Our Journey of Transition
In February and March of 2012, the Cabinet held “Listening Sessions” across the Presbytery to learn more about the needs of congregations and pastors. The “Listening Sessions” provided a good opportunity for the Cabinet to visit with congregations and pastors. We have posted a summary of the listening sessions as well as comments from each individual listening session.
From the various comments, we gleaned the following regarding the needs and desires of congregations at this time:
- Support, especially during leadership transitions in the local congregation and during/after emergencies (fire, floods)
- Communications between churches and with the larger church
- Sharing of resources, e.g. the pulpit supply list, Sunday school curriculum
- Training, education for elders, clerks of session, CRE (Commissioned ruling elders)
- Encourage us to embrace new ministries
- Communication support to coordinate outreach in local communities or to share “best practices” regarding food pantry, etc.
We see a pattern regarding communication needs and we are working on providing more communication support and ways for us to communicate more fluidly with one another.
During this year, we have also been working on preparing for 2013 and finding ways for elected leadership to pick up a variety of duties performed by an executive presbyter. We are certain that we cannot do all of the duties and we know that we will be missing some key areas; in particular, leadership development. With the assistance of the current interim executive presbyter, we have completed a re-assignment of duties chart as well as a contact chart (whom to contact for what). We have also prepared a contact chart for outside agencies of the denomination as they have been accustomed to communicating with an executive presbyter because that is the way the larger church is still set up. We have also made connections with Synod and GA resources to provide consultation for Presbytery leadership in the absence of an executive presbyter. This has been time consuming and we have tried to cover all of the bases.
We have also been moving forward with the request of the Presbytery to change the way the budget is funded. We are half way there on the budget.
The Cabinet additionally appointed three task forces:
- Sell the Presbytery Mission Support Center Task Force (as approved by the Presbytery in June). The task force completed an initial review of the building and interviewed a realtor and the Cabinet approved the realtor agreement at its October 3rd meeting and the building is now on the market.
- Building-less Office Task Force. This task force conducted surveys and discovered that the overwhelming majority of the congregations desired to sell the Presbytery Mission Support Center. It also learned that most members of the Presbytery have access to e-mail and internet service. It has learned about the ways other Presbyteries and Synods have been functioning without a building while still maintaining a connection with one another and at the request of the Cabinet, prepared an implementation plan.
- Website Advisory Group. This group is working with a website designer to modernize the Presbytery’s website and to make it more user friendly. They were also tasked with designing a website that would assist the Presbytery leadership in doing its work without a building. The website will provide some of the communication tools for congregations and pastors to share best practices and it may also have areas where webinars can be posted providing various training modules for clerks of session, etc.
The Presbytery leadership has been using tools such as doodle (a free on-line service that helps leadership schedule meetings efficiently), survey monkey (a free on-line service that helps leadership conducts simple surveys to get feedback and direction), GoToMeeting (a paid service that allows leadership to meet with one another and work on the same document long distance; it also allows leadership to see one another by video camera as well as converse), and Dropbox (a free or paid service depending on how much storage is desired; used to share files with one another without having to e-mail them back and forth). The Presbytery also has the capability of hosting webinars (using GoToWebinar, a companion to GoToMeeting) with up to 1,000 persons at the same time and the webinars, once completed, can be recorded and posted on the website.
These tools and resources have been used for over two years and they have assisted the leadership in doing the work of the Presbytery efficiently and at times, without travel. They have not been used in place of face-to-face contact, rather they have supplemented face-to-face contact. Because of the positive experience with these tools, we are encouraged that we can do the work of the Presbytery without a building and that we can also continue to build community with one another without a building.
The Presbytery will continue to have staff (just not an executive presbyter) and Presbytery membership will continue to have the opportunity to call staff members by phone or contact them by e-mail. The only change is that staff members will not work out of the PMSC once it is sold. Additionally, it is hoped that there may be more connections developed among members of the Presbytery and between Presbytery members and Presbytery leadership.
We have listed the links below so that you may look more closely at any of the areas that we have worked on this past year and so that you are more fully informed about the work of your Cabinet.
Contacting us is easy. Please click here to visit our contact page!