Seneca Tornado Recovery – A Brief Update

“Out of Chaos, Hope.”

August 1, 2020

 The devastating EF3 tornado that struck the Seneca area last April 13th is long gone from the radar, literally and figuratively. There are newer stories for the media to cover and people not directly impacted have likewise shifted their energy and focus elsewhere, as is normal. It is something in the rear view mirror. However, unlike Camelot, where leaves are blown away neatly at night, Seneca and many of its residents continue to cleanup, recover and try to get their lives back in order, or at least cling to some hope that order can and will eventually come out of the chaos. It is and will remain a long- term recovery challenge for the city and so many individuals and families.

Piles of debris still wait to be picked up. Sadly, some homes that were hit the hardest now lie abandoned, their exposed innards serving as stark reminders of what happened, even as the weeds grow toward claiming the remains for themselves. Much of the initial yard debris clean-up has been accomplished, although our work crew responded recently, working with Lutheran Services, to help with a remaining need that surfaced.

However, there are signs of hope and recovery. New roofs and rebuilding have begun. One woman who is a Mother Theresa like person in the low-income Utica area lost her own home totally to the tornado. Yet every day she remains in that area, giving out food and helping others in need. A small group celebrated a ground-breaking the other day for her new home, to be built on the cleared site of the old one because she wants to continue to live in and serve this area of town.

Immediately after the tornado state and local agencies, from governmental to non-profits, including many faith-based organizations, were formed into the Oconee County Long Term Recovery Group (OCLTRG). This group’s goal has not only been the short-term immediate needs but working to see that people needing help do not fall into the gaps in the long haul of recovery. As a member of that OCLTRG, it has been encouraging to see so many people in this group communicating and working together. The scope of long-term recovery still seems staggering but progress is being made.

In many cases homeowners were wealthy enough and/or had sufficient insurance that they are on their way to rebuilding or re-establishing themselves. Many were not as fortunate. Local organizations are seeking to identify those people and assist as best they can. One of those is Habitat for Humanity. Although their focus has always been on building new homes they have approved and are committed to helping repair and rebuild some tornado damaged homes. We anticipate some from our church will join in Habitat’s rebuilding as that begins. A Construction Committee of the OCLTRG, with one member from Townville Presbyterian Church, is evaluating and working to help those who need help rebuilding.

Because of working with tornado damage in Utica, some of our group also became involved in a COVID necessitated summer program of delivering weekly school meals to the homes of families in the area.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, who has helped in this recovery, has as its motto, “Out of Chaos, Hope.” The work in Seneca is far from finished, but that motto is what is happening and remains to happen.

 

Peace!

Richard & Susan Caldwell

On Behalf of the Work Crew

Serving her young adults during a global pandemic

New York Young Adult Volunteers site coordinator recovers from COVID-19

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

 

Maureen Anderson with New York Young Adult Volunteers Christina Hogan, Ana Bintinger, Ross Hartmans, and Trevor Merrifield. (Contributed photo)

She focused on staying present with her YAVs while not being able to be present. She facilitated getting them back to their homes to shelter-in-place, where all are safe and working remotely with their partners. She was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief and admit to herself she did not feel well.LOUISVILLE — Each year, site coordinators of the Young Adult Volunteer Program expect challenges. There are new participants, new personalities, new issues each year. But Maureen Anderson, site coordinator for New York City, faced some truly unique challenges this year serving at the U.S. epicenter of a global pandemic.

She had contracted COVID-19.

“It was difficult to breathe. My chest felt like it was caving in. I started to cough,” she said. “I couldn’t even talk on the phone for five minutes. My goal was to give my YAVs what they needed, and they didn’t need me on the other end of a Zoom call looking like I was suffering.”

Anderson has a strong board of directors and one of them was more than willing to step in for two weeks while she recovered. She said she is nearly 100 percent now, but still doing breathing exercises to strengthen her lungs. She believes, because of her asthma, it may have taken her a little longer to recover. Both of her adult sons were sick too, and both have recovered.

This is Anderson’s second year as a site coordinator. She had previously worked as a compliance officer and professional trainer in international banking. When she became a casualty of downsizing, she wanted to take the time to discern her next steps.

A friend told her about the YAV opening and it appealed to her because she was active in several church ministries and felt, as a mother, she had an affinity to working with young people.

“I asked myself, how can I translate my experience in training and education to become a site coordinator? It has been a great fit, an amazing journey so far,” she said.

The New York YAV site hosted four young adults this year — two men and two women working in various service ministries.

One YAV is working with Presbyterian Senior Services, assisting those who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s or dealing with dementia. Another is working with Broadway Presbyterian Church, helping to operate clothing and food pantries. One night a month they take all the pews out of the church and turn it into a community table with restaurant-setting tables and chairs, lights hanging from the ceiling and a menu from appetizers to dessert, as well as musical entertainment. People have a chance to connect as a community or meet new people.

Another YAV works at the Kairos Center assisting with marches and events related to the Poor People’s Campaign. The Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice is self-described as “working to raise up generations of religious and community leaders committed to the unity and organization of the poor as the leading social force in the building of a broad transformative movement to end poverty.”

The fourth YAV works with NYDIS, New York Disaster Interfaith Services, which assists individuals, families and businesses affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes. They did a backpack drive for children who arrived from Puerto Rico after the disastrous hurricane. They also helped provide supplies for the temporary hospital at the Jacob Javits Center.

Anderson said she was comfortable and confident with the partners, always knowing they put the safety of the volunteers above all else.

Although they are now remotely serving their partners, they still have YAV nights where they get together and have discussions around the two pandemics in the U.S. today, coronavirus and racial injustice, as well as supporting one another through the challenges.

“I believe that as challenging as this was, there is something good coming next,” Anderson said. “This is the rain before the rainbow. I have high hopes I’ve also been in a place where I was in pain and under a dark cloud and have been brought out into light. I am encouraged that these young adults still want to be a part of the program and realize how much their service is needed. We are going to grow from this.”

Rev. Everdith Landrau, coordinator of the YAV program, had these words to describe the way Anderson has served the program. “Maureen is a true example of resilience in the midst of great suffering,” she said. “She took care of her family and the YAVs in a time when New York City was the epicenter of COVID-19 cases and related deaths. Her faith in Jesus Christ and spirituality have been a witness to site coordinators and our staff. The YAV program has sought to be flexible and creative during these difficult times.”

Anderson is also a writer and poet . Here’s a poem she calls “Unbroken Spirit”:

Words. Where are the words? Can you hear me?

I can’t breathe There is a pain

 A crushing of my spirit

I try to speak but, I can’t breathe

Melanin kissed sons and daughters

Born from royalty

Rejected by jealousy

Shout for peace, peace

But there is no peace I can’t breathe

I wish I could cover my ears

To muffle the sound of bones crushing

Under the knees of our oppressors

 I can’t breathe

I close my eyes

And search for my breath

 Images of my ancestors

Appear in my in between state

And, Breathe into me

 I open my eyes

I stand

 I march

 I fight for my rights

Like the bones of Elisha

 I will breathe again

And, you will hear me

Church is not [just] a place we go

By Andrea Moore

 

The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives in incalculable ways.  For many of us, the inability to worship together in person has been one of the deepest losses.  However, at Tyger River Presbyterian Church, we have found meaningful ways to live out our faith through this crisis.

Our pastor’s imaginative, short(!), for-the-moment Worship from Home videos have helped maintain a sense of connection to our church family.  My favorite part of each week’s service is the chance to see photos or video clips of individuals and families I haven’t been able to see in person.  I especially love it when children and youth are included in the service.

Another way we have come together is through worship exercises that have included a prayer walk and drive-through communion.  These were set up to allow safe participation while still providing a sense of corporate worship.  At last Sunday’s drive-through communion, volunteers provided music, prayers, and even “passed the peace” by waving homemade posters.  I found myself crying on the drive home, filled with longing for what we are missing and gratitude for all we have.

Finally, we have sought as a church to resist the temptation to hoard our resources and continue to generously support needs in our local community through outreach and giving.

COVID-19 has provided a powerful reminder that church is not a place we go, but rather it is who we are.


-Andrea Moore is an Elder at Tyger River Presbyterian Church in Moore, SC.

Update on Frontera De Cristo

International Missionary Update: US-Mexico Border Ministry with Mark Adams and Miriam Escobar

By Cal Sawyer

 

Foothills Presbytery member churches have a longstanding legacy for supporting the work of international missionaries via Presbyterian Mission. Your financial contributions assist with sharing God’s love in many countries including Congo, Haiti and on the US-Mexican Border. I have communicated with missionary Mark Adams and received an update on their ministry, which I’d like to share.

Fort Hill Presbyterian Church began their official support of Mark Adams and Miram Escobar’s border ministry a decade ago in 2010. Mark is involved with church development, health, family counseling, and mission education in the Agua Prieta region of Mexico, near the border with Arizona. Over the past year, they have focused much of their energy on large numbers of families fleeing extreme violence and poverty. Mark said “We are grateful to God for the light that shines in unexpected places, the light that allows us to see and experience the hope in the midst of despair; peace in the midst of a conflicted border; joy in the midst of a community beset with sadness; and love in the midst of a world filled with fear and hatred.” Profound and meaningful thoughts on refugees and human migration.

Mark also shared his gratitude specifically for their partnership with FHPC. As you might expect, the current pandemic has affected their ministry and their ability to travel and requires them to shelter in place for the immediate future. “In addition to not wanting to leave Mexico at this time”, Mark said, “we want to be ‘present’ with our partners in the midst of this crisis. While we know that we will be separated from them in this time of physical distancing with no gathered worship, or vigils, or events or meetings or meals, the message that we would give to our partners by removing ourselves from the community and separating ourselves geographically from them in a time of crisis is not something that we feel called to do. We believe in the importance of being a “presence of peace” in the midst of crisis– whether that be cartel violence or of a pandemic violence. Pray that we can figure out what it means to be a presence of peace in this time.

Even in a different country, like most of us, Mark and his family have been adjusting to quarantine life, working and schooling from home. He says they have been spending more time on the patio, reading, gardening, throwing a baseball, cooking together, and “being more attentive to the incredible skies out here whether the spectacular sunrises and sunsets; or moon rises; or last month’s Lyrid meteor shower when Nathan and I climbed up on the roof to watch– amazing that people have been watching this annual shower for at least 2700 years.

Missionaries lead lives like ours in many ways. If you’d like to read their newsletter or find out more about their ministry, visit here: e-letter of Frontera de Cristo. Mark also asked that I pass along a link so interested individuals can participate in their Coffee, Conversations and Compassion campaign.

I want to close with thoughts that Mark shared: “Miriam and I are grateful to God to serve with Frontera de Cristo, a community of faith that seeks out places of darkness, trusting that God’s light will be manifest and shine in and through us. We are grateful for your partnership in ministry that gives us the opportunity to accompany a community where the darkness sometimes can seem overwhelming, and yet the light of Christ shines.”

 

Cal is in Elder at Fort Hill Presbyterian Church, Clemson, SC.

Singing is a Gift from God

Over the last few years, a group of Foothills Presbytery’s Church Music Directors/Ministers has gathered four or five times a year to enjoy fellowship and discuss life and ministry. A few weeks ago, our Stated Clerk & Presbytery Leader, Debbie Foster, invited them to share a brief statement about Music Ministry during the restrictions and health concerns of COVID-19. Here is what they said.

Singing is a gift from God. Lifting our voices together in praise to the God of all creation is such an integral part of worship that it is hard for many of us to face the realities of what the near-term future looks like for Church Musicians during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Over the past three months, most of us have had to completely redesign our worship and music ministries. As we mourn the loss of time with our choirs and try to educate our congregations on the importance of recognizing the dangers of singing together, we remember that God is holding us close during this time.

As your Foothills Presbytery Directors of Music, we wanted to share with you the response from our Presbyterian Association of Musicians, which includes a prayerful statement on Church Music and Covid-19, as well as resources that you may find helpful in your own congregations.

Throughout this time of uncertainty, we will lift each other up, and we will find creative ways to make music together using handbells, non-wind and rhythm instruments, recordings… the list goes on!

While our choirs may be silent right now, we will continue dreaming and planning of the time when our voices will once again be lifted together in praise of the God who makes all things new.

Love in Christ,
Mandy Davis (Central, Anderson), Margaret McKay (Fort Hill, Clemson), Laura Bessent(Nazareth, Moore), Cecil Rigby (Wahalla, Wahalla), Sharon Thomson (Limestone, Gaffney), Lisa Dillard (First, Greer), Holt Andrews (First, Spartanburg), Mark Kemp (Westminster, Greenville).

Please take a minute to read what the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM) has to say
Church Music and Covid-19

Twists & Takes from a Tornado

by Richard & Susan Caldwell

It was 8:15 a.m. the morning after Easter Sunday when the phone rang. It was John, our pastor. He asked, “Are you O.K.?” Funny question we thought! Why wouldn’t we be? You see, we knew there had been wind, rain and lightning during the night but had not experienced or even heard that at 3:30 a.m. an EF3 tornado hit and devastated the Seneca area – John and Elizabeth’s property included.

A day later we were ushered into a new level of awareness. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) was unable to send a response team to the area because of COVID-19. Susan and I were asked to fill the gap to see what was needed since we already lived here and had escaped any personal damage. We talked with Debbie Foster from Presbytery and Rick Turner, who normally would have represented PDA. That kicked off some steps that led to a PDA grant to Presbytery for tornado relief assistance. Through them we also received from Church World Service a pallet of flood (cleaning) buckets and hygiene kits.

Next was another phone call, this time from a member of Seneca Presbyterian Church, asking for help removing a tree from a driveway. We put out word to the church members and a day later set to work. That work expanded over the next two months as up to thirty-two members, including a family of three from Townville Presbyterian, became an amazing and committed work crew. Chain saws, rakes and a lot of manual hauling of fallen trees and debris became the norm for each work day.

That is a summary of the “what” happened. But there were many twists and experiences encountered along the way. It is such a cliché but accurate: parts of neighborhoods looked like a war zone. The fury of the tornado shredded and sheared homes and trees. Forests of trees once reaching to the sky covered the earth like giant pick up sticks, leaf-less logs. Debris was everywhere. In the face of such force and destruction it is not a far step to become aware again of the fragile and precious nature of our lives.

Through various means the church work crew was led from countryclub-like homes to sections of Seneca where destruction had happened long before the tornado hit, destruction created by extreme poverty. We knew there were sections of the city where such poverty existed but our routes to church, stores, and eating places never took us there. Like seeing the tornado’s destruction first-hand, seeing and working outside of our “bubble of comfort” brought a new awareness of how some people actually have to live and raised the question again, “Who is our neighbor?” We can’t answer yet but we hope that our awareness, concern and response will not move on as did the tornado.

We have become impressed with the response of so many. Organizations, including state, county, faith based and others, as well as individuals, came together to assist with shelter, food, physical labor and so much more for those in need. All of this was done in the midst of the challenges of coping with COVID-19.

As for our work crew, we were deeply touched. After the first one or two days of hard, dirty, backbreaking work, along with some spiders and snakes, the crew kept showing up again and again for more work. We thought a couple of times, “They won’t come this day, this week.” But they did! After the first couple of days everyone went right to work, each person fulfilling an essential role in that day’s tasks. And throughout the whole time, there was laughter, a great spirit and “attempts” to observe social distancing.

What’s ahead? Blue tarps, destroyed homes, water damage, and yes, debris, still are part of the landscape. For many, many people their recovery efforts will go on way after the news coverage has moved to other stories. Our work crew anticipates making the transition from this early stage of clean-up to partnering with groups in repair and rebuilding efforts. We are part of the Oconee County Long Term Recovery Group whose efforts are just that: identifying and meeting continuing needs over the next months and even years.

We thank Foothills Presbytery and the many churches and individuals in our Presbytery who have responded with food, financial contributions, supplies, and prayers. This experience has once again made real the love and grace of God that comes when the best of humanity confronts the worst of natural disasters.

Peace!

-Richard & Susan Caldwell

On Behalf of the Work Crew

I Choose

by Beth Lindsay Templeton

Recent events of blatant racism in our country have set off strong responses on all sides. Hate, violence, compassion, and love have been spoken, acted out, and streamed. I find myself disoriented by both extremes and wonder what my role is in all this.

I was shaken when I learned that my great-great grandparents were slave owners. They called the three people who worked in their household “servants” but when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, two of them left immediately while the third, the cook and care provider, stayed a bit longer. My great-great grandfather offered her “wages” if she would stay. She chose to return to her childhood area for a new life.

Photo courtesy of www.oewo.org

I grew up in the South in the 1950s when Jim Crow laws were still in effect. I asked my mom about the “White Only” sign at the water fountain in the old Sears Roebuck building. I wondered why we entered the doctor’s office in one door while people with darker skin went to the door in the back. I was not raised in a totally lily-white bubble because my family interacted with people of different skin colors and nationalities.

I have devoted my life to reaching out to others: through my former work in a large nonprofit that continues to help people of various skin colors (many who live in poverty) to emerge from their hurting situations, with my writing, through teaching people with resources about poverty so they can reduce judgment and increase compassion, by working in churches, even at one time preaching twice a month for three years in an African-American congregation. When I was in seminary two men with dark skin, one American and the other Nigerian, were often guests in my home. I have worked with people of color both as staff and volunteers.

I say all of this not to say how enlightened I am but to undergird my belief that racism is deeply held at places in our spirit that are not even rational or conscious. I have wondered about this for a long time.

I went to a conference on peacemaking that focused on racism. I was astounded when the presenters, one a black woman and the other a white man, began their presentation with the white man announcing that he was a racist. I almost left at that point. He went on to add that he was against racism, he was an antiracist, but he could never call himself a nonracist. He explained that his white skin gave him privileges that he did not even know he enjoyed. They both talked about the insult of claiming to be color blind. They explained that being “color blind” means that one refuses to acknowledge a person in his/her God-given wholeness.

I am still confounded, embarrassed, and horrified when I react internally to certain things. I note the increasing number of mixed-race couples on television and appreciate their presence…but I still notice. I am glad that I am aware of that in myself and can choose to move past it. I feel uncomfortable when I see a man who is different from me in skin color or socioeconomics where I was not expecting him to be. Part of this is being a woman alone but…part of it is subconscious racism and classism. As I write this, I see a female neighbor with darker skin walk by. I notice her in a subtly different way than I do when a white neighbor walks by.

I choose to be antiracist. I yearn to discover for myself how to best respond to what is happening. I want to be a catalyst for change. I also know that writing this piece, as important as it is for me,  as well as witnessing others who call for action OR participate in peaceful protests OR preach powerful sermons OR proclaim the gospel of love, only touches the surface of dealing with the centuries of exploitation, repression, and dehumanizing attitudes that are part of my whiteness and even my deepest self.

Fear makes me lose my best self. Recognizing in another’s face a connection that is beyond my “instinctive” response is something to strive for, pray for, and consciously work for. My current prayer is that I will not let this moment pass unnoticed AND that I will trust that true change is an ongoing intentional process for me and the world.  I may not be able to change the world…even though I often believe that small steps can make a huge difference…but I can change myself. And when I change myself, hopefully, that change will ebb into all with whom I interact.

-Beth Lindsay Templeton
Founder and CEO, Our Eyes Were Opened, Inc.
oewo.org
864-380-6023

My Thoughts on George Floyd

One week before Ahumad Aubery’s death by two white vigilantes’, my wife, Judy, and I were walking through our subdivision early in the morning. I pulled my cellphone out of my right pants pocket and my driver’s license fell on the ground. Judy asked, “Why do you have your driver’s license?” I replied, “Because I’m a black man living in America. If a white officer should happen to stop me, then I’m prepared to prove that I live in this community.”

What is it that causes a highly educated and gifted, African American male, who has been the first African American to obtain significant achievements in several areas during his lifetime, to feel the need to carry his driver’s license while taking a walk through his subdivision so that he’s always prepared to prove he lives in the community should a white police officer stop him? While there are several contributing factors, I’ll highlight only a few.

Let me to start with my first encounter with white police officers. I was eight years old. I was playing in a vacant lot near my house with several of my friends on a Saturday afternoon. A patrol car pulled over to the curb. Two white police officers stepped out of the car and asked, “What are you all doing?” I replied, “We’re playing.” The officer stated, “Well, one of you are going to jail, today!” Then the officer grabbed me by the arm, ushered me to the police car, opened the back door, and ordered me to get in the back seat.

They got into the front seat of the patrol car and pulled off with me crying hysterically in the back seat over and over again, “Officers, I didn’t do anything! I don’t want to go to jail! Please take me home! I want my mama!” The officers were laughing in the front seat. They drove me around for about 5 minutes and then dropped me off where they picked me up. They said, “If you tell anyone what happened today, we’ll come back and arrest you and take you to jail for real next time.” All my friends had scattered. I stood there alone. While I was glad to be back in my neighborhood, I was traumatized by what happened to me that day. I walked home and never told anyone what those white police officers did to me. In fact, this is the first time I’m sharing this story.

Once while driving with a friend of mine, I was pulled over by a white police officer. I did what probably every African American male has been taught to do when he’s pulled over by a white officer, in order to increase his chances of getting home alive. I rolled down the driver’s window and made sure that both of my hands were grasping the top of the steering wheel, so that my hands would be in full view when the officer looked inside the car. When the police officer approached the driver’s window, I asked, “What’s the problem officer?” He replied, “Let me see your driver’s license.” Before making any movement, I explained, “My driver’s license is in my wallet. My wallet is in my right back pocket. I’m going to use my right hand to retrieve it so that I can give you my driver’s license. Is that alright officer?” He said, “Yes.”

After slowly removing my wallet from my right back pocket and retrieving my driver’s license, I handed it to the officer. He looked at my driver’s license and then asked, “What’s a black man like you doing driving a nice car like this?” At the time, I was driving my friend’s brand new, black Cadillac Sedan
Deville. The officer then asked, “May I search your vehicle?” My friend who owned the car was upset because we had just experienced being pulled over for a DWB (Driving While Black). Therefore, he said, “No, not unless you either have probable cause to legally do so or you have a search warrant.” The officer took my driver’s license and returned to his patrol car. It seemed like an eternity before he returned. Fortunately, when he did return, he handed me my driver’s license and let us go on our way. However, he followed behind us in his patrol car for several blocks before turning around and driving away.

I’ve also seen white police officers pull up to a group of white youth hanging out in an empty parking lot on a Friday night. The officers briefly laughed and talked with them before driving off only to pull up across the street with their blue lights flashing to a group of black youth hanging out in an empty parking lot and ordering them to disperse.

Recently, I was so deeply focused on my dying mother until I temporarily shut out what was happening in the larger world. After my mother’s death, I refocused on the larger community only to discover that George Floyd, an African American, was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest. Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. What’s even more horrific is that 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time occurred after Floyd became unresponsive.

Now, it’s just hard for me to wrap my mind around how Dylan Roof, a white man, who massacred nine African Americans attending Bible study at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, can be captured by police and the officers assuage his hunger by buying him food from Burger King, all because it would be considered inhumane treatment for them not to do so.

However, George Floyd can be lying face down, handcuffed, with an officer’s knee on his neck, while stating that he can’t breathe, crying out for his mama, begging for the officer not to kill him, and the officers present didn’t consider this inhumane treatment.

I’m not asking that African Americans be given special treatment under the law. I’m asking that they be given equal treatment under the law. Unlike Dylan Roof, George Floyd was denied due process of law for allegedly passing off a counterfeit $20 at a market, all because those who are paid through our tax dollars to protect and serve all the citizens in a given community became the judge, jury, and executioner. As a result, on May 25, 2020, while in police custody, Floyd was unjustly murdered in broad daylight on a Minneapolis, Minnesota street.

So, what is it that causes a highly educated and gifted, African American male, who has been the first African American to obtain significant achievements in several areas during his lifetime, to feel the need to carry his driver’s license while taking a walk through his subdivision so that he’s always prepared to prove he lives in the community should a white officer stop him? Well, it has to do with both the personal and collective encounters of white police inequities and brutality inflected upon African Americans through the years in America.

Now at 8 years old, I’ll admit I thought that all white police officers were bad. At 64 years old, I realize that’s not true. In fact, I have a brother who has spent his entire career in law enforcement. He currently serves as a Captain over one of the seven police districts in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Like all
professions, there are good white police officers and bad white police officers. We have bad doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and clergy, just to name a few. We have to hold these bad people accountable and remove them when necessary from the positions of trust that they occupy.

While the message of those who are peacefully protesting police brutality against African Americans resonates with me, I believe that violence is counterproductive. It serves as a distraction. It shifts the focus from where it should be; namely, on the Floyd Family and the facts of the case. Having said that, however, I fully understand what the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meant when he said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

At this significant moment in American history, it’s my hope that we truly hear what’s being said and put in place the necessary policing reforms that will prevent this situation from reoccurring. After all, this is more than a black and white issue. This is a right and wrong issue. This is a moral issue. This is a justice issue. This is a systemic red, white and blue issue that has far too long fostered disparate law enforcement practices when it comes to how people of African descent in the United States are treated by law enforcement personnel and requires drastic changes.

Therefore, I call upon you…

• To pray for the Floyd Family;
• To pray for the officer who has been charged with murder and his family;
• To pray for the officers who have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and their families;
• To pray for the peaceful protesters;
• To pray for those who are rioting;
• To pray that those who have the power to make the right decisions may have the courage to do so;
• To pray for our nation;
• To fill out the 2020 census;
• To vote in municipal elections; and, for those of you who want to seek justice for George Floyd,
• To text FLOYD to 55156.

Faithfully yours,

 

 

Danny C. Murphy General Presbyter- Trinity Presbytery

“But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” Amos 5:24, NKJV.

A Covid-19 Guide To Young Adult Ministry

By Jackie Putman

It is no secret that today’s young adults present unique challenges to the church and world. A quick Google search of the word “millennial” will produce lengthy articles about the ways in which today’s young adults upset the cultural and economic norms. If you add the word “church” to that Google search, you will see grim statistics about young adults and the church. According to the recently-released book by Mark DeVries and Scott Pontier entitled, “Sustainable Young Adult Ministry,” 70% of 18-30 year olds who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. Additionally, 1/3 of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, when churches are struggling to change the ways that we worship, fellowship, learn, and serve, it may be tempting to sideline young adult ministry until conditions return to normal. After all, young adult ministry is hard enough for the church when participation and budgets are high. However, we are seeing that this pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. “Normal” is not on the immediate horizon. By neglecting young adults now, the church is missing out on opportunities to nurture young adults through, likely, the most challenging time in their lives, and to benefit from the particular gifts that young adults can offer the church during this pandemic.

One of the most common complaints about twenty and thirty somethings is that they are too busy for church. But now, with most of their gathering places closed and their schedules wide open, the church has an opportunity to step into those gaps and provide meaningful pastoral care and spiritual nurture. When everything else in their lives is disrupted, the church can remind young adults of God’s faithfulness, abiding presence, and love. At their core, young adults crave authenticity and substance- not flashy programs and hip worship. Now, stripped of all of pretense, the church can work to rediscover its most fundamental messages about God’s love, presence, and welcome, and trust that, with consistent invitations and focused effort, young adults will draw near to authenticity and hope.

This is also a time for empowering young adults to share their gifts with the church in new ways. Now, more than ever, churches are striving to create and sustain genuine, meaningful, and connectional online community. While young adults often get a bad reputation for having a shallow social media presence, they know better than other generations how to harness the power of technology for good. They are masters at efficiency and innovation, and they are eager to see those skills embraced by the church. Out of necessity, the church can no longer hide behind the words, “This is the way we’ve always done things.” With that barrier removed, young adults can be empowered to create fresh expressions of faithfulness that can carry the church into whatever new “normal” lies on the other side of COVID-19.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The essential thing in heaven and earth is that there should be long obedience in the same direction.” As we navigate the turbulent waters of young adult ministry in the midst of a global pandemic, be willing to fail. It is possible that you you may find yourself alone in a Zoom game night you worked hard to plan. Next time, empower a young adult the lead the event and keep pressing on. Send compassionate, grace-filled texts to the no-shows and continue to offer joyful invitations to participate. Show consistency, and prove to your young adults that the church is not giving up on them. In doing so, young adults will also hear the good news of the gospel that, in Jesus Christ, God has not given up on them.


-Jackie is the Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Mission at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Greenville SC

Faith Food Bank

By Gloria Pascoe

I would like to introduce you to Faith Food Bank located in Williamston, South Carolina.  Faith Food Bank is a non-profit 501c3 organization that has been proudly serving our local community since 2007. We started out in the basement of Faith Presbyterian Church, but quickly outgrew that space and now have a building across the street from the church. Our distribution days are Monday and Tuesday every week, and every third Saturday of the month. We serve an average of 772 individuals per month, which consist of 271 families. In 2019 we served 9264 individuals, made up of 3254 families. The shelves of Faith Food Bank are stocked by purchasing food from Second Harvest of Metrolina, and weekly donations of fresh produce and bakery items from Bi-lo in Pelzer. Once a year we receive donations from, a US Postal food drive, the Food Lion Feeds program, and the local Palmetto High School food drive. Volunteers staff our food bank and distribute food to those in need.

We are truly blessed to be able to serve our community and our goal is to continue feeding all individuals that walk through our doors. There are numerous ways individuals or businesses can help. Donation may be sent directly to PO Box 38, Williamston, SC. 29697 and use www.Smile.Amazon.com by selecting Faith Food Bank (Williamston, SC) as your charity. We will soon be accepting donations on our Facebook page. Thank you for your interest in Faith Food Bank. If you have any questions, please contact me at  864-518-1477.

-Gloria Pascoe is an Elder at Faith Presbyterian in Williamson SC

The Faith Food Bank is at 308 William St, Williamston SC
www.faithfoodbank.org
The Faith Food Bank receives a portion of Foothills Presbytery’s 2 Cents a Meal Program