The 2019 January 25-26 Synod Mission & Ministries Commission meeting began the next two-year term for presbytery representatives. As we said farewell to some representatives at the November 2018 meeting, we welcomed at this meeting people elected for the first time to represent their presbyteries. You can see that the new members bring a wealth of experience, gifts, and talents to the Commission that will enhance the Synod’s work over the next two years.
With the term cycle shift approaching with the new year, at its November 2018 meeting, the Mission & Ministries Commission (M&MC) thanked the Commission members and Synod officers who are rotating off its roles and bid them farewell. We are so grateful for their gifts, their service, and their ministry! We will miss each of them, but know that we will continue to see and hear from them in other contexts across the Synod.
One of the primary responsibilities of a Synod is to serve and care for its member presbyteries. In our New Way Forward, the manner in which this responsibility is carried out has changed significantly. Our values now call us to focus on serving rather than directing, listening rather than telling, and working from as close to our grassroots (congregations) as possible. This work is shaped by careful listening.
Over the more than five years since we have started on this New Way Forward it has become clear that most of our 22 presbyteries are struggling to find new ways to meet their own calling. Every presbytery has experienced shifts in demographics, changes or confusion in what is expected from leaders, as well as loss of membership and financial resources. Almost every presbytery has been engaged in creative experimentation in finding new ways to meet this sea change.
As our Synod Mission Team works among our presbyteries, it became clear that we are at a Kairos moment.
In addition to great fellowship and conversations among Commissioners, Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs), and Observers, the Synod Assembly also had the privilege of welcoming some special guests as well…
Amid the many fruitful conversations that comprised the 2018 Synod Assembly’s business, the Assembly officially elected officers for the Synod’s upcoming leadership terms.
The 2018 Synod Assembly was organized by a “worshipful work” approach to our business and conversations. As we moved through the different elements of the meeting, each corresponded with an aspect of the Reformed order of worship, which helped to ground us in our spiritual identity and to remind us of our ultimate purpose of honoring God.
One of the main highlights of the Assembly was a confessional statement that was written and presented by a group of young ministry leaders called “A Confession for Such a Time as This.”
This was the first assembly to be held under the Synod’s New Way Forward, which was adopted at our 2014 Assembly. Using the foundational values of blue skies and unencumbered spaces, the Assembly flowed back and forth between sharing stories and information from across the Synod and governance work. The sharing included Minutes for Mission from emerging leaders, an emerging Gospel community within Albany Presbytery – Underwood Park CrossFit, and another within Long Island Presbytery – Ministerio Hispano en Los Moriches, the Pre-Assembly Event on Race facilitated by Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, the Working Group on Race, Presbyterian Women, the Hispanic Caucus, the Newark Administrative Commission, and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
"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.
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.