For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12
Once in a while I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing I have in serving San Gabriel Presbytery. This weekend was such a time.
Saturday was WinterFest, our annual training day. Captained by Rev. Ally Lee of Knox Pasadena, and coordinated by the Education Committee of the Presbytery, this day was a source of inspiration, education, and empowerment. I have heard from several of the participants appreciation and immediate application of what they learned from plenary speaker Rev. Alexia Salvatierra and all the workshops, especially the large interactive afternoon on “Mobilizing Your Church to Serve,” led by Rev. Jennifer Ackerman and Sophia Alecci. We will be receiving the PowerPoint presentations from Rev. Salvatierra, so let us know if you want them and we’ll send them to you. And if you want to get more involved in the Matthew 25 movement, you can talk with Knox Presbyterian, who is a member church, or go to https://www.matthew25socal.org/.
We were also blessed to have Rev. Samuel Son, Manager for Diversity and Reconciliation with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, who led two workshops on diversity as a gospel issue. As I experienced this WinterFest, I realized that I as Executive Presbyter had virtually nothing to contribute to the event, and the host church, Northminster Presbyterian, did a phenomenal job creating a comfortable and welcoming home, even while they are without a pastor and their usual al fresco lifestyle had to adjust to the pouring rain. So in deed as well as in word, WinterFest showed us much of what we dream for the church—the priesthood of all believers, gathered in the name of Jesus Christ to work for Christ’s mission in the world—and those believers include young leaders, people of all races, lay people and clergy alike. Thank you to everyone who prepared, served, and participated.
I wanted to connect more with Samuel Son, who came all the way out from Louisville just to be with us. He preached and led adult education at Pasadena Presbyterian Church on Sunday, so I went there. I regretted missing West Covina’s worship service, as they were honoring Rev. Don Maddox, who has been a faithful preacher and moderator of session during their trailblazing transition to being a Presbytery fellowship. As Revs. Mary Ellen Azada and Jennifer Ackerman begin their ministry at West Covina next Sunday, Don is now helping with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in La Puente, along with Rev. Charles Castles. They were asked to help since Rev. Ken Tracy had to complete his ministry due to severe neck and back pain. I continue to be so grateful for our incredible corps of retired pastors who serve and lead in so many ways in this Presbytery. Thanks to Don, Charlie, and Ken, and we pray for the doctors to find a way to alleviate Ken’s back pain.I ended up staying at PPC until 9:30 pm on Sunday. Here’s a brief outline of my day:
10 am Worship in English (concurrent with Spanish-language worship)
11:30 Adult ed in English
12:30 hang out with some of the Latino leaders, eating posole (during the Korean-language worship)
1:30 lunch with the Korean ministry
2:20 Adult ed in Korean and English
4:00 visit with Revs. Samuel Son, Dongwoo Lee, and ShinHwa Park (during Japanese-language worship, a partner ministry of PPC’s Korean ministry)
7:00 Concert of Korale, an all-Korea choir of college singers, in the sanctuary (during the evening worship in Gamble Lounge that welcomes all, including people who are sleeping on the streets of Pasadena).
Whew! I should mention that other than the choir concert, this is pretty much the schedule for every Sunday at PPC—and that doesn’t include church school for the kids, choir rehearsals, and other meetings! So even as they are continuing to work for the transformation of their church, the people of PPC continue to be a beacon of light for many people from multiple backgrounds and circumstances, and they are rapidly becoming a model of intercultural ministry for the whole denomination, as folks enjoy each other’s gifts, as folks attend multiple events across ministries. May God continue to bless PPC, especially as they are starting to put together a Pastor Nominating Committee for their installed head of staff. And thank God for the amazing leadership of interim pastor Rev. Ann Oglesby-Edwards and all the leaders and staff of PPC.
As Sam and I parted, he kept mentioning how much he learned from this brief time with San Gabriel Presbytery. While I told Sam how some of our mission work is rooted in connections through our immigrant churches, I didn’t mention how some of our members are also are struggling with the powers of the world themselves. Among them are Ricardo Moreno, whose hearing in Venezuela was postponed yet again. While we continue to pray for him, I am reminded that here in the United States we require asylum-seekers to come repeatedly to court, sometimes while being held in detention in a jail-like facility. We also pray for Betty, a key leader of one of our churches, who has become the administrator for two other of our churches—so this extremely diligent and talented young woman of faith is now crucial to the ministry of three of our churches! She is also a DACA recipient, and is up for renewal this year. I am grateful that our Justice Peacemaking and Mission Committee voted to support her renewal application (which requires a $495 fee), and that by refusing to hear the case on DACA, the Supreme Court has allowed DACA to continue for at least another year, which I am hoping means that our leader’s renewal will be granted. Let us pray for all the Dreamers who are contributing in so many ways to this nation, including our own San Gabriel Presbytery.
And the wide-ranging ministry of San Gabriel Presbytery continues. Today, Rev. Rob Crowell, Elder Pat Martinez-Miller, and staff Wendy Gist go to Peru, to attend a Living Waters for the World conference (Rob is Vice Moderator of the LWW Peru Network Coordinating Team), check on existing installations, and plan for a new installation in Lima. Prayers for their safe journey. And please remember the “Peace-ing It Together” conference on Saturday, Feb. 23, hosted by Knox Presbyterian in Pasadena. Please see below for more information.
Do you feel blessed for being part of the ministry of San Gabriel Presbytery? I do!