Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's a wonderful day to be Presbyterian in Blaine!

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met for our November meeting last night at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul.  I intended to arrive early to attend a workshop on FLSA changes, but unfortunately got caught in traffic.  I ended up setting up a table about the Chain of Lakes ministry.  As always I enjoyed talking to people before the meeting.

A special treat for me was having Pam Prouty, my sister, serve as the Stated Clark of the meeting.  She is the Stated Clerk for the Minnesota Valley’s Presbytery and for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.  With Bill Davnie out of town yesterday, she served as his replacement.  It was also special that yesterday was her birthday.  I brought a cake that the people at my table enjoyed at dinner.

After a welcome from David Van Dyke, pastor of House of Hope, we enjoyed a moving service of worship.  During worship we heard Scriptures, sang songs, and read together a portion of the Confession of Belhar.  The service seemed appropriate given the tumultuous election.

After worship the Presbytery sped through docket items.  Jeff Japinga shared a report; T.J. Parlette shared a report from the Presbytery Leadership Team; Ed Martin presented the Presbytery’s budget for 2017.  The budget was passed unanimously.  Some questions were asked about the Acting COM Coordinator position that was in the budget.  According to a written report this is a temporary, one-year transitional position.  More details about this can be found in the Presbytery Leadership Team Report Budget Proposal at:

The Presbytery then approved the ordination of Dana Caraway who will serve as a chaplain at Prairie Care in Brooklyn Park.  Because the Presbytery was ahead of schedule, David Lidle shared a report about the Eden Prairie Administrative Commission.  That group has filed an appeal of a judge’s ruling and is waiting for next steps.  Last night David shared the history of the Administrative Commission and shared the amount of the legal fees that the Presbytery has incurred.

The main event of the meeting for me was the report of the Chain of Lakes Administrative Commission (AC).  The AC was appointed by the Presbytery this past July to make recommendations about the viability of Chain of Lakes as a chartered church and to make recommendations about possible use and timetables for property that the Presbytery holds in Blaine.  The report of the AC can be found at the above link.

Barbara Anne Keely, chair of the AC, stood in front of the members of the AC and shared their report.  She shared two recommendations upon which the Presbytery voted.  The bottom-line of the first recommendation is Chain of Lakes must have a commitment from 85 people, ages 13 and older before the end of 2017.  If the goal is not met Chain of Lakes will be dissolved as a new church development.  Barbara Anne shared that the AC was impressed by the quality of leadership that the Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes exhibits, the vibrancy of worship, and the impact that the ministry of Chain of Lakes has had with homeless teenagers.  I stood up to share that the Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes voted to endorse this recommendation.  I said that Chain of Lakes is almost at 85 right now and that we will do everything possible to reach that goal.  I also shared how important it is for Chain of Lakes to be a church and not a new church development.  Many people have given their blood, sweat and tears so that Chain of Lakes becomes a church.  When Chain of Lakes reaches this goal and becomes a church we will celebrate (for a day, a weekend, a month?).  No one else spoke to this recommendation and the Presbytery unanimously approved it. 

Barbara Anne then shared a second recommendation.  The bottom line of this recommendation is Chain of Lakes must have an agreement with the Board of Trustees of the Presbytery for a building on the property by the end of 2021.    She spoke about the property and how it has been used a tool for ministry.  When she was done speaking I shared that the Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes also endorsed this recommendation.  I said that the property is a significant part of the story of Chain of Lakes.  Chain of Lakes doesn’t exist because of a piece of property, but we have communicated frequently our excitement about putting a building there.  We see a building on the property as an important part of our future story.  We are frequently asked by people in Blaine when we will have a building.  (I want to say to people living in Blaine and surrounding communities—don’t wait for a building to connect to Chain of Lakes.  We have a vibrant ministry right now!)  I also shared some numbers.  Chain of Lakes pays $3,100 a month in rent for our current facility.  Over 25 years and with a  4 ½ percent interest rate, that could buy approximately $625,000 in a building.  Combine that with a Capital Campaign plus other solicitations and perhaps a building loan and Chain of Lakes has a first-phase building.  After I was done speaking, Sally Narr, Youth and Family Ministry Coordinator at Chain of Lakes, shared how important is the voice of Chain of Lakes for the wider community.  No one else spoke.  The recommendation was approved unanimously. 

This is a significant development for the Presbytery and for Chain of Lakes.  For multiple reasons the future of Chain of Lakes is brighter today compared to yesterday.  The vote last night will go down as a significant development in the history of a faith community called Chain of Lakes.

Our New Church Development has had three significant issues go before the Presbytery in 2016.  The leaders of Chain of Lakes have collectively spent hundreds of hours on these three issues in 2016.  Not every issue went the way that the leaders of Chain of Lakes and I wanted.  However I am celebrating today that this group of people called Chain of Lakes is poised to be a chartered church, and we have clear guidelines from the Presbytery about building a facility. 

I want to publicly thank the AC for their willingness to communicate clearly and openly with the Steering Committee; their willingness to listen to the hopes, dreams, frustrations and fears of the leaders at Chain of Lakes; and their willingness to come to the Chain of Lakes locations to observe the ministry that is happened.  They provided a healthy model for partnership between committees & commissions of the Presbytery and congregations.

It’s a wonderful day to be Presbyterian in Blaine!

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