This past Tuesday evening the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met at the Presbyterian Church in Red Wing. For perhaps the last time I set up a table at the entrance to the sanctuary and shared information about Chain of Lakes Church.
The mood of the Presbytery was celebrative. The Presbytery elected Barbara Lutter as the new Stated Clerk, heard an outstanding presentation on stewardship by Adam Copeland, voted to ordain Hae Ryun Chang as a Teaching Elder. The Presbytery thanked Bill Davnie for his service as a Stated Clerk and installed Jeff Japinga as the Executive Presbyter.
But the defining memory of the meeting for me will be the unanimous action by the Presbytery to receive Chain of Lakes as a Presbyterian congregation. Our new church had met the requirements to become a church on Easter 2017. The Steering Committee soon afterwards alerted Bill Davnie and the wheels were set in motion for this vote.
The vote was quick, almost perfunctory, and marked with celebration. When I spoke to the motion I shared what a privilege it has been for me to work with the people of Chain of Lakes. They have literally given their blood, sweat, and tears to establishing this faith community. I also shared that I hope the Presbytery can review what happened with Chain of Lakes, learn from the successes and disappointments, and soon start more new churches. At the end of my short talk I shared that becoming a church offers the opportunity of a new relationship between Chain of Lakes and the Presbytery. Our soon-to-be organized church will soon start praying, thinking about, and working towards putting a building on the church property. This next season of ministry offers the possibility of exciting collaboration.
At the Rotary meeting on Wednesday I was asked by a community member why this vote was important. This person is not part of Chain of Lakes and had seen the posting of what happened on my Facebook page. This is a good question. Chain of Lakes probably won’t feel any different as an organized church than as a New Church Development.
The vote is important because the people of Chain of Lakes and the Presbytery have accomplished an important goal. Ever since Chain of Lakes was started as a New Church Development, we’ve wanted to become an organized church. When seven families gathered in the Rice Lake Professional Building in February 2009, the group came to learn about how to become an organized church. Now that goal is achieved. Check that box off as an accomplishment.
Being an organized church will give allow Chain of Lakes to operate more effectively—we can actually open up a bank account under our own name (wow!)—and will give our church legitimacy with the wider community.
During my devotional time on Wednesday morning I was thanking God for all the people who have helped make this happen. And as I was praying I received a whisper from God that said, “you need to thank me.” And my gosh is this true. As a New Church Development, Chain of Lakes has faced some very tough and challenging situations. Some of these situations presented problems that didn’t have easy answers. Every time the people of Chain of Lakes have figured out how to respond successfully to these situations. God led us through these moments—many times in ways that many of us didn’t realize. God has always been working behind the scenes helping Chain of Lakes become an organized church. Yay, God!
Starting this church has been an adventure of a lifetime. I can’t wait to celebrate!