Just thought I would update the community on some of the work that I have been involved in within the Presbytery and the community:
The Collegium is sort of the steering committee of the Presbytery, but not really. When we went through the restructuring, we created this Collegium as a place where all Committee and Commission Moderators would gather and discuss issues of the Presbytery. We have limited power but I use what we have to ask questions. Of course, many people don’t like when I ask questions but I ask anyway. Why? Because they need to be asked. So in September we had one of the meetings of the Collegium, which I sit on because of my role as the Moderator of the SW Region of the Presbytery.
As mentioned above, I am the Moderator of the SW Region, and the regions were the creation of the restructure. However, we have found that they are not working out the way we would like them to so the Collegium has asked the Regional Leaders to create a new system, which we are in the process of doing. In the past month, I have had two meetings and several calls related to this redesign. On, Oct 16th, we will present the suggestions to the regional gathering for their input. The plan will then go to the Collegium so that it can be presented to the Presbytery in January.
West Philadelphia Initiative:
Previously I have mentioned that I am a member of the Administrative Commission that the Presbytery has created to create a new ministry site in West Philadelphia combining the First African Presbyterian Church, the Calvin Presbyterian Church and Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. I am also the moderator of the Site Selection Team who have been tasked with finding the location on which we will build a new worship/community center. Recently I meet with some community organizers and we are close to striking a deal that will use one of the sites for much needed senior housing as well as their help in attaining property for the new site. This is has been fun, but exhausting.
Self Development of People (SDOP)
The denomination created the SDOP as a way to help combat poverty and improve dignity by empowering people to improve themselves and their own community. SDOP does not give money to organizations or churches but gives to entities that are seeking to improve themselves. One such entity in Philadelphia cares for the African refugee population, another is a mentoring program for African American youth. I was asked before the summer began to take over the committee because it is underserving the region. Lucky for me Bruce MacCullough has come along for the ride and has joined me on the committee. Each year, we have $16,000 to distribute, and I have already told the national I want more. So we will see what happens.
There are a couple of things here to lift up:
The Lower Merion Ministerium: After many years of trying the group of us who worked on the LM Summer Café reached out to other clergy in Lower Merion and we finally met two weeks ago. At the meeting we agreed that this sort of gathering was needed. Not knowing where it will go, we all understand that there is great need for our communities of faith to be working together. The Summer Café is one, but others will come up as we continue to meet.
POWER Metro: So I am not as active with POWER as I used to be as Mark Fifer and his merry band of colleagues at GPC have taken on that role. I do meet occasionally with the organizer for the Metro region just to stay in touch. One thing that we spoke about at our last one on one was the need to create a retreat for clergy active in POWER to help then rest and recover. I have also worked with Mark to put him in touch with other clergy in LM to increase voter participation in this upcoming election.
Philadelphia Partners for Peace: I have been spearheading efforts of previous attendees of interfaith trips to Israel/Palestine to gather and work together to promote activities of peace in that troubled region as well as in the Delaware Valley. I have hosted two meetings at GPC to bring together these participants. Our first major event is scheduled for Oct 22nd at Bryn Mawr and I have included the flyer for the event.
Givat Haviva International School: This is a personal labor of love. Givat Haviva, which I consider one of the shining examples of Shared Society in Israel and Palestine, has begun a new international school that brings together Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians and youth of the world for study in this region of conflict. They just welcomed their first 40 students this fall and I am helping them to raise funds stateside for this great endeavor. Nurit Gery spoke at GPC in the Summer and will be returning to the area in November as I introduced her to the pastor at Swarthmore who will be sponsoring an event. In addition, I have put Nurit in touch with friends in DC and she will be appearing there as well. I recently spoke to Rabbi Ackerman and we want to host a luncheon or dinner with Nurit in November and invite folks to learn more about the school. For those from GPC who attended the first meeting, I will be reaching out to talk about how we want to support the work.