Preceded by worship with holy communion and a devotional reading of Matthew 9:35-10:42, session met for its monthly stated meeting with representatives from the deacons and invited guests.
Because of our Lord's passion for witnessing in His light (see John 3:19-21), I will ask Karen, if no one objects, to duplicate this update for inclusion in this coming Sunday's bulletin. It will also be published on Wednesday as "First's Family Undershepherd Script (23)." While it may be lengthy and cumbersome for some, one consistent concern in our congregation is the thirst for more information. Well, uh, here we go!
I know e-mail or snail mail or any written communication has limitations - open to sad misinterpretations and reading between the lines and imagining and...
I know some folks rebel against such communications and prefer face-to-face reviews of everything; and while respecting that desire and always available to anyone about anything at just about anytime as asked, this update is important for so many in such a timely way that such individual attention is imprudent as well as hurtful to those who would ask why they were not contacted when someone else was contacted.
Now to last night's meeting.
Last night's meeting was marked by the best expressions of Christian character by all who attended.
All decisions were unanimous or clear/substantial/indisputable majorities.
The meeting's deportment was marked by grace, generosity, and other hallmarks of agape.
I felt privileged to moderate such a meeting of people so dedicated to honoring Jesus.
Among the many decisions made, I believe two rise to the level of Christocentric/Biblical significance.
Other decisions will be reflected in the minutes of the meeting that are available to anyone who asks Karen for a copy and highlighted by Connie for the newsletter.
First, appreciation and affirmation were expressed repeatedly for the tireless, generous, and steadfast service of Dale as chairman of the Project Team. Everyone recognizes the financial challenges of these times and thanks him for leading with Jan, Carl, Pat and those employed by the church during this renovation/expansion. The bad news is we will exhaust most of our endowment as we move to completion of the project. The good news is we will not be in debt. Bob (not me) will be helping to monitor the completion of the work; focusing on completing all current aspects of the renovation/expansion while not commencing anything new. Again, while recognizing the challenges, this discussion was marked by celebration along with appreciation and affirmation of Dale's exemplary service.
Second, it was unanimously decided the "senior" (Geez! I know I'm...) pastor will exercise the constitutional rights/demands/expectations of our denomination's constitution and order worship subject to the review of session. These discussions were marked by attention to "Leadership for Today's Church" which can be read via www.koppdisclosure.com. Appreciation and affirmation were expressed repeatedly for all who have been coordinating and ordering music, rubrics, and ceremonies of rites in worship; however, it has become increasingly clear that members of our family of faith at First Presbyterian Church have become increasingly frustrated by not knowing where the "buck" stops. Session made it clear that the buck stops with session through the "senior" pastor as the primary liturgical leader of the family. Practically, this means anyone who has a problem, complaint, concern, vision, revelation, inspiration, or indigestion will know that they can blame the pastor and focus their energies in his direction. I made one important comment (amplified since last night) here: "It is important for all of us to remind folks that listening and agreeing are not synonyms." Specifically, the "senior" pastor subject to the review of session will order the liturgies, determine how much music is included in services, honor the diversity of music inspired by our Lord, and so on. After the unanimous vote, I fleshed it out a bit more. While I pray never to be pharisaical as I submit to the reviews and authority of the session, I told session that this will commence on 11/27, Elaine will coordinate praise songs with me and help order the service with Karen et moi for publication in bulletins, Lisa will be the "gatekeeper" of all musicians and continue her responsibilities with our rich diversity of choirs and musicians and consult with Elaine and me about the availability of selections for Sundays in advance, Mona will continue her ministry in the first service and be asked to play the organ and piano in the second service as requested (noting Lisa will play organ hymns when Mona is unavailable), and Karry will coordinate liturgical participation/leadership/speaking/praying apart from the concerns preceding the service, message, sacraments, prayers, and other elements entrusted to the "senior" pastor and subject to the review of session. In short, people will now know where the buck stops and how to be heard as we pray and labor together to honor Him in worship.
If I am wrong in any of my recollections or amplifications, participants in last night's meeting will hit "reply all" and correct me; expressing my apologies in advance for anything that I have miscommunicated or misinterpreted.
Again, it was a great meeting; and from worship through adjournment, I trust we felt the warmth and gentle guidance of His Holy Spirit.
Blessings and Love!
P.S. Please feel free to forward this to anyone not appearing as copied who you feel should recieve this. Again, if anyone reads anything pejorative in the above, it is my failure to communicate the overwhelming presence of the Lord in gently guiding session in all its deliberations last night.