by Rev. Michael Mudgett
JulyWHAT’S HOT: A couple things are hot ….
- New Admin Assistant at Presbytery: We hired a new administrative assistant to takeover Susan Dillaman’s position. We want to welcome Keri Dawkins to our staff. Keri is a local business owner, and has several years of administrative work under her belt. We’re excited to have Keri join our team. I want to thank Susan for her great service to our Presbytery during the last year and a half. Susan, we’ll miss you.
- Transitions: Associate Pastor Eileen Moran was installed in her new position at Christ Presbyterian Church - La Costa on June 4th. Pastor Karla Shaw is PLCPC’s nominee for their head of staff position. She will be coming up for vote on the floor of Presbytery at our meeting on September 19th.
- Fundraiser & Name Change: Because the Republic of South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, our Sudanese brothers and sisters in the San Diego Presbytery have decided to change the name of their fellowship from The Sudanese American Presbyterian Fellowship to The South Sudanese American Presbyterian Fellowship. The SSAPF had a fundraiser earlier this month. There was good food, good preaching, informative talks, and new friendships forged. My wife Karen and I were privileged to attend. I hope more of us will attend their next event, whatever and whenever it may be. SSAPF is one of our Presbytery’s two missions. They are great people, refugees who have fled a severe crisis, who have many family members still suffering the hardship of civil war in the South Sudan.
- Around the Presbytery: From time to time, I’ll list a couple things that catch my attention. First off — 1st Pres has a Jazz Vespers service on Saturday’s beginning at 4:30pm which is robust, informal, relaxed, and worshipful. Karen and I have attended a couple of times the last few months and have enjoyed our worship time. Secondly, I know that Village Church’s choir and pastors have recently completed a choir tour in Scotland where they enjoyed a wee bit of relaxation, church history, and a lot of worship. Please let me know what your church is doing that is life giving and of interest to all of us, and I’ll highlight it in my missives. It can inspire us to be, think, and do things differently to the greater glory of our Lord.
- Presbytery Coalition Habitat Build: Habitat4Humanity is planning a Presbytery coalition build on November 4, 2017. It’s a grass roots movement, gaining momentum through the interest and participation of several Presbytery churches. I am currently seeking out the leaders, of this grassroots effort to ask them to spread the good news: flyers, etc. as we get closer to the build date. Please save the date for the upcoming build, and I hope you will spread news of this event to others. This should be a fun, connecting, service focused event.
- Lunch & Learn: On June 7th, we had a Lunch & Learn, hosted, planned, and launched by Rev. Rosalind Ziccardi on behalf of the Presbytery. Jim Sedgwick and Doug Peterson shared their expertise in the realms of communication, marketing, and media to help us better serve our church communities. It was great information, an occasion to network with others in these areas, and an opportunity to learn over a good lunch, prepared by Lara, and hosted by the Presbytery. Thank you all for coming. Mark your calendars: our next Lunch & Learn is scheduled for Thursday, September 28, 2017, from 11:00am — 1:00 p.m. Sandee Rugg, an expert in the HR field will return by popular demand to once again present on hot HR issues.
- Golf4Good: PUM hosted its large fundraising event, Golf4Good, at the Admiral Kidd golf course, on June 5th. More than 110 golfers played 18 rounds, followed by a great dinner, a silent auction, followed by a live auction with Rev. Dr. Chris Lenocker serving as auctioneer. PUM is one of our presbytery’s two missions, and it serves the marginalized and homeless in our city. We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the Golf4Good chair, Corey Buckner and his team. We tip our hats to the faithful staff at PUM: Raul Palomino, director; Susan Fleming, office manager; Jose Ojeda, caseworker; and Ricardo Quijana, resource assistant, and the several selfless volunteers who serve at PUM and you — the Presbytery — who serve PUM with your time, talents, and resources. Thank you!
- Zephyr Point Wellness Weekend: Here’s a tempting 3-day getaway to beautiful Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center sponsored by the Board of Pensions. When: Monday - Wednesday, August 21-23, 2017. There is no conference/registration fee. There is a modest cost for room and board. Many breakout groups to choose from: spirituality, financial planning, retirement planning. Check it out at:https://www.pensions.org/MembersAndEmployers/BoardUniversity/WellBeingRetreat/Pages/default.aspx .
- Per Capita: Thank you for being faithful in paying your per capita. Every time I submit a grant application from a person or church in our presbytery to the Presbytery Mission Agency, our Synod, or even our Evangelism & Mission committee, I am reminded that our per capita donations are what makes all of this work. Our per capita serves to give life to our connectional way of living. It helps facilitate our missions, new worshiping communities, and — looking to the future — our new church plants. Yes, it also keeps our Presbytery staff “up and running.” So thank you for your generosity and faithful giving.
Happy July 4th. Happy birthday, U.S.A. Most everyone I know celebrates our country’s freedom. I’ve paid tribute to this freedom at the National Archives when I’ve looked at our country’s founding documents — the Declaration of Independence as well as the U.S. Constitution and several others. I stand in awe when I look at these documents and the original signatures of Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Hancock, Washington, and the other signers, and quietly express appreciation for all they sacrificed that we might enjoy the freedoms that mark our country.
I don’t skip a heartbeat in then realizing how God in Jesus Christ has graced me (us) with true freedom: freedom from bondage to sin, but then ironically, bondage to God in Christ, for it is truly in devotion and surrender and captivity to the love of God in Christ that I am truly free.
I am thankful for the freedom to express my faith in this country. I am thankful as I see expressions of that freedom in our Presbytery. As you, the Presbytery, have approved and authorized, we are in the midst of putting flesh on the bones of our Cyclical SD/NWC initiative. We have drafted a position description for our prospective Director of Cyclical SD/NWC, formed a search committee, and we are beginning to receive applications for this critical position. We’re setting interview dates for these applicants and hope to have a person in that position sometime in September. Please keep the search committee in your prayers.
I see this freedom expressed in several of our churches that are taking the initiative to collaborate with each other, and with Habitat4Humanity to do a Presbytery wide build at multiple sites on November 4th. I’m sure these churches will spread the word and the invitation. They see this “project” as a way to help their neighbors and to forge relationships not only with the community, but with other church members throughout the Presbytery. You all have the freedom to participate or pass. I hope the Spirit moves you to do the former.
I see this true freedom expressed by several churches in the missions they do. Some travel to foreign countries to share the love of Christ through works of compassion and charity. Others do so within their city. Still others — as well as the aforementioned — express the love of Christ in missions at their doorsteps (their geographical neighbors, family, and friends).
I affirm all your good deeds and these various ways you express Christ’s love. Here’s my only word of caution — for the sake of your freedom and spiritual health. Please, tend to the number one (#1) priority among all priorities, and that is to pursue God in an ever-deepening relationship of love and surrender. This is the dynamic and growing relationship, which fuels our good works and is the platform upon which we build.
As pastors and front line leaders in the church, you are susceptible to the “wiles of the devil.” Evil abounds. Fatigue sets in, and temptation is at every turn. You are not immune. So I encourage us all to take time out to be alone with God in prayer, retreat, and communion. This is easier said than done when you’re busy tending to the spiritual welfare of the flock — as well as the budget, building program, HR issues, etc.
Jesus always took time to get away and be alone with the Father in prayer. Do you retreat? Pray daily? Plan to take a retreat; I’m not talking about a conference, choir trip, leading a mission trip, etc. What I have in mind is spending “alone time’ with God, even an extended retreat — even a silent retreat, where you are intentional about pursuing an ever deepening relationship with God.
I recall, Moses knew God. God spoke to him in the burning bush and then on multiple occasions thereafter. That wasn’t enough for Moses. He pursued God. He petitioned God: “Now show me your glory.” (Exod. 34:18) He wanted to see God’s face. (Exod. 34:12-23) Moses was never satisfied with his present “knowing” of God.” He wanted to know God more deeply!
So let me encourage you to schedule into your busy lives a retreat, alone time with God, prayer time, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines that help you pursue God. God loves you and wants to be known by you. Though I am not convinced I will ever fully know God, I am convinced the blessing is in the eternal journey of growing in ever-increasing knowledge of God. That journey is what energizes us to meet the many daily responsibilities in tending to our flocks.
Blessing to you all as we celebrate this July 4th. Let freedom ring, and let Jesus Christ reign supreme — in our lives and in all that we do.