Winter Stated Meeting

Date: February 13, 2015
Time: 9 am Registration/10 am Meeting Begins
Place: Epworth by the Sea, St. Simons Island

To assist us, please send us your commissioner names ASAP!

The handbook will be available at Events -> Stated & Called Meetings in early February.

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Advent Post – Russell Gladding

barn_7426cnThere Is No Room

We are almost through Advent once again, as 2014 is drawing to an end. In just a week from today as I write this, many of our congregations will be gathered for Christmas Eve services. We will light the Christ Candle on our Advent wreaths and welcome the babe born in Bethlehem, Christ the Lord.

Yet even in Christ’s Church, someway, it seems that there is not enough time to be prepared for His coming. We say our liturgies on Sundays and read our daily devotionals as a way of preparing, but they are crowded seemingly into a small corner of our lives by all of the other tasks which we have to get done; the shopping, baking, the parties, and yes the planning for the perfect worship service or the special sermon. We are busy, busy, busy!

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself fighting through an empty feeling in all of this preparation for the Christmas celebration. But my American independence coupled with my protestant work ethic quickly washes these feelings away with my remembering the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” and a title of a business conference: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

I try sometimes to rationalize this as just the way it is. We are good people doing good work in our churches. Being busy is not a sin! Or is it? How many of these important tasks ‘that only I can do’ have become idols in my life?

The words from Isaiah 40 and Mark 1 give me pause as I consider my harried and scurried life of preparing for God’s coming in this season and in all of our lives. God prepared and continues to prepare for by tearing and breaking into this world. I am reminded that it is my job to be still so that God may be with me and in me, so that I may receive this greatest of gifts, so that we all may receive this present and share the Grace and Truth of God through the Love that comes to us, over and over, and is abundantly alive for all of the world.

My friends, it need not be a perfect room, a stable full of open hearts and minds will do just fine. Blessings for you all as we are prepared to make room even in this final Advent week!

Russell Gladding

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I’m Thankful…

thankful_9797c

In this season of Thanksgiving with Advent beginning on Sunday, I wanted to continue my tradition in writing down and sharing with you all some of the things, experiences, and people that I am grateful for as we come toward the close of 2014.  This idea is not original to me.  It came from my reading throughout my life a Thanksgiving column each year in the Atlanta Journal Constitution penned by the late Furman Bisher.  So here we go.

I am thankful for:

  • My life and for good health with an assist from several good doctors and the miracles of modern medicines!
  • A three legged cat named Tripod who is the most grateful creature I have ever known.
  • For teenage grandchildren who don’t pay as much attention to Pop as when they were younger, but are bright and intelligent, and are part of the future hope of this world.
  • For Kathy who patiently puts up with me and my new life at Savannah Presbytery.  Going on 37 years she is still the one!!
  • For Mack my trusty Chocolate Lab, now showing a little gray under his chin like me.
  • For God’s Church in this world as it struggles with change in perhaps a time that will be seen as a new reformation and awakening.   God, I believe, is in the midst of this and is leading God’s creation forward.
  • For my colleagues in Savannah Presbytery who extend friendship and care, give of time and great talents, and are rocks in this place.
  • For five adult children, now all in mid-life and who have never come back home to live.  Well done children!
  • For our retired clergy who have continued to be a vital and vibrant presence here in southeast Georgia.
  • For Georgia Tech and Georgia playing in a big football game on Saturday.  Bisher is surely looking down with a smile.
  • For new opportunities for ministry in Savannah Presbytery with PCUSA 1001 New Worshipping Communities.
  • For all who feed the hungry, mentor and tutor the children, give shelter to the strangers and homeless and proclaim the good news through actions and as needed by words.
  • For a warm home and food to enjoy.
  • For an occasional nap that seems to be more necessary that it used to be, especially on Sunday afternoon.
  • For our country with all of its shortcomings, shown 24 hours a day in the media.  We are most blessed to be living in this place where we are free and which we call America.
  • For friends, old and new.
  • For God choosing to create us and reveal God’s self to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ.
  • For the Living Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that is alive in this world today through people like you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Selah

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Swainsboro Apts. – Be An Angel 2014

angel_7288cBe An Angel 2014 (Flyer for Churches)

Drop off gifts at Presbytery office, Lyons PC, or White Bluff PC by  Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

Thanks for your support of this important ministry!

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More Than None

by Alan Dyer
Alan will be offering a workshop on this topic at our 2015 Leadership Development Conference scheduled for February 12-14.

nones-exec-1

A little over two weeks ago I traveled to Montreat, North Carolina to participate in a Montreat Institute for Church Leadership conference titled, “More than None: Engaging the Religiously Unaffiliated.” The week’s topic stemmed from a 2011 Pew Research Study that found that 20% of American adults now consider themselves “nones” – meaning they claim no particular religious affiliation. That number jumps to 32% when looking only at American adults ages 18-30. Now given that you are reading this post on the Savannah Presbytery blog it is likely that your (and admittedly my) initial reaction to such statistics is one of alarm. We are church people. We love our faith communities and want others to love it as well! So what is “wrong” with these nones we wonder? Will God’s church still even exist in fifty years if these trends continue? How do we “fix” this “problem”!?

The week did not attempt to offer a magic formula for reversing the trends of the nones. Rather – as the conference title suggests – it did propose that there really is MORE to the “nones” than simply being persons who are religiously unaffiliated. They are people like you and me who have questions/doubts/etc. and many of them yearn to find communities (even churches!) where they are not judged but rather authentically loved and welcomed.

Rodger Nishioka, Associate Professor for Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary, was the “Theological Responder” for the conference. In one of his keynote responses he proposed that there is a right question and a wrong question churches today and people of faith everywhere need to be asking. The wrong questions are the ones listed above: How do we fix this problem? What are we doing wrong? How do we get them back in the pews? Will the church survive? These are human questions but wrong questions, Rodger says.

The right question is what are we doing this day to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ? When we as individuals and as a church seek to answer this question each and every day then we change the whole conversation. We stop operating from a place of human fear and begin operating from the place of hope and love that we find only in Triune God. When we place this question at the center of who we are then the nones – and perhaps even we ourselves – might finally feel at home.

So…what are you and the community of faith to which you belong doing today – perhaps even this very moment – to faithfully follow Christ’s call?

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