Now that is a good question, especially regarding our January 25th, 2020 presbytery meeting at the Korean Presbyterian Church. I could tell you about the necessary and exciting actions that were passed at the meeting, but you can read the minutes for those. I’m more interested in the relationships we built up there and the graceful way in which we did our business, so that’s what I’ll tell you about. You might be surprised to learn that our meeting ended over an hour ahead of schedule (how often does that happen?!). I thought that the discussions and work shared were exciting to hear. After the meeting was over, it was interesting to see that quite a few people hung around and visited with each other. Our meeting wasn’t all business either. Since we were at the Korean church, you can know that we had a delicious Korean lunch (I love bulgogi, rice and kimchee!).

I really appreciated our time of worship together. We commissioned Corlin Bauhofer to be a Commissioned Ruling Elder, watching over the Charlton Freehold Church. Congratulations to both Corlin and Charlton Freehold where she will serve! Following that, we continued to worship while listening to Pastor Mun of the Korean Church as he preached on Nehemiah 11:17 and told us how important it is to express our gratitude and thanksgiving to God and to others, especially those close to us. He told us that “Kamsahamnida” is a Korean way of respectfully saying, “Thank you.” Pastor Mun told us that the word “Kam” means “Gratitude” and the word “Sa” means “Thankfulness” (and the suffix “hamnida” is a term of respect). Kamsahamnida is something that expresses an inward sense of gratitude in an outward way of thankfulness. After the sermon we celebrated the Lord’s Supper together, being nourished by the body and blood of our Lord and encouraged to gratitude and thankfulness by God’s grace towards us. Kamsahamnida to God!

The meaning behind Kamsahamnida (please forgive me if I’ve gotten this language lesson incorrect—I speak all of four words in Korean—poorly!), reflects the theme of this presbytery meeting: “Gratitude moving to Generosity.” Much of what we did at the meeting was designed to remind us to be grateful to God and to others for the blessings we’ve received. But gratitude without a practical outlet doesn’t do much good for us or anyone else, and so we were encouraged to respond to those gifts with a thankful generosity towards God and others.

One way we put that theme into practice was that after each committee or commission gave its report, a member of presbytery offered a brief prayer of thanks and petition for the work done and a continued blessing on those who had done the work and those who had heard about it. Those prayers, interspersed throughout the day, were an ongoing reminder that we were about the work of God, and that was a very good thing.

One more thing I’d like to mention about our meeting was the introduction of the Covenant Candles of Albany Presbytery. Six large candles were lit during our worship and again during our afternoon meeting. They represented the light our individual churches have the privilege of shining out for God. After the meeting they were taken by six different pastors back to their congregations where they will be lit during worship at those churches for one month. The candles will be carried to another church the first Sunday of each month to continue the light. Each Sunday that a candle is with us we can be reminded that the other five candles are burning in our sister congregations, and so be reminded of our unity in Christ.

This was my first presbytery meeting as moderator, and I am thankful that I survived (though my head didn’t doubt that would happen, my stomach worried a bit!). I am grateful and thankful for the ministry that Christ is accomplishing through us and seeing what’s happening encourages me to do even more. What about you? Kamsahamnida to God!


About Rev. Michael Burkley

Michael has been a pastor for almost 34 years (unbelievably to him) and for over 12 of those years he has had the privilege of serving in Albany Presbytery as the pastor of the Rockwell Falls Presbyterian Church. He is currently serving as the 2020 Moderator of Albany Presbytery and is very glad to be serving God here with us.

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.