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 email@example.com 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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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!)