The Presbytery of Shenango

SSPEC 2019 Church Planting

The people of South Sudan (the world’s newest nation – 2011) have had more than enough suffering and sorrow for a lifetime.  Most of them have never lived for even a year when there was anything resembling peace.  When their country was part of the Sudan, they were constantly being abused by the central government of the north.  When the new nation was formed, tribal factions battled for power and wealth.

The South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC) did not exist before 2011.  It was formed by residents of the north (from the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church) who were forced out of their homes to live in the new country, even though many of them had never stepped foot there before.  But if your grandfather was born in the south, you were forced by the government of the north to “return to your home.”

When they came to the south they brought their church community with them.  There they worshipped God and found hope and support.  If we were them, most of us would have sought the refuge of our church transplanted in a new place.  We would have “circled the wagons” and “hunkered down” and put up “walls to protect ourselves.”

But not so these brave believers!  Most of them had more education than their southern compatriots, so they ended up in a variety of leadership positions, including government agencies.  When the fighting began and many communities were devastated (estimates of 383,000 died), they were scattered across the land hoping to find a safe place.  But often they took refuge in places where there was nothing.  Building was made of local materials (branches, grasses, mud).  There were no churches, schools or any other infrastructure to support a population.  It wasn’t even safe to plant crops for food because bandits would take or destroy everything, including the cattle.

But the 67 SSPEC congregations that managed to survive (mostly in the cities) still believed that God intended something more for them and their new country:  a better life for their children.  So they banded together to make the best of a bad situation in a time when it was not even possible to move safely from town to town on the roads.  They had to fly if they were going anywhere outside the capital of Juba, and who could afford that?

There have been several efforts at a peace agreement, all of which eventually failed.  But they continued praying and now there is a glimmer of hope.  They had started Nile Theological College in the capital of Juba (2014) and even though several of the students did not survive the violence, they had their first graduation on December 10.  A school for pastors and evangelists now had its first graduates. (see link below)

So now what do they do?  Well of course, start new churches out in these dangerous areas where there are no congregations or pastors!  If they can give a graduate $30 a month he will be able to survive in these places until he can find work.  People will come together as a congregation for worship and to serve the suffering people of the area.  Then, they can construct a small building with substantial bricks which they can make locally.  And if someone will provide $2,000 for a metal roof to protect the brick walls (no one has any money there), then they will be making a profound statement of hope and confidence in these desperate places:  the people of God are here!  They then have a church that will last where there is no other building in the community.  They can start a school in the new church rather than under a tree.  Some of the first graders will be in their 20s but this is the first time that they have ever been able to learn to read and write.

Our goal for 2019 is to provide $24,000 to start sending evangelists and pastors and $8,000 to provide a roof for four churches when the local congregation makes and lays the bricks.  Can your congregation help with additional new funds for the churches of the South Sudan?

Download the Power Point Presentation

Download the narrative to accompany the PP presentation

For more information, please contact Denise Sciuto at dsciuto@frontierfellowship.com  724 946-2360

Official Call to the April 30, 2019 Stated Meeting of Shenango Presbytery

Click here to read the meeting announcement.

Shenango Presbytery College Scholarship

The application is online for the Shenango Presbytery College Scholarship – open to students in our communities attending Grove City, Westminster Colleges, and Thiel Colleges by clicking here.  You can also download a copy of the form Shenango Presbytery Scholarship Application 2019.

The deadline to submit applications is June 1, 2019.

Register for LeaderFest 2019

The Truth Will Set (Your Church) Free

Helping our churches tell themselves a true story… the right story… in order to effectively move into their right and faithful future.

Saturday, May 18, 2019
8:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Westminster College and New Wilmington Presbyterian Church

All church leaders are welcome to come and hear our keynote speaker, Michelle Snyder.

When Michelle Snyder is not consulting with churches, she directs the Soul Shop Movement, a suicide prevention ministry for church leaders.  Michelle is also the co-author of the book, Life, Death and Reinvention: The Gift of the Impossibly Messed-Up Life.

All relevant information, including costs, can be found in our brochure.

(NOTE: Due to a personal scheduling conflict, Rev. Tom Moore’s workshop will now be offered during the “A3” timeslot, and Dr. Kang Na’s workshop will be offered during the “B4” timeslot.  We apologize for the confusion.)

 

A Few Notes on Registration:

Pay online! Individuals and Groups may pay their registration fees online using the same form!  The Early Bird discount rate will be applied automatically (the regular rate will go into effect on May 4th).  Want to pay online for 2 regular registrations and 1 young leader once the early bird expires?  It’s easy…just enter the numbers in the “pay online” section and click the buttons beside each choice to add multiple types of registrations to your shopping cart!

Group discount! Churches may send as many leaders as they’d like for only $100 (but all must be registered by May 3…it will be $25 per person after that).  If you are registering a group from your church, simply upload a file (download an Excel spreadsheet here that you can fill in) with a list including each individual’s registration information, and mail a check to the office or select “Church Registration” to pay online before the discount deadline.  After May 3rd, simply enter the number of individuals under the “Regular Registration” option to pay for the group online.

Young leaders! Once again, we are encouraging churches to send young leaders (ages 14-22) to LeaderFest. Cost is only $5/person.

Click here to register online!

For more information, please e-mail Rev. Ray Medina, moderator of the Christian Education committee, at rayamedina@gmail.com or contact the presbytery office at office@shenango.org or 724-528-1610.

An Update on the Discernment Process with Beaver-Butler Presbytery

Dear Members of Shenango Presbytery,

A new year brings new things for Shenango! As many of you know, we have had a discernment team in place that was charged by the Council to do some groundwork in exploring options for a future relationship with Beaver-Butler presbytery. That team was led by Glenn Hink and included Augie Hurst, Elizabeth Wallace, Dave Esposito, Judy Veon, Tod Custer, and Mark Frailey. After months of working with some folks from Beaver-Butler presbytery and consultant Michelle Snyder, the team recommended that the Council consider moving forward with a next step of discernment.

As outlined in the official recommendation, which was approved by the Council on December 11, the next step involves the creation of a new team, called the Dream Team (not so named because they are the best of the best but because they are charged with the task of dreaming and imagining what a new, merged presbytery might look like). The Dream Team will consist of four members from Shenango and four from Beaver-Butler and will meet with Michelle Snyder over the coming months to imagine something new and further consider the possibility of merger.

Please note that the council’s decision to approve the recommendation of the discernment team and move forward with electing a Dream Team was not a vote to officially merge with Beaver-Butler presbytery. A vote for a merger will only take place after the Dream Team does its work and makes a recommendation to the councils of each presbytery. If a recommendation for merger is approved by both Shenango’s Council and Beaver-Butler’s Council, then a full vote of both presbyteries will be required in order to approve a merger. So, as you can see, there are several important steps for us to discern together before a merger can take place.

As requested, the Council also elected Shenango’s members of the Dream Team at a special meeting on January 7. All of these individuals were elected because they embodied the characteristics that were laid out in the initial recommendation. We have every confidence that these are leaders who can creatively reimagine what presbytery might look like in the 21st century in western Pennsylvania and further help us discern the possibility of merger. The following have been elected:

• Catherine Craley (TE, Trinity)
• Glenn Hink (TE, First, Sharon)
• Augie Hurst (TE, Lebanon)
• A fourth individual (a ruling elder) is currently discerning

The Council also elected Andrea Hall (RE, Hillside) to serve as Project Manager, a position that is not on the Dream Team but will help move the process along by overseeing deadlines, communications, etc.

Now that we are entering this next phase of discernment, we want to hear from you. We want to keep the lines of communication open and make sure that no one feels like they are in the dark. We need your help in making that happen. Please be honest about what you need from us and make every effort to make yourself available when there are times for informal or formal discussion.

To that end, there are two times in the immediate future that we have slated for discussion.

• The first is Saturday, January 19 at the Elder-Deacon Training Event at Northmintster at 10:00 am. Augie Hurst (as well as others) will be present to lead a simple session answering questions and giving basic information.
• The second is Wednesday, January 23 at 10:00 am at the Confluence in New Castle. At this time, pastors are welcome to join members of the Dream Team and Council for a Fireside Chat to hear more about what’s next and offer thoughts or concerns.

There will also be times when Shenango and Beaver-Butler folks can mingle. Those times include: March 17 (Beaver-Butler’s version of LeaderFest), March 18-19 (Shenango’s Pastors’ Retreat), and May 19 (Shenango’s LeaderFest).

There are many questions to be answered, and we certainly do not have all of the answers yet. Overall, I sense from the Council an excitement about the future, whatever it may hold. I have also been impressed by the lack of anxiety – meetings feel calm, as though there is a strong trust that God will provide clear answers in due time. I also believe that our Council is 100% committed to making choices that are best for our congregations. I don’t sense that anyone on Council is “sold” one way or the other. All seem to be open to discerning where the Spirit is leading.

So, please be in prayer for our presbytery. Pray for the Dream Team and Michelle Snyder. Pray for our Council, staff, and other leaders. We covet these prayers and are confident that they will be answered according to God’s will.

As we enter these next several months of transition, our leadership structure will remain as it has since Ralph’s departure. Bill Crooks and the COM are available for any pastoral/congregational needs. Matt Camlin is available as Stated Clerk. Tod Custer is our Moderator, Jeff Black is Vice Moderator, and Andrea Hall moderates the Council. Augie Hurst also serves on the Steering Team. Our staff (Autumn Imhoff and Shari Getway) is an incredible resource. We are grateful to God that we are well-equipped with capable leaders at this time.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for the ministry that you are doing here in Shenango!

Blessings,

Andrea Hall
Moderator, Council
andreabhall@gmail.com

Rev. Tod Custer
Moderator, Presbytery
christpc@verizon.net

Read the Press Release from the Discernment Teams

Elder-Deacon Training Event

Register now for the Elder-Deacon Training Event  sponsored by the Presbytery’s Christian Education Committee.

Saturday, January 19, 2019 beginning at 8:30 AM with a light continental breakfast

Northminster Presbyterian Church (2434 Wilmington Road, New Castle)

This event will provide you with practical tools to better serve your congregation as an elder or deacon, in a teaching/discussion format.  Open to all past and present elders and deacons!

Facilitators: Rev. Anthony Kladitis and Beth & Jeff Black

 

Click here to register online!

 

Download:

Official Call to the November 27, 2018 Stated Meeting of Shenango Presbytery

Click here to read the meeting announcement.

California Wildfire Response

Through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been present since the beginning of the wildfire disaster in California.  Working closely with leadership in the affected presbyteries, the have released emergency grants to support the presbyteries in meeting the urgent needs of their neighbors. At the request of the Red Cross, PDA has deployed four disaster spiritual care providers from their national response team to work directly with survivors in shelters and the affected communities. They are deploying additional PDA teams to support the presbyteries in their assessment and response as they help their neighbors begin recovery. Additional grants for ongoing emergency support for survivors and long-term recovery will be forthcoming.

As people of faith we seek comfort, support, and direction from God.  We ask that you join your spirits with ours as we walk with our California neighbors through the valley of the shadow.

Your gifts to DR000165 (U.S. Wildfires) will ensure that PDA has adequate resources to support the recovery.  Gifts may be sent to the Presbytery Office made payable to
“Shenango Presbytery”, where they will be sent directly to PDA.

Hurricane Florence Response

As news comes in of the devastating effects of the hurricanes, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is organizing a response that will help sustain life and restore hope in the coming days.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been in communication with mid councils and pastors in the area to provide resources and guidance. The Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are working with our partners to meet immediate needs and support long-term recovery.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to the long-term journey of recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing and has designated funds for responding to specific disasters.

You can send your special offerings and gifts through the Shenango Presbytery office (4197 New Castle Road, Pulaski, PA  16143).  Please designate gifts to Hurricane Relief.  We will forward all gifts on to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Official Call to the September 25, 2018 Stated Presbytery Meeting

Click here to read the meeting announcement.