Notes about people

May 17, 2011

The Rev. Trina Zelle has been named to the newly-created position of Lead Organizer for the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA), a ministry of Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry of the General Assembly Mission Council.

Ordained in 1980, Zelle has served congregations in Connecticut, Minnesota, Hawaii, Texas, and Arizona. She also worked for ten years as a community organizer in partnership with immigrant women living along the Texas/New Mexico/Mexico border. Since 2006 she has served as founding director of Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice, Arizona’s only worker rights center.

Zelle served as a commissioner to the 219th General Assembly (2010), and served as the featured preacher for the 2003 PHEWA Biennial Conference, bringing the message “God is About to Do a New Thing.” She is a graduate of the College of Wooster in Ohio and received her Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. 

While PHEWA is a ministry of the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry, GAMC, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), it is also a 501(c) 3 membership organization serving the entire church.  This new PHEWA Lead Organizer position is entirely funded by PHEWA, with the PHEWA Board of Directors serving as employer.  

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Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly, located outside Hunt, Texas, has named the Rev. Richard H. “Dick” Powell Jr. as its new president and CEO. He will succeed David W. Jordan, who will retire this fall after 12 years in the post.  

Powell is currently pastor and head of staff at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Helotes, Texas. He holds a Master of Divinity Degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological and a B.A. in philosophy and religion from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Additionally he is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Management Development Institute, as well as the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Powell has been a leader in the PC(USA) for most of his life, starting as a “junior deacon” in the seventies, and including roles as moderator of the Committee on Ministry for Mission Presbytery, workshop leader and speaker at the Mo-Ranch Men’s Conference, and keynote speaker and workshop leader for the Synod of the Sun’s Small Church Pastor Retreat.

Since 1949, Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly has been a camp and conference center affiliated with the Synod of the Sun. Located on 500 acres along the North Fork of the Guadalupe River, Mo-Ranch annually hosts thousands of adults and youth who attend a wide range of conferences, camps, retreats and gatherings of families and friends.

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Nationally acclaimed Christian author and spiritual advocate Donald Miller is the featured speaker for “Being Spiritual in a CrazyBusy World,” a four day conference, May 29-June 1, at Montreat Conference Center.

The conference, a sweeping examination of the everyday challenges that often stand between us and the deeper spiritual life for which we long, asks the questions – Are we as “crazybusy” as the world around us?  And if the answer is yes, are we ready to pause in the midst of our fast-paced lives and reconnect with the persons we have been created to be, rediscovering a source of stillness and peace?

Miller is the author of multiple New York Times Bestsellers including Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. He serves on the Presidential Task Force on Fatherhood and Healthy Families and is a sought-after speaker. He recently launched the Storyline Conference that helps people structure their lives using a cohesive narrative. He is also the founder of The Mentoring Project and blogs almost daily at www.donmilleris.com.

With contagious wit and deep insights that come from personal experience, Miller tells us that the Christian faith should be a relationship, not a formula. The Bible, he says, is not a math book, but the story of how God wants to be involved in our lives and how that relationship plays out with specific people at specific times in history.

“The Bible is mostly narrative history with some epistles at the end,” he says in discussing the focus for this Montreat conference. “So I think we should read the history like history, and the letters like letters. The operas we should read like operas and the poems like poems. We should also read each piece and understand as though we were in the shoes of the people who were intended to receive them, then ask ourselves if the truths have bearing on our lives here today.”

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With the U.S. Navy SEALS prominent in the news after their daring raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, Presbyterian minister Bud Frimoth in Portland, Ore., recommends an obscure but important memoir by the late Rev. Cliff Baker, who died last winter.

Baker, who grew up in the back of a speakeasy during Prohibition, quit school in Vancouver, WA, at age 16 and enlisted in the Navy early in WWII.  His combination of skills and aptitudes earned him a spot in a special unit that was to eventually become the Navy SEALS. He was one of only two of the 200 in his unit to survive the war.

After the war, Baker graduated from college, despite never having graduated from high school, and then San Francisco Theological Seminary. He then served pastorates from the logging camps of northern California to the San Jose, Calif. inner city and eventually back to his native southwestern Washington State.

Along the way, Baker wrote his self-published memoir, From Speakeasy to the Cross (Winepress). Frimoth writes: “Cliff’s story is one that will inspire and sometimes raise questions as to his techniques of ministry, but you’ll walk away appreciative that God could call such a dynamic and articulate man to be of service in some of the hardest places imaginable and there be a man sharing in lovingly ways faith in Christ as Lord and Savior of his life.” The book is available at Amazon.

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