Mission in Action - Mission Presbytery

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Two Missions You Can't Live Without (a 3-part blog by Krin Van Tatenhove, pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, San Antonio)

Nearly three decades ago, Robert Fulghum coined a folksy phrase through his book of the same name: “All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” I could say that all I needed to know about a pattern for Christian mission, I learned on a Sunday in 1966.

I was ten years old, seated with my grandparents in the pews of their congregation, The Church of the Open Door, a well-known evangelical presence in the heart of Los Angeles. The church’s red neon cross was an icon rising above the smoggy streets, drawing members of all classes and races.

Grandma and Grandpa were salt of the earth, blue-collar folks who survived two failed farms during the Depression. They had grown up in mainline denominations, exposed to the patterns of religion. But as they said, “the Gospel never caught fire in their lives.” That is until a Billy Graham crusade during the mid-50s. Grandpa, the holdout in the family, had a “born again” experience in the Los Angeles Coliseum, joining thousands of people streaming down the aisle to commit their lives to Christ. I wish I had been there as that tall, raw-boned Dutch farmer tearfully said, “Lord Jesus, I accept you as my personal Savior.”
Historic picture of The Church
of the Open Door

Whatever you feel about such experiences, whatever you feel about the necessity of Christ for salvation, let me assure you of one thing. My grandpa was never the same. And that was a wonderful thing!

Back to that Sunday. I don’t remember the sermon, the hymns we sang, or the words of particular prayers, but there is one image burned indelibly in my mind.
On the wall behind the podium and choir—the place that drew everyone’s eyes—was a vast map of the world. A leader in the congregation stood and read Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his ascension into heaven: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NRSV).

Suddenly the map lit up with tiny lines of light streaming from L.A. as their epicenter. It was like the map of an airline’s international routes. Yet these lights meant flights of passion. They showed the many places around the globe that The Church of the Open Door was reaching out to proclaim Christ’s love: supporting missionaries, planting new churches, investing in hospitals and safe water systems.

Wow! The sanctuary transformed! It was part of the heartbeat of the Kingdom — a vital, connected staging platform for changing lives in far-flung locales.

That was my first lesson for the day. The second one came after church.

Los Angeles was still reeling from the Watts riots. If you don’t know this history, let me brief you.

After the Civil Rights Act in 1964, race relations seemed to be improving. However, certain states like California tried to circumvent new federal laws, passing propositions to block fair housing. Anger seethed in the inner cities.

Lone National Guardsman
stands watch after the riots
On August 11, 1965, L.A.'s South Central neighborhood of Watts ignited with some of the worst racial violence in American history. A LAPD officer pulled over motorist Marquette Frye, who was with his brother, Ronald. The officer suspected Marquette was driving drunk. While he questioned him, a crowd of onlookers formed. The boy’s mother, Rena Frye, showed up and a struggle broke out. More officers arrived on the scene and struck the brothers with their batons. The crowd grew in such numbers and rage that after the police arrested the Fryes and left the scene, tension exploded. The ensuing riot lasted 6 days. When the smoke cleared, 34 were dead, 1000 wounded, $100 million in property damaged.

The Church of the Open Door was only a few blocks from Watts. On that Sunday in early ‘66, my grandma and grandpa did an audacious thing. They joined with some of the African-American members of their own congregation to “walk for peace” in Watts—hiking through risky neighborhoods, greeting people, passing out tracts that talked about the unity that is ours in Christ. My grandma said, “This is our calling; to try and love our neighbors wherever God has planted us.”

A world with faraway outposts, an inner city neighborhood plagued by violence, my grandparents reaching out to both: the pattern was complete.

We all know that early lessons mature, mellow, and expand with wisdom and experience through the years. I am still learning the power of Christian mission day by day. In my 27 years of ordained ministry, it has been my central motivation, my clarion call from the pulpit. I have seen it stir the Holy Spirit in many congregations - turning casual, pew-sitting Christians into passionate servants of the world on Christ’s behalf.

Couldn’t we (and our churches) all benefit from more of this passion? That’s why I invite you to come back and read the next installments of “Two Missions You Can’t Live Without.”

Blessings to you from the Mission, Outreach, and Justice Committee of Mission Presbytery!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Comunidades Unidas Pro Salud update

e-mail received on September 27, 2013



I did not know there would be no room for tables at the October Presbytery meeting. I think I will still plan to attend the meeting, especially with focus on Mission. Would be interested in hearing what people have to say. 

All I know is that what CUPS with the help of our friends can do in Mexico means a lot to folks and is a blessing to the children, parents and the teachers. I seem to hear more and more how teachers cannot ask parents for much financial help and the government provides little assistance. One primary school teacher was really challenged this year, and then CUPS stop by to ask her how many students she had. 18 was her answer. We were able to provide, thanks to our donors, school packets, soap for the school and clothing for the students which includes clothing for winter. Lorena, the teacher told me that most children arrive hungry and with the help coming from CUPS, parents dig into their very scarce resources to help with their school food program.  

The Valle Hermoso city social service department provides basic food but it is not sufficient so the 20 pesos per week ($1.65) and that hungry children are not able to learn. Pretty basic. On top of this, new city government with a new mayor and staff means that there is a suspension of DIF supplied food until the new staff gets into office. This happens on October 1. Lorena also shares her resources with another nearby kindergarten! CUPS volunteers built the kitchen dining area for this small school that serves a rural community just north of Valle Hermoso and has helped with school supplies, enrichment materials and clothing, particularly for winter for many years.

In 1998, our volunteers built an expansion for the Cerebral Palsy Center in Valle Hermoso. Last week, the director, Yolanda Ochoa, invited CUPS to attend the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Center. All through the celebratory program, it was so obvious that faith really kept the center open most especially in the recent difficult years.  

Nuff said. Is there anything I can do to help at the October meeting.
Am attaching a couple of photos from the Irene Martinez Kindergarten that I talked about.
Peace and serenity for the great work you are doing on with MOJC.  

Louise Flippin
Comunidades Unidas Pro Salud
613 North 8th Street, McAllen, TX 78501

Telphone 956 686 7456; Cell: 956 605 8159

Email: CUPS7456@sbcglobal.net

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 Peacemaking Offering

               September, 2013
Dear Friends,

 The annual Peacemaking Offering of the PC(USA) is most often collected on World Communion Sunday, which will be celebrated this year on October 6. On behalf of the Mission Outreach and Justice Committee of Mission Presbytery, I want to encourage your congregation to receive this important offering, which supports the peacemaking efforts of the church at every governing body level. Gifts given to the Peacemaking Offering through a congregation are divided in the following manner - twenty-five percent retained by congregations for support of their own peacemaking ministry; 25 percent used to support presbytery and synod peacemaking efforts; and 50 percent forwarded to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. 

 Mission Presbytery’s portion of the 2013 Peacemaking Offering has been designated for Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA) micro loans for women in the West Bank.
Fair trade women's cooperatives have served as a vehicle for introducing many traditional Palestinian specialty products to the world market – couscous, za'atar and tahini among them. These products, typically made by hand, have given women an opportunity to earn income important to their families. Equally important, they have empowered women, through business enterprise, to gain experience and skill in management, problem-solving, and cooperative relationships. Economic success has led to greater self-confidence, greater civic participation, and greater influence for many women. Rural women with little formal training and limited access to any job market have joined in cooperatives to use the traditional skills valued by the natural and organic food movement. The micro-loan project is designed to enable small producers, and people with little or no resources, especially women, to take part in the production process and benefit from the fair trade returns.  Micro-loans are typically extended to women member of producing cooperatives in amounts that range between $500 to $1500 per individual participant. These funds are used to purchase supplies and begin producing according to fair trade guidelines. PFTA and its exporting member Canaan Fair Trade (www.canaanfairtrade.com) ensure the success of micro-loan recipients by providing specific production methods, quality specifications and proper training, then marketing the products produced.

 Your support for this project, as well as your prayers for peace and justice in the Middle East, are deeply appreciated.  For more information please contact Marilyn White, Peacemaking Advocate
512/450-2766, marwhite@igc.org


Kathleen McCloskey, Chair,
Mission Outreach and Justice Committee
Mission Presbytery


Thursday, March 21, 2013

News from CUPS

There are lots ways to help Mexican children. CUPS works with many schools, urban and rural, at the kinder, primary, or middle school level. We also help special education schools. Some are oriented totally to special ed needs while others are classrooms in "regular" schools where children are mainstreamed.

Used tennis balls provide fun and exercise for children. Recycled school supplies all-to-often left at the end of the school year in a US classroom can provide "tools" for both school children and Sunday School or VBS in Mexican churches. A used crayon still makes a beautiful picture. Playing cards or dominoes can be used as tools for the study of math. Puzzles for children like the 24 piece ones are both fun and teach spacial concepts to kids. I found a 24 piece dinosaur floor puzzle at the Habitat for Humanity Resale shop in McAllen. It is now in a rural Mexican classroom. These are just a few examples of how donations can enrich and excite young learners.

Books in Spanish, bilingual, or low level English are needed in Mexican schools. Most homes do not have children's books so the collections at school provided by CUPS donors are greatly loved and appreciated. Almost all primary schools have an English language teacher who spends one day a week at a rural school, or one hour per class each week in urban areas.. Recently children greeted CUPS visitors with "Good Morning," and "Thank You" after receiving their packet of school supplies donated by CUPS friends.

CUPS also works to help seniors and special education children with health equipment needs like wheelchairs, walkers, canes, bedside toilets and diapers. Driving out of a small rural community, I noted a lady with one hand on her walker and the other hand was grasping a rake to clean her yard. The gift of a walker helped make her life meaningful. I thanked God for whoever has given it to her. It was not CUPS in this case but it surely motivated me to continue to ask for help until it is received. Gracias.  
Louise FlippinComunidades Unidas Pro Salud
613 North 8th Street, McAllen, TX 78501
Telphone 956 686 7456; Cell: 956 605 7159
Email: CUPS7456@sbcglobal.net

Sunday, September 30, 2012

2012 Peacemaking Offering Focus: Conflict Resolution

The Mission Outreach and Justice Committee (MOJC) of Mission Presbytery encourages all congregations to participate in the 2012 Peacemaking Offering on World Communion Sunday, October 6.   The Peacemaking Offering is one of four offerings taken by the Presbyterian Church (USA) each year.  This year's Peacemaking Offering focuses on four areas:  Respectful Dialogue and Civility, Human Trafficking, Bullying and Discerning a Nonviolent Path in the World. 

MOJC will recommend on October 26, 2012 at the Mission Presbytery meeting that the commissioners  vote to spend Mission Presbytery's portion of this year’s offering for the development of an introductory course in conflict management. The course will deal with basic principles in handling conflict constructively such as focusing on interests rather than positions, and taking the “other side’s” viewpoint as seriously as one does their own. The project will explore communications skills, such as use of the “I,” in potentially heated exchanges. Local leaders experienced in conflict management will be invited to participate in some of the sessions.

Although the course is designed for 6 one-hour sessions, it can be adapted for use in a retreat or intensive course setting.

Participants will be strongly encouraged to purchase and read Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury and to make a “good faith” pledge to attend all sessions. Since the Mission Outreach and Justice Committee anticipates developing a program useful to many congregations, participants will be asked to carefully evaluate their experiences. They will also be asked to meet for a 7th session some weeks following the completion of the course to review the impact upon their lives.
The project is expected to begin in early 2013. Initially, three congregations will be chosen to participate. For your congregation to be considered, please contact the course coordinator, the Rev. Phin Washer at pwasher@earthlink.net or 281-292-4091 or Presbytery Peacemaking Advocate Marilyn White at marwhite@igc.org or 512-450-2766.

Friday, April 01, 2011


At the MOSD meeting on March 24, 2011 Tom O'Meara spoke about the Malawi Mission and asked for our sponsorship and support. The committee voted to "joyfully embrace" sponsorship of the Malawi Network Meeting to be held on August 11-13, 2011 in Austin. A request for funding was submitted and will be reviewed for consideration. This is a fabulous mission and for those interested in findout out further information about the meeting and the network itself, please go to their web site: http://www.malawinetwork.org/.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reminder: MOSD Brochure

For those of you who haven't been to our blog recently we want to remind you of our MOSD Brochure that lists all the ministries that have been validated. We hope to have a link soon to this brochure on the Mission Presbytery home page. We are reviewing grants for 2011 and want to thank all of you for your support of Mission Presbytery and the work we do with these awards. There are some changes to the brochure. Please note that the Austin Area Inter-religious ministries is now the Interfaith Action of Central Texas. Their new web address is http://interfaithtexas.org the new phone number is 512/386-9145 and you may email them at iact@interfaithtexas.org. We are fortunate to have added a new ministry. Threads of Hope represents a range of faith-sensitive professionals who provide holistic counseling services at a reduced rate. Their phone number is 512/337-0020 x 302 and you may email them at info@threadsofhopetx.org. Their web site is http://www.threadsofhopetx.org.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square

Instructors: Cassandra Dahnke and Tomas Spath, co-founders of the Institute for Civility in Government.

Details: Monday, 6:30-9:00 pm, January 25, 2010.Tuition: $15. Register by Jan 18.

Enrollment Limits: 12 Minimum/60 MaximumCourse

Description: There is a practically tangible hunger for a different kind of dialogue and respect, to talk about issues without destroying the fabric of community. Elected officials need to understand there is support for civil dialogue. The best way to send that message is by practicing civility ourselves and by joining others to teach the skills of civility for the common good. Cassandra Dahnke and Tomas Spath provide Civility Training. The skills they teach are based on the rules in their book, “Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square – 10 Rules That Work.” This is a highly interactive presentation that focuses on belief systems, as well as listening and communication skills. Books will be available for purchase at the course.

About the Instructors: Cassandra and Tomas have addressed community groups, schools, churches and members of Congress, and have been interviewed on radio and television. Both are ordained pastors in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and are actively serving in congregations.

Sponsors: Cosponsored with Madison Square Presbyterian Church.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

MOSD Brochure Update/Changes as of 10/09

As always things change. Please make the following changes to the MOSD brochure you recieved at the recent Presbytery Meeting. They were noted on the MOSD report, but here they are again.

1. House of Neighborly Service website www.honservice.org listed is not for San Antonio. It is one in Larimer County [It should be www.hnsfamily.org]

2. San Antonio Urban Ministry is now called San Antonio Family Endeavors

3. UMC Wesley should be UCM - Wesley, which stands for United Campus Ministry – Wesley, and the website is www.umcswtx.org/hem-united-community-campus.html


We are really going to miss our resource centers. One of the plans for MOSD was to put four copies in each of the centers of the new booklet

Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace is a 48-page perfect-bound booklet with a free companion DVD. Steadfast Hope challenges common myths and misperceptions about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, presents a compelling snapshot of the present situation on the ground, and offers a guide to the challenges that lie ahead in the quest for peace. Steadfast Hope offers an inspiring view of the activities currently being undertaken by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peacemakers working for justice and reconciliation. It also gives helpful guidance on how your congregation can contribute to the cause of just peace for the people who share the Holy Land.

The booklet was put together by members of the PCUSA's Israel/Palestine Mission Network. The text and the DVD are quite professional. So, since it is unavailable in our resource centers (they are closing down), we urge you to buy at least one copy of Steadfast Hope for your congregation. You will find that it complements this year's PW's study of Joshua very well.
Order Steadfast Hope through the Presbyterian Marketplace by going to:

http://www.pcusa.org/marketplace/item.list.jsp or by calling 800.524.2612 and asking for Item number 26466-09-001.

• 1–9 copies............ $10 each
• 10–19 copies......... $7 each
• 20+ copies............ $5 each

For videos and more information see http://www.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org/