By Maureen Wright

The first 10 days of serving as the Transitional General Presbyter for the Presbytery of West Virginia have been busy. My calendar looks as if it has been hit by a scheduling tsunami as I have added additional committee meetings, visits with pastors, a number of opportunities to visit churches, and several events offered by the Synod and General Assembly to support this work. If I were to summarize the experience it would be, “I love it; I am energized!”

I want to thank you for the emails, text messages, and calls of congratulations. I am overwhelmed by the offers of support and your commitment to the journey before us. I shared at the Presbytery meeting on July 31 that I expect our journey together to last 15 to 24 months. This journey will be the transition of the Presbytery of West Virginia moving from where it has been and what we know to the unknown. This will be a journey of leaving behind our old ways of doing and being the church, a time to reflect on the deeper questions of our identity, purpose, and future – in other words, who is God calling us to be and what is God calling us to do now.

One of the most important ways for us to discern what God is calling us to do and be is through the study of scripture. At our meeting on Tuesday, the staff looked at Genesis 12: 1-9. This story is often referred to as the Call of Abram. God calls Abram to leave what is known, his country, his kindred, his father’s house, and go to a place that God will show Abram. God promises to both bless Abram and make Abram a blessing. God asks that Abram go from known to unknown, to step out in faith, and by so doing to be blessed and bless others. We read through the passage three times. I invited us to think about a word or phrase that stood out as we think about the Presbytery in transition, especially the first steps of moving from known to unknown. I asked us to reflect on what the Spirit is saying in this moment and to identify God’s gift or invitation in this passage. I invite you to take 15 to 20 minutes to read through this passage and reflect on these same questions.

As I reflect on this scripture, I am reminded of a trunk that sits in my parent’s home. It is a handmade, dovetailed plain wood trunk with a home-forged latch and iron reinforcements. The trunk is 21.5 inches deep by 46 inches long by 17 inches tall. It is the trunk that my paternal grandmother’s family brought from Alsace, France in 1816 when they emigrated to the United States. (See the picture of the note passing the trunk to my grandmother.) I think about that journey, that transition from the known to the unknown. The family packed what they brought with them for the unknown in that trunk.

It reminds me that I always overpack! It makes me think about what I will pack for our journey together. Following my election as Transitional General Presbyter and Stated Clerk, I shared what I brought to this time. This is what I said that I would pack. First, curiosity – a commitment to asking you to reflect and a commitment to listening to your answers. Second, prayer – a commitment to praying for you and asking you to pray for the Presbytery and its transition work. Third, studying the scriptures – looking at the scriptures to see what they have to say to me and inviting you to reflect on the meaning of these stories for such a time as this. (Consider this the first opportunity.) Fourth, experimentation – a commitment to inviting you to try new things. Inviting you into a space where we try something, evaluate it, and either embrace it or discard it.

I invite you to think about what you will pack for the journey, for the transition from known to unknown. I want to hear your thoughts, so please send me an email, text me, give me a call. I look forward to hearing from you.