October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
As a pastor, would you be prepared if…
Summer is a busy time at Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church. We always have a summer intern from Princeton Theological Seminary and a large part of that student’s internship involves leading Vacation Bible School. It was the first day of VBS and it was a sunny, hot day. The church was buzzing- with staff persons, parents, grandparents, and children of all ages- registering children and getting everything set.
Suddenly a woman appeared, sweating, out of breath, and extremely upset, looking to talk to the pastor. She was hysterical. I took her into my office, closed the door, and her story began to pour out in the midst of her hysteria. She has been living in an abusive relationship for the past fifteen years and surviving day by day.
She said that today, at breakfast, her husband told her that he was going to kill her. He kept guns in the house and she knew this was a very real possibility. It was not the first time that he had threatened this. But somehow, she knew that, today, he really meant it and that she needed help.
She said that she had heard about the pastor that “works with domestic violence” and she decided to come to the church to find her. Because of an underlying medical condition requiring her to take medication, she does not drive. And so she left her home, when her husband left for work, and began the six mile walk to find the church where she believed she would find help.
As she was walking along the way on a busy highway, her husband found her, pulled up in his work truck and tried to get her into the truck. He had a gun with him and threatened her again. She ran into the bushes to hide. When she felt it was safe she returned to walking, only to be stopped by her husband again. She managed to get away a second time.
She flagged down a woman who brought her the remaining half mile to the church. Read more...
National Observance of Children's Sabbaths®
The 2015 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, “How Long Must I Cry for Help? Bending the Arc Towards God’s Vision of Justice for Children," will be held October 16-18, with focus on real solutions to significantly reduce child poverty now.
The national observation of Children’s Sabbath, sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), is “a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect, and advocate for all children.” Read a letter from CDF President Marian Wright Edelman about the 2015 Children’s Sabbath.
PHEWA’s Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN) invites you to join thousands of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other faith communities across the country in this celebration by holding a community-wide interfaith special worship service or a special worship service in your place of worship- add educational programs, and advocacy activities to engage people of faith in improving the lives of children and their families in your community, state, and in our nation.
Download and share this year’s National Observance of Children’s Sabbath® Manual; A Multifaith Resource for Year-Round Child Advocacy, written by the Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, CDF Senior Religious Advisor and leader in our Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN).
You can access CDF Children's Sabbath resources from previous years from our Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN) page.
PC(USA) Disability Inclusion Sunday 2015
Better Together: Transformed by God’s Variety of Gifts
Whether your congregation or worshiping community celebrates Disability Inclusion Sunday on June 14, 2015, the date designated in the Presbyterian calendar, or at some other time (or times), Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC), one of the ten networks of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) urges you to take advantage of our many resources.
This year, PDC, in collaboration with the Office of the General Assembly and the five human resources departments of the PC(USA), is excited to make available, “Better Together: Transformed by God’s Variety of Gifts.” This resource, commissioned by action of the 219th General Assembly, has been created for use in almost any context where human beings gather. It includes powerful personal testimonies and strategies for inclusion in every setting, from worship and Christian education to places of employment. Read more
Men in the Mirror: Constructing and Applying a Christ-centered Masculinity to Interpersonal Relationships
A new 13 session CURRICULUM for use in addressing violence against women and girls
What does it mean to be a mature healthy man? In every society, males of all ages hear and internalize a variety of messages about the definition of, and “appropriate” expression of their masculinity. Some of these messages have very positive impacts on the development and sense of identity of males. Other internalized messages have destructive implications for a man’s well being and those with whom he shares relationships. Internalized messages of identity left unexamined, often create deeply engrained patterns of relationship problems that men struggle with throughout their lives. The lack of a strong forum within the Christian Church designed to encourage men to explore together those qualities, values and practices which make for positive male relationship skills, actually contributes in its absence to the breakdown of healthy dynamics within families and towards significant others. By studying the dynamics exhibited in Jesus’ relationships with a variety of others in his lifetime, this new 13 session curriculum entitled, “Men in the Mirror; Constructing and Applying a Christ-centered Masculinity to Interpersonal Relationships, sets out to explore and address the values that impact men’s relationships giving them the opportunity to critique their own relationship skills and grow in their discipleship to Jesus Christ. This valuable resource was developed by the Rev. Dr. Kevin E. Frederick, Moderator of Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence Network (PADVN), a ministry network of the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association (PHEWA). Kevin serves as Pastor to the Waldensian Presbyterian Church of Valdese, North Carolina.
The Power of Presence
The Rev. Caitlin Werth, member of PHEWA’s Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network (PCJN) and one of the organizers of our January 2014 Ecumenical Gathering Event, PLACE-MAKING, writes powerful reflections on ministry, with call to action, in her article “The Power of Presence,” in Unbound; An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice. Caitlin serves as the director of the HOPE Pre-Release Program at Allegheny County Jail, an inter-faith, rehabilitative, re-entry program for men and women who want to restore their relationship with their God, rebuild their lives, and reconcile to their community.
Excerpt from "The Power of Presence":
She, like many others, had asked me about her case. Her rights as a parent were in danger of being terminated, and she wanted to get into a housing program before her approaching hearing. I explained to her that I am not a social worker and offered to connect her to one, but I felt compelled to look into her case as well. Like many others who work in a jail full of people eager to find their way out, I am frequently approached with these requests.
I found out that she would not be cleared to get into any alternative housing program, as there were warrants out for her arrest in other counties. I debated how to (or even whether I should) share this information with her. Later that day, I went to her housing pod to speak with her again and pass on the message.
PCAN’s Shannon Daley-Harris writing in the Huffington Post
The Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, Religious Affairs Director of The Children’s Defense Fund & member of PHEWA’s Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN) Leadership Team, challenges us with a prophetic call to action in “The Right to Bear Dreams: It's Time to End the Nightmare of Child Gun Deaths” and theological reflection in “God’s Call Is to Seek Change, Not Comfort, to Keep Our Children Safe.”
People, Not Profit: Presbyterians Form Criminal Justice Network
By Patrick David Heery
Last Thursday, March 1, 2012, Presbyterians all across the country hand-delivered letters to their governors, saying no to private prisons: not in our state, not anywhere. Forty-eight governors in total received letters faxed, emailed, and delivered. It was the first act of the newly formed Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network, based squarely on General Assembly policy. And it was in direct response to the “corrections investment initiative” from Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) seeking to purchase state-owned correctional facilities. To ensure profitability, the states would need to commit to privatizing their prisons for 20 years and guarantee a 90% prisoner occupancy rate. So much for rehabilitation and ending recidivism.
A crisis in ministry
by The Rev. Doug Mitchell
Associate Pastor for Faith in Action
Westminster Presbyterian Church
MINNEAPOLIS — Frequently in our church ministry, members and staff come into contact with people who have problems that go beyond their capacity to respond with caring and effectiveness. It is always our desire to respond to those who need our help with the utmost compassion, but on occasion we are faced with situations that are beyond our personal expertise. The Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) provides the link between presbyteries, congregations, ministers and others with specialized, professional expertise at no cost to those asking for assistance. For more than 50 years, the PHEWA umbrella of networks has helped congregations and the church at large learn how to offer an inclusive welcome. They provide assistance in developing strategies for effective responses to a wide variety of needs encountered in the practice of ministry, both in the congregation and in the surrounding community.
Giving opportunity to support the PHEWA National Organizer/Executive Director staff position
Here is the number you will need to designate monies from individuals, churches, presbyteries, and/or synods to support this critical lead organizer position for the PHEWA justice ministry networks around the country. Our sincere thanks for your continued and faithful support.
E052108 - PHEWA Faith-Based Community Organizer Position
Please consider yourself personally and respectfully requested to organize any of the Presbyterian communities where you serve to set aside some of their budgeted mission money for this purpose.
To make a gift to the PHEWA ECO account by check, note E052108 PHEWA and mail it to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
The Rev. Trina Zelle called to serve as the new National Organizer for the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA)
By the Rev. Bebb Stone
President of PHEWA
LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Trina Zelle has accepted the newly-formed position of National Organizer for the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA), a ministry of Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry, General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC), Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Rev. Zelle writes, “I am excited at the prospect of collaboration with experienced and committed leadership in strengthening and expanding this incredible organization.”
Responding to the Word
Celebrate the witness of PHEWA’s 2011 John Park Lee Award and Rodney T. Martin Award recipients.
2011 John Park Lee Award
2011 Rodney T. Martin Award
Thank you for writing, John, to express vocational interest in the ministries of PHEWA and our ministry networks addressing addictions, disabilities, serious mental illness, health & wholeness, and specialized pastoral ministries. I'll reply directly to you via email. We appreciate your interest! susan stack phewa
the phewa interests me as a vocation. where do i start?