Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Reflections on September Presbytery
Yesterday afternoon and evening I joined other Presbyters at the Plymouth Presbyterian Church for the September meeting of the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area. Besides the “train ride” of a special meeting called in July, this was the first time the Presbytery had met since May. With all of the preparations involved in hosting General Assembly in July, I’m glad we didn’t have a regular meeting in July.
After I arrived I found a small space at a table and began hawking the recent newsletter from Chain of Lakes Church. Until our New Church Development charters, I plan on having some sort of display about Chain of Lakes at every Presbytery meeting. I enjoyed meeting and talking to many colleagues, sharing the recent successes we've experienced at Chain of Lakes, and in particular talking to some of the saints from Community Presbyterian in Plainview.
The meeting got interesting to me when Andy Lindahl, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin, shared his experience of serving on the Presbytery's Strategy Task Force—a group on which I also served. He very honestly and tactfully shared his skepticism about serving on the group. He admitted that he had not recently been involved in Presbytery work and was very tired of the infighting within the body. He compared his thoughts about serving to “the last session before a couple divorces.” He then told us that his participation on the Strategy group had connected him to the Presbytery again. He was excited about the document that our group had produced and was looking forward to seeing what came of it.
A little later David Lenz, pastor of Hope Church in Richfield, shared almost the same message. While serving on the Presbytery Council he had participated in a Retreat where the work of the Strategy work was shared. He shared that he felt welcomed into the process. He also honesty and tactfully shared the pain he had experienced from the Presbytery and then shared his hope about the future.
I was moved by both presentations—not “cut to the heart,” but most certainly moved. Experiencing the truth spoken in love with tact at Presbytery is a sign that life within our Presbytery is changing.
After dinner I moderated one of the small groups that discussed some of the Strategy Task Force's work. The one-page document can be found here: http://presbyterytwincities.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/PTCA-Strategic-Plan-08-26-10-PC-Mtg.pdf.
Our group of about 25 generally approved of the document that they read. The document received some push back by folks concerned about the lack of articulation about participating in the world. Some other folks were a bit concerned about the use of the word, “fearlessly” in the New Vision statement that the Strategy Group brought forward. Our statement was, “We fearlessly follow the HolySpirit into a changing world.” The word “fearlessly” is my favorite word in the document. For me it articulates the essential need for the Presbytery to take risks. Risk is something that many religious bodies have difficulty, something I've never understood for our leader, Jesus Christ, was one of the most fearless leaders in the history of the world. Having said that, I could see changing the word, “fearlessly” to “courageously.”
Dr. Cynthia Rigby, professor at Austin Theological Seminary gave the sermon. I missed her Pre-Presbytery talk on Calvin. She very beautifully exegeted Peter's sermon in Acts 2 and shared the nuanced differences between being moved and being “cut to the heart.” I was moved by her sermon, but soon brought back to reality when the business portion of the meeting was resumed right after the sermon was concluded.
How about a prayer, hymn or benedication to conclude worship?
I'm encouraged by the positive energy that is slowly percolating within our Presbytery.