Thursday, September 19, 2013

Conversation Connections a Hit at Presbytery Meeting

I'm still feeling the after glow of a successful Presbytery Meeting, September 17th.  We owe our hosts at Jackson, First our thanks!  Feedback from 37 attendee evaluations resonated with my reflections.  People appreciated starting with worship, which set a tone for the meeting.  The seven Conversation Connections options in the afternoon were great!  People were engaged in meaningful conversations and wanted more time and another session to get to a second conversation.  That's a great frustration!  Let me suggest that the conversations don't need to be limited to Presbytery meetings! Our host, Jackson, First had their brand new projection system working to perfection. Yeah!

Things to look for:
1. Thriving Congregations Project:  Instructions for how your congregation members may participate in the online assessment any time at their convenience between October 4 and November 4.  The results will be explored at the Presbytery meeting November 9 at Marshall, First.

2. Online application for Commissioner and YAAD to General Assembly and Synod.  Look for this on our web site, 

3. 221st General Assembly in Detroit, June 14-21. There will be many opportunities to volunteer. A web link will soon be available for volunteer needs, where you will be able to sign up to volunteer   Opening worship at the General Assembly is a great event to attend.  This should be on Saturday, June 14. Save the dates.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Conversation Connections

The Presbytery of Lake Michigan's theme this year is "Connections." This may not sound very theological, but I think it is very theological. Our experience last year of dismissing two congregations challenged our deeply felt connectional nature of the church. Every time we ordain and/or install a person to an ordered ministry we speak the words of the Apostle Paul, reminding ourselves that we each have a necessary gift and function for the good of the whole. We need each other to be whole. Together, we are the body of Christ. Christ is our unity, the glue that connects us. There is a joy in the strength of our voices lifted together in song at worship; joy in the sense of accomplishment in a shared mission, doing together what one could not do alone! Sitting through endless reports at Presbytery meetings has lost the luster of such joy for most of us. Yes, we have business to tend to, but that business does not define us. So is there a more faithful use our time together to connect, challenge, encourage and equip each other for ministry in this strange time and beloved place in which we minister here in Southwest Michigan? The Leadership Team and I think there is.  

At our upcoming Presbytery meeting on September 17th at the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, we will worship, do our business proficiently, break bread together, and then after our meal, participants will have the choice of seven ways to connect with colleagues. We call these Conversation Connections. Pick one. If it's boring, move to another. Be engaged and engaging.

1. Theological Discussion: We've done this before during lunch...Matt Wright, pastor of the Parkwood Presbyterian Church will host this planning for future theological discussion

2. Small Church Success Stories: Hear the stories of three congregations  (Concord, Homer, and Buchanan) with some measured success, hosted by Dan Anderson, member of the Church Growth Committee.  

3. Young Adult Ministry: OK, so we're not doing so good at this....what must we learn to engage young adults today? Eric Iden, intern at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson supported by a Presbytery Deep and Wide Grant and a student at Arbor Springs University, will share some observations.

4. Global Partnerships: The Westminster PC, Portage sent a team to Perico, Cuba this summer and formed a new congregational partnership with the Reformed/Presbyterian congregation there. Hear there story. Learn about the church of Cuba. Other congregations have partnerships in Ghana, Nicaragua, Malawi, Haiti. Share your wisdom in crossing cultures. Discuss the joys, challenges and lessons that come with Global Partnerships

5. Presbytery Visioning: Explore with members of the Leadership Team, what we learned from the Table Discussions on discipleship at the June Presbytery meeting in Holland, the proposed Presbytery Purpose Statement and help shape the emerging vision for our future.

6. The new Hymnal “Glory to God”:  Charles Frost, a member of General Assembly Hymnal Committee will introduce us to our new Presbyterian hymnal. Many consider a hymnal a practical theology book of a generation.

7. The Board of Pensions Medical Plan: There are coming changes in 2014 and more in 2015. Ernesto Badillo, Board of Pensions Regional Representative, will help us understand them.

God's rich blessings to you as you engage in your fall schedules AND as you connect with one another in rich conversations.