The Synod has historically supported campus ministries throughout our geographical bounds. One of these ministries is the Protestant Chapel Community, a ministry of Genesee Area Campus Ministries, led by Presbyterian Teaching Elder Laurie Tiberi. She gathers students for weekly Sunday worship and Wednesday Dinner Dialogues, as well as Saturday student-led bible study and service in a local soup kitchen, game nights and social events.
"It is because one antelope will blow the dust from the other's eye that the two antelopes walk together"- African Proverb.
This is one of my favorite African proverbs because it describes the critical role of community in fostering insight, awareness and unity. When we come together as members of the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit lovingly blows the dust from our eyes as we learn to live and love together
Another innovative step in living out the New Way Forward took place as the Synod of the Northeast Mission and Ministry Commission met April 1-2 to do the work of the church in a new way. The commission spent intentional time slowing down, setting aside the “business” of the church, reflecting together on Isaiah 43:19, and discerning where new things are bubbling up in our life together as the connectional church.
Kevin Hershey felt a call to ministry at a young age. He knew a closeness to God, a consistent back and forth interaction, a way of being in relationship, that he eventually realized set him apart from his peers. Many years later, he continues to live in this close relationship with the Sacred by leading a community, Companions on the Way, to deepen their relationship with God and in turn with each other.
The Synod Mission and Ministry Commission met the last weekend in January. It was a spirit-filled gathering in which we accomplished so much work in 24 hours—all with a combination of seriousness, joy, laughter and fellowship. We began and ended with worship focusing on the words and ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is remarkable how much his words still resonate with the ministry of the Synod today.
Last October, for the two days preceding the Synod’s Come to the Table event, almost 40 pastors and lay leaders from the Northeast under age 40 met for the second annual gathering of Emerging Leaders. In an aging denomination where more than half our worshipers are over the age of 60, young people, and especially young people in leadership, are somewhat of a novelty.
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.