Dear Friends in Giddings-Lovejoy,
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Presbytery Leader during the past two years. Though I was called and installed as the Presbytery Leader with the gifts and passion for assisting congregational leaders in reaching out to their neighbors, inviting discipleship and transforming churches, I have found myself in many ways completing interim ministry tasks.
The five tasks of transitional (interim) ministry include:
1. Coming to terms with history.
2. Exploring identity and direction.
3. Making leadership/operational changes.
4. Renewing linkages to the denomination.
5. Committing to new leadership and a new direction.
While I was called to Giddings-Lovejoy to lead in developing dynamic leaders and vibrant congregations, other concerns took precedence. Leadership development occurred in the context of response to community crisis and work for justice and reconciliation.
• Five weeks into my ministry, Michael Brown’s death prompted response and shouts for justice rang out in St. Louis, and the whole nation was challenged to “come to terms with the history” of racial division and inequality.
• During the ministry of the Rev. Craig Palmer, the Presbytery explored identity and direction. The Leadership Team wondered together about how the Presbytery would best encourage “vibrant congregations and dynamic leadership,” and we created a new organizational plan for our ministry that is less staff-driven and has tapped and empowered new leadership, “making leadership/operational changes.” Debt has been paid down, making it possible to use new mission dollars for transformation of congregations and the creation and suport of new worshiping communities.
• Recognizing an opportunity to make a larger impact for justice, the Presbytery developed and submitted an overture to the General Assembly based on the findings of the Ferguson Commission. I invited Tom Hay from the General Assembly to meet with the Leadership Team, and I recruited a member of the Presbytery to begin preparation for hosting the next General Assembly meeting in St. Louis. Members of the Presbytery have also reached out to the Synod of Mid America in addressing staffing issues. Linkages between the Presbytery and the larger denomination have been strengthened during my time of service with the Presbytery.
• The last interim task is committing to new leadership and new direction, which I believe the Presbytery is now doing. Several teaching elders new to the Presbytery in the last few years have assumed leadership responsibilities in the new design and are making “dynamic” contributions to the life of the Presbytery. The Presbytery has the opportunity to identify a completely new staff to support and encourage living into the vision of Dynamic Leaders and Vibrant Congregations. Several Presbytery leaders have commented on the new design of Giddings-Lovejoy organizational plan and are intrigued as they look for new models for their mission and ministry.
Thank you for the privilege of leading the Presbytery during these past two years and serving among you. Jesus sent the disciples out to live with the people, to share the Good News, to heal the sick and comfort the grieving. The disciples found welcome in homes, the message of the Gospel was received by those with open hearts, and people experienced healing and hope. I am grateful to the many of you who welcomed me, as I visited in your congregations for worship, enjoyed hospitality in churches and homes and as we journeyed, learned, prayed, advocated for justice, and sought together to love and serve God.
I will hold you in my heart and in my prayers. May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all.
Dear Friends in Giddings-Lovejoy,