Michael’s Missives

Michael’s Missives

by Rev. Michael Mudgett



One thing (of the many) I admire greatly about Jesus is his unconditional love that impels him to cross boundaries to embrace all kinds of people, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, color or creed. I’d love to be more like Jesus. I’m a work in progress.

I look at Paul’s life. Wow — he did it too, but only after his “road to Damascus, come to Jesus” moment. What impelled him? Jesus. A transforming encounter with his Creator. Love. Redemption. New life.

In Acts, Paul crosses all sorts of “artificial boundaries” (e.g. race, ethnicity, gender) to engage with others about Jesus. He traveled to Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and beyond. The “Bridge” that connected him to others was Jesus.

Recently, I was blessed to cross a few bridges. In this missive, you’ll read about my experience with Building Bridges II. Twenty people from north of the border met in TJ with 20 people south of it. There were several pastors involved. We all stood on the common ground of faith in Jesus — it made our respective ethnicities, races, languages, and cultures fade and brought Jesus to the forefront. We’re in the process of forming a “holy conspiracy” to do — from time to time — a mission together.

I was blessed this last month to worship with our brothers and sisters from the South Sudan who worship at the South Sudanese American Presbyterian Fellowship. They invited many in our Presbytery who support them, to worship with them and enjoy a wonderful lunch of food of the South Sudan. We enjoyed worship translated into their culture, and we shared a common love for Jesus. It was great. Again, regardless of race or ethnicity, language or culture, we all stood on the common ground of our faith in Jesus Christ.

So let me encourage all of us. Let’s think more in terms of the larger church, and beyond the bricks and mortar we find ourselves identifying with every Sunday. Yes, our local churches are important. And yes, our several churches are important too. We call the larger body — a presbytery, but it’s simply a greater depiction of the catholic church. I want us to think more catholic, in the best sense of that term.

How do we do that? Let’s cross boundaries of our respective churches. Let’s demolish “silo” thinking. Meet and befriend people from other Presbyterian churches. Why can’t we, as the Presbytery of San Diego, encourage partnering with each other in missions — both locally and abroad? If we conspire together to do great things for the Kingdom of God, it’s more likely to happen. That’s precisely why a conspiracy, in and of itself, is a crime. The synergistic effect of two or more people conspiring to pull off a caper is very likely to happen. Now, imagine if two or more Spirit-filled people gather together to spread the Good News …. It’s dynamic!

I hope several of you will join us on our Presbytery of San Diego mission trip to the Gulf coast to help our brothers and sisters there who are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. We leave on April 30th and return on May 4th. To learn more about the trip, click here; or call Jennifer Sedgwick at the presbytery office: 619.224.2490 x 100.

I also hope you will engage with Cyclical San Diego, our church planting endeavor, with your prayers and all other means of support. Our Director, Rev. Daniel So, will be visiting your sessions in the next several months to share vision and what God is doing in and through CyclicalSD.

A. Gulf Coast Mission Trip: It’s happening! Join us as we join the relief effort to help our brothers and sisters in Rockport, TX, recover from Hurricane Harvey. We leave on Monday, April 30th and return on Friday, May 4th. We have 2 travel days and 3 work days. Work is graduated and is a function of your health/age. Don’t worry. There’s something to do for all ages. Cost: approximately $600. You make your own airplane reservations. We’ll try to meet at a given time in San Antonio to hop onboard van(s) to Rockport. Or, you can rent a car and meet us in Rockport. But we need to know you’re coming. Please call Jennifer Sedgwick at Presbytery, 619.224.2490 x 100, and let her know you’re coming. This will be a great trip. I’m all in! See the flier and check the website for updated information.

B. Board of Pensions: Benefits Connection, a part of our Board of Pensions (BofP), is hosting a seminar on April 18, 2018, from 10:30 – 2:30 p.m. (confirm time at a later date), at Solana Beach Pres, 120 Stevens Ave, Solana Beach, CA. President Rev. Frank C. Spencer of the BofP will present with another person from their office.

Who should attend? Anyone who has their fingers in managing, advising, consulting, or arranging benefits under the Board of Pensions benefits program, is invited to join President Spencer, to discuss new, innovative programs coming in 2019, and ask questions. Lunch will be provided; time is 10:30 to 2:30 p.m. (confirm the time at a later date).

Why attend? “During this one-day event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the theological values that shape the Benefits Plan, learn about new benefits and programs for 2019, ask questions of BofP leadership and staff, meet other benefit decision-makers in your area, and participate in a panel of your peers.”

Register now! Register either by going to the pensions.org website – or – plugging this URL in your browser: http://www.pensions.org/membersandemployers/midcouncils/benefitsconnections/pages/default.aspx, and scroll down to San Diego and click on the icon.

C. City Tree Christian School: We need your help to spread the word about a Christ centered Christian School in downtown San Diego. City Tree Christian School, a ministry of First Presbyterian Church, serves infants-8th graders. Uniquely placed in an urban setting with a richly diverse student body, children have the opportunity to grow in knowledge, creativity, faith, and compassion. Pass on this information to your congregation or invite us to set up an information table on a Sunday morning. Contact Principal Sue Kennedy sue.kennedy@citytree.org, 619-232-3794, www.citytree.org to learn more. Get a glimpse of our kindergarten class here https://vimeo.com/260456720


Building bridges to connect with others and invite them into our lives is exciting. When we get to know people from different cities, countries, and cultures, it breaks down self-imposed silos. It makes our “world” bigger. We grow. Let me share a couple things I’ve participated in lately, and I hope you’ll join in the next time these opportunities come around our way — and they will.

A. South Sudanese American Presbyterian Fellowship: There has been a lot happening at the SSAPF! Good things.

1. Bruce Huebner, working in conjunction with the SSAPF steering committee [he is also a member of the committee], with funding provided by Evangelism & Missions Committee and with their encouragement and approval, put up the new signage at 5202 Orange Street. It declares for the world to see that the SSAP Fellowship worships there. Check out the signage.

2. Work Party: A crew from Solana Beach Pres and several men and women from SSAPF joined together to spend the better part of their Saturday, February 24, 2018, working at the South Sudanese Presbyterian church painting, cleaning, and enjoying a nice lunch together. On behalf of the San Diego Presbytery, I want to thank everyone who donated their time and talent to that work party. It was fun, and I got to make a few new friends. More photos can be seen here.

3. SSAPF Worship: Pastor Margaret Walls, on behalf of the SSAPF steering committee, together with pastor William Tut, organized a wonderful worship experience at the SSAPF church on Sunday, March 4th. Many SSAPF supporters from around our Presbytery were invited and joined in the worship. We were welcomed by our South Sudanese brothers and sisters in Christ; enjoyed bilingual worship in both English and the native language of Nuer. It was special sharing the Lord’s Supper together. It reminds us of the common faith in which we embrace each other. It’s in Christ that our walls come down, and we are truly one. Everyone is welcome to worship with the SSAPF community on Sunday’s beginning at noon.

B. Building Bridges II: About 20 Presbyterians north of the border (16 from San Diego County, 4 from Claremont, CA) joined with 20 brothers and sister from the greater Tijuana area to make acquaintances, pray together, enjoy a great Mexican lunch, and pledge to continue the conversation and fellowship between the Presbytery of San Diego and the Presbytery of the Northwest Border, Baja. Pastors Juan Daniel spoke and gave a historical overview of the respective Presbyterian denominations and charted out current trends in both. During our program, I spoke on poverty; Jpetul Jernantes spoke on immigration, and Felipe Huguet spoke on violence. Then, pastor Robelio Roblero, the host pastor, spoke on all three topics from the perspective of people living in the greater TJ area. There’s a “border” theology developing. What got us most excited was the possibility of doing mission projects together – first in Mexico, and then in San Diego. I hope you will come to the next Building Bridges. How else will we ever become a multicultural, multilingual presbytery in San Diego unless we …. all join in!

C. Pastors’ Gathering: Pastors and CREs (all those on staff or between calls) gathered for lunch at Nonna’s in Little Italy on March 7th. There were 27 of us. The purpose in our gathering was to build community and tear down walls, to promote the unity of Christ, not silos – and then spread that vision throughout the churches. I know we’re all busy with the demands of our individual churches; but … there is something very special about coming together in relationship to talk about missions, our faith, and Jesus – our unifying God. We intend to have 3 more Gatherings this year. I want to thank Pastor Mofid Wasef who shared his story about growing up in Egypt and the persecution Christians suffer there. I want to thank pastor Jerry Andrews for taking the laboring oar in organizing this Gathering. And I want to thank all those who participated and those who weren’t there but with us in Spirit.

D. Chopped at Church: PUM’s (Presbyterian Urban Ministries) big annual fundraiser was held this last Saturday at La Jolla Pres. It was a lot of fun, bridge building between churches, and a good way to support a Christian ministry that reaches the poor in our communities with the love of Jesus Christ and tangible resources. Congratulations to Iglesia Presbyteriana Americana Emmanuel’s cooking team, for their first-place finish in the Overall Category, which includes the main dish entry, dessert, and team spirit. Other cooking teams that competed were from Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, Christ United Pres, La Jolla Pres (the Holy Roasters), and Ladle Fellowship from First Pres San Diego. I had a fun time judging along with the other two (real) chefs who served as judges. I want to personally thank the churches that participated and all those who support the wonderful work of PUM. And many thanks to Vicki Padula, the event chair, and her team who invested a lot of time to put on a great event. And thanks to LJPC who hosted us, and Paul Cunningham, the MC for the evening. If you would like to support PUM with your time and talents, I encourage you to volunteer. I also encourage you to support PUM with money and tangible goods. To volunteer and donate, call Raul Palomino, Director, at 619.232.2753. More photos here.

E. Happy 125th Birthday Lakeside Community Pres: Karen and I enjoyed a wonderful morning of worship at Lakeside Pres this last Sunday (3/18/18), followed by celebration of their 125th Birthday. A historian recalled the church’s history, and we all walked, or rode in a horse drawn cart, to the original church site, beautifully maintained by the Lakeside Historical Society, where we enjoyed a very nice lunch, songs, and conversation. Happy Birthday LCPC. You have been and will continue to be a strong beacon of light for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in your community and beyond.

God bless you this Spring season, and may you each experience a blessed Easter and Easter Season. I am blessed to serve you.

Michael Mudgett
Executive Presbyter
Presbytery of San Diego