About the Northwest Region

Update from our Northwest Region Convener: New Conversations on Race Begin

Dear Friends,

On January 20th, 40 people from around the Presbytery participated in a workshop led by a nationwide organization called “Coming to the Table” (CTTT). In the workshop we talked about race in small groups, following a protocol developed by CTTT that allowed for conversations that were honest, enlightening, and fruitful. The evaluations were positive and enthusiastic.

A number of us were trained as facilitators, and the NW Region is launching a monthly CTTT conversation group beginning on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at First Presbyterian Church Germantown, 35 Chelten Avenue from 9:30 a.m. to noon. (9:30-10:00 is registration and coffee; we will open with prayer at 10:00).

We invite you to join us to help spread the word. Friends and neighbors welcome. Below is a blurb that may be used and adapted for bulletin/email alerts. A flyer will follow. We anticipate meeting the third Saturday of the month.

Thank you!

Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, Northwest Regional Convener

Planning team: Rev. Dr. Jade King Bass, Elder Joan Clerk, Elder Arlene Grace, Elder Deborah Merritt, Elder Cindy Reed, Elder Chris Scott, Rev. Ethelyn Taylor, Elder Marta Zehner.

Please share the following information with your congregation:
Coming to the Table: Conversations on Race. Saturday, May 19, 2018
9:30-12:00, First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, 35 Chelten Ave., 19144

The Northwest Region of the Presbytery is launching a “Coming to the Table” group, using a protocol developed by the organization, Coming to the Table, a nation-wide organization dedicated to acknowledging and healing the wounds of racism through creating a space where participants feel safe enough, and motivated, to do the work. CTTT led a Presbytery-wide workshop in January which was enthusiastically received. Facilitators trained by CTTT will lead us in monthly conversations to deepen our understanding of racism, strengthen community and equip us for action.

The Schedule for our first Conversation on Race:

  • 9:30-10:00 will be coffee, registration and fellowship;
  • 10:00 am the program begins

Please call or email Rev. Cheryl Pyrch ([email protected] or 215-438-2825) for more information.

All welcome!

The Northwest Regional Meeting: Creating a brave space.

The Northwest Regional Meeting: Creating a brave space.

That was the goal of the January 20th Saturday workshop, “Come to the Table. . . .. for Conversations on Race,” sponsored by the Northwest Region of the Presbytery on January 20th.

Over 42 people from across the Presbytery gathered at Church of the Mall to be led in conversation by Rusty Vaughan and Jane Carrigan of the organization “Coming to the Table.” They helped us to create “brave spaces” — respectful spaces where people would speak honestly and listen deeply, even at the risk of discomfort. We began Friday night, when Jane and Rusty trained fourteen volunteers from the Presbytery in facilitation skills. We went over guidelines/touchstones for discussions. We learned the value of going around the circle by passing a “talking stick,” giving every person the opportunity to share their thoughts. We learned about the importance of confidentiality, sharing from personal experience and avoiding “debates.” We practiced honest speaking and deep listening among us, and left excited about the workshop the next day.

On Saturday morning we began with song, scripture and prayer. Then Rusty and Jane shared their experiences: Rusty as a white man who spent most of his life thinking he had nothing to learn about race/racism; and Jane, who grew up in a Cape Verdean community in Massachusetts, hearing mixed and complex messages about race. Their honest and moving stories were the springboard for our morning small group discussions. In the afternoon we examined questions like “How would you feel if your church put up a “Black Lives Matter” banner?” or “What is the cost to being African American in this country?” The circles became brave spaces, spaces of learning, connection and occasionally laughter. In between discussions, we relaxed over lunch and enjoyed fellowship.

What next? Jane and Rusty emphasized that the mission of Coming to the Table is not simply to talk. It’s to help people uncover history, make connections, and take actions to heal the wounds of racial inequality and injustice. But conversation is a place to begin, a place to practice honesty, truthfulness and transparency as we work for the peaceful transformation of society. The NW region would like to support churches (or groups of churches) in beginning “Coming to the Table” groups of their own! Rusty and Jane are ready to help with resources and consultations. Please contact Cheryl Pyrch at [email protected] if you would like to learn more about starting a group in your church.

Thank you to the Presbytery for the Peacemaking Grant that made this day possible. Thank you to Church of the Mall for their gracious hospitality. Thank you to the facilitators who came for training, and thank you and to all who attended on Saturday, not sure what to expect. We were blessed, and we pray that we may be a blessing to others as we continue courageous conversations and work for justice and healing.

The Northwest Region Sponsors Conversation on Racism

The Northwest Region sponsors Presbytery-wide event at Church on the Mall

The Northwest Regional Leadership Team of Philadelphia Presbytery would like to invite you and your congregation to “Come to the Table” for continued conversations on race, Saturday, January 20, 2018, at the Church on the Mall, 500 West Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, PA. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue through 3:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided and the price is included in the $10 registration fee.

The program will be led by Rusty Vaughn and Jane Carrigan from Coming to the Table, an organization that provides leadership and resources for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism. Coming to the Table is committed to uncovering history, making connections, working toward healing and taking action. They have a track record of bringing people together across racial lines to develop and deepen relationships. Learn about starting conversations in your congregation or community that are inclusive, respectful, honest, and compassionate.

Space is limited, so please make your reservations through the Presbytery office at 215-242-1400 x329 or email [email protected]

Click here for a flyer to share with your congregation

Yours in Christ,

The Northwest Regional Leadership Team: Rev. Dr. Jade King Bass, Elder Joan Clerk, Elder Deborah Douie Merritt, Rev. Cheryl Pyrch (Convener), Elder Cindy Reed, and Rev. Ethelyn Taylor

Summary of Crossroads Anti-Racism Workshop

A Presbytery-wide Anti-Racism Workshop was held on March 11, 2017, hosted by the Northwest Region

Inspired by the call to celebrate our 300th Anniversary with a focus on mission, and wanting to deepen the Presbytery conversations on “Race, Bias and Privilege,” the NW Region invited Crossroads Anti-Racism Training to lead a day-long seminar called “Introduction to Systemic Racism.” Sixty people representing over a dozen congregations from across the Presbytery gathered at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill for learning, conversation, worship (and a delicious lunch). The program was supported by the Church Leadership Development Fund of the Great Ends Grants, and with donations from the Ambler, Norriton, Oxford, and Summit Presbyterian churches. Individuals also gave generously!

Crossroads is dedicated to helping people understand and combat racism in institutions – including the church. They offered a definition of racism that went beyond the common understanding of racism as a matter of personal prejudice or hostility. It is better defined, they suggested, as a combination of race prejudice combined with misuse of power by institutions and systems – and therefore needs to be tackled on both an institutional and personal level. An ethical/theological framework developed by Christian Ethicist Miguel de Torres guided our discussions.

Provocative questions, personal stories, videos and short lectures sparked energetic conversations between members of different congregations. We looked at the concept of a cultural “center” and “borderlands” (developed by philosopher Gloria Anzaldua) to explore how racism and other kinds of oppression play out in society. We considered ways in which the church is complicit, and how it might change.

Near the end of the day we thought about our own congregations and where they fit on an anti-racism spectrum. Nearly all agreed there was not enough time for this interesting exercise and we needed an opportunity to plan next steps. The Northwest Regional team will be exploring ways we can further our anti-racism work.

The Northwest Regional Leadership Team thanks the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, for graciously hosting, and all who attended and made the event a success. Thank you to the Presbytery for supporting churches. Stay tuned for follow-up programming!

Learn More About Crossroads: http://crossroadsantiracism.org

Northwest Region Hosts “Introduction to Systemic Racism” Workshop

All are welcome to attend this important workshop on Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm!

The NW Region invites you to join them in a special workshop. As part of the Presbytery’s 300th Anniversary celebration, they are offering an “Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop,” conducted by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training (crossroadsantiracism.org)

  • You are encouraged to sign up with others from your church.
  • Cost: $25, which includes lunch and snacks. (Checks made out to Presbytery of Philadelphia)
  • Parking available.

This workshop helps people explore the idea that racism is not only a matter of individual prejudice but a systemic, institutional problem of power. Participants will be exposed to the “power definition” of racism, its historic and legal roots and the way it functions today. The discussion will be placed in a theological framework, which will begin with worship.

RSVP Here:

Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop

Introduction to Systemic Racism Workshop hosted by the Northwest Region of the Presbytery of Phialdelphia
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

NW Region 9/24 Meeting Topic: Antiracism: Next Steps?

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The Northwest Region of the Presbytery will next gather on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield Township (Flourtown) beginning at 9:00 am.

The topic for the meeting:

Antiracism: Next Steps?

Come to a workshop developed by the PC (USA) office of Compassion, Peace and Justice that equips participants to initiate conversations around antiracism in their own congregations and communities. These experience-based exercises will help us gain a deeper understanding of the systems of power and privilege that perpetuate racism and help you facilitate these conversations with others. We’ll learn about the tools and resources for antiracism work (including the newly developed PC(USA) antiracism study guides) and spend time examining our own experiences related to race, power and privilege.

Presented by Elder Courtenay Wilcox, who participated in training with the PC(USA) office. We’ll also elect new members to the NW team and enjoy fellowship, food/coffee and worship together.

All welcome!

Northwest Region Receives Thanks on Behalf of the Presbytery

The Northwest Regional leadership received a letter of thanks from the Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN). PIHN was invited to speak at the most recent Northwest Regional gathering in April.  Rev. Cheryl Pyrch wanted to pass on the thank you note from Rachel Falkove:

Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network thanks the trustees of the Presbytery of Philadelphia for our generous donation of $200 as a speaker’s honorarium for PIHN staff participating in the Northwest regional meeting held on April 22, 2016 at Oxford Presbyterian Church.

We enjoyed meeting the representatives of the Northwest regional congregations and were honored to have the opportunity to introduce the Interfaith Hospitality Network program to new potential partners. We deeply value our close connection with eight Presbyterian congregations and we hope that in the coming year we grow to this number to at least ten!

May our communities of faith continue working together towards the day when every child will have a safe place to call “home” as we live our lives with a sense of responsibility for our neighbors in-need!

Thank you for all you do!

Rachel Falkove, Executive Director
Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network

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NW Meeting Follow-Up: Racial & Environmental Justice

Dear NW Region,

Thank you to all who came out to the program on Saturday to reflect on the connections between racial an climate justice and to join in worship, fellowship and conversation.

I promised to send some links/information:

  1. Speaking of making connections, I just received the notice from the Creation Justice Ministries office of the denomination – they were awarded a grant from the Presbyterian Hunger Program (via One Great Hour of Sharing) to raise awareness of the connection between hunger and climate change. So we’re already doing it . . .Please click here for the letter from Creation Justice: Creation Justice_Thanks_PCUSA
  2. The link to Dwayne Royster’s organization is www.powerphiladelphia.org — Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild.
  3. I’ve also included a flyer about upcoming films on climate in Germantown, Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. More information about area programs are available at www.paipl.org, (Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light). IPL_ClimateChangeSeries_Fall2015

Thanks!

Cheryl Pyrch for the Leadership Team, Northwest Region

Thank You to the NW Region for a Great Meeting!

NW Pie PieceDear NW Region,

Thank you to all who came out to the program on Saturday to reflect on the connections between racial an climate justice and to join in worship, fellowship and conversation.

I promised to send some links/information:

  1. Speaking of making connections, I just received the notice from the Creation Justice Ministries office of the denomination – they were awarded a grant from the Presbyterian Hunger Program (via One Great Hour of Sharing) to raise awareness of the connection between hunger and climate change. So we’re already doing it . . .Please click here for the letter from Creation Justice: Creation Justice_Thanks_PCUSA
  2. The link to Dwayne Royster’s organization is www.powerphiladelphia.org — Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild.
  3. I’ve also included a flyer about upcoming films on climate in Germantown, Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy. More information about area programs are available at www.paipl.org, (Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light). IPL_ClimateChangeSeries_Fall2015

Thanks!

Cheryl Pyrch for the Leadership Team, Northwest Region

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Northwest Regional Gathering for November 7, 2015

Speak My Language:

Racial Justice & Environmental Justice

NW Pie PieceElder Commissioners, Clergy and all interested Presbyterians and friends are invited to the Northwest Regional Gathering on Saturday, November 7, 2015, from 9:00 – 11:30 a.m. at Carmel Presbyterian Church, 100 Edge Hill Road, Glenside, PA 19038.

Our topic is Speak my Language: Racial Justice and Environmental Justice.

The movements to address racism and the environment – especially climate change – are growing in the church and the world. But congregations often address only one or the other. Explore the need for intersection and understanding between these two movements, including the theological implications.

Our speaker is Bishop Dwayne D. Royster of POWER, Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild (www.powerphiladelphia.org).

Come to worship, learn, be inspired and enjoy fellowship.

Breakfast and registration from 9-9:30; worship and program begins at 9:30 a.m. Childcare available on request. Call (215) 438-2825 for more information.

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