Monday, March 15, 2010

That went better

This past Saturday the Presbytery of the Twin Cities area had its March meeting at North Como Presbyterian Church. I arrived early to staff a table where I could talk about Chain of Lakes Church with people of the Presbytery. I plan on doing this at every Presbytery meeting until we are chartered. This is my favorite part of the meeting. I love talking to people about what is happening in our church and to answer people’s questions. This past Saturday I shared a table with Martha Rockenstein, the esteemed educator at First Presbyterian Church in Hudson.

I was having so much fun at the table that I walked into the Presbytery meeting about 15 minutes after it started. As I sat down Chaz Ruark, our Executive Presbyter, was giving his report. I was touched that Chaz shared his excitement about being at the Grand Opening of Chain of Lakes.

After sharing other highlights of his last month he spoke the truth in love—a refreshing departure from most Presbytery meetings. In particular he highlighted the following section from 1 Corinthians 13, “love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-6.

Chaz went on to say that we didn’t do well as a Presbytery in living out this Scripture at the January meeting. I couldn’t agree more with his statement—I shared my own thoughts in a blog on January 11 entitled, “That Didn’t Go Well.”

Chaz went on to take personal responsibility through an apology for the disorder in that meeting. In particular he shared the thought process that led to the timing of the announcement that Jin Kim was running for Moderator of General Assembly. At the January meeting Jin was also running for General Assembly commissioner. The Presbytery wasn’t informed that Jin was running for Moderator until after the vote for General Assembly commissioners. Chaz shared that withholding the information that Jin was running for General Assembly Moderator was the counsel of people he talked with prior to the January meeting. Apparently some people had shared with Chaz after the January meeting that this information should not have been held.

I have no problem with how this particular part of the meeting of the January meeting was handled. I really have no strong feeling either way on whether the Presbytery should have known if Jin Kim was running for Moderator of General Assembly when we voted on General Assembly commissioners. I think Chaz and others made a decision on what they thought was the best way to proceed. They acted in good faith and, even better, reported to us the thought process that went into the decision.

Even though I don’t think Chaz was responsible for the tenor of January’s meeting, I find it refreshing that he would address the issue and take responsibility. To me he displayed qualities of effective leadership—publicly speaking the truth in love in an attitude of humility and taking responsibility for something that went wrong.

If more of us in the Presbytery would do this, we would be a healthier place. As I shared in my January 11 blog I believe that we as a Presbytery need to: 1) learn how to disagree better; 2) value the process less. Lifting up our disagreements in a public setting in an attitude of humility is an excellent start to disagreeing in a healthier way.

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