Monday, May 16, 2016

General Presbyter Activities

It's likely you have no idea what a General Presbyter does--unless your congregation has undergone a pastoral transition, experienced some trauma, or you have served on a Presbytery committee or ministry team which has wrestled with a difficult question.  As with all pastors, the best and most important part of my pastoral work with pastors is confidential and inappropriate to share.  So what does a General Presbyter do in a given week?  Last week was a good one to reflect on and share.

First of all, last week, Leslie Keusch, our office administrator/communications coordinator was on vacation... so along with other staff members, I processed the mail.   On Monday, I caught up on email.  There were 34 email conversations with various church leaders in which I participated last week.  And many others that I monitored. The prior week I attended two seminars by the Board of Pensions for professional development.  So I was a bit behind.  I consulted with the convener of a Discernment Resolution Team for the California Presbyterian Church. I was recruited to do an education event at the California congregation after worship on May 29.  I also consulted with the Camp Greenwood Director and Presbytery Treasurer working out financial processes before the summer onslaught.  Monday afternoon I consulted with leaders of the Scioto Valley Presbytery on ideas for interpreting the Presbytery's mission via a zoom conference call.  That reminded me of what we have done over the years, and inspired me to the on going challenge of better telling our story.

On Tuesday I sat in on our Discipleship Ministry Team's meeting.  Shared financial news that Session declarations of intent for 2016 shared mission is down significantly again.  This team now plans worship at Presbytery meetings.  The Leadership Team liaison and I shared with them the themes selected by the Leadership Team for the next four Presbytery meetings. I then attended a luncheon for our honorably retired minister members and their spouses at Friendship Village, in Kalamazoo.  A group of 25 or so had a lovely time.  Dave McShane, a resident there, welcomed us and shared what life is like in such a retirement community.  I share some news from the Presbytery.  I sat at table with Wilbur and Gloria Brandli.  They live in White Pigeon where he once served as pastor and is pastor emeritus.  He is 98 years old and was ordained in 1949 to missionary service in China.  It happened to be Mao's first year in power.  He experienced several life threatening episodes before he was finally evacuated.

On Wednesday, I met with a candidate under care of San Diego Presbytery who just graduated from Western Theological Seminary and who will soon be seeking a call.  I then traveled to St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt to attend and lead an Ecumenical Center for Christian Leadership Board meeting. I have served as chairperson of the Board of Directors for the past two years.  ECCL was formerly SPE (Sustaining Pastoral Excellence).  We changed our name last year.  After which I visited with Stanley Jenkins, pastor at Lansing, First, and then had dinner with Jon Won, pastor of the New Life Korean Presbyterian Church in East Lansing.

On Thursday, I sent worship liturgy for Sunday, May 22 to Brenda Deily, pastor of the Three Rivers Centerville Presbyterian Church.  I will fill in for her that Sunday.  I then chained my leg to my desk chair and finished supervisor evaluations for the Presbytery staff and sent them to our Staff Services Committee.  Not my favorite task.  But it is made easier by a great staff.  This committee will meet with our staff on May 18 for an annual review/visit.

Fridays are my day off:  This Friday morning I went to Pine Island Presbyterian Church's land in Texas Township near my home.  As an outcome of that congregation's New Beginnings Discernment  they are investing in a garden project call Hope Garden.  The garden's produce will support local food ministries.  It is my hope that this garden will also help people to reconnect with the soil, with the rhythms of the seasons, with neighbors, with goodness of manual labor.  I joined six others Friday morning and helped plant a couple of rows of potatoes.  Monday and Friday mornings are work times.  This summer the church will lead a Wednesday evening vesper service at the garden.  Before or after, folks can help tend the garden for a few minutes.

On Saturday, I helped set up for a Westminster Presbyterian Church (Portage) barn party at Chris Rohwer's.  Chris is the son of Brad Rohwer, who served this Presbytery as Executive Presbyter in the 1980's.  I performed a couple of sets of songs from the 1970s with the band.  The weather did not cooperate--it was cold and actually snowed a bit.  There was no heat in the barn.  Guitar playing with cold stiff fingers was a challenge, but we still had a lot of fun.

On Sunday, I worshiped at Westminster in Portage with my family.  The Pentecost message was given by a group of members who presented a dramatic reading of the story.  Kathleen Robertson King and a WMU graduate shared a minute for mission for the United Campus Ministry.  I then attended worship at North Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, and shared in the celebration of Holy Communion.

After being sick with a cold the prior week, my energy was low.  I was dragging.  But through these pastoral visits, the gardening, the music making, and the worship with God's people, God restored my energy and soul.  It is my joy to serve you in this capacity.  God is at work among us.  

Grace and Peace,