Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
Rev. Dr. Craig Howard, Transitional Leader
Casting A Vision
April 9th marked my first 90 days as your Transitional Presbytery Leader. I am pleased with the progress I’ve made in getting the office up to speed with staffing, coordinating our budget with our structure, getting our finances in order, building relationships with presbytery teams, pastors, congregations, and our community. I have tried to be the face of the presbytery from Dardennne Prairie to Ferguson; from Kampsville to Sikeston. With the help of my staff, I have used the newsletter to share thoughts and plant seeds.
I believe I can now begin the conversation about a vision of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy.
My idea is simple. Our current vision statement is:
“The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy is a community of vibrant congregations and dynamic leaders.”
I would like to add one word to this statement.
The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy is a community of diverse, vibrant congregations and diverse, dynamic leaders.
But let me take the next few minutes to explain.
I believe the presbytery is a holistic, diverse, and interdependent system.* This means that we have diverse congregations. Some are large and some are small. Some are suburban, city, and urban. Others are country and rural. By recognizing the diversity of our congregations, we are saying there is no cookie cutter church. The rural church doesn’t have to be like the city church- but it is still a church. The country church doesn’t have to be like the suburban church- but it is still a church. The role of the presbytery is to help each congregation to be its best self, not become some other type of congregation. The presbytery is responsible for helping the Urban churches see the value in the rural church.
As a community, this means we are connected and interdependent. It means we need one another, and enhance the value of one another. When a church closes, no matter how far away and no matter what size, it is a loss to all of us. It is a loss to the local community, and a loss to the Presbyterian community. We benefit from the life of every congregation in the presbytery, no matter the size, and no matter the location. We are a community in relationship with one another.
However, the elephant in the room is that we have 31 congregations that are 50/50. These congregations have less than 50 members and less than $50,000 in contributions. Their future is in jeopardy. The truth is that we as a presbytery will hurt at the loss of any of these congregations. The truth is some of them will close.
I have some ideas I will share with the Vision Team regarding next steps with these congregations, and how we can value all of our congregations in the presbytery.
Let me talk about Diverse, dynamic leaders. In the newsletter on Tuesday I wrote about the inequality in pay between our male and female pastors. I was alerted to this issue by Erin Counihan, our presbytery moderator. She did the math and figure out we have a problem.
The future of our presbytery depends upon us becoming more diverse in our leadership as the world around us becomes more diverse. This includes Liberal and conservative. This includes Gender, Race, and Sexual orientation. I will share with the Vision Team and our pastoral transition and Care team some ideas to eliminate pay disparity, and draw more diverse pastoral leadership to our presbytery.
The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy is a community of diverse, vibrant congregations and diverse, dynamic leaders. It needs work, but it’s a good place to start!
*see the online journal article: The Three Ecological Principles of Economic Sustainability by John Ikerd
Rev. Craig Howard