Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September Presbytery meeting, Twin Cities Area Presbytery

Yesterday I left around 1:30 p.m. for the September Presbytery meeting of the Twin Cities Area Presbytery that was held in Austin, Minnesota. This was the second meeting in the row where Presbyterians in the Twin Cities have had the opportunity to travel into the Area. (Still hoping that the name of our Presbytery will be changed.) The day was a beautiful one to be on the road.

I had the privilege of having John Ivers ride with me to the meeting. During Presbytery he shared some personal reflections about his involvement in church development. John has given much of his time during the last decade to church development in our Presbytery. Every new church development and re-development in our Presbytery has been buoyed by his leadership. Chain of Lakes Church would not exist if he hadn’t persevered with the desire he had to see a new Presbyterian church in the north Metro.

When we arrived at the Presbyterian Church in Austin, I quickly found my tablemate, Martha Rockenstein. We've been sharing a table at most of the recent Presbytery meetings. She talks to people about Presbyterian, Christian education materials, and I distribute the most recent newsletter of Chain of Lakes Church. We both enjoyed talking to people as they arrived at the meeting. I was particularly heartened to talk to John Curtiss—the new pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Plainview.

During the meeting the Church Development Team announced that the proposal for property purchase for Chain of Lakes Church has been turned down by the sellers. Many people at the meeting shared their disappointment with me. I responded by saying that I’m not really that disappointed. We have many good properties we are looking at for Chain of Lakes. The negotiations for these properties change almost daily. Saddleback Church—the largest church in America—didn’t have property for the first ten years of their existence. Having property would be a big benefit to the ministry of Chain of Lakes, but I believe it will happen on God’s time. That could take place next month or longer.

The meeting got off track during the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) report. The CPM presented Kerri Allen as ready for ordination. The final step on her ordination process is to be examined by a Presbytery. The CPM proposed that the Presbytery of Chicago (she has a call within that Presbytery) conduct the examination. The Presbytery quickly became bogged down in a debate about whether our Presbytery or the Presbytery of Chicago should conduct her examination.

This is the type of polity question that some people love talking about deep into the night. However most people don’t understand the issues surrounding it and wonder why we tangle ourselves in such debates at Presbytery meetings. I would much rather talk about how to deepen discipleship in our churches or debate how to reduce the poverty rate in our country—which is now 15%. Fortunately (after a barely tolerable amount of debate) the Presbytery voted to let the Presbytery of Chicago conduct Kerri’s examination.

I enjoyed the wonderful dinner that the saints from the Austin church prepared for us. During dinner I had the privilege of talking to a retired psychologist from that church. After dinner a youth band from the Austin church shared a beautiful song. After singing “Here I Am” John and I left for our two hour sojourn back to the north Metro.

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