Mid Councils Newsletter | April 4, 2016
Magic. Sometimes that it is how it seems that this newsletter appears in your inbox. I am occasionally sitting in a meeting with people on Monday mornings and they will receive this newsletter. One or two will look over at me to see if I have been furiously typing just before it went or if I have had to hit the button to send it out. I remind them that, of course, I am not the one who actually causes the newsletter to go to so many people all at the same time. There is a process. For instance, I am writing this note on Easter Monday. You will receive it on April 4 and may or may not open it on that day (or at all ☺). Between the time I write this and you get it, here is what happens. First of all, when I began this job, Jake Souder, who works in the Office of the General Assembly, and I talked about how best to get it to people. He suggested the service we use and is the one who actually formats the newsletter and has set up the schedule for distribution. I send things like this column and other information to Jake as I get it. We have a deadline of the Wednesday before the newsletter goes out so that Jake has time to tidy it up. The whole thing then goes to an editor to correct grammatical and spelling mistakes. (Hopefully this is never a big job for her since I was my school’s spelling champ in eighth grade—I believe the word was “wrought”—and my mom taught Language Arts for a long time and insisted on good grammar.) Once it is copyedited by Terri Stephenson, I see it one more time, Jake adds a picture or two, and it sits in a line with the service and then goes on Monday mornings every other week.
Undoubtedly in your work, there is also magic, the kind of “pay no attention to the man (or woman) behind the screen” kind of thing that made the Wizard of Oz work. You may be the person who is out in front at a presbytery meeting or synod meeting, at a COM meeting or at a session meeting when things are going quite badly and people are expecting you to be able to pull the frying pan away from the flames and cool the situation off a bit. But you are never there all by yourself. Even if there is no paid staff in your office, there are people who have helped you prepare for the occasion. There are members of the committees and commissions of your mid council who want you to represent them well and who give you the information you need to do so. There are the people who have served in your position before you who created an atmosphere in which people expect the mid council to be their friend and to be helpful. There are people praying for your ministry, some of whom you have never met.
How do you thank the people who make your ministry better and who serve, sometimes with no public recognition of their efforts? What will you do for your paid support staff (if you have any) during this month when administrative professionals in offices have often been celebrated? How might you expand that beyond your paid staff to others who serve?
A little idea. The women I worked with in the office of the presbytery I served were hard-working and also thought about their colleagues in the congregations in our presbytery. So, the third week of April each year we would invite the administrative professionals in the offices of our congregations to come to a very nice luncheon in the city where the presbytery office is. It was a gift to them and was what the people I worked with wanted to do. There would be a little information about something that would enhance the work in a church office, but mostly the day was spent making connections and answering questions and saying “thank you.”
None of us does this work alone no matter how lonely it often feels. Take a moment to thank God and to thank the people who make your work easier, more enjoyable, or, at least, tolerable! After all, they are called to this work as well, using their gifts to give glory to God.
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.
Last year, Paula Zavitz completed a goal that she had been working toward for nearly a decade: becoming a certified Christian educator in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Zavitz, who works as director of children’s ministries at First Presbyterian Church in Rapid City, South Dakota, is the only certified Christian educator in her presbytery and state. (more)