Presbytery of St. Augustine

Pastors’ Retreat in Cuba

Pastor’s Retreat in Matanzas Presbytery in Cuba

After February’s mission trip to Cuba, plans emerged to offer a Pastors’ Retreat in Cuba, in partnership with the Matanzas Presbytery leaders. Retreat plans are being finalized, and pastors will receive event and application information soon! Here are the details you need to know now: 
DATE: February 10-17, 2020 (the dates may vary by a day depending on flight availability)
LOCATIONHotel Melia, Varadero and the Seminary in Matanzas
ANTICIPATED COST: $1200 per person (flexible depending on flights and individual schedules. This will include visas, flights, meals, rooms, transportation while in Cuba and translators.
ACTIVITIES: The trip is an opportunity for the pastors of the two Presbyteries to become acquainted. For many of the Cuban Pastors, it will be their only time away from their congregations during the year. For the American pastors, it is an opportunity to learn about Cuba and the possibility of a partnership between our Presbyteries. Hopefully, both will be able to see our churches from a different perspective as we share stories.
(Monday, February 10 — we may need to travel to Ft Lauderdale and spend the night, depending on flight schedules)
Tuesday, February 11 — fly to Havana, Cuba, ride buses to Matanzas. The night will be spent at SET, the Cuban seminary. Introductory discussion will include an introduction to the Presbyterian Church in Cuba, and how that context changes expectations.
Wednesday, February 12 — check into hotel. The Melia Varadero is an all inclusive beach resort. 
Wednesday – Friday – Retreat topics will include ‘self care’ for pastors, what do our churches have in common and what is different, how we can we work together to serve our Lord. Fellowship, worship and recreation time.
Friday, February 14 — check out from hotel. Some people may choose to fly home on Friday. Others may choose to visit some of the churches in the Matanzas Presbytery. Departures can be arranged on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Housing will be arranged depending on interests and schedules.

Click here for Application

Please note that applications and non-refundable deposit of $200 will be due October 10. No late applications will be possible due to the visa processing schedule. The second payment will be due December 1, with the balance due on February 1.
Participation will be limited. If you are interested, please contact Diane Watkins at for further information as soon as possible.

September Church Transitions

Rev. Tom Walker Retires from Palms Presbyterian Church

After 17 years as Pastor of Palms Presbyterian Church (Jacksonville Beach), the Rev. Tom Walker is retiring effective September 7. Tom and his wife, Jan, have relocated to St. Simons Island, GA, where they will “rest, renew, and maybe even find time to play a round of golf or two, enjoy long walks with our golden Obie, fish, and possibly write a book or two.” He will continue to serve at Columbia Seminary as board chair. Blessings on your retirement as the Palms community begins a new chapter in their life together as a congregation.

Rev. Bob Shettler Retires from First Presbyterian, Gainesville

First Presbyterian Church, Gainesville celebrated the ministry of Rev. Bob Shettler as he retired on August 25. After 14 years as Pastor, Bob and his wife Connie plan to enjoy their retirement in Gainesville. They are looking forward to spending time with their daughters and five school-age grandchildren. The presbytery wishes the Shettlers well in their retirement, as the congregation begins their search for their next pastor.

Rev. Larry Green Receives Doctorate and Expands Ministry as Clinical Director of Gainesville Community Counseling Center

The Rev. Larry Green recently earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University. His dissertation was entitled “Therapy with Same Sex Couples: A Qualitative, Narrative, Multiple Case Study Providing Insights for Therapists and Training Programs.” Congratulations, Dr. Green!
Dr. Green has now transitioned into full-time therapy and serves as the Executive Director and Clinical Director of the Gainesville Community Counseling Center (GCCC). The counseling center will be one of the programs housed in the Gainesville Ministry Center, located at the former Highlands Presbyterian Church. The GCCC offers individual, group, couples, and family therapy provided by one full-time and 2 part-time therapists. They will soon add horticultural therapy, music therapy, and art therapy. There will also be retreats for couples, LGBTQ youth, and young adults.

Community PC Has a New Pastor

Community Presbyterian Church Has a New Pastor

After a diligent discernment process, Community Presbyterian Church has called the Rev. Melanie Marsh-Baum as their new pastor (head of staff).  Rev. Marsh-Baum is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, a lifelong Presbyterian, and has deep roots in the Presbytery of St. Augustine. She was born and raised in central Florida, and grew up in Ft. King Presbyterian Church in Ocala. Melanie served the presbytery in numerous ways in her youth, including as a summer camp counselor at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center, and on planning teams for presbytery events. She has served the national church as part of worship, keynote and drama teams for Montreat and Triennium Youth Conferences.
Melanie’s philosophy on life can be summed up in the quote by Jewish Rabbi Daniel Hillel: “I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” She looks forward to sharing her love of dance – as well as her love for PBS Masterpiece Theatre and all kinds of chocolate – with her new community of faith. 
Melanie is married to Darrell Baum. They have three young children, Violet (8), Lena (4), and James (almost 1), who are excited to make new friends and explore new adventures as they return to the place they call “our homeland!” 
Rev. Melanie Marsh-Baum will begin her service as pastor with Community PC on September 10th. Thanks be to God.
Welcome back to our Presbytery!

PW Summer Event

Over 100 participants gathered on a rainy Saturday at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center for the Presbyterian Women Summer Event. Together they spent time in fellowship, prepared 10 buckets full of disaster cleaning supplies to donate to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and listened as Rev. Joy Laughridge offered “a peek into the Word” of this year’s PW Bible study titled “Love Carved in Stone.” The Lakewood Players also shared a drama, titled “Flood Waters,” about what Presbyterian Women really do behind the scenes. Over $500 was collected for Montgomery. Thanks to all those who made this annual summer event such a success!

Save the date for the Winter Presbyterian Women Gathering on Saturday, January 25, 2020, which will be held at Montgomery and sponsored by the Presbyterian Women of Lakewood Presbyterian Church.

Albanian Missions Speaker

If you are interested in learning more or would be interested in having Edi speak in your community, please contact Eduart Demo directly at (206) 414-2502, or contact Becca Gillespie at (904) 583-8884 or


The founder of the Illyricum Movement Albania, Eduart Demo (Edi) and his family are traveling to Florida in late September and early October, and are seeking out churches where they can share their incredible ministry of planting healthy and local Christian churches in Albania.  Edi and his family (wife and 11 and 14 year old sons) are traveling on faith and would need accommodations. 

The Illyricum Movement Albania was born out of the immediate need for planting and establishing healthy, local Christian churches among Albanians for the first time in history after more than 550 years of darkness. (Romans 15:19) Modern-day Albania is part of what was known as Illyricum during Bible times.

The Illyricum Movement Albania full-time staff is Albanian with a Muslim background before conversion.  Their focus is to plant and establish healthy local churches among Muslims.  After almost 6 centuries under Islam, then 50 years in communism, Christianity was re-established in 1991.   Albanian Christians consider themselves first-generation Christians.  The Christian church in Albania is dominated by young believers with the average age being 25 years old.  The Church is young but growing and the mission philosophy and strategy is unique because they speak from a Muslim background. The country is open to hearing about Jesus and Edi has been able to plant five churches so far based on a seven-year model. He and his staff meet needs in a community building relationship and develop leadership from those relationships so that by the time the next church is ready to open, the previous one is self-sustaining.  

Becca Gillespie’s church (Fuquay Varina Presbyterian Church in North Carolina) recently returned from a mission trip to Albania and witnessed firsthand the power of the ministry.

Here’s My Heart Acrostic Poems

“Here’s My Heart” was a Triennium theme, explored each day using different scripture passages, music, activities, and spiritual reflection.  In one activity, our presbytery group created acrostic poems using the first letters of the phrase, HERE’S MY HEART. Here is what they shared.



My God,
You provide

Even in tough times;
Always here
Right alongside us
To the end

He is Lord
Everlasting God
Right where we need him.
Eager to love the
Sunshine State
My Savior
Yahweh is

Helping us.
Restless, and
Trusting love.

Highest of highs
Everlasting Love,
Muggy Jacksonville weather, with a
Youth fountain isn’t enough.

Helping the homeless.
Environmental change.
Animal protection.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Talk about it.  GO TO CHURCH.

Here I am to praise God
Every single day
Reaching out with loving hands to
Everyone, everywhere.
Son of God; mercy giver.
My home is the sunshine state with
Year-round tourists visiting

Hearing people’s problems
Always supporting others
Reaching out
To our community

Healing the hurt
Everlasting Savior
East coast’s
Shrimp (Jumbo)
Make the lost become found
You are O so Holy

Help the needy
Eternal Life
Rolling sea;



Great job youth!

2019 Fall Stated Meeting

Fall Stated Meeting
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at 9:00 AM
Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center

88 SE 75th St., Starke, FL 32091
(352) 473-4516
Rev. Diane Wilson, Moderator

Worship and Fellowship
Meet New Minister Members
Share Ministry Highlights
And Much More!
Preacher: The Rev. Don Johnson,
Pastor of Woodlawn Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville
Music: Music for worship will be provided by the bluegrass/gospel duo of pastors Wain Wesberry of First Fernandina and Ron Watson of First Ocala.
Celebrants: The Rev. Cliff Lyda and the Rev. Jessi Higginbotham

Watch for more details!

Education Event Survey

Presbytery Education Event
Saturday, November 2
at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center

On Saturday, November 2 we will host a day of education and worship at Montgomery Camp and Conference Center. As we finalize the topics to be offered that day, we invite you to provide some additional input, by completing the “Education Event Planning Survey” below.


Create your own user feedback survey

Save the Date and watch for details coming soon!
November 2, 2019
Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center

PC(USA) Planning Calendars

The new PC(USA) Planning Calendars will be available in August.
The 16-month calendar (September 2019 – December 2020) is an
outstanding and well-loved resource for pastors, church leaders and
members interested in the life and mission of the church. You can order
copies through the presbytery office for a discounted rate of $10 –

Upcoming Services of Installation

Upcoming Services of Installation

It is with joy and thanksgiving that we invite you to participate in the  upcoming Services of Installation for Jonathan Swanson, Don Johnson, and Michaele Wood. It is requested that teaching elders in attendance and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service wear robes and red stoles and process in together if possible. Please meet fifteen minutes prior to the beginning of the service.

Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m.
Rev. Jonathan Swanson
Hodges Boulevard Presbyterian Church,
4140 Hodges Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32224


Sunday, August 18 at 4:00 p.m.
Rev. Don Johnson
Woodlawn Presbyterian Church,
3026 Woodlawn Road, Jacksonville, FL 32209


Sunday, September 15 at 4:00 p.m.
Rev. Michaele Wood
Kanapaha Presbyterian Church,
6221 SW 75th Terrace, Gainesville, FL 32608

We look forward to seeing you there!

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