Mid Councils Newsletter | August 8, 2016
It is that time of year again—only true gardeners can stand to be out there pulling weeds and toughing out the heat and humidity. I have been limiting myself to an hour a day and even that is hard to do. But, some dedication to deadheading , weed pulling, and pruning this time of year makes for another two months of a pretty garden where I live.
I was thinking about the weeding while I was out there in the heat, wearing long sleeves and long pants this morning to avoid the mosquitoes, and sweltering by doing so. Some of what we call weeds are cultivated as flowers in other countries. So why weed?
I do it for two basic reasons. The first is aesthetics. My flower garden is what would be called a “country garden.” It is not a symmetrical formation of the same kinds of plants in rows or even in clumps. Instead, it is a collection that has, in this yard, taken me eleven years to create. Some of the plants came from my mother-in-law’s garden. Some came from the gardens of friends. Most are things that I have purchased. Then there are the plants that are “volunteers.” They have spread either by self-seeding or by multiplying themselves underground. I can see the pattern of what goes where; it may not be as discernible to others. But even in this kind of garden, I do not want the weeds because I do not like the way they look. So, I pull out the dandelions; I treat the violets as weeds since I do not want an entire garden of violets; I try to keep the creeping charlie at bay; the occasional thistle is gone as soon as I see it. It is a never-ending battle, but one I am willing to fight.
Because I do not want the weeds in my garden, I realized this morning (partly because of the time of year it is) that I also weed because I want to get the unwanted plants out of the garden before they go to seed. I can always tell where I have not done that because there will be a proliferation on a particular kind of weed all in one place. If I can get the weed plant out before it goes to seed, I can save myself a lot of time between now and the first frost and, especially, next spring. I will not have to end up pulling the dozens of plants that can come from one seed head.
In our work, we do a fair amount of weeding as well and probably for both of these reasons. There are certain things that may crop up in the life of your mid council that do not belong there and that need to be removed. If you can address the issue before it “goes to seed,” even better. That way it cannot have the kind of widespread deleterious effect that it might otherwise have.
What “weeds” do you need to address in your mid council before they spread, and how will you address them? Perhaps you have noticed a kind of negative attitude in a mission committee when they talk about the congregations in your presbytery that do not participate in mission giving. Is that negative attitude something you want to nurture so that it can spread, or is there some way that you want to address it? Perhaps you have noticed that some of the congregations in your presbytery seem like they have run out of gas and their leaders are beginning to act that way, too. Is there a way for you and the leadership of your presbytery to help those leaders not to “catch” the lethargy of some of the people whom they serve? Maybe you have an outbreak of small churches finding their own pastoral leaders and then asking the presbytery to find some way to qualify this person to serve as pastor of a PC(USA) congregation. How can you help these congregations to celebrate the gifts and responsibilities and background needed for such leadership and help them to find such a leader?
Weeding is not my favorite part of gardening. I have always had what a dermatologist would call “contact dermatitis”—in other words, I get little red dots all over my arms when I touch lots of different plants. I usually try to use just my gloved hands to pull out weeds and end up leaving just enough underground that I am back in the same spot in a few weeks. When I am reaching under a big hosta leaf, I sometimes get startled by one of the one billion baby bunnies in my yard. (Maybe it only seems like that many.) But, when the garden is “clean” it looks great and I have a feeling of satisfaction. That is, I have that feeling for about two days until it starts all over again!
The next Learning Community for Mid Council Leaders is August 6–10, 2017. This is a unique opportunity for learning, reflection, growth, and support.
The Presbytery of Minnesota Valleys is seeking a director of Presbytery Mission. Visit their website for more information.
Be sure to mark your calendars and share these dates with others in your mid council. All of these events will be in Louisville.
Moderators Conference: October 28–30.
Association of Mid Council Leaders (AMCL) and Association of Stated Clerks (ASC): October 28–30. (If you need more information about these organizations or would like to join, please contact Jeff Hutcheson in San Francisco about AMCL and Doska Ross in the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii about the ASC.)
Stated Clerk’s Polity Conference: October 30–31. This conference will end the evening of October 31.
Also PLEASE TAKE NOTE. If you have attended the Polity Conference before then you know that there is a price break for the first two people from a mid council who attend. In the past, this was assumed to be the stated clerk and the executive/general presbyter. With all of the changes in the way presbyteries are organized, there were some questions about this last year. This summer all mid council stated clerks will receive a request to let the Office of the General Assembly know who will be the two people designated to receive this invitation.
New Stated Clerk Orientation: October 26-28. For more information or to register, please contact Diane Minter (firstname.lastname@example.org).