Monday Morning Update

You see, then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God, and not by our faith alone.

James 2:24

A friend of mine who teaches at Yale Divinity School said, “Joy is a work of resistance against despair. This work involves more than feeling an emotion.”  Within San Gabriel Presbytery I see lots of places and ways we are involved in this type of work.  I want to highlight just a few joyful opportunities that are coming up.

If you are concerned about or feel despair about the health and well-being of people near and far, we have a few connections for you to plug into coming right up. 

Our Living Waters for the World team is bringing clean water to various communities in Peru, which equates to better health and less worry for families.  This is an extremely joy-filled ministry of our presbytery and you are welcome to join the team!  To learn more about the current reality and work in Peru we are blessed to have coming to our presbytery mission co-workers Sara Armstrong and Rusty Edmondson from Nov. 9-13.  They will share with us at the Presbytery Meeting on Nov. 10, but they will also be speaking at a number of churches within the presbytery.  For more information or to schedule time with Sara and Rusty contact Rev. Cyndie Crowell at cwcrowell1001@gmail.com.

Connecting with organizations working to better the health and well-being of people nearer to home is something many of our churches are doing pretty well.  We have the opportunity to support one such organization at the Nov. Presbytery Meeting.  Inland Valley Hope Partners (IVHP) will be the recipient of the special offering collected at that meeting.  IVHP is addressing homelessness and hunger issues by offering food security programs, housing programs, and healthy living programs to those in need in conjunction with local faith communities, businesses, individuals, and groups.  Joyfully I am able to report that we have a few churches directly involved with the work of IVHP.  More church partners are always welcome.

If you are concerned about or feel despair about the treatment and/or situation of immigrants, here are some ways that might help you work your way out of that place.

At the November Presbytery Meeting everyone will have the opportunity to write a message of support to unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.  We will have postcards available on a table so you can express to kids who are waiting for their day in court that they are in your thoughts and prayers.  The cards will be distributed at various locations around Los Angeles through organizations working with unaccompanied minors.

On Nov. 17 Puente de Esperanza Presbyterian Church is holding an immigration workshop.  In conjunction with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and other organizations they will offer free consultations with immigration lawyers and a Know Your Rights informational session.  CLUE is always looking for churches who can host immigration workshops for immigrants in our neighborhoods.  Might your church be willing to provide this service in the future to our immigrant brothers and sisters?  If so, let me know at gist.wendy@gmail.com.

If you are concerned about or feel despair about the lack of peace in our world, there’s a conference coming up in a few months that you should attend.

“Peace-ing It Together” will be held on Feb. 23, 2019 at Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena.  This one-day conference will explore various topics of violence and peace and offer specific ideas for peacemaking activities for churches and communities.  Featured speakers will include Sara Lisherness and Rev. Denise Anderson from the Presbyterian Mission Agency and Rev. Emily Brewer from Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.  For more information contact me at gist.wendy@gmail.com.

There are a number of situations that I despair over in the world today, but taking steps to counter those things which bring me down helps not only me, but the situation itself.  I pray that we all find work that brings us joy and also makes this world more like the kingdom of God on Earth.

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual Gifts

We all have been graced with spiritual gifts. We may not know what they are, but they are part of us and come through whether identified or not. The fact that there are a “great variety of spiritual gifts” is evident when working with groups going to Peru. I am always thankful for the variety of gifts and gift combinations amongst us because it means that everyone on a trip contributes in a unique way to the group and that is what makes us truly a team. My gifts of Administration, Leadership, and Pastor/Shepherd help me to plan, coordinate, and lead the trips in conjunction with others, which is one of my roles on these adventures. All of us drawn to these trips have to some degree the gift of Service. We feel called to serve in love to help bring about the improvement of communities near and far.

Back in 2009 when San Gabriel Presbytery (SGP) sent its first group of people to get trained for the Living Waters for the World (LWW) ministry work we had no idea where that training would take us. Since 2010 when we first traveled to Peru we’ve had a good number of people beyond that initial group participate in trips to build relationships with Peruvian brothers and sisters, to help install water purification systems, and to lead health and spiritual education. It’s been a rich and enriching experience for everyone.

In the eight years we’ve been traveling to Peru we have become covenant relationship partners with seven different communities in Peru. Six water systems have been installed to date in churches, community centers, and a school. A seventh system is going to be installed at a school in Lima this May.

Do you feel called to serve in love to help improve communities near and far? Might you want to use your gift of Service and the others you have been given on a trip to Peru with the SGP LWW team? We can use people with all kinds of spiritual gift combinations and would love to have you join us this May when we install a water purification system at the school in Lima.

The trip dates are May 24 – June 2, 2018. If you want more information contact Rev. Cyndie Crowell or Wendy Gist as soon as possible.

Overcoming Adversity

Overcoming Adversity

Guest Author: Wendy Gist.

If I had been asked to write this column a week ago, the Bible verses I selected for this week’s column would not have been my chosen verses. I was far from a “Praise the Lord!” place. I was not thanking God. Instead I was stressed out and frustrated and not thinking happy thoughts.

There had been a fairly major setback on one of the projects I was working on and I wasn’t getting information from others that I needed to make my way forward clear. So, the setback lingered and the feeling of frustration festered. After days of waiting and stress building, my shoulders and neck were tight with tension. It was only then at this very low point that I finally remembered to take my burden to God in prayer and not try to get through this on my own. So, pray I did. It was after praying that I received an idea of one possible way to resolve this issue that actually excited me.

As we’ve all heard before, God sometimes works in mysterious ways. Let’s move back in time about a month. I’m sure you all remember our June 17th Presbytery meeting and Day of Service. I signed up to serve at Door of Hope in Pasadena along with a number of others, including a group of Tapestry kids and their leaders. We met there, took a tour while hearing about what Door of Hope does, and then started work on the available tasks. I knew a couple of the people who signed up to work alongside me, but mostly these were new folks for me. During lunch I made a point of sitting with a group I didn’t know and chatting awhile with one person in particular. Overall, it was a very good service day experience, enhanced by those I worked and talked with.

Now let’s fast forward back to a few days ago after praying to God to bring resolution to this problem I was experiencing. It was after that that I remembered the person I chatted with during lunch on our Presbytery Day of Service and the very positive impression she left on me. I reached out to her via email with a subject line that said “An urgent, but crazy question.” She responded that same day in a way that gave me immediate hope and relieved much of the stress I was feeling. One day later, a happy and exciting resolution emerged, and my problem and stress faded away.

Do I think God was in this? Absolutely! Was God just waiting for me to settle down enough and humble myself enough to reach out in prayer? Absolutely! Am I now praising the Lord and thanking God with all my heart? Absolutely! Will I remember to reach out to God sooner next time? I sure hope so.

God always remembers us – is always there for us and with us. We are the ones who have to remember to include God instead of trying to go it alone.

Wendy Gist
Mission Advocate