Blog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Recently, I worshiped at a very small church in our presbytery. During worship, I could see many ways of how connecting to the presbytery would help this congregation. The connection had been severed a while ago because of bad experiences at presbytery gatherings as well as with presbytery visits. This congregation figured they were better off going it alone than being connected with a presbytery that didn’t listen to them, respect them and sometimes disrespected one another.
On Thursday I am being installed as your Presbytery Leader. In this role, I take full responsibility for the life of the presbytery both past and present. I am determined to continue the work of healing our fragmentation and making the presbytery one whole and connected body. We are well on our way! The presbytery staff made over 140 congregational visits in 2018; congregation participation in presbytery gatherings increased; leadership in our new organizational structure is fully populated; teams and sub-teams are doing the mission and ministry they are called to do.
On Thursday we will experience another step in our progress. During the education session, we will be together in small groups, and we will talk to one another. Real connection occurs when we see one another face to face, when we can see one another into existence. And then we talk. We listen. We observe. We find common ground.
In her book, The Power of Listening, Lynne M. Baab writes about holy listening. Quoting Craig Satterlee, she writes, “Holy listening demands vigilance, alertness, openness to others, and the expectation that God will speak through them. Holy listening trusts that the Holy Spirit acts in and through our listening. We discern and discover the wisdom and will of God by listening to one another and to ourselves.”
We have great presenters prepared to share and moderate our conversations. There are already over 200 people registered, and 66 have never been to a Presbytery Gathering before! What an opportunity to listen to one another! What a chance to discern God’s wisdom and will for our congregations! These are the conversations that will mend together relationships and continue to bring us together in love and support of one another in the presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy.
Rev. Craig M. Howard