Our Coordinating Council organized a very successful Committee Day in April, when all the Committees of the Presbytery had their meetings at the same time, in the same place. Many committee members present that day responded to some discussion questions which our Council had prepared. We appreciate your thoughtfulness and input. Our Council discussed your responses at length. What we have learned most clearly is that many people simple do not have a deep understanding of what our presbytery is supposed to be and do. And, of course, we always have new leaders in our midst who are first learning about our life together. I would like with this report to offer some response to that uncertainty about our presbytery’s mission and ministry.
The Presbytery of Carlisle voted to implement a new administrative structure in April, 2000. Thus the new structure is already eight years old. This Presbytery was one of the first, but now Presbyteries all across our church are doing the same thing and moving in the same direction. It seems to me that our presbytery is on the front edge of the deep restructuring and reformation that is happening in our denomination. I am excited to be part of it all.
The centerpiece of our presbytery’s, administrative structure is the philosophy of supporting congregations and the strategy of “ministry initiative.” This kind of thinking is becoming common sense across our church today. Our purpose is to support our congregations, connect them together, and identify new ministry initiatives as they are developing in our congregations.
We have created a culture in our presbytery of supporting congregations. The presbytery structure implemented in 2000 focused that purpose in the work of our Strengthening our Congregations Committee. We are now poised to push this to a whole new level with our Missional Church Initiative. We have started a professional relationship with the Center for Parish Development. We have a team working on this proposal and we will be, over the next year, be asking each church, each committee, and the presbytery as a whole to consider missional transformation as a common goal for our life together. I ask us to consider what it would look like if we established missional transformation as the theological foundation for our support of our congregations? We will, of course, have lots of discussion about what exactly that means in the days ahead.
The concept of ministry initiative is foundational to our presbytery structure. The idea is that the presbytery will identify and support new initiatives, ideas, and dreams as they come up out of our life together. My question is when do we take a ministry idea, which a lot of different people are contributing to, and establish it officially as a strategic initiative of the presbytery? This is an important discernment process. When do we have enough participation and ownership across the presbytery in a particular initiative in order to establish it as a strategic focus of the whole presbytery?
I want to name three important initiatives that are happening in our presbytery. I want to ask whether these should be established pieces of the strategic emphasis of our presbytery.
1. That the Presbytery make a renewed and aggressive commitment to Presbyterian international mission work by funding a new international mission co-worker position and establishing an international mission partnership. What would that look like?
2. That the Presbytery make a renewed and aggressive commitment to building our ministry at Camp Krislund. We need to do more than build a new building with our capital campaign; we need to build a whole new ministry at the camp. I have in a mind there a Missional Church Training Center. What could that be?
3. That the Presbytery make a renewed and aggressive commitment to clergy care building on the important work that our clergy support groups are now doing. What would that look like if the care for our church professionals was established as a wide and deep commitment across our presbytery?
As we continue to live into the administrative structure which we have adopted as a presbytery we need to theologically establish the support of congregations as the bedrock of all we do. We need to discern, discuss, claim and implement new initiatives as they are identified in our midst. May Jesus Christ our Lord bless our ministry and mission.