I’m consistently amazed at the number of our General Assembly Council ministries that touch the lives of our PC(USA) presbyteries, synods and congregations. And my associates and I are always pleased to welcome colleagues from other parts of the church to come and talk to us about how we mutually inform, support and resource one another.
Jan DeVries, Synod Executive/Stated Clerk of the Synod of the Southwest, generously traveled to Louisville last week for a visit. The number of people she saw is evidence of the varieties of connections that we have with the life of a synod. Because Jan is on the Steering Committee of the Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts & Hands, her first visit was with Karen Schmidt, Deputy Executive Director of Communications and Funds Development, Bob Thompson, Interim Director of Funds Development, and Joey Bailey, our chief financial officer, to talk about progress on the campaign and how the synod could help. Since the synod hosted itinerating mission workers in October, Jan’s next stop was with Bruce and Lora Whearty, the coordinators of the Mission Challenge ’07. Then she met with Hunter Farrell, Director of World Mission, to speak further about Mission Challenge ’07. They were later joined by Stan DeVoogd, coordinator for Central America/Mexico, to talk about border ministries in the synod, of which there are three.
Another visit that Jan was happy to make was with Eric Graninger, who serves as General Counsel for the PC(USA). Eric is a friend and former colleague of Jan’s from the time when Jan was on the national staff in the Office of the General Assembly.
And still there’s more. Because the synod has mission relationships in Peru and with members of the Peru Mission Network, Jan had prearranged for a special visit with Harry and Debbie Horne, mission workers in Peru, who have been in Louisville since August for itineration and Mission Challenge. Harry and Debbie, who will return to Peru in January, have been providing support to our GAC staff in World Mission while they are here.
The synod also has a number of ethnic and multicultural congregations and fellowships, and has worked with our Congregational Enhancement offices in nurturing those, so Jan found her meetings fruitful with Amgad Beblawi, Middle Eastern, Sallie Cuaresma, Native American, and Hector Rodriguez, Hispanic-Latino-a. The synod is planning a bi-national immigration and border issues event that Jan was able to discuss with Angel Suarez Valera, new immigrant groups ministries, and Raafat Girgis, multicultural ministries. Teresa Chavez Sauceda is associate for Racial Justice and Advocacy and staff to the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns; Jan stopped in to catch up with her. Another stop was with Ruth Anne Boklage of the Church Financial Campaign Service to talk about interpreting budgets to church members, an important stewardship subject.
Finally, because churches in the Synod of the Southwest have benefited from loans by the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP), the synod, in grateful response, has invested an additional $40,000 to PILP, bringing its total investment to $200,000. Jan made sure to pay a visit to Jay Hudson, too, PILP’s president and CEO. All this in three days! Thank you for your visit and your many ministries, Jan. Learn more about the Synod of the Southwest.
We encourage more visits like Jan’s from middle governing bodies, and from congregations. Several months ago, Pastor Tom Are from the Village Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, came to Louisville with the chair of the church’s mission committee; Pastor Bill Barron of Sequoyah Hills Church in Tennessee and a number of their elders visited earlier this year; and I was just at First Church in Atlanta and learned that Pastor George Wirth and several elders visited before I came to the GAC. Such opportunities to spend time together help us to become better acquainted with congregations and middle governing bodies to share in the wonderful ministries that we each are doing, thereby learning how we can support each other. We welcome and encourage such visits. Please contact me or Curtis Kearns to plan your visit.