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From your Synod Executive

February has been such a difficult month for communities within the Synod. Between the train derailment in East Palestine, OH (Eastminster Presbytery) and the mass shooting at Michigan State University (Lake Michigan Presbytery), the lives of too many of our congregations and members have been tragically reminded that the world is not the way that God wants it to be.

On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed with fifty cars involved, leading to smoke and fire from hazardous materials burning up the sky and causing residents to be evacuated. Town hall meetings do not seem to have quelled the concern from residents about the long-term impact of the catastrophe, which has already caused a week-long evacuation. Among the impacted is Rev. Stacie Maynard, a hospital chaplain in the area. You can read about her experience and learn more through this article from the Presbyterian News Service:

Less than two weeks later, lives were cut short at Michigan State University on May 13 as a gunman killed three and wounded five students (before turning the gun on himself). Two of the injured had connections to congregations in Lake Michigan Presbytery, and the three killed all grew up within the geographic bounds of Detroit Presbytery. The campus and East Lansing community are reeling, particularly those who had already been touched by prior mass shootings.

I am grateful for the incredible impact of ministries in the area. Rev. Fritz Nelson officially pastors the First United Presbyterian Church in East Palestine (and the neighboring First Presbyterian Church of Columbiana), but in the days since the derailment he’s been pastoring the whole community. For more information on supporting their efforts financially, click the link below.

UKirk, the college ministry at MSU, has been led so ably by Neil Myer and is a beacon of the Gospel on campus, as have their partner congregations. He particularly asks you to let him know if a Spartan student could benefit from his touching base with them; you can email him at to let him know. If you would like to invest further in their care for students click the link below.

Of course, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is helping as much as possible. By giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing Special Offering you can help fund responses to both natural and human-caused tragedies.

Even more important than financial support, of course, is lifting up prayers to our God who wants us all to experience the abundant life. May the Spirit speak to us about how we can join in Jesus’ efforts to spread this life to all.

Your partner in ministry,

Rev. Charles B Hardwick, PhD Executive phone number 309-530-4578

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