Last Issue of Mid Councils Newsletter | November 21, 2016
Well, as most of you have heard, my tenure as the director of mid council relations is coming to an end. As in any transition of leadership in any organization, the transition in leadership of the Office of the General Assembly through the election of a new Stated Clerk has led to a decision to go in a new direction. Part of that new direction means that I have been told that I will be moving on. This will be my last newsletter note to you as I will be starting as the interim pastor of a small church on January 1. Time to put into practice all of this theory that I have learned in the thirteen years since the last time I was a pastor.
When I preached at the church a couple of weeks ago, there were thirty-five people there and they told me that was a big crowd. I told them that they are a picture of what Presbyterian congregations are like now—there was one child for the children’s message, a few people my age or a little younger, and the rest were my seniors. They have money; they have a heart for mission; and they want to go down swinging if they have to go down. They asked me what I expected from them. I told them I expected them to pray about how God intends for them to use the resources they have since their wealth of resources means there is more to do. I also told them I expected them to be brave in trying new things, knowing that some of them will fail, and pledging not to blame anyone when failure comes but to look for the next thing to try. So I travel back to the land where jello is salad; where they will fight me when I tell them we need to clean out their dusty, outdated church library and throw away the videotapes; and where we will look for ways to reach beyond their church walls to help people see themselves as beloved children of God.
What do I wish for you? As I said at the Association of Mid Council Leaders and Association of Stated Clerks gathering in Louisville, “I wish for you to take care of one another.” The work of mid councils will not get any easier in the years ahead as more and more of our congregations become like the one to which I am going, creating more challenges for the mid councils that serve them. Pay attention to the other clerks and presbytery leaders in your synod and your neighborhood beyond your synod boundaries. Call them once in a while to see what is going on. If it works geographically, take them out to lunch to see how they are doing. Look for the ones you haven’t seen or heard from in a while. Don’t let them feel alone and isolated.
I also wish for you to find ways to help those who serve the congregations under your care to be healthy, happy, and fulfilled in their work. I know that there is an abundance of literature regarding healthy congregations. I think the key to vibrant congregations that can fulfill their call from God is a happy, healthy, fulfilled pastoral leader, no matter their title or the number of hours for which they are paid. Pastors who “phone in” their sermons, show up to session meetings unprepared or afraid, neglect pastoral care, and spend every Tuesday afternoon looking for a new call are an anchor holding many congregations back. What can you do to encourage them, to value them, and, when necessary, to give them a swift kick in the seat of the pants?
There is a song in the musical, Wicked, (which I have only seen four times☺ and whose soundtrack I have only sung to in my car hundreds of times) that happens near the end of the story. The two main characters are taking their leave of each other to go their separate ways after what has been both a friendship and a rivalry. As they sing the duet, they talk about how their lives have influenced one another. My favorite line is “you’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.” You have all taught me much in these short two-and-a-half years. As I launch out into the new life of a small church pastor (which is where I started thirty-seven years ago) and try my hand at some consulting, your handprint on my heart will always be with me.
The action required to transfer the operations of the Ghost Ranch Conference & Education Center from the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) to the National Ghost Ranch Foundation (NGRF), was approved today by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB). (more)
The Christmas Joy Offering celebrates the coming of Jesus Christ, the “wondrous gift” of God with us. When you give to the Offering, you honor the wondrous gift of Jesus by nurturing the faith we have in God and one another. (more)
Got Belhar? Share what Presbyterians in your synod or presbytery are doing to confront and live out the Belhar Confession by participating in a survey. Not sure what Belhar is? Need help getting started? Taking the survey will give you information and ideas. To begin, click here (or copy and paste the web address into your Internet browser): http://surveys.pcusa.org/s3/Implementing-Belhar
Thank you in advance for completing the survey. By doing so, you will help Presbyterians put Belhar at the center of our ministries.