Mid Councils Newsletter | January 11, 2016
My husband and I went to a ballroom dance on New Year’s Eve. Now, before you imagine a glamorous setting in some big city hotel, let me tell you where we went. It was the Moose Hall in a small town near where we live. The dance was organized by some of the people in the ballroom dance community around here. My husband I—no spring chickens—were among the younger people there. It was a very fun time since we were with lots of friends. There were noisemakers at midnight, funny hats (no pictures please as President Calvin Coolidge and other politicians have learned!), and lots of dancing.
We live in our hometown, having returned here ten years ago after being away for thirty years. So, even when we are going a little ways out of town, I have a map in my head about how we are going to get there. But we have been using a crowd-sourced application for directions for a couple of years and we decided we would let the “lady in the phone” give us directions on New Year’s Eve. As we were following the directions, I said to my husband, “Are you sure you put the right location in? This makes no sense to me at all.” But, we got to our location, avoiding traffic, travelling a road I had never been on before.
The application we use is called Waze. It is crowd-sourced. So, you become part of the Waze community when you are on it. The passenger can enter information about hazards, traffic, weather—anything that might recommend a different route to take. (Note that I said “the passenger.” You are not supposed to be fiddling with your phone while you are driving, but, obviously, a lot of people do that!) The directions you get are based on the map that anyone could see of where the roads go, etc., with added real-time information that might lead you to decide to go in a different direction.
It made me think a little about where we are as a denomination. We all have that map in our heads about where we should be going, what will be the best way to get there, and about how long it will take. Those maps are based on our experience, the roads with which we are familiar, and the way we have always done things. But perhaps it is time for us to listen to others who might have some good ideas about other ways to go, other routes to take, other means to the end. The existing ways of doing things are our tradition and often provide exactly the route we need. But the information we can gain from ourselves and others about the real-time conditions can help us make better decisions.
In your mid council, with whom do you consult about the direction you should be taking? With whom do your congregations interact when they are making decisions about their futures? Is it only an echo chamber of listening to the same people to whom you have always listened? Or are you seeking new ideas, new approaches, new information about what is really happening in the lives of the people with whom you hope to reach? What creative ways can you find to do that?
A few years ago, the leadership team in the presbytery I served hosted the choir from a Presbyterian college as a part of the worship service at a presbytery meeting. We asked the choir to stay after worship and join us at tables for a discussion about what it is like in their lives and ours as we find a place to discover who we are as children of God. The students were hesitant at first, but most joined in a lively discussion with the elders and pastors around the tables.
How will you “crowd-source” the life of your mid council this year? How will you encourage your congregations to do the same? How will we continue to find new ways to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ every hour of every day?
The next new Presbytery Stated Clerk Orientation will be March 7–9, 2016, in Louisville. We will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning and end at noon on Wednesday. New stated clerks can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Moderators who are currently serving or have recently served in this leadership role of your presbytery or synod are invited to join a newly formed google group. The conversation will be generated by moderators around the country. We contacted the persons listed in the presbytery stated clerk online database and invited them to join. I also invite you to forward this information to your moderators, in the event we missed anyone. Moderators should send an email expressing interest in joining the group to email@example.com.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Communications office is offering workshops for mid councils.
The Presbytery of Great Rivers (GRP) is seeking a general presbyter. They welcome you to forward this information to anyone you might feel would be a good fit for GRP.
Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Northern Illinois is looking for a director. Here is a link for more information.