Giving Thanks

by | Nov 23, 2020

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

Psalm 111:1

Something about these strange days that makes every day feel like forever. It was only last Tuesday that we had our last presbytery meeting for 2020, and we actually got a lot of work done. As difficult as this year has been, we have much to be thankful for.

Offering: The offering for this Presbytery meeting went to support the Food Pantry of Iglesia de la Comunidad in Highland Park. You can still give online at—make sure you direct it “to Presbytery Offering” and we’ll send it to them. We also were sad to share that IDLC’s pastor Roberto Ramirez had to go to Puerto Rico, as his mother had just passed on to glory. We pray for Roberto and all who are mourning loved ones this holiday season.

Necrology: Ally Lee put together a beautiful and moving tribute to our loved ones who have passed away since our November 2019 Presbytery meeting.  One way Ally and I realized how long this year has been was the inclusion of former Presbytery staff member and Northminster pastor, Jake Kim, who died on December 22, 2019, of an aortic aneurysm. We have lost several minister members, church leaders, former minister members, and pastor spouses this year. We give thanks for their presence in our lives, and for the reassurance of life everlasting.

Farewell to Twila: Twila French is retiring at the end of this month, after 19 years of commitment to the Presbytery’s ministry. (If you want to send her a greeting, her email is We thanked her for her dedication, skills, compassion, and friendship. We will miss you, Twila!

We are so thankful for you, and ask God to give you a retirement full of love and joy and health and fun, in your new home in Arizona.

Baldwin Park AC: This Administrative Commission lost their chair, Bear Ride, and gained two new members, RE Tom McGuinness (Knox) and TE Dave Tomlinson, and a new staff support person, Wendy Gist. RE Melinda Forbes is the new chair. We are excited about the prospects of converting this beloved church’s property into affordable housing. What a great testament to this church’s love for the community all their years.

San Marino Community Church: The Presbytery approved the planned transition for San Marino Community Church’s pastoral leadership. Jessica Vaughan Lower has been called to be co-pastor/co- head of staff, with Jeff O’Grady, effective immediately, with Jessica continuing as sole head of staff when Jeff retires in spring of 2021. Thank God for smooth transitions to a new, gifted generation of leadership!

Welcome: Even as we gave thanks for our friends who are leaving this earthly plane (or leaving us in retirement), we were happy to welcome new friends, including new church planter Sam Bang (Rowland Heights Presbyterian Fellowship), Keith and Zulima Clark-Hoyos (bookkeepers), Ashley Roque (CPM Inquirer from Calvary South Pasadena), and Kristin Leucht (Board of Pensions, or 267-815-1329).

Mental Health Resources: Kristin Leucht reminds us that there is a toll-free, 24/7 help line staffed by licensed clinicians for anyone needing support at 866-912-1687. And Board of Pensions Medical Plan members can get six free confidential sessions (per incident) with a licensed clinician through the Employee Assistance Program; call 866-640-2772 toll-free, 24/7.

Personnel: The Presbytery approved a shift in the structure for Stated Clerk, as Diane Frasher leaves the position effective March 1, 2021. We will seek a Stated Clerk for Judicial Process who will manage any judicial cases that may arise; this will be an on-call position and we will begin to receive applications for the position soon. In early 2021, Ally Lee will be presented for election as Stated Clerk for Administration; she will be responsible for all other Clerk responsibilities. Thank God for such gifted, faithful, dedicated leaders among us, especially Diane, who continues as chaplain for Monte Vista Grove.

Budget: The 2021 budget was approved. This budget reflects some estimates on the continuing financial impact of COVID-19, including some usage of funds from the Alhambra True Light dismissal to cover for expected reductions in shared mission giving and facilities use income. The per-member Apportionment for 2021 was approved at $58, though churches who can afford to give more are humbly asked to do so. Giving reports for year-to-date 2020 and the 2021 apportionment will go out soon.

COVID-19 financials: Thanks to all who continued to give during this difficult year. The generous support of churches, Synod, ministry partners, and saints from earlier generations enabled the Presbytery to give almost $300,000 in aid to our churches in 2020.

Election of officers: We elected a fairly full slate of Presbytery leaders. We are especially thankful for the service of Roberto Ramirez as he completes his term as Presbytery Executive Commission Moderator, new PEC Moderator Karen Sapio, new Presbytery Moderator Deborah Owens, and new Presbytery Vice Moderator Dave Tomlinson. Martha and Twine Campbell, Deborah’s pastors at Westminster Pasadena, gave thanks for her leadership as they celebrated communion with us.

WinterFest: We look forward to our annual training event, to be held February 1-6, 2021. We are taking advantage of the surprise benefits of Zoom technology by holding workshops each night (to be recorded for future reference), with a plenary worship and session the morning of February 6, led by former General Assembly Moderator and all-around great and innovative guy Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow.

Justice Peacemaking and Mission: Two highlights from JPM included a new process for maintaining and updating the list of Mission Partners and Related Agencies, and we celebrated the first SDOP (Self- Development of People) Grant of $4,000 to Cooperative of Refugee People (COOPERE), a group of individuals in San Fernando Valley producing succulent gardens, other gift items, and tamales. Our SDOP Committee is shared with San Fernando Presbytery, and we are thankful to support this project which helps community members improve their economic stability through their own initiative.

As you see, we do have much to be thankful for, even as we acknowledge the great challenges we faced and survived this year. We give thanks to God for sustaining and protecting us, for providing resources that we can use wisely, for leaders who provide creative and Spirit-filled service, and for the opportunity to worship and meet together virtually as God’s beloved people.

And thanks to you for your continued presence and commitment to this body of Christ for San Gabriel Valley! May God continue to bless you and keep you healthy and warm this Thanksgiving week.

With gratitude,