Author Archives: Beth Sutton

Savannah Presbytery Transition Team News

The Transition Team has been working hard since March to carry out the task of helping to create “a sustainable vision for the future ministry of Savannah Presbytery.” Our team has been very busy creating job descriptions, examining the presbytery’s teams, identifying needs for personnel, and, in the last few months, receiving Personal Information Forms (PIFs), and prayerfully considering candidates to serve as the Transitional General Presbyter and Stated Clerk. Rev. Joyce Lieberman, our Synod Executive, met with the Transition Team in late July to offer guidance and support as we began the process of discerning who would be the best “fit” for our presbytery. Those candidates whom we discerned to be our finalists were interviewed via ZOOM.

During these initial interviews, there was concern among candidates about taking on both the Transitional General Presbyter and Stated Clerk roles. As is the case with any transitional work, there are a lot of added tasks which rest outside the scope of an established “called” position. Given the candidates’ concerns and considering our own growing understanding of the scope of the transitional work, the team decided we needed flexibility to separate the two positions if needed. A motion was made to that effect and was approved by Council.

After the initial ZOOM interviews, the team reached out to the candidates’ references and then invited two finalists to come for in-person interviews. After these interviews, the committee sensed very clearly that God was calling the Rev. Dr. Alan Baroody to lead our presbytery during this transitional period. Many of us know Alan from his years of faithful service in and to our presbytery. The Transition Team was impressed with his experience in transitional work, his pastoral gifts, and his ideas for helping to develop a vision for the future of our presbytery.

In consultation with Alan, it was decided that he would serve as the Transitional General Presbyter only. Alan was presented to Council by the Transition Team at the stated meeting on September 30th and was unanimously approved. He begins his ministry with us on November 1st. The Rev. Eric Beene, who was in attendance as Interim Stated Clerk, agreed to continue in that capacity until May 2020.

The Transition Team and Alan are looking forward to working with consultant David York to set up listening sessions in each district to hear more about your hopes and suggestions for our presbytery’s initial priorities.

Meet Our Transitional General Presbyter

The Rev. Dr. Alan Baroody

A little over five years ago, Alan and his wife, Suzanne, moved from Midway to Addison, TX (near Dallas). While in Texas, Alan’s focus has been on transitional ministries and church consultations.  He served as Interim Head of Staff at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Denton, TX and Interim Pastor at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, TX. Before moving to Texas, Alan served as Pastor of Jekyll Presbyterian Community Church for five years and over thirteen years as the Executive Director of the Marylou Fraser Foundation for Families (The Fraser Counseling Center). Additionally, Alan has served on Committees on Ministry in three presbyteries for 20 of the past 24 years of his ministry.

After forty-two years of ministry, he was Honorably Retired at the September meeting of Grace Presbytery. Two days later, he accepted Savannah Presbytery’s invitation to serve as our Transitional General Presbyter. Retired for two days, Alan says he’s “thrilled to have ‘failed’ retirement so that we can begin our work together here in Savannah Presbytery. As far as I can tell, there is no place in the Bible that addresses retiring from following Jesus!”

Alan is looking forward to visiting with all the churches in our presbytery and exploring ways in which we, as a presbytery of primarily smaller congregations, can help each other in furthering the work of God’s kingdom in our midst. “We are a denomination and a presbytery in transition. We need each other’s gifts and need to learn how to better connect and support one another in mission and ministry.”

Alan’s wife, Suzanne, is a ruling elder in the PC(USA). She is also a licensed professional counselor and works as a Military Family Life Counselor at various military installations, both in the U.S. and around the world. Both she and Alan serve as volunteers on Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s National Response Team.

Alan and Suzanne have four adult children and two grandchildren. For recreation, Alan enjoys reading mystery novels, sailing, hunting, fishing, camping, and amateur radio.

Educational and Professional Background: Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary; Master of Theology in Pastoral Counseling, Union Theological Seminary, Richmond; Doctor of Ministry in Family Systems, Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary; licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor; Board member of the Soul Repair Center of Brite Divinity School (research and education on Moral Injury); Served churches in South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia; Directed Christian counseling and outpatient services in Colorado and Georgia.

Save The Date!

Savannah Presbytery Presents the 41st Faith Enrichment Conference on February 7-8, 2020 at Epworth Center on Saint Simons Island, GA.

The Keynote Speaker for this event is Dr. William P. Brown.  Save the Date and enjoy a weekend of faith and joy!

2020  Faith Erichment Conference Flyer

New Phone Number for Savannah Presbytery

Our new phone number is 800-616-3671.

We no longer have a fax line.

It Won’t Happen to Me!

It’s not easy being a victim of flooding. Being a volunteer is easier. For years my husband and I went to Mississippi to help with Hurricane Katrina. We would talk to those that experienced the flooding and being misplaced from homes and love ones.  To hear about being trapped in homes with water rising and hoping someone would come and rescue them. You can watch the news channels and listen to their stories being told. But nothing can prepare you for the heartbreak that they endure. At times, I felt lost as what to say. “I’m sorry” was not the correct response. Each time we would return and hear more stories about flood victims restoring their home. One day, when my husband compared the destruction from Katrina to Vietnam, he said he felt that Katrina was worse. Each year we watch and see different parts of the U.S. being torn by floods, fire, etc. and yet, it still does not prepare you. Your heart breaks and you want to help.

Several years ago when the opportunity came to be a PW/PDA trainer, I know that was a calling, another part of being a volunteer. To help prepare those before something would happen. As I spread the word and would put questions in people’s heads, I felt that even if one person listened then I had done my job as a trainer.

Last year I became a victim during Hurricane Matthew. Yes, I was prepared, I thought. We had flood and home owners insurance, we safely evacuated with our family and pets. We called ourselves the “traveling zoo”! There were five adults, two teenagers, five cats and one dog. We had stops to feed the “humans”! We returned home once we knew that everything was safe and still standing (including having water and electric). We were sure that the roads were clear of power lines and water. As soon as I walked in our house I knew that we had experienced flooding in the house. Nothing could have been done to stop the water. This was a different experience for me. You think that this will never happen to you. But it can and no matter how much you think you’re prepared for something, it can be taken out of your hands. Yes, we were safe with our family and pets. And all that “stuff’ in our house can replaced, but not our family.

As we started our clean up and connecting with insurance companies to put our lives and house back in order, a new adventure began – a PW/PDA trainer seeing the other side –  as a home owner who has insurance, thank goodness. If we hadn’t, who knows what we would have done. Cleared out the damaged floors and rooms and moved on as we could. What happened next is something that no one needs to experience.

My husband had started the all the paperwork for the house and calling for quotes and bids to replace what was damaged. I went to our Synod Gathering at Epworth by the Sea, as a workshop trainer a few weeks after Matthew hit. We didn’t know if we were going to have the gathering, but thank goodness the retreat center had tree damage and a few other mishaps but we were able to hold our event. Returning from our PW event and moving forward on the house my husband passed away.

It took a lot of strength and support from not only my family, my church and my PW sisters in Christ to move forward. To go from being a volunteer, a trainer and then a victim of flooding, you think you’re prepared, but you’re not. Yes, I’m still putting the pieces back together in my life. My life will never be the same and neither will those that are victims of human or natural disasters. Pray and support when you can.

HOPE is the answer. Hear Our Prayers Everywhere

Molly McCarthy, Savannah PW Moderator, PW/PDA Trainer