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PNNE-Connections for March 17, 2023
Last week, Kristine Shultis' title was incorrectly listed in a photo caption.  Her title is "Certified Ruling Elder" (CRE).  The editor regrets the error.

In this issue:



"...The Lenten season is a season of change.  It is when we reflect upon our sin and embark upon a journey of repentance.  Yet, too often our reflection stops at the personal.  Now more than ever, what Lent needs to be is a time of communal reflection and corporate repentance.  We need systemic change away from “weak resignation to the evils we deplore” and toward the courage to face our propensity toward violence and division.  Such reflection requires bravery because it will necessarily challenge our notions of our own goodness, both personal and communal.  We must be willing to tell the truth about ourselves, acknowledging that even the most well-meaning intentions and initiatives all need to be examined and interrogated in the light of love, truth, and justice.  We must be willing to tell the truth about why some things – gun violence, systemic racism, anti-LGBTQ violence, Islamophobia, and antisemitism, to name a few – seem to be far too common among us."

Rev. Denise Anderson, Director, Compassion, Peace & Justice

Click to visit PCUSA Compassion, Peace & Justice website

From your Resource Presbyter

Dear Friends,

I have been part of a pastor's cohort for over 15 years.  Six of us pastors from churches in New York and New Jersey would gather every other month for an overnight retreat.  We would tell our stories of ministry, be there for each other, and hold each other accountable.  Now four out of the six are retired, but we still get together at least once a year.  It is indescribable strength for the journey of ministry.

The Commission on Ministry is now in the process of forming regional cohort groups for ministers and CRE's.  This is being made possible from the Synod grant we received for this year.  Encourage your pastors to participate, as self-care is key for thriving congregations!  And stay tuned Ruling Elders, for we hope to form cohorts for you all as well!

Joy and Peace,

Gospel reading for Friday, March 17:  John 8:33-47

Whoever is from God hears the words of God.

33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

39They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” 42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. 44You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”

The Jews did not grasp that they were slaves to the sin of unbelief.  They did not recognize their spiritual need.  Spiritual pride has a blinding effect; it blinds one to oneself.  Freedom was considered a birthright of every Jew.  The crowd thought that Jesus spoke of religious freedom, but He spoke of inner freedom.  Spiritual freedom is liberation from error and sin.

Religion can save no one.

Religion is no guarantee against God’s judgment.  The devil uses religion to advance many false ideas.  It is a primary method of deceiving people.  People need a Savior, a Redeemer, not religion.  This is a very hard concept for people to accept because they have a religious approach to their belief system.

~ from Verse-By-Verse commentary

Common Prayer for Sunday Mar 19:  First Presbyterian Church (Old South), Newburyport, MA    

Rev. Laurell Cockrill
about Rev. Cockrill (Old South website)

Old South is in the rescue business!  The incarnation of Jesus Christ offers the rescue that this world needs.  Jesus lived the life that we were intended to live and died the death that we deserve.  In his resurrection, Jesus overturned the finality of death—he paid the full price of sin on our behalf.  The gospel is an announcement of GOOD NEWS!  There is no longer any condemnation, no rift, no broken relationship between God and any person who receives God’s free gift of reconciliation by faith through the grace given in Jesus’s atonement.  How do we fulfill this purpose as a church?  We strive to:    

•  Transform lives by knowing Christ 
•  Train intentional disciples 
•  Testify to God's love by serving the people of Newburyport and beyond 

These three actions summarize the lengthy mission document that was initially completed in 2016 and updated in 2022.

Lord, thank you for Old South playing their part in kingdom life.  May they take your light into the darkness; may they give testimony to your redeeming work in all our lives, and love beyond the fringes of our own small lives.  Living by the Spirit, may you work through Old South to reach a hurting world.  Amen.

Click to visit Old South's website

Prayer in Six Directions - A Celtic Tradition

From the March 14 issue of Presbyterian Outlook
by Rev. Heather Prince Doss of Eliot PC, Lowell, MA

The Prayer in Six Directions is adapted from one used by the Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, and another by Grace Clunie of Armagh, Northern Ireland.  It draws on the Celtic tradition of the caim, or encircling, prayer that may be familiar in the blessing of St. Patrick.  It also bears resemblance to the Native American “Blessing to the Four Directions.”
Read the full article and the Prayer on Presbyterian Outlook


GA 225 Voting Total Update

Here are the results reported to OGA as of March 8—
by amendment and
by presbytery.

Find the latest reports on the Resources tab of PC-Biz.
For questions regarding submission of votes, contact Kate Trigger Duffert.

Good Friday Readings and Prayers

Gratitude is due to Brad Munroe from
Presbyteries de Cristo and Grand Canyon
for sharing his liturgical and theological gifts in this
Here’s the
Your busy pastors might appreciate your passing this along.

PCUSA Resources for Good Friday

Internal Controls for Financial Operations of Congregations

Insurance Board is a nonprofit corporation established by the participating Conferences of the United Church of Christ.  Insurance Board administers property insurance for churches and church liability insurance program serving churches and related entities within the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Alliance of Baptists.

The Insurance Board’s recorded webinars include a recent discussion of INTERNAL CONTROLS.
  • Protect assets of your ministry from misappropriation and fraud
  • Stewardship/Fiduciary Duty
  • Stability
  • Integrity
  • Best practices for accounting/operational controls
  • Cybersecurity best practices
Watch full Internal Controls webinar (37 mins) on YouTube

UN Secretary-General: Gender equality is centuries away

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned “Progress won over decades is vanishing before our eyes."  Achieving gender equality is so distant at this point that UN Women“ puts it 300 years away.”

Secretary-General Guterres recommended the following steps to equalize power:

  • Increase education, income and employment for women and girls, especially in the Global South.
  • Promote women and girls’ full participation and leadership in science and technology, from governments and boardrooms to classrooms.
  • Create a safe digital environment for women and girls.
Read full article on Presbyterian Mission website

NH Council of Churches Annual Meeting May 6th

Saturday May 6th at 10 AM
Wesley United Methodist Church in Concord

79 Clinton St, Concord, NH 03301


Nashua, NH, and Mid-Coast, ME, Certified PCUSA Earth Care Congregations

The Earth Care Congregation certification by the PCUSA's Hunger Program is through February 2024.  The Earth Care Congregation certification is designed to recognize churches that make the commitment to take seriously God’s charge to “till and keep” the garden.

This status speaks to the serious commitment that Nashua and Mid-Coast PCs have made to care for God’s earth.  To become an Earth Care Congregation, these congregations affirmed an Earth Care Pledge to integrate environmental practices and thinking into their worship, education, facilities, and outreach.
Started in 2010 by the PCUSA, the goal of this program is to inspire churches to care for God’s earth in a holistic way, through integrating earth care into all aspects of their church life.  The Earth Care Congregation certification honors churches that make that commitment and encourages others to follow their example.

Jessica Maudlin, Associate for Sustainable Living and Earth Care Concerns for PCUSA:
“There are 305 churches in our denomination that chose to dedicate themselves to intentional care of God’s earth this year.  These congregations' activities and commitments brings hope to their community and indeed to the world.  We believe that Mid-Coast and Nashua PCs will inspire others to respond intentionally to God’s call to care for the earth.”
Read more about Earth Care Congregations

First PC of Haverhill, MA, to Celebrate 125th Anniversary

March 28 of this year marks Haverhill's 125th anniversary.
More info about the celebration in next week's Connections

Mid-Coast PC, ME, delivers linens for Asylum seekers

From Rev. Diane Hoppe Hugo, Mid-Coast PC, ME:
"I am writing with incredible gratitude for your generosity of bed linens and pillows and comforters!!  As I hope you can see, by the pictures attached, Alan Baughcum’s Forester (or Outback?) was filled to the brim with all of your donations and that was with the seats down too!  The picture showing the huge pile is everything we dropped off (along with donations from Sheepscott Community Church including 10 rolls of quarters for laudromats), going all the way back to the tall box/laundry basket in back.  AMAZING!!  Nadia (who works with the housing authority in South Portland) greeted us with joy and appreciation telling us they have moved 10 of the 50 asylum-seeking families into the apartments.  They are going to need all sorts of other items as well – especially kitchen utensils, pots/pans, dishes etc. – so, if you are putting things aside, we will make another trip in the near future.  Thank you for the outpouring of fresh, soft and warm bed linens to wrap these folks in love.  Blessings, Pastor Diane"

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Connections Solicits Your Input!

Please submit input for the PNNE weekly newsletter, Connections,
to the Resource Presbyter, Rev. Dr. Scott DeBlock,,
or to the editor of Connections, George Huggins,

~~~~~~~~ REGULAR FEATURES.........

Connecting: For All Ministers

We have two weekly opportunities for ministers to connect for support and encouragement.  Click here to join the Zoom meeting at the days and times, below.

  • Mondays at 10:00 am
  • Tuesdays at 3:00 pm

Connecting: For Retired Clergy

Fourth Wednesday of the Month at 10am.

Prayer Calendar

2023 Common Prayer Calendar


PNNE sign-up form               News from Camp Wilmot                Mission at the Eastward (MATE)

PNNE Presbyterian Women:        The Grapevine Fall 2022                  On Facebook

Our larger church:          PCUSA News              Synod of the Northeast

Another Lent

So here we go again.
The grit of darkened seasons past
between the eyes, across the brow.
The purple cloths of grief,
tall cloistered candles, numbered days.
Six more weeks of wintered trudging
through a wilderness bereft of alleluias.
All this to show that everything we know –
And are – is dust
and will return in just the way it came
and always has come.
Yet, here and there, bent brave above the snow
the clustered Lenten rose bleeds color
from pale sunlight,
gently points itself toward a cross,
an emptied cave,
that bright unending summer
glimpsed in childhood,
and forever after longed for
past the terminus of measured time.

J. Barrie Shepherd

“Prayer is not asking.  It is a longing of the soul.  It is daily admission of one's weakness.  It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

PNNE Contact Information

Resource Presbyter, Rev. Scott DeBlock           Stated Clerk, Rev. T.J. DeMarco | 518-423-7901 | 401-523-7417

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