Greetings from your new Albany Presbytery Moderator!
I want to express my gratitude and thanks to Cara Molyneaux for the outstanding job she did as our outgoing Moderator and to welcome Reverend Kate Kotfila as our new presbytery Vice Moderator. Thanksgiving lets us take stock of the things we are grateful for in the past year and Cara’s service as our Moderator during a turbulent time is certainly at the top of my list. In addition, Kate’s agreeing to step into the role of vice-moderator (particularly when she and I so often bring opposite perspectives) is a blessing and an act of faith on her part. My gratitude list also features Dan Rogers whose faithful service as our Stated Clerk is another blessing we enjoy and one I am truly grateful for. We also have dozens of faithful presbyters working in various committees in volunteer service to the church. Each one of you has made sacrifices for the work and ministry of our life together, and I appreciate your service. Lastly I appreciate the service of our staff members who have helped us through a year of transition which could not have been easy for them as our uncertainty around staffing caused them much concern.
Rotating offices and shared leadership are two cornerstones of Presbyterian polity in action. A third is trusting the wisdom of the crowd as a way for the Holy Spirit to intervene in our life and work together. Presbyterians have a “we” not an “I” culture with balance between ruling and teaching elders, a partnership of small and large congregations, and mutual support and correction acting as a counterweight against powerful personalities. This can make it more difficult to decide on a course of action and to move forward. Unlike some churches, no Bishop can order us to do anything. Still, in all our diversity we are one church with Jesus as our head.
Why am I telling you what you already know? Because this year I hope as your Moderator to help us build community and take what actions we can as a community to move forward together. Toward that end I want to encourage you to share your hopes, fears, reservations, objections, and especially your dreams on our presbytery blog. We also hope through our SPAT committee to have numerous opportunities outside of normal presbytery meetings for fellowship and building relationships.
It is perfectly appropriate that the leadership transition of the presbytery happen around the time of the Thanksgiving holiday. No holiday better expresses the twin virtues of “Other People Matter” and “An Attitude of Gratitude”. Like any family gathering we have our diversity on display, but in most Thanksgiving gatherings we can put surface differences and disagreements aside to break bread and share fellowship around a common table.
In that spirit, here is my request for the coming Advent and Christmas seasons. We have about sixty congregations in Albany Presbytery and my guess is most of them don’t know their neighboring Presbyterian churches well. I’d like to ask each session to find a neighboring Presbyterian church (or two) to partner with in three activities:
1) a shared Bible study,
2) a shared youth group activity, and
3) a shared potluck dinner.
These aren’t lifelong commitments, just a simple act of being a neighbor and reaching out in the spirit of Christian fellowship. I hope you’ll give it try and let us know on the blog how it went.
Grace and Peace,
Arthur Fullerton, Moderator Albany Presbytery
Arthur Fullerton is a Ruling Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY, past chair of Board of Trustees, current chair of the Budget Committee, and Moderator of Albany Presbytery. He consults with nonprofits about fundraising and organizational leadership.
The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.