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Thursday, July 30

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Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley


This is a story about faith that, though as small as a mustard seed, nevertheless moved mountains. It spans decades and generations.

The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, consisting of 81 congregations, is working on raising $11.3 million to build a new camp and conference center—Living River. The presbytery ran a fundraising campaign at Avondale Presbyterian Church, which was down to 18 elderly members far beyond the camping years. After the campaign, the session gave a $25,000 gift to help fund the new camp. Amazing!

Afterward, Avondale’s members decided to close the church. They asked the presbytery if it could sell the church and give the proceeds to help fund the camp. From the sale of their buildings, this little church gave $300,000. Unbelievable!

Members then informed the camp that the church had $34,000 left after paying all the bills and that they were giving it to fund Living River. Little did we know that the story had only just begun.

Avondale member Bette Wilson shared with Living River leadership that she was putting the camp in her will. After Bette passed away on November 20, 2012, her lawyer called Living River staff, saying, “I don’t think there is much—a small house, its contents, and a car.”

In March 2013, the Living River board determined that the camp could begin programming if it had six buildings. However, Living River would need $2 million more than the cash and pledges on hand to make this happen. The board went to work to raise the money.

In June, Living River leadership was given the details of Bette’s estate: the camp was the sole beneficiary of an estate worth more than $2.8 million. The seed for that gift was planted during Avondale’s campaign.

The Living River board had been working hard to find $2 million, but God knew where it was all along—in Bette Wilson’s estate.

—Rev. Robert S. Hay Sr., associate executive for nurture, Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, and Benga Harrison, director of development, Living River

Let us join in prayer for:

Rev. James Ephraim Jr., member, PMA Board
Elder Richard Allen Turpen, at-large committee member, PMA Board

Presbytery Staff

Rev. Elizabeth Goodrich, stated clerk
Rev. Robert S. Hay Sr., associate executive for nurture
Rev. Dan Stephens, associate executive for missional development
Linda Burrowes, office manager
Tammy Strickland, bookkeeper and program assistant

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Janeen D. Lush, PMA
Sue Lutz, BOP
Catherine Lynch, PILP

Let us pray

Lord, we give thanks for the mustard-seed ministries of small churches. We give thanks for the life and gifts of Bette Wilson. May Living River be a place where your grace is shared and experienced for generations. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 143; 147:12-20
First Reading 2 Samuel 4:1-12
Second Reading Acts 16:25-40
Gospel Reading Mark 7:1-23
Evening Psalms 81; 116

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