by Revs. Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” - Philippians 1:3-6 (MSG)
Summer has been heating up! Not only have we already experienced record temperatures across the southland but activities in the life of the PSWR have also been rising, and it will continue through the summer!
We kicked off the summer with an awesome Young Adult event, “Young Adult Disciples in Action” (YADA) on May 27th with Halima Hudson, Rev. Daphne Gascot Arias, and Rev. Spencer Burke as speakers. There were over 40 Young Adults attending!
Thanks to Associate Regional Minister B.J. Barlow and a fantastic crew of adult sponsors, our summer youth programs are simply amazing! Early in June, a fun day in the sun was planned as over 30 youth and adults spent the day deep-sea fishing off the coast of Catalina Island! And yes, they caught fish!
A few days later, a team of twelve youth and four adults traveled to Hawaii for a weeklong mission trip in paradise with our three congregations on the island of Oahu. They were divided up into three smaller teams, and each team was hosted by one of the congregations, where they spent the week learning about the Hawaiian culture, building relationships with members of the local church, and working on various service projects. The projects ranged from leading a VBS program at one church, to cleaning up beaches, working in a food pantry, planting taro, and more!
Susan and I, along with our Associate Regional Ministers Young Jun Yang and Young Lan Kim, focused on our new Chuukese fellowship that is nesting at First Christian Church Honolulu. We gave an overview of our Disciple history and polity as well as Boundary Training and other helpful and informative information.
Thanks to our Camp and Conference committee, a wonderful summer of fun, learning, laughter and spiritual formation will be going on at all six of our camps through the end of July. We offer these experiences, starting with our Wee Camp for 3 year olds to our high school 12th graders and graduating seniors. Directors and counselors who have a commitment to young people, to the church and to God, lead each camp. Please pray for all those who will be a part of this life-changing time at our summer camps.
We are very excited to again be sending five youth and six Young Adults to attend the upcoming General Assembly. This has proved in the past to be a life-changing experience for developing our young people into significant leaders into the future. There they will catch a glimpse of the broad work of our Disciples church, as they interact with persons from across the US and Canada as well as those serving in mission around the world.
As a part of our commitment to Global Missions and deepening the experiences of our youth and young adults, a group will be traveling to South Korea in mid-July for a mission/learning adventure. This is a continuation of a partnership begun in 2015 when Susan and I, along with Associate Regional Ministers Rev. Young Jun Yang and Rev. Young Lan Kim traveled there to explore a possible partnership with the PROK (Presbyterians of the Republic of Korea) in Gwangju.
Then in the summer of 2016, a dozen youth from South Korea spent three weeks with us here in the PSWR, learning about our Region, the Disciples, and building relationships. This summer, we are sending our youth delegation as a part of the partnership exchange of learning and relationship building.
In addition to our youth attending General Assembly, both Susan and I and many representatives of PSWR congregations and pastors with also be attending. This General Assembly will be a very important one as we say goodbye to the Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, who has served as our General Minister and President for the past twelve years! We will also be electing a new GMP, the Rev. Terri Hord Owens, who is the proposed candidate. We have been privileged here in the PSWR to have had an opportunity to meet her and hear her vision for guiding our Disciples into a new future. We are very excited about Rev. Owens!
Following General Assembly, Susan and I will be taking part of our sabbatical leave. As a part of our call as Regional Ministers, there is to be a three-month Sabbatical every five years. In September, we will have served ten years of our two 6-year terms as your Regional Ministers. In consultation with Personnel and Regional Board, we will be splitting up our three months into two 6-week times. We will take six weeks this year (2017) and 6 weeks next year (2018). Susan and I will also be overlapping our 6 weeks so that we are both gone together for only four weeks.
Beginning August 1, Susan will be on Sabbatical until September 15, 2017. I will be on Sabbatical beginning August 14 until September 30. We have asked Associate Regional Minister Rev. Dr. JoAnn Bynum, to serve as Interim during the four weeks that both Susan and I will be on Sabbatical together. In addition we have prepared all our staff to be ready to address any needs or concerns that may arise in our absence. We are more than confident of their ability to manage the Region while we are away.
On August 4-5, the pastors and congregations of our Hispanic Disciples here will gather for their Assembly, which will be held at Chapman University. Then near the end of September, our Hispanic pastors will meet for a two-day retreat of fellowship, worship, study and visioning. Please keep these events in your prayers.
As this busy summer ends and fall begins, we will be preparing for our Regional Gathering to be held at First Christian Church, Pomona on Saturday, October 21. Our theme for this gathering is: “Faithful in the Tension”, with our scripture focus from James 1:2-4. We are very pleased to have the Rev. April Lewton, Vice President of Development and Marketing for the National Benevolent Association of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as our speaker. There will also be wonderful worship experiences as well as learning workshops and opportunities for fun and fellowship.
Whew! These are just some of the things that will be going on here in the PSWR this summer. We are truly grateful for all the support, prayers, and leadership that make all of this ministry possible. Susan and I are very proud and honored to be serving as your Regional Ministers and want to thank you all for all you do to give witness to the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and expand the realm of God here.
We pray that you will find rest, renewal, and renewed energy this summer for the mission and ministry entrusted to each of us. You remain in our hearts and prayers.
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan,
Your Co-Regional Ministers