Synod to Re-open Applications for Scholarships and Grants Soon

In 2020, the Synod has budgeted $85,000 toward grants and scholarships, and the Administrative Commission overseeing the Synod wants to ensure that all of these funds be granted to recipients during this calendar year.  A grants and scholarships committee has been re-established and will meet soon to finalize dates and applications processes.

The programs include

  • Higher Education Scholarships, available to individual Presbyterians within the Synod who are attending college, university, trade school, or seminary/divinity school
  • New Covenant Grants, available to congregations, institutions, and organizations within the Synod for (a) congregational development and transformation, (b) multi-cultural and justice ministries, or (c) ministries in higher education
  • Racial Ethnic Program Grants, available to congregations primarily composed of People of Color planning new mission initiatives or outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding their church

As soon as deadlines and applications have been established, they will be communicated broadly. For more information, contact Interim Executive Chip Hardwick at synod.covenant@gmail.com.


Synod Leader Ruth Azar Wins 2020 Woman of Faith Award

Ruth Azar, a ruling elder at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church in Detroit Presbytery, was one of only three women throughout the Presbyterian Church (USA) to win the prominent Women of Faith award from the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries area.  The award is given biannually to women whose lives exemplify their Christian commitment through witness, service and leadership.  This year’s award sought to recognize “women who disrupt systemic poverty.”

Ruth is the founder and executive director of the Second Mile Center of Detroit, a Christ-centered youth outreach ministry located in one of the most violent ZIP codes in the city of Detroit. Proud of her Lebanese /Syrian heritage, Ruth is the 6th of 8 children and the first in her family to be born in America Her family immigrated into this country to find a better way of life. She honors her parents by continuing to help others also find a better way. Ruth has done just that in her leadership at the Synod of the Covenant, having served as the moderator of the Cabinet on Ethnic Church Affairs (CECA), the Vice Moderator of the Synod’s Presbyterian Women, and member of an Administrative Commission supporting Mackinac Presbytery.

To read more about Ruth and the award, click here. Be sure to watch the video about her ministry linked in the article. Congratulations Ruth, and thanks for inspiring us to work alongside you to disrupt poverty.


Synod Seeking Stated Clerk

The Stated Clerk is an officer of the Synod of the Covenant who helps all levels of the church to live into more faithful and effective ways of doing ministry, using Presbyterian polity to guide churches, presbyteries, and the Synod to the best means of accomplishing their ministry goals.  The Administrative Commission (AC) is seeking strong candidates for this paid quarter-time position to partner with other Synod staff and presbytery leadership.

Click here for a job description.  You will notice that the Stated Clerk must reside within the bounds of the Synod and will need to be available to travel to the Synod offices in the Detroit area up to two days a month, plus other designated meetings which would be held in person in the future.  The term for this position will conclude when the Administrative Commission’s work is over (likely some time in 2021) and the new clerk will be eligible for election by the reinstated Synod assembly. Interested candidates should email a cover letter and a resume or Personal Information Form (and address any questions) to ac.covenant@pcusa.org.  The AC will begin reviewing applicants on 8/3/20.


From the Interim Executive….

Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

During General Assembly in late June, I took part in one of the Bible studies which covered Lamentations 5:20-21, the last few verses of this book that make so much sense this year in the midst of all of our challenges. The teachers of the study, James and Mary Florence Taneti, told participants that in the scriptures hope is often tinged with lament, and lament is regularly surrounded by hope. Whether you find yourself in the midst of lament or of hope right now, I pray you’ll feel Christ’s presence and follow him out into the world as we move into the last half of 2020.

I have heard from many of you that you found the Sunday Service from the Synod a great way for your preachers, worship leaders, musicians, and tech gurus to have a Sabbath after working so very hard in the days since the pandemic began. I’m very grateful to the nearly thirty people who participated, and also to Matt Skolnik, General Presbyter of Muskingum Valley Presbytery, for harnessing the tech. It’s available for you and your churches to use any Sunday you would like; you can download it or watch it here.

The Synod’s efforts to re-establish communications with you are starting to take shape. Beyond this newsletter, you can find and like us on Facebook @synodofthecovenant, and subscribe to our YouTube channel – here! In the near future the website will be updated and other social media efforts will begin.

Thanks for looking through this newsletter for information about the Woman of Faith Award received by Synod leader Ruth Azar at the past General Assembly the re-establishment of the Grants and Scholarship program, and the search for a Stated Clerk for the Synod.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD
Interim Executive
309-530-4578
Synod.covenant@gmail.com


Upcoming Meetings of the Administrative Commission/Synod Assembly

The General Assembly Administrative Commission, now acting as the Synod of the Covenant, holds its monthly meetings by Zoom the fourth Friday of each month, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Eastern Time. These meetings are open and their agendas will be posted on the Assembly Papers section of the Synod website, www.synodofthecovenant.org, approximately a week ahead of time.  (Minutes from prior meetings will be posted here before the end of July.) If you would like to attend an upcoming meeting, please contact the Stated Clerk, Rev. Richard Rojas Banuchi, at Rev.Rojas@gmail.com.

Upcoming meeting dates are July 24, August 28, September 25, and October 23.


Update from the Administrative Commission

The peace of Jesus Christ be with all of God’s people. And may all be well and safe in this difficult season of distress over the spreading pandemics of racism and Covid-19.

This message is intended to bring you up to date on the status of the work of the General Assembly Administrative Commission acting as the Synod of the Covenant (the Commission). The Commission assumed original jurisdiction of the Synod of the Covenant on February 13, 2020. Once the Commission assumed original jurisdiction, it effectively stepped into the shoes of and began acting as the Assembly. Acting as the Assembly, the Commission elected new officers and suspended many of the committees of the Synod.[1]

The elected officers of the Synod of the Covenant are: Moderator Ruling Elder Patrice Hatley; Vice Moderator Reverend Adel Malek; Stated Clerk, Corporate Secretary and Vice-Treasurer Reverend Richard Rojas; President and Chair of the Board of Trustees Ruling Elder Ben McConaughy; Vice President Ruling Elder Michelle Johnson; and Treasurer Reverend Brady Radford;. Reverend Sue Krummel is serving as moderator of the Personnel Services Committee, with Michelle Johnson and Brady Radford also serving on the committee.

We are pleased that the Reverend Dr. Charles (Chip) Hardwick has agreed to serve as the Transitional Synod Executive. Chip is building relationships across the Synod and with constituent presbyteries, and has done so in this season of social distance. To learn more about Rev. Hardwick, read his brief biographical sketch here.

Since assuming jurisdiction, the Commission has taken control of the Synod’s facilities and assets to the extent possible. The banking and accounting transition has been more challenging than had been anticipated. We have engaged legal counsel to assist with these matters. We seek to provide transparency in the financial records of the Synod and will be contracting with a forensic auditor to sort out the details and provide a starting point for financial accountability and transparent reporting. The Commission has met virtually with Presbytery executives and other interested persons. To the extent practicable, the Commission has worked with certain of the Synod’s prior staff.

We know that the present times are challenging at all levels of our lives, including our congregations and presbyteries. One of the affected areas, among others, has been finances and all the adjustments financial constraints entail for our mission. That is why at our last meeting, we approved that the per capita for the year 2021 be the same as for the year 2020 ($3.25 per member). By doing this, we also stand in solidarity with the recent decisions from the Office of the General Assembly.

Most programming of the Synod has been suspended at least through then end of 2020 in order to facilitate development of a shared sense of mission and ministry across the Synod and to begin to mediate reconciliation and a new sense of communion within the Synod. (The one exception is that we hope to make progress on receiving grants requests and distributing funds before the end of the year.  We are in the process of contracting with a professional mediation consultant with experience in complex church systems and multi-cultural concerns to gather information about necessary steps to work toward reconciliation.

The Commission will restore jurisdiction as soon as it observes readiness of the Synod’s system to operate and be able to function and be self-managing. That process will include our hopes that commissioners elected by presbyteries will be able to form a newly constituted Synod Assembly, perhaps as early as November 2020.

The Commission has approved the relocation of the Synod office from Toledo to the Detroit area during the fall, and Chip will proceed to recruit an office administrator there. We on the Administrative Commission will begin the search for a part-time Stated Clerk soon.

Communication improvements lag behind what we had hoped to for, mainly due to significant challenges in gaining access to website, social media and email accounts. We appreciate the assistance of the presbytery leadership in helping us gather email addresses of those with whom we need to be in communication. The Synod website is undergoing some updates now.

The Synod Assembly schedule of gatherings will be posted on the Synod website and opportunity to register to attend them will be included. Email notices will be sent to the presbytery executive staff and stated clerks with requests to forward to those within the presbyteries that may have interest. The near term schedule of Synod Assembly meetings will be monthly, ordinarily on the 4th Friday afternoon, so July 24, August 28, September 25, and October 23 from 1pm-4pm ET. All meetings will be conducted via zoom video conference rather than in person. Dockets will be posted a week prior to the meeting on the Synod website. Our goal is to conduct open and accessible meetings.

God bless you,

The Administrative Commission
Patrice Hatley
Michelle Johnson
Sue Krummel
Adel Malek
Ben McConaughy
Brady Radford
Richard Rojas Banuchi
Elona Street Stewart

AC.Covenant@pcusa.org

[1] The Synod’s Cabinet on Ethnic Church Affairs (CECA) continues its leadership. The previously elected Synod Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) also remains in place.