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Mission Yearbook

‘You shall love the alien as yourself’

A recent Wednesday Chapel Service for the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) focused on the recorded personal stories of five refugees living and working in the United States. Huai Pal, a Burmese refugee who came to the United States 13 years ago, recalled the challenge of her mother’s hospitalization one month following the family’s arrival. “We were lost and hopeless,” Pal recalled. After completing her studies at the University of Louisville, she landed a job as a caseworker at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, “where I can leverage my experience and language skills to help other refugees.”

Raising the roof — and the rest of the house as well — is one way New Castle Presbytery is responding to the Matthew 25 call

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has affirmed since 2016 a commitment to mission and ministry as guided by Matthew 25. That commitment, to building vital congregations, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty, is meant to move us into deeper understandings of who we are called to be as followers of Jesus Christ and how we are called to love our neighbors.

When church is dangerous, digital ministry provides sanctuary

“Finally!” was all my United Methodist friend had to text me when I asked how their General Conference was going. While I echo their relief, I know the recovery period for my LGBTQIA+ siblings is far from being final. Presbyterians stand as proof that the vote is sometimes the easiest part of change. As the leader of a ministry with over 90% LGBTQIA+-identifying members, I know a vote is one step of a long journey — one that began with fervent prayers for change. Not to change the Book of Order, but to change oneself. For every LGBTQIA+ person raised in the Christian faith, their journey of self-discovery includes years, often decades, of praying to God to change who they are.

1 John has wisdom for preaching in polarized communities of faith

Preachers ascending the pulpit in a polarized church can turn to the letter of 1 John for, say, inspiration — or even a preaching series. “It’s not an easy time for the preacher, trying to navigate our own biases,” said the Rev. Dr. Janette Ok, “much less those of our congregation members.”

Presbyterian pastor calls for end to gun violence

A Louisville pastor recently summed up the nation’s gun violence crisis with a three-word refrain: “Enough is enough.” The Rev. Dr. Angela Johnson, pastor of Louisville’s Grace Hope Presbyterian Church, delivered a brief but powerful sermon during a morning chapel service for employees of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy provides new mental health guide

One thing that the 20th-wealthiest county in the United States — a south-central Texas community — and a Boston neighborhood, Roxbury, which is riddled with violence and underemployment and is also the home of the R&B music group New Edition, have in common: Both are touched by the epidemic of mental illness.

Healing through evangelism

This powerful understanding of God’s propensity toward helping and healing the least of these comes from the story of the beguine Mechthild of Magdeburg. A movement of laywomen that arose in the 13th century, the beguines were contemplatives, mystics and healers. Mechthild posited that, “God is never closer than in the longing emptiness of the night.” From that emptiness, she received and shared “prophetic critiques of the religious leaders of her day for their lack of holiness and their hostility toward passionate spirituality.”

PC(USA) pastor brings stories from Ukraine to a U.S. audience

In a presentation that featured a Zoom conversation with three people on the ground in Ukraine, the Rev. Dr. Robert Gamble, executive director of This Child Here, recently spoke on the topic “The Lamentations of Ukraine” with clergy and members of churches in Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. Gamble and others illustrated ways that This Child Here, a ministry validated by the Presbytery of Western North Carolina, works with families, mostly women and children, displaced by the war in Ukraine.

App encourages small acts of discipleship

“We don’t rise to the level of our goals; we fall to the level of our processes,” says the Rev. Dr. Jason Whitehead, a pastor and social worker who has co-created the Daily Ripple app as a model for spiritual formation and the meeting space of a new worshiping community. “And so, if we can build a process around change and around incrementally getting better at something, then when we have those inevitable hiccups, we’re falling back on a place that’s much higher than we were before. And that really informed the idea of our new worshiping community.”