Mid Councils Newsletter, April 20, 2015
musings from the road
The church my husband serves (First Federated Church in Peoria) has what is known as a garth. I know, the name of the church sounds like a bank. (It is a federation of a UCC church and a Presbyterian church.) They use words for parts of their property that people have never heard before. In case you are unfamiliar, a garth is an enclosed garden. So, from east to west on their original property, there is the sanctuary building, then the building that contains the offices, the Sunday school and preschool rooms, the fellowship hall, the Commons, etc., etc. Connecting the two buildings are two hallways. One of them is not very wide and has stained glass windows on each side. The other is much wider and includes the chapel, access to the upper floors, the nursery, etc. The architecture leaves a garth in the middle of the two buildings, enclosed on the north and south by these hallways. It is a lovely space (recently completely redone because of failing drainage underneath.) The eight o’clock worship service is held there whenever weather permits. There are beautiful plantings, a stone pulpit and font, and some huge planters in the corners.
Here is an interesting thing that has happened for about the last five years in the spring. A duck has laid and tended a nest full of eggs. Remember, this is an enclosed garden. She has to fly fairly high over at least one roof to get into the garth. There is no pool or fountain there to mimic a lake. She has, in the past, laid the eggs just under the window of my husband’s office. This year, the eggs are off the ground in one of the big planters, hidden behind an evergreen. I imagine she did that this year because the ground stayed very cold for a long time this spring. Once the ducklings hatch, they will begin to wander around the garth after their mother. A few years ago, someone who knew what they were doing opened the closest doors to the outside and led the duck and her chicks out into the outside world. Then two years ago, a tragedy happened. All of the ducklings died before they were led away. My husband discovered, when he began to inquire, that his former associate pastor had fed the ducklings corn in the previous years. But, the associate had a new call and was not there to provide the corn that year and disaster ensued.
What analogies for your work are you drawing from this story? Here are two. The mother duck keeps coming back to the garth year after year for some unknown reason. The safety of the setting is surely outweighed by the difficulty getting in there and the problems of survival already in evidence. In fact, I do not really know the life span of a duck. Is this the same mother over five years or is this one of the ducklings coming back? What is your mid council doing by rote that may or may not make the most sense for its present circumstances?
Then there is the story of the tragedy of the dead ducklings. The system had changed from one year to the next. But the mother had no way of knowing that her benefactor was gone. My husband and others at the church did not even know about the work that the associate had been doing with the ducks. Where in the life of your mid council have you suddenly discovered that there was someone or something in the system that has disappeared with disastrous results?
What else have you thought about for which this story speaks to you?
The current building manager at the church lives on a farm, several miles and across a river from the church. Just as soon as the ducklings can travel he will transport the whole family there to monitor their health and safety. (After all, once the preschool students know that the ducks are in the garth, there is no way to ensure the safety of either the ducks or the children!) He did the same thing last year and many believed that the mother duck would just return to that safer, more welcoming setting to lay her eggs this year. But, no. The garth it has been for several years and the garth it shall be. Just like us. After all, how many Presbyterians does it take to change a lightbulb? Who said anything about change.
Has your presbytery dismissed any congregations in the last eighteen months? If so, two leaders in your presbytery are welcome to attend a retreat at the Mercy Center in St. Louis, on June 29–July 1. The OGA will pay room and board for two people from each of the affected presbyteries. Remember to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for further information. The deadline is fast approaching.
The Church Leadership Connection (CLC), a ministry of the Office of the General Assembly, will host two Face-to-Face events in 2015. We hope you will consider participating in the event that is most convenient for you. Each event will include call seeker’s training, networking opportunities, interviews with search committees, vocational coaching, one-on-one PIF views, and other educationalopportunities for call seeker’s and calling organizations. All call seekers (teaching elders, candidates, ruling elders, and other church professionals) may participate. Search committees for all position types (i.e. installed and temporary pastors and program staff positions) are encouraged to attend.
June 25–26, 2015, and June 29–30, 2015 (registration is now open)
The Worship and Music Conference, Montreat, North Carolina
July 9–11, 2015 (registration begins April 30th)
Face-to-Face at the Renaissance Hotel, Charlotte, North Carolina
Who Should Attend?
Search committees, mid council staff, teaching elders, candidates, and other church professionals have an opportunity to move beyond the written words of Personal Information Forms (PIF) and Ministry Information Forms (MIF) to meet and talk directly with one another about the possibility of ministry together.
Why You Should Attend?
Face-to-Face is an opportunity to connect with a number of folks in one place over several days, and an opportunity to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit leading you to places and people you may have never imagined.
How to Register
Register at https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/clc/.
There is no cost to participate in Face-to-Face.
For more information contact: SanDawna Gaulman Ashley at email@example.com.
A workshop addressing pastoral responses to trauma and violence will be held at Big Tent.
Experience that deep sense of community one would expect at a national gathering of Presbyterians—a great big family reunion! Join us for a wide variety of workshops, all under one Big Tent, a conference that will inspire and equip Presbyterians to live missionally. Click here for more information.
Preachers for Worship Services Include:
Laurene Chan, Director of Youth Ministries, Cameron House
San Francisco Theological Seminary
Paul Roberts, President
Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary
Jana Childers, Professor of homiletics and Speech Communication
San Francisco Theological Seminary