Greetings my friends,
God is coaxing us into a new decade! So, as we finish up week six, I can’t let another day go by without saying thank you for the opportunity to be your new Presbytery Leader and Stated Clerk. I am humbled and so honored to be in this presbytery and work along each and every one of you. I am grateful for the faithful renovation work of the last six years, and the spirit infused in the new way we live out our mission in this presbytery.
As we look toward the future of our mission and ministry together, we still have quite a few challenges before us. If you take a snapshot of every congregation in the presbytery and create a “challenge list,” there will be some common themes, and there will be some items unique to each context. I believe that the renovation and re-build process of the last six years prepared us to face those challenges. We were able to take some intentional time rumbling with the realities of Christendom, get above the fray, and are now well-poised to face the future.
So, the question is, “How do we continue to do the work we need to do to stay faithful to our polity and heritage as we adapt to new realities?”
Here are some hopeful initiatives on the horizon:
Faithful Innovation: The challenges facing the church are deeper than just institutional decline. We live in a culture where not even belief in God is assumed—let alone Jesus, let alone church participation. How might the Holy Spirit be calling us to communicate the gospel in such a context? How can we continue to develop peer-learning opportunities to create strong pastoral and church leadership?
Legacy Project: As we give thanks for the gifts we have inherited from the Great Cloud of Witnesses of the church, we ask the questions, “In this new era, what gifts do we (our communities of faith) want to hand down to our children? How can presbytery partner with churches as they assess their strengths/challenges and plan for their future?”
I am excited to share more about the nuts and bolts of these new initiatives over the next months. In the meantime, please feel free to ask questions of me, our staff, and presbytery leaders. We look forward to the ways we can all join in this work together.
I find it noteworthy that today is Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin (both in 1809), and Lydia Marie Child’s (1802) birthdays. We all know the many ways Lincoln and Darwin informed culture and change, but I imagine not many of us know much about Lydia Child. She is best known for her Thanksgiving Children’s poem, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” She was also a prolific writer and activist. She challenged white supremacy, fought for an end to slavery and supported women’s Native American rights. She used her writing to crusade for truth and justice.
Next week we have our first Presbytery meeting of the year. We will gather to rejoice in worship, commemorate Black History Month, do the business of presbytery, and welcome special guests from agencies and organizations doing good work in our state, synod, and in the broader church. As we center ourselves in God’s word and wisdom, I invite us to ask ourselves how we can use our ministry connections to crusade for truth and justice?
Grateful in Christ,
Debbie G. Foster
Presbytery Leader and Stated Clerk