Anticipating the Next Verse

In a little over a week, I will have finished my ministry as the Resource Presbyter for Cayuga-Syracuse. While everyone seems to be counting down to Christmas, my countdown continues through the following week as we round out the year. I’ve decided my to-do list is a sad substitute for opening those little windows and doors on cardboard Advent calendars.

When I first began my work here, I quoted college president J. Gordon Kingsley. A year later, in August of 2020 I quoted him while we were knee-deep in COVID test kits and wondering if we would ever gather in person again. Kingsley said that leaders “need to learn the song of the tribe in order to sing the song of the tribe so that others can find their place in the song and then, together, write the next verse”.

What followed were several incredible months of traveling throughout the Presbytery and listening to your greatest joys and deepest needs. I saw ministry and mission happening in so many different settings and heard questions about what it meant to be a connectional church in this time and place. When I met with the leadership in this Presbytery those questions continued. 

The running joke when I arrived was “what the heck is a Resource Presbyter”, but the underlying question has always been “what does it mean to be a Presbytery?”. Beyond the questions of “what does a Presbytery do” or “what is the purpose of a Presbytery?” is this deeper question of meaning. It begs us to identify if there is value in a Presbytery apart from its function. As this Presbytery continues to explore possibilities of shared leadership beyond its boundaries… this question of worthiness is a critical one.

Is there goodness in being a Presbytery beyond its function?

My biggest regret over these three plus years is that we didn’t often have a chance to sing together. Presbytery singing is different than congregational singing. If you know, you know. At our last in-person meeting when we gathered around the Table and sang “For Everyone Born a Place at the Table” the Spirit in that place was downright palpable. It is evidence enough for me that the Presbytery is more than its function and more than the sum of its members: it is yet another way for us to join in God’s song. My prayer for you all is that you find new ways of “singing” together – gathering voices and hearts in worship and work. Worrying less about the work of the Presbytery and more about *being* the Presbytery.

I don’t know what the next verse looks like for me or this Presbytery. What I believe is that the song continues, and that is enough.  

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