Mid Councils Newsletter | May 2, 2016
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 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.
I realize I have been in airports too much when I start to have fantasies of what I will say when I start screaming at the people there who are driving me crazy. 😃 I think the top of my pet peeve chart would be the people who do not walk in a straight line while they are walking in the area where the gates are located. If you have ever been in a busy airport, you have been behind these people. You are either rushing to your next flight, or at least trying to make an orderly move toward your gate. A person who is along your way is wandering kind of aimlessly, snaking their way along at a snail’s pace. (How is that for a mixed metaphor?) They are oblivious to the fact that whatever they are dragging behind them creates a tripping hazard for everyone else in the airport. They are also oblivious to the people who are trying to predict which way they will next meander so that they can pass them. If I am ever arrested in an airport, it may be because I have lost my mind and started screaming, “Walk in a straight line!”
Of course, there are other things I would like to point out to people as well. Like, do not bring really fragrant food onto a flight and then proceed to eat it very slowly so that the whole area fills up with the scent. Or, when the flight attendant steps out of the way so that people can begin to get off the plane, GET OFF! Or, if you have to wait for gate-checked luggage in the jet way, STEP TO THE SIDE LIKE THEY TOLD YOU TO DO! (I am always on a small regional jet on the first leg of a journey from the Peoria airport.)
Wow, I feel so much better already just having written all of that. Maybe it will buy me a few more trips through the airport without finally shouting what has, so far, only been a little dialogue in my head.
As I think about all of this—and realize I probably do things in airports that also irritate those around me—I think that what we all lack at times is situational awareness. The wanderers with the tripping magnets being pulled along behind them are thinking about something else, not what is going on around them. The person who brings a hot meal full of garlic and onions onto a plane has found something that satisfies them but they have not thought about how it might impact others.
We are guilty of this as mid councils and others in leadership in the church. We wander along, dragging things like tradition and privilege and being stuck in a rut behind us, not realizing how it impacts those whom we should be serving. We do things that satisfy us—like meeting on Tuesdays and having a heavy meal during a meeting and expecting that everyone will know how they are to behave during a presbytery or synod meeting—without thinking about whether or not that is a good decision that reaches the people whom we say we want to reach. How is your mid council situationally aware? How does it collect information about the place in which God has called you to serve? How do you take stock of the ways you act in relationship to that situation?
As you know, it is now a part of our Constitution that every council shall have a child protection policy. That means every synod, every presbytery, and every congregation must have one. When the Stated Clerk met with the synod executives recently, he urged them to add to the checklist for presbytery minutes the requirement for a child protection policy. Presbytery minutes should reflect their child protection policy and should reflect that when they have checked session minutes, they have certified that the session has adopted a child protection policy.
There is help available for your congregations. The Insurance Board has resources on their website that include examples of such policies and it has the specific requirements for states. Encourage your congregations to adopt a policy as soon as possible. Since our Constitution requires this, if there ever were an incident in a church, a lawyer will first ask to see this policy. Many insurance carriers are also requiring such policies in order to continue coverage.
The Transitional Ministry Education Consortium (TMEC) has published a schedule of classes (PDF).
Here is a very short video to help you get the word out about a PC(USA) curriculum. Maybe you could include it in your newsletter or put it on your website.
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.