Wildfires – Thousand Oaks Shooting

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.

– Psalm 34:18

The mass shooting in Thousand Oaks at Borderline Bar and the devastating Woolsey and Camp fires have traumatized and effected many in California. Undoubtedly, the churches of San Gabriel Presbytery are praying for those who lost family and friends, and for the safety and work of first responders and organizations responding to these tragedies. Lord, hear our prayers!

If your congregation would like to directly get involved with supporting the relief and recovery efforts for those affected by the various fires, please consider giving to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (http://pda.pcusa.org/situation/california-fires/). From my personal experience working with the PDA in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita/Katrina, I can attest that the work of the PDA is highly regarded by government and other disaster response agencies. Various governmental agencies have made public requests that people consider making financial donations at this stage to relief assistance agencies like the PDA or American Red Cross.

The following are updates that I have curated from various websites and individuals familiar with the churches and presbyteries of Sacramento, Pacific, San Fernando, and Santa Barbara, that had churches with members who lost homes in the fires, or had members directly affected by the Borderline shooting.

The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) already deployed four members of their National Response Team to the Presbyteries of the Pacific and San Fernando to be embedded into the American Red Cross shelters in Pacific Palisades and San Fernando Valley (at A.R.C.’s request) to serve as Disaster Spiritual Care Providers.  PDA has already released $7,500 in grants to the Presbytery of Sacramento to assist in the Paradise Fire recovery efforts. (PDA Website & Presbyterian Outlook)

Local fire fighting and governmental agencies are asking people not to donate goods for the relief effort but to donate funds to agencies that are directly providing services to those affected by the wildfires in California. They currently are receiving items that they cannot use and have become a burden. The homes of three families that were destroyed by fire are members of two PC(USA) churches in Westlake Village. Some of the graduates of the youth group from one of the Westlake Village churches were at the Borderline Bar & Grill at the time of shooting. (San Fernando Presbytery)

At this early stage of the disaster response, donating to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is probably our best option. Let us continue to pray for the families and churches directly affected by the shooting and fires. Once the fires are put out, and rebuilding begins in earnest, the Presbytery of San Gabriel will let our churches know of other requests for assistance from our sister presbyteries/churches.

In Prayer,

Rev. Jake Kim
Associate for Ministry Development

 

Growing Younger

Growing Younger

Guest Author: Jake Kim.

How can churches grow younger? The book “Growing Young,” written by the Fuller Youth Institute, looks at various strategies to help develop meaningful youth and young adult ministries. Their work is based on research from over 250 churches of all sizes, denominations, and theological backgrounds who were identified as “growing younger” by effectively engaging young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years of age.

The three top traits of congregations that are growing younger are that they:

1) Empathize with today’s young people
2) Take Jesus’ message seriously
3) Fuel a warm community.

If you are interested in learning more about these findings and strategies, I would encourage you to visit www.churchesgrowingyoung.org .

The good news is that congregations are adapting and developing meaningful youth and young adult ministries, and these efforts are not just attracting youth but also helping entire congregations to thrive. I invite San Gabriel Presbytery pastors and Sessions to consider: How warm is your community? How clearly do your ministries show that you take the gospel seriously? To what extent are you able to empathize with young people? Thoughtful self-reflection around these key traits is a useful exercise for any congregation and just might help you begin to “grow younger.”

As Associate for Ministry Development for San Gabriel Presbytery, I am the resource person for SGP’s Education Committee. One of our mandates is to liaise and support the Tapestry Youth Collective of San Gabriel Presbytery, which equips and encourages collaborative youth ministry activities and mission projects between our churches. Sophia Alecci is the new moderator of Tapestry and also works as the Director of Student Ministries at San Marino Community Church (See her article below). Sophia would love to be a resource for San Gabriel churches looking for ideas to develop youth ministries. Please feel free to contact Sophia at (206) 327-7875 or salecci@smccpby.com or myself, Rev. Jake Kim, at 626-487-1511 or jakekim@sangabpres.org .

In Christ’s Service,

Jake Kim
Associate for Ministry Development -SGP Education Committee Resource Person

 

Message from SGP Tapestry Youth Collective Moderator – Sophia Alecci

When I was a student in the church, I had mentors that were invested in my growth. They supported me, challenged me, and just hung out with me. Students are the future of the church, and the church needs to be a community that welcomes our youth in! The church should be a space that fosters important dialogue with our students, and creates spaces that students can both laugh and cry in. When attendance is dwindling a church is cutting budgets, too often it is the student ministries that is the first to go. If we want the church to continue to grow, we must invest into our young people!

Sophia Alecci
Moderator of SGP Tapestry Youth Collective