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PNNE-Connections for March 3, 2023
In this issue:


One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS)

February 22 - April 9, 2023

Serve the "least of these" among us by providing relief to those affected by catastrophic events, giving sustainable food resources to the hungry, and changing the structures that perpetuate poverty, oppression, and injustice.  The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing:

  • Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
  • Presbyterian Hunger Program
  • Self-Development of People

all work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need. From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, their work fits together to provide people with safety, sustenance, and hope.

From your Resource Presbyter

Dear Friends,

     It was the most horrible funeral service I ever conducted.  My nineteen year old nephew had died due to an opioid overdose, and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law asked me to lead the service.  The grief never goes away.  Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US. And the opioid addiction is driving this epidemic.
     March 6 is Black Balloon Day.  It is a day to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones lost to overdose.  And Black Balloon Day helps create awareness around the important issue of providing support to those struggling with substance use disorder and their loved ones.  So  I will go online and launch a virtual black balloon to remember my nephew Jake, and pray for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law as they channel their grief into community action and support for those dealing with this crisis.  May we all be sources of hope and support to all those dealing with addiction.

Joy and Peace,

Gospel reading for Friday, March 3:  John 3:22-36

John's disciples tell him Jesus is baptizing.
John's testimony of heavenly things.

22After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized.  23John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized — 24John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.

25Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew.  26They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”  27John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.  28You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’  29He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled.  30He must increase, but I must decrease.”

31The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all.  32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.  33Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  34He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.  35The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.  36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath.

John wants his readers to know of this unique, if very brief, period of simultaneous ministry because it is the setting from which a perceived problem arises.  This problem arises because of our Lord’s successful ministry at this time.  In our text, the Apostle John bids what is assumed to be a sad farewell to John the Baptist.  He will be referred to later in this Gospel, but this is the last time we read his own words.  Our text is a fitting tribute to a great man.  John the Baptist’s response here is a model of humility and Christian servanthood.  Let us listen very carefully, not only to his words, but to his heart.

Common Prayer for Sunday Mar 5:  Eliot PC, Lowell, MA

Rev. Heather Prince Doss
Click here for Eliot PC, Lowell, MA, website

           “Among our members are families and individuals who immigrated to Lowell from Africa, Cambodia, Taiwan, Scotland, Nicaragua, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Ireland.  We have no predominant culture.  We are one church, not a cluster of fellowships.  We serve and reflect the urban melting-pot that is Lowell, Massachusetts.
        Truly our congregation has been blessed with a diverse group of Christians.  We have learned new dimensions of faith, hope, love, joy, and courage.  Our founders gave us a deep understanding of mission, and they have become examples for us in becoming open to new ways and in remaining ever watchful for God’s newest acts of love.
        Each new group to join our congregation has added a layer of richness that we could never have imagined before their arrival.”


Lord Jesus, 
At your table, you unite us with you 
and with brothers and sisters around the world.
Go with us now into that world,
that we might be a living sign of welcome among refugees,
of freedom among the oppressed,
of hope amid persecution,
of peace amid violence,
of living faith amid a culture of skepticism,
and of loving kindness toward the earth and all her inhabitants. Amen.

Rev. Heather Prince Doss, Pastor


Board of Pensions schedules THRIVE seminars

Thinking Retirement: Identity Vocation and Economics (THRIVE)

The Education team of the PCUSA Board of Pensions is pleased to announce scheduling of seven THRIVE seminars in 2023 around the nation.

The THRIVE seminar is designed for Benefits Plan members who are 10 or fewer years away from retirement, and their spouses or surviving spouses.  This includes part-time employees who are enrolled in any benefit from the Benefits Plan.

The first and closest to New England is May 4-5 in Pittsburgh, PA, and the registration button has just gone live!

The THRIVE seminar takes a holistic approach to retirement planning.  Participants are educated and engaged in personal financial planning as part of a larger exploration of identity, health, and vocation in retirement.  THRIVE is available in two formats, as an e-learning series and an in-person seminar.

Click for more info and to Register

PCUSA Emerging Statistical Trends

Statistical Overview of PCUSA

Smaller PC(USA) congregations are becoming commonplace: In 1995, less than 1,000 PC(USA) congregations had 25 members or fewer. By 2021, that number had grown to 1,770 of the denomination’s 8,813 churches, or 20%. About two-thirds of PC(USA) congregations have 100 or fewer members.  “We are a denomination of small churches where most of our membership is in large churches,” Rice told commissioners.  “It’s nuanced, but it’s important to recognize.”

By 2020, donor restricted funds had grown to five times the size of unrestricted funds.  “Donors are very much influencing where the Presbyterian Mission Agency spends their dollars,” Rice said.

Number of employees in the OGA, PMA and, since 2020, the Administrative Services Group, which provides services to both the PMA and OGA.  While the size of the Office of the General Assembly, the ecclesial arm of the PC(USA), has remained relatively stable over the past two decades, the PMA has been reduced from about 600 employees in 2005 to about 250 in 2023.  Part of that reduction in the size of the PMA workforce can be attributed to recent moves that include Ministry Engagement & Support’s transfer beginning Jan. 1 from PMA to ASG.

Full article on PCUSA Mission Agency website.

Church in Colorado Springs, CO, repurposes manse

Churches everywhere are taking a fresh look at their property needs, largely caused by the pandemic.  Some are finding unique, faithful solutions that help them live out their calling, to be good neighbors, and serve their communities.

Gateway Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, CO, decided to use the church’s former manse for temporary refugee housing.

This congregation’s inspiring story may be just what you need to think creatively about your church’s assets and God’s call to live faithfully.

Watch Presbyterian Foundation's video on YouTube

Synod offers 2023-2024 Wurffel-Sills Student Scholarship


It’s time to apply for the 2023-2024 Wurffel-Sills Scholarship and Interest-Free Student Loan Program!  This application is open to all members of any church within the Synod of the Northeast.  We are now accepting applications for the following students:

  • Full-Time Undergraduate Students

  • Full-Time and Part-Time (At least half-time) Seminary Students (MDiv & MRE Studies)

  • CRE Certification Studies

More info including how to Apply

Presbyterian Mission Agency offers Scholarships


Applications for 2023-2024 scholarships through the Presbyterian Mission Agency are now open.  The applications are available in English, Spanish, and Korean through the Kaleidoscope platform linked through the Financial Aid for Service page of the Presbyterian Mission Agency website.  The Kaleidoscope platform allows students to complete the application at their own pace over the span of weeks or months until the final deadline of May 15, 2023.

The Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates and the Presbyterian Study Grant are need-based aid programs.  Students with the least resources and greatest need are prioritized for an award.  “We are called to end structural racism and poverty, and to strengthen worshiping communities,” says Laura Bryan, Coordinator of Financial Aid for Service.  “These priorities are expressed through our commitment to need-based aid, and supplemental awards for people of color.  The programmatic emphasis on leadership development and discernment of vocation challenges participants to not only gain valuable knowledge for the world, but also to engage with discovering who God created them to be.”

Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates serves full-time students attending college in the United States who are seeking a first bachelor’s degree.  The program offers up to $4,000 per student. In 2022, 147 students were awarded $665,000.

Full article in Presbyterian Outlook

MATE Increases Home Repairs

Mission At The Eastward (MATE) core program is MATE Housing Ministry (MHM)

          MHM provides home repairs to those who either cannot afford the needed work or are physically unable to conduct the work themselves.

          Executive Director Chris DeLisle has distributed homeowner applications in more town offices, food pantries, churches, and social service providers than in the past.  He has also been in contact with churches that have sent teams to MATE in past years, recruiting for return trips.  This effort has paid off.  We’re already receiving numerous homeowner applications.  As of this writing, we have an estimated 300 volunteers, 36% higher than 2022, and 11 church work teams committed to MATE this summer.  More workers mean more homeowners we can help!

          If you know someone who needs help with housing repairs, go to MATE’s website to download an application, or contact Chris DeLisle for a paper copy.

MATE is hosted by Fairbanks Union Church. ~ ed.

Self Development Of People, March 12


New SDOP Sunday Resource & Yearbook released
in time for annual celebration

One Great Hour of Sharing special offering supports SDOP
Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is a ministry that affirms God’s concern for humankind.  We are Presbyterians and ecumenical partners dissatisfied with poverty and oppression, united in faith and action through sharing, confronting, and enabling by participating in the empowerment of economically poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people, seeking to change the structures that perpetuate poverty, oppression and injustice.
Go to PCUSA Mission website for SDOP resources


Lenten Resources offered by Rev. Barrie Shepherd

Book available at $15 (plus postage)
Proceeds (beyond cost) donated to Chebeague Island and Scarborough Maine food pantries

We are only a few days into Lent.  If you are seeking a little book to guide your way through this traditional season of prayer and reflection may I suggest my Faces By the Wayside - Persons Who Encountered Jesus on the Road When it first appeared ten years ago now the publisher's cover described it in thus:

"If only I could have been there..." Did you ever wish you could have been among those who actually encountered Jesus in person; mingled, perhaps, with those throngs beside the lake; feasted among the five thousand in a Galilean meadow; crowded along the village street as the carpenter from Nazareth passed by?  This month of daily meditations seeks to accomplish just that; to place readers in the ways that Jesus walked..... For Lent, Faces By the Wayside can set you once again in the presence of the Master.

And Will Willimon added, Barrie Shepherd is our most poetic of preachers.  It is a joy to walk alongside Barrie and Jesus for these roadside encounters.  A fresh, beautiful presentation of the gospels awaits us here.

This book joined my Faces at the Manger and Faces at the Cross to form a trilogy of such seasonal meditations.  I commend it both for individuals and for Lenten study groups.  The list price is currently $20 but, with author's discount, I can make it available at $15 (plus postage) and still be able to donate all proceeds (beyond cost) to the Chebeague Island and Scarborough Maine food pantries.

Other books of mine suitable for Lenten reading include:

  • Faces at the Cross - A Lent and Easter Collection of Poetry and Prose
  • A Pilgrim's Way - Meditations for Lent and Easter
  • Prayers from the Mount - Daily Meditations on the Sermon on the Mount
  • Encounters - Poetic Meditations on the Old Testament
  • Seeing With the Soul - Daily Meditations on the Parables of Jesus

They all retail at between $20 and $25 and are available from me at a discounted rate.

To order these, or any of my books, send an email to Barrie at with name and mailing address.  Belated best wishes for 2023 and early blessings for the Lenten days ahead.

Barrie Shepherd

Community Church of New Boston, NH, receives thank you letter from Sen. Shaheen

Senator Shaheen was invited by the Community Church of New Boston to participate in the service on Martin Luther King, Jr, Day.   The Senator sent a very nice thank-you letter to the church.
Read the letter in New Boston's 2-page newsletter

PNNE Financial Summary for February 2023

                                   Month: February           Year-to-date
                            Income        $13,292                $14,790       
                            Expenses     $10,066               $29,908
                           Balance      $3,227            ($15,118)

Notes: February is the shortest month of the year, but it was long enough to move the PNNE income/expenses into positive territory.  There are two reasons for this: first, we paid the yearly Synod obligation in January and secondly, nearly all the YTD income came in February.  The income included an encouraging $8,270 of Ministry Giving.  It was more than Per Capita payments, but we did not send the invoices until late January.  We thank the individuals and member churches for their generous giving.
PNNE Treasurer - Elder Stewart Gates

( See the 2023 Budget on the PNNE website HERE. ~ ed.)

Spiritual Practice --- At the Grocery Store?

Does your church have a food pantry?  This spiritual practice of support
of the pantry comes from Kearsarge Community PC, NH.
Spiritual practices, those activities you do regularly to affirm your faith to yourself and to cultivate your own spiritual development, include ways that you act on your faith in the community.  One very fulfilling spiritual practice is to pick up a few extra food items each time you are grocery shopping, to bring to church for the weekly food pantry collection.  Imagine: thinking of Christ while you are in Hannaford.  KCPC collects food for the local pantries every week in order to make donations easy for you, and because the need is great.  However, the reason this missional effort has become so broad-based at KCPC is likely because it is rewarding, both personally and spiritually. Regular donations for our local food pantries is a spiritual practice that feeds your faith as well as your neighbors.

Results of the Connections Survey

There are 249 subscribers to Connections. 36 responded.  Thank you!

1.  How often do you read Connections?
             Every Week - 26
      1-3 times a month - 7
            About monthly - 2
                        Rarely - 1

2.  What is your favorite section or feature, or which do you read or enjoy the most?
                         REGULAR FEATURES - 7
             From your Resource Presbyter - 6
                                        INSPIRATION - 3
                                    Common Prayer - 2
                                    Gospel Reading - 1

3.  What do you want to see more in Connections?
       (This was free-text, so I'm paraphrasing. ~ ed.)
        Articles, missions, and specifics about PNNE congregations. - 10
       Committee/Commission updates including pictures and bios of member. - 3

4.  Please add any Question or Comment.

  • Need updated list of church contacts.
  • The newsletter in its entirety is informative, attractively presented.
  • I enjoy hearing from Scott DeBlock each week and listening to his view on issues.
  • I enjoy the poetry and occasional hymns
  • I really like the poetry at the end.
  • I respond well to pictures.
  • Keep up the good work.
  • Like the new design!
  • The news letter is vastly better than ever before: much, much appreciated.


Bedford PC, NH, to hold Blood Drive

March 9, 10 AM - 3 PM

Please join us for our quarterly BPC blood drive on Thursday, March 9, 2023, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Visit and enter the code BEDFORDCOMM to schedule an appointment.

Changes to the PNNE website

~~~~~~~~ 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:


Synod of the Northeast


The taste of ash across the lips,
beneath the tongue, is flavored nothing,
empty foretaste of all absence.

The feel of grit between the teeth,
deep in the corner of the eye,
is stab of hurt and harbinger of sudden pain.

The smell of long-past burning high
within the nostrils bears a whiff of utter dryness,
the interiors of pyramids.

The sound of cinders crumbling
rings a thin and eerie bell that echoes
hollow through the channels of the brain.

The sight of empty beggars’ hands
reaching for food evokes a common hunger
may be filled by forty days of desert bread and silence,
inclining at the end toward liquid alleluias.

J. Barrie Shepherd

PNNE Contact Information

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

PNNE Website
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