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The Joy of Experimenting

A Letter from Elmarie and Scott Parker, serving in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria

Spring 2022

Write to Elmarie Parker
Write to Scott Parker

Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Elmarie and Scott Parker’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Elmarie and Scott Parker’s ministry

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)


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Dear friends,

We are sure a few things might come to mind with this newsletter title (smile), but we are referring to the joy we experienced during our time of meeting virtually with individuals, congregations, presbyteries and synods this winter and early spring. We invited you to think creatively with us about how we could meaningfully further our relationship with one another, share our work and the work of our partners, and mutually encourage one another as we all participate in God’s transformative work in our respective contexts. And wow, did you come through with energy, creativity and love! Thank you! Who knew that Zoom gatherings could be so life-giving?!?!

Here are a couple of snapshots sharing what we experienced together (lack of space prevents us from sharing more). We hope this will encourage additional creative ideas for virtual conversations together now that we have returned to our home in Lebanon. If the broadband here will cooperate, we would very much value spending time with those of you who we were not able to connect with earlier this year. Please share with us your thoughts on possible next steps.

Snapshot 1: During our Zoom visits, we discovered an incredible opportunity to introduce the Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM) to partner churches. As you know, the Strong Kids/Strong Emotions program (that Scott co-facilitates with MECC colleagues) helps traumatized refugee children by using TRM, a unique biology-centered approach which helps kids manage their own wellness through learning a set of six resiliency skills. As our “Strong Kids” and their families learn to practice these skills amid everyday life, they are experiencing increasing wellness and resiliency to handle the immense challenges before them. 

One good thing that has come from a global pandemic is an awareness that trauma and resiliency are urgent issues regardless of where one lives. We discovered in our conversations with some of you that churches are looking for ways to meet this growing need. It is thrilling that, in this way, our friends in the Middle East have something wonderful to contribute and teach to our church partners in the U.S. 

Scott had the opportunity to facilitate TRM resiliency skill workshops with two of our U.S. partners, one with a group of young adults and one with a group of 50 elementary age kids—by Zoom, believe it or not! The participants had the opportunity to identify some of the stressors they face, learn some basics about how their biological system responds to stressors, and practice a couple of the resiliency skills. If your congregation might be interested in a resiliency workshop (for children, teens or adults), we would love to have a conversation with you!

Snapshot 2: Virtual Lenten Reflection Times with Middle East Partners and World Mission Colleagues. We met with several congregational teams and members of the Syria-Lebanon Partnership Network (SLPN) to test this idea and then move it into practice. Thank you for sharing in its development and implementation. Every Thursday of Lent through Maundy Thursday, we hosted two Zoom gatherings (offering two different times allowed for more people to participate across time zones). The first session was recorded and posted to the SLPN website, allowing individuals and groups to benefit from the conversation at a time convenient to them. You may find the recordings at  

Each week a different partner from Syria or Lebanon (or colleague from the PC(USA) Middle East/Europe Area) joined us to share their reflection on the Lenten text for that week, followed by a time of interaction with what they had shared and learning more about their work. Each gathering included a time of prayer for our partner or colleague.

Several participants shared feedback with us. Ms. Pat Sanvik from First Presbyterian Church in Snohomish, WA emphasized how meaningful it was to virtually meet partners and to share in scripture reflection and prayer together. Adding to this, Ms. Susan Schroeder from Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, OR wrote, partners’ “…meditations were powerful, and deeply informed my own spiritual journey. Some of the presenters talked very concretely about the challenges, suffering, and fragility of the people in Syria and Lebanon: the lack of jobs, extreme rise in the cost of living, scarcity of goods including electricity, difficulty in accessing cash in the bank, and corrupt governmental systems. Yet loud and clear I also heard a deep abiding reliance on the God of scripture, the God that unites us across space and time as Christians.” Mr. Jack Sechrist from Trabuco Presbyterian Church in Trabuco Canyon, CA added: “In earlier communications I had read about the activities of some of your mission partners, but now have had the opportunity to meet and appreciate who they are. My knowledge of the setting in which you work has taken on a new dimension with even greater appreciation for our international church partners in the Middle East.”

Thank you to all who joined in these rich conversations during Lent! Thank you to each group who invited us into conversation and worship with them. We are encouraged through your interest, desire to learn, commitment to pray, tangible gifts to our work and the work of our partners, and continuing communications with us. We look forward to continuing the journey together.

In Christ’s service together,

Scott and Elmarie 

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