the life of our country and church.
We have concluded that: first, we must gather the elected staff leadership of the four presbyteries and the synod to make an initial pass at what question should be posed to a larger group; and, two, we must identify who we will initially invite into that conversation. We recognize that the mix must be diverse in its makeup and constituted not only of persons from different racial and cultural backgrounds, but also different theological and political perspectives.
I will be reporting back to you as soon as your staff leaders have met about how we intend to proceed. I must say, however, that we, your moderator and I, believe that time is of the essence.
Second, I write to encourage pastors, as well as CRE’s in active commissioned service to our congregations, to register to attend Biblical Kaleidoscope 20 that is being held at Ghost Ranch from August 1-7, 2016. The Rev. Dr. Carolyn Browning Helsel, assistant professor of homiletics at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, will lead this event, titled “Preaching when race matters.” I actually believe the title should be “Preaching and teaching about Privilege to the Privileged”, who I believe constitute the vast majority of the persons in our congregations.
I see this as one way to begin to think about what it is in our societal makeup that is creating so much violence and despair among far too many of our sisters and brothers who together, with us, constitute this people of this nation that is now so fractured and living in fear.
Please consider attending this week of learning and Sabbath. Registration is open for one more week. The total cost to attend is $100, which includes room (double occupancy), board, transportation and seminar registration.
Third, I would also encourage you to attend the Nurturing Generous Hearts II – Celebrating the Spirit of Stewardship Conference being held from Thursday, August 25 beginning with registration at 4:30 PM and concluding at 12 NOON on Saturday, August 27, 2016 following closing worship. The event will take place at the Hilton Phoenix Airport Hotel in Phoenix, AZ. For the cost of $75 (double occupancy) or $50 (commuter rate), you get food, lodging and the chance to learn more about stewardship for use in your particular congregational context. This is a level of learning and access to experts that is not normally available in other than national stewardship conferences.
The Keynote speakers will be Grace Duddy Pomroy, Financial Educational Specialist at Portico Benefit Services and co-author of Embracing Stewardship and the Rev. Charles R. Lane, Pastor for Stewardship and Generosity at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove, MN. And, of course, for many of us who go back a few years this will be a time to reconnect with the Rev. Shannon Webster, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama and former Executive Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca and for those more recently engaged in church service in our Synod to get to know him. Shannon will serve as our worship leader.
We encourage churches to send more than one person and to include in that mix your pastor.
Justice & Peace,