Category Archives: PC(USA)

A grieving and shocked community gathers to pray

First Presbyterian Church of Uvalde, Texas, holds a moving hybrid prayer service

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service
Rev. Gini Norris-Lane, standing at the pulpit.

The Rev. Gini Norris-Lane, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Uvalde, Texas, opens a prayer service on Tuesday. (Screenshot)

LOUISVILLE — More than 200 people gathered online along with members and friends of First Presbyterian Church of Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday evening for a moving and powerful prayer service on the day following the shootings at Robb Elementary School in that community. View the 50-minute service here.

FPC’s pastor, the Rev. Gini Norris-Lane, told those gathered in person and online that “we come tonight because as those who follow Jesus, we don’t know what else to do but to gather in prayer.”

“This space is one of prayer, one of offering our hearts, our lives and the heaviness, worry, grief, confusion and shock — it’s to offer all that to God,” she said. “Even as we cry out, ‘We don’t know for how long, O Lord? What happened?’ We don’t understand, but we know God’s heart and God’s presence is large enough to hold all of us, to hold our whole community, all our families — to hold our whole world. I invite you to lift your hearts with me,” she said, “as we are called to worship.”

“It is our tradition to begin worship by remembering our baptism,” Norris-Lane said, pouring water from a pitcher into a baptismal font. “We are God’s beloved people. We know nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We know the spirit of God is poured out upon us … and upon our community. We know the grace and comfort of God welcomes us home.”

Then Norris-Lane prayed: “God of comfort and assurance, tonight we acknowledge our fear and our hurt and our worry. We pray for protection and yet we feel vulnerable. We live with hope … and yet we search for forgiveness … Even as we stand in the valley of the shadow of death, we are your people, gathered yet broken, forgiven and forgiving, searching, striving, hoping, praying, wondering. Sit with us in the midst of our hurts and our heartbreak. Guide us in these moments as we pray and in the days ahead, that we might do your will here on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Norris-Lane recalled preaching the Sunday before on Jesus’ words recorded in John 14:23-29: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’”

“This gift of peace is not given only when things are going well,” she said. “This gift is not given only when we can understand it or strive to make it happen. This gift of peace is a gift, as God’s grace is a gift, as the community of faith is a gift. And so, friends, this night, may the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Those gathered in the sanctuary and across the country responded, “And also with you.” Worshipers in the sanctuary exchanged Christ’s peace with one another.

The Rev. Sallie Watson, general presbyter for Mission Presbytery, read selections from Psalm 25 the old fashioned way: Watson said a line and had those gathered repeat the line. Among the verses cited:

“Let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”

“Relieve the troubles of my heart and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my troubles and forgive my sins.”

“It is in God’s presence we take refuge, isn’t it?” Norris-Lane said. “I wish we didn’t have to, not in this way. And yet I am also deeply grateful that when things like this happen, our refuge is found underneath God’s wings.”

She asked those present how many had received text messages asking how they are or whether everybody they know is OK. “How many … have shared anguish and anger and sadness and shock and confusion?” A ministry colleague shared three Bible passages with her, including Psalm 34:18, which promises God’s salvation for those crushed in spirit. “Friends … we know a community right now where the heaviness of this feels like a weight that’s going to flatten us some moments,” she said. “We lean into faith that God does heal the brokenhearted.”

John 14:1-4 was also shared with Norris-Lane. We have “the tools to find the way” and “a God who hears us whether we rage” with words not suitable for church “or whether we just don’t have the words. We have a God who knows and hears and holds — and more than that, we have a God who came to be with us,” she said. “Jesus understands sorrow and suffering. Jesus understands crying out to God with honest words … We have a God who understands, but more importantly is with us and was with every person in that school [Tuesday] and is with every family yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“When you forget, take a breath,” Norris-Lane suggested, “for God in Jesus is as close as our very next breath, even when we can’t grasp what that means.”

The final verse shared was Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

“Hopefully, friends, there will be solutions for communities and schools to be safe,” Norris-Lane said. “But honestly, as the pastor of this place, what I want to say tonight to all of you is that path is down the road a little ways. Tonight we gather to comfort one another, to grieve, to pray and to question … What I know is the power of coming together in community reminds us that as the people of God, we not only rejoice together, but we grieve together. We suffer together. We hold onto each other together.”

Those in the sanctuary were invited to write their prayers on slips of paper for Norris-Lane and two colleagues in ministry to pray aloud. Among them:

  • Blessings on all the medical professionals who have served during this tragedy
  • Prayers for children and the burden they will carry for the rest of their lives
  • All teachers and students heading into the summer with heavy hearts instead of joy
  • For caregivers to keep going
  • For three people who lost loved ones
  • For teachers who want nothing more than to keep their kids safe and to send them home to their families
  • For God’s peace for all of Uvalde
  • For wisdom for parents on how to walk this road with our children, including what to say and how to say it
  • The strength to love our enemies
  • For the older folk in the community who sense that life in Texas and in the nation has changed dramatically. “Hear them and us,” Norris-Lane asked God, “as we wonder how we can breathe hope again.”
  • For God’s Spirit “to break in to provide all that we need and even more.”

“No matter where you go this night or who you are with, know that you are not alone,” Norris-Lane said during her benediction. “No matter whether you have the words to pray or you struggle to find them, know you are heard. And know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are held in God’s love and wrapped in God’s care and given God’s grace just for the moment ahead — every single moment.”

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

Parliamentary Procedure for Leaders – Free Webinar

Year of Leader Formation: Investing in Ruling Elders and Deacons
Parliamentary Procedure for Leaders – A Webinar
July 14, 2021; 7-8:30 pm (eastern) – Registration Deadline July 6, 2021
Tricia Dykers-Koenig

PC(USA) ruling elders and deacons have responsibilities as leaders in Christ’s church. Whether you serve as a moderator or as a participant, your call will involve meetings conducted by parliamentary procedure – usually Robert’s Rules of Order. Most Presbyterians have learned about parliamentary procedure through observation during meetings; during this Year of Leader Formation webinar, you can expect to learn more about the theological connections between parliamentary procedure and our Book of Order and gain skills to help you participate more confidently and effectively. You will have an opportunity during the registration process to name questions you would like to see addressed.

This event is provided for free for participants and is funded through your per capita dollars. It does not come without cost, however. Knowing the diversity of language within the PC(USA), this webinar will be provided in several languages with interpretation based on requests made through the registration process. As a result, there is a registration deadline of July 6, 2021, in order to be able to have time to arrange for those services. This event will be recorded and will be available in English following the event.

Read More & Register on the PC(USA) site.

COVID-19: Finding Information and Resources

Updated: 02/05/2021

Council Guidance on In-Person Worship 2.5.2021 – Click Here

All Presbytery Council guidance is collected here.
Resources for Congregations may be found here.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have compiled a series of resources for congregational leaders and members. It’s available here:

COVID-19 Legislation Overview: A Guide for Presbyterian Churches and Ministers

OGA web mapping tool to show COVID-19 confirmed cases

Additional Sources of information:

Check these sites regularly, as information is subject to change.

224th General Assembly to be conducted online only

Committee on the Office of the General Assembly votes for shortened assembly

Rick Jones | Office of the General Assembly – April 21, 2020


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For the first time in the history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination’s General Assembly will be held online only. The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a plan for a reduced assembly gathering that will require everyone involved — commissioners, advisory delegates, corresponding members and staff — to participate in a digital assembly.

Read the full article on the PC(USA) website

April 22, 2020 Coronavirus Briefing from the PC(USA)

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance approves more than $1.1 million in COVID-19 grants
Staff members say they have seen churches ‘rising to the occasion’ in midst of pandemic

PC(USA), A Corporation approved for $8.8 million forgivable loan
‘This gives us a little breathing room,’ says A Corp President Kathy Lueckert

Mission Agency President seeks a church-wide fundraising campaign
Noting ‘the world has changed so much,” Moffett asks PMA Board for a larger, wider fundraiser than the $4 million version recommended for Stony Point Center

Remembering victims, resisting violence and renouncing evil
A prayer for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Old school, new school
Christian educators and other leaders are using every tool to reach children and their families during pandemic

Easter 2020 Special Collecting
Help the Presbyterian Historical Society document worship responses to COVID-19

Office of Theology and Worship develops resources for prayer and comfort during the pandemic
Adapting portions of the 2018 Book of Common Worship for today’s trying circumstances

COVID-19 impacts overseas Filipino workers
Migrants are often treated with little concern for their health, dignity

Presbytery of Seattle remains strong in the midst of COVID-19
Leaders echo others in the church — things will change after virus

Regarding Ruling Elders: A Monthly Series for Serving Faithfully
Ruling Elders in a Pandemic

Churches urged to observe Earth Day
Resources available to help with planning

‘When America gets a cold, the African American community gets pneumonia’
COVID-19’s impact on black Presbyterian churches

Varied, far-flung mission is envisioned over the next two years
Presbyterian Mission Agency Board hears what kind of ministry will occur under proposed budgets for 2021, 2022

COGA to make final decision on the 224th General Assembly (2020) next week
Members hold regular meeting to consider agenda

Share your CARES money (if you can)
Some Presbyterians don’t really need their government stimulus check. Consider donating it

Practicing lifelong discipleship formation during COVID-19
During a Vital Congregations online webinar, some 50 church leaders describe their hopes for life after coronavirus

The coronavirus and its implications for PC(USA) ministry
Nearly 1,100 congregations and mid councils discuss both challenges and surprises

COGA considers critical business for 224th General Assembly (2020)
Unified budget and addressing COVID-19 top discussion on its final day

Presbyterian Mission Agency Board endorses proposed budgets, committee reports
Some proposals receive minor tweaks

The digital church arrives
Is it here to stay?

Presbyterians Today navigates the new way of being church
Inspiring stories, helpful ideas fill May/June issue

Take care of our bodies before we take care of the economy
Stated Clerk speaks out on returning to the workforce

Emergency student loan management enacted during COVID-19 crisis

Original article on

PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service: Payments on eligible federal student loans are suspended through Sept. 30

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Melonee Tubb, the associate for Financial Aid for Service, is photographed during worship in the Chapel at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — New resources from the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Financial Aid for Service provide guidance on how to manage one’s student loans, now that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Melonee Tubb, associate for FAF, said what people need to know right away is that they could be “off the hook’” for their federal student loan debt through Sept. 30.  The new law automatically suspends payments on eligible loans for six months, with no interest accrued.

By law, lenders have until Easter weekend to alert borrowers that their payments have been suspended.

Under the CARES legislation, loans made under the Federal Direct Loan Program that are eligible for suspended payments include Direct, Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, and Consolidation loans. Payments for loans acquired through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), transferred to the Department of Education, are also eligible.

Tubb said people with a FFELP loan should check immediately because those loans managed by a private bank or institution aren’t eligible for automatic suspension.  Federal Perkins Loans managed by universities and any private loans are also not eligible under the CARES ACT.

“If you are having trouble making payments and have one of these ineligible loans, call your servicer immediately,” she said. “Some servicers are offering additional emergency deferment or forbearance options.”

The bottom line: Tubb encourages those with student debt to contact their servicer to find out more about how the new law will impact them. For example, Tubb said anyone working towards public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) or loan rehabilitation will get additional relief under the CARES legislation.

“Their suspended payments will be treated as if the borrower made the payments and count toward the 120 payments necessary for forgiveness,” she said.

Additional information on how the CARES Act might impact your federal student loans and tips on how to manage student loan debt during emergencies can be downloaded here.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

April 8, 2020 Coronavirus Briefing from the PC(USA)

Coronavirus News

Matthew 25 grants will support vulnerable congregations facing COVID-19
Presbyterian Mission Agency president sets aside funds to be administered by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Small church with great faith helps the Big Apple
Manokin Presbyterian Church in Maryland’s Eastern Shore goes the distance during pandemic

Hunger Action Advocate helps congregations see ‘the big picture’
Laura VanDale moves Ohio churches to use their collective voices

New hymn speaks to missing out on a traditional Easter celebration
Published a week ago, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s ‘This Easter Celebration’ has been translated into five languages, shared 13,000 times

Co-Moderators find new ways to connect with Presbyterians
Hymns and stories draw viewers across the denomination and beyond

Emergency student loan management enacted during COVID-19 crisis
PC(USA)’s Financial Aid for Service: Payments on eligible federal student loans are suspended through Sept. 30

‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed’
Vital Congregations webinar on intentional, authentic evangelism focuses on being real even when in-person gatherings aren’t possible

‘People delight in the feeling of making a difference’
1001 New Worshiping Communities webinar explores ways to continue fundraising, even during a pandemic

One Great Hour of Sharing ministries provide support during the pandemic
Three PC(USA) ministries receive OGHS financing, made even more crucial by COVID-19

Young Adult Volunteers rising to lead in a time of crisis
YAVs prove able to shift, adapt and learn on the fly

Presbyterian hunger ministries persevere despite pandemic
‘People are desperate to help’

Board of Pensions offers dues relief and deferments to churches and employers
Church applications, requests by other PC(USA) employers will be decided on a case-by-case basis

Church leaders consider holding a full virtual General Assembly
Committee on the Office of the General Assembly looks at options for 224th gathering

Pastoring in a pandemic: ways to care for your church and yourself
Oregon clergy couple shares with the Presbyterian Foundation some lessons learned

PC(USA) Washington Office calls for domestic, international COVID-19 advocacy
Capitol Hill ministry calling on Congress to protect U.S. workers, lift sanctions in Latin America

New COVID-19 QuickSheets available from youth workers, Christian formation ministries
‘This shouldn’t be a time for young people to become inwardly focused and detached’

Presbyterians reach out, find ways to minister to older adults
The COVID-19 pandemic spurs pastors, church educators into innovative ministry

Hosannas and honks
During drive-in worship, two churches proclaim Palm Sunday is ‘a day to dance’

Congregations self-rate ‘fairly well’ after the first few weeks of the pandemic
Initial results from Research Services survey highlight areas of great support and areas of great need

Stated Clerk sends message to mid council leaders


Stated Clerk Nominating Committee recommends J. Herbert Nelson, II, to seek a second term
Committee confident of ‘prophetic vision’ for the PC(USA)

Vital Congregations, 1001 New Worshiping Communities to hold Holy Week Zoom calls
On Wednesday, VC will discuss ‘Spirit-inspired worship’; 1001 to gather for Maundy Thursday prayer and meditation

Learn how your church can thrive with a part-time ministry model
Jeffrey MacDonald’s book offers new opportunities for churches facing financial decline

Nancy J. Taylor named executive director at the Presbyterian Historical Society
The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) has a new executive director: Nancy J. Taylor.

Elona Street-Stewart and Gregory Bentley to run as Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly (2020)
The two become second group to seek the Co-Moderators’ model