Mid Councils Newsletter, June 1, 2015
Musings from the Road
Passing of Margy Wentz
Pre-Big Tent Conversation
New GA Dependent Care Policy
Presbytery Leaders' Learning Community
Comings and Goings
Join us for Big Tent 2015
musings from the road
I have Creeping Charlie. Now, before you go to the Mayo Clinic website or inquire about my health and whether penicillin is needed, let me say a little more. Creeping Charlie is the colloquial name for Glechoma hederacea. It is a member of the mint family and is a very invasive weed where I live. It is in our back lawn; it is in my herb garden; it hides under the big leaves of some of my hostas; it crawls up the stems of my iris. If I am away for too long, it could turn into the kudzu of my backyard.
I imagine there are some places in the world where Creeping Charlie is not considered a weed. Decades ago when my oldest daughter was a toddler, we were with another young clergy couple and their toddler at the botanical garden in St. Louis. There was a young couple with a toddler beside us who were speaking German. They were pointing to a plant that had been cultivated in a flower garden and was marked with a little metal marker with its name. They were laughing. We looked at them and, their English being much better than our German, they were able to explain to us that in their country this plant was considered a weed. Just so, this thing that I fight all summer long is probably cultivated somewhere. After all, it has a very pleasant smell when it is cut or pulled. It is a smell that I still identify with my childhood. Until my thirties our family still owned the farm on which my grandmother was born. No one in my family farmed, but we had a big garden there and my grandma would take me into the barn of her childhood to find kitties that had been born in the spring and we would pump delicious, chillingly cold water from the same pump she had used as a girl. We also mowed the barnyard and I now know that pleasant aroma that I smelled as I rode the riding mower was Creeping Charlie. It also has a pretty, though very small, purple/blue flower. And, as already mentioned, it spreads like any other member of the mint family. You could easily use it as groundcover and fill up a space very quickly.
The reason I bring this up is the difficulty we sometimes have distinguishing the weeds from the flowers, the helpful groundcover from the irritating weed, the pretty little flower from the flowers that we choose to have in our gardens. After all, it is all just our definition of what is good and bad. Gardeners in an area might agree on those things and share tips for killing what they deem to be “bad,” but gardeners in another place might be horrified that someone would kill their favorite plant.
As I have been with people from about a fourth of our presbyteries in the last few weeks in various settings, it seems to me that we are at a time in the life of the church when we are not in consensus about the weeds and the flowers, the wheat and the tares. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that some presbyteries are choosing for one reason or another to have volunteers do most of the work that an executive once did? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that congregations are choosing to align themselves with other denominations in order to carry on their work with like-minded people in such a way that the character of our presbyteries is changing? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that congregations that once served their communities well find themselves no longer able to do so because their community has changed so much or has almost disappeared and we end up helping these congregations to close in a way that honors their ministry? We are not in agreement about the answers to these questions.
So, I will continue to pull out the Creeping Charlie (luckily it is not hard to pull since it has very shallow roots) and a gardener in another place might continue to nurture it. That is how I was taught to garden in this place and that is also the way I choose to maximize the potential of the plants in my garden. Just so, as we work together to discover the new thing to which God is leading the PC(USA), we will use the skills we have been taught and our collective wisdom and our own insight to do the best we can to maximize the ministry with which we have been blessed and to which we have been called.
Margy Wentz, the long-time stated clerk for the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii completed this part of life in mid-May. For many years she served the church in various other ways beyond her service to the Synod. Her witness to the resurrection has already been celebrated. You may send notes of condolence to her husband, the Reverend Tom Wentz, at 2889 San Pasqual St. Unit D93 Pasadena, CA 91107.
Mid council leaders, don’t forget to register for the Pre-Big Tent Conversation between yourselves and Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) leaders and board members, and Office of the General Assembly (OGA) leaders. We will begin on Wednesday afternoon, July 29, with an open forum/panel discussion of how the last year has gone in our life together. This will be a place to bring your concerns and your support for those working for the whole church at the national level. After dinner we will have time together to focus on the arts and music of East Tennessee. Thursday morning, we will have two rounds of discussions on topics of interest (World Mission funding; communications in times of high stress; the future look of presbytery leadership, etc.; continuing to work with churches discerning their denominational status, etc.) We will end the morning with worship and lunch.
OGA and PMA will pay room and board (one night, in the dorm, and dinner, breakfast, and lunch) for up to two people from each presbytery so that you can attend this event.
The Synod of Lakes and Prairies is seeking applications for three positions.
Seven Oaks Presbyterian Church is seeking an interim pastor.
In the last newsletter we referenced a program in Glacier Presbytery that connects retired pastors with small churches. Click here to see Glacier’s flyer about this program.
Read the announcement about the new General Assembly dependent care policy.
Click here for an announcement about the 2015 Learning Community.
Below is a list of many of the changes in staffing that have happened in mid councils since last September. It is a little hard to keep up with this, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes that I have made. We welcome our new colleagues and bid a fond farewell and God’s speed to those who have moved to new calls or to that newest of all calls, retirement. These are listed alphabetically by presbyteries, then synods. I am also going to list the person whom we list as “executive” as that unless I know their exact title. You will see that there is a lot of creativity in our presbyteries about titles and expectations right now. —Sue
- Abingdon: David Kester is now the clerk and Randy Webb is the executive.
- Arkansas: David Dyer is the acting clerk.
- Baltimore: Craig Palmer has competed his time as interim executive.
- Boise: Edward Dunn has completed his call as executive.
- Boston: Cindy Kohlmann is the resource presbyter.
- Central Nebraska: Ray Meester is the temporary clerk.
- Cimarron: B Gordon Edwards is the executive.
- Denver: Cathy Ulrich is the interim clerk.
- Donegal: Erin Cox-Holmes is the transitional clerk. (She continues as executive.)
- Eastern Korean: Moongil Cho is the clerk. (He continues as executive.)
- Eastern Virginia: John Tamm is the clerk.
- Flint River: Deb Bibler is the executive.
- Florida: Ted Land has completed his call there as coordinating presbyter.
- Great Rivers: Felipe Martinez is transitional clerk and general presbyter.
- Hudson River: Susan Andrews has completed her call as executive.
- The John Knox: Chaz Ruark is the executive.
- Lackawanna: Barbara Smith has completed her call as executive.
- Lake Erie: Greg Gillispie is the clerk.
- Lehigh: Marsha Heimann is the clerk. Steve Shussett has completed his call as clerk and executive.
- Milwaukee: Christian Boyd is the clerk.
- Mission: William Poe is the clerk.
- Missouri River Valley: Mary Newbern-Williams is the executive.
- Missouri Union: Joan Erickson has completed her call as executive.
- New Brunswick: Wendy Bailey has completed her call as executive.
- New Castle: Robert Schminkey is the clerk.
- Northern New England: T. J. Demarco is the clerk. Cindy Kohlmann is the resource presbyter.
- Northern Waters: Brad Carloss is the clerk.
- Peace River: Randy Moody is the clerk.
- Pittsburgh: Carla Campbell is the clerk.
- Riverside: Marilyn Gamm is the transitional clerk.
- Sacramento: Jay Wilkins has completed his call as executive.
- San Gabriel: Diane Frasher is the clerk.
- Seattle: Karen Breckenridge is the clerk.
- Shenandoah: M Kerry Foster is the clerk
- Sheppards and Lapsley: Tom Winter is the temporary clerk; Jay Wilkins is the executive.
- Sierra Blanca: Ted Land is the executive.
- Southeastern Illinois: Bill McLean has been called to be the executive.
- Southern New England: Bea Hoover Mulvaney and John Webster as interim leaders.
- Tampa Bay: Laurie Palmer is the clerk; Patrice Hatley is the coach and coordinator.
- Transylvania: Bryce Mc Gowan is the interim executive.
- Twin Cities Area: Jeff Japinga has been called to be the executive.
- Wabash Valley: Frank Vardeman has completed his call as executive.
- Synod of Lakes and Prairies: Elona Street-Stewart is the executive.
- Synod of Lincoln Trails: Blake Wood is the clerk; Sara Dingman is the interim executive.
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