The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met for our January meeting this past Saturday at Presbyterian Church of the Master (PCOM) in Coon Rapids. I live about fifteen minutes from the church, so I enjoyed the shortest drive to a Presbytery meeting that I can remember.
I came early to share information about Chain of Lakes as our new church is a ministry of the Presbytery. Many people asked me about our Christmas Eve service which we held outdoors. The service went very well. We had a hearty group of thirty people sing carols, listen to the Christmas story, hear a story about Christmas from me, and share light. The video for the service can be found here: http://blip.tv/chain-of-lakes-church/christmas-eve-6487771
We began our time together on Saturday in worship. A Taize style worship service was offered to God. I was moved by the large number of votive candles that were set up on the chancel of the sanctuary of PCOM. We need all the light we can get this time of year! A highlight of the service for me was hearing John Gay’s (pastor of PCOM) son play the piano for the service. Not many middle school youth have led music at a Presbytery meeting!
After worship the Officers of the Presbytery shared reports. I appreciated Barbara Lutter’s remarks about the intentionality of changing Presbytery meetings. After the long, hot, and cranky meeting in September, the leaders were intentional about making changes. She said that she had received many constructive E-mails about the change of format.
After the office reports the Presbytery was broken into five conversation groups. I participated in the Presbytery finances group led by Barbara van Loenen. She did a terrific job of explaining the Presbytery’s financial position. She re-iterated the point that Treasurer, Ed Martin, made in his written report that the Presbytery essentially has a revenue problem. If every church had made their Per Capita payments in 2012 the Presbytery would not have financial troubles. This problem of Per Capita payments will most likely continue with some large churches within the Presbytery threatening to leave.
I shared that it’s important for the leaders of the Presbytery to articulate a vision for the Presbytery. One of my personal mottos is “money follows vision.” If people can articulate what is valuable and important about the ministry of the Presbytery, then it will be easier for churches and even individuals to give. It’s essential that the Presbytery not impose guilt or shame in their reports regarding financial giving. We need a “let’s all get in the boat together” approach instead of a “you’re not doing your part” approach.
I was encouraged to hear Barbara share that this problem is very solvable—I like optimism at Presbytery meetings!
Aft her Committee on Ministry and an enjoyable “Speak Out” time, lunch was served. I decided to leave early as I had to finish my preparations for worship the next day.