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A behind-the-scenes look at bringing #GivingTuesday to Presbyterians

Two key planners share insights into the annual online event, set this year for Nov. 30

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The eight-hour livestream planned for #GivingTuesday on Nov. 30 will feature events and check-ins with congregations and mid councils across the country.

On Thursday, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Communicators Network took a peek into the planning process during a Facebook Live event featuring two of the key organizers for #GivingTuesday, Lauren Rogers and the Rev. Dee Decker.

Decker, the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s social media strategist, hosted Rogers, the project manager for digital fundraising for Special Offerings and the Presbyterian Giving Catalog. Normally Rogers, the co-host of Special Offerings’ weekly Facebook Live event, Between Two Pulpits, is on the other side of the microphone.

“I’ve never been on this side of things,” she told Decker, adding, “if you work for the [Presbyterian Mission Agency] you have to be a jack of all trades.”

Last year’s 12-hour #GivingTuesday livestream “was kind of like a telethon,” Rogers said. This year’s livestream has been shortened to eight hours, from noon through 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 30, and will be available here and here.

Stories of innovative ministry and worship will be featured from these places: Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina; Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis; Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas; and Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.

“There is a lot in store,” Rogers said, including “great segments to inspire folks to get their congregations involved in some initiatives and help congregations to think more creatively.”

Lauren Rogers

“My goal,” Rogers told Decker, “is for people to walk away proud to be Presbyterian.”

Together with Rogers and the Rev. Lee Catoe, editor of the interactive journal of Christian social justice, “Unbound,” and the co-host of “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast,” Decker will help produce the Nov. 30 online gathering. The schedule of events will be posted here next week.

Rogers said she hopes church and mid council leaders will identify two segments to be sure to watch during the day: one on work in which their church or mid council is already engaged, and the second on work in which they hope to engage.

“It’s amazing how much is taking place across this denomination,” Rogers said. “There are wonderful things that will surprise folks. We are encouraging church leaders to say, ‘I am going to be tuning in at this time; please join me.’”

The Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble

Working in advance with the Rev. Heidi Worthen Gamble, mission catalyst for the Presbytery of the Pacific, Rogers said she was brought nearly to tears learning about hunger ministry being done by PC(USA) churches in the presbytery, including Immanuel Presbyterian Church. “Their work has flourished, even as it’s been inhibited during COVID,” Rogers said.

Decker wondered how mid councils can come alongside the national campaign to highlight their ministry initiatives.

Rogers had this suggestion: As Presbyterians view, say, segments on racial justice work, “Tell people, ‘Here is what we are doing in the presbytery and here is how you can support the work,’” she said. “We want folks to celebrate and share what they are doing. If you can tell us about it, we’d love to celebrate with you.”

Thursday’s discussion between Decker and Rogers also touched on Special Offerings, the Presbyterian Giving Catalog and Rogers’ work co-hosting Between Two Pulpits. Typically Rogers asks each week’s guest about their hope for the future of the Church, a question Decker posed to Rogers.

The Rev. Dee Decker

“I did not see that coming,” Rogers said.

“Now you know how your guests feel,” Decker told her.

After thinking for a moment, Rogers said her hope for the PC(USA) “is that we become a little less frozen, and I think we have, but that’s because we were forced [by the pandemic] to be a little more flexible.”

“I’m hoping it opens up the space for folks to think we can do something different and be something more than we have perceived the church to be,” Rogers said.

‘My goal is for people to walk away proud to be Presbyterian.’

A former church youth director, Rogers joined her PC(USA) congregation while still in high school. “I feel we have so much to learn from that age group,” she said, “but we don’t really have the space right now to hear those voices.” While the PC(USA) features innovative programs and events for youth and young adults including Presbyterian Youth Triennium and the Young Adult Volunteer program, “there is more need to hear those voices, especially around social justice,” Rogers said.

“I often hear young people are the future of the church. That upsets me,” Decker replied. “Young people are the church! They’re the church right now, but we often discount them and don’t include them in the conversation.”

“I don’t want to create a church for them that doesn’t suit them,” Rogers said. “We want them to be co-creators in this Kingdom of God we are creating. … If we leave space for them as co-creators, then they’ll help build a space that’s for them.”

The next guests on Communicators Network’s livestream event, set for 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Dec. 2, will be Darla Carter and Rich Copley, communicators with the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries. Join Communicators Network here.

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