Are you a person with the rare but necessary gift to walk alongside people in conflict? Do you want to hone that gift and use it in the church? If so, you might be called to serve as a Mediator in your presbytery or within the Synod of the Northeast. We have created a Mediation Network that can provide Mediators to walk alongside churches or groups and committees in presbyteries to help solve conflicts before they reach the level of a remedial complaint. Our goal is reconciliation in Christ by mutual agreement. Matthew 5:25 and the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order urge us to do everything we can to settle our differences, even on the way to court. Many people who have filed remedial complaints have said they did so because no one heard them. Our job is to hear all parties so that those of us in disputes don't become so angry that we are locked into a position, unable to provide space to hear God's voice.
On November 13 and 14, Presbytery Moderators from around the Synod of the Northeast gathered in Albany to engage in conversations around the New Way Forward. Just two weeks before, the Synod had held its first Come to the Table event-a biennial gathering that will alternate with our Synod Assembly as a way of bringing the whole regional community together each year. At Come to the Table, we explored three topics: Wilderness, Witness and Welcome in our life together as a regional body in the PC(USA) in the Northeast. At the moderator's gathering, we used these topics to explore the life of our presbyteries in their particular contexts.
Networking isn’t a new term, but it is an important practice. Through networking people with people, presbyteries with presbyteries, projects with projects, the Synod community uses the power of gathering to encourage, enable and be challenged together in the Christ’s mandated mission to tell our stories of grace and transformation. The gospel community of the Synod of the Northeast is comprised of over 180,000 members, gathered in over 1,100 congregations and scores of fellowships, new worshipping communities and new church developments, related to each other in 22 presbyteries. As I have sat with many of our leaders and members over this past year and a bit, I have been amazed at the stories that I have heard. I have begun knitting together people with similar stories into what we call now a Synod Network. The intentional networking of these leaders and their stories throughout our regional community has been an important part of our joint aim to make the Synod an unencumbered space for missional innovation, witness renewal, and radical welcome.
East Syracuse, NY: As an act of racial reconciliation, the Synod of the Northeast will clear $175,000 of debt for the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church during their 175th anniversary celebration, scheduled for Sunday, November 15, 2015. This one-time grant is in response to the ecclesiastical lynching of the Rev. William Robeson in 1901, who was pastor of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church and was outspoken in his advocacy for racial justice. The Rev. William Robeson is the father of Paul Robeson.
Presbyterians in the Northeast have been engaged in ministry with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons for as long as we have been in this region. During its September 2015 meeting, the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission approved the formation of a Prison Ministry Network. The primary purpose of the Prison Ministry Network is to improve the pre-release and post-release reentry process of persons formerly incarcerated into welcoming communities.
It’s always amazing to me how much can be accomplished in 24 hours. The Synod Mission and Ministries Commission met on September 26-27 to consider overtures to General Assembly, new mission and higher education grants, a new network, and more that you will be hearing about in the time to come.