Mid Councils Newsletter November 3, 2014
They have torn down two more of the iconic buildings of my childhood. I went away to Louisville for nine days for the fall conferences and, when I came home, they were gone. ...
Just a reminder that I live in my hometown. I actually live about ten blocks from the house in which I grew up. My current neighborhood and its commercial businesses are the same ones that I frequented in my youth. This used to be the norm for many people, of course, that you spent your whole life within a small area. I lived away from here for about 30 years, but many of the landmarks were the same when I came back. But now two more of them are gone.
Peoria, Illinois, Thirty Years Ago
What great architectural giants have we lost? The Dairy Queen and the Dunkin Donuts. Now, let me say more. The Dairy Queen started out as a "Sandy's" restaurant in my youth. In the early 60s when my parents were going out, my mom would often take my brother and me to Sandy's to get a hamburger, fries and a chocolate shake for our treat before the babysitter came over. Those were the days when people did not eat very much. Those were also the days when this kind of fast food was in its infancy. There was no drive-through. You always got out of your car to go inside. The Sandy's chain (was it a regional Midwest chain?) was eventually bought by Hardee's. And, then, sometime in the thirty years that I was gone, this building ended up as a Dairy Queen. It has now been torn down so that they can build a modern Dairy Queen building on the same site. I think they might have torn it down because it was so dirty there was no way to get it clean any more. The ice cream from there always seemed better to me if I got it from the drive through and did not have to see the interior of the building.
Then there is the Dunkin Donuts pile of rubble. When I was a child and teenager, it was a Mister Doughnut. My family often had doughnuts as a treat on Saturday mornings for breakfast. But my fondest memories of that building include my dad. He was always an early riser as am I. When I was in high school youth group at church (a group that varied every Sunday from about 50 to about 100) we had a very busy Sunday morning schedule for that group. It started with doughnuts at 8; Sunday School at 8:30; choir practice at 9:30 (everyone was in choir) and then singing in worship at 10:30. Some of those years we sat in the front pews so that the pastor could glare at us when we giggled. Some of them we spent in the elevated choir loft behind the pulpit and I remember several Sundays when my friends and I had to duck down behind the little privacy curtain because we were giggling so much. Anyway, it was my dad and me who stopped at Mister Doughnut every Sunday and picked up the doughnut order to deliver to the youth lounge by 8 a.m. And now that doughnut shop has been torn down so that they can build a new doughnut shop on the same spot to meet modern demands like a drive-through.
You can see where this is going, I am sure. At the Polity Conference and the related conferences for the Association of Mid Council Leaders and the Association of Stated Clerks, I had several conversations with people about how congregations and mid councils are sometimes holding onto things that once made sense but need to be replaced by structures of one kind or another that meet the demands of the modern world. Some of the parameters of a for profit business are different from ours when we make those decisions. But I used to remind church members, especially of a church that I served that was landlocked and full of stairs, that the building did not drop down in one piece from heaven. Someone planned it, someone built it, and someone paid for it. In the Midwest, our ancestors of 150 or 200 years ago started from scratch when they built first the log cabin, and then the frame building, and then the red brick building in which to worship God. They would be sad, I think, to imagine that their heirs in the faith have come to a season when we cling to that building in a way that limits our ability to do ministry and mission. Just so, in mid councils, our ancestors of 40 years ago who saw themselves as innovators when they reinvented the structure of Synods and Presbyteries would be sad to see that we sometimes cling to those structures in ways that limit us. Maybe we should let two of those places that mid council leaders often find themselves as they travel from one meeting to the next—Dairy Queen and Dunkin Donuts—lead the way.
Mid council leaders wrote and published 140-character theology statements during the closing sermon of the 2014 Polity Conference, October 19-21, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Even if you are not on Twitter, you may read these wonderful sermon tweets by following the below instructions.
- Visit https://twitter.com/search-home
- Type in the hashtag #policon14 and press search
Comparison of Basic Beliefs and Viewpoints of Three Presbyterian Denominations: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PCUSA), Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), and Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Find the PDF resource here.
The Presbytery of Missouri River Valley is currently seeking applicants for the position of Presbyter for Congregational Vitality. This position includes a few of the responsibilities of an “executive presbyter” but intentionally focuses on assisting the presbytery to reimagine its organizational structures to be more decentralized while devoting primary attention to working with congregations toward a goal of greater vitality. The search committee asks your assistance in directing potential candidates to them. If you know of anyone who may be qualified for or intrigued by this position, please forward the name(s) to Mary Kes at the Synod office (email@example.com) or have them send their PIFs to the following address:
Missouri River Valley Search
c/o Synod of Lakes and Prairies
2115 Cliff Drive
Eagan, MN 55112