Mid Councils Newsletter | December 14, 2015
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 27:13–14)
What are your favorite parts of this season of waiting? Do you have some way to mark the passage of the days of Advent in your home? Do you light a candle each Sunday? Do you open a little door on a calendar to reveal a piece of chocolate or a little gift? Last year I made six Advent “ribbons” (since I have six grandchildren). I took a big piece of wide Christmas ribbon, attached a curtain ring at the top and bottom, and then had the adventure of looking for twenty-five little items to pin to each ribbon, one for each day of December. Tiny toys, little Christmas ornaments, and pieces of candy were each attached to a little safety pin. It was fun for me to do; I just hope their parents have found those ribbons for this year since I only replaced a few items for each one, hoping that they know where they stored these away. In my house we have a felt advent wreath with twenty-five small felt characters that my mom and I made together many years ago. They each have embroidered details and remind me of the time my mom and I spent together making them.
Maybe your favorite part of the waiting is a traditional event at your church. Do you have a cookie exchange? Is there a Hanging of the Greens service? The church my husband serves now has a Gingerbread House party that attracts more than 200 people. I have come to enjoy that event. But my best memories of this season at church come from my years as a pastor since in all of those years I was involved in ministry with children and youth in one way or another. There was the year in Champaign, Illinois, before we used cordless microphones, when the mike cord got so completely twisted around multiple children that I had to step in and help unwind the mess. Or another year where we had approximately 100 kids, from third grade through high school, up in front when one of the little ones had apparently had an overabundance of beans for dinner (if you know what I mean). The audience could not hear anything; we just saw the reaction to the natural event spread across all 100 kids. Kind of hard to get them back to business after that. But my current favorite Christmas pageant event happened last year. Some of my grandchildren attend the church that my husband serves. Last year my grandson and several other first- and second-grade boys were shepherds. While they were supposed to be posing for part of the narration, they discovered that shepherd’s staffs make great swords. As they became more and more involved in their sword play, we could all hear the eighth-grade girl who was Mary saying in a whisper that got louder and louder, “Shepherds, stop that! Shepherds, stop doing that!” I think the first Mary might have had to discipline the unruly shepherds who showed up unannounced in her birthing room as well.
As we have these memorable experiences in this Advent it is against a backdrop of uncertainty and even fear. The world seems like a more dangerous place than it did to some of us a few weeks ago. The world continues to be a dangerous place for others of us who are not at all surprised by tragedy since it has been a part of our daily lives. The church we love is in a time of transition, moving toward a future that none of us can see clearly. But as we continue our joyous journey toward Christmas and the New Year, let us remember the words of the Psalmist quoted above. Perhaps a way to summarize those words would be this: We do not know what the future holds, but we do know the One who holds the future.
In response to the changing staffing climate in presbytery offices, and as a follow up to a commissioners’ resolution at the last General Assembly, the Office of the General Assembly has added to the Church Leadership Connection. On the page where the information for a presbytery is listed, there is a new field where the presbytery can add the name and contact information for the person who conducts reference checks as pastors are moving between presbyteries. We hope this will help in identifying who it is who should be called or who might be calling you. You will have received an email about how to add this information. If you have questions, you can contact SanDawna Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 728-7228, ext. 5730.
Has a commissioner elected by your presbytery to serve at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) discerned a call to stand for Moderator of the General Assembly?
Once your presbytery has voted to endorse the Moderatorial candidate(s), the next step for the presbytery’s stated clerk is to notify the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly by letter. Provide the candidate’s name and contact information. It also is recommended that a copy of the letter be sent via email to Office of the General Assembly (OGA) Program Assistant Angie Stevens (email@example.com) so OGA can announce the candidacy and provide candidates with materials and resources. For questions, contact Angie Stevens at (888) 728-7228, ext. 5424, or via email.
After the Moderator’s conference this year, a request was made that the Office of the General Assembly host a Google Group for moderators of mid councils. It will be designed as a place for moderators to talk about issues they are facing in their moderatorial year or good ideas they have discovered in the conduct of their office. If you are a stated clerk, you know that you can (and should J) enter the name of your moderator online. (Kris Valerius, firstname.lastname@example.org, can help you with this if you are not sure how to do it.) Those whose names are listed in that database will be contacted to see if they would like to become a part of the group. If you think your moderator would benefit from being a part of this group, be sure to encourage them to say “yes” when asked.
Presbytery stated clerks have recently received an email from a member of the PC(USA) Educator Certification Committee with a list of certified educators who may be living within the bounds of the presbytery. This information comes based on requests from several presbyteries that were anxious to be faithful to maintaining the registers of certified educators as described in the Book of Order, G-3.0305. Since many are not particularly versed in the process of educator certification, this is a perfect opportunity to clarify a few unique aspects of the process.
Educator Certification is a denominational certification. While presbyteries are notified of educators in the process and have a liaison in the Educator Certification Advisor they appoint, the PC(USA) Educator Certification Committee (ECC) acts as the certifying body. The ECC welcomes connections with mid councils in the process and is seeking ways to make these connections stronger.
Once an educator is certified, they are added to the educator certification database. While there are requirements for connections to a PC(USA) congregation/agency/organization at the time of certification, remaining on the list of certified educators is not based on being active in ministry. In fact, there is not a formal method of receiving changes in employment or membership status for certified educators. As a result, changes in contact information are primarily received from the educators themselves. This has created a database that is very reliable as a listing of certified educators but not as reliable for tracking contact information. While this system is currently being refined, the ECC appreciates any updates that you supply.
The ECC hopes that the list of certified educators you recently received is helpful as your presbytery updates the register while using G-2.1103b to determine which of these educators may be granted voice and/or vote within the presbytery.
If you have questions or need clarifications, please contact Martha Miller, manager for ruling elder resources and educator certification within OGA, at email@example.com. Thank you for your support of educational ministry and educators throughout the PC(USA)!