Tag Archives: worship

No More Stolen Relatives – #PCUSAWeekofAction2021 looks at the #MMIWG2S crisis

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Irvin Porter celebrate communion on Native American Day on September 12, 2018, at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — On Thursday, Aug. 26, the Presbyterian Week of Action will focus on an ongoing crisis in Indigenous communities in the United States, Canada, and around the world with a day themed “No More Stolen Relatives: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People.”

“The day’s events and resources will center the voices of Native American Presbyterians as well as other Indigenous peoples and allies,” says the Rev. Alexandra Zareth, Associate for Leadership Development & Recruitment for Leaders of Color in Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. “Invitations will be offered for various ways to engage in the conversation and to learn, pray and act.

“The day will include videos from Co-Moderator Elona Street-Stewart (Delaware Nanticoke) and the Rev. Irv Porter (Pima, Nez Perce, and Tohono O’odham), Associate for Native American Intercultural Congregational Support, that help frame the crisis from a personal place. There will be a devotional featuring a Scripture reading in the Choctaw language, a poem written by an individual who has a friend counted among the Missing and Murdered of this crisis, and a Litany for Murdered and Missing Indigenous People.”

The Second Annual Presbyterian Week of Action, Aug. 23-29, is designed to bring attention and action to people and communities living under different forms of oppression, a response to the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation and Hands & Feet initiative. It is seven days with online events each day designed to illuminate the issues that the focus group for the day faces.

The Rev. Alexandra Zareth of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leads communion during the “Gifts of New Immigrants” service on Oct. 9, 2019 at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (File photo)

“We hope folx will join the cry of many who have been crying out and naming this crisis as such,” says Zareth, who is co-coordinating the day with the Rev. Mark Koenig, Internal Communications Specialist with the Administrative Services Group. “Our communities have felt the loss, the deaths, the questions, and the lack of action … this is not new to ‘us.’ But it is new to many, and we hope people will understand that we belong to each other; that all pain is shared pain; and that we are all called to mourn together and act together.”

Visit the Week of Action website for information on all days and an overview of the week

This is the schedule for the day (all times Eastern):

9:30 a.m. “No More Stolen Relatives — A Time to Learn, A Time to Act”  a brief video inviting people to participate in the day.

11:00 a.m. “Taking Action for Native Americans” — a short video

12:30 p.m. “No More Stolen Relatives  A Devotional” — a brief video featuring a Scripture reading in the Choctaw language, an original poem, and a litany for missing and murdered Indigenous persons

4:30 p.m. “We All Belong to Each Other”  a short video

All events will stream on the Week of Action webpage. Facts about the crisis will also be shared throughout the day on the PC(USA) social media pages, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Koenig notes that, “an opportunity will be provided to advocate for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021. This act has provisions that will help protect Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People.”

“Links will be provided to study resources and further information,” Zareth says.  “Finally, we want to empower siblings in Christ to respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to act by providing them with facts and statements that are sharable on social media and will help inform hearts and minds in ways that lead to action.”

“The Indigenous communities and their allies who work to address this crisis have adopted red as the color of the movement,” Koenig notes. “We encourage you to wear red, take a selfie, and share it on social media with the hashtag #WeekofActionPCUSA.”

This is an effort that will last more than a day or a week, Zareth and Koenig say.

“Our work for this day is only the beginning of an entire year of focus,” Zareth says. “We want our siblings in Christ to know that Native American Presbyterians will lead a worship service at 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 22, Native American Day in the PC(USA). Information and action sessions will take place during the months to follow that will continue to inform, equip, and inspire people to respond faithfully and together as a community of faith.”

For more information, contact the Office of Leadership Development for Leaders of Color at  mailto:Alexandra.Zareth@pcusa.org.

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A prayer for Noble Road Presbyterian Church

Tricia and I served as co-pastors of Noble Road Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio from September 1985 through September 2000. There Eric was baptized, Sean and Eric joined the church, Sean and Eric were ordained as elders, and Eric was ordained as a minister of the word and sacrament.

After a prayerful process of discernment, the congregation made the faithful, courageous, and probably a bit painful, decision to sell the building. This week the sale of the building was approved by the Presbytery of the Western Reserve and the Heights Libraries Board of Trustees (the purchaser). The church is located next to the Noble Neighborhood branch of Heights Libraries. The purchase will allow Heights Libraries to expand the Noble branch building to broaden the services it offers to the surrounding community. It will allow the church building to continue to be used as a place where the community is served.

Because the church is not a building, the congregation will continue in ministry. The congregation is in the process of discerning what that ministry will look like. No doubt it will be faithful, creative, welcoming and including, and committed to justice.

A prayer for Noble Road Presbyterian Church

God of all places,
we thank you for your gift of the place
known as Noble Road Presbyterian Church.
We remember with gratitude
all who worshipped in the sanctuary,
all who provided music in any form,
all who affirmed faith at the font,
all who proclaimed the gospel in the pulpit,
all who received assurance at the table,
all who studied in the classrooms,
and all who went out with the support of the community
to witness and work for justice
in Cleveland Heights, Greater Cleveland, Ohio, the United States, and around your world.
For all whose lives were touched, blessed, enriched, challenged
by the people of Noble Road Presbyterian Church,
we give you thanks and praise.
Guide the congregation members as they
discern new ways to be a community, to worship, and to serve.
Lead the Heights Libraries as they repurpose the building
to continue to serve the Noble community and the world.
With thanks for what was,
some tears for what is,
and profound excitement for what will be,
we offer all praise to you, O God,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

this prayer draws on some images from a prayer in the Book of Common Worship

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Open – 11 June 2014

IMG_4124 (800x533)

11 March 2014
Opening Worship
Ecumenical Women
Commission on the Status of Women
Manhattan, New York

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You Made Us In Your Image

Pastor and hymnwriter Carolyn Winfrey Gillette writes new words to old hymns. Over the years she has written several hymns for peace and justice ministries of which I have been and am a part.

You Made Us in Your Image is a hymn Carolyn wrote for Human Rights Day at the request of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

You made us to be equal; you made us to be free —
To speak the truth with courage, to change society,
To follow our own conscience, to choose the words we pray.
O God, may all your children enjoy these gifts each day.

Check out the full hymn – use it for personal devotions or in a worship service:

You Have Made Us in Your Image (pdf)
You Have Made Us in Your Image (text)

See you along the Trail.

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Purple flowers, Villa Blanca, Colombia

1 April 2010
Villa Blanca, Colombia

I try to post purple flower pictures once a week,
an act of discipline,
creating a theme,
building an audience
(know that I deeply appreciate both of you).

However, today I did a blog post on Colombia for work.
And as I looked for a picture,
I came across this one
and it too me back
to a very special day.

At Villa Blanca, where displaced Colombians,
who in an act of courage and grace
beyond my imagining rebuild and start anew,
on a sunny April day, gathered
Presbyterians from Colombia and Presbyterians from the United States.

With agricultural implements
and symbols of faith,
a worship space was created;
prayers were said, songs were song,
love was shared.

I was there.
I remember the people.
I remember the time.
But until I saw this picture,
I had forgotten the purple flowers.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Friends, Photo, Travel, Worship

I prayed for Trayvon

I prayed for Trayvon Martin today during the Training Day sponsored by the Presbyterian Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries.

I had called my friend and colleague J. Herbert Nelson, the director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness on Wednesday saying that we should remember Trayvon’s death in some way. He agreed. I said I would bring one of my hoodies.

I arrived in D.C. on Thursday and J. Herbert asked if I would pray and include a prayer for Trayvon. After some reflection and prayer, I came up with an idea.

I put my hoodie in my backpack and carried it with me to New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. After J. Herbert preached, we sang A Mighty Fortress. During the next to the last verse, I went up to the chair beside J. Herbert, put down my backpack, and got the wireless mic. When the hymn ended and the congregation sat down, I moved into the pulpit and began.

“Sometimes we pray with words. Sometimes we pray in silence. Sometimes we pray through symbolic actions. Today we will pray in all three ways.”

I left the pulpit, picked up my backpack, and moved to a table set up in the center of the pulpit area. The table would later be used for a panel presentation.

In silence, I opened my backpack, and removed my hoodie. I deliberately shook it out so all could see. I then held it as high above my head as I could and slowly rotated it so that it faced each part of the congregation. It also prevented me from making eye contact with anyone and bursting completely into tears.

After I had shown the hoodie to the whole congregation, I snapped the hood back and showed it to everyone again.

Then I put on the hoodie and slowly rotated so everyone could see me.

Finally, I raised the hood to cover my head and moved back to the pulpit.

There I prayed with words for Trayvon and for all children who are victims of overt violence – children whose names are known and whose stories are told, children who are known only to the family and friends who love them.

I prayed for all children who are victims of structural violence – economic injustice, racism, homophobia – the systemic realities that shape our lives and too often stunt and snuff out the lives of children.

I prayed for those who gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in advocacy for justice in Jesus’ name. May we have the grace to move from a love of power and the wisdom and courage to continue our ministry of speaking truth in love to power – this weekend and always. May it be so.

I uncovered my head and stepped down from the pulpit. As I moved back to my seat I again made sure not to make eye contact.

I am grateful to J. Herbert for this opportunity. I wish I could do more. I will.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Human Rights, Photo

O is for Outdoors

The beauty of Ghost Ranch
leads people to want to spend
as much time outdoors as possible.

The Youth Service Corps
rebuilt the outdoor amphitheater
where the community gathers for worship.

25 October 2009

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G is for Guitars

Inside and outside,
music plays a central role
in life on the ranch.

Courses focus on music.
Music fills the air when the community gathers
to worship,
to play.

The sounds
of strumming guitars
echo gently off red rock.

 2 August 2009

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C is for Cross

The amphitheater provides space
for reflection,
worship,
and programming;
it also provides a reminder
of the faith
in which we are rooted.

2 August 2009

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A is for Agape Center

The Agape Center fills many functions at Ghost Ranch.

It served as the central location for the 2010 Peacemaking Seminar.

Here people worship and learn,

gather and fellowship,

and sometimes just sit on the porch and watch the view.

Music often fills the Center and makes the rafters sing.

10 August 2008

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