Reflection: A Blessing to the Nations

by | Jun 3, 2019

Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 2:38-39

This Saturday we will have another Presbytery meeting, at the re-envisioned West Covina Ministry Center (aka Community Presbyterian Church of West Covina).  Our new tradition is for the summer Presbytery meeting to be short, followed by a time of service.  We will have a slightly longer Presbytery meeting because there are a few important decisions to make, so if you don’t want to join us for the meeting, we expect the schedule to be:

8:30 am      Registration
9:00 am      Stated Meeting
10:30 am      Service
12:30 pm      Lunch.

It is expected that this meeting will be a time of thanksgiving for the ministry of Grace Presbyterian Church in Highland Park, and the ministry of Rev. Dr. Al Lorenz.  We will also welcome Rev. Ming Hsu, who is being called as the new pastor for Taiwanese Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church.  Rev. Hsu has been a faithful and respected pastor for Formosan Presbyterian in Garden Grove.

We have two other new initiatives to learn about and celebrate.  If you have read the recent “Presbyterian Outlook,” you heard about International Theological Seminary’s new partnership with San Gabriel Presbytery.  The home base for this partnership is the West Covina campus.  Now that the Conditional Use Permit was approved unanimously by the Planning Commission of the City of West Covina, ITS will be moving onto this campus this June!  So a big part of our work day will be painting some classrooms, to spruce them up for our new partners.  During the meeting, San Gabriel member and ITS President Rev. Dr. James Lee will give a brief overview of ITS’ unique ministry, and we will show our support with our prayers, hands, and hearts.

Because ITS has already been taking care of the property for us, they and the members of Community Presbyterian Fellowship of West Covina are preparing to welcome us to the meeting.  The West Covina family now also includes site pastors Mary Ellen Azada and Jennifer Ackerman, as well as several members of our Baldwin Park church.

We will also have the opportunity to learn about another major new initiative.  Upon the invitation of Pacific Presbytery, and with the joyous support of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, we have received a grant to fund an organizer to help our churches to welcome asylum-seeking families, who have been left without resources while they await their asylum hearing.  We will be able to welcome Kristi Van Nostran, who was already doing much of this work as a volunteer.  Kristi will be working primarily with our two presbyteries, but also all of the synod of Southern California and Hawaii, to coordinate our efforts and invite more of us to show Christian welcome to our neighbors from Central America.  And we will start this Saturday, as our Presbytery offering will go to support these families, either through $5 and $10 gift cards, or financial contributions which Kristi will use for food and other urgent needs.

So come and worship, and pray, and celebrate, and serve.  We will be painting classrooms, doing some yardwork, learning about our new Immigrant Welcome ministry and writing notes of support and welcome, and putting together school kits for students displaced by emergency, in partnership with PDA.  See the separate article on the Presbytery offering for a shopping list for school supplies—and, most importantly, come in your work clothes!

So this Saturday will be a time of thanks and welcome, prayers with our hearts and with our hands, worship and praise and sorrow.  Let us gather in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and join in the life of our San Gabriel—and world—family.

They will come from east and west and from north and south,
from Highland Park and Baldwin Park,
from Taiwan and Cameroon and many peoples of Asia and Africa,
from Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador,
and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

What a fitting time to prepare for Pentecost Sunday on June 9th!  We are truly blessed with the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to connect as siblings of Jesus Christ, here and all around the world.