By Ed Thompson

We’re making progress. The Leadership Team report for the February 16 Stated Presbytery Meeting gives some of the details of what will be emerging over the next few months. It’s basically a two-track process. One track will be searching for a Transitional General Presbyter that will work with the presbytery to keep things going during a “Season of Discernment.” The other track involves working with a consultant to help the presbytery discern its priorities, its structure, and its staffing during this “Season of Discernment.”

The Committee on Representation is working on and should be able to bring to the February 16 meeting nominees to serve on the Transitional General Presbyter Nominating Committee. The plan is to have a five-member committee consisting of one male minister, one female minister, one male ruling elder, one female ruling elder, and one Commissioned Pastor/Authorized Lay Preacher, each from a different part of the presbytery. Our Presbytery Manual gives a better outline for the process for electing the General Presbyter Nominating Committee but doesn’t really describe what needs to happen when we’re searching for a Transitional General Presbyter. While that gives us some flexibility, we may want to fill in those gaps the next time we work on revising/updating the manual. Forrest Claassen, our synod executive, will serve as staff to the TGPNC. (Somehow we wouldn’t be Presbyterian if we didn’t use anacronyms. That stands for Transitional General Presbyter Nominating Committee. It’s probably overly snarky to say “Get used to it,” but there you go.)

The Leadership Team has also appointed a group to interview consultants who can work with the presbytery to help us discern our future. In another very Presbyterian move, we hired a consultant to help us determine what questions we should be asking a consultant. You can laugh – as I did – at this step, but that may have been the best, most productive meeting I have ever attended. Tom Heywood, a ruling elder from Bream Memorial Presbyterian Church, did an excellent job working with us. We now have a much clearer picture of what we want and what we’re looking for. The Consultant Search Group will be meeting shortly after next week’s presbytery meeting and may well have someone selected by the time of the May Stated Presbytery Meeting. That doesn’t mean the consultant will be able to start working with us at that time, however. The timing depends on their schedule, what they propose to do, and whether they want to start with small group work, large group work, a survey, or something else. That is yet to be revealed, and those details will depend on who we select.

The point is, we’re making progress. We aren’t having to wait until a Transitional General Presbyter is on board, waiting for them to figure out the lay of the land, and waiting for them to decide how they want to tweak their preferred method of doing a mission study so that it will best work in this presbytery. Conceivably, that could take another year before we’d get started. God would still be with us in that interim period, but it also seems like a lot of waiting.

God indeed is with us. Presbyterians are not necessarily known for making speedy decisions, but the Holy Spirit is obviously at work moving this process along. Stay tuned as details emerge and tune in to the February 16 Stated Presbytery Meeting, not only to learn more about the proposed Church Discipline and vote on the remaining amendments to the constitution that we didn’t get to at our November Stated Presbytery Meeting but also to elect that TGPNC.