Parting Words from Your Presbytery Pastor, Tom Sheffield

News from Zimbabwe
Today Zimbabwe is very much in the news.  Because events are moving so quickly I hesitate to say anything concrete about what is happening or, even more, what it all may mean.  I can tell you we have been in touch with our partners and they indicate no immediate problems for them, their families or their congregations.  The Delegation, which has been in our Presbytery and left on Monday, has arrived home safely.  They, too, are watching and waiting to see what will next occur and to see how they will respond.  We also have communicated with the leaders of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe to let them know that they are in our prayers.  Keep watch both in your news outlets and through the Presbytery about events there and remember to pray for all Zimbabweans and, especially, for our partners, the Presbytery of Zimbabwe.

Prayer for Family and Friends of Jane Hays
On Saturday, November 18, at 11 a.m. a Service of Witness for the Resurrection will be held for our colleague Jane Hays at Shepherd of the Hills Church.  Please continue to remember the family and friends of Jane in your prayers and acts of kindness.

Parting Words
As I complete my service to the Presbytery of Denver and seek a new path for life and ministry, I share “twelve suggestions” for you.  

  • Say “yes” to serving.  Several years ago Clarke Vestal told a group of new ministers that serving in the Presbytery strengthens your ministry.  I believe that.  Plus, of course, it is what we promise to do when we are ordained and installed – serve in the councils of the church.  When the Nominating Committee calls, you should, at least, give deep and long consideration to serving and, probably, you should say “yes.”
  • Consider applying for a month of service in a Presbytery of Zimbabwe congregation.  You will be changed.  Our whole Presbytery will be changed.  And our Partnership will be deepened in new ways.  If you want more information, contact Frances McWilliams, chairperson of the Short-term Service Program Committee.  There are some funds to help you serve.  
  • When a new minister comes to Denver Presbytery, reach out with a phone call, a cup of coffee, a lunch and the possibility of friendship.  When you hear that a colleague is having trouble, reach out again with care, support and prayer.  When you receive news about the death of a colleague, write a note, invite your church to be in prayer and attend the Service of Witness to the Resurrection for your colleague.
  • Encourage congregations to participate in events of the Presbytery.  Using the weekly bulletin announcements is a small way to do that.
  • Pray for one another.  Pray for churches and ministries.  Pray for the whole church.  
  • Keep up with the news of the Presbyterian Church and look for the good in our church to share with one another and with congregations.  Give thanks for those who are working with and for you in the Presbytery, the Synod and the General Assembly.
  • Tell others not only about problems of ministry but also about its joys.
  • Watch for those who may have gifts for ministry in the church and invite them to consider studying and preparing for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament or as a Commissioned Ruling Elder.
  • Welcome the work of the Presbytery.  Be grateful for the work of the Committee on Ministry with you and with your Sessions and Congregations.  Receive the possibilities of connecting with and through the Presbytery in mission and ministry.  And welcome and reach out to the next Presbytery Pastor.
  • Remember that whatever your ministry, whether you serve as a teacher, a psychotherapist, a pastor, associate pastor, administrator, parish associate, whether you are installed by the Presbytery or employed by the Session, whether you are still being paid or are studying at a seminary or are now retired or are looking and hoping for work, whether your congregation has been around for decades or is finding its way as a new worshiping community, whether you are in a validated ministry or work for the “larger church,” or serve in congregational ministry, whether you are in a large church or a small church or something in-between, whether you are in the mountains, in the city, in the suburbs or in the plains, you are all together in one service for Christ.  
  • You are loved by God.  At heart there is nothing more you need to know.  Remain grateful for that truth and let your ministries flow from that unswerving reality.  Of course, living it gets more complicated, but the power of that understanding can help sort it out and get all of us through difficult days.
  • And one more -  remember you remain in my heart, that is filled with gratitude, respect, prayer and love for you always.  In my very first message I quoted the following passage from Philippians.  These years later it is still true.  Maybe it is truer than ever.

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.      Philippians 1:3 – 5


Will you come and follow me...

Do not miss this opportunity! This is a critical and challenging time for church leaders in every single congregation. We read it in our statistical reports, we see it in our sanctuaries, church schools and congregational events, we know it in our own families and we feel it in our hearts. The November Leadership Retreat aims to address our concern and then move ahead with deep and lasting ways to grow the church once again. Simply put, you need to be there and you need to bring other leaders of the church with you. November 10 and 11 we will gather at Highlands and join Ray Jones of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, where he heads our evangelism ministries, who will lead our time together. On Sunday November 12 you also can attend a special afternoon workshop with Ray at Wellshire Church.  Ray will preach at Wellshire in the morning services. To register for the retreat go to  To hear more about the plans contact the Presbytery Center (303-777-2453) or speak with any member of the Leadership Work Group (Nancy Dixon, chairperson, Dee Cooper, Ki Park, Diane Ritzdorf, Maria Shupe, Olivia Hudson Smith and Lemuel Velasco).  Again, I encourage you to attend this important opportunity as we work together for the present life and future ministry of the whole church.

Arrival of Presbytery of Zimbabwe Delegation.  On October 21 the 2017 delegation from the Presbytery of Zimbabwe will begin its time in our Presbytery. The Rev. Anna Banda, who is the Chairperson of the Western District of the Presbytery, and also Minister of the Presbyterian Church in Mhangura, and her husband, Moven, who have been spending their Long Leave with us, will join the Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery and also Minister of St. Andrew’s Church in Bulawayo, and the Rev. Everisto Musedza, Minister of St. Columba’s Church in Mutare and also the Convener of the Presbytery’s Church in Society Committee. While in Denver, they will be attending or meeting at more than twenty-two of our congregations, preaching in twelve congregational services of worship, participating in meetings of the Partnership of Zimbabwe and Denver Presbyteries Committee and its Short-term Service and Central Fund Sub-committees, the Presbytery Council, and the mission partnerships and task force related to Zimbabwe, participating in the Presbytery Assembly on October 24, and sharing in the Leadership Retreat on November 10 and 11 at Highlands (see above for more details of this event). For most of their time they will be hosted in homes of church members in various parts of the Presbytery. They also will be enjoying “down time” and relaxed moments as they gather with members of the Zimbabwe Community here in Denver, share in many luncheons, parties and dinners and enjoy several days at Highlands. The continuing purpose of delegation visits is to broaden and deepen our partnership together and to discover new ways we can grow in understanding of the global church and our common ministry in Christ. I hope you each have an opportunity to spend time with and hear from these delegates and discover the on-going joy of our partnership. 

We celebrate with two colleagues in their marriages! On September 9th Jim Emig married Donya Powell in Elbert.  John Anderson and Cynthia Koerner married this past Saturday, October 14 in Colorado Springs. We rejoice in this great news!   

             The grace of Christ attend you,
             the love of God surrounding you,
             the Holy Spirit keep you,
             that you may live in faith,
             abound in hope,
             and grow in love,
             both now and forevermore.  Amen.

                            From the Book of Common Worship

In Peace,


I know some things...

I know some things about you.  What are they?  
       Sunday is very, very demanding for you.  For those in congregational ministry, especially, it demands your full attention, energy, thought and compassion.  

       It is so demanding that later in the day you long for some rest, renewal and recreation.  Sometimes you also long for an afternoon nap to restore your energy.

        You love the Broncos.  You love watching them on TV and, even more, going to see them live.

         Going out to a presbytery event is not something you are seeking.

However, I also know these things about you:

          You are deeply concerned about our national life.

          You want our church to be engaged in the problems that now create pain, confusion and continued conflict.

          You sometimes feel very distant from the leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  An opportunity to interact with those who are determining the course of our denomination would be welcome.

          You would be willing to come to events that offer ways to address those concerns and hopes.  You would even be willing to give up watching the Broncos!

That is why I know you would be willing to take time on Sunday afternoon, September 17, to join the Rev. Dr. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), to talk about our church and the world in which we are ministering.  It begins at 3:00 p.m. at Shepherd of the Hills Church and will include music of all kinds and concludes with a pot luck dinner.  On Monday at 8:00 a.m. at First Church of Aurora we can join Dr. Nelson to talk about the Sanctuary Movement and some of the most important questions of our national life.  All this is sponsored by our Presbytery’s Racial Ethnic Diversity and Leadership Work Groups and the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks.  

I know I will see you there.


Tom sign.png




We Celebrate

  As we celebrate the goodness of our nation and the freedom of life in the United Stated, I am led also to celebrate the church, the Presbytery and the faith that joins us together.  I am celebrating... 

  • Our congregations who in every place want to serve the world both around them and beyond them and continue to be lights of caring and grace.
  • Our ministers who are creative, energized, hopeful and ready to serve.
  • Our Presbytery leaders who in a time of change embrace the possibilities of the future and meet the challenges of the present fully and joyfully.
  • Our structure in the Presbyterian Church (USA) which continues to offer greater and greater possibilities to serve, ways to address the pain and failings of our world and our nation, reach out to global partners, bring possibilities of reconciliation within and beyond the Body of Christ that is our denomination and a sign of our intertwined and interconnected lives with one another and in Christ.  
  • Our faith in Christ that makes fear of all kinds powerless, peace our continuing work and love always possible.    
  • All that you do every day to show that faith,  live without fear, create time for peace and show the love of Christ.

In Peace,


“You are not alone,
   I am with you;
   I am you.
  For I needed another human instrument to continue my
          Incarnation and my Redemption.
   Out of all eternity, I chose you,
   I need you.”

                From Prayers by Michel Quoist

The Season of Lent

      The Season of Lent possesses many experiences, varied hopes, diverse agonies. I am thinking of each one of you who possesses one or more. 
The minister who is overwhelmed by the rush of programs, services, studies and sermons and yearns now for the final “Alleluia” of Easter Sunday.

  • The one who is aching to be able to serve in this season in a congregation. Any congregation. All seasons.
  • The retired minister who remembers, maybe gratefully, maybe sadly, how it used to be when the calendar was full.
  • The minister who not only serves outside but feels outside of congregational life and looks enviously at the dependable rhythm of the church year.
  • The educator who struggles to find understandable words to explain the Mystery of Resurrection to young disciples.
  • The mother or father who wishes there could be time right now to spend with family during a vacation week.
  • The minister who faces death, death in the church, death of the church, death of a relationship, death of a dream in a season pointing to new life.    
I am thinking of each of you and all who are serving in different ways.
I am praying for all of you as you look for the sign of new life to come also to you.
I am believing that the Promise of Resurrection will be ours in this season.
         Resurrection God, you bring life to that which was dead.  You bring joy to our sorrow, comfort for our tears.  O God, make us brave disciples who will not accept the dominance of death but will work with you, believe in you, hold steadfast to you as you create new life, new joy, new love in and around us by the power of your Son, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.  Amen.
              A Prayer from Gentle Words in a Raging Storm by Gary Weaver

Change is in the air

Next Ministers’ Communion

 We are experiencing many changes in congregational relationships, presbytery life, national actions and global interactions.   But we remain unchanged in our awareness that God is present in, with, through and among us all.  That presence, of course, is an active presence, bringing into being a new creation and connecting us in networks of grace, justice, hope and peace through Christ’s love.  Already we have a connection as ministers (and educators, commissioned ruling elders, candidates and inquirers, too!) in this Presbytery.  And on Thursday, March 9 at 11:30 a.m., I invite you all to celebrate that connection and claim Christ’s presence with us in a time of Worship and Sacrament at First Lakewood Church.  This service also will be the first time Olivia Hudson Smith joins us as our new Presbytery Stated Clerk.  Following the service we will go to a near-by restaurant, selected by host pastor Christine Beitzel, for lunch and fellowship together.  Please plan to join together.  We ask your RSVP by March 7.  Click here to RSVP online or call Tom at 303-777-2457.

Share your Experience

Our colleague, Eunjoo Kim, has connected us, too, with Leah Schade, Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky., who is carrying out a research project regarding how Mainline Protestant preachers serving congregations in the United States handle sermons on controversial justice issues. Part of the research is a questionnaire. She writes:  “The survey takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.  Responses are being collected through Feb. 28, 2017."  Click here for the survey link.

For more information about this project, you can click here.

Other Events and Opportunities

•    February 11  Book Discussion of Waking Up White  at  12 noon

•    February 17  8:00 a.m.   Mental Health First Aidat Presbytery Center

•    March 11  9:30 a.m.    Location to be announced

 “Come and See” for New Beginnings.  The Presbytery is again offering the opportunity for your congregation to be part of this discernment process.  Each participating congregation will be asked to pay only $500 toward the $3500 total cost.  The Come and See event is the critical event to begin understanding the process’ dimensions and move toward a decision to enroll.   

•    March 28  Presbytery Assembly at St. Paul  Church (Pre-assembly on Soul Shop)

Please remember to send in your congregation’s mission pledge.  Your giving is critical in our ability to reach out with one another, in partnership, with new ministries and across the globe!  

Prayers for all People

Amy Mendez, the Presbytery’s Pastor for Church Development and Multi-Racial Ministries, is now in Los Angeles following the death of her nephew, Abner.  He died after a long struggle with cancer.  Amy asks for our prayers for her, her family and her nephew’s family in this very sad time.  

     On the day of inauguration, let us also pray for our President, all our governmental leaders and our country.   And let us pray that we all assume our responsibility to live and act as Christ’s people.  And, then, let us act.   From various prayers, The Book of Common Worship offers these words for us:

Lord, keep this nation under your care.  Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and blessing to other nations of the earth.
May leaders be led by your wisdom; may they search your will and see it clearly.
I want to be on your right or your best side, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition, but I just want to be there in love and in justice and in truth and in commitment to others, so we can make of this old world a new world.  (From a prayer by Martin Luther King Jr.) We commend our nation to your merciful care that we may live securely in peace and may be guided by your providence.  Give all in authority the wisdom and strength to know your will and to do it.  Help them remember that they are called to serve the people as lovers of truth and justice.

May God’s love hold you and all you love and all we together seek to serve.

Christmas Comes....

     She was just the way you would imagine her.  Lovely in an unassuming, gracious way.  Open to everyone.  Enjoying the simplest of things on the most ordinary of days.  I am speaking of the noted Presbyterian poet, Ann Weems, who died this year in March.  It was my real pleasure to meet her at a General Assembly.  In fact we were staying in the same cut-rate hotel where breakfast consisted only of weak coffee and big, open boxes of frosted donuts.  You get the picture, don’t you?  We sat each morning in the breakfast room drinking that coffee and wolfing down the donuts.  And as we did she would gently talk, ask questions, and bring us under her spell.  Her poetry did the same thing, I think.  Her words were gentle, never harsh and always brimming over with wonder.  And they were also filled with an awareness of God’s gifts to us … in each life … in every moment … and, especially, in the Gift of Christ.  Her poems for Advent and Christmas demonstrated that awareness particularly.  It seems right, therefore, to share bits of some of her poems for Christmas with you as we move toward that great day and remember the gifts that Ann Weems gave to the whole church.
                There are those who scoff at miracles.
                I don’t know what they make of the birth of the Child.
              For that matter,
                 I don’t know what they make of the birth of any child.

                         From “Christmas Miracle”

                Christmas comes every time we see God in other persons….
             Even now it comes
               In the face of hatred and warring –
                  no atrocity too terrible to stop it,
                 no Herod strong enough,
                no hurt deep enough,
               no curse shocking enough,
               no disaster shattering enough.
          For someone on earth will see the star,
             someone will hear the angel voices,
            someone will run to Bethlehem,
           someone will know peace and goodwill:
          the Christ will be born!

                         From “Christmas Comes” 

          And this year, when it’s time to pack the figures away,
             we’ll be more careful that the Peace and Goodwill
                 are not also boxed for another year!

                         From “Boxed”

"Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race" is not only a provocative book title.  It is also the basis of an opportunity for deep and important conversation in the Presbytery.  Along with conversation, sponsored by the Racial Ethnic Diversity Work Group and led by Ann Christensen, there will be foods … that you all bring!  Two opportunities are available for sharing.  The first will be on January 17 at 6:00 p.m.  The second is February 11, beginning at noon.  Both will be held at the Presbytery Center.  Click here to RSVP. You can order books at The Thoughtful Christian.  

The Presbytery Assembly on January 24 at Capitol Heights Church.  The pre-assembly, led by the Rev. Tom Trinidad, former Vice-moderator of the General Assembly, will focus on the proposed new Directory for Worship.  Tom also served as a consultant to the Directory for Worship Task Force.  The stated meeting at 6:00 p.m. will include the installation of the moderator, vice-moderator and treasurer of the Presbytery as well as consideration of a recommendation to list the Presbytery Center for sale.  

The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators’ Annual Event will be held in Denver from January 25 – 28.   Our local committee has been hard at work.   There are also important pre-conference opportunities, click here to find out more.

Give Thanks for Cathy Ulrich and Joann Goss on January 31!  Join together to recognize the ministries of Cathy as she completes her service as interim stated clerk and Joann as she completes her term as Presbytery Treasurer.  An informal reception will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Presbytery Center with a brief program at 5:00 p.m.  You are asked to RSVP at the Presbytery website by January 25, click here to RSVP.

Mental Health First Aid on February 15th The first Mental Health First Aid was an outstanding event.  A second opportunity is now available for you.  Click here to register on-line.


The First Week of Advent

Christ has
No body now on earth but yours;
No hands but yours;
No feet but yours;
Yours are the eyes
Through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet
With which he is to go about
Doing good;
Yours are the hands
With which he is to bless now.

 Words of St. Teresa of Avila from readings for the First Week of Advent,
       A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants

Advent Luncheon
Remember Today is the Deadline for your RSVP for the Advent Luncheon on December 8th. A great crowd has already registered, but we still need to hear from you. And we do want to see you there! Call 303-777-2454 or click here to make arrangements for a reservation and payment.

Other Upcoming Events

Dee Cooper invites all ministers to join together for a final session in this series of gatherings. These gathering have been extraordinary gifts from Dee.  The final session will be held on December 21, 12 – 1:30 p.m. at the Presbytery Center.  The theme is: “Play and Living in Essence.“  Please bring your own lunch.  

Presbytery Assembly on January 24, 2017 at Capitol Heights Church.  The pre-assembly, led by the Rev. Tom Trinidad, former Vice-moderator of the General Assembly, will focus on the proposed new Directory for Worship.  The stated meeting at 6:00 p.m. will include the installation of the moderator, vice-moderator and treasurer of the Presbytery.

The Association of Presbyterian Church Educators’ Annual Event will be held in Denver from January 25 – 28, 2017.  Our local committee has been hard at work. Scholarships are available.  Registration is open now.  Go to  

Mental Health First Aid on February 15, 2017. The first Mental Health First Aid was an outstanding event.  A second opportunity is now available for you.  Register coming soon! Check out our website at

Book Study and Fellowship. Watch for the new times for the Book Discussion of Waking Up White.  It will be led by Ann Christensen and is sponsored by the Racial Ethnic Diversity Work Group and Leadership Work Group.   

A Humble Response

O God, hear their cry.
The children are crying in the streets of Aleppo.  The bombs have left their homes, their mosques, their churches, their hospitals in ruins.  The bodies of their neighbors, their teachers, their friends, their relatives, their parents are mangled beyond recognition.  Food is rare.  Hope is rarer still.  O God, hear their cry.

                                        A Humble Response
This past week the Presbytery Council voted to send half of the Presbytery’s portion of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon for relief work.  Your gifts can also go to this or other churches and organizations seeking to offer compassion, healing, hope and, we pray, peace.

O God, hear their cry.
The children are crying in the streets of Haiti and Jamaica and Jacksonville.  The winds have ripped their homes apart.  Schools are left without walls.  With the cessation of the winds comes the threat of disease.  Fear, hunger, despair are ruling.  O God, hear their cry.

                                         A Humble Response
 Already Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is at work.  It will come early and it will stay for the long journey of real and lasting recovery.  Already through the One Great Hour of Sharing you have participated in that work.  If you want to give additionally, you can offer your gifts to PDA through

O God, hear their cry. 
The children are crying in the streets of Charlotte and Orlando and Oklahoma City.  The children are crying for brothers killed in Cleveland and New York.  The children are crying for fathers and mothers killed by those they thought should protect them.  Other children are crying for fathers and mothers killed because they did try to protect the innocent.  The children are crying because the color of their skins still, yet, always forces fear to rule them, too.  The children are crying because no one will hear, no one will pass laws, no one will say “no” to hate, no one can tell them when this will end.  The truth is, children are crying because we do not hear and we do not act.   O God, hear their cry.

                                        A Humble Response
The Racial Ethnic Diversity Work Group in the Presbytery does hear and they are responding with new possibilities to speak in our congregations about race in our lives, in our world and in our churches, too.  You can open the doors of your church and welcome them to speak with you, listen to stories and find a way to deeper understanding and greater action.  You can contact the Presbytery at any time to find out more.

You also can join the Leadership Event, “Courageous Listening” at Highlands on November 11 and 12.  You can talk with one another, learn what it means to “hear the voices of those long silenced,” and discover a new way to build community in that time of retreat and when you return to your churches.  If what has been happening in our nation and world touches you, I encourage you to register today for this time together.  Go to or call 303-747-2888 to register.   
Celebrate Ordination Anniversaries

Jacqueline Decker Vanderpol  ~ Ordained on October 1, 2006
 Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of her Ordination

Robert Flory ~  Ordained on October 11, 1981  
Celebrating the Thirty-fifth Anniversary of his Ordination

Rebecca New  ~  Ordained on October  11, 1986
Celebrating the Thirtieth Anniversary of her Ordination

Stuart Plummer ~ Ordained on October 14, 1956
Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary of his Ordination

To God we give thanks for each of these servants, for the power of their unique ministries and for all they have done to build up the Church of Jesus Christ.  Strengthen them each, O God, for ministry today and always.  Amen. 

Some other opportunities for you:
Dee Cooper invites all ministers to join together with her for a new series of gatherings, held on the third Wednesday of each month, 12 – 1:30 p.m. at the Presbytery Center.  These gatherings have been extraordinary gifts from Dee and times for us all.  Please bring your lunch. The next time of gathering is October 19th and the theme is “Emotions:  Friend or Foe.”

Mental Health First Aid on November 17th at the Presbytery Center
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a groundbreaking, internationally recognized evidence-based training program committed to empowering individuals to identify, understand and respond to those in mental health and substance abuse crises.  MHFA encompasses a core program tailored for adults called Adult Mental Health First Aid. This is an interactive 8-hour course to strengthen your ministry and the ministry of congregations. You can register on-line at click here.

Advent Luncheon, December 8th and noon at the Presbytery Center 
You will not want to miss this time together during the Season of Advent.  It will be a great time to be together and to enjoy a spectacular meal of barbecue from a renowned restaurant. Woven through our luncheon and time together will be the unforgettable words from Adrian Miller about the history and meaning of barbecue in our country.  Adrian, executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches, is a recognized expert on barbecue and an award winning author.  All ministers, certified Christian educators, candidates,  inquirers and their guests are invited. Plan now to attend this not-to-be-missed occasion.