[E]ndurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Yesterday, an elder who had just finished leading in worship told me that she woke up that morning with joy in her heart! While I’m not a morning person, as the weekend wound down, I realized that the whole weekend was a time of joy.
It didn’t necessarily start out that way. As we were finalizing details for Saturday, our first almost-fully in-person Presbytery meeting since January 2020, Ally texted me to let me know COVID had hit her house. We made some last-minute adjustments, but we were able to hold the meeting, which was planned to have very few viewers on Zoom, with no Zoom-based presenters, to a meeting with three presenters via Zoom, and with new and borrowed audio equipment! This was possible due especially
to Ally and Amy Mendez being well-organized, a very helpful and resourceful staff, and Andrew Ritiau coming to his first in-person Presbytery meeting early enough to help us with the audio (among many skills, Andrew knows sound systems, and actually had worked on the same board at Arcadia). And thanks for everyone’s patience, as we set up the system. God does provide, and this weekend I was especially appreciative of how God provides though God’s people!
That was the highlight of the Presbytery meeting, in my mind. We received Rev. Dr. Kate Wiebe from Santa Barbara Presbytery, and approved the ordination of Harlan Redmond. We approved two celebrations of ministry coming up soon:
- Dr. Erik Wiebe (who happens to be Kate’s husband) will be installed as Associate Pastor for Adult Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Care at San Marino Community Church on November 20, 2022, at 10 am.
- Harlan Redmond will be ordained as Organizing Pastor of Interwoven on December 18, 2022, at 4 pm. We announced that the service would be at La Cañada Presbyterian Church, where Interwoven usually worships, but it’s quite possible that the service will be at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena. We’ll send out an invitation once this is confirmed.
Bong Bringas reported on behalf of the Committee on Representation and Nominations. He pointed out that while we enjoy the diversity of our leadership, including our COM that speaks 6 languages (he corrected the report to state that COM spoke 7!), we have not done as well in receiving younger members into leadership. For myself, I’ve become more aware of the limits of my perspective in seeing young people in our churches. More on that later. But he also presented an excellent slate of leaders elected for 2023, and we gave thanks to those who have completed their terms. We are blessed with almost 100 volunteers who are elected to leadership in the Presbytery.
We were also blessed with the partnership of the larger church. We were greatly inspired by the sharing of Bridget Meckley, Director of Formation & Mission at Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church in San Diego Presbytery. With great humility, she recounted their decision to convert two of their rooms to provide shelter for Haitian refugee families. This was especially helpful for us, because as we re- visioned our Immigrant Accompaniment Ministry, we have thought about focusing some of our attention to asylum seekers awaiting entry into the US in Tijuana, possibly with extra care for Haitians.
In my annual report, I was able to recognize our most excellent staff, and also mentioned that we are receiving applications for the Immigrant Accompaniment Organizer position now, thanks to the grant from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. If you are interested in applying, you can send a resume to me by December 1 at email@example.com.
Rev. Amy Mendez, as host pastor, shared the good news by speaking about the partnership of the Community Presbyterian Fellowship at West Covina, the Presbytery, International Theological Seminary (ITS) as it celebrates their 40th anniversary, Shining Light Ministries (who lent us their sound equipment and internet connection), and Iglesia de Jesucristo La Nueva Senda. She also mentioned the national meeting of Hispanic/Latina Presbyterian Women in Orlando, Florida; 14 women from San Gabriel Presbytery attended this joyous reunion, thanks to the grants from San Gabriel Presbytery and the Synod of Southern California and Hawai‘i. Amy and Rev. Dr. James Lee, a member of our Presbytery and the President of ITS, served communion for the Presbytery. And many thanks go to the dedicated members of Community Presbyterian Fellowship for being our most hospitable hosts.
The Presbytery did even more on Saturday morning, including:
- Approved the 2023 budget, and set the 2023 apportionment at $70/member, returning to the 2020 level
- Affirmed 9 of 33 proposed amendments to the Book of Order
- Announced the next WinterFest for February 1-4, 2023, with the theme The Past is Prologue for a Reimagined Church
- Remembered the Christmas Joy Special Offering, 27-Dec. 18. This offering is shared equally by the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions, and Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color
- Heard about our new Benefits Policy and updated documents for CPM
- Shopped with plants and crafts from our recent SDOP recipient, Planta Colectivo, as well as our own Puente de Esperanza and others from Refugee Children’s Center.
Immediately after the Presbytery meeting, many of us went to give thanks for the life of Rev. Doug Edwards, long-time member of San Gabriel Presbytery. Several hundred people attended the memorial service at PPC and/or the reception at Westminster Gardens, sharing many memories of Doug’s friendship and faith, even in the last year as he dealt with brain cancer. The event was also a family reunion of sorts, bringing together friends from Westminster Presbyterian, Temple City, Trinity Presbyterian, PPC, Westminster Gardens, and the larger community. I was able to catch up with one of my first mentors in ministry, the newly-retired Rev. Dr. Frank Alton, who was a good friend of Doug’s.
On Saturday, I got to touch base with Northminster Presbyterian Church, Filipino Community United in Azusa, and Interwoven, and I saw three churches who are looking forward with eager anticipation for God’s good plans for their future. And I saw people of every generation, from beloved seniors who have labored long and very well, to young adult elders in their 30s and 40s, to young adults new to the Presbyterian Church through Interwoven, where I sat behind one baby not yet one year old, and down the row from another not yet 4 months old. We are in ministry with all generations, if we have eyes to see and paths to enter into leadership.
As Amy shared, we can move from hope to hope, especially with companions on the journey. And as Elder Yvonne Harmon shared, we can wake up with joy in our hearts, thanks to the goodness of God.
With gratitude for our shared ministry,