Giving Thanks for this Presbytery

by | Nov 20, 2023

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
    none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.

Psalm 40:5

This last Saturday was a wonderful day for San Gabriel Presbytery. A few of our retired pastors, who have been to more presbytery meetings than anyone can count, were kind enough to share with me how gratified they were by the meeting. We definitely felt the power of the Holy Spirit moving through us as we considered several milestones and decisions for the future.

This was one of the only in-person meetings we have held since COVID, and the hospitality was wonderful. Praise Community Church, whose pastor is our incoming moderator, Rev. Dr. Peter Tan- Gatue, provided a welcoming and well-planned venue for the meeting, in partnership with GKI LA, who also worships at this site, and who offered some of the lunch, assisted with the meeting, and sang beautifully in worship. This was an important year for both churches, as Praise celebrated their 75th anniversary, and GKI LA celebrated their 10th anniversary and were requesting to be chartered as a member congregation of San Gabriel Presbytery. Their enthusiasm was infectious; even a small thing like the practice of clapping after every report was an encouragement as we addressed many different business items through the morning.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and we make an effort to honor the people who have lived in and cared for this land for so many centuries. This year was special, because we have renewed our connections with and advocacy for the Gabrieleno/Tongva San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians, largely thanks to the leadership of RE Mona Morales Recalde, elder at La Verne Heights Presbyterian Church, enrolled member of the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribe, and elected commissioner of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission. Mona opened the meeting with a land acknowledgement and prayer, and explained the importance of land acknowledgements. She also shared the enduring relationship between tribe and presbytery; the tribal headquarters is at La Casa de San Gabriel community center, a ministry of the Presbytery.

Our November meeting is always busy, because we take care of several annual actions each November (all these items except my report were included in the Presbytery packet):

  • We approved the 2024 budget, and kept the apportionment at $70/member.
  • We elected leaders for the new year, and thanked those whose terms have We look forward to the leadership of incoming Moderator Peter Tan-Gatue and RE Helen Darsie, who was elected Vice Moderator, as RE Pat Martinez-Miller now chairs the Executive Commission and TE Dave Tomlinson completes his moderator track.
  • We also elected RE Melinda Forbes and TE Deidra Goulding to be commissioners to the 2024 General Assembly in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • I gave my annual report to the Presbytery. the I am attaching it HERE in case you are interested
  • We presented the meeting schedule for 2024
  • We look ahead to WinterFest, which is held in conjunction with the first meeting of the new

    WinterFest 2024 will be held with Zoom sessions Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 7-9 pm, and an in- person plenary session at Northminster Presbyterian in Diamond Bar on Saturday, Feb. 3, 10 am-noon with lunch following. The plenary speaker is Dr. Tracey Shenell, who will focus on Growing as the Beloved Community. The weeknight Zoom sessions include:

    • a panel of new pastoral leaders and their vision of ministry for their generation,
    • Mona Morales Recalde will discuss the Gabrieleno/Tongva people and their care of creation,
    • training on responding to our unhoused neighbors who come onto our church campuses, and
    • skills training for leaders on financial management and legal

    One of the topics that the new pastoral leaders will touch on is social enterprise, and there is an incentive for churches to send intergenerational teams to WinterFest 2024—and five such church teams will each receive a $100 gift certificate for Homeboy Industries, to be used for food or merchandise through their website, or better yet for a visit to their campus in Downtown Los Angeles. Homeboy Industries is one of the best-known social enterprise ministries in our area, offering training and job opportunities for people coming out of gangs and incarceration, led by Jesuit priest Father Gregory Boyle.

    In addition, several very important decisions and commitments were made on Saturday:

    • The Presbytery commissioned RE Jorge Gomez and RE Rosario Orosco to provide pastoral services to Iglesia Presbiteriana Emmanuel in Claremont.
    • The Presbytery affirmed a six-month pastoral leadership team for Filipino Community Presbyterian Church in Azusa, with TE Bear Ride and Tracey Shenell.
    • The Presbytery received TE Deetje Tiwa, who is acting as interim pastor for GPIB-USA in Claremont. Dr. Tiwa’s leadership with the National Indonesian Presbyterian Council will help GPIB-USA to discern their relationship with the PC(USA), and San Gabriel Presbytery.
    • The Presbytery voted to authorize the chartering of GKI LA, who will be the first Indonesian member congregation of San Gabriel TE Pipi Dhali, who is a minister member of the Presbytery already, is pastor of this very gifted and committed fellowship, and the leaders worked hard with the Presbytery to come into alignment with the PC(USA) Constitution, as reported by team leader TE Ann Oglesby-Edwards.
    • The Presbytery approved the recommendations from the Eagle Rock Presbyterian Church Administrative Commission, expanding the AC membership and its commission to three parts:
      • Continuing care for the existing Eagle Rock congregation, with help from Deidra Goulding, who was hired to provide pastoral care and manage day-to-day property issues
      • Oversight of a major renovation of the property, which will be funded by the Presbytery and a capital campaign
      • Coordinating with the leadership of Interwoven, who will move to Eagle Rock and utilize the renovated campus as their home base for their multi-faceted ministry, including worship, a preschool, and a social enterprise employing young people in the

    This ambitious commitment was supported by the Executive Commission and COM, and may utilize the proceeds from the sale of the St. Andrew’s church property ($1.7M).

    • Justice Peacemaking and Mission awarded grants of $34,000 to CaliCenter, a multi-faceted community program at Puente de Esperanza in La Puente, and $15,000 to the Free Choice Food Pantry at Community Presbyterian Church in El Monte.

    Finally, the Presbytery showed your extraordinary generosity again by giving gift cards which the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribe will use to assist any Native American in need in the area, and cold-weather and travel gear for migrants being released from the Desert View Detention Annex in Adelanto.

    And we had a wonderful, joyous lunch together as we celebrated each other and the many ways God is working through us for the sake of the Gospel and our community.

    God is surely blessing us, that we may be a blessing. Thanks be to God!


    Happy Thanksgiving,