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Advent 2017 Resources

Synod of the Trinity Commissioners Assembly: “Being More Together”

Experiencing “Being More Together”, by Synod Commissioner Madeline Valentine (Presbytery of Philadelphia)

2017 has indeed been an important year in the life of the Presbyterian Church with the number 300 having deep significance. The Presbytery of Philadelphia royally celebrated its 300th anniversary on October 7th with a special worship service held at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. This year The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is also celebrating 300 years of care for ministers and other church workers. Similarly, The Synod of the Trinity commemorates the 300th year of its initial meeting at First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia on September 17, 1717. The Synod serves as the link to 16 presbyteries in the eastern region – 14 in Pennsylvania, 1 in western Ohio and 1 in West Virginia.

Each year the Synod holds its annual Commissioners’ Assembly meeting at The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center in State College, PA. This year’s meeting took place Sunday evening, October 22nd, to Tuesday Noon on October 24th. Each Presbytery sends 2 elected Synod commissioners who serve as the liaisons. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Presbyteries are afforded 3 commissioners for racial ethnic equality. The Rev. Sue Wonderland serves as the Interim Executive along with her staff of 5.

Others present at the Assembly meeting from the Presbytery of Philadelphia were: the Stated Clerk, Rev. Kevin Porter; The Rev. Dr. Allison Seed, representing the Board of Pensions, and Grace Marable, Coordinator for Social Justice, from the Presbyterian Women USA.
This year’s gathering began with a special Sunday evening worship service. A bagpiper provided the opening musical piece.

The Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, present Coordinator for the Self Development of People, PCUSA, and past head of staff at Oak Lane Presbyterian in Philadelphia, was our keynote presenter for the gathering that focused on listening and visioning for moving forward. Prior to the assembly Synod commissioners were asked to meet with their Presbyteries’ leadership team/council and discuss the walls that divide us within our communities, churches, presbyteries, regions (Synod) and the PCUSA. Possible topics for discussion at the annual upcoming Spring regional gatherings were also requested. Building on the all- important action that 500 years ago precipitated the Protestant Reformation presbytery councils were asked what things they felt strongly enough about today to nail up on church doors for all to see. These responses were shared around tables, recorded and openly discussed throughout our time together.

A video greeting from The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson III, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, offering the Synod 300th anniversary wishes was another highlight of the gathering.

Our time at State College also included a business meeting, spirited music, moving sermons, the partaking of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and interactive activities designed to help break down some of those various walls that often divide us. We also heard about the history of the Board of Pensions and some entertaining “little known facts,” from Rev. Allison Seed. Hearty meals and break-time snacks kept us energized throughout our time together.

The final evening each commissioner was given a memento, a 9” rectangular crested inscribed tray, to be given to their presbytery to commemorate the Synod’s 300 years of dedication to the region.

The 2017 annual meeting of the Synod of the Trinity left all attendees affirming its objective – “Being More Together, 300 (1717-2017) and Counting!”

by Madeline Valentine, Synod Commissioner from the Presbytery of Philadelphia

A Word from our Moderator, Rev. Dr. Janel Dixon

“And The Journey Continues”

Companions on the journey, I greet you with a very heavy heart and troubled spirit in the wake of the unthinkable: another church shooting, this time a Baptist congregation in Sutherland, Texas. It goes without saying that as members of the Body of Christ called the Presbytery of Philadelphia, we stand in unity and solidarity with our neighbors in Texas, New York, Las Vegas and around the world against the senseless violence that continues to rip apart families, snatch innocent lives, sow seeds of discord and polarize our nation. These atrocities are yet more signs of a broken world that stands in need of healing and wholeness. What shall we say to these things? With the prophet Habakkuk, we continue to cry in concert: How long O Lord, how long?

As we conclude this year of celebrating 300 years of mission and ministry, in the wake of these and other challenges facing the Church, perhaps as never before, we must continue to pray for and with our neighbors victimized by human and natural disasters, continue to promote social justice and righteousness, and continue to exhibit the kingdom of God here on earth.

As we forge ahead, “preparing for what is next,” we have been given our task: to stay rooted and grounded in the faith to which we have been called, “like a tree planted by rivers of water”, (Dr. Craig Barnes, reflecting on Psalm 1) and embrace the Holy Spirit of God who enables us to continue our faithful witness “even to the ends of the world. These were His last words.” (Rev. Denise Anderson reflecting on Acts 1:6-14).
Friends, in just a few short days we will gather for the final meeting of this, our 300th Year Anniversary Celebration, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, 4 South Ridge Avenue, Ambler, PA 19002-4792. We begin the day at 2:00pm with two Pre-Presbytery conversations: “Budget and Beyond” led by Elder Larry Davis, Business Administrator, and “Can We Talk About It?” Immigration Beyond the Rhetoric, led by Rev. Ruth Santana Grace, Executive Presbyter and Rev. Kevin Porter, Stated Clerk.

At 3:00 pm, the business meeting will be called to order as we ask God’s blessings to shower upon us as we tend to the ministry and mission to which we have been called. We will: receive the report from our Leadership Collegium reflecting Good News of the ministry and mission throughout the regions, celebrate the faithful witness of First Presbyterian Church of Bridesburg, and receive 2018 Budget.
With much joy we will elect new members to Standing Committees and Commissions, Commissioners to the 223rd General Assembly, and elect the Moderator and Vice-Moderator of our Presbytery. We will also consider the re-election of the Reverend Kevin Porter to serve as Stated Clerk for another 5-year term.

With thanksgiving and praise to God, we will celebrate the faithfulness and dedication of Elder Larry Davis, our Business Administrator who will soon retire after many years of service to the Presbytery.

We will then dine “spiritually” as we gather together for worship where we will be inspired by melodious music from one of our Princeton Seminarians, and empowered by the Word of God from the Reverend Dr. Frank Spencer, President and CEO of the Board of Pensions. Afterwards, we will dine “physically”, as we gather for dinner to be strengthened as we prepare to affirm God’s calling upon the lives of candidates to be examined for ordination in our Presbytery.

As you can see, a full docket awaits us; but by God’s amazing grace, it will be a great day full of faith for the journey and hope for the future, as we continue to bear witness to the love, justice, and peace of God, through Jesus the Christ.

In Christ’s Service,



Rev. Dr. Janel Dixon, Moderator



300th Anniversary Celebration Service

The Presbytery of Philadelphia Receives Congratulatory Letters for 300th

The Presbytery of Philadelphia has received congratulations in commemoration of our 300th Anniversary. We are pleased to share them with you:

Click on the links below to read the letters.


A Letter from Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

A Letter to the Presbytery of Philadelphia from The Rev. Claire S. Burkat, Bishop, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod  Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in honor of the Presbytery’s 300th anniversary celebration.
Please click here to read her letter of blessings and thanks written on this historic occasion.

300th Digital Media

The Eugene C. Bay Fund: Letters of Intent Now Being Accepted

The Eugene C. Bay Fund for Urban Ministry was established in 2004 as a celebration of the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Eugene C. Bay who served as Pastor at BMPC from 1987-2004. Dr. Bay’s passion for urban ministry and commitment to the communities of West Philadelphia and Chester guided Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church through a season of revitalization and engagement in mission partnerships. Over the past several years more than 15 organizations have received funds totaling over $700,000. For some of these organizations, BMPC was honored to be one of their earliest partners.

Organizations should submit a Letter of Intent (no more than two pages) that gives information and summarizes the proposal by January 15, 2018. Organizations whose Letters of Intent are accepted will be asked to submit a full proposal by February 28, 2018.

All Letters of Intent and full proposals should be sent to [email protected] For more information about the Eugene C. Bay Fund for Urban Ministry, please contact: The Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Mission [email protected]

Please click here for their brochure.

Employer Agreement on Benefits Connect is Now Open

Update Your Employer Agreement by October 13!

The Employer Agreement on Benefits Connect is open now and costs for 2018 coverage are available.

Between now and October 13, you should log on to Benefits Connect to review, update, and submit your Employer Agreement for 2018. Once submitted, the Agreement determines the coverage available for employees to elect during annual enrollment October 30-November 17, 2017, through Benefits Connect.


In addition to the section Selecting 2018 Benefits and Case Studies, refer to the following resources for more information:

·         Guide to Selecting 2018 Benefits offers descriptions of benefits selections and instructions to complete the Employer Agreement.

·         Selecting 2018 Benefits: Building Your Employer Agreement video provides a 90-second overview of the Employer Agreement process.

·         Considerations for Selecting Benefits: Building Your Employer Agreementweb tutorial reviews how to decide who will be covered, what benefits to offer, and how much employers and employees will pay toward the cost of benefits.

·         Creating Your Employer Agreement web tutorial walks through the process on Benefits Connect of creating or updating your Employer Agreement.

As announced on, 2018 Employer Agreements must be submitted through Benefits Connect by October 13, 2017.

If you have questions about the benefits available to employees or the benefits selection process, contact the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

Responding to Charlottesville: Prayers, Statements, and Worship Resources

Responding to Charlottesville: Prayers, Statements, and Worship Resources

As we continue to pray for the end of hatred manifested in racism, white supremacy, and all forms of bigotry, we share a few statements and prayers in light of what took place in Charlottesville this weekend. We join our voices to theirs, praying, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

PCUSA Leaders Condemn White Supremacy…/pcusa-leaders-condemn-white-suprem…/

Statement from Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the PCUSA…/stated-clerks-statement-are-we-com…/

Prayer written by Jill Duffield, Editor of The Presbyterian Outlook, who joined an interfaith march in the midst of the Charlottesville rally.…/…/prayer-violence-charlottesville/

Prayer and Resources of Support from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

A Prayer from the Streets of Charlottesville from Seminarian Lauren Grubaugh…/

Downloadable PDF of the Bulletin from the PC(USA) live streaming of their chapel service of justice and prayer in response to the racism and White Supremacy in Charlottesville, VA.  Chapel Service of Justice and Prayer

Thank you to Carolyn Winfrey Gillette for sharing this hymn – free for use in worship. It was originally written for churches to use as a response to a KKK rally.