Mid Councils Newsletter
This is the first newsletter from the office of the Associate for Mid Council Relations. That would be me, Sue Krummel. I started the call on June 1 and dove off the high dive into General Assembly about a week later. I was glad to renew acquaintance with many of you in Detroit and to meet some people for the first time. Maybe a little background will help you place me in the whole scheme of things. I am a native of Peoria County, Illinois, as were members of my family at least as far back as all of my great-grandparents. My bachelors degree is in Speech Communications from the University of Illinois and my MDiv is from Louisville. I was a parish pastor for 24 years in churches of all sizes and in all kinds of pastoral relationships with those churches. I served Great Rivers Presbytery (offices in Peoria) for 11 years as General Presbyter and Stated Clerk. My spouse is a pastor in Peoria. We have two daughters who are educators and six grandchildren, the oldest of which is eight. Just in case you are interested in this kind of thing, I am "Mimi" and my car is the "Mimi-mobile." I am deployed staff in my current call. That means that I am splitting my time between Louisville and Peoria. When in Louisville, I will be living on the seminary campus, where I lived from 1977-1979. Who'd a thunk?
The other thing you need to know about me is that I am a gardener. The people in Great Rivers who have read these little "pastoral notes" from me for the past 11 years would be able to tell you that. I have always thought of ministry as being analogous to gardening. If you apply yourself to gardening, then you put a lot of effort into you. You figure out which plants will grow in what kind of soil, what light conditions, what will bloom at what time of the season, what will never make it in your climate and so on and so on. Then you put all of that knowledge to work. You apply all that you know and all that you are to the endeavor. Then come the hard times. I always say that mid-July in Illinois separates the gardeners from the dabblers. When it is 95 degrees and the humidity is almost as high and the weeds are multiplying faster than anything you planted; when even if you go out at 7 in the morning to work for a couple of hours you can hardly peal your clothes off to get in the shower when you come inside; when the new things that you thought would flourish have died before your eyes. . . .That is when only the hardy gardeners stick it out. They find that when they hang in there through those tough times, they will often be rewarded when the temperatures finally start to cool and it starts to rain again; the tomato plants that you thought were on their last legs produce the best fruit of the season and the flowers that you thought were done reward you with one last burst of color. Not to mention the fact that even when the growing season ends, spring will come again when you will once again see many of your efforts come to fruition.
Isn't ministry often like that? We are called into it because someone has recognized in us the gifts that are necessary for the particular ministry to which we have been called. We work at every aspect of that ministry before us and apply ourselves as best we can. But even in the midst of our wisdom and our hard work, we sometimes see the things about which we had the most hope fade away. Or we find ourselves in the midst of circumstances that we never expected to face and are not sure that this is really what we signed up to do. What gets us through those hard times?
Well, what gets a gardener through July in Illinois? Probably a few things. Gardeners who have been at it awhile know that "this, too, shall pass" and that sticking it out through this rough patch will bring reward. For some, it is sheer stubbornness; "these weeds are not going to get the best of me." For others, it is the fact that they took on this task and they intend to finish it. But, I would say that for almost every gardener who is a person of faith, there is another reason as well. I know that I am not the only one active in this garden. I know that I do not make anything bloom or bear fruit. I do the best I can to provide the best conditions so that each of my "babies" can fulfill its mission to flower, produce fruit and, ultimately, to produce seeds. But my best efforts alone cannot create the harvest. It is a combination of my best efforts and things beyond my control that produce the end result.
Just so, with ministry. We bring our best gifts to the effort. And then we must acknowledge that God is in the midst of what will ultimately happen. We are God's partners in whatever ministry to which we are called. And the end result, we pray, will be what God intends, the goal to which God is leading us, and the way that we can work together to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ to a world that so desperately needs it.
Following a General Assembly, the PCUSA always appears in the secular press more than at other times. Within your presbytery, you may have congregations that generate lots of (hopefully) positive press, but once in a while there will also be an incident in a congregation within your bounds that attracts the attention of the press in a more negative way. In both of these circumstances and others that you may have encountered, you might be contacted by members of the press.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Some group within your presbytery or synod should make a policy about who will talk to the press. For instance, it might be the general or executive presbyter who is the appointed spokesperson, or it might be the stated clerk. Remember that the press will try to find out who to talk to in various ways. They might look at your website is they are savvy enough to know what the structure of the PCUSA is. On many of your websites you identify not only staff but also your elected officers. Anyone whose contact information is on your webpage should know to whom they should refer the press. They might also just call up their nearest PCUSA church or the largest one in the city in your presbytery. For that reason, it is good to let the whole presbytery know the plan for dealing with the press.
- Whoever the appointed spokesperson is will want to think through what they will say. In order to do this, that person might not want to talk to a member of the press off the cuff, but, instead, make an appointment for the conversation. Even if this conversation happens 30 minutes from the first contact, it will still give the spokesperson a moment to collect their thoughts.
- Do you need to talk to the press? This might be something to have a conversation within your presbytery about or to consult the professionals in this field who work in Louisville about. You may not want to have the presbytery or synod as a part of the news article or television or radio report about the topic at hand. If so, you will need to think about how it will sound when they say that you could not be reached for comment. You might also want to think about whether or not you would like the "real" story to appear.
Get these dates on the calendars of your Synod or Presbytery moderators: November 7, 8, 9. Those are the dates for the annual Moderator's Conference in Louisville. It will start first thing on the morning of the 7th, so people will need to travel on 6th. It ends before noon on the 9th. More details will be available soon. For now, help them to set aside those dates and help the presbytery to identify the funds for this important gathering as we follow up on mandates of the General Assembly to talk about realignment of Synods, about reconciliation across the denomination, and as we help your moderators to more fully live into their call to this special ministry.
You may think that GA in 2014 was only a few weeks ago--and you would be right! But, it is never too early to plan for the election of your 2016 commissioners, especially since the Assembly approved a change to the Standing Rules. This change requires that commissioners be elected at least 180 days before the start of the Assembly. That date for the next Assembly will be December 21, 2015. Since many presbyteries meet only two or three times per year, it is not too early to alert your Nominating Committee so that they can plan to have commissioners ready for election at the appropriate presbytery meeting.
Here are some changes for you to note among our colleagues in Synod and Presbytery leadership. As you become aware of changes like this, please pass them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please have the appropriate clerk notify email@example.com.
These changes are in the order in which they occur in the Planning Calendar.
Alaska/North Puget Sound is now one presbytery called Northwest Coast.
Central Washington: Kevin Nollette will serve them as executive and he continues as an associate exec in Seattle.
Western Reserve: Linda Badger-Becker is now the interim executive.
Central Nebraska: Charles Traylor is the transitional executive and Judy Howard is the acting stated clerk.
John Knox: Ken Meunier is retiring as exec on August 31.
Great Rivers: Daniel Debeer is the Gap Executive Presbyter and Elissa Bailey is the acting stated clerk.
Midwest Hanmi: Jae Bong Lee is the stated clerk
Mid-Kentucky: Andrew Hartman will serve as acting stated clerk while Ken Hockenberry is on leave to serve the seminary.
North Alabama: Tammy Gregory Brown is the executive and stated clerk
Giddings-Lovejoy: Anita Hendrix is the executive.
Southern Kansas: James Ayers is the temporary administrator
Geneva: Steve Plank is the acting stated clerk
Cascades: John Mahon has retired
Stockton: There is currently no executive
Utah: Jeff Silliman is the interim executive
Florida: Ted Land is the coordinating presbyter
Northeast Georgia: Hilary Shuford is the transitional general presbyter
Tampa Bay: There is currently no executive
Los Ranchos: Tom Cramer is the acting executive
The Pacific: Steve Smith is the interim stated clerk
San Gabriel: Wendy Tajima is the interim executive presbyter
Santa Barbara: Dave Wilkinson is the stated clerk
Cimarron: Gordon Edwards is the interim executive
Mission: Rubin Armenariz is the acting head of staff
Shenango: Ralph Hawkins is the executive presbyter
The orientation is intended for presbytery stated clerks who are new to their position and/or who have not, yet, attended the orientation. All the expenses for the orientation are paid for with per capita funds by the Office of the General Assembly (travel, double occupancy hotel room, and meals while in Louisville).
When and Where: Wednesday, November 5, beginning at 8:30 am and ending at noon on Friday, November 7 in Louisville, Kentucky. Most people will need to arrive in Louisville on Tuesday, November 9th in order to start on Wednesday morning. There is the optional parliamentary training that stated clerks are invited to attend in conjunction with the moderators’ conference on Friday afternoon and evening, November 7th.
Registration: For details and registration information contact Diane.Minter@pcusa.org.
We share condolences with two of our colleagues this week. Joy Kaufman's father and John Rickard's mother have both completed this part of life. Joy is the presbyter in Huntingdon Presbytery and John is Presbyter and Clerk in Blackhawk Presbytery. " I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."