But now thus says the Lord,
the One who created you, O Jacob,
the One who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
So the good news is that the Commission of Assembly of the Synod met last Saturday, and approved several grants to support the ministry of San Gabriel Presbytery:
- Interwoven New Worshiping Community was granted $25,000 for its second year of
- A New Worshiping Community in Temple City, with Andrew Ritiau as its organizing pastor, was granted $28,000. Andrew officially began his tenure with this effort on October 1.
- The Hispanic/Latina Women of the Synod received a grant for $7,500 to help with travel costs to the 10th biannual gathering of Mujeres Hispanas/Latinas Presbiterianas, PC(USA), to be held in Orlando, Florida. This is in addition to $1,800 of scholarships provided by our own Education, Equipping and Empowerment Revs. Margarita Reyes and Amy Mendez are leaders in this effort, and Puente de Esperanza will be administering the scholarships and travel grants.
At the Commission of Assembly meeting, it was asked whether the meeting would still be held, as Florida is recovering from Hurricane Ian. Over a delicious Korean banquet following the installation of Rev. Dr. Kyungmo Koo as pastor of Divine Light Presbyterian Church yesterday, Amy Mendez confirmed that the meeting will be happening.
Dr. Koo’s installation was a beautiful and joyous occasion, with participants from our presbytery, the synod, and KPCA (Korean Presbyterian Church Abroad), where Dr. Koo had standing and with whose local seminary he has been a professor. KPCA is the closest Korean-speaking denomination to the PC(USA), and in fact many of our pastors have come from the KPCA.
One of those pastors is Rev. Mark Hong, our Synod Executive and Stated Clerk. His entry into the PC(USA) came through San Gabriel Presbytery, when he started as an associate pastor with Korean Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in 1996. Mark continues to be an incredible friend to this presbytery. Sunday afternoon he preached for Dr. Koo’s installation service, but in the morning he preached for Filipino Community United Presbyterian Church in Azusa, who now has an open pulpit since their pastor Rollie Baybay has retired and moved back to the Philippines. Thank God for Mark!
And thank God for the connectional nature of the PC(USA). Not only are we able to celebrate and support each other’s ministries, and share leadership and resources, and connect with sister denominations, our awareness of the larger world is deepened through our fellow siblings in Christ.
So we can offer financial support to the people whose world was flooded by Hurricane Ian in Florida by going to https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/hurricane-ian/. As you may know, in times of tragedy, we look to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) for direct help, guidance, and coordination, and they ask us to Give, Act, and Pray. The https://pda.pcusa.org/ website has resources for this, including prayers and hymns, for many different crises around the world.
The PDA staff and advisory board were in Southern California two weeks ago, to learn more about the various immigrant ministries of our local presbyteries. During a break, I spoke to PDA staff member Edwin Gonzalez-Castillo about Puerto Rico, which had just been hit by Hurricane Fiona on September 18. He said that the people were terrified of the loss of power because exactly 5 years prior, Hurricane Maria struck, and some people did not get power back for 11 months. You can help Puerto Rico recover from Fiona at https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/hurricane-fiona/.
With our own troubles in North America, it is easy to miss the enormous tragedy in Pakistan. In this monsoon season alone, it has been reported that 1,678 people have died and almost 550,000 people are now living in temporary camps because of the floods that covered 10% of the land mass of the country. Pakistan is vulnerable to floods for many reasons, including poverty, poor governance, overcrowding, and its location on the Indian Ocean (which is warming at a faster pace than other oceans) that includes several of the world’s highest mountains and 7,000 glaciers (the most in the world outside of the polar regions)—and some of those glaciers are melting due to global warming. You can help Pakistan by going to https://pda.pcusa.org/situation/pakistan-flooding/.
It is difficult to imagine how to have hope in the midst of so many catastrophes. But we are a people of hope, because Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise that God will be with us, protecting us, calling us by name, claiming and redeeming us, even in the face of flood and fire. As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, we are also a people of resources, and God has entrusted much to us.
May we demonstrate our faith of God’s provision through our wise and compassionate stewardship, answering the call to be agents of God’s redeeming love for this hurting world. May we share with others, trusting that God will care for us.
In hope and action,