What is Christmas Joy?
In the lead up to Christmas, many of us spend time in search of the perfect gift — the gift that communicates to friends and family how much we know and love them. We search our memories for indications of what gift might cause the faces of our loved ones to light up. We scour the stores and shops, hoping to come across the thing that will communicate a depth of love that our words cannot.
As important as gifts to loved ones are, we have an opportunity to give gifts that help many people we do not know through the Christmas Joy Offering. These gifts in particular draw us back to the manger and God’s perfect gift to us — Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to live among us, bringing light into darkness, and reconciliation to God and to one another. A perfect gift from a gracious God.
During this Christmas and Advent Season, we celebrate leadership; past, present and future through support of the Christmas Joy Offering. We do so because church leaders greatly impact our lives of faith, walking with us down the path to be more like Jesus. We want those church leaders and their families who find themselves grappling with a critical financial need to have the resources they need which are provided through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. We also support the offering to help our future leaders in the church and world, like those educated at our Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. Supporting these students helps the whole church develop leaders who reflect the wideness of God’s intended diversity.
For those supported through the Christmas Joy Offering, this help is truly a gift from above. May our gifts, and the leaders who receive them, point us always to the truth of the one whose birth we celebrate, Jesus Christ — the truly perfect gift.
To learn more about the Christmas Joy Offering, please visit:
- Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions: www.pensions.org, click on Plans & Programs
- Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges: www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/resc/
Why Call to Health?
We are each called to wholeness — to live life abundantly.
Our health is central to this call; so, too, are our spiritual, financial, and vocational gifts. When these key dimensions of our lives are in balance, we are better able to serve others and share God’s love with the world. That’s why Call to Health promotes wholeness in each of us. READ MORE…
Get READY for the 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium – a gathering for high school age youth from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
DATE: Tuesday, July 16th- Saturday, July 20th, 2019
LOCATION: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
AUDIENCE: High School Age youth and accompanying adult advisors (Entering freshmen through graduated seniors; adult advisors must be 21 yrs+)
THEME: “HERE’S MY HEART”
Click here: 2019 Foothills Triennium Delegation Application
Find more about registration, event plans and travel information on their website, Presbyterian Youth Triennium . All participants must be registered through a local presbytery or church delegation.
FOOTHILLS PRESBYTERY CONTACT:
Stephen Price, Director of Youth & Young Adults at Central Presbyterian Church in Anderson, SC
cell: (864) 978-9607
church/work: (864) 226-3468
At Foothills, we have traditionally had an annual recognition and celebration of the deaths of ruling elders, teaching elders, and teaching elder spouses. A few years ago we moved this to our November presbytery meeting in honor of All Saints.
We ask presbyters to give prayerful recognition of the life and service of those ruling elders, teaching elders, and teaching elder spouses whose lives on earth have ended. If you know of any Ruling Elders, Teaching Elders, or Teaching Elder spouses that have passed from November 2017 until now who should be honored at our November 13, 2018 Presbytery Meeting, please notify us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31.
Here’s what we know right now *
In South Carolina:
The situation is being monitored very closely by everyone involved. National and state VOADS (Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster) are ready to mobilize once they determine and assess need.
The state coordinator is Sam Carr and his email is email@example.com
Local CHURCHES with chainsaw or cleanup teams should register on the Crisis Cleanup website and list the name of your individual church NOT ‘PDA’. This will allow you to pick jobs or assignments as they are listed and complete them in the queue.
Gasbuddy.com is being monitored to determine areas running low on fuel and monitor high priority refueling areas.
Volunteersc.org is up and running so unaffiliated volunteers can connect with affiliated groups and find work.
Horry county (Myrtle Beach area) Disaster Relief / Waccamaw VOAD set-up disasterhelp.me – this is their central site for VOADs, those impacted by disaster, volunteers and all the paperwork that needs to be completed.
* Foothills Presbytery Committee on Shared Ministry (Mission Team) is meeting today to discuss other ways we can support and send aid to those affected by the wrath of Florence.
Debbie G. Foster, Associate Stated Clerk Foothills Presbytery
This year’s Big Tent conference took place in St. Louis and had the theme, “Race, Reconciliation, Reformation.” I was participating in the conference as a Presbytery leader, but also as a member of the 2020 Vision team for our denomination.
As I prepared to go, I found myself looking at the location, reading the workshop titles, looking over the schedule and wondering, “Is this conference going to be a thumbs up or a thumbs down?
Jill Duffield, editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, nailed it when she wrote, “Reading the workshop titles proved daunting. “Human Caused Disaster Ministry,” “Presbyterian Response to Native American issues: The Apology and Doctrine of Discovery,” “Cuba, Israel-Palestine, South Sudan, Korea, and Mexico: The Church’s Stories and Struggles of Reconciliation,” “Disrupting Racism: Building the Intercultural Community,” “The Least of These: Engaging Presbyterians in the Work of Preventing and Alleviating Poverty,” to name of few offered on just the first full day of the conference.
Who wants to engage in such huge, messy, and seemingly intractable issues?” Jill is right! These workshops and topics were focused on so many of the issues, which cause division in our congregations and our denomination. Issues that prompted Foothills Presbytery GA reform group to write nine overtures. (all which were sent to GA 2016). Issues that bring out defensive strategies and often cause us to “spin-off in multiple directions”.
Now, take a deep breath! Except for the oppressive heat (whine, whine, whine) and long walks from Washington University parking lots – it was an excellent conference!
Gradually, the Kingdom of God Stories behind the “daunting” workshop titles and plenary topics began to come to life. I was grateful to be sitting in the chapel at Washington University (founded by the grandfather of TS Elliot by the way) while J. Herbert Nelson “preached-it”! I heard the word of God challenging the people of God. Don’t you just love an unexpected gift from God?
Rev. Denise Anderson and Rev. Jan Edmiston, Co-Moderators of the 222nd General Assembly lead plenary conversation titled, “At the Cross: Intersections the Church Must Navigate”. They introduced the book Always With Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor, by Liz Theoharis, as the second book in their church wide book study. (click here to read a blurb about Liz’s book)
It was a “loaded” three days for sure. Much like the conference name; however, the Big Tent became a divine space for a wide variety of people to faithfully grapple with the relevance of 21st Century church and ask tough questions about God’s vision for our future. It was a divine space to hear God’s word read, proclaimed and set before as a holy reminder and a challenge to continue to be a church of integrity, a church participating in the covenant promises with and for God.
This was a gathering when the “messy issues” did not divide. We (PCUSA) still have work to do for sure, but The Big Tent modeled how mission and ministry grounded in God’s word can enable us all to travel home challenged to be the messengers of God’s healing love in our corner of the world.
All things Big Tent, including three articles about the work of the 2020 Vision Team
 Always with Us? What Jesus Really Said about the Poor
Jesus’s words “the poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11) are regularly used to suggest that ending poverty is impossible, that poverty is a result of moral failures, and that the poor themselves have no role in changing their situation. In this book Liz Theoharis examines both the biblical text and the lived reality of the poor to show how that passage is taken out of context, distorted, and politicized to justify theories about the inevitability of inequality.
Theoharis reinterprets “the poor you will always have with you” to show that it is actually one of the strongest biblical mandates to end poverty. She documents stories of poor people themselves organizing to improve their lot and illuminates the implications for the church. Poverty is not inevitable, Theoharis argues. It is a systemic sin, and all Christians have a responsibility to partner with the poor to end poverty once and for all.
Deborah G. Foster, Associate Stated Clerk
The Discernment Task Force recommendations asked Presbytery staff to take the lead in partnering with leaders and congregations across the East, Central and West regions of our Presbytery, as we explore ways we can support, encourage, and do Regional Shared Mission and Ministry together. The following is a snapshot of what is stirring in 2017.
Regional Shared Mission & Ministry success stories
- Three youth groups from Foothills Presbytery came together (Jan 8) for a concert. Youth from Fort Hill and First Anderson traveled to Central in Anderson to see Sam Burchfield perform. Sam is a child of this presbytery, of Fort Hill Church and past music leader for our presbytery’s Youth Retreats.
- The Easley Church hosted (Feb 26) well-known Author, Speaker, Consultant and Pastor, Skye Jethanye and invited all to attend. After two morning worship services there was an afternoon keynote presentation with dinner and fellowship.
- Central Anderson hosted (March 26) the Reverend Dr. Becky Davis, from Presbyterian College, and representatives from three churches as they learned more about the importance of Safe Church Policies and ways to write, implement and train around those policies.
- Eight churches in the Spartanburg area came together and published a Lenten Devotion booklet entitled Ordinary Saints. Covenant, First Spartanburg, First Woodruff, Landrum, Nazareth, Second, Tyger River and Unity all provided pieces for the publication.
- Holy Week brought together four churches in the Anderson area for shared Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Tenebrae Services. Central, First, Salem, and Midway Presbyterian Churches shared planning and resources, bringing four congregations together for worship.
- The Nazareth church hosted a Youth Ministry “Mini-Med School” with participation from the Covenant, Tyger River and Second Spartanburg Church’s Youth.
- Shared VBS Planning, Preparation and Resources – First Church Easley and Fourth Greenville discovered they were duplicating their VBS production and preparation work. So the DCE’s at both churches decided to join forces to build “Hero Central” VBS sets and create their themed décor together.
Regional Shared Mission and Ministry Plans underway
The Inman church (in partnership with Covenant) is hosting Reach Out with Ray Jones – Coordinator for Evangelism (PCUSA) Sunday May 21. Morning worship is followed by a meal and afternoon events include a presentation, community action planning and dessert. Website: http://reachoutwithray.com (East Region)
Lunch and Learn – First Church Greer has offered to open their doors, Wednesday May 10,12:00 noon for us to eat lunch together and hear from The Rev. Deb Richardson Moore and The Rev. Tandy Taylor from Triune Mercy Center. (Central Region)
Lunch and Learn – First Church Anderson has offered to open their doors on Tuesday May 30th for us to eat lunch and hear from Mark Tidsworth, author of SHIFT: Three Big Moves for the 21Century Church. (West Region)
Specifically for the Small Church:
WEST/CENTRAL Region – Piedmont Presbyterian Church: Thursday, April 27, 6:15
Our discussion will include case studies of local congregations who have begun partnerships with other churches to broaden their ministry and impact in their communities.
NEW: EAST REGION (Spartanburg & Cherokee Counties) – Limestone Church
Tuesday, May 2, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Foothill Presbytery is pleased to partner with Presbyterian Foundation to offer a unique 90-minute event geared toward helping smaller churches toward greater financial and overall health.
Regional Shared Mission and Ministry projects underway
Early last fall approx 18 people from the East, Central and West areas of our Presbytery gathered to talk about Shared Mission and Ministry and possible dreams and goals for how that work might show up in Foothills presbytery. After assessing current shared ministry and creating a list of hopes for the future, they named 3 Shared Mission and Ministry areas to focus on and explore in 2017. The two projects that have gained traction are:
- Interfaith Gatherings: Who are our neighbors?
- Hunger: Response to the hunger deserts in upstate SC.
You will be hearing more about how you and your congregations get engage in the months ahead.
Peer Cohorts meet for food, fellowship and professional support
- Children’s Educators from the Large(er) Church – every 6-8 weeks
- Youth Leader Roundtable – once a month
- Spartanburg Area Clergy – once every 10-12 weeks
- Lake Cluster/Panera Anderson Clemson Blvd – every 6 weeks
- 7% Group (those mostly under 40yrs) – once a quarter
- Clergy Women (2-3 times per year)
Gordon W. G. Raynal, Stated Clerk
April 17, 2017
Foothills Presbytery is the 14,442 Active Confirmed members and their children (2015 Statistics), and the 144 Teaching Elders (Installed, Supply, Presbytery Staff, Validated Ministries, Temporary and Honorably Retired) in the 58 Particular Congregations in Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties in Upstate South Carolina. Foothills Presbytery is you, and me, and all of us together. Last August we voted to approve the report of the Discernment Task Force and their recommendation that we adopt a new model for being and doing presbytery. The old model based in a hierarchical, program oriented, corporations style of practice had served us well for decades, but it was worn out, too expensive, and really did not suit our circumstances in the ongoing 21st century. And so after two and a half years of study, conversation and work, we approved a model that we have called “a Covenant Relations Model” of Presbytery. Centrally we gather to carry out the requirements of our Constitution that define who we are as Presbyterians. And outwardly we gather in our congregations and in regional gatherings to engage the Call of Christ to be faithful stewards of His mission and ministry for His Church and for the world.
Gatherings (Part One):
The new “Covenant Relations Model” is all about growing, building and sustaining relationships between our congregations, members and pastoral leaders. Gathering as the whole body is critically important to our shared life. As you will note in their report, the Coordinating Council approved the sites for Presbytery through the end of 2018. Let me share several aspects of our conversation about approving the sites:
Next year we will move from the two Tuesday and two Sunday meetings a year to three meetings. Per our new Manual of Administrative Operations all of our meetings will be four part events. In the old model the focus of Presbytery meetings was first and foremost “to gather to do business.” Our new model will focus on worship, business, food and fellowship, and a special event. Last November at First Greer we had a combined food, fellowship and special event focused around Café Justo and our border ministry with our neighbors to the south. In January the special event was about our history, heritage and identity as Reformed and Presbyterian Christians. And we were also privileged to have a 4-day interaction with the GA Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. For this, our Spring 2017 meeting, our Stewardship Working Group will be leading us in a combined program on stewardship and campus ministry. Looking towards next year, the May Saturday meeting will bring us together to do a hands-on mission event about hunger. For that Presbytery day we want to begin with the mission event and encourage the participation of our children, youth, college students and adults to start the day with the special event, then do the business before us, then fellowship around tables together, and conclude with worship. The Coordinating Council wants to hear from you about what special events you would like to see. Please send your suggestions to the office.
You will also note that Council approved two meetings at Eastminster next year. One reason for this is the centrality of Eastminster. Another reason is that we want more of our Ruling Elder Commissioners to visit the Presbytery office and our wonderful Resource Center. As we start the three meetings per year model we wanted to do this in the first year of this practice. With three meetings a year, then in 2019 we’ll return to the practice of a meeting in the East Region, a meeting in the Central Region and a meeting in the West Region.
In any and every organization communication is very important, but in the new model it is key. Your Presbytery staff has worked hard to update and improve our website and our newsletter. We also have social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. In the last two Presbytery Docket Packs we have included a one page summary of our Foothills Presbytery Mission, a one page diagram about our structure, and a one page information page about our website and newsletter. We will continue to include these resource pages in the Docket Packs in order to aid Sessions, pastors and non-ordained church professionals. All of these are rich resources. Legally we cannot sign people up to receive the newsletter, so we want to urge every congregation to have a sign-up drive. It is fast and easy to sign up. This will not only help us get the news out and share our Presbyterian way, it also can be an important part of building a richer and deeper web of relationships as we seek to be faithful to Jesus Christ.