‘Standing up as Christians’ – a report on a panel discussion

Image_017On Oct. 19th there was an excellent panel discussion on “Denominational Response to Israel/ Palestine Conflict” at Coral Gables United Church of Christ attended by Elder Isabelle Hill-Smith and Interim Pastor Monica Styron. Bill Plitt was one of the panelists. He’s a lay leader in the PCUSA, and was very involved in the boycott and divestment resolutions passed by General Assembly. He described the PCUSA’s history of not investing in companies that do harm. Suzanne Hoder from the United Methodist Church described their process. Their divestment resolution was narrowly defeated at the General conference last year in Tampa but the boycott resolution was passed and they are preparing to bring the divestment resolution back to the next General Conference.

Perhaps the most moving speaker was Valerie Jonas, founder of the newly formed, South Florida, Jewish Voice for Peace. She described her background and the history of the Jews. Because the Jews were oppressed for thousands of years, they have always felt it was their moral obligation to help others who are oppressed. JVP nationally has been a strong advocate for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement.

All of these speakers were inspiring and urged us to get involved in this movement for justice.

There will be opportunities in the future to hear more about this. Mark Your Calendars for Nov. 22nd at 7 PM here at RPC.

Free pancake breakfast!



Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy a free pancake breakfast!
Come to Riviera Presbyterian Church for pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice and coffee
8:30am – 10:30am Thanksgiving Day Morning
Donations of canned goods for our community food pantry are welcome!

World Food Day 2014 – Pumpkin Pot Luck Luncheon!

World Food Day 2014 Poster

World Food Day 2014 Poster

Riviera Presbyterian Church will observe World Food Day, on Sunday, November 2.

RPC will be honored to have Chuck Lyons, Farm Manager at the Verde Gardens Community Farm and Market certified organic farm, which is near the Homestead Air Reserve Base, come to speak with us and share his experiences over our monthly potluck lunch.

The Verde Farm was envisioned and created to make healthy food available to the formerly homeless families who live in the Verde Gardens Community and nearby Camillus House South and Homeless Assistance Center, as well as to provide them with employment opportunities. Chuck is originally from Wisconsin and, with his wife Sarah, has previously worked at several other organic farms, including Worden Farm near Okeechobee. Chuck and Sarah are proud new parents of very young David, so it is especially gracious of him to share his only day off with us.

For lunch that day we are challenging all of RPC’s renowned great cooks to create a yummy PUMPKIN dish, and organic cooking pumpkins from Verde Farm, in all shapes and sizes, will again be available for you to stock up on this Sunday.

If you need ideas, here are 32 recipes: http://www.epicurious.com/recipesmenus/slideshows/pumpkin-squash-52800 We will make this a contest, with winner to be determined by the applause of the audience, so show off your best and bring plenty for all to sample!!

Meet GATE Program Graduate Fabian Rodriguez

Fabian Rodriguez
GATE Program Graduation
September 4th, 2014

Good evening, my name is Fabian Rodriguez, I am 17 years old and attend McArthur South Senior high school in the 10th grade.

When I first started the GATE program I thought it was going to be a complete waste of my time. However, I was able to gain plenty of knowledge from the class on Gun Safety and Consequences taught by Mimi Sutherland. I learned how much time you can receive for being an idiot on the streets messing around with a gun. I acknowledged that I wouldn’t like to spend 10 to 20 years in prison for committing a crime when I’m able to prevent that from happening.

In addition, the Trauma class helped save people and made me realize that the world is a very dangerous place and if I was to die today I would leave a lot of loved ones devastated.

Last but not least, the class that affected me was the morgue because it made me think about my life and how I am still alive for a good reason and that reason is because of God and because I have a mother that loves me no matter what.

I don’t have a favorite instructor because I feel like every instructor in the GATE Program is great. They have respect for us, are extremely mindful, and have amazing friends that help at all times with no hesitation.

The difference between me then and now is that I didn’t really cherish my life. I was always angry and careless about life. Now I cherish my life so much due to my perspective and I give plenty of thanks to this great program. They have helped me get through tough times, they have helped me cherish my life, to be happy, and mindful not just of myself but also of my loved ones.

My future goals are to complete high school and get a contractor license to work in construction. From the bottom of my heart I would love to thank Mimi, Rene, Henry, Xavier, Leo, and Bakari for all of the help and knowledge they have provided me with to become a better person that I am today.

Editor’s Note: The GATE Program is the brainchild of Mimi Watson Sutherland, and is a mission of Riviera Presbyterian Church. For more information please visit the GATE Facebook page.

Please welcome Gerry Blount to the RPC Family.

My family moved to Miami in 1954 from north Florida. I was 11 years of age and lived my teenage years in what was considered, at the time, a very small city. It was as a youngster exploring the nooks and crannies of Miami that I knew I was destined to live a life of travel and adventure.

In 1962, I enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and when I left Miami, I never looked back.

Twenty-plus years of travel, adventure, formal education and many rewarding experiences, both professional and personal ended in 1983 at the young age of 40. I retired from the US Army Inspector’s General’s Office and prepared for my new life as a civilian. In the next 30 years, I created two retail businesses, became a million dollar Real Estate producer, an avid student in the world of finance, which I am still active and fifteen wonderful years as a fulltime RVer (Recreational Vehicle).

Three years ago I returned to Miami to supervise my sister’s healthcare. She is currently in “The Palace Assisted Care Facility” under Hospice care. This in some ways has been a blessing. It has allowed me to rekindle and nurture old and new friendships and the opportunity to discover and become a member of Riviera Presbyterian Church. My travels and adventures are not over, I have just found a new way to satisfy my wanderlust. The rest of this life is yet to be written.

October at RPC

Wednesdays noon – deadline for submission for One More Thing send to rivierachurch@bellsouth.net

  • Sundays 9:30am Theology over Morning Joe – Bible Study in the church library
  • Sundays 11:00am Worship Service
  • October 4 – 8:30am Beach Breakfast
  • October 5 – 12:15pm First Sunday Potluck Lunch – please bring a dish to share
  • October 12 – 12:15pm Christian Education Committee Meeting
  • October 16 – 7:00pm Women’s Study Group
  • October 19 – 12:15pm Mission Committee Meeting
  • October 21 – 7:00pm Session Meeting
  • October 26 – 12:15pm Deacons Meeting


Through out the month of October Riviera will be accepting donations for the Peacemaking Program of the PCUSA. 25% of all donations given by RPC members and friends will go to the GATE Program. Our goal for 2014 is $400.00

There are three ways that you can donate

Through RPC via Peacemaking Offering Envelopes

Text PEACE to 20222 to give $10

Via presbyterianmission.org/give/peacemaking-offering


Pastor Monica Styron

Interim Pastor Monica Styron

In the northern regions of our country leaves have turned to grey and they are about to pop with color over the next few weeks. Here we are still alert to what is possible for wild winds and floods. Each condition reminding us that life has several ways to express ongoing change and get our attention.

As a newcomer to Florida I must admit I’m doing a countdown on Hurricane season preparing for the possibility of one occurring in October or even November. It has caused me to think about various disasters around our world and how the church, particularly PCUSA responds locally, nationally, and internationally.

Having lived through a flood just a few years ago I remember hearing at that time my co-pastor mention a discussion he’d had with a colleague regarding- what would our world be like without faith-based communities? He said: “Many of us treat churches like fire extinguishers. We give them little thought until they are needed. But when they are needed, they are really needed! But, if you don’t maintain a fire extinguisher (or have healthy congregations) they won’t work when you need them.”

It’s a good metaphor for both physical disasters as well as spiritual and emotional ones. Today we know that many people in our society do not associate with a church or even a particular religion. Many think of themselves as “spiritual” and can affirm that there is a God, though too mysterious or aloof to define. My own father was one of them. He didn’t believe religion, especially institutional religion, was necessary and even went so far as to say it was harmful. He then cited the many wars in history that were carried out in the name of religion. Others, may simply be unimpressed as they think churches take up a lot of space, get special privileges and don’t do enough with the resources they have.

We’ve heard the expression “to err is human” so we need to lay this one at our own doorsteps. One example is the very public arguing we’ve done over who can or can’t be included in the church, which goes against Jesus’ teachings and the way he showed us how to live with one another. When we isolate ourselves and expect that people will come to us we invite criticism for not being part of the larger community, relevant, in touch with the needs around us, or caring in our actions.

Riviera has reached out on many occasions _ to be inclusive. “Walking the talk.”

It has also supported those who have developed transformational ministries within the Miami community, like GATE. The foundation is a strong one. However, being inclusive isn’t an end in itself it’s only the gathering, the beginning, as it was on Pentecost. From there the disciples went out to serve, teach and share God’s love transforming the world. That’s our call as well.

Perhaps this transition/interim has allowed each of you and as a congregation time to think about the past accomplishments and challenges of Riviera. I hope that through the many valley’s and mountaintops you’ve all gone through you have come to appreciate, as I have, the strength of your hearts centered in God’s love. It’s in that love that we can endure most anything in life with humble hearts, appreciation, and a sense of God’s presence.

This month we begin and end on the subject of food- starting with a Beach Breakfast (Oct 4), installing new Elders and Deacons (Oct 12), and celebrating World Food Day (Oct 26). The community in which we live is hungry to know God’s love may we be guided by the spirit to fulfill our mission to reach out and “feed the hungry.”

Grace and Peace,