Presbytery of St. Augustine

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

Photos 2020 Winter Stated Meeting

Woodlawn PC Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Woodlawn Presbyterian Church Invites You to Join in“Celebrating 150 Years of Faith, Family and Freedom”

It is with joy and thanksgiving that Woodlawn Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will celebrate its 150th Anniversary in the year 2020.

You are invited to come and celebrate this milestone with Woodlawn! The first three celebrations in January and February are: 

Sunday, January 19, 2020, 11:00 a.m.
Kick-off Celebration during worship service in the Sanctuary

Saturday, February 22, 2020, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Banquet Luncheon at the Omni Hotel
Luncheon tickets are $45.00 (Contact the church office for tickets)

Sunday, February 23, 11:00 a.m.
Homecoming Day Celebration during worship service in the Sanctuary

There will be other events to celebrate this momentous occasion of God’s grace throughout the year. Please visit our website at www.wpcjax.org or our Facebook page at Woodlawn Presbyterian Church U.S.A. for the complete list of our 150th Anniversary Celebration activities.

Read more!

Welcome Monica Williams

Welcome Monica Williams, Executive Director of Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center

Dear Presbytery Family,

We are sharing some big news on behalf of the Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center!

The Montgomery Board of Trustees is proud to announce the hiring of Monica Williams as Executive Director for Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center. Monica is a member of McIntosh Presbyterian Church, where she serves as ruling elder in the 2023 class. She is co-founder of Faith Fellowship School, a Christian inter-denominational school in Homestead, Florida. Along with co-founding the school and shepherding its growth from the ground up to over 140 students, she at various times served as Chaplain, ESE and Bible teacher, and finally, as their Principal. Faith Fellowship School served both typical students as well as special needs students across the full spectrum of disabilities. Monica was responsible for deployment and oversight of their $1 million annual budget, and was responsible for accomplishing this through tuition, private contributions, grants, and Federal and State scholarships.

Monica is bilingual in Spanish and English, and taught herself English in three months by translating her Bible. She has worked in administration and education consistently for the last 15 years, always with a heart for and focus on youth and special needs. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Theology from International Bible University where she graduated summa cum laude, and she is currently a doctoral candidate through the same University. She possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and the heart of a Christian servant-leader, and we are confident that she will competently and confidently shepherd and grow Montgomery’s mission.

Monica Williams can be reached via email at Executive@montgomerycenter.org. She will be attending the Winter Stated Meeting of the Presbytery on February 1, and will be introduced as part of Montgomery’s report.

Welcome Monica!  

Advent Reflection

Advent Reflection
by: Sandra Hedrick
Presbytery Stated Clerk
Pastor of Kirkwood (Jacksonville)

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it.” (Psalm 96:11)

As I left the beach for church Sunday morning, some pelicans were flying south over the ocean. As usual, they were flying in single file. I wondered where they had come from and where they were going. I wondered where they would celebrate Christmas, when “heaven and nature sing!”

Have you noticed how much movement there is in the stories of Advent and Christmas? Mary hurried to the hill country to share her joy with Elizabeth. Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem for the census when she was just about to deliver. Shepherds ran in from the fields to see the baby, while the Magi took a little longer to pack up their gifts for the long journey toward Jerusalem.

Do you feel constantly in motion in the weeks up to Christmas? I do! Sometimes it feels like we have to “get up and go” to see the Lord and be a part of what the Lord is doing in this season of hope, peace, joy and love. Parents especially want their children to be a part of seasonal events – religious, cultural, and just plain fun.

But sometimes the “get up and go” can be too much, and we get distracted and overtired. In light of that, it is good to remember that the word Advent means “coming” – not “going.” The good news is that God is coming to us! And not only that, but Christ has come, and is right here with us, wherever we are.

I have a new coffee mug that reminds me that Christ is present in the little local places, the nooks and crannies of the sweet and familiar. It is red and white with pictures of stars, a snowman, and a peppermint stick. It is a gift from a seven year old girl at Kirkwood, our newest baptized member. It was wrapped and placed in a bag she gave me at my church’s “Breakfast with Santa” event, sharing with a quiet voice that there were also small presents for the pastor’s husband and the church in the gift bag. I don’t think I am going to use any other coffee mug until after Christmas. What joy it brings to receive and give tangible expressions of Christ’s love right where we are, among our family of faith!

Monday morning my husband Chuck and I took a long walk on our local beach. It was warm and clear, with very little wind (unusual for December). We saw hundreds of what I will call “local birds” (sea gulls, terns, and more). They were splashing around and feeding eagerly in the little pools that form when the tide is going out.  Chuck and I shared ministry highlights from the past week and agreed that God had come and blessed all the “local places” we had been, from hospital visits to Sunday morning worship, to year-end presbytery work and promising sunrises. 

Advent is a time of movement – of journeys and changes and good news that travels.  Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men are all proof of that! But Advent is not as much about “going” as it is about “coming” – the coming of the Lord. Just ask Elizabeth who met him at her house in the hill country or the innkeeper who welcomed him at Bethlehem. Remember that Christ has come here, in the “local’ and the “little” – right before your eyes. May you have a blessed Advent and a holy Christmas!

UCOM

Archie Jenkins, South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church Member, Recognized as a Founding Member of UCOM

Archie Jenkins, a life-long member of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church, was among those recently recognized as founders of United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM) at the organization’s 40th Anniversary Gala.

Matt Carlucci, on behalf of UCOM, awarded Archie Jenkins with UCOM’s Inaugural Founder’s Award. Rev. Mark Griffin was the Emcee for the gala.

UCOM’s websote describes the beginning of the organization in this way: The seeds for UCOM started in 1978 when Laura Gordon, former Associate Executive Presbyter for our presbytery, met with five Southside Jacksonville Churches: All Saints Episcopal, Lakewood Presbyterian, Mt. Oliver Baptist, Mt. Zion AME, and South Jacksonville Presbyterian.  They discussed the possibility of expanding the city’s federally funded Meals-on-Wheels program to Pine Forest, an impoverished Southside Jacksonville community. 

At the time UCOM was founded, Archie Jenkins was working part-time for South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church as youth director and outreach minister and had just recently completed a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, studying how our faith spoke to issues of inequality and oppression.  With an undergraduate education in economics, and a Wealth Manager by trade, his focus at Princeton was on theology of the oppressed, liberation theology, urban economics, and poverty economics. Archie’s field experience included working within the oppressed and impoverished community of Newark, which allowed him the opportunity to observe the work of the National Council of Christians and Jews and the Newark Human Rights Commission.  

Archie’s education, experience, and continuing passion were instrumental in laying the groundwork for UCOM’s model of ministry in Jacksonville’s Southside community.  UCOM’s three primary programs includes:

  • the largest volunteer Meals on Wheels program in Jacksonville, with over one million meals served,
  • a food pantry which receives donations from over 50 churches / faith-based organizations and business partners, and
  • a program which provides scholarships for CNA training, offering participants a way out of poverty and an entry into other healthcare professions. Over 600 diplomas have been received by the participants. 

Another key founder, Nathaniel Washington, recently deceased, was present in spirit as Chairman of UCOM’s 40th Anniversary Gala.  Nat was an educator, coach, advocate, and motivator for minority youth who needed skills to step up and out of poverty. Nat spearheaded the Minority Youth Employment program. Archie considers Nat to be “the single most influential person in the storied history of UCOM.” 

In presenting the award to Archie Jenkins, Matt Carlucci remarked that when the opportunity for UCOM to secure a city grant to buy a permanent home (what had once been the old Phillips Congregational Church built in 1876 by the emancipated African-Americans as their house of worship), “Archie was the first person I called for help!” He also remarked that “while there were 12 founding churches … Archie founded this ministry that has helped thousands of people right in our backyards!”

Archie is quick to recognize that UCOM’s success is due to the combined efforts of “the Holy Spirit, other key founding members, invaluable volunteers and Executive Directors.”

Congratulations, Archie, and thank you to our presbytery churches that support UCOM, working together with other faith groups, business partners and community leaders to change the narrative for the oppressed and impoverished in Jacksonville’s Southside.

Grace and Korean Worshiping Community

Grace Presbyterian Church and Korean Worshiping Community
Submitted by Charles Freeman, Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church

For about a year, the sanctuary of Grace Presbyterian Church in Gainesville has also been the worshiping home of a growing congregation of Korean residents of that area.

In late 2017, Rev. John and Sara Kim first visited GPC and soon became welcome members of the community. The next year, Rev. Kim shared his desire to begin a worshiping community to reach out to the Korean community, and the GPC session was quick to endorse and support the new venture.

As with many new worshiping communities, things started slowly. By early 2019, however, the group was up to as many as 20-25 worshipers on Sundays, many of them graduate students in various programs at the University of Florida. In many cases, these students will be returning to South Korea after their studies.  The Korean Presbyterian Church worshiping community here becomes a church home-away-from-home while they are in the U.S., while also providing the opportunity to worship and fellowship in their native language. The community also has Bible study and fellowship on Friday evenings.

On November 17, the two congregations joined together for a united service of worship. The Korean congregation (yes, the whole congregation) provided the music, with Rev. Freeman of GPC providing the sermon. After worship, the two congregations joined for a time of fellowship over lunch, with both traditional Thanksgiving fare and traditional Korean food.

Thank you for your hospitality to the Korean students in the Gainesville community!

Bread of Life

Bread of Life Community Ministry in Palatka
By Page Walwik – Seminary Intern at FPC, Palatka

Along the banks of the St. John’s River flows a community of people that have all found themselves at the same bend. Beneath the currents of life, Putnam County has been touched with a timeless opportunity in which God’s love can flood the souls of people through the ministry of Bread of Life (BOL). First Presbyterian Church (FPC) of Palatka, FL, became the vessel to steer the ship under the leadership of Transitional Pastor Cliff Lyda. Having sailed this route before, Lyda knew the river flowed fast; therefore, he poured himself into the tide and gathered everyone on board to row the ship. In 1989, BOL began at FPC and, as the river flowed with leadership changes and a different location, BOL went through some rough waters. Today, they have been thrown a life preserver and given a fresh start. BOL, a nonprofit organization of Putnam County, has returned back home to FPC. 

The community has been instrumental in the success of BOL, with FPC as just one part of this ministry. Within a few months, BOL went from serving 20 people to 80 on any given day. Not only were people coming in to be served, but the outpouring of volunteers, local businesses, and individual families providing meals and helping hands on a daily basis has truly embraced this as a community ministry. The third photo reflects the community support for the Bread of Life program (pictured are l-r Putnam County Sheriff deputies, Bread of Life Board Member, Pastor Cliff Lyda, and Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach).

Lyda reflects, “In all my 35 years of being a pastor, I have never seen the Holy Spirit move in such a way that involves an entire community of churches, families, and businesses. It’s unimaginable to have something self-start from the ground up. What an honor to serve in this moment at First Presbyterian Church Palatka or, as known by the locals, ‘The church on the River’.” 

Thank you for responding to the needs of your community!

Community Thanksgiving Dinner

Community Thanksgiving Dinner at First Presbyterian Church Lake City
By Terri Millikin, Event Organizer

In 2000, a Thanksgiving meal was started as a Mission outreach for the homeless in the Lake City area.  The meaning of Thanksgiving changed that day for our church and community.  Nineteen years and 20 meals later, we are still going strong.

A traditional meal of smoked turkey, cornbread dressing, gravy, sweet potatoes, and green beans is prepared. Tables are set with linens and our guests are greeted at the door, seated and served their meal.  Homemade desserts are the finishing touch.  Everything is done by volunteers from the church and community.

Over the years we have seen this grow into one of the most anticipated and appreciated traditions in Lake City.   When you look around, you will see the homeless, families, community leaders, church members, and couples with no family in the area all sharing tables and a meal together.  Our fellowship hall becomes a safe place, with smiles, handshakes and hugs.  

I invite you all to come and experience Thanksgiving with us in 2020!  Your soul will be blessed in a way I cannot explain! 

Thank you for your long term commitment to caring for your community on Thanksgiving Day!

PW 2020 Annual Gathering

The Annual Gathering of the Presbyterian Women will be Saturday, January 25, 2020 at Montgomery Presbyterian Conference Center!

For detailed information about the gathering, including workshop descriptions and the registration form, please click on the registration packet below. Please note the registration deadline is January 10.

Please share this information with your congregations and friends who support the Presbyterian Women. If you have any questions about the Annual Gathering, please contact Kathy VanderVliet at kathyvan@comcast.net. Thank you!

Registration Packet

Schedule for the Gathering

Registration & Refreshments 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Worship 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (Offering collected for Mission Haven)

Business Meeting 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Workshops 1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Drama & Benediction 2:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Workshops

A) Moderator/Vice Moderator Training

B) Treasurer Training

C) Secretary / Historian Training

D) Rethreaded

E) The Hidden Life of Trees (a walk among the trees)

F) Continuing Worship Conversation

 

Please bring a note pad, pen and a refillable water bottle to the event.