“Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
I am writing this from beautiful Zephyr Point, the conference center on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, co-owned by the Synod of the Pacific and Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. This is my second weekend in a row here—last weekend several of us came to participate in a consultation to Presbyterian World Mission about the future of their work. This weekend I am a leader in the Mentoring Conference for Leaders of Color. When I completed my term on the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, I told Rhashell Hunter, Director of Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries, that the one thing I would commit to is help encourage leaders of color in the PC(USA).
As it turns out, we in San Gabriel Presbytery can be proud of our leadership development efforts. We are known for our racial and ethnic diversity, but others have noted how many young leaders we have in the Presbytery. When I came to San Gabriel, I was told that the practice is that at any given time, the three Presbytery leaders (Moderator, Vice Moderator, and Moderator of the PEC) would include at least one person of color, women and men, ruling elder and teaching elder. We have been able to maintain this, though we have to work a bit harder to ensure we have proper ruling elder representation. Our installation and ordination commissions also hold to these patterns.
In many ways, we have become a witness to what the PC(USA) hopes to be: diverse in age, ethnicity, perspective, and church size, active partners in ministry, wise stewards of our assets, and welcoming to the community around us. On a regular basis, I have shared stories of our presbytery with others who are new to welcoming immigrant churches, or partnering with other presbyteries and organizations such as International Theological Seminary (see the article on our partnership in the recent “Presbyterian Outlook”).
At the World Mission consult, several of us (including Magdy Girgis and James and Charlene Jin Lee from our Presbytery) shared our different experiences in mission around the world, but we also pointed out how many people from around the world are now in our presbyteries. For us, we have personal connections with several countries through our members—so when we help rebuild a church devastated in a Mexico earthquake or support a mission trip to the Philippines or help buy food for a ministry with the homeless in Eagle Rock, it’s not just charity to strangers, it’s family. So yes, while we continue to support our partnerships in Peru and around the world, we can celebrate that the world has also come to us—and we are found to be welcoming to Christ who greets us in the stranger, the hungry, the naked, the imprisoned.
I am happy to share that two of our recent initiatives have been given the green light. ITS has been granted a Conditional Use Permit to operate the seminary on the West Covina campus, so they should be moving on campus in mid-June. And when I sent a draft grant request to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, to partner with Presbytery of the Pacific in funding an organizer to support and encourage churches and individuals to offer various forms of hospitality to families seeking asylum from violence in Central America, they responded by approving the grant!
So at our June 8th Presbytery meeting, we will celebrate both these initiatives:
- We will hear about ITS and their innovative mission, and we will paint some rooms and do some yard work as we get ready to welcome them to West Covina, and
- We will greet Kristi Van Nostran, former mission coworker in El Salvador and the new organizer for welcoming the refugee families, and we will hold another gift card drive to help with much-needed supplies, and write notes of encouragement for the families who are under these trying circumstances. We will also put together school kits that PDA gives to kids who have been displaced by disaster.
In addition, we will welcome Rev. Ming Hsu, who has been called to be the new pastor for Good Shepherd Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Monterey Park, and we will pray with Grace Presbyterian in Highland Park, as they honor their ministry which will be disbanded this summer.
You can find a flyer about our June 8th Day of Service by clicking here. We also have it on our website, and will send it out separately so it can be forwarded more easily. Just remember:
- 9 am Presbytery meeting and 10 am work projects, so bring clothes for painting, gardening, or packing school kits or hearing about Kristi’s ministry
- We will collect $5 and $10 gift cards for our offering in worship, and see the flyer for the kind of supplies needed for the school kits.
As the PC(USA) seeks to respond to Jesus’ call to generosity and care through the Matthew 25 movement, may we share the good news we have found in welcoming Christ into our midst,