Greetings from the Moderator OCT0BER 2023
I have been reminded in many ways in the past month of our connections beyond each local congregation. There is much in these connections that make me proud to be a Presbyterian. I hope that you are aware of connections beyond your local congregation that make you proud, too. Here are a few of mine.
At the September meeting of presbytery we celebrated Dan Williams’ ministry among us and shared letters from the two other presbyteries where Dan served. They wanted to share in our celebration of his ministry as he retires. We approved the call of two ministers who were then finishing an interim in Providence Presbytery, which is in South Carolina. October first, they began their call as interim presbyters here and we welcome Hoover and Olivia Haney who were being prepared to serve us both by their previous work and by what they learned about us as the presbytery leaders in this Synod gathered twice a year! Also at that meeting we heard from Elizabeth Turk who serves with her husband, Dan, as mission partners in Madagascar. Part of our PATH contributions go to support their work with a church that was started long ago by missionaries of our denomination.
In later September, I had a zoom meeting with a group organized as Friends of Gujranwala Seminary. I am secretary of that group. The seminary educates church leaders and Bible teachers for congregations of many denominations in Pakistan these days. I have heard in the news of persecution of Christians in that land and of the devastation caused by floods this summer there. Every time, I pause to thank God that the church started by our missionaries, including my grandparents, in the mid-1800s continues to bring the gospel along with education, health and agricultural support in a place of deep need even at the risk of its own welfare. Our group has the goal of helping the seminary establish an ongoing endowment for its work so it can be totally independent of outside support and I am honored to be part of that work.
Throughout the month, I have been in conversation with church leaders in other presbyteries about how we provide orientation to the new Church Discipline section of the Book of Order. In October, I will be on zoom with Yellowstone Presbytery leaders offering orientation to them. I will also be in St. Louis at the meeting of presbytery leaders along with Christina Greenawalt, our presbytery’s Stated Clerk for conversation there about how the changes in this part of the Book of Order can help us restore trust and peace in the church when there is suspicion that trust is broken.
Christ’s words to the first disciples in Acts 1 are “You will be my witnesses”. We still are! We witness not by ourselves as individuals alone, but also in the ways we join to reach people around the world with God’s love and in the ways we support and encourage each other as we seek both to serve and to learn and grow in effective ministry as individuals, congregations and a presbytery.
In the months ahead, we will be prayerfully considering together with our interim presbyters and our Strategic Planning Team, headed by Ralphetta Aker McClary, elder at Washington Shores what God’s call is to us now as Christ’s witnesses today in Central Florida Presbytery. There will be lots of opportunities to hear each other, share needs and plan together in the year ahead. I can’t wait to learn how you and your congregation view the best ways for presbytery to be a resource to your ministry and how you view the best ways we all can serve together here and around the world today.
Peace and blessings,