As Moderator Elect I had many more meetings to attend and preside over since I chaired General Council --and we also had to solve the Million Dollar Problem. As Moderator I only chaired 5 presbytery meetings and had fewer committee obligations. However me and my trusty SUV logged in many miles presiding over ordinations and installations around our large geographical area.
The experience has been quite a ride. Just a few weeks after agreeing to serve as the 2008 Moderator, the "Million Dollar Problem" was revealed. This doubled and tripled the number of meetings required to address the problem, which ultimately was resolved through the faithful work of many people. Today PNC is well on its way to repaying GA for the special offering funds that were diverted and the presbytery's accounting and auditing procedures have been overhauled and brought up to professional standards.
PNC is almost uniquely blessed in its location in an area of the country that is growing in population and still has one of the strongest economies in the nation, despite the lower price of oil and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike this fall. Many volunteers and much effort is being put into rebuilding Galveston and the other areas just east of Houston that were destroyed by that storm.
PNC is dedicated to new church development with more NCD's than any other presbytery. During my year as moderator, three NCD's received full charters as churches in the PCUSA. One was a traditional suburban church plant and two others were ethnic churches--Vietnamese and Filipino. Presiding over the charter services was the highlight of this year!
PNC is also blessed because there is an atmosphere of collegiality and respect that transcends differences of opinion on the PresbyIssues of the day. Much of this can be attributed to the leadership provided by our very pastoral General Presbyter, Rev. Mike Cole, our associate GP's Rev. Wendy Bailey and Mary Marcotte (a certified DCE) and the small but dedicated presbytery staff. I have to also make a special acknowledgement of the best Stated Clerk in all of PresbyLand, Rev. Diane Prevary, whose advice and advance preparation were invaluable to me at presbytery meetings. .
We're not immune to the tempests tossing the denomination, however. One church departed the denomination for the EPC this year, leaving a smaller congregation and their property behind in the process, and another filed a lawsuit against the presbytery and GA asking the court to declare the trust clause of the BOO invalid in Texas. Other sessions have expressed grave concerns about the direction of the denomination after the last General Assembly meeting. There are as many challenges ahead for PNC as there are for any other presbytery in the country. Fortunately, the Rev. Wayne Eberly, our new Moderator, is uniquely gifted to serve in this role in 2009.
In PNC, the moderator has only one duty in the post-moderator year: to assist in making nominations to the Nominating Committee. As the year came to a close and I was starting to think about what to do with all the "free" time I was about to gain with stepping down, I got a call from the Nominating Committee at my church asking me to go on session and take on a major administrative assignment.
Now I know that the gifts of the Spirit include administration, but somehow that never seems like a "real" work of ministry, does it? Not like preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. It wasn't what I thought about doing--but it seems to be what God is calling me to do. I should be old enough not to be surprised by God, but...it still happens.
So although I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve the presbytery these last two years, I'm happily returning to service in my home congregation.
I will continue to blog about things Presbyterian and things Not Presbyterian in my continuing search for grace in everyday life. My first article for the "Best of the Blogs" column in Presbyterians Today appears in the January/February issue -- and is available on the online version here.
Now that I no longer have an official position with the presbytery, I will be free to express my opinions on whatever goes on in the denomination without concern that my opinions will be confused with any official position of PNC.
Yes, QG, there IS life after presbytery!