Mid Councils Newsletter, January 12, 2015
Happy New Year! I hope you had time to let your body and your spirit catch up with each other over the holidays. The germ factory that is in most public gatherings around this time of year sometimes has a way to force that on us by causing us to take to our beds or couches for one reason or another. So far, I have escaped the “cough that sounds like a barking seal” that has gone through my Peoria grandchildren and my husband. ...
In the midst of all of the Christmas Eve services and travel (and illness), my husband and I did manage to go to two ballroom dances over the holidays. We have been ballroom dancing for about twelve years. For most people who participate in ballroom dancing, it involves not only the dancing, but the lessons that get you to the place where you are comfortable getting out on the floor. As with any hobby, we discovered that there is a whole underground web of people who enjoy ballroom dancing. I get an email every week now of all of the places for dancing in the Peoria area.
There is also a vocabulary that goes with this sport. Latin vs. Smooth dancing; “frame”; “line of dance”; etc. If you do not know what those things mean, you might not be ready to jump onto the floor. There are some customs as well. For instance, the gentleman often holds the hand of his partner when they step onto the floor. You have to wait for an opening in the line of dance (the counterclockwise, circular movement of couples around the outside of the dance area) in order to begin dancing. If you are going to dance in a way that would impede the line of dance, you move into the center of the floor. For instance, some 4/4 tempos could be either Foxtrot or Swing. If you are going to Foxtrot, you stay in the line of dance. If you are going to Swing dance, you move to the center. Every sport has this kind of customary behavior. When you bowl, for instance, you learn early on that it is considered to be impolite to approach the line while a person in the lane on either side of you is already in mid-stride. You let them finish their turn before you take yours.
All of this dancing made me think a little about mid council ministry in 2015. We have talked in various places about how leadership in mid councils is changing. Fewer presbyteries have installed executive leadership—they have chosen to have no one in that position or they have a person with a temporary contract. The idea that there is a “professional class” of executive leadership for presbyteries who could serve wherever they might be called seems to be fading.
When I started in executive leadership in a presbytery, there were many people in that work who had done it for some time. It was hard to figure out how to jump onto the “dance floor.” But, there were definite expectations about what executives did and there was a definite way that we interacted with one another. As the leadership of presbyteries changes—new people employed, no one employed but the same work being done by volunteers, completely new work at the forefront of what presbyteries are doing—it raises questions for how we interact.
Do the new people know the spoken and unspoken rules of the “dance floor” of mid council ministry? Do those spoken and unspoken rules still apply? And, perhaps the biggest question, is there still a dance floor at all? Is there one way (with many variations) of doing presbytery ministry or will we end up with 171 different ways of doing it? And, if that is the case, where will the intersections of our work be found? How will we support one another, rely on one another, and cooperate with one another as we help to nurture what God is calling our congregations and their leaders to be and do?
I wish you well as you negotiate the ever-changing dance floor of the work to which God has called you and as you help to bring hope into the lives that you touch.
Please find attached a flier about the Presbytery Leaders' Learning Community. I commend it to you.
A new resource page centered on the General Assembly’s actions regarding peace discernment is available here.
Click here for the job posting for the transitional shepherd of the Presbytery of Sierra Blanca. You may download and share the PDF.
Click here to read the job posting for the PHS executive director. You may download and share the PDF.
Big Tent 2015
University of Tennessee Conference Center
July 30–August 1, 2015
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