Blog Post by
Rev. Vanessa Hawkins
Designated Associate Presbytery Leader
Last week, all five members of the presbytery staff packed up a day’s worth of work, computers, and snacks and traveled down south to Cape Girardeau for a day “In the Neighborhood.” We have traveled and worked together on several occasions with presbytery gatherings and leadership retreats, but this was different, and I could feel the excitement in the air as I drove down Interstate 55. “In the Neighborhood” was an intentional team effort to be present to presbytery members in a distinct way – to take our hands and feet into the very geographical regions to which normally only one or two of the staff travels. Normally, our members from these regions travel to us and it was only fair that we travel to them also.
Not only did we take our physical selves into the area, but we took our presbytery practices also. Over the last year and ½, I have come to recognize and appreciate the spiritual practices embodied by the staff as they carry out their work. Although we do not talk about “presbytery practices,” there are certain perspectives and actions that provide a rhythm to our lives as we work together as people called to serve God, presbytery members, our communities, and each other.
Using those practices, we spent Wednesday evening meeting with teaching and ruling elders and commissioned pastors who had particular situations that needed to be discussed. Thursday we rotated between working on office tasks and greeting visitors. We also called others serving in pastoral leadership roles to check-in with them and offered to pray for them as prompted by the Spirit. Since the next presbytery gathering is at First Cape Girardeau, Leigh and Joy toured the church site with the pastor to discuss the gathering checklist and discuss ways to ensure that the gathering goes as smoothly as possible. Our time there was a joy. Taking the office out into the presbytery was a good idea and if we continue to be guided by the same presbytery practices that we embody in the office in Creve Coeur, I believe we will continue the good work of deepening our connectional ties and strengthening our cords of friendship in ways that will move us closer to the ideal of the Beloved Kindom that God has called us to embody.
Here are the Rules of Life which govern our steps and actions as Giddings-Lovejoy staff:
- Remembering that we are the Body of Christ called to be a light to the world in tangible and practical ways.
- Paying attention when others contact us with particular needs, concerns, and questions and responding in an appropriate and caring manner.
- Praying for others as we learn of their concerns, conflicts, and grief.
- Listening and learning from others who take the time to share with us and inform our work as staff and colleagues and being appreciative of their wisdom.
- Breaking bread together as a community of friends and colleagues, thus taking the time to get to know each other beyond the work of the presbytery.
- Laughing with and loving all of God’s creation.
- Going where God sends us with the right spirit and with an open heart while accepting that things won’t go always as planned, but the experience will give us guidance for next steps.
Rev. Vanessa Hawkins