Brothers and Sisters,
Last Sunday I preached on the Trinity, so it seems only fitting that I begin my term as Chair of Northern Lights by greeting you in the name of the Triune God: 1-in-3/3-in-1; Parent, Child and Spirit; Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer; Love, Beloved and Lover.
In many Presbyteries the change to a new Chair is marked by a service of installation. I was looking at the liturgies used for those services and realized that in essence they are services of covenanting. As a new Chair takes office the Presbyters promise to support that person in prayer and practise (there is no mention of actually agreeing with the Chair all the time so we are safe there). At the same time the Chair promises to care for the People and Pastoral Charges in the Presbytery, to exercise leadership with wisdom, to abide by the polity of the United Church.
I like that idea. It reminds us that we are all in this together. It reminds us that we work together to make things happen in our life as a Presbytery. Given that the next few years could see a great deal of change in how we exist as the United Church, both within the bounds of Northern Lights Presbytery and nationwide, the reminder that we are all in this together is crucial. And so, as your Chair, I ask that you hold each other in prayer. Something that the local Ministerial Association in Grande Prairie has done is agree to pray for a different church each week. When I get time (?) I am going to draw up a schedule of our own as we hold our Pastoral Charges and our people in prayer. But to begin with, the Presbytery Executive is meeting next Tuesday, June 24, in Grande Prairie. Please pray that they would act with wisdom and vision and hope for the church.
One of the tasks of leadership in the church is to look ahead. Yes we often get mired in the everyday tasks of life but we also have to look ahead. And so I am looking ahead at our life together.
At our Executive meeting next week we will finalize the travel plans and discuss the agenda for our September meeting in Yellowknife. One of the gifts of this Presbytery meeting will be that time together when we are not discussing business, that time to share stories and just enjoy each other's company. At the same time, I know that these meetings ask for a lot of time from the rest of our lives. So I hope that Pastoral Charges can find folk who are willing and able to get to the meeting. I have a dream (well I have a few dreams, some more fanciful than others) that we will have a meeting where all the possible representatives from all the Pastoral Charges are present. Maybe Yellowknife will be that meeting????
Looking farther ahead I note that 2015 is a General Council year. The 42nd General Council meeting will be held in Corner Brook Newfoundland and Labrador from August 8-15 2015. It is expected that this meeting will be asked to make decisions and act on recommendations and/or a proposal from the Comprehensive Review Task Group and so it will be a very important meeting for the United Church of Canada as we chart a way into the future. At our February meeting in Dawson Creek we will be nominating folk (1 Ministry Personnel and 1 Lay Person) to serve as Commissioners. Please consider if this is something you feel called to do for the church. If you want to know what it is like to be a commissioner there are several people who have gone before. Kathryn Baverstock and Bev Brazier were at the 41st General Council in 2012.
And then there is our ongoing work of visioning within Northern Lights. Within our midst there is the need to do something new. Many years ago I heard Bruce Faurschou, then Executive Secretary of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario Conference, share his opinion that the United Church is the best tool for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (I can't find the exact quote but that is close). If Bruce is right, how are we sharing that Gospel here in Northern Lights Presbytery? And how will we continue to share it in new ways as our communities and our resources and our churches change?
Lots of stuff on our plate, especially since this is but a tasting given the amount of things happening in our various communities. But God is Good, We are not alone, Thanks be to God.
Blessings on your summer plans and looking forward to seeing you in September!
Chair of Northern Lights Presbytery
Or here is the video version:
Or here is the video version: