Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grants, Overture and a Good Meeting

Yesterday was spent at the presbytery meeting. I got to make what will probably be my favorite report of my year as Moderator-Elect. It was the announcement of the Vision Initiative Grants which awarded a total of $120,000 to 10 different churches and groups in the presbytery for the purpose of supporting our vision: "Growing congregations that passionately engage their communities to make disciples. "

As Moderator-elect, it was my job to chair the committee that reviewed the applications and made the recommendations to General Council for their approval. Money for the grants came from a recent generous bequest to the presbytery, so in this first year our committee had to develop the process from scratch. This was a fun job--everyone loves to give away money--and it was a great hard-working committee.
Some of the projects the grants will support are the planting of a new missional church in our presbytery, the implementation of a program to train pastors to develop lay leadership, the redevelopment of another church, a lay leader training program for an ethnic church, and an innovative outreach to the Hispanic community by another church in a changing neighborhood. I can't wait to see how these projects develop and look forward to seeing more innovative proposals from folks in presbytery next year.

Presbytery passed what will probably be a unique overture to the 2008 GA:
The Church Addressing Intergenerational Injustice in America. (Go here and scroll down to pgs. 42-43 for the full text.)

This is a call for the church to "declare that federal government practices and policies which create ever-increasing debt and unfunded or underfunded obligations for future generations of Americans are a grave moral concern as well as a clear danger to the republic." The original overture was amended on the floor to add a call for a national day of prayer to consider the issue. There wasn't much debate and the overture was adopted by a vote of 132 to 53. One pastor quipped, "It's nice to have an overture that addresses the boardroom rather than the bedroom"!

A balanced budget was presented, thanks to additional contributions from churches and individuals. We have made our first repayment to the General Assembly of the special offerings funds that weren't paid. We now have a new permanent Business Manager and have set up an Audit Committee. Woo-hoo! We're working our way out of the Million Dollar problem.

Worship was led by the youth who attended Triennium and they did a wonderful job with it. New Covenant sends one of the largest delegations to that event. We got everyone who wanted to make announcements to send the information on slides and set up a rolling slideshow before and after each session and during all breaks, and I prepared a powerpoint of the Vision Initiative Grants that was projected behind me while I made that report. This all worked really well and we finished early! We will continue to try to use technology to streamline the meetings.

All in all, it was a very good day. My good friend was recognized for completing the requirements to be a certified Director of Christian Education, and two candidates for ordination were examined and approved. Everything's looking up in New Covenant Presbytery at the moment! I hope it's looking up where you are as well.


Jan said...

Good report--glad things look optimistic!

Gannet Girl said...

I'm glad things are going so well, including on the Million Dollar Front.

That's interesting that you have Presbytery meetings on Saturdays. Is it hard to convince people to use a week-end day for that?

Quotidian Grace said...

Actually next year ALL our meetings will be on Saturdays. I'm sure this is not the favorite day for many people. We're doing this because:

1. Most of the churches large enough to host the meetings cannot host on weekdays because they have preschool/school programs that take up all their space AND they don't have enough volunteers available on a weekday. We have churches willing to host on Saturday but not during the week!

2. Weekday meetings tend to exclude the younger elders and elders who work in jobs that aren't flexible enough to allow them to take off time to attend presbytery meetings.(We do provide childcare for commissioners at all our meetings, by the way.)

Maybe after a year of all Saturday meetings, we'll have some churches willing to host on a weekday again.

Gannet Girl said...

It's really hard to have long meetings, no matter what. Ours start at 3 or 4 with special pre-meeting stuff, with the official meeting at and then continuing after a 6pm dinner. I'm not sure that I was ever able to make it prior to 5:55 (My last class as a teacher was from 4:25-5:10 every day).

A PNC Elder who works full time said...

Actually, when our presbytery changed from always meeting on Saturday to having two weekday meetings and two Saturday meetings a year, I argued strenously for sticking to Saturday meetings - for EXACTLY the reasons you give, QG. At that time I was told that ministers were just too busy on Saturdays to expect them to attend presbytery meetings then... Glad we're returning to the "old" way. Now maybe I'll be able to represent my congregation at presbytery again.

Quotidian Grace said...

Long meetings are really hard.

We start at 9am and set a "no later than" 4 pm dismissal. Yesterday we finished by 3 pm. That included an hour for lunch and fellowship.

It would have been even earlier since the docket moved much more quickly than anticipated, but we couldn't move up the candidates' examinations because they didn't arrive before they were originally scheduled.

Quotidian Grace said...

Dear PNC elder--
Hope to see you at the next presbytery meeting. Come up and say Hi!

Purechristianithink said...

To address the "pastors are too busy to attend Saturday meetings" presbyteries could encourage congregations to urge their pastors to take an additional half day some other time during the week on a week when a Saturday presbytery meeting is happening. It just drives me nuts that everyone laments the lack of "younger" (i.e. under 50) people involved in presbytery stuff, yet nearly all presbytery business is conducted during hours when younger people are at work.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good amount of good work was done at your presbytery meeting. Nice job , Madame Moderator!

In our presbytery meetings alternate between Saturdays and weekday evenings and it seems to be acceptable to most...