Charleston Atlantic Presbytery hosted two officer trainings via Zoom in 2020. You can view them by clicking the links below:
Due to the rising COVID-19 numbers STEPS had to “turn on a dime” and adjust to only virtual options for its August 28, 2021 event.
Once again your STEPS Planning Team put together a wonderful event. Feedback we have received so far has been positive. Those attending especially thought the workshops were relevant to the church today. Rev. Cece Armstrong brought the theme, “Living Stones” alive with her closing worship homily. The presbytery is grateful to Laurey Harrell and Hanna Crosby for serving as co-moderators of the event and to Ashley Sanders, Evelyn White, Lissa Long, Pat Jones, Kay Keeler, Lisa Schrott, Pamela Spivey, and Cece Armstrong- all who serve mightily and faithfully to make this STEPS happen.
If you are paying via check, please remit payment to: Charleston Atlantic Presbytery 4701 Park Pl W, North Charleston, SC 29405 Please write STEPS 2021 on the memo line and include names of registrant, if different from the check. If your church is paying, make sure to tell them you’ve registered so they know to include your registration fee.
Janis Blocker, Charleston Atlantic Presbytery Recording Clerk and Clerk of Session of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Walterboro, led a Clerk of Session Training via Zoom in the Fall of 2020. If you were not able to attend live (or just want a refresher), you can view the recording below as well as download relevant handouts.
The Spring Stated Meeting of Charleston Atlantic Presbytery was held Tuesday, May 18 via Zoom. You can view the meeting on Facebook Live.
DID YOU KNOW? That the Handbook for the Spring Stated Meeting is available for anyone to read on the CAP website? Well it is, so if this ReCap sparks an interest, one may find out more by “referring to the handbook.”
Despite some technical difficulties, the Spring Meeting of the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery was another success in the face of social distancing. About 100 individuals participated in the zoom meeting, which also was streamed on Facebook Live. Worship was presented in pre-recorded segments allowing worshippers a peek inside the sanctuaries of the various churches from which elders, pastors and musicians participated. The Rev. Tracey Daniel brought the message on “The Good Shepherd.” Rev. James Rogers led communion.
Three guests made presentations. The Rev. Joyce Lieberman, Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk of the Synod of South Atlantic, Olanda Carr, Senior Ministry Relations officer of the Presbyterian Foundation, and Lauren Thompson, Advancement Officer of The Thormwell Home for Children expanded on the written reports they had submitted in advance and which are in the handbook.
Nothing illustrates our presbytery as beautifully and succinctly as the “Celebration of Joys’ video. Since Dorothy Blackwelder had this idea a few years ago, the photo submissions from congregations have been a a great way to show the many ways our many congregations are doing ministry. During this time of Covid, it is especially heartening to see the creative ways Presbyterians are continuing to connect within their own churches and in the greater community. A big thank you goes out to all who contribute these photos.
As Stated clerk, it was my joy to report that preparations are under way for the 225th General Assembly to be held in June of next year. The assembly will be a hybrid meeting, with commissioners meeting in person in committees in Louisville, but all plenary sessions via Zoom. Dates and calendar are in the Handbook with more information on the PC(USA) website.
The Commission on Ministry introduced the Rev. Margaret Fleming, who has been ordained by the presbytery to service as a hospital chaplain. Rev. Fleming was under care of the CAP Committee on Preparation for ministry. The Committee on Preparation for Ministry introduced two new inquirers joining those currently under care.
Rev. Lissa Long and Elder Cassandra Roper, speaking out of their own experience, encouraged all elders and ministers of word and sacrament to consider serving on one of the presbytery agencies. Anyone who is interested in the opportunities to serve in the presbytery should review the report of the Committee on Representation. It contains descriptions of all the commissions, committees, and teams of the Presbytery, all of which will need new members to be nominated for 2022. New members to fill certain spots for 2021 were placed in nomination and approved. The COR currently has a vacancy which needs to be filled for 2021.
The Shepherding Team presented various resolutions all of which passed. As a result, two churches, Lowcountry PC and Hebron Zion PC, will receive the deeds to their church real estate to hold in trust. Zion Olivet was approved to pursue the purchase of the Advent Lutheran property in which it has nested since selling its property in downtown Charleston. At the recommendation of the Shepherding Team, the presbytery approved the creation of a new commission: The “CAP Presbyterian Disaster Commission” will be a part of the South Carolina Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Commission. Descriptions of the commission and the initial members elected by the presbytery can be found in the handbook.
Four Churches in the Presbytery have been recognized as PC(USA) Earth Care Congregations: Dorchester PC, James Island PC, Lowcountry PC and St Andrews PC (Charleston). A description of the Earth Care program is in the Handbook. Cap Moderator, Rev Spike Coleman (pastor of St. Andrews) encouraged other churches to consider becoming an earth Care Congregation.
Service to Others Committee is very busy, planning, among other things, a vaccine clinic to be held at the Presbytery Office in June and a possible mission trip to Puerto Rico in October.
Nurture Ministry also highlighted its work in their report in the Handbook. In speaking for the ministry, Rev Brian Henderson called for youth to serve on the Youth Council.
The Presbyterian Women submitted a written report, but Elder Linda Rousseau also spoke, saying it was an honor to be Moderator of the PW. She encouraged participation in PW activities, noting that “all women who are Presbyterian are Presbyterian Women!”
Alas, not all news reported was good: So many great things are happening in our presbytery, yet we are running over the rather barebones budget carefully crafted by the Stewardship of Financial Gifts of Ministry Team and approved by the presbytery last December. Peter Jones, the team moderator reported the shortfall is due individual churches not giving as projected.
Currently, the next CAP meeting is scheduled to be a zoom meeting on September 18. We hope and pray that by December we will be able to meet again in person.
Catherine D. Byrd, Stated Clerk
STEPS in Winter was held on Saturday, February 27 via Zoom. You can view the recorded workshops below.
1. The Pandemic and Children and Youth led by Rachel Ward- The pandemic has upended the lives of everyone, but how specifically does it affect our children and youth. This workshop will discuss ways parents and the church can ease the stress. Rachel Ward is a counselor and a member of Providence Presbyterian Church. View the workshop HERE.
2. Holy Disunity: How What Separates Us Can Save Us lead by Layton Williams- Join the author of this book as she proposes that our primary calling as humans is not to create unity but rather to seek authentic relationship with God, ourselves, one another, and the world around us. And that means actively engaging those with whom we disagree. Our religious, political, social, and cultural differences can create doubt and tension, but disunity also provides surprising gifts of perspective and grace. By analyzing conflict and rifts in both modern culture and Scripture, Williams explores how our disagreements and differences—our disunity—can ultimately redeem us. Layton Williams is an ordained PCUSA minister and writer. She has worked with Sojourners and NEXT Church. View the workshop HERE.
3. Planning for Holy Week and Easter with Sanctified Art- This workshop will provide creative and meaningful ways to celebrate Holy Week and Easter in your congregation and homes. Sanctified Art is a talented creative team formed as the result of each member discerning ways to blend their creative talents with ministry. They are trained theologians and pastors in addition to being artists and creators. Sanctified Art offers their creative gifts to resource, provoke, guide, facilitate, and enrich the spiritual lives of worshipers around the world. View the workshop HERE.
Virtual STEPS 2020 was held Saturday, August 29. If you were not able to attend or wanted to be in two workshops at once, you can view the workshops and worship service by clicking on the links below:
- Ministry to and with Older Adults While Social Distancing
- Teaching Children Faith at Home
- Big Ideas in Youth Ministry
- Self-Care in a Season of Change
- Adaptive Change in a Time of Volatility
- What Happened at the First Ever Virtual General Assembly?
- Worship with Rev. J. Herbert Nelson
Video Prelude “For Such a Time As This”:
Downloadable Resources from The Thoughtful Christian:
“White Privilege” – This one-session adult study is part of the “Racism Study Pack” from The Thoughtful Christian. They are offering this downloadable resource for free at the links below. We encourage you to form a study group or email to members as a starting point. Consider purchasing the study pack from The Thoughtful Christian to continue your study as well. Download: Participant Handout | Leader’s Guide
Purchase the “Racism Study Pack”
“Responding to Racism” – This one-session youth study from The Thoughtful Christian helps leaders guide preteens and teens through the complicated subject of racism. We encourage you to either lead your youth through this study (in-person or virtually depending on your situation) or email to parents to encourage a family study. Download: Participant Handout | Leader’s Guide
For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World – This discussion and activity guide includes suggestions on how parents and teachers can talk with children about race and violence, ideas on how to create a safe space for meaningful dialogue, and more. The guide is inspired by For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World, an upcoming picture book by Michael W. Waters that will be available this September. It tells the story of a boy named Jeremiah and his family who discover hopeful forms of activism and advocacy in response to racism and gun violence in their community. Download the Discussion and Activity Guide. Preorder For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
Some Things to Do, Hear, Watch, and Read:
Books offered by The PC(USA) Store
Recommended Books to help talk to Children about Racism and Discrimination. It is also important to diversify our bookshelves so that our children see strong black characters in books that celebrate blackness and diversity: Children’s Books with Black Male Protaganists, Children’s Books with Black Female Protagonists. This BLM Instructional Library has children’s books organized by category, and if you click on the book, you can listen to a read aloud!
Charleston Stage is offering free access to their show 2014 The Seat of Justice. Enter password: EDUCATIONSOJ. “In 1947, a small group of parents in rural South Carolina set in motion a movement that would eventually lead to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The Seat of Justice celebrates the brave citizens of South Carolina who fought for justice and equality in the era of segregation. Julian Wiles’s acclaimed play chronicles this courageous journey of the historic Briggs v. Elliott desegregation case from rural Clarendon Country, SC to the halls of the United States Supreme Court.”
The PC(USA) is committed to Racial Equity and offers many resources through the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
Union Presbyterian Seminary houses the Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation
For up to date resources and information, follow the work of the PC(USA) Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry and The Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC, and The Charleston Area Justice Ministry on Facebook.
The Reason for Protest: A Statement from Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness PC(USA)
Presbyterian Mission Agency President and Executive Director Diane Moffett issues statement on recent protests, shootings: ‘It is a righteous and holy anger that sees injustice and knows that it is wrong’
COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project: MUSC has a NEW RESOURCE available to will be helpful to local churches as you make decisions about gathering in person. MUSC’s COVID-19 Epidemiology Intelligence Project analysis has been developed to:
- Provide analysis of trends in the COVID-19 epidemic to assist with understanding the current and projected status of transmission, impacts to the community and hospital system, and the success of mitigation efforts. Our goal is also to provide information that can help assess when it will be feasible to begin re-opening certain business and workforce sectors.
- Help us better understand and predict the critical needs of our hospitals, health care teams, and the tri-county (Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester) community so that we can plan for and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 to the best of our ability.
- Provide reliable data to help guide and support decision making by policymakers, business leaders, and members of the general public in the tri-county region.
Data used in trend analysis comes from SCDHEC, Cuebiq, and MUSC clinical data. Data used in the model comes from Census Bureau, literature reviews, and internal clinical data.
Many CAP churches already have plans and procedures in place. You may find reviewing their policies helpful:
For helpful tips and strategies and a list of things to consider when making decisions about meeting in person, please refer to the Guide for Discussion developed from a document created by the Presbytery of Tropical Florida and revised by the CAP Stated Clerk with input from the Shepherding Team.
For further reflection, read the Beginning Conversations for Re-Entry from the PC(USA) Office of Theology, Formation, and Evangelism and Returning to Public Worship: Theological and Practical Considerations. The PC(USA) Website has a page devoted to resources for such a time as this that is updated regularly with new information.
The Presbyterian Association of Musicians has shared their response and some ideas to Church Music and COVID-19.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has created Building Resiliance Webinars for Emotional and Spiritual Care
The Child Mind Institute provides resources for Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus.
Illustrated Ministry has provided free coloring pages with Prayers When You Feel Anxious. These are a great tool to help have conversations with children (and adults) about their fears and worries in these difficult days.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency has compiled a list of Mental Health Resources for children and adults as well.
Rev. Lisa Schrott, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island shared the following message with her congregation and gave us permission to share here as well. She provides many great resources.
On Monday I had one of those moments where the reality of the COVID-19 outbreak hit me hard. The reality of what we are facing swept over me, and I was overwhelmed by the depth. I needed the assurance of comfort from God. Maybe you have had a moment or two like that over the last two weeks, or maybe you will as the weeks of physical distancing stretch on. You are not alone.
As news reports and social media surround us, we will inevitably have moments of anxiety, fear, and despair. Our stress systems are on overload as our daily routines have been completely upended. Just as we need to take care of our physical health during this outbreak, we also need to attend to our emotional and mental health.
Mental Health America has collated resources for responding to this outbreak, with a focus on mental and emotional health. Click on the topics below to learn more:
- General Mental Health Information During Disease Outbreaks
- Financial Support
- Tools and Information on Anxiety
- Tools to Connect With Others
- Crisis Helplines
- For Parents
- For Caregivers
- For Older Adults
- For Domestic Violence Survivors
For individuals coping with any kind of health condition, the stress of the COVID-19 outbreak is more than just an inconvenience. And if you are one of the tens of millions of Americans with a condition affecting your brain, the ability to cope with this increased stress, anxiety, and isolation may be even more challenging.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has provided this helpful information for those who are experiencing anxiety because of the coronavirus.
- To find a support group, visit the NAMI Resource Library. It provides an extensive list of in-person and online support groups, and other mental health resources.
- Contact the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985-5990. It provides 24 hours per day, 365 days a year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
- See also Taking Care of Your Emotional Health from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
What if I need help?
Reach out to someone. Call a neighbor, call a family member, call a pastor, or call a friend.
The South Carolina Department of Mental Health provides Community Crisis Response and Intervention (CCRI). The CCRI provides on-site emergency psychiatric screening and assessment to individuals experiencing mental health emergencies within 60 minutes of contact. The service is available 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. The phone number is 833-364-2274.
Suicide affects people of all ages and walks of life. Help is available! If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. Learn more at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at https://afsp.org/find-support/
The State of South Carolina is in the process of setting up a new Virtual Crisis Counseling Program to help those struggling with stress and anxiety related to COVID-19. The goal is to connect people with specific resources. The program should be up and running soon and I’ll provide updated information as it comes on-line.
My prayer for you today is that you remember that you are never alone. No matter how long we are physically separated from each other, we are connected through the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of the places we interact in the world, the church is a place where we are able to share our whole selves. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we have been comforted by God so that we comfort others. The prophet Isaiah preaches a word of comfort to the exiles. Let us comfort each other. Let us support each other. Let us be honest with each other about our struggles. Let us be the light of Christ in this world.
Grace and peace,
Resources, including recent relevant legislation like the CARES Act, recommended by PC(USA) General Counsel Mike Kirk can be found HERE. Laurie Griffith, Associate Director for Constitutional Interpretation offers her Constutional Musings on churches and loans.
Information about the CARES Act and how it can benefit your ministry can also be found in the Small Business Administration’s FAQ. Church Law and Tax has also compiled many resources (but some may require a Church Law and Tax membership for full access):
- Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply for Loans
- What the CARES Act means for churches and church staff
- How the CARES Act affects FMLA and churches
- On Demand Webinar: Churches and the CARES Act
Jan Edmiston, general presbyter of Charlotte Presbytery and former General Assembly co-moderator, offers a video on The CARES Act in a Nutshell on facebook.
The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has put together a list of resources for churches and individuals.
The PC(USA) Board of Pensions is offering dues relief for small churches and deferments for other congregations. Learn more HERE.