As I reflect on my first year as Transitional Leader in Elizabeth Presbytery, I am grateful for the sense of community and trust we are building together:
Thank you….For digging into the learning modules we’ve offered at each presbytery meeting, and for taking the conversation home to your sessions and colleagues. We are becoming a learning community, with a new purpose for our gatherings: to experience and express what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ in mission to our communities. And we have been able to complete our business in a timely fashion!
Thank you…..For welcoming me to your worship, to work with your session, to preach, to consult, or simply to get acquainted over a meal. In my first year, I have worshiped in 37 of our congregations and have preached in 14. I hope to complete the cycle of visits to every congregation in the presbytery by the end of the summer. As we move into fall, I expect to do less popping around to visit and instead would like to make myself available at your invitation….to preach, to teach, consult, or to meet with group of folks in your congregation. I want to start building relationships with more of the key leaders in our congregations.
Thank you…to all who have served presbytery committees, and especially to those who have stepped up to new leadership. Our newly expanded Greystone team and parallel Multi-cultural team (C.O.M.E.) reflect the diversity of our presbytery! Two Administrative Commissions are currently working; New chairs of cabinet and trustees have been appointed. A new moderator and vice-moderator have been elected and installed. These new faces are bringing energy and insight that is helping both with stuck places and with imagining possibilities for our future.
We are making strides in communication, with our newly designed and launched website, still under construction, but a big improvement And we are using Facebook to show and tell what is happening among us…friend us!
Slow down and settle down has been my mantra since day one. Together, may we STOP putting movement and energy in places where there is no passion or where there is much effort, but little movement and START finding people who are ready to come together, with gifts and passion, to connect with God’s activity in our world. We are not yet ready for decisions about structure and staffing, but we are getting there
Try it and see what happens: We are experimenting with different ways of using our resources of people, time, and money. The Cabinet has given some teams a season of sabbath, and cabinet members have begun to imagine how we might bring people together across traditional lines for experiences that will deepen our life in Christ and yield new wisdom for the presbytery’s future.
The presbytery’s budget is not yet aligned with our current financial realities, by taking into consideration the changes in the giving patterns of our churches. The cabinet and I have begun talk about faithful and effective use of congregational mission and per capita giving in relationship to the needs of our congregations and the communities they serve.
I’ve talked with the Cabinet and COM about launching a New Beginnings initiative this fall….putting presbytery financial resources and time behind this tool that many Presbyterian churches are using to discern their future story. I would love to see at least 20 congregations involved in New Beginnings, and then to see congregations coming together to talk about their learnings and to imagine models for partnership, collaboration, perhaps even a shared future among congregations. Statistically, half of our members are in 7 congregations. The other half are spread among 40 congregations. How might we make effective use of our connectional system to strengthen our work and our witness to the world around us?
And, we need to get serious about the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement of our denomination. New Providence and Westfield have both initiated projects through this movement and over the past two years 248 new worshiping communities have sprung up around the country. Many are racial-ethnic in composition. Restaurants, trailer parks, and gyms, are among the venues in which people who know and love Jesus to connect with neighbors who don’t. Where do we see openings for our congregations to initiate projects that will make new disciples, beyond the walls of our buildings?
It’s been said that it takes 18 miles to turn the Queen Mary. Small incremental steps aligned with common purpose will get us there. Remember: when we work on ourselves, when we lead from our strengths, when we step up and bring our best…change slowly happens.
Thank you for giving me a couple more years to work and play and pray with you, Together, with God’s help, may the quality of our life together bring glory to God, healing and salvation to our world, and joy to our hearts and minds.
Cheryl D. Galan, Transitional Leader
The Presbytery of Elizabeth