“For many Christians throughout the world today, the death of Christendom in the West simply means that there are more brothers and sisters joining them at the margins, more shared experience within the greater church, more equality of leadership roles, more valuing of previously ignored voices and more opportunities for shared witness to a world that is profoundly in need of the gospel.  In other words, the deep disorientation for those trained in Christendom can be helped by learning to look to and partner with those who have already been living in post-Christendom marginality.  The vast experience of women, persons of color and leaders from majority world contexts is as critical to the transitioning Western church as was Sacagewea’s to Lewis and Clark.  The problem, of course, is that even the reality of being trained for Christendom means that most of us won’t recognize the value of a Sacagewea when she is sitting in front of us….we tend to view our immigrant brothers and sisters (to use just one example) as mission projects or as “people who can cook exotic foods and dance and sing for their church programs,” we rarely look to them as “trainers for the church’s future strength.”

-Tod Bolsinger in Canoeing the Mountains, page 193.

At the February Presbytery meeting the Committee on Ministry handed out the book Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory to all members of the Presbytery and congregations.  Our congregations that are working with Pneumatrix this spring are using this as their leadership text and the COM (now the Committee on Teaching Elders and Congregations) was so impressed with this book and its applicability to where we find ourselves today in 21st century ministry that we were able to get it for everyone.  If you have not gotten your book or have a question, please call the Presbytery office.

Co-chairs Teaching Elder Holly Cameron and Ruling Elder Sam Jackling have written the following blog on this Presbytery-wide book study.  It can be accessed at this link.   I also wrote a blog about the first section of this book and that can be found at this link.  Rev. Deborah Wright who is leading the Pneumatrix process with our congregations also wrote this blog for the larger Presbytery about our Adaptive Adventure that we are in the midst of.

A few other resources for you as you work through this text with the leadership of your congregation or ministry:

An introduction video about the book from its author Tod Bolsinger:


A review of the book in the Presbyterian Outlook is available at this link.

I hope you will prepare to have conversation on this book with other leaders in your congregations, as a study with your Session or other leadership team, or even with neighboring congregations. There is much in this book that has to do with the transitional journey the Presbytery has been on and where God’s Spirit is taking us in this time and to point us in some creative ways forward.  This is a great text as we seek to live into our call to be “reformed and always reforming.”  I hope you enjoy the book and keep an eye on the e-News and the Presbytery blog for more ideas and blogs this spring about this text and the challenges it places before us as we seek to be faithful to the ministries we are entrusted to steward by Jesus Christ.

Blessings as you undertake this learning, and please reach out to the Committee on Teaching Elders and Congregations if you have any questions or needs at all!

About Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

Shannan grew up between the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia and have also lived at various points in Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and upstate New York. Internationally, I have lived in Scotland, Greece and Colombia. My family is transnational, my husband is an immigrant and we divide our time between the United States and Colombia. You can learn more about Shannan at: https://srvoconsulting.com

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.