Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
— St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)
Sunday, June 9, is the Day of Pentecost, our annual reminder that we’ve received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We’ll celebrate the birth of our Christian community and renew our missional calling to holy work — doing God’s will on earth.
Here at the Board, we’re reminded of how the Holy Spirit acts in us every time an Assistance Program grant is awarded. Presbyterians give freely and generously to support this program. It receives no dues, and 100 percent of each gift sustains Benefits Plan members in need.
The Assistance Program provides many types of grants. Retirees and surviving spouses receive critical help with living expenses, ministers may qualify for educational debt relief, and there are funds for things like unexpected medical bills and recovery from a natural disaster. The assistance runs from a few hundred dollars to thousands. In 2018, 1,157 grants were awarded, totaling $5.5 million.
In some cases, a mid council or an employer joins the Assistance Program in providing a grant. The Presbytery of Chicago, for example, shared in a grant for the Reverend Dr. Stewart M. Pattison, who has multiple sclerosis. Rev. Pattison was able to buy a motorized scooter, which “revolutionized” his ministry and life. This is the connectional church at its best.
Whether we serve the Church or one of its affiliated organizations, none of us can bring our best gifts to our calling if we’re carrying too much of a financial burden. And none of us can experience shalom, the flourishing of life, which God wishes for all people — and which the Gospel implores each of us to support in others.
The Assistance Program is one way in which we, as individuals and the Church, answer the Gospel call. It is the Holy Spirit at work.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Frank Clark Spencer