Posted May 14, 2018 in Featured News

Deep and Wide… Deep and Wide… There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide…

Mmm and Mmm… Mmm and Mmm… There’s a Mmmm, Mmm-ing Mmm and Mmm…

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The gathering of the East Region at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, PA, included the group participating in the “Deep and Wide” hymn complete with motions.

Well, we did one of those things that we aren’t supposed to do during the recent Regional Gatherings for Partnership and Networking: we assumed that most of the folks there would know the beloved old Sunday School song, Deep and Wide, and we sang it at the end of morning prayer. We did it complete with the hand motions and replacement of the words with “mmm” as the song repeated!

Yes, it has been fun (so far! One more regional to go!)

Yes, it sure looked like folks had fun and if they didn’t know the song when they got there, they did by 10:30 a.m.!

“Deep and Wide” is more than a song, as your Synod staff has been discovering during the last couple of weeks of roaming and spending time with presbytery leaders. We have been listening in to conversations between participants who have talked about things that are important for their presbyteries, and learned about some connections, needs and possibilities between them that might bear future fruit. And we have been listening for the kind of role the Synod might need to take to provide more targeted networking, training, granting or facilitating to assist presbyteries and presbyteries working together to get where they say they want to be.

But the part of the regionals that seems to have garnered special appreciation from participants is the opportunity we have provided in the morning for presbytery teams to spend some intentional time thinking about, and sharing, a portion of their faith story, their faith journey with one another. Many have said, “We haven’t done that for a long time.” A few even said that it felt like a first opportunity!

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Jumonville Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Hopwood, PA, was a warm and inviting space for the Southwest Region.

Wow! What does it say to us that while we are with one another all the time and go about the work of the church regularly, even go about that work with good worship and good wrestling with scripture, that what we may not do enough is to pause and consider our personal faith stories with one another? They aren’t controversial topics – each one’s journey is his or her own! Sharing our faith stories isn’t something that is going to direct the work of the presbytery, synod or General Assembly. It isn’t something that is crafted with the right wording and emphasis to share across the church! It is simply us, with God and one another pausing to reflect, re-member and regroup around the dance that is the presence of God in our lives and our response to that presence! I have a deep gratitude for the conversations that Mike, Wayne, Chantal and I have shared together during these times, and I have heard similar gratitude from a number of you.

Perhaps this exercise in faith has been the chance for a number of us to move into deeper relationships, and just perhaps, we might be nudged to explore like this more often! I wonder how such simple, personal and very real sharing amongst colleagues in faith could shape not only who we are together and how we are together, but what we are up to in our ministries?

Peace and Blessing – Central Region: Carlisle, Huntingdon and Northumberland, you are up next! Can’t wait!

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Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, PA, hosted the Synod’s regional gatherings for the third straight year.