Presbytery of St. Augustine

COVID-19 Updates from the Presbytery of St. Augustine

COVID-19 graphic

Presbytery of St. Augustine Coordinating Council Updates


Comprehensive resources on the PCUSA website
COVID-19 Resources for Churches and Individuals

Worship Resources

Online Worship Opportunities within the Presbytery of St. Augustine (see links to numerous resources on the PCUSA website)

The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has developed guidelines for Online Services for Holy Week and Easter 2020. (PDF download)

The PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship has developed guidelines for Communion in an Emergency / Pandemic. (PDF download)

The worship Committee of Highlands United Presbyterian Church and Rev. David Lee share their guidelines for Sharing a Virtual Communion Service. (PDF download)

Caring for Each Other and Ourselves

COVID-19 Mental Health Resources

Remote Faith Formation… For the Long Haul: A resource for faith formation ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

Virtual Worship Opportunities

For those who would like an opportunity to worship from home, we have included multiple opportunities listed below. We know the list is not complete, but we ask that if you are one of our presbytery’s congregations that have a virtual worship option that is open to all, please email with the details (day, time, and URL) and we will update the list as we get new information.

Options could include full worship services, abbreviated worship, sermons, children’s messages, and combinations of all of these. Worship may be live at a particular time then stored on the website or Facebook, prerecorded for playback at your convenience, or a compilation of previous worship services or sermons. Some websites include bulletins or email worship information to their members.

Thank you for exploring new ways of being church and serving each other. Remember that caring for each other, spending time in prayer and meditation is also “being church”. Do what works best for you and your family in these changing and challenging times.

The PCUSA website has an extensive set of resource links about online worship strategies and planning. Check them out for ideas!

Atlantic Beach, Community Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 9:45 am

Fernandina Beach, First Presbyterian Church
Sundays, 9:00 am

Fruit Cove, Geneva Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 10:30 am
Via Zoom – and Facebook

Gainesville, First Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 10:55 am

Gainesville, Grace Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 11:00 am
Facebook or

Gainesville, Kanapaha Presbyterian Church
Facebook and

Gainesville, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Via Zoom

Jacksonville, Highlands United Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 10:00 am
Via Zoom –

Jacksonville, Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church

Jacksonville, Riverside Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 11:00 am

Jacksonville, South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church

Jacksonville Beach, Palm Presbyterian Church
Sundays at 10:55 am

Lake City, First Presbyterian Church,
Sundays at 10:30 am

McIntosh, McIntosh Presbyterian Church,
Sundays at 10:30 am

Melrose, Faith Presbyterian Church

Ocala, First Presbyterian Church

Orange Park, St. Giles Presbyterian Church

Palm Coast, Trinity Presbyterian Church
Facebook or

St. Augustine, Memorial Presbyterian Church,  

Williston, First Presbyterian Church

Presbytery Update – COVID-19 (3/20)

The Presbytery of St. Augustine cares deeply about you, the welfare of our faith communities, and our global family as we draw together in these challenging times. We want to emphasize that everything we do now to follow instructions from our health officials regarding the COVID-19 pandemic will save lives.

Our thinking about how we gather as a church is changing rapidly.  Not long ago, we gathered for worship in person. Now, those same practices could cause harm. We have been notified of multiple cases of people in our own congregations being quarantined at home and facing serious medical issues. Not all cases are being reported. Relying on God’s grace, and guided by the teaching of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are committed to do all we can to protect everyone.

Your Coordinating Council is having virtual meetings each week to discuss the ways we can serve you and our communities during this national emergency. Currently, the CDC recommends that gatherings of more than 50 people be suspended. Other national, stated and local health guidelines put that number at 10 people. You are urged to keep up to date with and follow all guidelines in your local context.

We have placed on our website a link to many current and comprehensive resources published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It may be accessed here.

This is not the first time that people of faith have adapted to “being the church.” Hope abounds as we explore new creativity in our ministries! Some congregations are rediscovering the power of telephoning people to share a prayer and speak a friendly word. Some congregations are finding ways to gather together in virtual groups for prayer and worship and Bible study. Although we may, for a time, limit our physical interactions as the church – nothing can limit our spiritual ability to be the church. You are the church. We are the church together. Nothing in life or in death can separate us from the grace of God, the love of Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.

In this weekly update, we also want you to know:

  • We will continue to hold all meetings of presbytery committees, commissions and teams using electronic connections.
  • Presbytery staff will be working remotely as much as possible. We will be answering email and returning phone calls as quickly as we can.
  • Council members are working with our Communications Coordinator and other staff to develop a prayer chain for the presbytery. This will begin as soon as possible.
  • David Lee of the Highlands United church is hosting an on-line “Pastors’ Call In” opportunity using Zoom. This is a virtual gathering for sharing scripture, prayer and spiritual support. The next on-line meeting is Tuesday, March 24th at 3 p.m.
  • Susan Lee, LCSW, (Our Comfort My People: Mental Health in Healthy Congregations Coach) will be hosting a “Wellness Wednesday Connection Call” via zoom at noon for 6 weeks (from March 25 – April 29th).

Your Coordinating Council is committed to helping you in any way we can. In closing, hear these words from Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult…God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (NRSV)

More updates and information will be shared as we move forward in faith together. In the meantime our prayers are lifted to Almighty God for our world’s health and wholeness and that we faithfully follow Christ in the faith, hope, and compassion of our response. 

Grace and peace in the tumult,
Diane Wilson, Chair of Coordinating Council
Edd Norris, Moderator of the Presbytery
Sandra Hedrick, Stated Clerk
Chris Lieberman, Relationship Coordination Director
On Behalf of the Coordinating Council

Youth Ministry News

On Sunday, February 23, our new Youth Ministry Leadership Team hosted a presbytery-wide “Youth Day Get-Away” at Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Beach. The day before and the day after were stormy, wet, and cold days – and in between it felt like the clouds parted and a blessing unfolded. Hoping for perhaps 35 kids, the YML team was thrilled that approximately 75-100 youth came from 10 different congregations to make this an exciting event. Those who arrived early joined in the 11:00 AM worship at Community, with Rev. Melanie Marsh-Baum preaching. Pizza was delivered around noon, followed by mixers, group games, and various indoor and outdoor activities. Thanks to everyone who took their time and effort to travel to make the Youth Day successful, and thanks also to Community PC for hosting.

Building on this experience, the Youth Ministry Leadership Team will be planning a Senior High retreat at Camp Montgomery on October 2-4, 2020, and some additional Youth Days in the summer leading up to that retreat. It was a great joy to witness the energy, imagination, and love displayed in this gathering. Special thanks go to the youth and young adults on the team who provided leadership and inspiration: Matthew Beckham, Savannah Beeler, Emma Cottrell, Keith Fowler, Casey King, Reed Mann, Abbie Vancini, McKenzie Williams, and Mitchell Worthy.  

Honoring two teaching elders

Remembering Bert Swearingen and John Nicolson

We give thanks for the life and ministry of two of our Honorably Retired Teaching Elders, Bert C. Swearingen and John Nicolson who faithfully served in our presbytery.

Bert Swearingen died suddenly on February 23. Bert was a warm and welcoming minister who was from Jacksonville and returned to North Florida in his retirement, where he served the Northside Presbyterian Church for many years. Click here to read more about Bert’s life and ministry.

A week later we received word that John Nicolson died. A memorial service will be held March 21 at Lakewood Presbyterian Church where he was pastor for 16 years. Read more about John’s ministry and details about his memorial service.

Coronavirus Guidance

As the concerns about the novel Coronavirus (COVID – 19) continues to grow, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is offering guidance on how churches can prepare now to respond should a pandemic manifest in our communities – or to any serious infectious disease outbreak. The guide contains valuable, common-sense tips on what congregations and individuals can do to keep themselves safe. Suggestions are appropriate for churches, preschools, and senior living communities. Click here to download the “Guidance for Congregations.” As with hurricanes or other disasters, preparation is key!

Meet the Moderator

Edd Norris, Ruling Elder (Silver Springs Shores)

Edd Norris, Moderator

Ruling Elder Edwin (Edd) Norris is a retired 31-year Commissioned Warrant Officer four (CWO4) Boatswain who served his country and the Lord Jesus Christ proudly. He served mostly in The Amphibious US Navy serving on 9 amphibious ships, three amphibious shore stations, one security officer command in Sasebo, Japan and one destroyer. If he had to choose the command he liked and worried the most about, it would be a tie between the USS Trenton and the Security Officer’s tour of duty. Edd’s assignments took him to 60 different countries some of which don’t even exist today.

Edd served in Vietnam, was part of the Granada invasion rescuing civilian medical individuals and students. and the Lebanon support crisis from sea. He earned 32 awards throughout his 31-year career including seven medals for Vietnam service, four US Navy Achievement medals, one Naval Accommodation, and one Naval Meritorious Service Award. Upon retiring from the U.S. Navy, Edd earned a Master’s in Human Resources from Troy State University in Alabama and an Educational Specialist degree from the University of Florida. He was the Ocala Center Director for the Saint Leo University for six years and taught college classes from 1994 to 2010 for Webster University, College of Central Florida and Saint Leo University. After that Edd began working as the Facilities Manager for Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church and even had the thrill of being allowed to preach a sermon.

Edd is currently married to Anna Mae Norris and together they have six children, 17 grandchildren and she has four great-grandchildren. They have been married four months and no one thought it would last.

As a member of the St. Augustine Presbytery and Silver Springs Shores Presbyterian Church since 1996, Edd has served on every committee or task force asked of him. Now with everyone’s help and the grace of God, he will serve as our Moderator. Together we can help this Presbytery move forward. It will truly take us all looking forward to keep moving forward. It was once said if you look back that is where you will go. Remember 1 John 4:7-8 and God’s Love is for All!

The Presbytery of St Augustine gives thanks for Edd’s gifts and willingness to serve.

PW Moderator’s Report

When I volunteered to serve as Vice-Moderator, lo, those many months ago, the Lord put the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:11-12, in my heart: “When I was a child, I talked like a child,  I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became grown, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see as if through a mirror darkly, as a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I focused on the first verse of this passage, and I felt that this meant that I would have to really step up to the plate, if I was to fulfill my obligation. Then, I read the next part of the passage, and realized that I would have to show the other members of the team what I was made of, since I don’t really sell myself well!  So, it is with Humility and Gratefulness, at your support of me, and now as your Moderator, that I present my first Moderator’s Report!

I attended the Churchwide Annual Gathering of Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of St. Augustine, on January 25th, at Montgomery Conference Center. I received much encouragement on my new appointment, from many of the sisters there! The sermon that day reflected the idea that we are all “Fruit Trees’, capable of sowing seeds that will sprout into more fruit trees, and, which fruit would I be, if I were a tree? I chose a grapefruit, since I am a native Floridian, and, also, the taste of a grapefruit is one that may not appeal to everyone, until they develop a “taste” for it! So, One may not like the taste at first, but then, acquire a taste for it after a few more tries!

I met many new sisters there, many of whom I will be working with in the months, and years to come. I enjoyed speaking with Monica Williams, the new Director of MPCC, and hearing her vision for the improvement of the Camp in the near future. I met Alexandra Hedrick, Presbytery Stated Clerk, and Marigrace Doran, the Presbytery Communication Coordinator. Also present were representatives from ReThreaded, one of the many Missions that we, as Presbyterian Women, sponsor.

Daryl Mullee at the Winter Stated Meeting

I also got an opportunity to attend the Presbytery of St. Augustine Stated Meeting, on February 1, 2020, at Memorial Presbyterian Church, St. Augustine. This beautiful, historic Church was the site of the Presbyterian Women’s Church Wide Gathering some years ago,  that I also attended, so it was lovely to revisit there. The sermon before the Business Meeting was concerning Jesus’ parable of the Talents. When I had an opportunity to speak, and introduce myself, following most of the Business Meeting, I reflected that I would probably be the slave that buried the talent I was given, since, I can never seem to make any money! But, that is not what this parable is all about. I am certain that, with God’s help, I can accomplish much with the talent that I possess, given from God. I also related the message from Jeremiah, whose mouth was touched by God, so that he was able to profess God’s messages. I preferred to have my mouth touched, and, not burned, as Isaiah had happened, in order to speak as God wishesfor me to speak!

So, my sisters, I am looking forward to continuing the progress that Gayle Bone has so competently initiated. And I know, with your continued support, and faith in me, that we as a team will continue to do Great Things!    

Your Sister in Christ,
Daryl Mullee, Moderator, Presbyterian Women,
Presbytery of St. Augustine

Highlands Regional Ministry Center

The Highlands Regional Ministry Center is off to a good start.  The Ministry Center Committee of the Presbytery Trustees has formed and met each month since October to present.  Thus far there are four entities using the facilities on an ongoing basis.  They include the Gainesville Community Counseling Center, Enduring Faith Ministries, the Alachua County Chapter of Days for Girls, and the Freedom of Choice Group of Narcotics Anonymous. 

Days for Girls volunteers preparing hygiene kits

The Ministry Center Committee is talking with other regional groups that it will recommend to the Trustees as potential ongoing users. These include UF Health creating an outreach clinic for the underserved in East Gainesville, as well as a meditation garden for Veterans with PTSD.

UF Health has been doing health screens, women’s care, and ultrasounds for the underserved population in East Gainesville, Alachua County, and northern Marion County.  It also allows pre-med students to get “hands on” practice in community medicine.  They are all supervised by Nurse Practitioners and Medical Residents from UF Health. The Ministry Center Committee is exploring making this an additional ongoing occupant of the facility.

For the recent Presbytery Pastor’s Retreat to Cuba, UF Health filled two suitcases with assorted non-prescription medical supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and other items.  From the other end of the hallway, Days For Girls filled another two suitcases with women’s undergarments and sanitary needs.  So both groups are working in tandem.  With the Gainesville Community Counseling Center also on the premises, Highlands has quickly become “one stop” for mental and physical health issues in the community.

Enduring Faith is currently using the Sanctuary on Sundays, and the local Chapter of Narcotics Anonymous is using the Fellowship Hall on Thursday evenings.  Americorp is also temporarily spending time in the evenings while helping Habitat for Humanity during the daytime.

We encourage you to stop by and see the good things that are happening with the Highlands Regional Ministry Center.  It is a marvelous example of the property getting a brand new function while still working with God’s mission in the world.

Woodlawn PC Anniversary Celebration

By Mary Mickel, Ruling Elder, Woodlawn Presbyterian Church

God truly blessed Woodlawn Presbyterian Church Saturday, February 22nd, with an amazing 150th Anniversary Banquet.  The banquet was complete with great food, music, entertainment, and joy in each participant’s heart.  Members, families, friends, and guests were awed by the beauty of the room at the Omni Hotel of Jacksonville, and even more awed to witness the love and thanksgiving for 150 years of existence.  At the banquet, Lloyd Pearson, 98 years old, and Nancy Watts, 101 years old, were recognized as two of Woodlawn’s oldest members (pictured here).

Lloyd Pearson and Nancy Watts

On Sunday, February 23rd, the celebration continued with a Homecoming Service.  The Rev. Brian Henderson, from St. James Presbyterian Church of Charleston, SC, brought the Word.  The church was filled with members, family, and friends.  Many former members came home to celebrate.  It was truly a time of joy and thanksgiving for Family, Faith, and Freedom.  We give God thanks for blessing us with 150 years and look forward to how the Holy Spirit will lead us in the future, making disciples of all men. 

The Presbytery of St. Augustine had many wonderful representatives present, which added to our joy. A professional photographer was on hand to take pictures of the momentous occasion. (Visit Woodlawn’s Facebook page to see all the wonderful photos!)

  • Co-Chair, Elder Mary Brown
  • Co-Chair, Elder Caressa Bookhart
  • Pastor, Rev. Don J. Johnson
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