Presbytery and Beyond
Posted October 19, 2022
Ethnic Concerns Consultation–50th Anniversary Jubilee, Lake Tahoe October 7-9, 2022 with Presbytery of San Gabriel members: Rev. Sophia Eurich-Rascoe, Mission Advocate Wendy Gist, Rev. Ally Lee, Rev. Bryce Little, Ruling Elder Janice Takeda, Rev. Wendy Tajima.
Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.
Celebrating the Bounty
As I write, I’m a little bleary-eyed, as several of us returned home last night from the Ethnic Concerns Consultation (ECC) at Zephyr Point, Lake Tahoe. In just a weekend, I glimpsed into some of the incredible bounty, on multiple levels, that is the Presbyterian Church.
First I will start by giving thanks for lives that have served the church for so long, whose deaths we heard about this weekend. You may have already heard that Rev. Doug Edwards died on Thursday. A long-time member of San Gabriel Presbytery, Doug served in many ways, including as pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Temple City, and for the Presbytery and the Synod. He was the church connection for Westminster Gardens, and was a driver behind the development of the chaplaincy program that San Gabriel Presbytery offers for retired Presbyterian church workers. Though Doug retired to Portland, Oregon, we anticipate there will be a memorial service for Doug here in Southern California, and once we hear the details we will share them.
Someone who served even longer than Doug was Wanda Sawyers. Wanda’s was a life well-lived, as she blessed us with over a century of leadership, intelligence, diligence, and love, for the Presbyterian Church, USC, and seniors in Southern California. A ruling elder member of Village Presbyterian, she served the church at all levels, nationally and locally, most recently with the New Theological Seminary of the West and on San Gabriel’s COM.
As the ECC began, the leaders marked its 50th year, and honored our own Bryce Little, who organized it in response to a GA directive in 1972. They also honored Phyllis, and her constant support. The ECC has been a safe and empowering gathering for people of color in what was the Sierra Mission Partnership, a joint ministry of Sacramento, Stockton, San Joaquin, and Nevada presbyteries. Participants over the years have come from Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, African, African-American, Native American, Latino, Assyrian, and Armenian backgrounds. They have also held youth events; children of the ECC include Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow and Rev. Neema Cyrus-Franklin.
This year was the first time the ECC was open to the general public, which I stumbled upon when browsing through the Zephyr Point website. I was familiar with the ECC because Bryce suggested me as a speaker back in 2016, but I asked if I could attend now, since I’m not from the member presbyteries. Bryce thought it would be great if folks from San Gabriel could come, and eight of us went on a road trip, driving up to Zephyr Point. The nine-hour drive was a great bonding experience, thanks to excellent drivers and conversation partners.
The event itself had three speakers who are all luminaries in the PC(USA), and what a delight it was to spend a weekend often in casual conversation with Elona Street-Stewart, Liz Theoharis, and Bruce Reyes-Chow. While they all have exceptional range of vision, what I heard was a challenge to connect with Native American organizations that are rising up in the community but unknown by the church; an optimistic and very home-grown Presbyterian witness from a woman who is nationally-known as a prophet and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign; and a love letter from the hometown kid, challenging his family to open the doors to other marginalized people, especially LGBTQIA+ folk.
We also saw among the participants a wide range of experiences and budding awarenesses, including Africans learning more deeply about Native Americans, dominant culture folk learning how to be less dominating in a space created for people of color, and folks experiencing the beauty of Lake Tahoe. Zephyr Point is a jewel of Presbyterian retreat centers, and though the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii are co-owners, we rarely use it. Our entry into the ECC helped them to see a broader vision for the future of the gathering, and demonstrated for us that Zephyr Point is not as hard to reach as we often think it is. And there is a renewed spirit among the staff there to be home for a more diverse group of participants; the new program director, Sara Tillema, seemed more passionate than anyone about the continuing future for the ECC, and she committed to revive the youth track that has proven to be exceptionally fruitful in developing many younger church leaders. They also were proud to announce that Zephyr Point will host in June 2023 Kin-dom Camp, a camp for LGBTQIA+ youth that is part of the ministry of Grace Presbytery in Texas. This will be the first time Kin-dom Camp is being offered at a second site, and outside of Texas. Zephyr Point has already faced a cancellation by a group that could not tolerate their inclusiveness, but the staff are excited about the opportunity to broaden their welcome. Because they are aware of the lack of racial diversity at Zephyr, ECC is very important to the staff, and some of us were hopeful that this may be a positive step towards Southern California Presbyterians feeling more at home in this most beautiful corner of God’s world. We already have a Southern California representative on next year’s planning committee, and the eight of us SoCal aliens who were welcomed to the ECC are already thinking about next year’s road trip.
We are truly blessed in the Presbyterian Church, with a strong sense of God’s loving claim on our lives, the bold obedience to do God’s will on earth, incredible leaders on all levels of the church, and resources of faith, tradition, polity, land, and finances entrusted to us to use for the mission of Jesus Christ in our world. We have been truly blessed. Let us share those blessings with this hurting world.
In hope and gratitude,
Posted February 12, 2022
Join Mission Coworkers Revs. Scott and Elmarie Parker, along with Middle East (ME) Partners and PCUSA colleagues from the ME/Europe area for a time of Lenten scripture reflection and prayer. Zoom sessions will include reflection on Lenten liturgical texts by a partner from the Middle East or colleague from the ME/Europe area, a time of conversation between zoom participants, art/pictures from the region, and prayer. Hosted by the Parkers.
Two sessions weekly are being offered every Thursday, March 3 through April 4.
No registration required. Join for live conversation for any or all the sessions.
Session 1 will be recorded each week and posted to the Syria-Lebanon Partnership Network’s website and Elmarie Parker’s FB page.
Session 1: 12pm ET by zoom (45 minutes)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 894 0525 2345
Session 2: 3pm ET by zoom (45 minutes)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 833 1113 0991
In Christ’s Peace,
Rev. Elmarie E.R. Parker
PCUSA Regional Liaison to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
Lebanon Mobile/WhatsApp: +961 76-375-823
USA Mobile (through mid-April 2022): +1 503-871-8422
Skype Phone #: 503-213-3532
Posted January 6, 2022
Clergy and Church Leaders Zoom call on Tuesday mornings 10:00 to 10:30 am starting again on January 25, 2022.
Join us for prayer, resource sharing, and building friendship with other church leaders in our Presbytery. Led by Rev. Ally Lee, Stated Clerk for Administration