Mid Councils Newsletter | June 13, 2016
Are you packing your bags? (Or maybe you will be reading this when you are already in Portland!) It is time again for our biennial family reunion. I am from a very small family—my dad was an only child and he had only two first cousins. My mom was born when her siblings were 15- and 16-years-old (a little surprise for my grandparents who had already bought white couches and carpeting for their living room☺), so she was not particularly close to them. All of this is to say that I have never been to a family reunion. Even when my own children were growing up, our holiday gatherings were not very big. My husband is an only child and my brother has no children, so there were never any cousins for my two to play with at Christmas dinner or the Fourth of July.
Even though I have never been to an actual family reunion, I understand that some of the dynamics of our General Assembly (GA) are like actual family reunions. There are those meetings with people whom you have not seen in a long time, some of which turn into hours’ long conversations and some of which are very awkward after current biographical information is shared. There are the discussions that lead to fights over who really has the power here or who we need to keep happy or from whom we should keep certain things. (As in, “Do not tell your grandmother that Daddy is taking lessons to learn how to fly a plane.) Then there are the times when it feels more like a fight than a discussion, when there are winners and losers, when the outcome leads some people to feel unwelcome or to absent themselves from the reunion for a year or a decade or forever.
As we head to the GA, I thought I would remind you again about the rapid turnover in leadership in presbyteries. Those of us who have been to GA a few times might be able to make GA a little easier for those who are there as presbytery leaders for the first time. Since the last GA, fifty-seven presbyteries have a new stated clerk; forty-eight presbyteries have new leaders in office once called executive presbyter. That means we might have around 100 colleagues sitting in the presbytery seating area who are either brand new to the work or new to the work where they are currently employed. Be sure you look for new people; welcome them; find out a little about them; include them when you head off the floor to find someplace to eat; ask them for their impressions of what is happening and how it will affect the people back home.
Another dynamic, of course, is that more and more presbyteries are being served by leaders who are paid for part-time work or who have decided not to have someone in the “executive” role. Because of those dynamics or for economic reasons, there may be more presbyteries this year without a clerk or other leader at the GA. You might want to think about the presbyteries that fit that description in your synod. If you discover a presbytery with no one sitting in the back, you might want to check in with their commissioners. See if they have questions with which you can help. Ask if they need any kind of support that you might be able to give.
Then, if you will be at the Association of Stated Clerks(ASC) or Association of Mid Council Leaders (AMCL) events, be sure to welcome newcomers warmly. I still remember when I was at one of the first AEPS (what is now known as AMCL) events, nominations were made for new officers. Every nomination was made by first name alone. I had no idea who was being nominated. Don’t make newcomers feel left out. Remember what it was like to be new in this work and reach out. And, if you are attending one of these events for the first time, be sure to share your perspective and find ways to become involved. If you have not already discovered this, you will soon discover that it is great to know whom to call when you run into something that you never expected to have to address.
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Transition. Is your presbytery talking about change—change of mission emphasis, change of personnel, change of staffing pattern, change of budget, change of size, change, change, change! Every presbytery is having these discussions in one form or another.
In order to provide a place for the leaders in your presbytery to have a conversation with those in other presbyteries asking the same kinds of questions, The Office of the General Assembly is sponsoring a Practical Presbytery Leadership Training event. The details are below. This event is designed for a group of people from a presbytery, not just one or two. Plan to have your employed program staff there along with your other leaders—council moderator, presbytery moderator, COM moderator, moderator of the transition/visioning team—whomever you think could benefit from this time together. The topics will include the role of the presbytery; Presbyterian polity and the theology behind it; change; the transitional model for congregations as it relates to presbyteries; conflict; how to find diverse leadership for presbyteries; how to access national resources.
Get this event on the calendar for your leaders. Registration materials will be available in early June.
What: Practical Presbytery Leadership Training: Teamwork for Changing Times
When: Friday, August 26, and Saturday, August 27, 1 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Central Presbyterian Church, Des Moines, Iowa
Cost: No cost for the program or meals; travel and lodging paid by the participants
Questions: Contact Sue Krummel at email@example.com.
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.
New Stated Clerk Orientation: October 26-28. For more information or to register, please contact Diane Minter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dear Mid-council leaders,
At the end of June, individual Presbyterians from all over the country will receive a letter in the mail offering a first opportunity to support our 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement. We have high hopes that this solicitation will raise awareness about this churchwide effort, as well as raise funds to support the five leader development resources offered through 1001—assessments, apprenticeships, coaching, training and grants. The response will provide an indication of how wide and deep the hopeful message of 1001 has penetrated our denomination. A copy of the letter is attached.
As crucial partners in the work of 1001, we wanted to reach out to mid council leaders to invite prayerful support of this ministry. This effort may elicit questions from pastors and elders in your area. If your presbytery is home to a 1001 New Worshiping Community, please feel free to share how this movement has impacted your mid council, and please let us know if we can answer questions you receive. We also invite you to use the awareness built by the effort to encourage people to explore, participate and support 1001 and the emergence of new worshiping communities. Please feel free to forward the attachment to anyone you believe has a heart for church planting but may not be on our list.
You can learn more about 1001 by visiting www.onethousandone.org. Once there, if you or anyone you know would like to join the movement, you can click the Give a Gift button and go right to the giving portal.
Thanks for your support and partnership.
Dr. Charles B. Hardwick
Director, Theology, Formation and Evangelism
Presbyterian Mission Agency
As many presbyteries find their energies and time being spent over contentious matters that often result in a stand “for” or “against,” NEXT Church would like to provide a resource that could be used to explore some of the deeper issues – the roots of faith, such as biblical interpretation, the authority of Scripture, the church as a called community with a calling - that equip us to approach immediate issues faithfully.
In addition, we envision providing a similar syllabus for Sessions, which a presbytery could offer as resource. Since most presbytery meetings are quarterly and several hours long, and most session meetings are monthly and two hours or less, the syllabus for each would try to attain the same kind of conversation but with different approaches.
However, before we go too far with developing this idea, we would like to invite presbytery and mid-council leaders to over input into the way that we frame and shape the curriculum.
NEXT Church would like to host a conversation with presbytery and mid-council leaders during GA to invite their response to the project and their suggestions for how to make it as valuable as possible. Therefore, we invite presbytery and mid-council leaders and anyone they feel should be part of the conversation to the Mid Council Lounge, VIP Suite B, on Monday, June 20, at 3:00pm.
The conversation will be hosted by NEXT Church representatives, including Jessica Tate, Executive Director, and Mark Davis, pastor of St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach.