I first became involved in the life of Albany Presbytery in the late 1990s, when I was asked to join the Theology and Leadership Development Committee. That committee no longer exists—I hope I didn’t cause its demise!—but I still treasure the friendships I formed with other members of the committee. Those friendships continued as I extended my service to other areas of Presbytery—including a term as moderator in 2010. Each new area of service brought new relationships, new friendships.
I have gained a deeper understanding of the importance of those relationships through my current work on two Presbytery committees: the Staffing Process Advisory Team (SPAT) and the Committee on Representation and Nominations (CRN). Charged with recommending a process to help Presbytery discern a new staffing pattern, SPAT has recommended that, first of all, we need to work on building healthy relationships with each other before we can make meaningful decisions about our life together. During the past year, there have been several facilitated conversations, special meetings, and a retreat—all aimed at the goal of helping us to get to know each other better, to trust each other, to love each other as Christ commanded his disciples.
Meanwhile, my work on CRN has reminded me that we don’t need to wait for special occasions to find opportunities for building relationships. Such opportunities are constantly available through the work of the committees that carry out the ordinary business of Presbytery. Unfortunately, we have come to think of committees only in terms of the “ordinary business” they perform, not in terms of the extraordinary blessing they offer as a means of building relationships.
We are neglecting a valuable opportunity.
Hoping to realize that opportunity, CRN is currently appealing to all members of Presbytery to engage in the process of forming committees in a new light. Don’t just send us “nominations to committees”; tell us about the gifts of members of your congregations. Let CRN determine where those gifts might be of most service to Presbytery.
Especially, we are asking that every pastor and/or clerk of session send us the names of at least three members of your congregation along with an indication of their gifts. This will provide CRN with a list of potential committee members to draw on in future years, not just in the next round of elections. And if all congregations respond, the work of building relationships will extend throughout Presbytery. To those who have felt on the margins of Presbytery life, CRN wants to issue a clear invitation: “Come in from the margins and help us reform the center.” Reform not just what we are, as an organization; but who we are, as a fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Please respond prayerfully to CRN’s appeal. And if you are the pastor or clerk of a congregation, please view your response as a responsibility of your office. You will find it easy to record your response using the Albany Presbytery Committee Nomination Form.
Or you can communicate directly with CRN chair Jerry McKinney at: firstname.lastname@example.org
May we all share in the blessing God has promised through our love for each other!