Presbytery Highlights

The regular meeting of Winnebago Presbytery was held on Tuesday May 12 at First Presbyterian Church in Manitowoc.

The theme of the meeting was integrating technology into the life of the congregation.  The meeting was held in the newly renovated fellowship hall which, in addition to many physical improvements, is wifi accessible.

Elder Jess Wakefield of Covenant Community Church in Schofield was recognized for completing his lay pastor training and was certified as a Trained Lay Pastor in the presbytery.

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Upon return from the Women’s Lambing weekend at the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas, five of the participants shared pictures and stories of their time together.  They presented to the staff a token of their appreciation – pictured below – which now hangs in the presbytery office.

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What’s Happening at Just Fare?

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You often read short articles in News and Notes highlighting promotional events at the Just Fare Market housed at First Presbyterian Church, in Fond du Lac.

Have you ever wanted to learn more?  The latest issue of their newsletter can be read here.

Back to Mississippi – trip report

By Dave Root – First Presbyterian Church, Marshfield

The first two weeks in November, my Son in Law, Kevin Mitchell, and I made another disaster relief trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to assist Katrina victims. As a point of comparison, this was my 7 th trip to the area, the first being three weeks after the storm hit. You can see a difference now as people are trying to put their lives and living conditions back in order.

From my viewpoint, the biggest difference is being made by the faith-based volunteers that continue to provide assistance. Not least among these efforts is the Presbyterian Church( USA) which has committed to years of continuing the rebuilding process. Presbyterian Churches along the coast continue to host and house volunteers that come from everywhere. These congregations demonstrate the patience that God calls us to, in putting up with itinerants that use their facilities, sometimes not always in the way desired.Presbyterians can be very proud of the “Christ-like” atmosphere that is apparent in the region.

Kevin and I joined with a team from the Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church located in Columbia , Maryland . We numbered about 10 in all and with various skills ranging from professional builders to rank armatures. Some of the team had medical backgrounds and volunteered at the free clinic that is established in the area. The Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport was our host.

The effort has changed from repairing existing homes to building new homes. We worked on two homes that were very near completion. One of these was completed to the point that we participated in a “key ceremony ” on our last Friday. This was gratifying as with other trips we didn’t get to witness a completion. The lady occupying the new home was brought to tears as she thanked us and described the hopeless situation she faced after the storm.

The Presbyterian motto for the relief effort is “out of chaos, hope”. It is comforting to know that in Christ’s name we can provide this hope. The work is far from being complete and we must continue to concentrate on being the hope for these unfortunate victims.

Jerusalem Market Place Comes Alive

The Vacation Bible School folks in the Forest Larger Parish knew their dream was an ambitious one. They would need more than 40 adult volunteers for this year’s program to be successful! They were richly rewarded!

The week long program in late July concluded with nearly 100 adults and children crowding the market place set up in the Lakewood Presbyterian Church parking lot.

Several of the Jerusalem women pose for a picture.

One never knows who might be spotted walking through the market.

Greening the Church: the Season of Creation

In Stevens Point, Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church has been celebrating a new season in the liturgical year since 2006: the Season of Creation. We are following the lead of the Australian Lutheran Church, although we do it slightly differently. You can learn a lot more about their approach at www.seasonofcreation.com (yes, com). I first learned about this season at a St. Olaf Conference for Theology, Worship and the Arts in 2006 in a weeklong seminar with Christian ethicist Larry Rasmussen.

Basically, the Season of Creation, as we approach it, takes Psalm 19 very seriously: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, their voice is not heard, yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” We approach the Season of Creation as an opportunity to experience Earth-honoring, Christ-centered worship. We continue to preach from the Bible, but we look at creation as an additional text, asking ourselves, “What can we learn about the Creator from creation?” In addition to the Season of Creation website, there are helpful resources at www.webofcreation.org – a website developed by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in cooperation with McCormick Theological Seminary.

We decorated the sanctuary with a fabric “river” running down from the baptismal font (in 2006), as well as with trees, plants, and rocks. In 2007, we had a seashore running across the front of the sanctuary, with fishnets and shells. This year, we will introduce 4 banners commissioned especially for Season of Creation from Philip Cox-Johnson of Gospel Colors.

Each year, we have celebrated the Season of Creation for 6 weeks, beginning with the first Sunday in September. Each week has a theme. In 2006, they were: Planet Earth, Rivers, Trees, 4 Compass Points/4 Basic Elements (Wind, Water, Fire, Earth), Humanity (World Communion Sunday) and Cosmos. In 2007, they were: Ocean, Grasses, Storm, Fauna (when we also held a Blessing of the Animals in the afternoon), Wetlands, and Eco-Justice (World Communion Sunday). In 2008, they will be: Forest, Wilderness, Sun and Moon, Lake, Symbiotic Relationships (World Communion Sunday), and Land.

So, for example, when we celebrated Wetlands Sunday, we learned that God values people and elements in Creation that humans discard as useless. We were reminded that although people used to regard wetlands as unusable space that should be filled in or paved over, wetlands are critical to the health of the earth. Similarly, women and children used to be regarded as less important people, but our Lord Jesus urged us to receive the Kingdom of God as a child, and his resurrection was first revealed to women.

We learned on Grasses Sunday that grasses are one of the few plants that grow from their roots, and we were reminded that our lives are shaped by what we “plant ourselves in”. Are our roots in God? Or in material goods?

On Oceans Sunday, I learned that there is a substantive difference between shallow ocean and deep ocean, and so Job 38:16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?” acquired new meaning for me, as did Psalm 42:7 “Deep calls to deep….” I was challenged to go deeper in my prayer life, to allow myself to rest deeply in God.

The premise of the Season of Creation is that the Bible was written, originally, to people who lived intimately with Creation, whose lives were woven into the wonders of God. We, in our modern, wealthy, western world are insulated from heat, cold, the lapping of the river on its banks and the wildness of storms. We need to intentionally draw close to God’s Creation in order to fully appreciate the nuances of God’s Word in Scripture. And in so doing, we are reminded of the preciousness of God’s creation to God, and challenged to care for God’s created world as part of our love for and faithfulness to God.

It has also been a time for us to reach out to those who are more drawn to nature and skeptical of Scripture to learn about how God’s Word affirms their love for the earth, and that such love is consistent with Christianity.

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