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1013 8th Avenue
Seattle, WA, 98104
United States

(206)762-1991

The mission of Seattle Presbytery is to participate, in word and deed, in God’s transforming work through the Gospel of Jesus Christ: †by strengthening the witness and mission of our congregations and members and by building strong partnerships with each other and the larger Christian community.

Events (Archive)

Filtering by Tag: PCUSA

2012 Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference

Seattle Presbytery

'Restorers of Streets to Live In'

JULY 11-14, 2012 (PARTICIPANTS DEPART ON THE MORNING OF JULY 15)
GHOST RANCH EDUCATION AND RETREAT CENTER
ABIQUIU, NEW MEXICO

Ghost Ranch labrynth

This conference is different: Peacemakers, we are listening to you and challenged by you! Peacemakers from across the country are invited to the sacred space of Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico, to explore the Kin-dom of God as expressed in Isaiah 58:12, holding fast to our call to be Restorers of Streets to Live in.

NOTE: REGISTRATION DEADLINE- JUNE 15

Confessions of a Denominational Fanboy

Seattle Presbytery

Indie Musician Sufjan Stevens: Denominational Fanboy? (Hint: not really.)

By Aaron Willett, SeaPres Communications Coordinator

Last Monday in my Presbyterian Polity Class, at Seattle Pacific Seminary, a classmate reminded (we might even say chided) me that I am a denominational fanboy. She got me thinking… Are we perfect? Nowhere close. Do I think we have a corner on the market for Scriptural truth? Of course not. What I do know is that Jesus assures us, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them” (Matt. 18:20, CEB). I read Jesus’ promise and I know it in my head, but when we gather as a presbytery, I know it in my heart. We experience this too in our local congregations, all over the region.

I know I’m not making a terribly sophisticated argument here, but I’m encouraged because together we constitute the Body of Christ. My own gifts and quirks contribute to that body just as do yours. In the good times our ministry together is amplified because of the body, and the hard times we find comfort and solace there too. I’m even encouraged by the knowledge that when things go sideways in ministry, there are resources provided by our presbytery and boundaries laid out in our constitution.

As an inquirer who feels called to ministry within the PCUSA, I am encouraged by the recent shift in denominational posture. Reading our recently adopted Book of Order (formerly the “nFOG”), I see a recognition that missional vision comes from local churches, not governing bodies. Our newfound constitutional freedom has many faces, but most encouraging for me are the three new Temporary Associate Teaching Elders (aka ministers) called within our presbytery last month. Positions like these would not have been possible under the old constitution. We also see this new enabling denominational posture in the push to create 1,001 new worshipping communities over the next ten years. Roger Dermody, GAMC Deputy Executive Director for Mission, has said, “I believe that our work has got to be focused primarily on creating the conditions that will allow our existing worshipping communities to flourish, and engages them in giving birth to over 1000 new communities of faith within the next ten years.”  

We are witnessing a rearrangement of our denominational priorities that will highlight the work and growth of local churches, while building up and enabling new communities, and bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through many voices, new and old.

So, am I a denominational fanboy? Yes, indeed, through and through—soli Deo gloria.

"The Junction" - PCUSA Mission Trip Database

Seattle Presbytery

If you are looking for a mission trip opportunity for your group and need some inspiration and information, or if you have a mission trip or mission-related event you want to promote, The Junction is your one-stop shop for getting and sharing details about what’s happening in global mission. The Junction is a new online database that allows you to connect and serve with churches, Mid Councils, individuals, mission networks, and others to post and search for information about upcoming mission trips and mission events.


Short-term Mission Trip Tip Sheet

Use these documents to help maximize the effectiveness of your mission trip adventure.  The tip sheet includes: Discerning Your Congregation’s Call; Assessing Your Congregation’s Global Mission Involvement; Presbyterians Do Mission In Partnership; Protocols for Partnership; and Google Me a Mission!  Visit http://www.pcusa.org/resource/mission-trip-tips/.

Affiliation: A Different Way of Being Together

Seattle Presbytery


By Rev. Scott Lumsden, Executive Presbyter
Affiliation will be one of a number of possibilities for the PC(USA) discussed at Presbyfest. 

When Christians Disagree

It happens from time to time, Christians disagree. Back in the day, Paul, a gifted evangelist and theologian from Antioch, and Barnabas, his friend and fellow pastor, began to plan a return trip to the churches they had helped establish. Yet as they discussed their plan, a disagreement erupted. Paul didn’t trust Mark (Barnabas’ cousin) and refused to allow him to come with them, so they parted ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed east to Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas and journeyed West for Syria. (Acts 15:36-41)

I use this example because it’s becoming increasingly clear to many within the church that there are similar “second leg of the journey” dynamics at work within the PC(USA). We’ve reached a disagreement on how and where to go regarding the next leg of our missionary journey together and it scares us. Though the surface disagreement seems to be about ordination standards, there are other factors that are equally important such as: the changing nature of the church and society; post-denominationalism; decades of mainline decline; and uncertainty about our future. 

There are of course benefits in times of disagreement in that they challenge us to be clear and honest in our communication and help us clarify our positions. Disagreement forces to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions instead of expecting others to think and act on our behalf. Yet to continue in disagreement without recognizing alternative ways of addressing it may have serious ramifications for the mission of the PC(USA). 

Affiliation

There are a number of ideas recently that have been proposed that attempt to deal with these dynamics of disagreement within the PC(USA). Many of these proposals were presented as tiers during the Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in August. However, leaders (and presbyteries) across a wide theological spectrum of the PC(USA) are increasingly drawn toward some variation of what I will describe below as affiliation. (Sometimes affiliation is likened to orders within the Catholic church.) 

The idea in a nutshell goes something like this. For the purpose of providing greater clarity of mission within the PC(USA), congregations through their councils (sessions) may affiliate with a national body approved by the General Assembly. This would be completely elective on the part of a council, but would be an option for those who sought direction and support from a national group within the PC(USA). In other words, if the Fellowship of Presbyterians declared essential tenets of the Reformed faith and a session felt led to adopt them or make them their own, they could formally affiliate with that national body. In addition, if a congregation felt led to affiliate with the Covenant Network or similar body, its council (session) could formally affiliate with that body. Presbyteries would be encouraged to develop ways to honor these affiliations while also maintaining a missional identity of the whole in all its work.

The thought here is that we’ve reached a place in the church where we need to allow congregations to more clearly define the path they’re following within the PC(USA). Our Book of Order empowers councils to this type of discernment and action in G-3.0102: 

Councils of this church have only ecclesiastical jurisdiction for the purpose of serving Jesus Christ and declaring and obeying his will in relation to truth and service, order and discipline. They may frame statements of faith, bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in life, resolve questions of doctrine and discipline, give counsel in matters of conscience, and decide issues properly brought before them under the provisions of this Book of Order. They may authorize the administration of the sacraments in accordance with the Directory for Worship. They have power to establish plans and rules for the worship, mission, government, and discipline of the church and to do those things necessary to the peace, purity, unity, and progress of the church under the will of Christ. They have responsibility for the leadership, guidance, and government of that portion of the church that is under their jurisdiction” (italics mine).

Within such a richly diverse church, what we haven’t yet fully come to terms with is that there can be multiple ways for a council to discern and live out its mission. For a long time in our life together we’ve mostly required the same discernment of mission within our congregations and presbyteries. We’ve done this despite the fact that there are also areas of “sharp disagreement” among us. In practical terms, we admit to and even accept some level of difference within the church, yet at the moment we have no official way to honor this reality.  

To use the example of Paul and Barnabas, one benefit of their decision to part ways was that two missionary journeys began from Antioch that spring rather than one. What if God’s mission in Jesus Christ was furthered and not hindered by more than one missionary journey emerging out of our differences? What if two, three or four major missionary movements arose from within the PC(USA), rather than discord?

Affiliation and Our Future

There is much to be discerned in the months ahead and this is only one idea among many. What is clear is that we are in the throes of yet another reformation of our identity, mission and relationships within the PC(USA). Affiliation addresses the fact that differentiation in some key areas of ministry within the PC(USA) may be a helpful way to maintain unity while allowing for a greater number of missional pathways to emerge within the larger church. The good news in all this for me is that among all these ideas about how to order our lives anew, honoring our relationships as the body of Christ is common to all.

Meet the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)!

Seattle Presbytery

On Saturday, September 10, the Seattle Presbytery will be hosting the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), for a time of connection and conversation. Gradye will be available for a time of informal greeting and reception at the presbytery offices (1625 South Columbian Way) from 2pm to 4pm and will be open for some group conversation between 3pm to 3:30pm. Gradye is in town to celebrate Woodland Park's 100th anniversary and will be preaching there on Sunday. Welcome to Seattle Presbytery, Gradye! Looking forward to having you in the Northwest. 

Joplin After The Tornado: A Photo Essay

Seattle Presbytery

by Jerry Van Marter, PNS

On May 22, a category five tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri. During 45 harrowing minutes, one-third of the city of 50,000 was destroyed, including 40 percent of its housing. From July 27-29 a delegation of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders visited Joplin to learn more about the church’s efforts to help with the relief and recovery efforts. This is what they saw. (All photos by Jerry Van Marter, except as noted.)

Click here to see the photo essay.

Are We Ready?

Seattle Presbytery

by Rev. Eliana Maxim, Associate Executive

The largest growing “minority” population in the US is Latino-Hispanic, and this includes the PC(USA). This brings unique opportunities and challenges to our existing congregations. How will our churches reflect the changing demographics?  How will we nurture the growth of all-Latino worshiping communities? And how will the church respond to the spiritual and physical needs of this community?

Over 90 PC(USA) pastors gathered in Guatemala City in mid-July for the annual PC(USA) Hispanic Pastors Seminar to discuss ministry, mission, culture and the future.

The keynote speaker was theologian Rev. Dr. Edesio Sanchez Cetina who centered his presentation on the book of Deuteronomy and urged the participants to consider the pastoral role in a deuteronomic context: prophetic, cross-generational, temporal and educational. He also called on Latino congregations to partner with families to ensure faith formation occurs in the home as well as at church, in a continuing effort to strengthen both families and the church.

Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly, also spoke to the gathering about the new form of government, conversations around the passage of amendment 10-A and missional partnerships with the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala.

It was exciting to hear about the remarkable ministry taking place across the US with so many different Latino faith communities. Significant educational ministry is being done with lay leaders, immigration activism grounded in theological truths and an awareness of the Latino community’s responsibility to “grow” the church of the future.

Latinos who were a part of the Presbyterian Church in their country are coming to the US in search of a church home. They may worship in a different language, their praise music may indeed sound very unlike what we may be accustomed to, but these sisters and brothers of are ready to stand side by side with the PC(USA) and its vision for the church in the 21st century. Will we be ready to stand along with them?

Financial situation for one-third of Presbyterian churches is at least “good” even with economic crisis

Seattle Presbytery

By Perry Chang, Research Services

Even though the income of three in five congregations has declined in the wake of the economic crisis that began in late 2007, leaders of more Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations describe their congregation’s current financial situation as “excellent” or “good” (30 percent) than as “in serious difficulty” or “in some difficulty” (24 percent).

Leaders of half of congregations say finances are “tight, but we manage.” 

Majorities of PC(USA) congregations have felt the impact of the economic crisis in the form of less money available from investments and savings accounts, less money available for mission and benevolence, more requests for cash assistance, more unemployment among church members, a staff salary reduction or a salary freeze, and challenges for capital campaigns and building programs. Few congregations, however, have delayed filling staff positions or laid off or furloughed staff as a result of the crisis.

These findings are from the spring 2010 survey of PC(USA) congregations, part of the larger Faith Communities Today 2010 survey.

Click here to read the full article.

Presbyterian Writers Guild Seeks Best New Author

Seattle Presbytery

by Jerry Van Marter, PNS

The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) is seeking entries for its annual Jim Angell Award. The award has been presented each year since 1996 to the Presbyterian author of the best first book published during the previous calendar year.

Nominations are being accepted now for the best first book by a Presbyterian author during the calendar year of 2010. Books may be of any type — fiction, non-fiction, theological, how-to, photos with commentary, poetry, etc.

The award was established by the Guild and the estate of the late James W. Angell, a prolific and respected Presbyterian writer, as a means to recognize and encourage new writers.

Entries may be submitted by the author or by others on their behalf. Three copies of the book and a brief statement attesting to the author's current active membership in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation or presbytery should be sent to the Angell Award Committee, c/o Nancy Bray, 8209 Canoe Ridge Lane, Denton, TX 76210.

Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2011.

The book needs to be the author’s first book, and has to have a publication date in 2010. Include an e-mail address if the sender wishes to be notified that the books were received. The three copies of the book can not be returned.

Questions about the Award or entry process may be directed to Guild President Bill Lancaster.

Theology Must Drive Polity, MGB Commissioners Told

Seattle Presbytery

As you know, Elders Barbara Ranta and Roger Lee are serving on the national Middle Governing Body Commission, which is discussed in the following article from the Presbyterian News Service:

by Jerry Van Marter, PNS

Institutional questions around polity and governance are secondary to questions around identity and mission, two middle governing body executives who are polity experts told the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Middle Governing Body Commission at its second meeting here Feb. 3-5.

“We have a tendency in the church to ask the question ‘How do we organize ourselves?’ first,” said the Rev. Paul Hooker, executive presbyter for St. Augustine Presbytery and a member of the Advisory Committee on the Constitution (ACC).  “And it should be last. The first question is ‘What are we called to do? he continued, “which masks an even prior question: “Who are we called to be?”

Quoting former General Assembly Stated Clerk the late James Andrews, the Rev. Daniel Saperstein, executive for Plains and Peaks Presbytery and also an ACC member, said: “Polity is the practical expression of our theology.”

Click here to read the full text of the article.

"Let's Move" 1,000 Presbyterian Congregations

Seattle Presbytery

by Andrew Kang Bartlett, PHP

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is excited to work with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative because of our commitment to ending childhood poverty, hunger, and obesity,” said Moderator of the 219th General Assembly, Elder Cynthia Bolbach. “We believe that ‘poverty in a world of abundance is an intolerable violation of God's good creation’[i] and hunger and obesity are symptoms of such poverty.  It is our responsibility as individuals, as the church and as a nation to eliminate the root causes of hunger.” 

Therefore, the PC(USA) is issuing a challenge for 1,000 congregations to participate this year in activities that will reduce the root causes of hunger and obesity in our communities.

Click here to read the full text of the article.

Belhar Confession Generating Spirited Discussion Online

Seattle Presbytery

By Paul Seebeck, GAMC

The Belhar Confession, which is being considered as an amendment to The Book of Confessions of the PC(USA), is generating a  vigorous and spirited discussion on the General Assembly Mission Council’s website.  Underneath the fully downloadable version of the confession, which was adopted by the Dutch Mission Reformed Church in South Africa in 1986, are more than 100 posts that fill nearly 50 screens.

“For six months we’ve had this sustained, challenging theological conversation—online— about the nature of the church’s unity in Christ,” says Charles Wiley, coordinator of the PC(USA)’s  office of Theology and Worship. “The call of Belhar to unity, reconciliation, and justice has people thinking about the faith, engaging each other with questions and reflecting thoughtfully.”   

Click here to read the full text of the article.

WCC explores how to adapt to changing religious world

Seattle Presbytery

By Jerry Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service

In twin plenaries Thursday (Feb. 17), the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee took a hard look at whether it can adapt quickly enough to the rapidly changing ecumenical and interreligious realities in the world. If it cannot, one delegate noted, fixation on internal governance and institutional survival may “suck the life out of the ecumenical movement.”

The two morning plenaries addressed “the changing ecclesial and ecumenical landscape” and “interreligious relations and cooperation.” Three speakers at each session led delegates into lengthy discussion.

The historical and cultural “landscape” surrounding churches is always changing, observed the Rev. David Thompson of the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom, adding, “The question is, how do we respond?”

Click here to read the full text of the article.

Presbyterian Writers Guild Seeks Best New Author

Seattle Presbytery

Jerry Van Marter, PNS

The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) is seeking entries for its annual Jim Angell Award. The award has been presented each year since 1996 to the Presbyterian author of the best first book published during the previous calendar year.

Nominations are being accepted now for the best first book by a Presbyterian author during the calendar year of 2010. Books may be of any type — fiction, non-fiction, theological, how-to, photos with commentary, poetry, etc.

The award was established by the Guild and the estate of the late James W. Angell, a prolific and respected Presbyterian writer, as a means to recognize and encourage new writers.

Entries may be submitted by the author or by others on their behalf. Three copies of the book and a brief statement attesting to the author's current active membership in a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation or presbytery should be sent to the Angell Award Committee, c/o Nancy Bray, 8209 Canoe Ridge Lane, Denton Texas 76210.

Deadline for submissions is April 1, 2011.

The book needs to be the author’s first book, and has to have a publication date in 2010. Include an e-mail address if the sender wishes to be notified that the books were received. The three copies of the book can not be returned.

Questions about the Award or entry process may be directed to Guild President Bill Lancaster.

Previous Angell Award winners (for books published in the previous year) are:

2010 — Rebecca Barnes-Davies, Louisville, Ky., 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth:  How You and Your Church Can Help Make a Difference.  Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Ky.

2009 — Linda Raymond Ellison and Bill Ellison, Louisville, Ky. Like Jacob's Well: The Very Human History of Highland Presbyterian Church (Beechmont Press).

2008 — Mary Frances Chupick Bennett, Kerrville, Texas, Invitation to Cat Spring: From European Tyranny to Freedom to Civil War (AuthorHouse).

2007 — Bud Frimoth, Portland, Ore., Bring in the Clowns: A Metaphor for Ministry (Pleasant Word, a division of Wine Press).

2006 — Laurel McKay Horton, Seneca, S.C., Mary Black's Family Quilts: Memory and Meaning in Everyday Life (University of South Carolina Press).

2005 — John H. Barden, Fulton, Mo., 'Postle Jack Tales, Gospel Images in New Appalachian Folktales (KiwE Publishing, Ltd).

2004 — Ruth Linnea Whitney, Port Townsend, Wash., Slim (Southern Methodist University Press).

2003 — Carol J. Morrison, North Bend, Wash., Catching On: Love With an Avid Fly Fisher (Freestone Press).

2002 — Gary Charles, Alexandria, Va., The Bold Alternative: Staying in Church in the 21st Century (Geneva Press, 2001).

2001 — Stephen P. McCutchan, Winston-Salem, N.C., Experiencing the Psalms: Weaving the  Psalms into Your Ministry and Faith.

2000 — James O. Chatham, Louisville, Ky., Sundays Down South: A Pastor's Stories, (University of Mississippi Press).

1999 — Cathy Cummings Chisholm, Vandalia, Ill., Landscapes of the Heart (Bridge Resources).

1998 — Duke Robinson, Oakland, Calif., Good Intentions: The Nine Unconscious Mistakes of Nice People, (Warner Books).

1997 — Bard Young, Nashville, Tenn., The Snake of God (Black Belt Press).

1996 — Shelly E. Cochran, Rochester, N.Y., The Pastor's Underground Guide to the Revised Common Lectionary (Chalice Press).

Short-term trip, long-term relationship

Seattle Presbytery

From PCUSA News & Announcements

In the past few years, short-term mission trips have gotten a bad rap, but on a recent delegation to the U.S./Mexico border, nine Presbyterians heard from those in the field who don’t immediately dismiss short missions.

The debate over how much difference such trips really make has been a constant source of discussion among missiologists — there is little hard evidence that much significant work gets accomplished because there are few physical signs of change on mission fields. Another charge is that short-term mission trips are often paternalistic and selfish.

On the other hand, Tucson Elder Michael Hyatt said, “Short-term mission trips are about learning, sharing and educating. We go to learn from and about the people and projects we are visiting and to share our gifts — ours with them and theirs with us — whatever they may be, and then to educate the people in the churches back home, which is also sharing.”

Continue reading here.

Christmas Letter From PCUSA Stated Clerk

Seattle Presbytery

From Rev. Grayde Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA):

Advent 2010

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Angels, announce with shouts of mirth Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley hum
ming with the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today: Love the
Lord is on the way. (Presbyterian Hymnal #12)

People, look east: Once more, dawn is about to break upon us in the birth of the Messiah. Once more, God-with-us is about to be born in our hearts, illuminating our lives and this world with the brilliant warmth of God’s peace, justice, and hope. Love the Lord is on the way.

Eleanor Farjeon, a British children’s author who penned the Advent hymn, “People, Look East,” as well as “Morning Has Broken,” had to have been a morning person. I imagined her skipping her way down a garden path on a sunlit morning – until I read more about her life.

Farjeon was a shy, home-schooled child in poor health with poor eyesight who spent the majority of her days in an attic stacked with books. Apparently, her infirmities did not dampen what had to be a resilient spirit, even in the midst of the cold, harsh reality of winter: “Birds, though you long have ceased to build, guard the nest that must be filled. Even the hour when wings are frozen God for fledging time has chosen.”

This year’s Advent and Christmas seasons are accompanied by the cold, harsh reality of winter – literally and figuratively. A poor economy and lean job market, growing numbers of homeless and hungry families, the continuation of wars, a rising number of suicides, threats of terror, and more.

Perhaps we, too, retreat up to the attic. There, we rummage around and find treasures, among them the carefully packed nativity set that has been passed down for generations – generations that have seen ups and downs, comings and goings, springs and winters.

Once more, we will position that resilient crèche in a prominent place. Once more, it will remind us of a miraculous story: An angel of the Lord tells Joseph, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matt. 1:23).

People, look east: Once more, Love the Lord is on the way!

The peace of the Christ child be with you and yours.

Participants sought for new hymnal survey

Seattle Presbytery

The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) is seeking participants in a new survey as part of research for the forthcoming Presbyterian hymnal. The survey will assess the use of electronic hymnal resources, the interest level in electronic hymnals or worship planners, and the preferred types of electronic resources. This feedback will help determine the kinds of electronic components that will accompany the new hymnal, currently slated for release in 2013.  

The survey consists of twenty-three questions, and should take no more than ten minutes to complete. Those interested in participating can access the survey here.

More information about the Presbyterian hymnal project along with regular progress reports can be found at www.presbyterianhymnal.org. You can also join the  PCOCS's Facebook community.

Help Children Advocate with Kids4Kids

Seattle Presbytery

A new website, www.presbykids4kids.org, helps children ages 8 to 11 find information about children around the world and learn ways to advocate and act on behalf of other children. Created by the PC(USA) Office of Child Advocacy, Kids 4 Kids includes stories, activities, suggestions for mission involvement, and practical tools to help children develop the skills they need to make a difference. Kids 4 Kids is organized around four themes: "Kids Have a Right to Be Healthy," "Kids Have a Right to Be Safe," "Kids Have a Right to Be Kids," and "Kids Have a Right to Be Heard."